Coronavirus live news: senior PLO figure hospitalised; Swiss prepare for more restrictions

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Mezmin Malida’s neighbours have been wondering what she’s up .....on Sunday.

Mezmin Malida’s neighbours have been wondering what she’s up to for a while now. Seven days a week, several times a day, they see her load up every crevice of a BMW with mysterious bin liners and boxes until the pile looks like it might topple into the driver’s seat, and then head off into Leicester and return a few hours later having got rid of the lot. Also, they ask themselves, why do the police keep coming round?

There’s nothing for them to worry about. Malida, 39, is a trustee of Rosemina’s Outreach Project, and a one-woman Deliveroo for Leicester’s most vulnerable people as they wait out a crisis that feels like it will never end. (She also does community support work with the police, which explains the visits.)

When the city became the first in the country to be forced into a second lockdown, she coordinated a network of volunteers ferrying supplies to the shielding and the homeless, often topping up donations by adding £20 or £30 in biscuits or nappies or shower gel to her family shop. Months later, most of her team have gone back to their jobs but Malida is still going, supporting about 120 people a week.

The need isn’t going away, but people feel we’ve been forgotten. They tell me they’ve lost hope.

The Czech Republic, which has the highest infection rate in Europe, will wait at least two weeks before deciding whether to order a full lockdown to stem its epidemic, its deputy prime minister Karel Havlíček has said.

In the past week, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close except for takeaway orders, and schools have been shifted to distance learning. Sport and fitness clubs, theatres and cinemas had already been shut, but shops have remained open.

On Saturday, the Czech Republic reported 8,713 new cases; its largest daily total at a weekend. And the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said it had registered 828 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks; more than 10 times the rate in neighbouring Germany. Havlíček said:

We will not decide this week about a lockdown. We have clearly said we will wait (until 2 November) for results.

Bulgaria will not need to impose a full lockdown to contain the second wave if it follows protective measures, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva has said.

Bulgaria risks, like every other country, a shock from a second wave. It does not mean a full lockdown when you follow protective measures, like wearing masks, social distancing and testing is followed. This is what we should do now in the face of a second wave.

A further 61 people who tested positive have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,971, NHS England has said.

The patients were aged between 54 and 96 years. All but four patients, aged 56 to 92, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths occurred between 4 and 17 October. Four other deaths were reported with no positive test result.

In Wales, a further 950 cases have been diagnosed, bringing the total to 35,628. Public Health Wales said three further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,711.

Updated

Differences remain with President Donald Trump’s administration on a wide-ranging relief package, including language on testing provisions that affect minority populations, the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said. She told ABC’s This Week:

They took out ... 55% of the language that we had there for testing and tracing. And the tracing part is so important because communities of colour had been disproportionately affected by this.

The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has written to political leaders in Westminster urging them to help secure a “fair financial framework” for local lockdowns.

He told the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson, Labour’s Keir Starmer and other party leaders this is “not just a Greater Manchester issue” as he called for a consistent new package for tier 3 restrictions.

Backed by Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram, he called for a “full and fair furlough scheme” covering 80% of wages or at least the national minimum wage, support for the self-employed and improved compensation for businesses.

With the challenging winter that lies ahead of the country, it is likely that most places will find themselves in tier 3 at some point before a vaccine is found.

That is why we believe it is right for Parliament to debate and agree what is a fair level of support for people and businesses in those areas.

At present, local areas are agreeing individual deals with the government. It is by no means clear that these will be sufficient to cope with the pressures they will face. Also, the lack of transparency about this process and the risks of differential treatment is potentially divisive.

Establishing clear national entitlements of the kind we had during the first lockdown will create a sense of fairness which in turn would help build public support for, and compliance with, any new restrictions.

Erekat has been one of the most high-profile faces of the Palestinian leadership since the early 1990s. He is a senior adviser to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and also worked for Abbas’ predecessor Yasser Arafat.

When Erekat announced he had contracted Covid-19 more than a week ago, he said he was experiencing “difficult symptoms resulting from my lack of immunity as a result of lung transplantation”. The 65-year-old underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017 and has since been in poor health. However, he said at the time that “things are under control, thank God”.

Hanan Ashrawi, another senior PLO figure, announced last week she had also been infected.

Switzerland is stepping up its measures to tackle Covid-19, with new restrictions coming into force tomorrow.

From Monday, gatherings of more than 15 people in public places will be banned while masks must be worn in all indoor public places, including cinemas, shop and churches. Masks will also be mandatory at locations including train stations and airports in addition to being a requirement on public transport. Home working is now recommended, while customers will have to be seated to be served in restaurants and bars.

The restrictions come as the Swiss government takes stock of a rapid rise in cases – current figures reveal that 1,823 people have died in Switzerland so far, while daily reported new infections are up by 150% compared with the past week. On Friday, alone there were 3,105 new infections recorded. The government said:

The sharp increase in the number of cases in recent days is worrying. It is evident in all age groups and in all cantons. The number of hospitalisations is also increasing.

Updated

Saeb Erekat in hospital

A senior figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has been taken to hospital with coronavirus, it has emerged. According to Reuters, witnesses said the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has been taken to hospital from this home in the occupied West Bank by an Israeli ambulance.

Erekat tested positive on 8 October: his Twitter account has since been full of posts thanking officials for their well wishes. However, it now seems his condition has taken a turn for the worse. The PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department said:

Following his contraction of COVID-19, and due to the chronic health problems he faces in the respiratory system, Dr Erekat’s condition now requires medical attention in a hospital. He is currently being transferred to a hospital in Tel Aviv.

Updated

It seems the pandemic is causing some businesses to come up with inventive new ways to keep going: the Michelin-starred Hungarian restaurant Costes has been selling tickets for dinner on the Budapest Eye ferris wheel.

Apparently, the tickets cost 48,000 forints (almost £120) each for a four-course meal and rapidly sold out.

“Now that there are not many people either on the wheel or in the restaurant because there are no tourists, the opportunity arose that we could do this,” said Costes owner Karoly Gerendai.

Updated

Ireland is set to experience new Covid restrictions, although will not face a full lockdown as seen in the spring, it has been confirmed.

The higher education minister Simon Harris, who is the former minister for health, has said the new measures will be unveiled on Monday. He told national broadcaster RTÉ on the Week in Politics:

The government will act tomorrow, the action will be decisive and the action will be right across the country, it’ll be nationwide action.

