Concern over clusters in French schools – as it happened

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Hello, Helen Sullivan joining you now. I’ll be bringing you the latest from around the world for the next few hours.

Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

Summary

Here’s a quick summary of the latest coronavirus-related developments before I hand over to my colleague Helen Sullivan in Sydney. Thanks for following along.

  • The coronavirus death toll is approaching the grim milestone of one million fatalities, with 995,658 deaths reported globally, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
  • UK ministers are considering imposing a total social lockdown across most of northern England and potentially London to combat a second coronavirus wave, the Times reports. Under the new lockdown measures being considered, all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks initially, the report said, while indoor household mixing would be banned.
  • Travel between New Zealand and some states of Australia is possible before the end of the year, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Talks of a travel bubble have recently been revived as cases continue to fall in Australian regions. Ardern’s comments follow the Australian state of Victoria announcing an end to its curfew and easing some measures.
  • Brazil recorded 14,318 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 335 deaths from the disease, the health ministry said on Sunday.
  • Greece has recorded its first coronavirus fatality among its large migrant community. Health authorities described the victim as a 61-year-old Afghan man, saying the father-of-two succumbed to Covid-19 in Athens’ Evangelismos hospital after being moved from Malakassa, a refugee camp east of the capital.
  • India recorded 88,600 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the country’s official toll to just under 6 million (5,992,532), according to the country’s official figures. Deaths increased by 1,124 to 94,503.
  • The Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital, where more than a third of Spain’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed.

Ministers considering new lockdown in northern England and London

The UK government is planning to impose a lockdown across most of northern England and potentially London, to combat a second coronavirus wave, the Times reports.

Under the new lockdown measures being considered, all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks initially, the report said.

The report added that households would also be banned indefinitely from meeting each other in any indoor location.

Britain had last week imposed new measures that required people to work from home where possible and had ordered restaurants and bars to close early to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of Covid-19, with new restrictions lasting probably six months.

Merseyside, the northeast and Lancashire may be included in the possible new measures alongside London, according to the newspaper.

Schools and shops will be allowed to remain open, as will factories and offices at which staff could not work from home, the Times added, citing a senior government source.

Updated

Travel between New Zealand and some states of Australia is possible before the end of the year, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Plans for a travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has been in discussions for months as both nations slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but they were disrupted after a resurgence of Covid-19 in Melbourne, Australia, followed by a second wave of infections in Auckland.

With the virus largely contained in New Zealand, and as cases continue to decline in Australian regions, talks of a travel bubble with some states have been revived.

When asked by state broadcaster TVNZ whether New Zealanders would be able to travel to at least some Australian regions before Christmas, Ardern said: “It is possible.”

“What we would need to be assured of is that when Australia is saying ‘okay we’ve got a hotspot over here’ that the border around that hotspot means that people aren’t able to travel into the states where we are engaging with in trans-Tasman travel,” she said.

Ardern said Australia was pretty satisfied with both how New Zealand was tracking now and how they are tracking generally. New Zealand has only 59 active cases and 1,477 confirmed cases of Covid-19 so far, one of the lowest tally in the world.

Brazil reports 14,318 new cases

Brazil recorded 14,318 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 335 deaths from the disease, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The country has registered more than 4.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has reached 141,741, according to the data.

Labour has attacked the UK government’s winter job support scheme, accusing it of consigning more than a million workers “to the scrap heap”.

Sectors of the economy which generate billions in tax revenue and employ huge numbers of workers are not covered by the plans, according to the opposition.

Labour said that in his winter economic plan, the chancellor failed to mention businesses that are not able to operate, because they are either shut down or trading with hugely reduced capacity, including the weddings industry, events and exhibitions, major parts of the night-time economy, festivals, sports venues and theatres.

Shadow ministers said there was no acknowledgement about their plight or the fact that they will be forced to remain fully or mainly closed for the next six months.

Labour said its analysis of official statistics suggested that more than a million workers are employed in these sectors.

Lucy Powell, shadow minister for business and consumers, said: “The chancellor is consigning whole sectors of our economy to the scrap heap, damaging lives and livelihoods, and threatening the recovery.

“The failure of ministers to ensure an effective test, track and trace system means that many businesses have no idea when they can reopen. Even for those who can access it, the job support scheme is badly designed and could lead to a wave of job losses.”

Updated

Inadequate tests for Covid-19, based on poor or dodgy data, are proliferating in the UK because there are no clear rules on what companies have to prove before they can sell them, experts believe.

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) has set up a working group to investigate and draw up guidelines for the companies making the tests and those who assess them and buy them. The organisation says there are “concerns about a lack of basic statistical evidence on clinical and analytical performance of a number of new diagnostic tests that are available”.

Summary

Here’s a round-up for those of you just joining us:

  • The coronavirus death toll is approaching the grim milestone of one million fatalities, with 995,465 deaths reported globally, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
  • There have been a further 5,693 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data, taking the total to 429,277. Government figures show a further 17 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. This brings the official UK toll to 41,988.
  • Greece has recorded its first coronavirus fatality among its large migrant community. Health authorities described the victim as a 61-year-old Afghan man, saying the father-of-two succumbed to Covid-19 in Athens’ Evangelismos hospital after being moved from Malakassa, a refugee camp east of the capital.
  • Bosses at Manchester Metropolitan University have said students under a Covid-19 lockdown are free to leave their student halls but “trust they will do the right thing” and self-isolate, following a number of students saying they were being falsely imprisoned.
  • The Scottish government has issued updated guidance that students can return to their family homes (previously clinical director Jason Leitch said they couldn’t) either to self-isolate or permanently.
  • India recorded 88,600 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the country’s official toll to just under 6 million (5,992,532), according to the country’s official figures. Deaths increased by 1,124 to 94,503.
  • The Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital, where more than a third of Spain’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed.
  • The Australian state of Victoria has announced an end to its curfew and easing of some of the months-long lockdown measures. Australia reported just 18 new cases on Saturday, and two deaths, and trade minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble with New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.
  • Argentina’s coronavirus cases have topped 700,000 as new daily infections and deaths hit the top five globally, despite seven months of lockdown that have ravaged the frail economy.

Updated

Dentists face a “tsunami” of untreated tooth decay because children have been kept away from dental surgeries during lockdown.

Half of parents in the UK said their children had missed a check-up since March, according to an Opinium survey for the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), which represents practices across the country.

The survey of 2,000 people included 622 parents, with 31% saying their family had decided not to go for a check-up or make an appointment. Another 13% said they had not been able to get an appointment – a sign of the growing problem of delays caused by the pandemic.

The Scottish government has just issued updated guidance that students can return to their family homes (previously clinical director Jason Leitch said they couldn’t) either to self-isolate or permanently.

This is provided the entire household they return to self-isolates and they don’t use public transport. Of course, this guidance comes too late for the many student who reportedly have already left halls in a mass weekend exodus.

While NUS Scotland’s president, Matt Crilly, welcomed the clarity on returning home, he was “disappointed that the government continues to talk up in-person teaching, which may keep students on campus and increase risks unnecessarily”.

NUS Scotland is calling for the Scottish government teaching guidance to advise remote learning as default, and is also asking institutions and private providers refund rent if students want to end their contracts and return home. Likewise, they want to see support for those who want to defer study for another year.

Interesting to see too that, as the new guidance appeared, Alastair Sim – director of Universities Scotland – which last week issued harsh overnight regulations for students including an edict not to party or socialise beyond their households, a one-weekend nationwide ban on going to bars and restaurants which applied to mature and part-time students as well as those in halls, and threats of severe disciplinary action for breaches and police involvement – issued a rather more ameliorative statement.

“We asked more of students than is asked of anyone else; a group we know is caring, responsible and socially minded,” it says.

“This weekend, we asked all students not to go out to pubs, restaurants and cafes. It was a request, not a ban. It was never a ban.”

When is a ban not a ban? When it’s a poorly coded apology.

Updated

France registered 11,123 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, Reuters reports.

The total number of cases now stands at 538,569, health ministry data showed. The number of people who have died from the infection increased by 27 to 31,727.

Greece reports first coronavirus death among migrant population

Greece has recorded its first coronavirus fatality among its large migrant community.

Health authorities described the victim as a 61-year-old Afghan man, saying the father-of-two succumbed to Covid-19 in Athens’ Evangelismos hospital after being moved from Malakassa, a refugee camp east of the capital.

Outbreaks of coronavirus have resulted in lockdowns in migrant holding centres nationwide.

On Saturday the centre right government announced that circulation would be curbed in two reception centres in northern Greece bringing the total number of camps under lockdown to eleven.

On Lesbos more than 200 refugees who tested positive for Covid-19 but are asymptomatic have been segregated in a special quarantine area after a fire devastated Moria, the island’s notorious camp, earlier this month.

Meanwhile EODY, the public health organisation, announced this evening that new confirmed cases of coronavirus had for the first time in several days dropped below the 300 threshold with 218 people testing positive for the virus. Of that number the majority – 118 – were in the greater Athens region of Attica, the epicentre of a surge in infections in recent weeks. The alarming rise prompted authorities to announce further measures to curb coronavirus including police crackdowns on groups gathering after midnight closures of bars and eateries. The restrictions, not least mandatory mask-wearing in all enclosed places, went into effect last week.

