Coronavirus latest news: London added to lockdown ‘watch list’ – Telegraph.co.uk



London has been added to the national coronavirus ‘watch list’ following a spike in infections.

A formal Public Health England announcement will take place later today, but the news has already been confirmed this morning by London Councils.

The organisation said that it serves as a reminder of the need for “all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.

Follow the latest updates below.

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3:16PM

Netherlands coronavirus cases surging as PM warns of need for restrictions

The Dutch Prime Minister has said that a second wave of coronavirus infections in his country is “very worrying” and admitted that new restrictions will need to be introduced.

Rutte was speaking following another daily record of Covid-19 infections in the Netherlands, which increased by 2,777 over the past 24 hours.

“The figures look downright terrible,” he said at a weekly press conference. “In short, the situation is very worrisome and will force us to take extra measures.”

2:56PM

Long Covid symptoms: ‘I had to leave the nursing job I love’

It was on the line of duty, back in April and during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, where nurse Michaila Tyson most likely contracted Covid-19 whilst attending to a patient at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, writes Yolanthe Fawehinmi.

Fast forward five months and the 30-year-old mother of two is still recovering from its effects and coming to terms with having “long Covid”, the term used to describe people who have had life changing or long term physical symptoms several weeks or months after overcoming the virus. 

Although Tyson has overcome the hardest part of the battle, she never could have predicted that the long tail of the disease would force her to resign from a profession she loves.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

“The most pronounced symptoms [of long-Covid] have been fatigue and breathlessness,” says Dr Melissa Heightman, a consultant respiratory physician at University College London Hospitals.

A new study has found some sufferers can suffer from lingering brain fog, and find it more difficult to find their words or even concentrate on tasks.

Read more from Yolanthe here.

2:47PM

Rishi Sunak speech sends him surging ahead of Boris Johnson in polls

Rishi Sunak is surging ahead of Boris Johnson in the polls, despite the Chancellor’s stark warning yesterday that his new jobs package would only support those deemed “viable”, writes Catherine Neilan.

As Conservative backbenchers grumble about a Prime Minister who is “AWOL”, the country has put his Downing Street neighbour ahead on several key metrics, including being “good in a crisis” and having “sound judgment”.

Almost two thirds of the country are pleased with the way Mr Sunak is doing his job as Chancellor, while just 21 per cent are dissatisfied, an Ipsos Mori poll has found, He now scores the highest job satisfaction ratings among the public since Labour’s Dennis Healey in 1978.

Rishi Sunak is now the most popular Chancellor since 1978 Credit: John Sibley/PA Wire

The poll, conducted for the Evening Standard, found that 54 per cent of people thought Mr Sunak was “good in a crisis”, while just 32 per cent said that applied to Mr Johnson.

Asked this morning who was in charge Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, dodged the question, instead saying both men were “working extremely closely together”. 

Follow all of the latest politics news courtesy of Catherine here.

2:40PM

10pm curfew rules: Pubs issue plea for drinking-up time as police enforce ‘hard’ limit

Pubs and restaurants should be given a ‘drinking-up time’ after the curfew, leading industry figures have said, after venues experienced a ‘dangerous pinch point’ at 10pm as they were forced to close, reports Helena Horton.

Diners and pub-goers spilled on to city centre streets at the same time across the country, flooding public transport as they were all forced to go home at the same time.

As well as the heavy economic impact, hospitality businesses expect the curfew to have on their businesses, they also worry that making everyone leave at once will cause the virus to spread more than before, when councils ensured licensed venues had staggered closing times.

A police officer was pictured speaking to customers outside a pub in Soho last night as the new 10pm curfew took effect. Credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Industry leaders pointed to Wales, which has a 20-minute ‘drinking-up’ time after 10pm, while in the rest of the UK everyone has to be off the premises as the curfew ends.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of industry group UK Hospitality, told The Telegraph: “A staggered closing time would be beneficial in reducing transmissions. A hard 10pm curfew was always going to lead to pinch point of customers leaving pubs en masse.

“We made that point to the Government and called for a drinking up time to be included in the regulations. The first night under the curfew highlighted the problem with taking away staggered closing times and forcing everyone out onto the streets together.”

2:32PM

UK coronavirus deaths today: 33 more hospital deaths in England

A further 33 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, NHS England confirmed this afternoon.

This brings the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 29,871,

Patients were aged between 56 and 93 and all but two had known underlying health conditions. The patients without underlying conditions were aged 84 and 88 respectively.