It’s clear now that the virus is at such a level within all our communities, the county-by-county approach will not be sufficient. So tomorrow we will have to bring in more restrictions.

Updated

Hi everyone, Nicola Davis here while Kevin takes a well-deserved break. You can reach me on Twitter where I am NicolaKSDavis.

Summary

Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

  • Globally, there have been 39.7m confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 1.1m deaths. The US has nearly 8.1m confirmed cases, followed by India 7.4m, and Brazil 5.2m.
  • England will not go into a two or three-week “circuit-break” lockdown, a senior cabinet minister said. Michael Gove insisted the government was right to ignore its scientific advisers and pursue a plan they have said is insufficient to stop the spread if not enhanced.
  • It is not too late to introduce an effective national lockdown in England, a senior adviser said. Sir Jeremy Farrar said the worst thing to do would be to wait until November to act.
  • Europe is the emerging epicentre of the current wave: a third of all new cases worldwide are being detected in western European countries. Europe is recording more new cases than India, Brazil and the US combined.
  • Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time late on Friday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.
  • Italy had a record daily rise in cases of 10,925 and is considering toughening nationwide restrictions in response to the increase. The Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Malaysia also recorded their highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
  • The number of deaths in Iran from Covid-19 now exceeds 30,000, with the country’s health ministry saying the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic was now 30,123.
  • A two week “circuit breaker” lockdown is expected to commence in Wales on 23 October that will see all but essential retail outlets close, according to a leaked letter.
  • Thailand has recorded its first locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in more than a month.
  • The foreign ministers of Austria and Belgium have both tested positive for Covid-19.
  • New Zealand, which has twice eliminated the virus, reported its first local case for 22 days.
  • The French Collectivity of Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific recorded its first case for the entire pandemic.
  • Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform prayers in one of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months.

Malaysian health authorities have reported 871 new cases on Sunday; the nation’s worst daily count. It raises its total infections to 20,498. The Southeast Asian country, which imposed targeted lockdowns this month as infections surged, also recorded seven new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 187.

The health ministry’s director general Noor Hisham Abdullah told reporters the infection rate had dropped since a third wave of infections in the country began four weeks ago.

We expect this third wave of infections to be more challenging. Although we are more prepared in terms of medical equipment, manpower and others, what is important is that we need to control [the spread] so that the infections in the community can be reduced.

Israel will require incoming travellers from the UK to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, information on an Israeli government website shows.

The infection rate in the UK has risen sharply in recent weeks, prompting the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson to introduce tighter restrictions and local lockdowns.

The UK has been one of 31 “green” countries from which travellers who meet a series of special requirements could enter Israel without a mandatory quarantine period.

The UK’s status will change to “red” on 23 October, Israeli health ministry information shows.

The health ministry identifies some 185 other countries and localities as red, implying high infection rates. Incoming Israeli travellers are also subject to mandatory self-isolation.

Israel has begun rolling back a second-wave lockdown that has helped reduce new cases. The country has closed its borders to most non-Israelis, with exceptions including foreign workers and Jewish yeshiva students.

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 2,379 new confirmed cases and 50 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 356,618 cases and 6,652 deaths. It also said 14,941 more individuals had recovered, bringing total recoveries to 310,158.

Gove has defended police in the UK being given data from the NHS’s test and trace system, saying that officers are operating in a “very proportionate way”.

I think that actually the behavioural effects show that the majority of people, the overwhelming majority of people, want to be part of a national effort to fight the virus.

And of course there will be some, a very, very small minority, who will be, you know, heedless of the consequences of their actions.

But the other thing is, the police to be fair to them, are operating things so far as I can see, in a very proportionate way.

They engage and they explain well before they enforce. We all know that people make innocent errors and an appropriate word can mean that that innocent error can be corrected by any of us.

But where you do get persistent, flagrant and deliberate breaching of the rules, then it is appropriate for action to be taken.

Reacting to news, the director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, said:

It is dangerous to compromise the privacy of health data. This risks making test and trace appear to be part of a law enforcement effort rather than being about medical safety.

Parliament should insist on debating these changes, which lack safeguards and oversight, and are likely to further undermine pubic confidence in test and trace.

Doctors’ haste to mechanically ventilate patients at the start of the pandemic might have contributed to the higher rate of death in spring compared to now, a senior medic has said.

Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine in London, said doctors’ evolving understanding of the virus had dramatically upped the survival rate.

At the start of the pandemic, just 66% of people in hospital with the virus survived, compared to 84% in August. Dr Pittard told Sky News:

We used to put patients straight onto mechanical ventilation – so we would bring them to intensive care, sedate them and put them on ventilators. But we have slowly started to realise that perhaps we could manage some patients without doing that.

She said intensive care teams now use a variety of interventions to help patients breathe, and full mechanical ventilation is a last resort.

Pittard said there’s no evidence to suggest Covid-19 has become less dangerous despite falling death rates in the UK. She said that, although treatment is improving, social distancing is also having an impact on transmission and viral load.

It is still a very deadly virus, although the majority of people who still become infected will have a very, very minor illness or may not even know that they are ill at all. For those people that require hospital admission, for those that come to intensive care it’s still a very severe disease.

If you end up in critical care with Covid pneumonia you are almost twice as likely to die than somebody who’s admitted with a pneumonia not due to Covid - so it is still something to be worried about.

Keeping critical care facilities open to non-Covid patients will be vital to minimising the collateral damage of the next wave of the pandemic, Pittard added.

She said that minimising transmission within the community was the best way to prevent urgent care units becoming overburdened. Pittard said the focus of the next wave of the pandemic “isn’t going to be on Covid patients getting access to healthcare, it is going to be for those patients that don’t have Covid”.

If we can keep community transmission down it means we can treat everybody who needs healthcare and that is the great desire for everyone working in the NHS at the moment.

The UK government’s cabinet office minister Michael Gove has defended the £7,000 day rates paid to some executives from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) who are helping the government set up and run its testing system.

He insisted the spend was a good use of public money, adding:

Two things: firstly, it’s absolutely vital that we have all the expertise required from the private and the public sector in order to improve testing.

As I pointed out earlier, we have a higher level of testing in this country than in any other European country, we’ve improving contact tracing all the time. Local health protection teams are doing particularly well in that regard.

Separately, I’ve been clear as my colleague Lord Agnew in the Cabinet Office has, that we need to reduce our spend on consultants overall, but in the meantime, we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that we protect the NHS.

