Early evening summary
- Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a five-level system for restricting people’s movements and limiting physical contact as part of new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland. The system includes a top level that is tougher than the highest of England’s three tiers, which Sturgeon said would be closer to the lockdown imposed across the UK in late March. Here is a guide to the five levels.
- Hundreds of cafes, restaurants, pubs and local councils across England rallied behind Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty, announcing they will step in to provide disadvantaged children with free school meals during the October half-term after the government refused to do so. The acts of generosity, from Blyth to Falmouth, come amid a difficult time for the hospitality sector and austerity-stricken councils alike. Rashford tweeted: “Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know.” Downing Street declined to welcome the development.
- Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions are expected to come into force in parts of Nottinghamshire by Wednesday, PA Media reported. It’s understood that MPs from the region were briefed this morning and that a government announcement is due on Monday. The areas reported to be in line for the highest level of restrictions are Nottingham city, Rushcliffe, Broxtowe and Gedling.
- Warrington borough council has agreed a deal with the government to move into tier 3 as rates of infection remain high, the Warrington Guardian reported. The Cheshire town will become a tier 3 area next week, with the exact date still to be confirmed. The council said it was getting £5.9m in central government support, made up of just under £1.7m for local testing and other public health measures, and £4.2m to help businesses and staff.
- The UK R number is down slightly but remains above 1, according to the latest data from Sage. The estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.4. Last week, it was between 1.3 and 1.5.
- The death rate for patients with coronavirus has increased in England for the first time since the peak of the outbreak in April, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
- The Welsh first minister defended his government’s decision to stop supermarkets from selling “non-essential” goods during the two-week firebreak, which begins at 6pm today. Amid criticism that the decision was sprung on stores at the last minute and claims that it is impossible to judge what is an essential item, Mark Drakeford said it wasn’t fair to order high street shops that trade in non-essential items to shut while still allowing supermarkets to sell the same goods.
- The Welsh government was also criticised for not giving details of its “exit strategy” from the 17-day firebreak. Drakeford said ministers would meet next week to continue to discuss the national restrictions that will follow the firebreak.
- More than 1,000 businesses in Blackpool called on Boris Johnson to save the seaside town from “catastrophic” damage caused by tier 3 restrictions, LancsLive reported. In an open letter, they state the financial settlement for Lancashire is “nowhere near sufficient” to support those businesses that have been forced to close, in addition to those who are expected to continue to trade against a backdrop of cancellations and shattered consumer confidence.
That’s it from me today. Thank you so, so much to everybody who sent in tips - your contributions are greatly appreciated and add to the reporting on this blog massively. For more coronavirus coverage, head over to our global live blog. Take care.
UK reports 20,530 new daily cases and 224 deaths
The latest UK government Covid-19 statistics have just been released and can be found here.
The number of people who tested positive went up by 20,530 from yesterday and a further 224 deaths were recorded.
There are 1,056 more people in hospital with Covid-19 than yesterday. The latest R number is estimated at 1.2 to 1.4 with a daily growth rate range of 3% to 6%.
Stormont’s deputy first minister has said a potential extension of Northern Ireland’s four-week “circuit breaker” lockdown cannot be taken off the table.
Michelle O’Neill, in her first press conference since emerging from 14 days’ self-isolation, said she hoped the measures could be lifted on 13 November.
But she stressed an extension may need to be considered if the virus has not been sufficiently suppressed.
I am very open and honest about the fact that we’re in a very challenging situation. And I believe that everything has to remain on the table, I don’t want us to have to impose further restrictions, I hope we can avoid that.
I think if everybody works really hard at the measures we’ve brought into place now in this intervention, then we possibly can avoid that. I want us to be able to avoid that. But I’m honest enough to be able to say that all these things have to remain on the table.
The National Education Union has written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, asking him to explore the potential of moving secondary schools and colleages in tiers 2 and 3 on to a rota system to curb the infection rate. As of 16 October, the rate is 17 times higher than it was on 1 September, they say.
Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, said:
We now have a situation where the infection rate in secondary schools is 17 times higher than on 1 September. This is alarming and it is crucial that government looks at all potential measures to stabilise the situation including the possibility of a rota-based system for secondary schools and colleges as outlined in the government’s August guidelines.
