Coronavirus news you may have missed overnight: Northern Ireland set for 4-week circuit breaker lockdown as UK deaths rise by 143

Sam Hancock
·4-min read
Ministers have timed school closures to tie in with the October half-term holiday (iStock)
Ministers have timed school closures to tie in with the October half-term holiday (iStock)

Northern Ireland is set to impose a circuit breaker lockdown after executive ministers agreed to close schools, pubs and restaurants to stem the spread of coronavirus, according to reports.

Pubs and restaurants will reportedly close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways, while schools will close for two weeks – one of which will cover the half-term Halloween break.

A formal announcement is expected to be made during a special sitting of the Assembly in Belfast this morning.

Here is your daily round-up of the coronavirus headlines you may have missed overnight:

vaccine-oxford-university-cases-trials-latest-b1016739.html">Surge in UK cases makes decision on Oxford vaccine more likely before end of year, says trial director

As the second wave of coronavirus spreads across the UK, and brings with it a surge in Covid-19 cases, a leading scientist has said it is now more likely that researchers will be able to gather enough efficacy data for the Oxford University vaccine by the end of the year.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told a virtual conference on Tuesday evening that the phase three trial for the vaccine candidate was “going incredibly well” and moving “at pace”.

But when pressed about timings, Prof Pollard said: “The problem is that we're entirely at the mercy of the pandemic … Until we've got a high level of immunity in the population so that we can stop the virus in its tracks then until we reach that point, there is going to be a risk.”

Trials for the vaccine were paused in September, after a participant had a suspected adverse reaction in the UK, but have since resumed.

The UK has ordered 30 million doses of the vaccine, which is already being produced ahead of its expected approval.

UK coronavirus deaths rise by 143, with cases up more than 17,000

A further 143 people have died from coronavirus in the UK over the latest 24-hour period, the government has said, bringing the nation’s total to 43,018.

The government also confirmed that, as of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 17,234 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 634,920.

The latest death toll is the highest daily figure since 164 deaths were reported on 10 June, but there is often a delay in the reporting of deaths over a weekend.

Under-fire test and trace system is envy of the world, Matt Hancock claims

As scientists warned of its failings, Matt Hancock claimed on Tuesday that England’s test-and-trace system is the envy of the world.

“We don’t get it when I talk to my international colleagues,” he insisted, adding: “They ask the question: ‘How did you manage to build this capacity so fast’ and that is the truth of it.”

The health secretary’s claims came after the Sage committee pointed to “relatively low levels of engagement” with test-and-trace, “coupled with testing delays” – after people were told to travel hundreds of miles across the country.

It suggested the system – long seen as the crucial mechanism to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 – was “having a marginal impact on transmission at the moment”.

Vulnerable patients told they can still go to work or school

More than two million people in England who are at extreme risk from coronavirus can still go to work or school despite the recent surge of cases, the government has said.

In new advice published for the 2.2 million patients who were told to shield themselves indoors during the first wave of the pandemic, the government has said those at risk can still go to work or school if they cannot work from home – even in areas where the local Covid alert level has been set at “very high”.

In total 3,905 patients are in hospital in England, up from 2,783 a week ago, with 441 patients in intensive care, up from 349 a week ago.

Ministers have shied away from reactivating formal shielding amid concerns people may have to remain in solitary isolation for months during winter.

‘Hard yards’ ahead for UK economy as second coronavirus wave hits, Bank of England governor warns

The UK is not going through a v-shaped economic recovery and the "hard yards" are still ahead as a new wave of coronavirus cases hits, the governor of the Bank of England has warned.

"Some sectors of the economy have recovered much more rapidly than others and some are still struggling to recover, for well-known reasons," Andrew Bailey told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

“We have seen quite a strong recovery as the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, but it's a very uneven recovery, whatever the aggregate number looks like, it hides a very uneven pattern,” he said.

The economy remains between 9 and 10 per cent below where it was at the end last year, according to the Bank’s best estimate.

Read more

Boris Johnson urged to impose stricter Covid lockdown

World Bank approves $12 billion to finance coronavirus vaccines