Here’s a little more from Prof Jeremy Farrer, who has been laying bare the scale of the national crisis. The “worst-case scenario” of 50,000 cases per day across the UK is “almost exactly where we are at”, he has told Sky News.

The [Office for National Statistics] survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10 October.

Today, it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.

It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.

The reasonable worst-case scenario that Sage articulated has now been broached, it is worse than the situation Sage advised on three or four weeks ago. So that’s the scenario we are in today.

Burnham called for MPs in Westminster to intervene and ensure tier 3 restrictions come with an adequate financial package.

Let’s move towards a resolution. That’s why I’ll be writing to the Labour party leaders in Westminster to ask them to intervene, for Parliament to intervene here.

What we need here is a fair financial framework if the government are going to insist on tier 3, at the moment they’re doing side deals with individual councils, that isn’t good enough for me.

He reiterated his call for the 80% furlough scheme to be reintroduced to support workers in firms that are forced to close.

This is everywhere’s concern because everywhere could end up in tier 3 over the course of this winter. Support us in this, I would ask your viewers to contact their MPs to support us in this because it’s about taking the country fairly through a very challenging winter. If we don’t put in this support tier 3 will create a punishing lockdown in the poorest communities.

And Burnham criticised a letter from 20 Tory MPs who called on him to work with the government’s approach to regional lockdowns.

I’m not sure a sort of ‘we’re alright Jack’ letter from a group of southern Conservative MPs is going to cut much ice here.

I would say to them some of them represent constituencies whose cases were higher than ours when we went into national lockdown.

Anywhere could end up in tier 3 this winter. In fact, I would say places are likely to end up in tier 3 this winter. Therefore, it’s everyone’s concern that we protect the lowest paid in our communities.

The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said he will be having a call with the UK prime minister’s chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister over lockdown restrictions on Sunday.

Asked if he was going to be speaking with Boris Johnson, Burnham told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

I was due to speak to Sir Ed Lister today so that’s the call I was expecting to take later this morning. But, beyond that, I’m ready to speak to ministers to try to resolve this situation.

Burnham, who is resisting the highest level of controls without more financial support for workers and businesses, accused Johnson of having exaggerated the severity of the situation in the region.

It’s a serious situation but I don’t think it was the situation that was described by the prime minister on Friday evening. I think it was an exaggeration of the position that we’re in.

Of course it’s a matter of concern and we watch the figures very closely indeed. But the figures have been falling in Manchester itself in the last few days, across Greater Manchester up slightly, but certainly not doubling every nine days.

So let’s be careful here. I would certainly say this morning let’s step back a bit from a war of words.

Here’s a little more detail on those comments from Prof Jeremy Farrer, the member of the UK government scientific advisory group who is still recommending a short national lockdown in England. He told Sky News:

In my view the best time to do this would have been around 20th September as Sage advised, that wasn’t decided upon then.

The second best time to do this is now and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.

So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.

Italy has approved a new stimulus package in its 2021 budget to foster an economic rebound from the recession caused by the pandemic, its government has said after a late-night cabinet meeting.

The ruling coalition, led by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and centre-left PD party, agreed a preliminary version of the stimulus package, a government source said, leaving final details to be hammered out.

Among measures to support the health and education system, the government will set up a €4bn (£3.54bn, $4.7bn) fund to compensate companies worst hit by lockdowns. The budget also extends temporary lay-off schemes for companies with workers on furlough and offers tax breaks to support employment in the poor south of the country.

The Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to also announce new measures to curb the steady spike in cases over recent weeks.

Indonesia has reported 4,105 new infections, taking the total to 361,867, data from the country’s taskforce shows. The data added 80 new deaths, taking the total to 12,511.

Both the number of cases and deaths in the Southeast Asian country are the highest in the region.

Farrer predicted a “tough” Christmas, saying he does not believe families in the UK will be able to come together this year as they may ordinarily do. He said the next few months were going to be a difficult period but that the country needed to get through it until vaccines and treatments were available.

The director of the Wellcome Trust also said the data he has seen suggests compliance with restrictions has been better than some think, but that they restrictions themselves have been insufficient.

Updated

Asked about vaccines, Farrer said the UK was in an “extraordinarily strong position” and that the country has access to a range of types of vaccine; more than one of which is likely to be available for use next year.

Farrer told Sky News he does not believe the whole population will need to be vaccinated immediately.

The Sage member said treatments may come even sooner than vaccines, predicting that they could be as little as three months away.

'Not too late' for national lockdown – UK government adviser

The UK government’s scientific adviser Sir Jeremy Farrar has reiterated that the best way to reduce the transmission is to introduce a national-level circuit-break lockdown. And he said that, while the government should have acted in September, it could still do so effectively now, adding.

Speaking to Sky News immediately after Gove, the member of the government’s scientific advisory group said the worst thing to do would be to wait until November to act.

Farrer added that he believed vaccines could start to become available in the first quarter of 2021.

Updated

Speaking later, Gove did not answer when asked why the UK government would not release data on the levels of compliance with the existing rules, though he insisted it was not a case being worried compliance would fall further if people saw it was already low. He would say:

There has been a problem with compliance and a challenge on enforcement.

But he acknowledged that part of the reason some people have not complied with the rules has been that to comply would cause serious financial hardship and said the government had therefore provided support.

Statutory sick pay, which the UK government has put in place for that purpose and on which many are forced to rely when self-isolating, is about a quarter of the full-time minimum wage.

Updated

Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green has said such a lockdown would give the UK a chance to “reset” before the epidemic spirals out of control. She told the same broadcaster:

What we’re saying is that a circuit-breaker for two to three weeks would mean that we would be able to halt and reverse the spread of the infection right across the country.

We could use that time to boost our lab capacity, to put proper local tracing processes in place and then we would have that breathing space which would buy us time really and stop the real danger that our NHS faces, that our hospitals are going to be filling up far too quickly over the next few weeks.

And so it would really give us the chance to reset and take a step back before this virus really spirals right out of control.

I think it is really important not to waste the period of a circuit-breaker. You know, it’s not just everybody goes home and stays at home for two to three weeks and then we come back out again.

England will not be placed under a two or three-week “circuit-breaker” national lockdown to slow the spread of the virus and give the country time to get its test and trace system up to speed, the UK’s cabinet office minister Michael Gove has said.

He has told Sky News that there should not be “blanket restrictions” across the whole of the country even for a limited period, as the opposition Labour party have called for, when the virus is spreading less quickly in some areas than others. Gove added, however, that the government would act later if it felt it had become necessary.