A rota system will ensure smaller class sizes, making social distancing achievable. The strain on public transport in the mornings and afternoons will be less and the social mixing after school will also be reduced.
Schools and colleges are already struggling to cope with current infection rates, resulting in many students or whole year bubbles being sent home to self-isolate. If this trend continues and nothing is put in place to try and reduce infection levels, our education system will be plunged into disarray.
Our schools need a clear way forward that ensures education can continue in a planned and coherent way. No decisions will be easy, but to just keep ignoring the data and drifting into higher infection rates with the increased erratic closure of schools and colleges is not an option.
We look forward to hearing from Gavin Williamson to discuss our proposals further.
I’m grateful to my colleague Richard Adams for flagging this.
The government’s R value estimates for the UK are out – and as expected are showing that the coronavirus is continuing to grow across the country, with an R of 1.2-1.4 for both the UK and England alone.
While the figures released today best represent the situation a few weeks ago, owing to lags in the data, the data suggests that in the UK cases are growing by between 3% and 6% per day, and between 3% and 5% for England alone.
The numbers reflect the growing number of infections, but there is, perhaps, some glimmers of hope. While all regions of England still have an R above 1, suggesting the number of new infections are increasing, there is some sign this growth might have slowed slightly in some parts of the country.
For example, figures released last week gave an R value of 1.2-1.5 and a growth rate of between 5% and 7% for north-west England, but this week’s figures are 1.1-1.3 for R, with infections growing by between 2% and 5% each day.
Prof Richard Sullivan, of Imperial College London, said the shrinkage in such figures are not down to the tiering measures that have been imposed because not enough time has passed for them to have affected R.
It is just the natural progression of a virus going through a community for which people are already naturally socially distancing anyway … and where there is a considerable amount of immunity already in the community.
England’s autumn rugby campaign was thrown into chaos on Friday after Sunday’s opening match against the Barbarians was called off after a number of players broke the strict Covid-19 protocols.
The Rugby Football Union launched an urgent review after the news broke on Thursday that 12 Barbarians players had left the team hotel to visit a London restaurant.
The former England captain Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Tom de Glanville were among the players, who were sent home when the breach was discovered.
The RFU cancelled the match after learning there was an additional breach of protocol on top of the incident already known.
Read the full story here:
For their 47 years of marriage, Peter and Linda Wilkins were inseparable. Both born without sight, they met as teenagers at Henshaws school for the blind in Greater Manchester, where they became some of the best braille readers their teachers had ever produced.
Linda went on to become a professional braille proofreader and Peter a typist, the pair living together in the middle of Stockport. They loved listening to music and delighted in finding mistakes in braille manuscripts. “We’ve always been braille perfectionists. Whenever we read a book and found a mistake we’d tell each other: ‘They’ve not put the quote marks right here,’” said Peter.
But when Linda lost the use of her legs and had to go into hospital and then a care home earlier this year, suddenly the couple were split up. Covid restrictions meant Peter was unable to visit his wife in hospital or in the care home, where the “window visits” on offer were of little use to two blind people, nor the offer of video calling.
Linda died suddenly in her care home on Wednesday and now Peter is speaking out in the hope that “nobody else will be in the same situation as me”.
He wants the government to change the restrictions in England to allow weekly care home visits – and not just at the end of life, as currently permitted.
He also wants relatives to be allowed to make hospital visits, wondering if he would have been able to “advocate” for Linda had he been allowed to see her when she was in hospital, confused and alone.
A number of local councils in England have announced they will be providing children from low-income families with free school meals during the half-term after the government refused to do so.
As well as local businesses who said they would step in to support hungry children, here is a list of the local councils who said they were backing Marcus Rashford’s campaign.
Here are some of the most recent: Kensington and Chelsea is so far the only Conservative council to step in and provide free school meals during half-term.
The economic recovery from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic began to flatten out this month in the UK and threatened to reverse and trigger a double-dip recession in the eurozone after new restrictions to tackle the second wave squeezed business activity.