Earlier on Sunday Prof Nikolaos Sypsas, a prominent infectious disease expert, suggested citizens over the age of 65 could be asked to restrict their movements if the surge continued. Greece, to date, has recorded 17,444 infections and 380 Covid-related deaths. Two women, a 91-year-old and 39-year-old were among fatalities reported on Sunday.

The tower of the winds, among the ancient sites in Athens, where visitor numbers have dropped precipitously because of coronavirus.
The tower of the winds, among the ancient sites in Athens, where visitor numbers have dropped precipitously because of coronavirus. Photograph: Helena Smith

Updated

Bosses at Manchester Metropolitan University have said students under a Covid-19 lockdown are free to leave their student halls but “trust they will do the right thing” and self-isolate, following a number of students saying they were being falsely imprisoned.

Prof Malcolm Press, vice-chancellor of the university, said they were unable to stop some 1,700 students from leaving the quarantined campuses but stressed he expected students to follow government guidance on self-isolating.

Students described being scared and confused as their accommodation was locked down on Friday after 127 people tested positive for coronavirus.

Press said the “physical and emotional wellbeing of our students is paramount” and acknowledged the impact of the “extremely short” notice given. He added: “Many of them are away from home for the first time and still finding their feet.

“Their welfare is our top priority and that is why we have been working hard with organisations around the city since Friday evening to put in place support to help during this 14-day period.”

Press said the university was preparing care packages and financial support for self-isolating students.

He stressed: “We expect students to follow the guidance for self-isolation set out by the government and Public Health England. Our staff are on hand 24 hours a day to provide, support, guidance and deal with concerns.

“We are unable to prevent our students from leaving the halls, but our students are bright, young adults and we trust that they will do the right thing.”

Updated

Too many children are being tested for coronavirus because of an understandable but misplaced concern about school outbreaks, a leading scientist has said, as a study shows they are about 40% less likely than adults to be infected.

Prof Russell Viner of UCL and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, the study’s lead author, is calling for schools to be kept fully open in light of the findings, because of the serious harm done to children by classroom closures.

“I think we have a coherent policy about testing in schools, but we are probably being overcautious and testing too many children,” said Viner. “It was the right thing to start with, but it has had some unintended consequences.

“The key thing about this research is that it supports keeping schools open. Schools need to be open and be almost the last places to close. As part of learning to live with this virus, we need to be keeping schools open.”

Read health editor Sarah Boseley’s full report here:

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, said on Sunday she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing, Reuters reports.

“We are having our conversations. And when I have a conversation with the administration, it is in good faith,” Pelosi said on CNN. “I trust (Treasury) Secretary (Steve) Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution. And I believe we can come to an agreement.”

Formal talks between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin and the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, aimed at hammering out a relief package broke down on 7 August with the two sides far apart. Pelosi and Mnuchin have since spoken by phone.

With formal Covid-19 relief talks stalled for weeks, the house ways and means committee chairman, Richard Neal, on Thursday said Democratic lawmakers were starting to draft a bill totalling at least $2.2tn.

Pelosi on Sunday said it was “definitely a possibility” that she would offer legislation in the coming days if the impasse with the Trump administration continued but said she would rather have a deal with the White House than a “rhetorical argument”.

Any legislation the Democratic-led House might approve would be unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Pelosi and Schumer had originally sought a $3.4tn relief package but have scaled back their demands. Meadows has previously said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3tn bill.

Updated

AFP has shared a graphic about long-lasting symptoms reported by some who had initially only experienced a mild form of Covid-19.

Researchers estimate that one in 10 still have symptoms, which can include fatigue, headaches and breathing difficulties, after more than 30 days, the news agency says.

The World Health Organization has shared a message reassuring people about the safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said: “The public must be reassured that the standards that have been set globally for licensing vaccines and drugs will be followed in this case as well, and there will be no shortcuts.”

UK reports 5,693 further cases

There have been a further 5,693 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data.

A total of 429,277 cases have been confirmed.

Government figures show a further 17 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. This brings the UK death toll to 41,988.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Updated

Hello, this is Clea Skopeliti taking over the blog for the next few hours. You can reach me via Twitter DM or email. Thanks very much.

Summary

• As the number of total Covid-19 deaths worldwide approached a grim milestone of one million, mainland China reported 15 new cases on Saturday, all of them imported infections related to travellers.
India recorded 88,600 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the country’s official toll to just under 6 million (5,992,532), according to the country’s official figures. Deaths increased by 1,124 to 94,503.

• The Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital, where more than a third of Spain’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed.
As the number of infections continues to surge in Spain – by far the worst hit western European country – Madrid is at the centre of a medical, political and economic row.
The conservative regional government has placed 45 areas into a partial lockdown that affects just over a million people in Madrid, but it has rejected calls from Spain’s socialist-led coalition government for the whole of the capital to be placed in limited confinement.

Fresh restrictions were imposed in new areas of Wales by the devolved administration, as a wider UK focus fell on thousands of students who are self isolating in halls of residence in cities including Glasgow and Manchester.
University students should be able to return home to their families at Christmas if the country “pulls together” and observes the new coronavirus rules, a cabinet minister has said.

The British government is facing unprecedented challenges to its handling of the pandemic, both from within the ranks of the ruling party but also from the opposition and street protests.
The opposition Labour Party has confirmed it is likely to support a rebel Conservative amendment obliging ministers to seek parliamentary approval for new lockdown restrictions, setting up the government for a possible parliamentary defeat next week.

The Australian state of Victoria has announced an end to its curfew and easing of some of the months-long lockdown measures. The government also announced further steps out of lockdown will be based on case numbers, not strict dates. Australia reported just 18 new cases on Saturday, and two deaths, and trade minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble with New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.


• In Latin America, Argentina’s coronavirus cases are poised to top 700,000 as new daily infections and deaths hit the top five globally, despite seven months of lockdown that have ravaged the frail economy.
Coronavirus cases in Colombia, which is nearly a month into a national reopening after a long lockdown, surpassed 800,000. Elsewhere, Mexican authorities reported 5,573 new cases along with 399 deaths on Friday, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing.

The number of Covid-19 infections at food factories that supply UK supermarkets and restaurants could be more than 30 times higher than reported, according to a new report that warns employers have too much influence over official data.

Food manufacturing – and meat processing plants in particular – have been at the heart of several major local outbreaks, with workers reporting cramped conditions and pressure not to take days off even when displaying symptoms.

But just 47 notifications of Covid-19 workplace infections – and no fatalities – have been reported to health and safety authorities by food manufacturing companies, who employ 430,000 people in the UK.

A new investigation by Pirc, which advises shareholders on ethical investment, found that there have been at least 1,461 infections and six fatalities, with the true figures likely to be even higher.

A further 403 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Saudi Arabia - a drop in its daily number - taking the country’s total cases to 333,193. The deaths took place of 28 people with the virus.

The city of Madinah had 43 cases, while Jeddah had 43. The city of Hafouf had 32 cases.

Updated

A further 17 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 29,908, health officials gave said.

Patients were aged between 49 and 93 and all, except one aged 59, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between 21 and 26 September. Two other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Patients were aged between 49 and 93 and all, except one aged 59, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths were between September 21 and September 26. Two other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Updated

As protests take place today in Madrid, the Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital, where more than a third of the country’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed.

As the numbers of infections continues to surge in Spain – by far the worst hit western European country – Madrid is at the centre of a medical, political and economic row.

The conservative regional government has placed 45 areas into a partial lockdown that affects just over a million people in Madrid, but it has rejected calls from Spain’s socialist-led coalition government for the whole of the capital to be placed in limited confinement.

But the regional government, led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the conservative People’s party, is refusing to implement the recommended lockdown.

The regional justice minister said there was no need for a “healthcare intervention” from the central government, adding that the regional authorities were exercising their healthcare powers “responsibly and with good judgment”.

Ayuso is desperate to avoid another major lockdown and the attendant economic damage. She also questioned the need to extend the national lockdown in May, saying: “People get run over every day but that doesn’t mean we ban cars.”

The death rate is much lower than it was six months ago, when 849 deaths were reported in a single day. But the figures are climbing, with 475 deaths recorded over the week to last Friday.

On Friday, Yolanda Fuentes, who resigned as Madrid’s public health director in May following disagreements with Ayuso’s administration, posted a clip on Twitter from the 1997 film Titanic. The video, which shows the captain walking around his sinking ship while the string quartet plays on deck, was accompanied by the hashtag #BuenaSuerta (Good luck).

In Marseille, a coronavirus hotspot, the city’s top flight football team has been given a government order to play behind closed doors. In Germany, a six-week run with fans is a trial period, while the Italian government hopes to increase the number of fans in Serie A stadiums soon. It’s football, but not as we know it.

Writers for Guardian Sport have been taking a look at what is allowed in mainland Europe’s major leagues and selected other countries amid the coronavirus crisis

A sparse crowd watch Parma take on Napoli in Parma on September 20.
A sparse crowd watch Parma take on Napoli in Parma on September 20. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters


In the Netherlands, fans have been allowed back into grounds as well but rules require that they not only comply with social distancing but refrain from chanting. In Denmark, crowds have also returned but in very small numbers: 240 watched Copenhagen’s home defeat by Brøndby last weekend.