The UK’s government has ignored the advice of its scientific advisers, who have said its current plan is not enough on its own to stop the second wave and that a short “circuit breaker” lockdown should be introduced.

Updated

Russia has recorded 15,099 new cases, pushing the national tally to 1,399,334, local officials have said. They also said 185 people died in the previous 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 24,187, and that 1,070,576 people had recovered from the virus.

They are struggling to navigate the new tier 2 restrictions in Navigator Square. The small, pedestrianised enclave at the top of the Holloway Road in Archway, north London, is a hive of activity on Saturdays. A market draws crowds who come for artisanal breads and French cheeses.

As a result, the Archway Tavern, famous for featuring on the front cover of the Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies, has enjoyed a promising start since it reopened post-lockdown.

After years of lying empty, it was beginning to attract a varied crowd who came for coffee in the morning, light lunches with friends and after-work drinks with colleagues at night.

On Friday night, before the restrictions kicked in, it was packed as people made the most of what could be the last hurrah of 2020. But by lunchtime yesterday, the wooden tables outside the pub were almost empty.

Confusion and fear generated by the new tier 2 rules appears to be a major factor in people staying away, according to Chriss Cinçon, a bartender at the tavern.

When you see pubs try to ... put some lights back into a beautiful building, putting some life back into this neighbourhood, having all these obstacles to go through – it’s such a shame.

Hello, I’m taking over the blog and will be with you for the next few hours. If you’d like to draw my attention to anything, your best best is probably Twitter, where I’m KevinJRawlinson.

Summary

Ben Doherty, signing off from an unseasonably gloomy Sydney. I’m handing over to my colleague Kevin Rawlinson in London. Thanks all for your comments (1,054 - industrious for a Sunday!) and correspondence. Be well and look after each other.

As I go, a summary of the global state of play.

  • Globally, there have been 39.6m confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 1.1m deaths. The US has nearly 8.1m confirmed cases, followed by India 7.4m, and Brazil 5.2m.
  • Europe is the emerging epicentre of the current wave: a third of all new cases worldwide are being detected in western European countries. Europe is recording more new cases than India, Brazil and the US combined.
  • Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time late on Friday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.
  • Italy had a record daily rise in cases of 10,925 and is considering toughening nationwide restrictions in response to the increase. The Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Malaysia also recorded their highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
  • The number of deaths in Iran from Covid-19 now exceeds 30,000, with the country’s health ministry saying the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic was now 30,123.
  • A two week “circuit breaker” lockdown is expected to commence in Wales on 23 October that will see all but essential retail outlets close, according to a leaked letter.
  • Thailand has recorded its first locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in more than a month.
  • The foreign ministers of Austria and Belgium have both tested positive for Covid-19.
  • New Zealand, which has twice eliminated the virus, reported its first local case for 22 days.
  • The French Collectivity of Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific recorded its first case for the entire pandemic.
  • Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform prayers in one of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months.

Updated

From one end of the earth to the other. The Associated Press reports from Russia:

It’s Friday night in Moscow, and popular bars and restaurants in the city center are packed. No one except the staff is wearing a mask or bothers to keep their distance.

There is little indication at all that Russia is being swept by a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

“I believe that everyone will have the disease eventually,” says Dr Alexandra Yerofeyeva, an internal medicine specialist at an insurance company, while sipping a cocktail at The Bix bar in Moscow.

She adds cheerfully: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Diners at a restaurant in Patriarshiye Prudy, in Moscow, Russia.
Diners at a restaurant in Patriarshiye Prudy, in Moscow, Russia. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

The outbreak in Russia this month is breaking the records set in the spring, when a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus was put in place.

But, as governments across Europe move to reimpose restrictions to counter rising cases, authorities in Russia are resisting shutting down businesses again.

Some regions have closed nightclubs or limited the hours of bars and restaurants, but few measures have been implemented in Moscow, which is once again the epicenter of the surge.

On Friday, Russian authorities reported over 15,000 new infections, the highest daily spike so far in the pandemic. Moscow — with less than 10% of the population — accounts for up to 30% of new infections each day. The health minister says 90% of hospital beds for coronavirus patients have been filled. Three times this week, Russia’s daily death toll exceeded the spring record of 232.

Even these soaring virus tolls are likely undercounts; experts have cautioned that official figures around the world understate the true toll, but critics have taken particular issue with Russia’s death tolls, alleging authorities might be playing down the scale of the outbreak.

Right now, situation is “difficult” but “no restrictive measures for the economy are required,” Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The spring lockdown hurt the country’s already weakened economy and compounded Russians’ frustration with plummeting incomes and worsening living conditions, driving Putin’s approval rating to a historic low of 59% in April, according to the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster.

Analysts say his government doesn’t want to return to those darks days.

A day after winning a second term in a landslide victory, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday she sees the election result as an endorsement of her government’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus and reboot the economy.

Speaking at a cafe near her Auckland home, Ardern said she expects to form a new government within three weeks and to prioritise work on the virus response.

“We’re cracking on very quickly with the work we need to do as a new team,” Ardern said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) meets with fellow parliamentarian Megan Woods at an Auckland cafe.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) meets with fellow parliamentarian Megan Woods at an Auckland cafe. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Her comments came as health officials reported one new case of community transmission after New Zealand went three weeks without any new infection. Officials said the man works on foreign ships at the ports, and they believe they caught his case early enough to contain the threat of further spread.

New Zealand has recorded just 1,886 known Covid-19 infections, and 25 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the election, Ardern’s liberal Labour Party got 49% of the vote, crushing the conservative National Party, which got 27%. Ardern said the margin of the victory exceeded their expectations.

The result will give Labour an outright majority in Parliament, the first time any party has achieved that since New Zealand implemented the mixed member proportional voting system 24 years ago.

Typically parties have formed alliances to govern but this time Labour can govern in majority.

Thailand reported three additional locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, a day after reporting its first local infections in more than a month.

The three new patients are family members of two Myanmar nationals who previously tested positive for the virus this week in the country’s northern province bordering Myanmar, the government’s coronavirus taskforce said.

Before this week’s five cases, Thailand last reported a confirmed local transmission on 11 September. In total, Thailand has reported 3,686 cases of the virus and 59 deaths.

Thailand is currently seized by anti-democracy protests that are challenging the authority of the king and prime minister, and the authority of the country’s traditional ruling elite.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Bangkok and other Thai cities, defying a government crackdown and the riot police’s water cannon. Southeast Asia Correspondent Rebecca Ratcliffe reports.