As the UK government moved to bolster its business support schemes, a closely watched survey of business activity showed private sector growth in the UK falling back as hospitality and transport companies struggled to cope with regional lockdown measures.
The IHS Markit/CIPS Flash UK Composite PMI data index fell to 52.9 for October so far, compared with 56.5 at the end of September. A figure above 50 indicates a period of expansion.
IHS Markit said the “flash” survey was based on responses from about 85% of the usual survey replies.
Manufacturing businesses were the most resilient after a bounce-back in trade to countries that have succeeded in suppressing the virus, mainly in Asia. Output continued to increase at a strong pace.
However, the services sector suffered from the rise in UK virus cases and government moves to restrict households from mixing in the north of England.
The Welsh first minister has defended his government’s decision to stop supermarkets from selling non-essential goods during the two-week firebreak.
There has been criticism that the decision was sprung on stores at the last minute and claims that it is impossible to judge what is an essential item.
Mark Drakeford rejected the notion that it was a political decision because he did not approve of the power of supermarkets, rather, he said it was not fair to order high street shops that trade in non-essential items to shut while still allowing supermarkets to sell the same goods.
We are in this together in Wales.
The first minister also said that during the period of the firebreak people should spend as little time as possible out of their home, and browsing in supermarkets was not the right thing to do.
Among the data published by the Welsh government on Friday was a slide comparing the levels of coronavirus in circulation in Torfaen, south Wales, with those in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Drakeford said the graph showed local restrictions had held the rate in Torfaen steady (though had not reduced it) while it had continued to rise rapidly in Oldham.
UK R number is down slightly but remains above 1
The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above 1.
Data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.4. Last week, it was between 1.3 and 1.5.
R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially. An R number between 1.2 and 1.4 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 14 other people.
The estimates for R and the growth rate are provided by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), a sub-group of Sage. The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between +3% and +6% for the UK as a whole.
A growth rate between +3% and +6% means the number of new infections is growing by 3% to 6% every day. The most likely value is towards the middle of that range, according to the experts.
Sage said the figures published on Friday more accurately represent the average situation over the past few weeks rather than the present situation.
Tier 3 'to come into force by Wednesday' in Nottinghamshire, reports say
Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions are expected to come into force in parts of Nottinghamshire on Wednesday, it is being reported.
The PA Media news agency understands that MPs from the region were briefed this morning that a government announcement is due on Monday.
The areas reported to be in line for the highest level of restrictions are Nottingham city, Rushcliffe, Broxtowe and Gedling.
MPs from the north of the county were not invited to the meeting with the health minister Nadine Dorries on Friday morning as rates in their constituencies are lower than the rest of the region, but it is understood tier 3 restrictions in those areas will not be far behind.
PA understands the Nottinghamshire MPs present pressed ministers to “improve communication” with them and local leaders.
MPs also attempted to tackle the issue of financial support – with a source close to the meeting saying a question about a sufficient economic settlement would be “passed on to the Treasury”.
It is claimed Dorries did not accept the council had not had enough financial support.
Local leaders from both Nottingham city council and Nottinghamshire county council are expected to have a further meeting with the government on Friday afternoon.
The region has become a cause for concern over recent days after Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre experienced a “dramatic increase” in the number of hospital patients with Covid-19.
Despite the rise in hospital cases, the city’s coronavirus case numbers have started to decline in recent days: as 610.1 cases per 100,000 people were reported in the week to 18 October, down from 926.7 cases per 100,000 people in the previous week.
The Welsh government has been criticised for not giving details of its “exit strategy” after the 17-day “firebreak” lockdown, which begins at 6pm today.
The first minister, Mark Drakeford, said ministers would meet next week to continue to discuss the national restrictions that will follow the firebreak.
Speaking at a press conference in Cardiff, he said:
Our ambition is that we will not need to have this level of restriction again in Wales before Christmas.
I want shops to trade, I want to be able to offer hope. Provided we do the right thing we will still be able to enjoy a version of the holiday.
Drakeford said the sort of national measures that would be looked at included restricting travel and controlling the way households operate.