On the other side of the world, Brazilian authorities this week announced their intention to fill their stadiums to a third of capacity, meaning up to 25,000 people could attend the Maracanã. There is no set date for fans’ return, however, with Brazil still in the middle of one of the world’s worst outbreaks of Covid-19.

Wales announces more local lockdowns

The Welsh government has imposed a fresh local lockdown in three more counties.

Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan will have tighter restrictions from 6pm on Monday.

Wales’s first inister, Mark Drakeford, said in a statement:

This is not a regional lockdown - this is a series of local restrictions in each local authority area to respond to a specific rise in cases in each area, which have distinct and unique chains of transmission.

“In some places, such as Caerphilly and Newport, we have seen really positive falls in response and we hope they can begin to be relaxed if they continue.

It comes after the government of Wales, one of the devolved administrations of the UK, took action on Friday to introduce local coronavirus restrictions. Local restrictions will come into force tonight in the two largest Welsh cities – Cardiff and Swansea.

A couple wearing protective face coverings, walk through the city in the late summer sunshine in Cardiff, south Wales on September 27, 2020, during preparations for the reinstatement of a lock-down, ahead of a 6pm deadline.
A couple wearing protective face coverings, walk through Cardiff. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Protests against lockdown measures in Madrid

Hundreds of people have been protesting in Madrid against partial lockdown measures imposed on parts of the region, mainly in densely populated low-income neighbourhoods, to curb a surge in coronavirus cases.

Since 21 September some 850,000 people have been confined to their neighbourhoods and unable to leave except for work, school or medical reasons, although they are able to move freely within their own areas.

Parks in the affected areas are closed and restaurants and other businesses must shut at 10pm. From Monday another 167,000 people in the region of some 6.6 million people will be confined to their neighbourhoods.

A protester holds a sign reading “It is not confinement but segregation” during a demonstration against the restrictions imposed by the regional government to fight the coronavirus spread at the Vallecas district in Madrid, on September 27, 2020.
A protester holds a sign reading, ‘It is not confinement but segregation’ during a demonstration against the restrictions imposed by the regional government to fight the coronavirus spread at the Vallecas district in Madrid. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

“It’s not confinement, it’s segregation!” the crowd chanted outside of the parliament of the regional government of Madrid in the southern district of Vallecas, one of the mainly southern neighbourhoods affected by the partial lockdown measures which came into effect last week.

Protesters called for the resignation of conservative Madrid regional leader, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who drew criticism for saying that the “lifestyle” of people in the affected areas was partly to blame for the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Here’s a tweet with some video of protests via Pablo Echenique, a member of the Spanish Corties for the leftwing Podemos party.

Updated

A member of the British government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) and a key long term scientific adviser, Jeremy Farrar, has called for further lockdown restrictions.

The director of the Welcome Trust, a funder of scientific research in the UK, used an article for the Sunday Times, to call for further reductions on contact between households, reducing or possibly closing pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shop.

Farrar also sets out his views in this twitter thread, in which he writes:

Anyone suggesting there are easy political decisions or possible to open society & economy & control epidemic is doing a great disservice.

Updated

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands hit a daily record of 2,995 on Sunday, data released by health authorities showed.

Coronavirus infections in the country have reached record levels almost every day since mid-September. The previous high of 2,777 was reported on Friday, and the total number of reported cases passed 100,000 earlier last week.

The health authorities reported eight new deaths related to Covid-19, taking the death toll to 6,374.

Dr William Hanage, professor of the evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease at Harvard, argues in a damning new column that the UK is “ignoring most of these hard lessons” of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hanage accuses the government of “opting for half-measures in the face of a virulent second wave”. He goes on:

The government has repeatedly minimised the threat of coronavirus. At the same time, it has lost control of its testing system during the most crucial moment since the initial surge of coronavirus cases, when greater demand for testing could have been easily foreseen. This is a disaster: England has been effectively blinded to where and how the virus is spreading.

You can read the column here.

In Brazil, Reuters reports that a new surge of coronavirus cases in the city of Manaus has dashed hopes that herd immunity had brought the virus under control there.

When deaths plummeted in June, public health experts wonder if “so many residents had caught the virus that it had run out of new people to infect”, the report says.

But now University of Sao Paulo researchers say that the evidence suggests that collective immunity was at work, but that antibodies to the disease after infection may not last more than a few months – and infections are again on the rise.

People enjoy the Ponta Negra beach along the Amazon river earlier this month, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease.
People enjoy the Ponta Negra beach along the Amazon river earlier this month, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

“Something that became evident in our study – and that is also being shown by other groups – is that antibodies … decay quickly, a few months after infection,” one of its authors, Leis Buss, said in a statement by the São Paulo research foundation FAPESP that accompanied the paper. “This is clearly occurring in Manaus.”

More from the story:

Authorities warned Manaus residents they were ignoring the virus and risked a second wave of contagion by not wearing masks, packing into bars and attending parties. They shut down Manaus’ river beachfront where raves were being held.

Manaus mayor Arthur Virgilio blamed rightwing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has minimised the gravity of the pandemic, for encouraging a return to normal life and work instead of waiting for a vaccine to be developed.

“The government must take this seriously and speak the truth. If it says there is no problem, that encourages people to ignore our decrees,” the mayor said.

Epidemiologist Dr. André Patricio Almeida, of the Adventist Hospital of Manaus, said cases are rising again mostly among younger, wealthier people who go to bars who show milder symptoms but often infect older relatives who need to be treated in hospital.

Updated

This is Archie Bland, covering for Ben Quinn while he grabs some lunch.

Here’s a clip of the UK’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden talking about the role of student lockdowns at universities (see 9:47am).

Asked whether students should get a discount on fees given the circumstances, he says: “It’s important that students not have to give up a year of their life by not going to university.”

Updated

The solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which annually sees Israeli life grind to a halt, is about to begin in a nation already under a sweeping coronavirus lockdown.

The more secular-minded can be seen riding bikes or even picnicking on deserted highways, reports the AP. The holiday begins at sundown on Sunday.

But this year all non-essential businesses have already been forced to close, and Israelis have been ordered to stay within 1,000 meters (yards) of their homes throughout the High Holidays, which began last week with the Jewish New Year and continue to mid-October.

With social distancing, an Israeli soldier and ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray ahead of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year which starts at sundown Sunday.
With social distancing, an Israeli soldier and ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray ahead of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year which starts at sundown Sunday. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

Updated

Families are counting down the days to moving into new homes in a Hong Kong estate that had been used as a Covid-19 quarantine centre in what had become a lightning rod for discontent, the South China Morning Post reports.

They included LN Siu, her husband and daughter, who were overjoyed when they were finally allocated a public housing flat at the Chun Yeung estate in Hong Kong last December. They had been waiting eight years.

The SCMP adds that thousands of low-income families had to wait longer for their new homes after the estate was turned into a quarantine centre in February in a move which caused anger. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam had promised that new public housing estates would not be used for quarantine.

Updated

Romanians go to the polls on Sunday to choose mayors and local councillors, but a Covid-19 surge is threatening to hit the first electoral test after years of political turbulence with a high abstention rate.

Nationwide, the east European country of almost 19 million people has 43,000 seats to fill in the single-round election seen as a test ahead of national polls in December.

A candidate to be Bucharest’s city mayor, Nicusor Dan, casts his ballot at the Gymnasium School Nr. 279’s polling station in Bucharest, Romania, 27 September 2020.
A candidate to be Bucharest’s city mayor, Nicusor Dan, casts his ballot in Bucharest. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

While Covid-19 infections have been rising rapidly since the lifting of a strict lockdown earlier this year, the AFP news services reports that President Klaus Iohannis has assured the electorate that going to vote involves “almost no risk” and “is not more dangerous than going shopping”.

Masks will be mandatory and disinfectant will be provided at every polling station. Romania so far has reported more than 121,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 4,700 deaths.

Updated

Concerns over England's Covid-19 app rumble on

An issue with England’s Covid-19 smartphone app, launched to curb the spread of the virus, which meant it could not accept around a third of test results has been resolved, the government has insisted today.

However, different concerns are now being flagged up by users who are raising concerns on Twitter that they have been getting notifications from the app about having been potentially exposed to someone with the virus, but they then receive no further instructions to self-isolate.

The app’s official account had said on Saturday it could not link to test results taken in Public Health England laboratories, via the National Health Service or as part of a survey run by the Office for National Statistics.

“Everyone who receives a positive test result can log their result on the app,” a health ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

Updated

As Canada faces a second wave of Covid-19, authorities in the hardest-hit province of Quebec have been explaining how it is taking a different form.

The virus is spreading in regions outside the former epicentre of Montreal, reports the Globe and Mail, and it is spreading mainly in the community, rather than in long-term care homes. Like other countries, the spread is also more among young adults, not the elderly.

The new dynamic is leaving parts of the province newly on edge, the newspaper adds. For example, it reports that the “sleepy” Baie-des-Chaleurs health region in far eastern Quebec has one of the highest infection rates in the province.

UK: repeated 'mini lockdown's could help control Covid spread, says scientific adviser

One of the British government’s scientific advisers has said repeated “mini lockdowns” could be effective as a tool to bring Covid-19 cases under control.