Coronavirus survives on skin five times longer than flu: study

The coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers have found, in a discovery they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

“The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic,” it said.

The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitisers.

Wash Your Hands!
Wash Your Hands! Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

“The longer survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the skin increases contact-transmission risk; however, hand hygiene can reduce this risk,” the study said.

The study backs WHO guidance for regular and thorough hand washing to limit transmission of the virus, which has infected nearly 40 million people around the world since it first emerged in China late last year.

Airlines face a long, hard winter after a much hoped for rebound from the coronavirus crisis failed to materialise, prompting savage cost cutting programmes and fresh calls for government support.

Airline revenues plunged 80% in the first six months of the year, according to industry body IATA, but they still had fixed costs to cover - crew, maintenance, fuel, airport levies and now aircraft storage.

Grounded aircraft at Tarmac Aerosave in Tarbes, France.
Grounded aircraft at Tarmac Aerosave in Tarbes, France. Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

After a slight recovery in July as coronavirus restrictions were eased, traffic fell again in September while bookings for the winter season - which begins 25 October - are down 78% compared with a year earlier, promising more hardship to come.

One of the biggest disappointments has been the absence of highly lucrative business class travellers who prefer now to rely on tele-conferencing rather than run the risk of catching the virus.

Repeated efforts to reassure passengers that air travel is safe have failed to make much of a difference while government restrictions, including quarantines of up to 14 days for returning passengers, have only added to the pressures on the battered airline companies.

“The risk of contracting Covid-19 during air travel is really very, very low,” says Dr David Powell, medical consultant for IATA.

Testing is key to recovery

The industry as a whole is hoping that the introduction of airport testing systems will restore passenger confidence and reduce if not completely remove the need for damaging quarantine regimes.

There are already trial systems in place in several major airports around the world and on Friday France announced it would introduce quick, antigen-based testing by the end of the month.

“We are going to launch these tests at the airports, especially for departures to the United States or Italy and for arrivals from countries on the red list (of high rates of infection),” French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on CNews TV channel.

“That way we will not have any more people arriving on French territory without having been tested,” he added.

Hong Kong and Singapore meanwhile have announced they plan a “travel bubble” to allow unrestricted flights.

Tests may help but given the damage already done and the likelihood of more to come, IATA continues to press the alarm bell, seeking more government help to keep the airlines afloat until there is at least some return to normality.

Up to now, IATA estimates governments have provided $160bn dollars in aid, loans and tax breaks so that airlines can cover current costs.

But after a disastrous summer, usually the busiest part of the year when they build up their cash reserves, airlines are not going to be able to do that during the winter, IATA head Alexandre de Juniac has warned repeatedly.

Earlier this month, United Airlines laid off 13,000 staff temporarily as it waits on the politicians in Washington to thrash out a fresh coronavirus aid package.

Low-cost pioneer Ryanair, which prides itself on not seeking state aid, announced Thursday it was cutting by a third its already reduced winter schedule.

Other airlines are thinking up completely new angles to drum up business, with companies in Asia offering “flights to nowhere” - short, circular trips for those desperate to get back into the air again and ready to pay for the privilege.

A ‘flight to nowhere’ at the China Airlines’ campus in Taoyuan City - including flight attendant lessons for children.
A ‘flight to nowhere’ at the China Airlines’ campus in Taoyuan City - including flight attendant lessons for children. Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Singapore Airlines even opened up one of its giant A380 aircraft as a restaurant while some started selling their in-flight food to nostalgic, would-be but grounded passengers.

A flight-themed restaurant at the Thai Airways head office in Bangkok, Thailand.
A flight-themed restaurant at the Thai Airways head office in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: Sakchai Lalit/AP

Millions of Europeans faced tough new coronavirus restrictions as governments stepped up efforts to slow the surge in infections, after the World Health Organization reported a “very concerning” 44% rise in European cases over one week.

From Saturday evening, Paris and several other French cities go under a night-time curfew that will last at least a month. England is banning mixed household gatherings in the capital and other areas, and Italy’s most populous region is limiting bar openings and suspending sports events.

The US Senate will vote on Wednesday on a $300bn Senate Republican coronavirus relief bill that is far below the estimated $2tn that Democrats have demanded.

The bill, dubbed a “skinny” relief bill for its pared-down funding, was already rejected by Democrats in September and is again expected to fail.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday that the vote would follow a standalone vote on additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds on Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Saturday night and will continue negotiations, Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said on Twitter.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said that there was progress on coronavirus testing but “there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan”.

He added there are numerous other differences “that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours”.

Hammill also said “decisions must be made by the White House in order to demonstrate that the administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic”.

The White House declined to comment.

On 10 October, Mnuchin proposed a $1.8tn economic stimulus proposal in talks with Pelosi but many Senate Republicans have baulked at a package that big.

Time is running out before the 3 November presidential election to reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.

Updated

Reports coming from around the world:

China reported 13 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for 17 October, the same as a day earlier, the health commission said on Sunday.

All of the new infections were imported, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

As of Saturday, mainland China had 85,672 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The Covid-19 death toll stands at 4,634.

A couple in facemarks on the Hu Hai lake in Beijing.
A couple in facemarks on the Hu Hai lake in Beijing. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

In Germany, there were 5,587 new cases, bringing the total number of known infections in that country to 361,974, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Another 10 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of Covid deaths in Germany to 9,777.

Shoppers on Berlin’s famous Kurfuerstendamm.
Shoppers on Berlin’s famous Kurfuerstendamm. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform prayers in one of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months, state television reported early on Sunday.

Earlier this month Saudi Arabia allowed citizens and residents to perform the Umrah pilgrimage at Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, after a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns.

Pilgrims circumambulating while keeping safe distance as they perform Umrah pilgrimage around Kaaba and Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
Pilgrims circumambulating while keeping safe distance as they perform Umrah pilgrimage around Kaaba and Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia earlier this month. Photograph: Saudi Ministry Of Hajj Handout/EPA

Human traffickers capitalising on coronavirus pandemic

The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that the Covid-19 has left millions vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking:

Human traffickers are capitalising on the coronavirus pandemic to target people ranging from jobless migrants to out-of-school children, two United Nations specialists said, warning that the fallout from Covid-19 had driven the crime further underground.