But the Tory leader in the Welsh parliament, Paul Davies, said:
The Welsh government has no exit strategy. People are concerned that this second Wales-wide lockdown is just the start of rolling lockdowns over the coming months.
The spread of Covid-19 in the UK is continuing to rise, with data suggesting as many as 1 in 130 people had the disease in the community in England alone in the previous week.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on swabs from randomly chosen households, there were about 35,200 new cases a day in the community in England between 10-16 October.
The data, the team adds, suggests at any given time that week around 1 in 130 people had Covid-19 – a total of about 433,300 people. That’s a rise from 1 in 160 people – a total of 336,500 infected people – for the previous week, and a total of 224,400 the week before that.
Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the survey, has said the situation is concerning.
Prevalence is high and still increasing rapidly. There may be some sign of a slight slowdown, but, given the urgent need for prevalence to start to go down, we should not focus on small reductions in a still positive growth rate.
The latest estimates for new infections from the ONS are on the lower end of those released by the MRC Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group, that on Wednesday suggested there could be 35,100–82,100 new infections a day in England.
Dr Michael Head from the University of Southampton said the UK situation will likely get far worse before it gets better.
Even though rates in those younger populations are dropping slightly, they remain high whilst rates in older and more vulnerable groups are increasing rapidly.
There is widespread community transmission all around the UK, with around 1000 people being hospitalised with Covid-19 every day. We can expect to see higher numbers of hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 across November.
A request made by Oxfordshire county councils to move from tier 1 into tier 2 amid concern over rising numbers of infections among vulnerable and elderly people was refused by the UK government, it has emerged.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Oxford city council leader, Susan Brown, said there was disappointment from local council leaders of all parties, who had backed the recommendation made by Oxfordshire’s director of public health.
But the move was not supported by the county’s four Conservative MPs, creating a political divide with opponents accusing them of “politicised meddling”, the Oxford Mail reports.
In a joint statement, Conservative MPs John Howell (Henley), David Johnston (Wantage), Robert Courts (Witney), and Victoria Prentis (Banbury), said:
Public health must be the priority but coronavirus rates in much of Oxfordshire, outside of the city of Oxford, remain low. We would be concerned about the prospect of individuals and businesses in wider Oxfordshire being placed under Tier 2 restrictions on the basis of a problem that appears centred on the student population in Oxford city.
They added that they could see a case for placing the city under higher restrictions, but not their rural areas of the county.
However, the public health director, Ansaf Azhar, said that while the MPs claimed the infection rate among students in the city was the problem, he warned the uptick among the vulnerable and elderly in rural areas was actually the issue.
Across all areas of the county, we are starting to see a significant shift in the spread of the virus from people in their teens and 20s to older and more vulnerable age groups. This is a really concerning development. We know that, once the virus starts to spread to more vulnerable groups, then hospital cases will rise and deaths will inevitably follow.
We have seen what’s been happening across the north of England and how the virus has quickly taken hold across huge swathes of the community. Based on the current trajectory of the virus, we could well find ourselves in a similar position in just a few weeks’ time if we do not take collective action now.
The decision could be reviewed as early as next week.
I’m grateful to my colleague Richard Adams for flagging this.
Lobby briefing - main points
Here are some of the key points from this afternoon’s No 10 lobby briefing in Westminster.
- [It may or may not come as a surprise that] Downing Street declined to praise cafes, pubs and restaurants offering to provide free meals for vulnerable children over half-term (see 10.56am.).
A spokesman, asked repeatedly if the prime minister welcomed the offer from businesses and some councils, said:
As we have set out before, we are in a different position now with schools back open to all and the vast majority of pupils back to school.
I believe the PM said during PMQs that free school meals will continue during term time and that he wants to continue to support families throughout the crisis so they have cash available to feed kids if they need to.
- People may be able to celebrate Christmas “as a family” this year, Downing Street said.
A spokesman said:
The PM has been clear previously that he is hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas. “As I say, we’ve been clear about the ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year.”
- Boris Johnson continues to have full confidence in Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace.
Asked if the prime minister had full confidence in her, a spokesman said: “He does.” Johnson acknowledged yesterday that the £12bn system, which he previously promised would be “world-beating”, needs to be improved.