The suggestion from Prof John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), comes amid growing evidence the virus’s prevalence is growing among older, more vulnerable people.

He told the Observer:

A circuit breaker, or mini-lockdown can be used to reset the clock. The idea would be to bring the incidence back to what it was a few weeks earlier. You replace two weeks of exponential growth with two weeks of a decline in cases.

This can have a big effect on the total number of cases, particularly if it is implemented shortly after the epidemic starts to grow.

A police patrol in Soho, central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of new earlier closing times for pubs and bars.
A police patrol in Soho, central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of new earlier closing times for pubs and bars. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A reporting team at the Observer have put together a longer read meanwhile on how Britain finds itself in a situation where infections are starting to dramatically rise again at a time when other nations have managed to stabilise or suppress the spread of the virus.

But they also note that scientists are still arguing over the reasons some countries seem to have been spared heavy death tolls even as the infection spreads.

A relatively young population may be less vulnerable than in fast-ageing western disease hotspots. People living in overcrowded conditions may have stronger immune systems, fortified by fighting off many past infections. But if it is hard to predict how Covid epidemics will develop, it is much easier to see what keeps the disease at bay.

The few countries that have managed to effectively eliminate coronavirus range from authoritarian China to liberal democracies such as Taiwan and New Zealand.

Updated

The situation in Morocco will worsen over winter as the flu season overlaps, according to the director of epidemiology at the Health Ministry, who said many hospitals and test sites for Covid-19 are expected to reach capacity.

Mohamed Lyoubi, added during a webinar that the situation will also affect the ability of health authorities to carry out case investigations and ensure contact follow-up and monitoring of patients treated at home.

Morocco’s testing program is increasingly overwhelmed, reports the Associated Press. With air and sea borders closed for months and eight cities barring people from entering or leaving, the news agency reports that authorities have been pulling out the stops to stanch the spread of coronavirus.

Moroccan police check to see if a bus meets the number of passengers allowed at a checkpoint in Casablanca, Morocco, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.
Moroccan police check to see if a bus meets the number of passengers allowed at a checkpoint in Casablanca. Photograph: Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP

Marrakech, a major tourist destination, is at a standstill, while police checks are part of the scenery in hard-hit Casablanca, the country’s economic powerhouse.

In the northern city of Tangiers, military vehicles were deployed last month to help enforce measures there. Movement between the city and others was stopped, as it was in Casablanca, barring exceptional authorisations.

Updated

The British government wants university students to be able to return home for Christmas, a minister has said, as a focus builds up on the plight of thousands of students who are already isolating amid Covid-19 outbreaks.

“I very much want students to be able to go home at Christmas,” culture minister Oliver Dowden told Sky News.

The opposition Labour party has called for the start of university term to be delayed while an “effective, efficient testing system” is put in place.

The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll will rise from 34 to 100 a day in three to four weeks’ time, an expert on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned on Saturday.

Eve Livingston and Donna Ferguson have meanwhile filed this piece on the misery of “lockdown freshers” in Scotland.

“Physically I feel tired and drained, I’ve got a sore throat and I can’t taste,” they were told by Theo Lockett, 19 (below), who moved to Glasgow two weeks ago from the English city of York.

“Emotionally it’s miserable; you can’t meet new people, you can’t go to campus, you can’t go home. It feels like you’ve come all this way to start a new life and you’ve ended up locked in a house for two weeks.”

Theo Lockett, a student who lives at Murano St Halls, Glasgow, and was the first of his 10 flatmates to test positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.
Theo Lockett, a student who lives at Murano St Halls, Glasgow, and was the first of his 10 flatmates to test positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose/The Observer

Updated

France: third of new clusters in schools and universities

In France, where a doctors’ leader has warned that the latest wave of the pandemic could “overwhelm” the country amid exhaustion on the part of health workers, Le Monde reports that a third of the new clusters are in schools and universities.

The latest figures from health officials indicate that 32% of the 899 clusters under investigation concern schools and universities.

Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, meanwhile told the weekly Journal du Dimanche: ““The second wave is arriving faster than we thought.”

Fresh restrictions to slow the spread of the disease in the country’s worst-hit areas, including the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the Paris region, have run into local resistance.

Bouet told the paper that warnings delivered this week by health minister, Olivier Veran, had not gone far enough.

People have drinks on a bar’s terrasse in Paris on September 26, 2020, two days before new measures come into effect to curb the spread of Covid-19.
People have drinks on a bar’s terrasse in Paris on 26 September , two days before new measures come into effect to curb the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Indonesia reported 3,874 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 275,213, official data from the Covid-19 task force showed.

The southeast Asian country also reported 78 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 10,386.

A total of 3,611 people recovered from the virus on Sunday, the data showed, bringing the total number of recoveries to 203,014.

Updated

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), which is funded by several countries and philanthropic donors, has given an update on its progress towards developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit its highest level since June 20 on Sunday at 7,867, bringing its total to 1,151,438, the country’s coronavirus task force reported.

In Moscow alone, there were 2,016 new cases, exceeding the 2,000 mark for the first time since June 2. There were 99 deaths, taking Russia’s official coronavirus death toll to 20,324.

Anti lockdown activists in the UK today are reeling today after police broke up a protest in central London when thousands of people defied their advice and demonstrated against restrictions, mass vaccinations, mandatory wearing of face masks and other coronavirus rules.

Sixteen arrests were made, according to the police, who also say that and nine officers were injured.

Groups behind the protest, who also plan a ‘family picnic’ a noon in London’s Hyde Park, have meanwhile been accusing the force of heavy handedness and signposting followers to lawyers and complaints lines.

Police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square in London on September 26, 2020, at a ‘We Do Not Consent!’ mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions .
Police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square in London on 26 September, at a ‘We Do Not Consent!’ mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions . Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

The tensions comes as Britain, or perhaps England in particular, has reached a crossroads, reports Robin McKie and Toby Helm in the Observer, who have been looking at an increasingly heated debate over whether to re-adopt stringent measures or return to the “the business of living”.

On one side there are the“lockdowners. They think the only hope of triumphing over Covid-19 is shutdowns to bring numbers of cases back under control. Pubs and restaurants may have to close and households once again may be told not to mix.

On the other are the libertarians. They say we cannot return to those days because it would trigger an economic collapse and allow thousands of untreated cases of cancer, heart ailments and other diseases to mount. Tens of thousands might die, they say.

Updated

The Czech Republic reported 1,985 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday and nine related deaths, health ministry data showed.

That was roughly a third lower than Friday’s infection count, but fewer tests are done on weekends, according to Reuters.

The country reported 2,044 cases the Saturday before. The figures brought the total number of cases to 63,294 and deaths to 591 in the country of 10.7 million people.

The number of people in hospitals rose to 809 from 740 as of Friday, the latest data available.

Boris Johnson faces pressures in UK

Boris Johnson is facing a massive parliamentary revolt over the way he is imposing Covid-19 restrictions on the British people without first consulting MPs – amid new signs that confidence in his leadership is collapsing in the Conservative party and across the country.

An extraordinary cross-party backlash against Johnson’s “rule by diktat” from Downing Street was taking shape last night – ahead of a key vote on Wednesday – as a new poll by Opinium for the Observer showed Labour has overtaken the Tories for the first time since Keir Starmer became leader in April.

That story is the splash in today’s Observer. The Sunday Times also has a spread (paywall) inside on what it describes as a “PM at breaking point”.

This weekend there is the looming threat of a second wave of the coronavirus and differences over the government’s approach, reports Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times. But he adds that there are tensions in the cabinet over how to save the economy

Rishi Sunak at Downing Street in september
Rishi Sunak at Downing Street in september Photograph: Simon Walker Hm Treasury/Simon Walker/HM Treasury

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, reportedly opposed proposals earlier this month that pubs and restaurants should be shut.

Both Johnson’s office and Sunak’s office at No 11 Downing Street dismissed “totally untrue” rumours that the chancellor threatened to resign if there was a “fortnight firewall” lockdown.

“The debate was whether you would be better having two or three weeks where you close down hospitality and try to drive down the virus quickly,” a source told the Sunday Times.

“But there are costs. Lockdown is not a good option for the country and we need to educate people about the costs.”

Updated

Almost half of British companies have warned that their Brexit preparations have been hit by the pandemic, as business leaders demanded a last-minute compromise to reach a trade deal and avert chaos at the border.

As a crucial week of talks begins, more than three-quarters of businesses (77%) said they wanted a deal to be agreed, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry. Only 4% of businesses said they preferred a no-deal outcome. Support for a deal rises to 86% among distribution companies and 83% of manufacturers.

Mixed messages have been coming from Downing Street and Brussels over the likelihood of a deal. No 10 had been talking up the possibility of an agreement after months in which no progress has been made – with the chances of a no-deal Brexit significantly increasing.

New Yorkers are looking forward this weekend to the prospect of eating inside a restaurant for the first time in six months as the city plans to allow for interior dining from Wednesday.

restaurants can seat customers inside at 25% capacity, the latest relaxation in the quarantine rules imposed on New York after the coronavirus struck.

Owners who spoke to the Guardian described it as a make-or-break moment heading into the winter.