The global economic slowdown has left countless people jobless, desperate and at risk of exploitation, while victims of trafficking are less likely to be found or receive help with attention and resources diverted elsewhere, the experts said.

An estimated 25 million people worldwide are victims of labour and sex trafficking, according to the United Nations, with concerns growing that more will fall prey as support services are halted and efforts to secure justice are hindered.

“The difficulty is that trafficking is now even more underground and less visible,” said Siobhan Mullally, the recently-appointed UN special rapporteur on human trafficking.

“More people are at risk ... especially in the informal economy ... there are opportunities for traffickers to recruit, to exploit, to prey on people’s desperation,” Mullally said ahead of the global Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October.

About 2.5 billion people – more than 60% of the world’s workforce – are informal workers, leaving them particularly at risk of being underpaid and abused, labour advocates have said.

A welder in a factory in Nepal. Migrant workers, particularly those in the informal economy, are at greater risk of exploitation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A welder in a factory in Nepal. Migrant workers, particularly those in the informal economy, are at greater risk of exploitation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: Narendra Shrestha/EPA

From India to Cambodia, workers in sectors such as textiles and tourism have lost their livelihoods due to Covid-19 and resorted to taking out loans that can lead to debt bondage or accepting work on worse terms and in exploitative conditions.

Many of the world’s estimated 164 million migrant workers are stranded abroad and unable to go home or unwilling to seek help due to closed borders and restrictive immigration policies, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers, according to Mullally.

‘Worsening horrors’

Two decades after the adoption of a landmark UN anti-trafficking protocol, Mullally said the issue was still seen mainly as a criminal justice matter, and called for a much broader focus encompassing labour rights and social protection.

“An economic crisis ... and recession or even depression ... may be used as an excuse to curtail workers’ rights, with the knock-on effect of a greater threat of trafficking,” she said.

Extreme poverty will rise for the first time this century, the World Bank said last week, predicting that the Covid-19 fallout could spawn 115 million “new poor” this year alone.

Ilias Chatzis, head of the trafficking unit at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said his department was still gathering information about the impact of coronavirus on the crime but warned that early evidence showed “worsening horrors”.

A boy holds a textbook outside his home at the Shahdara drain slum area on the outskirts of New Delhi. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of millions of children and increased their vulnerability to exploitation.
A boy holds a textbook outside his home at the Shahdara drain slum area on the outskirts of New Delhi. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of millions of children and increased their vulnerability to exploitation. Photograph: Harish Tyagi/EPA

He cited the example of children spending more time online and being vulnerable to sexual exploitation – remotely – by global predators. Europol said in May that online child sex abuse in the European Union spiked at the start of the pandemic.

While acknowledging the “complexity” of tackling trafficking during Covid-19, Chatzis sounded a note of hope for the future.

“It’s not all darkness ahead, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We abolished [chattel] slavery, we can abolish trafficking.”

Updated

It now seems up to 55 people who flew into Australia from New Zealand have travelled on to Victoria, despite that state not being part of the travel bubble. It’s exquisitely confusing, but Amy Remeikis has expertly summarised it here:

Wallis and Futuna islands records first Covid case

The Wallis and Futuna islands have recorded their first Covid-19 case.

The French island collectivity, north-east of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean, had been Covid-free since the beginning of the pandemic, aided by its remoteness, and the fact it can only be reached through New Caledonia (which has a mandatory quarantine regime in place).

The infected patient, who is asymptomatic, arrived on 3 October, and has been confined to a hospital isolation ward.

Until this confirmed case, Wallis and Futuna was the only French-administered territory without the coronavirus.

The Pacific is the least Covid-infected region on Earth. The small and remote island nations and territories of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are believed to be still free of the virus.

Pacific Islands have largely avoided the very worst of the health impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Pacific Islands have largely avoided the very worst of the health impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Marco Pompeo/Alamy

Updated

Dan Andrews is into the nitty-gritty of how the new restriction regime will work.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The restrictions across Melbourne and Victoria are complex, their staged easing likewise. For the full details on Victoria’s new regimes, see here.

Updated

Melburnians with disabilities to be able to access hydrotherapy pools

After months of gruelling lockdown, Melburnians with disabilities or injuries will once again be able to access hydrotherapy pools.

Previously, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said people could access private hydrotherapy pools for medical reasons, but it’s clear this was not occurring as the vast majority of these facilities are not allowing outpatients inside.

Lina Pane, who suffers from a muscular disorder, has had her condition seriously deteriorate over lockdowns, as swimming in a heated hydrotherapy pool was her only viable form of exercise. She told Guardian Australia she was terrified that she might lose the ability to walk by the end of the pandemic.

Lina Pane in her home in Melbourne.
Lina Pane in her home in Melbourne. After the Victorian premier announced on Sunday that pools will be able to open for ‘one-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals’, Pane said she is hopeful she may soon receive some relief from her pain. Photograph: Supplied

After Pane’s story was published by Guardian Australia, Premier Daniel Andrews said he would try and resolve the issue, and although Pane was contacted by his office she was still unable to access an indoor pool.

But, with Andrews specifically stating pools are able to open for “one-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals”, Pane said she is hopeful she may soon receive some relief from her pain.

It’s about bloody time! But you know I need to see it for real to believe it. I’ll be calling around all my local swim centres to see who is open to let me in.

It’s a relief. That fear of ending up in a wheelchair is further away now. I’m ready to start moving and get into the water. That will make such a difference to me.

But Pane said she was frustrated that this took so long, given the DHHS had deemed this activity as safe weeks ago.

All the pain I’ve gone through, being in my bed for so many hours a day, and the serious drugs that I’m on, it’s ridiculous that it had to get to this stage.

Activists have also questioned the requirement for individual sessions with a health professional as many low-income people use unsupervised hydrotherapy as an affordable and effective form of pain relief and medical treatment. For those without NDIS support, a personal hydrotherapy training session may be prohibitively expensive.

You can read Pane’s full story below:

Updated

Daniel Andrews says border checks between Melbourne and regional Victoria remain in place

Back in Victoria, in Australia, premier Daniel Andrews, is answering questions.

He says that if any stage of the plan to ease restrictions can be moved to earlier than what has been announced today the government will do that, if it can be done safely.

He also says that the border checks between regional Victoria and Melbourne remain in place for now and will be subject to stronger checks.

Andrews has a few things to say about pressure from the federal government, including the health minister Greg Hunt, to open up the state.