Here are the details of Scotland’s new five-level strategic framework, from the Guardian’s Scotland editor, Severin Carrell
Here is Scotland’s strategic framework, referenced by Nicola Sturgeon during the press briefing, setting out the Scottish government’s plan to suppress the virus and return to as close to normal life as possible.
The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has said a firebreak lockdown coming into force in Wales at 6pm is “a short, sharp shock that will save people’s lives”.
He told a press conference in Cardiff:
The clear advice we have is that we need to act urgently now because the virus is moving too fast. We have to act and have to act now.
Public Health Wales reported 45 deaths in people with Covid-19 this week, Drakeford said.
Drakeford said supermarkets only selling essential goods during Wales’ firebreak lockdown is “a simple matter of fair play”.
We are requiring many hundreds of small businesses to close on the high street right across Wales. We cannot do that and then allow supermarkets to sell goods that those people are unable to sell.
And we are looking to minimise the amount of time that people spend out of their homes during this two-week period. This is not the time to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods.
Sturgeon draws on the six years of the second world war, saying we will get through this.
Please stick with it.
Wear face coverings, avoid crowded places (especially indoors), clean hands and surfaces, keep 2 metres apart, and self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms, she reminds people.
Be kind, show empathy, and show love to others, Sturgeon says.
Sturgeon sets out support for Scottish businesses affected by restrictions
Some restrictions on business are likely to be necessary, she says, and at times might require businesses to limit trade significantly or close.
She says the chancellor’s UK-wide job support scheme doesn’t go far enough.
No matter what level they will be at, the following support will be available:
Businesses required by law to close will be eligible for grants of either £2,000 or £3,000 for every four weeks they have to remain closed.
And those which can remain open but can’t trade normally due to restrictions, will be eligible for grants of £1,400 or £2,100 for every four weeks the restrictions are in place.
She says no extra funding has been guaranteed for Scotland in yesterday’s announcement, so the Scottish government won’t be able to fund these measures indefinitely.
The Scottish government will be pressing for a resolution, therefore, she says.
She says they will move to regular testing of designated visitors to care homes, to NHS staff who visit care homes, to care at home workers, and to anyone admitted to hospital in an emergency.
They will also move to test asymptomatic people for surveillance purposes and to help manage outbreaks, she says.
She says the aim is to live with the virus with as few restrictions as possible.
This is possible because we got there over the summer, she says.
Anyone who was shielding should follow, as a minimum, the guidance for the general population, she says.
Additional advice for each level of restrictions for activities such as going to work and shopping can be found in the document published today, she says.
The chief medical officer will also send a letter to those concerned and a guide will shortly be published.
The national helpline is 08001114000.
She adds she seeks as far as possible to keep schools open, with safety measures in place.
Sturgeon says she doesn’t envisage returning to as severe a lockdown as the one imposed in late-March.
We are not back at square one. We have made progress in tackling the virus and we have more tools at our disposal now to control it.
Five-level lockdown system unveiled for Scotland
She is now setting out the five levels of possible intervention her government proposes for suppressing the virus.
Sturgeon says this allows a national approach if required, but also allows flexibility so a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t have to be imposed.
Level zero is the closest to normality that can safely operate without more effective treatments or a vaccine, she says.
It’s broadly comparable to August in Scotland, where the virus was very suppressed but still a threat. At this level we would be able to meet indoors with people from 8 households and most businesses would be open with safety measures in place.
Level one would reduce indoor household meetings to 6 people from 2 households - comparable to the situation in September.
She says she wants to aim to stay within levels one and zero.
Level two entails restrictions broadly similar to those in place currently outside the central belt, so limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.
Level three is broadly similar to the tougher restrictions which currently apply across the central belt with much of hospitality closed.
However, she says, there are some differences. She envisages restaurants allowed to be at least partially open.
Level four is the highest level, which wouldn’t be used unless absolutely necessary, when transmission rates are threatening to become very high and overwhelm the NHS.
These restrictions are closer to a full lockdown, closing non-essential shops.
But six people from up to two households could still meet outdoors, there would be no limit on outdoor exercise and she wants to keep manufacturing and constructions businesses open with safety measures in place.