People eat in outdoor seating outside a restaurant before the city starts phase two of reopening after the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
People eat in outdoor seating outside a restaurant before New York starts phase two of reopening after the lockdown due to the coronavirus. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Updated

My colleague in London, Ben Quinn, will be taking over this blog shortly. In the meantime here is a catch up of the biggest recent developments.

  • The Australian state of Victoria has announced an end to its curfew and easing of some of the months-long lockdown measures. The government also announced further steps out of lockdown will be based on case numbers, not strict dates.
  • Australia reported just 18 new cases on Saturday, and two deaths, and trade minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble with New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.
  • Mainland China reported 15 new cases on Saturday, all of them imported infections related to travellers.
  • Mexican authorities reported 5,573 new cases along with 399 deaths on Friday, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing.
  • India recorded 88,600 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the country’s official toll to just under 6 million (5,992,532), according to the country’s official figures. Deaths increased by 1,124 to 94,503.
  • Coronavirus cases in Colombia, which is nearly a month into a national reopening after a long lockdown, surpassed 800,000.
  • The work of hundreds of doctors, nurses, fundraisers and volunteers will be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
  • Crowds protested outside the home of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Saturday demanding he quit over his handling of Covid-19.
  • Saudi Arabia plans to resume tourist visas by early 2021 after months of suspension amid strict measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Sixteen people were arrested and nine police officers were injured following clashes at anti-lockdown demonstrations in central London.
  • A Brazilian judge called off Palmeiras and Flamengo’s league match due to be played on Sunday after at least 16 players from the club as well as the team’s coach tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Argentina’s coronavirus cases are poised to top 700,000 as new daily infections and deaths hit the top five globally, despite seven months of lockdown that have ravaged the frail economy.
  • France registered another 14,412 confirmed coronavirus cases, not far from a daily record of 16,096 set earlier this week, total the tally to 527,446.

Updated

PA: University students in the UK must be allowed to return home to their families at Christmas, Labour has said, amid fears that coronavirus outbreaks could keep young people in halls when term ends.

Thousands of students are currently confined to their rooms following a surge in cases at institutions including Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan and Edinburgh Napier.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week declined to rule out asking students to stay on campus over Christmas, after Government scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport said the measure may be needed to stop the virus spreading to older relatives.

Students who’s graduations were canceled pose for each other to take photographs in the cloisters as therir eventual graduations will be on line only. Signs ask student to keep 2 metres apart. Glasgow University where at least 172 students have tested positive for Covid-19 and hundreds more are self isolating. University of Glasgow, Scotland UK
Students who’s graduations were canceled pose for each other to take photographs in the cloisters as therir eventual graduations will be on line only. Signs ask student to keep 2 metres apart. Glasgow University where at least 172 students have tested positive for Covid-19 and hundreds more are self isolating. University of Glasgow, Scotland UK Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Shadow education secretary Kate Green has written to her opposite number Gavin Williamson, urging him to “promise” students that such restrictions will not be imposed.

She said it would be “deeply unfair to see students forced to remain in their student accommodation” and asked Williamson to “work with universities to ensure every student has access to testing to allow a safe journey home” for Christmas.

Green also asked the Education Secretary to consider a delay to the start of term or a “pause in migration” for universities where term has not yet begun to allow improvements in testing capacity and remote learning provisions.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “the Government is working closely with universities to ensure they are well prepared for the return of students, and we have published guidance to help them keep students and staff as safe as possible.

“Students should follow the latest health advice, just like the wider public, which means they should stay at university in the event that they have symptoms, have to isolate, there are additional restrictions imposed locally, or there is an outbreak on campus or in their accommodation.

“We will continue monitoring the situation very closely and follow Public Health England advice, adapting policies to best support students and providers.”

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and federal health minister Greg Hunt, have welcomed Victoria’s easing of restrictions but also suggested they’d like it to go further.

It will be important that more be done in the weeks ahead to safely ease more restrictions.

We note that at similar case levels NSW was fundamentally open while remaining Covidsafe due to a world class contact tracing facility.

As many epidemiologists have encouraged, we would support Victoria in reviewing the trigger of five and zero cases with regards to the third and last steps.

As it stands this lockdown is already longer than that faced by residents in many cities around the world. We remain deeply concerned about the mental health impacts of a prolonged lockdown on Melbourne residents.

Updated

A Key West team is expected to enforce a new mandate allowing people to go maskless outdoors if they are 6ft apart – an impossible task among partygoers. This feature from Jessica Glenza in Key West, Florida.

Key West code enforcement officer Paul Navarro was halfway through his shift and beginning to see signs of trouble. The crowds on lower Duval Street swelled just after 9pm, and social distancing quickly became impossible on the sidewalks.

Navarro is the last line of defense against the high-risk behaviors which spread Covid-19 and is one of the principal enforcers of the Florida city’s mask mandate – an effort to protect public health and the local economy. Until 16 September part of that balancing act had included a strict mask mandate, now that rule has been loosened.

Patricia Hanson, from rural Crawfordville, approached Navarro to question him vigorously about whether Key West’s mask mandate makes allowances for federal disability rights laws (it does).

“I feel they are not following science, I feel they’re out of fear, and I feel a lot of the politicians who are telling us to wear them are not wearing them themselves,” said Hanson, 50. If her health was “compromised”, she would want to reach “herd immunity as soon as possible”, she said, referencing a discredited Covid-19 containment strategy that experts say would mean more than 200 million people would have to recover from the disease to halt the epidemic.

In the UK: Dentists face a “tsunami” of untreated tooth decay because children have been kept away from dental surgeries during lockdown.

Half of parents in the UK said their children had missed a check-up since March, according to an Opinium survey for the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), which represents practices across the country.

The survey of 2,000 people included 622 parents, with 31% saying their family had decided not to go for a check-up or make an appointment. Another 13% said they had not been able to get an appointment – a sign of the growing problem of delays caused by the pandemic.

Dental practices were forced to shut after coronavirus hit, but have been allowed to reopen since 8 June.

Read more:

Hopes for New Zealand-Australia travel bubble by end of year

Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.

But he says “first and foremost” Australian states must open up to one another as great progress is being made.

Birmingham said opening up an international border with New Zealand would be a “great step” and work is being done to make sure this can be done in a safe way.

“We’re making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand,” the minster told ABC News Weekend Breakfast.

“It’s up to them as to whether they choose to open up to Australia, but we’re certainly making sure that we’re prepared and I’m hopeful that could be this year.”

Skyline Gondola Cable Car in Queenstown, New Zealand. Australian trade Minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year.
A cable car in Queenstown, New Zealand. Australian trade Minister Simon Birmingham hopes a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand can be put in place by the end of the year. Photograph: Rafael Ben-Ari/Alamy Stock Photo

The Australian government also announced $250m to boost tourism and infrastructure in Australia’s regions which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes $50m for a regional tourism recovery initiative to assist businesses in regions heavily reliant on international tourism.

A further $200m will be injected into the “building better regions fund” to boost infrastructure in regional communities, $100m of which will be dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure.

“We want to make sure that our tourism regions are in the best possible shape on the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Birmingham said.

Updated

For Victorians looking to make sense of the new changes coming in tomorrow, here’s a handy explainer.

Victoria will now base its decisions about public health restrictions on case numbers, rather than aspirational dates, the premier said. This could mean the state would take its next step towards lifting restrictions as early as 19 October, with an aim for a “Covid-normal Christmas”, premier Daniel Andrews said.

Police patrol Treasury Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday.
Police patrol Treasury Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Stage four restrictions have been in effect across metropolitan Melbourne since Sunday 2 August.

Andrews announced his government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Sunday 6 September. Some small changes came into effect on midnight 13 September, and further changes were announced on 27 September, to come into effect by the next day.

Updated

Before the coronavirus outbreak, there was a sense that western Sydney – despite its challenges – was on the up. With a booming population, it had become the third-biggest economy in Australia, trailing only the Sydney CBD and Melbourne.

And with an international airport on the way and plenty of infrastructure spending by the state government, there was optimism it would continue to generate jobs and economic growth.

Its population growth has outpaced Sydney as a whole every year for the past six years. That made it an economic engine, fuelling population-serving industries such as construction and retail. But the growth had a hidden weakness: the labour market.

India records 88,600 new Covid cases and 1,124 deaths

India recorded 88,600 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the country’s official toll to just under 6 million (5,992,532), according to the country’s official figures. Deaths increased by 1,124 to 94,503.

India has the world’s second-highest number of cases, behind the US, and the third-highest number of deaths.

A family rides a motorcycle in the rain in Hyderabad.
A family rides a motorcycle in the rain in Hyderabad. Photograph: Mahesh Kumar A/AP

Updated

European airlines cut fares to attract passengers

AFP: With the coronavirus crisis putting a chill on travel, European airlines are reducing fares to attract passengers and fill the planes that are still flying.

Travel restrictions adopted by many countries to stem the spread of the disease have clobbered airlines, bringing air traffic to a near halt in the spring. And while traffic picked up during the summer, it is now falling off again.

According to Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic in Europe, traffic has been slowing over the past couple of weeks, and is now 54% below its comparable level last year.

A European airline trade association has put August traffic even lower, at just 30% of 2019 levels.

Eurocontrol is now more pessimistic about a recovery for the sector.

In the spring it had expected traffic to be 30% below 2019 levels in October, but it has now seen a 57% drop.