“I don’t accept that anybody has a more complete picture of what this virus is doing in Victoria than the Victorian chief health officer, the Victoria deputy chief health officer, the Victorian health minister and the Victorian premier,” he says.

“My position to the Victorian communities but I’m not doing what is popular, I am doing what is safe. Because we don’t want to be back here again.”

Andrews urges Victorians who are talking to contact tracers to be honest and complete with the information they provide. If people have an “off the books” job, he’s not going to the tax office he says.

Tracers just need the health information. “It’s like going to your doctors,” Andrews says.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews walks into the daily briefing on Sunday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews walks into the daily briefing on Sunday. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Updated

Mexico reports 5,447 new cases and 355 more deaths

Mexico’s health ministry reported on Saturday 5,447 more cases of the novel coronavirus and 355 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 847,108 and the death toll to 86,059.

Health officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

A worker puts a coronavirus suit on a mannequin at a store selling Halloween costumes in Mexico City.
A worker puts a coronavirus suit on a mannequin at a store selling Halloween costumes in Mexico City. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Changes to restrictions in regional Victoria

Now here are the changes for regional Victoria from 11.59pm tonight:

  • Two adults and two children will be able to visit a home.
  • Hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside.
  • Outdoor religious gatherings will increase to 20 people.
  • Indoor pools will open for people 18 and under to a maximum of 20 people.
  • One-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals will also be allowed.
  • Libraries will reopen to a maximum of 20 people.
  • Households will now be able to visit a care facility, rather than one person visiting at a time.

Then from 11.59 pm on Sunday 1 November in regional Victoria:

  • Non-contact indoor sport will resume for under 18-year-olds. Spectators will be allowed but with some limits.

Andrews also says that a consultation process will commence next week for people, including in Melbourne, who need to prepare properties in regional Victoria for the fire season and for potential floods.

The main street in Kilmore, regional Victoria, which saw a coronavirus outbreak linked with a Melbourne resident who carried the virus into the town.
The main street in Kilmore, regional Victoria, which saw a coronavirus outbreak linked with a Melbourne resident who carried the virus into the town. Photograph: Dave Hewison/Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Further restrictions to ease in Melbourne on 1 November, including retail to reopen

More detail on Victoria’s easing of restrictions.

Again, worth noting while it’s been more than 100 days of restrictions in Victoria, the rest of the world demonstrates where this state, and Australia more broadly, could be. European cities are reimposing curfews and imposing month-long lockdowns as new cases climb into the tens of thousands every day.

Further changes for metropolitan Melbourne will be introduced in Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday 1 November. They are:

  • The four reasons for leaving home will be removed and people will be able to leave their home for any reason.
  • A maximum of two people, plus children, will be able to visit another home. This won’t be a “bubble” arrangement as currently applies to single people in Melbourne.
  • More businesses will reopen subject to conditions.
  • Retail will reopen. Hospitality will reopen with a maximum of 20 people inside and 50 outside.
  • Beauty and personal services will return. Contact sport for under 18-year-olds and non-contact for adults will recommence.
  • A maximum of 20 people will be allowed for outdoor religious gatherings. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed at weddings.
  • A maximum of 20 mourners at funerals.
  • Outdoor seated entertainment will be able to host a maximum of 50 people or 25% of the venue’s fixed seat capacity.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during his daily briefing on Sunday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during his daily briefing on Sunday. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Updated

In Victoria, Dan Andrews is getting down to brass tacks. It’s the AFL Grand Final this weekend – one of Melbourne’s most significant weekends (and with two Victorian teams in the granny). For the first time, the AFL’s decider will be played outside Victoria.

But Andrews says Victorian households cannot mix to watch the grand final on television.

“We cannot have that happen. As significant as the day is, it’s got to be different.”

Updated

New Zealand records first community case in almost a month

A new community case of Covid-19 has been identified in New Zealand – the first case since 25 September.

The man is a port worker and has recently worked at the Ports of Auckland and Taranaki.

The man developed respiratory symptoms on Friday 16 October and was diagnosed yesterday.

No further lockdown measures were announced by the director-general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. The man had very limited contact with others while he was infectious, and was often wearing a mask and gloves in the course of his work on a ship.

His four household contacts are now in isolation, two in government quarantine facilities.

“The risk is contained,” Bloomfield said. “The emergence of a new community case is unsettling, and we need to remain vigilant.”

“The case is another reminder that Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon.”

New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Ports of Taranaki and Auckland will now face scaled-up testing, Bloomfield said.

“While we have eliminated community transmission in New Zealand ... that is not the case overseas, where the virus is spreading and there are significant restrictions in place.”

Updated

Victoria lifts time limit on leaving home for exercise and opens up travel distance to 25km

Now for the easing of restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne in Victoria:

From 11.59pm tonight the following changes to restrictions will occur:

  • There will be no time limit on leaving your home for exercise or socialising.
  • The travel distance from your home will move from 5km to 25km for exercise and shopping.
  • Outdoor gatherings will increase to 10 people from two households.
  • The following settings will be open, subject to Covid-safe conditions: Tennis, skate parks, golf courses. Hairdressers will reopen.
  • Real estate auctions will occur with a maximum of 10 people and commercial real estate inspections can occur.
  • Outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers. Indoor pools can open up for one-on-one hydrotherapy with a health professional.
  • The following will be allowed, subject to conditions: non-essential outdoor home maintenance, repairs, renovations, house painting, can occur with a maximum of five workers.
  • Solo or automated car washing and poor cleaning will be allowed, mobile or home business pet grooming will be allowed, outdoor photography will be allowed, and there will be a full return of allied health services.
A person wears a scarf as a protective face mask in Melbourne.
A person wears a scarf as a protective face mask in Melbourne. Photograph: Sandra Sanders/Reuters

Updated

Daniel Andrews press conference

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, is on his feet, preparing to announce an easing of restrictions.

He confirms that there were two new cases in Victoria, one linked to a known outbreak, the other under investigation. There were no deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.

“Victorians have done an amazing job over recent weeks and months,” he says.

What it means is that as so many cities across the world head into what is going to be a deadly winter, we in Melbourne and across Victoria are well-placed to have a Covid-safe summer and a Covid-normal 2021.

He says Victorians from every community have “stayed the course” and “we have just a little longer to go”.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews. Photograph: Dave Hewison/Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

NSW reports five new Covid cases, but just one is community transmission

In Australia’s most populous state, NSW, numbers remain low. Australia and New Zealand standing in stark contrast to the rest of the world.