Sturgeon says this strategic framework for managing and living with the virus is being published with an open mind.
Local authorities and businesses will be consulted before decisions are made on the restrictions, she says.
The principles behind this framework will be familiar, she says, seeking to tackle the direct harm caused by the virus, the social harms caused by lockdowns and the economic harm which impact physical and mental health.
The intervention having the biggest impact on slowing the spread is restrictions on going into other people’s homes, she says.
It’s too early to see the impact of restrictions on hospitality on the number of cases, she adds.
The average number of cases over the past week has been 1,255, an increase of 7% on the week before, she says.
She says this confirms the trends of recent weeks - where the number of cases, hospitalisations and people in intensive care have been increasing.
With the number of infections rising sharply, the numbers in hospital, intensive care and deaths are also likely to rise, she says.
Sturgeon is speaking now.
The number of positive Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday was 1,401, bringing Scotland’s tally to 54,016, she says.
She says 18 further confirmed deaths have been recorded, taking that tally to 2,688.
Nicola Sturgeon's press conference
The first minister will begin her daily coronavirus briefing shortly, where she is due to announce a new five-level plan of Covid-19 measures for Scotland.
Warrington agrees with government to move into tier 3, reports say
Warrington borough council has agreed a deal with the UK government to move into tier 3 of lockdown restrictions as rates of infection remain high, the Warrington Guardian reports.
Last night, the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, the government was “formally beginning discussions with Warrington” about moving into the highest Covid-19 alert level “due to the very high number of cases”.
Earlier this week, the Warrington Guardian revealed that talks between the council and the government had been underway all week and concluded this morning.
As in neighbouring Manchester and Liverpool, pubs which don’t serve “substantial meals” will close, along with adult gaming centres, soft play areas and casinos. Social mixing will be banned in most settings.
The rules could come in as early as the latter end of next week and would last for 28 days, after which they will be reviewed.
It is thought a financial support package of £4m will be allocated for affected businesses and around £1million given to the council to aid public health and enforcement.
Levels of anxiety, loneliness and worry over the impact of coronavirus has been on the rise since early September while life satisfaction has fallen, a survey by the Office for National Statistics suggests.
Anxiety levels remain at the highest recorded since April, while almost half (49%) of adults said their wellbeing is being affected by the virus - the highest since mid-April.
More than three quarters of adults (76%) are very or somewhat worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their lives - the highest proportion since April, the ONS said.
And more than a quarter (27%) of adults said they feel lonely often, always or some of the time - the highest proportion since May.
The survey also showed that life satisfaction has fallen to the lowest level since the survey began, which could be explained in part by seasonal variation.
The ONS analysed responses from 1,653 adults in Great Britain to its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, examining the social impact of coronavirus. Of these, 280 were adults with dependent children.
Some 64% said they are very or somewhat worried about their child going to school or college this term, mainly due to fears that they will catch or spread the virus and the impact on their mental health due to virus-related changes.
The ONS also asked the general population about university students, finding more than half (55%) were concerned about students returning to universities. This was mainly due to fears about students catching Covid-19, the quality of education they will receive, and how prepared the university is for keeping students safe.
The Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi has been discharged from hospital where she was treated for pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19. She was admitted to the Royal Bolton hospital on Saturday after 10 days of feeling unwell.
The Bolton South East MP praised NHS staff for their “excellent care” as she announced she had been discharged, writing on Twitter:
Coronavirus death rate rising in England for first time since peak - ONS
The death rate for patients with coronavirus has increased in England for the first time since the peak of the outbreak in April, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS figures, published today, showed that the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 12.6 per 100,000 people in England. This is up from 7.2 per 100,000 in August and is the first increase since April, the ONS said.
The figure is still significantly lower than the peak of the virus in April when it was 623.2 deaths per 100,000 people, the data showed. The ONS said:
In September 2020, the number of deaths and mortality rate due to Covid-19 remained significantly below levels seen in March 2020 - the first month a Covid-19 death was registered in England and Wales.
However, the mortality rate due to Covid-19 was significantly higher in England in September 2020 compared with the previous month, August 2020.