While the pandemic has left airlines starved for cash, they have begun to cut fare prices.

According to ForwardKeys, a company which analyses the tourism market, airlines trimmed fares from Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands to destinations in southern Europe by 15% in August compared with the same period last year.

In a study released Thursday it found that prices on some routes were down by more than one-third.

Updated

As Victoria reaches the end of its second wave of the coronavirus, the focus is now on ensuring a third wave doesn’t hit as Australia heads into summer.

Guardian Australia spoke to leading epidemiologists about the lessons learned from other countries, particularly in Europe, that are experiencing a resurgence in cases.

What does Australia need to do to avoid a third wave? Lessons from other parts of the world show we should lock down early, rely on evidence – and get used to wearing masks.

Asked about any changes to be made to Victoria’s contact-tracing system (which has faced criticism) since officials visited New South Wales, Andrews said both sides learned from each other but the biggest outcome was that NSW would be adopting Victoria’s IT system.

Victorian deputy health officer Allen Cheng speaks to the media on Sunday.
Victorian deputy health officer Allen Cheng speaks to the media on Sunday. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Updated

As Andrews’ press conference draws to an end, catch up on the global developments with our wrap here.

Q: Premier, on Friday you testified at the hotel quarantine inquiry, leading national cabinet, you had no expectation of defence force support at the hotel quarantine scheme, yet on July 27th, you responded: “We utilise private security, we will also utilise members of Victoria police and I’m very grateful to the prime minister for his offer of support from the Australian defence force.” Why did you mislead the inquiry?

Andrews: Well, I didn’t, because you omitted a very important word – extensive support. I had no expectation whatsoever of extensive support coming to us from the ADF. That is what I took away from the national cabinet meeting in very plain and clear terms. I fully acknowledge that there would be, in my judgment, a very different arrangement in New South Wales. I detailed why that was the case yesterday.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews answers questions from the media on Sunday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews answers questions from the media on Sunday. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

Updated

Asked about the resignation of health minister Jenny Mikakos, Andrews says he’s spoken to many colleagues in the past 48 hours.

“No one is happy to see someone who is an incredibly hard-working member of the team go. When you make a decision you can’t serve in the cabinet, you can’t serve in the cabinet. You need to tender your resignation. That’s what happened.”

He wishes her well and he acknowledges her hard work.

“To do anything else would be simply wrong, it wouldn’t be accurate.”

Andrews says he’s saddened by this but Mikakos made the only decision she could make once she decided she couldn’t sit in cabinet.

Updated

Some questions now for the newly minted acting health minister Martin Foley is being asked about elective surgeries.

Q: How quickly are Melbourne hospitals going to be able to get up to the 75% elective surgery?

As soon as they are able and varying from place to place, says Foley.

Q: “Is there concern among the health industry or basically doctors and surgeons have been saying that there’s no incentive for surgeons to assist in helping the blitz be carried out. Is there anything changing?”

A: “Of course, I’ve been in the job for not quite 15 hours. I’m happy to sit down with and I’ve had some initial exchange with the AMA. I look forward to sitting down with the colleges, I look forward to sitting down with them and working through the processes in the safest, most appropriate manner.”

Victorian health minister Martin Foley addresses the media on Sunday.
Victorian health minister Martin Foley addresses the media on Sunday. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

Updated

Someone might need to fill me in here on the apparent influence held by Melbourne’s indoor dance community.

Q: The indoor sporting arrangements for the dance community which is very vocal, have pointed out that young children are not a risk and carrying out current classes for schooling. Can they carry out classes for children?

A: We’re looking at that. I will tell you what I know, rather than what I think. I know the public health team is looking at this and it started with the professional dancers who looked at that, a matter of work, Australian Ballet – things of that nature. I know they were looking at this matter in the example you cite.

Updated

On the 127,000 people returning to work:

  • Supermarkets and food distribution centres will return to full capacity.
  • Abattoirs, seafood and meat processing plants will also increase, in line with the levels we know are safe.
  • At the same time, and recognising the increased risk in some of these environments, there’ll be additional obligations for employers, including regular surveillance testing of staff, nightly deep cleaning, separating workers into consistent bubbles, and providing regular training for their workers.
  • Manufacturing can return with up to 90% of its workforce.
  • Sole traders doing outside gardening and landscaping can return - not in teams.
  • Retail pet grooming will also resume.

Questioned on the very short notice given to these industries, Andrews suggests he had no choice, and that if they announced it last week it would have been on non-current data and might have to be rolled back.

“I don’t think too many of them will be complaining that this decision has been made was up I think they will be very pleased. And they will work hard over the coming days to come up to the permitted level of activity.”

Updated

Mask-wearing 'not going anywhere soon', Andrews says

Questions now.

Andrews explaining the new exercise allowances. If you’re at work, you can go for a walk or a run etc within 5km as long as you have your permit on you.

Public gatherings – now allowed in small numbers – do not mean your front or backyard. It means “in public places”.

Rules around face coverings have been strengthened. From the press statement:

“Victorians will now be required to wear a fitted face mask, covering the nose and mouth. Some of the concessions we made as we adjusted to this new normal – things like wearing a scarf or a bandana or a face shield – will no longer apply.”

Andrews declines to make any announcement on the possibility of face mask rules relaxing. He says he recognises that as it gets warmer the masks get more uncomfortable, but the benefits are really clear.

“I’m a hold out when it comes to mask, I think they play and important part and they’re not going anywhere soon,” he says. But the question of where they’re used, such as workplaces and outdoor parks, is not settled and he’ll listen to health experts.

A worker at The Social Studio makes masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne.
A worker at The Social Studio makes masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Melbourne. Photograph: Sandra Sanders/Reuters

Updated

Virus reproduction rates are falling about 20% every five or six days, says Professor Allen Cheng, who is going through the modelling driving the restrictions and changes to those restrictions.

“These models are really best at describing or exploring ‘what if’ scenarios without actually having to live them,” he says. For example:

“The Burnett model was able to explore what was the impact of relaxing restrictions early. This suggests we really can’t open up too quickly. If we had opened up to the final step on the 14 September, this model suggested we would have an 86% chance of a resurgence up to 100 cases a day within four weeks. If we opened up tomorrow to the final step, they would still be a 41% chance of getting to 100 cases a date within four weeks.”

“We’re almost there. We need people with symptoms to be tested, so we can find the last cases and act. We need to hang in a little longer to make it as safe as possible before the next step.”

Updated

Chief health officer Brett Sutton is up now.

“Today’s numbers are a little bit of an illustration around why that decision was recommended by my public health team and why I have accepted and supported discontinuation of the curfew,” Sutton says.

“That is a very different situation to where we had been in recent weeks, certainly even different to a fortnight ago when we had 50- 60-70 cases per day.”

The epidemiology and demographics of the cases are different now, he says.

‘The sporadic, individual community cases that we are seeing are now very small in number. Over the course of the last couple of weeks... we are getting down to one to three community cases per day and so in reflecting on the obligations of the Victorian Charter and the public health and wellbeing act and issue of proportionality, it is my view and it was the public health team’s view, that the curfew is not a proportionate measure to have in place going forward.”

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews (centre), Victorian chief Health officer Brett Sutton (left) and Victorian health minister Martin Foley arrive to a press conference on Sunday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews (centre), Victorian chief Health officer Brett Sutton (left) and Victorian health minister Martin Foley arrive at the press conference on Sunday. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP



Updated

Victorian curfew to end tonight, new fines in place

The much-maligned nighttime curfew is over from tomorrow morning.

In its place they are introducing a new fine of almost $5,000 for any unlawful indoor or outdoor gatherings.

“It mirrors the announcement we have put in place for people travelling to regional Victoria and potentially taking the virus with them without a lawful reason. If you are having a party at your house, that is unlawful. That was everything at risk.”

A man outside a deserted Luna Park as curfew approaches in Melbourne on 10 September.
A man outside a deserted Luna Park as curfew approaches in Melbourne on 10 September. Photograph: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

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Further restrictions to lift early – to get Victoria to 'Covid-normal Christmas'

Some extremely hopeful news for Victorians.

The third and final steps of the roadmap will no longer be held to the announced dates, Andrews has announced.

“We believe we will be able to take the next step – which is when all the restrictions leaving your home when there is much more freedom of movement – on 19 October,” says Andrews.

“We are at least a week ahead of schedule. But we must wait and see how things unfold over the next three weeks and then make those decisions and speak about likely timeframes in November. This is a strategy that is designed to get us to a Covid-normal Christmas.”

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More:

  • Faith-based activities: Five people plus one faith leader for outdoor gatherings and ceremonies will be allowed.
  • Weddings: A limit of five including the couple and two witnesses in outdoor places are allowed.
  • Exercise: Hiking, fishing and other exercises that don’t involve a facility, are now allowed for a maximum of two hours within five kilometres of your home or - if you are a permitted worker - within five kilometres of your workplace. Tennis, golf, bowls etc clubs are still closed.

Daniel Andrews announces easing of restrictions, including outdoor gatherings

As each and every Melburnian knows only too well, our target today was to get to a rolling 14 day average of between 30 and 50 cases. The fact that we are at 22.1 cases over that 14 day period as a rolling average means that this strategy is working. It is more than working. We are ahead of schedule, we have made more progress than we hoped to make at this point in time. Now, that is something we can all be pleased about it but it doesn’t mean this is over.