A security guard is seen holding masks at the entrance of Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Saturday. Crowd limits were increased for The Everest race day with almost 11,000 people allowed to attend following approval of Covid-safe plans submitted to the NSW government.
A security guard holds masks at the entrance to Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Saturday. Crowd limits were increased for The Everest race day with almost 11,000 people allowed to attend following approval of Covid-safe plans submitted to the NSW government. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Updated

Australian immigration minister weighs into New Zealand travel bubble bungle

Staying in Australia: the acting federal immigration minister Alan Tudge has been speaking in Canberra about the 17 New Zealand travellers who flew into Melbourne via Sydney, which has reignited tensions over borders.

Tudge is referencing reports in the Age that the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet gave authorisation for one of the travellers to travel onward to Victoria, but the authorisation was given a week before the premier Daniel Andrews said the state would not be participating in the travel bubble.

Tudge also reiterates comments he made yesterday that the arrivals should not have surprised Victoria because the state’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, was at a meeting of health ministers where it was discussed.

“So the Victorian government was present when it was discussed, they were made aware that this was going to occur, they raised no objections in the meetings, and furthermore, expressly authorised individuals who were arriving into Sydney from New Zealand to be able to travel on into Victoria,” Tudge said.

“Now, I would ask the premier today to reveal those emails and any other correspondence which shows, clearly, and demonstrably, that they authorised the people to come into Victoria.”

Australia and New Zealand have established a one-way travel bubble: New Zealanders are allowed to travel to the Australian jurisdictions of NSW and the Northern Territory without quarantining. Australians going the other way must still quarantine on arrival in NZ. The wrinkle here has been 17 people who flew into NSW, and then on to Victoria (which is allowed, but Victoria has said it was unaware people were coming into the state from outside the country).

Updated

For our Australian readers in particular. Victorian premier Dan Andrews is speaking at 11am to outline the easing of restrictions in that state as case numbers continue to dwindle (down to one Saturday, and two Sunday). Victoria’s capital Melbourne has endured one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, including curfews and a 5km limit on all movement.

Andrews’s announcement is keenly anticipated, to say the very least.

We will bring you his announcement as it happens, in about 10 minutes from now.

Updated

A global summary: Millions to face new restrictions and lockdowns

Millions of Europeans faced tough new coronavirus restrictions on Saturday as governments stepped up efforts to slow the surge in infections, after the World Health Organization reported a “very concerning” 44% rise in European cases over one week.

From Saturday evening, Paris and several other French cities go under a nighttime curfew that will last at least a month. England is banning mixed household gatherings in the capital and other areas, and Italy’s most populous region is limiting bar openings and suspending sports events.

The need for action in France was underlined as the country recorded another record for new cases, with over 32,000 registered in 24 hours.

Military patrol near the Louvre museum during curfew in Paris Saturday night. The monthlong curfew came into effect Friday at midnight, and France is deploying 12,000 extra police to enforce it.
Military patrol near the Louvre museum during curfew in Paris on Saturday night. The month-long curfew came into effect Friday at midnight, and France is deploying 12,000 extra police to enforce it. Photograph: Lewis Joly/AP

In a bid to stem the worrying rise in infections and in the hope of heading off a return to full lockdowns, many governments have tightened measures to control the spread of the pandemic – even if some dissenters are fighting back in the courts.

As a region, Europe is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the US combined.

Of every 100 infections reported around the world, 34 were from European countries.

The region is currently reporting a million new infections about every nine days and has reported more than 6.3 million cases since the pandemic began.

Major European countries – the UK, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Spain – accounted for about half of Europe’s new cases in the week to 18 October.

Several European countries are closing schools, cancelling elective surgeries and enlisting student medics as the authorities face a Covid-19 resurgence.

Russia is moving students to online learning and Northern Ireland is closing schools for two weeks and restaurants for four.

In Spain, authorities in Catalonia ordered bars and restaurants to close for 15 days and limited the numbers of people allowed in shops.

The Czech Republic has also shifted schools to distance learning and plans to call up thousands of medical students. Hospitals are cutting non-urgent medical procedures to free up beds.

Polish health officials have warned the country is on the brink of a disaster as a record 6,526 new coronavirus infections and 116 deaths were reported this week.

Poland is ramping up training for nurses and considering creating military field hospitals.

Around the world: Latin America is the worst-affected region with about 27% of total Covid-19 cases followed by Asia, North America and Europe.

India is reporting fewer cases this month compared with September, with 69,000 cases per day.

Hindu devotees offer prayers during ‘Navratri’ at the Mata Longa Wali Devi temple in Amritsar.
Hindu devotees offer prayers during ‘Navratri’ at the Mata Longa Wali Devi temple in Amritsar. Photograph: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

The numbers have fallen by more than 20,400 over the last three weeks, down 22% from its previous peak. India reported 55,342 cases on 13 October, its lowest daily increase since 18 August.

In the US, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalised Covid-19 patients since early September.

The US has suffered more than 218,000 fatalities, on Friday revealed a record deficit of $3.1tn in the fiscal year ended September 30.

It also announced that the number of cases there had passed eight million, while global daily infections also hit a new record.

Updated

Good morning/afternoon/evening – wherever these words find you. Ben Doherty in Sydney here, helming our rolling coverage for the new few hours. If you’d like to be in contact, I can be found on email: [email protected] or reluctantly on Twitter @BenDohertyCorro.

To the state of play this morning (it’s morning where I am):

  • Globally, there have been 39.5m confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 1.1m deaths. The US has nearly 8.1m confirmed cases, followed by India 7.4m, and Brazil 5.2m.
  • Europe is the emerging epicentre of the current wave: a third of all new cases worldwide are being detected in western European countries. Europe is recording more new cases than India, Brazil and the US combined.
  • Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time late on Friday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.
  • Italy had a record daily rise in cases of 10,925 and is considering toughening nationwide restrictions in response to the increase. The Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Malaysia also recorded their highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
  • The number of deaths in Iran from Covid-19 now exceeds 30,000, with the country’s health ministry saying the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic was now 30,123.
  • A two week “circuit breaker” lockdown is expected to commence in Wales on 23 October that will see all but essential retail outlets close, according to a leaked letter.
  • Thailand has recorded its first locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in more than a month.
  • The foreign ministers of Austria and Belgium have both tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The Australian state of Victoria recorded two new cases of Covid-19 and no deaths as the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, prepares to announce an easing of restrictions on Sunday.

Updated

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