The mortality rate due to Covid-19 also increased in Wales, but this was not significant.
This is the first increase in the mortality rate for deaths due to Covid-19 from one month to the next since April 2020.
In Wales, the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 10.8 per 100,000 people - 97.8% lower than the rate of 495.1 in April, the ONS said.
Covid-19 did not feature in the 10 leading causes of death in September in England or Wales. In England, it was the 19th most common cause of death, and in Wales it was 24th.
Of the 39,827 deaths registered in September in England, 1.7% (690) involved coronavirus, and in Wales the figure was 1.3% of the 2,610 deaths (35).
The ONS analysis included only deaths with an underlying cause of Covid-19, referred to as “due to Covid-19”, which is different from “involving Covid-19”, which includes those where the virus is mentioned anywhere on a death certificate.
Most people should expect Christmas this year to be different from previous ones due to the coronavirus outbreak, a cabinet minister has said.
The chief secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, speaking as sweeping new restrictions were imposed on millions more people in different parts of Britain, said he hoped families could be together over the festive season.
Asked how he would describe the chances of people having a “normal Christmas” despite Covid-19 restrictions, Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I would describe it as a shared endeavour for all of us. All of us want to be able to enjoy Christmas with our families. And that’s why there is a common purpose here to get the virus down.
I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time. And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.
But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together - that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.
Greater Manchester moved into the highest alert level, tier 3, this morning, and Wales is introducing its two-week “firebreak” lockdown at 6pm.
Coventry, Stoke and Slough will enter tier 2 on Saturday, while talks between Westminster and civic leaders in Nottingham over possible tier 3 restrictions are ongoing.
And here is our story on Rashford’s campaign and the businesses stepping in after the UK government voted down a Labour motion to provide 1.4 million disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021.
His steady stream of posts, mostly screenshots from local sites on Facebook, mark where help can be found, with a tidal wave of kindness pouring in from across the country, from Blyth to Falmouth.
We can do nothing to change that decision, so instead we need to help! We work in an industry that is being decimated by this virus, but cannot use that as an excuse.
Councils including Redbridge and Southwark also said they would step into the breach. The Redbridge councillor Khayer Chowdhury wrote:
Public rallies behind Marcus Rashford campaign to end child hunger
Cafes, pubs and restaurants across the country have stepped up to offer free school meals for local children during the October half-term, after MPs rejected a campaign started by Marcus Rashford.
A vote on the measures was backed by Labour and made its way to parliament this week, but it was defeated by 322 votes to 261. Now dozens of hospitality businesses have shown they “stand with Rashford, not the 322”, by supporting families during the school holidays.
In the last 12 hours, the footballer, recently awarded an MBE after forcing a government U-turn on free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays, has been retweeting a string of companies who contacted him offering to plug the gaps left by what the Labour leader Keir Starmer called the government’s failure to “do the right thing”.
The acts of generosity come amid a difficult time for the hospitality industry, with many business owners struggling to cope with the effects of coronavirus restrictions on their trade.
A number of councils, including Liverpool, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark, have also said they will offer free school meals for children.
Rashford said he was “blown away” by the offers of support, tweeting:
A ban on public events is the single best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus, researchers have found, although a combination of measures is even better.
The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, involved analysing data relating to non-pharmaceutical interventions in 131 countries, together with changes in their R figure – the average number of people each infected person goes on to infect.
While experts have cautioned that it is unwise to focus on just one metric when it comes to looking at an epidemic, R is an important figure as it gives a sense of whether an epidemic is growing or shrinking.
The new study examined the impact of applying and then relaxing various different interventions, from closing schools to working from home, on the R figure up to 28 days after the rule change was made.
The results reveal that banning public events reduced the R figure by 24% by day 28, with the team suggesting that could be down to it preventing super-spreading events.
Prof Harish Nair, co-author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said:
Although no single measure is sufficient, [a] ban on public events is perhaps the single intervention that has maximum impact on spread of SARS CoV-2.
However, measures such as telling people to stay at home or only gather in groups of less than 10 had little impact by day 28 – something the team suggests might be down, at least in part, to people not sticking to the rules, or such measures being imposed later.