Andrews now to run through changes coming into effect tonight:

  • 127,000 workers will return to various industries with Covid-safe plans, that includes an additional 30,000 than had been planned for this step when the roadmap was released some weeks ago.
  • Prep to grade six, special school students and VCE, VCAL students will return to school on site in the week beginning 12 October
  • Childcare opens for all children, no permit is required and the 5km limit does not apply. In-home childminding, paid or unpaid: one childminder can do that in each home
  • Outdoor public gatherings allowed - one household or a limit of five people from no more than two households. “That is more than what we had hoped to be able to achieve.”
  • One visitor per patient day for a maximum of two hours at care facilities and hospitals. For patients that are under the age of 18 years, two parents or carers can visit with no time limit.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media on Sunday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media on Sunday. Photograph: Erik Anderson/AAP

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Andrews is urging testing, testing, testing.

More statistics:

  • 4,270 cases with an unknown source, three more than yesterday
  • 64 health care workers are among the active cases
  • Nine active cases in regional Victoria, no new cases
  • 209 active cases connected to aged care
  • Five cases connected to disability facility settings

Daniel Andrews press conference

Andrews is up now. He’s saying there are just 399 active cases, and it’s the first time that number has dropped below 400 since 14 June.

“I’m not only proud of the Victorian community, I am deeply grateful for the amazing work, the sacrifice, the pain that they have enjoyed and will need to endure for a bit longer. In order to defeat this second wave. And then open up and stay open.

Of the 16 new cases, 10 are related to aged care and four to a complex case. One is related to both aged care and a complex case. The deaths of two men in their 70s – one linked to aged care – brings the state’s death toll to 784.

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Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is about to address media. I’ll bring you updates here.

France records 14,412 new Covid cases as resistance grows over restrictions

AFP: France will face a months-long coronavirus epidemic that will overwhelm its health system if something does not change, one of the country’s top medical figures warned Sunday.

“The second wave is arriving faster than we thought,” Patrick Bouet, head of the National Council of the Order of Doctors, told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

France’s health service on Saturday recorded 14,412 new cases over the previous 24 hours – slightly lower than the record 16,000 registered on both Thursday and Friday. But over the last seven days, 4,102 people have been hospitalised, 763 of whom are being treated in intensive care.

Fresh restrictions to slow the spread of the disease in the country’s worst-hit areas, including the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the Paris region, have run into local resistance. On Saturday, Marseille bar and restaurant owners demonstrated outside the city’s commercial courthouse against forced closures due to start this evening.

Bouet told the paper that warnings delivered this week by the health minister Olivier Veran had not gone far enough.

“He didn’t say that in three to four weeks, if nothing changes, France will face a widespread outbreak across its whole territory, for several long autumn and winter months,” Bouet said.

There would be no medical staff available to provide reinforcements, and France’s health system would be unable to meet all the demands placed on it, he warned.

The health workers responsible for the spring “miracle” would not be able plug those gaps, he added.

“Many of them are exhausted, traumatised.”

A restaurant owner holds a sign reading “to disobey is to save Marseille” to protest French Health Minister Olivier Veran’s visit at La Timone public hospital in Marseille, southern France, Friday 25 September 2020.
A restaurant owner holds a sign reading ‘To disobey is to save Marseille’ to protest French health minister Olivier Veran’s visit at La Timone public hospital in Marseille. Photograph: Daniel Cole/AP

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Mexico reports 5,573 new Covid cases and 399 deaths

Reuters: Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 726,431 on Saturday, according to updated data from the health ministry, along with a reported death toll of 76,243.

Authorities reported 5,573 new cases along with 399 deaths on Friday, but the true figures are likely significantly higher due to little testing.

A man visits a grave at the Municipal Pantheon in Valle de Chalco, Mexico state.
A man visits a grave at the Municipal Pantheon in Valle de Chalco, Mexico state. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

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In Australia, Victorians don’t want to see a premature lifting of restrictions in the Australian state if it means rules will have to be tightened again in the near future, according to leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

Bandt, who represents the seat of Melbourne, told the ABC’s Insiders it had been a tough period for everyone during the second wave but the state government needed to be cautious as it considered easing the current rules:

“I think at the moment everyone is just hoping we don’t want to see some early lifting of restrictions if it means we have to go back to this for a third time. I think everyone is focused on the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.”

Bandt also suggested there were serious questions to be answered, not only out of the inquiry into hotel quarantine but also about the state of contact tracing in Victoria. He questioned “whether years of cutting away the public service played a role in this and the rise of insecure work”.

Sewage testing identifies coronavirus spots in NSW

Traces of the Covid-19 virus have been detected in raw sewage across Sydney as part of new research that could provide another tool in the fight against the pandemic, NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant says.

She said the sewage testing program undertaken by NSW Health and Sydney Water started in July could show where the virus had been and provide early warning in places without known or recent cases.

“This is early days for this research, and we have a lot of work to do analysing our findings, but it’s one more way we can strengthen our fight against Covid-19,” Chant said in a statement.

“This is a program that will show us where Covid-19 has been. For instance, we would expect to see viral fragments in Sydney sewage where we have consistently had cases in the community or in hotel quarantine.

“However, if we continue to have very few active cases, there is scope for this testing to provide early warning in places without known or recent cases.”

Sydney Water’s general manager customer, strategy and engagement, Maryanne Graham, said treatment processes effectively deactivated the virus and there was no risk to testing staff.

Sydney Water laboratories commenced testing raw sewage from plants at Bondi, Malabar, North Head, Cronulla, St Marys, Quakers Hill, Rouse Hill, Penrith, Shellharbour and Winmalee in the Blue Mountains about two weeks ago.

The first round of samples found positive results at Bondi, Malabar, and Winmalee.

Bondi Beach with the sewer vent seen in the top right-hand corner.
Bondi Beach with the Bondi sewer vent seen in the top right-hand corner. Coronavirus traces were found in sewage tested at Bondi. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

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China reports 14 new Covid cases

Reuters: Mainland China reported 14 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared with 15 cases announced a day earlier, the national health authority has said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all the new cases were imported infections involving travellers from abroad. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed Covid-19 patients, fell to 26 from 30 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in mainland China now stands at 85,351, while the number of total deaths remained unchanged at 4,634.

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Zero new Covid cases reported in New South Wales

In the 24 hours to 8pm last night, there were no new cases reported in NSW, including hotel quarantine. The past week has seen just a handful of community transmissions.

The last time NSW recorded zero cases was 10 June.

Well done everyone.

NSW Health thanks the community for all they have done towards reducing Covid-19 numbers, and continues to ask people to remain vigilant and come forward for testing immediately if symptoms like a runny nose, scratchy throat, cough or fever appear.

This is particularly important with the start of school holidays and increased movement of people around the state.”

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Queensland reports one new Covid case

Queensland, Australia, has reported just one new case – a person in hotel quarantine.

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Hong Kong reports one new case of Covid

In Hong Kong, health authorities have reported just one case on Saturday, a traveler who arrived from Bahrain. The city has been battling a third wave of infections with increased social restrictions which have just started to ease in recent weeks.

On Friday the chief executive, Carrie Lam, said Hong Kong had “basically contained” the third wave of the virus.

“Yet, some sporadic cases with unknown sources of infection show that there is still a risk of virus transmission within the community. We should not drop our guard but remain vigilant to curb the spread of the disease.”

People wearing face masks cross a street at Causeway Bay amid the coronavirus outbreak on September 19, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.
People wearing face masks cross a street at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. Photograph: China News Service/Getty Images

Lam said plans to resume cross-border travel with mainland China were put on ice because of Hong Kong’s outbreak, but they’ll now “strive to restart discussions”.

“As for the setting up of travel bubbles with other places, we have established an inter-departmental taskforce under the leadership of the secretary for commerce and economic development which is actively exploring the subject with countries that have a relatively stable epidemic situation and close economic and trade relations with Hong Kong.”

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Sydney's Sculpture By the Sea event postponed due to Covid

Sydney’s annual Sculpture By the Sea exhibition has been postponed due to Covid restrictions, the director David Hanley has announced.

“Due to current public health orders limiting mass outdoor gatherings, our 2020 event will not be going ahead as planned,” said Handley.

“We are continuing to work with ... agencies, including NSW Health on reviewing all options for an exhibition that will ensure safe attendance.”

Potential new dates for the exhibition include later in 2020 or early 2021.

More than 100 artists have spent a total of $1.8m shipping their sculptures to Sydney for the event, which draws huge crowds to the 2km exhibition trail along the eastern coastline.

“So it was important to wait and see if there was any chance we could proceed with this year’s exhibition as planned,” Handley said.

“Now, like everyone, we are waiting to see what might be possible, being mindful that everyone’s health comes first.”

Sculpture More Than it Seems by Geraldo Zamproni is exhibited along the Bondi to Tamarama Coastal walk as part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Sydney, Thursday, October 24, 2019.
Sculpture More Than it Seems by Geraldo Zamproni is exhibited along the Bondi to Tamarama Coastal walk as part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Sydney in 2019. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

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Still in Middletown, Pennsylvania, Trump says Americans were “coming together until we got hit with the plague from China”, claiming he was getting phone calls from “hardcore radical Democrats” wanting to work with the Trump administration.