When looking at which measures led to an uptick in R, the team found reopening schools and relaxing bans on gatherings of more than ten people had the biggest effect, increasing R by 24% and 25% respectively by day 28.
More than 1,000 businesses in Blackpool have called on Boris Johnson to save the seaside town from “catastrophic” damage caused by tier 3 restrictions, LancsLive reports.
After one week of the strictest level of coronavirus curbs, hard-hit businesses in the town, which depend heavily on tourism, now face a “perfect storm” with dramatic levels of cancellations at hotels, BnBs and attractions.
Without immediate intervention from the prime minister, they warn that there is a real prospect that large numbers of businesses, many of them independent hotels and guest houses, will “not survive beyond the year-end” leading to hundreds of job losses.
In an open letter, signed by representatives of local tourism businesses and delivered to Downing Street, they state that the tier 3 financial settlement for Lancashire, including Blackpool, is “nowhere near sufficient” to support those that have been forced to close, in addition to those who are expected to continue to trade against a backdrop of cancellations and shattered consumer confidence.
They argue that a comprehensive package of aid for businesses large and small in Blackpool is urgently needed to support the tourism economy, worth £1.6bn and in excess of 25,000 jobs.
Here is a thread from Blackpool Council:
And here is the open letter:
Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, has urged the government to approach lockdown talks “straightforwardly” and to end “unedifying” public battles with regional leaders, Josh Halliday reports.
Following a week of fury from leaders across the north of England, Street said public rows with mayors such as Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham would not give “anyone any confidence or certainty” ahead of a winter of social restrictions.
He said ministers should be clearer about the formula used to allocate funding to each region entering tier 3, the strictest level of coronavirus restrictions, and ensure that talks with local politicians were held swiftly and in private.
With Nottingham set to head into tier 3 imminently, and other regions close behind, scrutiny has turned to the formula used by ministers to decide the level of funding given to each area.
Street said he would expect the West Midlands, if it was to enter tier 3, to get a similar government offer as Greater Manchester – £82m in total – given that they both had 2.8 million residents. He refused to say whether he would accept it.
Here is the full story:
On several front pages this morning is the new performance low reached by England’s £12bn testing and contact tracing system.
At last night’s press conference, Boris Johnson and his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, admitted failings in the system, which new figures suggest is reaching less than 60% of close contacts, way below the 80% that Sage said was needed to make it viable, while waiting times for test results have almost doubled the target (100% 24-hour turnaround - which it has never reached) to nearly 48 hours.
In the system’s worst week on record, in the week ending 14 October, 59.6% of close contacts were reached, down from the previous week’s figure of 62.6%, which was the lowest since the test-and-trace operation was launched at the end of May.
Meanwhile, the median time taken to receive a test result at regional sites rose to 45 hours, from 28 the previous week. Local test site result times increased to 47 hours from 29, and mobile test units rose to 41 hours from 26.
Several of the papers make it that this means just one in seven people are getting their test results within 24 hours.
Here is my colleague Haroon Siddique’s report:
Greater Manchester enters tier 3, as Wales prepares for two-week circuit breaker
Good morning. Greater Manchester has moved into the strictest coronavirus alert level of tier 3, joining Lancashire and the Liverpool city region. Pubs and restaurants will be shut for 28 days unless they serve “substantial meals”, and social mixing will be banned indoors and in private gardens, with the rule of six applying in outdoor settings. Casinos, bookies and bingo halls will also close.
Later, Wales will enter a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown at 6pm in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. The Welsh government has said the “sharp and deep” lockdown, brought in to coincide with the half-term school holiday, could be enough to avoid a longer and “much more damaging national lockdown” in the months ahead.
Under the measures, which will last 17 days until 9 November, people will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited number of reasons, including exercise, buying essential supplies, or to seek or provide care. The first minister Mark Drakeford said supermarkets would only be able to sell “essential” items during the firebreak to ensure a “level playing field” for retailers forced to shut.
I’ll be bringing you all the latest coronavirus developments from the UK throughout the day, so please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a tip, story or personal experience you would like to share. Your thoughts are always welcome!