The US saved “millions of lives” by doing what they did, Trump says. He doesn’t specify what but usually this claim is about closing the borders to China (they didn’t).

Later he says Europe has a far greater mortality rate than the US. According to Johns Hopkins University this is not entirely wrong, but it depends on which statistics you’re looking at.

The US’s fatality rate (per 100 confirmed cases) is around 2.9% and is below many European countries. The UK’s rate is 9.9%, Belgium is 9%, Sweden 6.5%, France is 5.7%, according to Johns Hopkins. But when you look at the fatality rate per 100,000 people (whether they have the virus or not), the US has the 11th highest rate of all nations, with Belgium, the UK, and Spain the only European countries ahead of them.

“Our early and aggressive action saved millions of lives,” he continues, and says they’ll “develop and distribute a vaccine in record time”.

He says “they are very upset with the vaccine” and “they don’t want it now”, but to be honest I don’t know who “they” are supposed to be.

“We will crush the virus, our opponents will crush America, that’s what it’s about,” he says, saying a government led by him will have incredible prosperity but a Democrat administration will bring about an economic collapse worse than the Great Depression.

People jeer at the media as Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
People jeer at the media as Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Donald Trump is currently addressing a rally in Pennsylvania. He’s started by railing against “leftwing justices” on the supreme court who, he says, will “will cripple police departments, protect sanctuary cities” and end the death penalty for “even the most depraved mass murderers”.

There’s a reference to “Sleepy Joe” and more baseless claims about problems/corruption with ballots, some crowd chanting of “USA” and “four more years”.

Nothing on Covid in the US yet, where there have been 7,076,828 cases – the most of any country in the world. More than 204,400 Americans have died.

At least everyone on screen behind him are wearing masks.

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If the slogan of 2020 is “We’re all in this together”, perhaps it should come with an asterisk: *except for those with less, who are hurting more.

Covid-19 hasn’t torn through Australia as it has the United States, Brazil, India and much of Europe, but the economic impact has exposed gaping inequities in almost every facet of our lives.

While some people simply packed up their desks and took work home, more than 1 million others in Australia are jobless and others only technically still “employed” because they are receiving federal government wage subsidies.

In Melbourne, where the pandemic hit hardest, the virus carved a conspicuous path through the most disadvantaged and culturally diverse parts of the city: the west, north and outer south-east.

An aerial view of the public housing towers on Racecourse Road, North Melbourne.
The public housing towers on Racecourse Road, North Melbourne. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“We should not pretend that everybody is in this equally,” says Dr Stephen Duckett, the health program director at the Grattan Institute. “People who are suffering are less well-off, and have poorer, precarious employment. So when people say, ‘Look business is hurting,’ that may be true, but these people are bearing the brunt of this.”

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Covid-19 has had far-reaching impacts all around the world – including on how defence forces operate.

Australia’s defence minister, Linda Reynolds, announced today that an Australian maritime patrol aircraft would operate out of Kadena air base in Japan and help enforce UN security council sanctions on North Korea.

Australia’s minister for defence Linda Reynolds.
Australia’s minister for defence Linda Reynolds. Photograph: Reuters

In a statement, the Australian government pointed to quarantine requirements:

“The Poseidon aircraft and its crew will deploy from RAAF’s 92 Wing and quarantine at Kadena Air Base in line with Japan’s Covid-19 entry requirements.”

The Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is to “conduct airborne surveillance to monitor and deter illegal shipments of sanctioned goods”, with operations due to begin late this month and conclude late in October. It’s the seventh such deployment since 2018, but only the second this year.

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Victoria reports 16 new cases and two deaths

Victoria’s daily update is in.

In the last 240hour period there were 16 new cases of Covid-19 reported, as well as two fatalities.

The daily press conference with premier Daniel Andrews will give us further details, but the Department of Health and Human Services says the rolling 14-day average is down to 22.1 in metropolitan Melbourne and 0.6 in regional Victoria. The number of unsourced cases is stable at 31.

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First, a catch up from AAP on the latest developments in the Australian state of Victoria.

Victoria has woken up with a new health minister but Melburnians’ minds are on what freedoms are about to return to their restricted lives.

The state’s “roadmap” out of lockdown announced in early September is expected to be tweaked on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.

Many will, once more, be hanging on the premier’s words at what has become a sombre tradition of weighty Sunday press conferences.

The two-week rolling daily case average of 23.6 is well under the 30-50 case average health authorities were aiming for.

Under the original plans to take effect from Monday, the 9pm curfew would remain, as well as the 5km travel limit and takeaway-only for restaurants and cafes.

Restrictions around public gatherings would ease to allow up to five people from a maximum of two households to meet outside for social interaction.

Childcare and kindergarten would reopen and some school students would return to classrooms in term 4.

The Victorian opposition is calling for rules to be loosened well beyond this, saying the curfew should go, all school students should return and restaurants, retail and offices should reopen.

Victorian premier Dan Andrews on Saturday.
Victorian premier Dan Andrews on Saturday. Photograph: Dave Hewison/Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock

It has been a dramatic few days in Victorian politics culminating in the resignation of Jenny Mikakos as health minister on Saturday morning.

By the afternoon, Daniel Andrews had announced mental health minister Martin Foley as her replacement and he was sworn in.

Mikakos’ resignation came a day after she heard her boss tell the hotel quarantine inquiry board she was responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services, which was ultimately responsible for running the quarantine scheme.

The hotel quarantine program in Victoria failed because private security guards breached infection control, causing the spread of the virus into the community and a devastating second wave.

To date, 782 Victorians have died of the virus and the entire state has been subject to strict lockdowns, workforce and school closures and prolonged social isolation.

“I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished but in light of the premier’s statement ... and the fact there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with ... I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet,” Mikakos wrote.

I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined.

I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in.

In good conscience, I do not believe that my action led to them.

Mikakos will also be resigning from the Victorian parliament.

The premier, like all leaders who came before the $3m inquiry, told the board on Friday he did not know who made the decision to use private security guards.

He pushed back on suggestions from reporters on Saturday that he should also resign, saying he would not run from a challenge and remained focused on fighting the pandemic and repairing the state’s economy.

Updated

Hello and welcome to this coronavirus live blog with me, Helen Davidson.

Global deaths are nearing 1 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Currently they stand at 990,977, with the United States recording around 20% of fatalities worldwide (204,446). Brazil is the second-worst affected country (140,537), with India in third (93,379).

In Australia, residents of the state of Victoria are eagerly awaiting an announcement today by the state premier, Daniel Andrews, on whether the state’s coronavirus restrictions will be eased.

The state’s “roadmap” out of lockdown that was announced in early September is expected to be tweaked on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.

In other developments:

  • Coronavirus cases in Colombia, which is nearly a month into a national reopening after a long lockdown, surpassed 800,000. The country has 806,038 confirmed cases of the virus according to the health ministry, with 25,296 reported deaths. Active cases number 78,956. Colombia is now in a much-looser “selective” quarantine phase which allows dining at restaurants and international flights. Concerts and other large events remain banned and land and water borders are closed.
  • The work of hundreds of doctors, nurses, fundraisers and volunteers will be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. The list was postponed in June in order to add nominations for people playing key roles in the early months of the pandemic in the UK. It will be released on 10 October.
  • Crowds protested outside the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home on Saturday demanding he quit over his handling of Covid-19. Netanyahu’s government decided this week to tighten a three-week lockdown imposed on 18 September, hoping to keep Israelis at home, shutting down many businesses and limiting group prayers during the ongoing Jewish high-holiday season. Infections have surged since measures were relaxed in May, reaching daily highs of more than 7,000 among the population of nine million.
  • Saudi Arabia plans to resume tourist visas by early 2021 after months of suspension amid strict measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In late-February the kingdom closed its borders to foreign pilgrims and to tourists from at least 25 countries. In March, it barred all travel in and out of the country. The tourism sector has been hit hard and is expected to see a 35%-45% decline by year end.
  • Sixteen people were arrested and nine police officers were injured following clashes at anti-lockdown demonstrations in central London. Thousands of people defied the advice of the Metropolitan Police and demonstrated against lockdowns, mass vaccinations, mandatory wearing of face masks and other coronavirus restrictions. The Met said the demonstrators had not “complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus” and ordered crowds to disperse.
  • A Brazilian judge called off Palmeiras and Flamengo’s league match due to be played on Sunday after at least 16 players from the club as well as the team’s coach tested positive for Covid-19. The decision followed an appeal by the union of football club employees, who said they and their families would be at risk if the game went ahead. Both the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the country’s sports tribunal had rejected Flamengo’s request to halt the game.
  • Argentina’s coronavirus cases are poised to top 700,000 as new daily infections and deaths hit the top five globally, despite seven months of lockdown that have ravaged the frail economy. Argentina reported a rolling seven-day average of 11,082 new cases daily, behind only India, the United States, France and Brazil, all countries with far larger populations than the South American nation. A gradual loosening of its strict lockdown over time and the spread of cases from the capital to the provinces have seen cases skyrocket.
  • France registered another 14,412 confirmed coronavirus cases, not far from a daily record of 16,096 set earlier this week, total the tally to 527,446.

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