The deaths that have been announced took place between April 21 and September 24, while two other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

2:15PM

R rate in UK continues to rise and remains above 1

The reproduction number – or R rate – of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above 1 and has continued to rise.

The estimate for the R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.5, according to new data from Sage that has been released this afternoon. Last week, the R number was between 1.1 to 1.4.

All regions of England have an R that is higher than 1, according the Government’s scientific advisers.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is below 1, an epidemic is more easily contained and the disease dies. However when the rate is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

2:10PM

Wigan lockdown restrictions to be reimposed

Lisa Nandy, the Labour MP for Wigan, has said that additional restrictions on mixing between households are to be reimposed on the borough in line with most of Greater Manchester.

Restrictions were previously eased in Wigan on August 26 as a consequence of steadily declining infection rates.

However, the latest seven-day rolling figures show that there are currently 106.2 positive cases per 100,000 population.

“The Health Minister confirmed in a call this morning that a rise in infections in Wigan means we’re subject to wider Greater Manchester restrictions again,” Ms Nandy wrote on social media.

2:01PM

Social distancing rules may not prove effective against new mutation

Covid-19 may have become more contagious as it has mutated, the largest genetic study carried out in the US into the virus has suggested, as scientists warn it could be adapting to interventions such as mask-wearing and social distancing, Josie Ensor reports from the United States.

One variant of the novel coronavirus is now one of the most dominant in America, accounting for 99.9 per cent of cases in one area studied.

The paper concluded that a mutation that changes the structure of the “spike protein” on the surface of the virus may be driving the outsized spread of that particular strain.

Researchers have been sequencing the genomes of the coronavirus at Houston Methodist, one of the largest hospitals in Texas, since early March, when the virus first appeared in the city. To date, they have documented 5,085 sequences.

Passengers in full protective gear pictured arriving at LAX Airport, California. Credit: Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In the first wave of the outbreak in Houston around March, some 71 per cent of the viruses were characterised by the mutation, which originated in China and is known as D614G.

By the second wave, which began in May and is ongoing, the D614G mutation leaped to 99.9 per cent prevalence. 

1:48PM

Covid job losses bloodbath imminent, warns Next boss

The boss of Next has warned that city centres must adapt to lower footfall and many retail jobs will be lost as consumers shift more permanently online in the wake of the pandemic, writes Simon Foy.

Lord Simon Wolfson said that while many retail jobs were likely to be lost, Next “won’t draw very much” on the Government’s Jobs Support Scheme, which was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday. 

When asked if there will be a lot of “unviable” jobs in the retail industry on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said:

I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that it is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail. It is going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people.

We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops, and I expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as demand for retail goes down.

However, Lord Wolfson added that Next is taking on new staff in other parts of the business, including in its call centres, warehouses and distribution networks.

Read the full story here.

1:41PM

New Covid rules vote bid backed by more than 40 Tory backbenchers

Dozens of Conservative backbenchers have backed a bid by rebels to force Boris Johnson to put all future lockdown measures to a vote of MPs.

In all, 42 Tory MPs backed an amendment tabled by the 1922 Committee chairman, Sir Graham Brady to require a new Parliament vote “as soon as reasonably practicable” on new powers.

The scale of the rebellion – almost certain to grow over the next few days – means the rebels are presently just one MP short of overhauling the Government’s working majority of 85, taking into account Sinn Fein MPs who do not vote, the Speaker and the deputy Speaker.

The MPs are hoping that the amendment will be voted on next Wednesday when the Government, by law, has to ask Parliament to approve its powers every six months.

It requires ministers to give Parliament a vote on any coronavirus powers (watch Boris Johnson announce the most recent restrictions in the video below) that affect all of England or the UK “as far as is practicable”.

Christopher Hope has the full story.

1:38PM

Parkrun return scrapped amid tightened lockdown restrictions

The planned return of Parkrun has been delayed indefinitely following the spike in Covid-19 infections, writes Jeremy Wilson – but event organisers have also called for society to “look beyond baseless assumptions and a culture of fear” in deciding what activities can now safely resume.

The mass participation running and walking event had been due to return next month but their planning to bring back the free Saturday and Sunday morning adult and junior events have been accompanied by tighter national measures to slow the Covid-19 spread.

Although the government has not explicitly banned Parkrun from returning – and is still allowing outdoor sporting events to remain exempt from its ‘rule of six’ – concerns have variously been raised at a local level by public health officials and land owners.

Credit: Clara Molden

A statement released by Parkrun also stressed its desire to return “as soon as circumstances allow” and the social and health impacts of its ongoing absence.

“The health of our nation is facing its greatest challenge in decades, inequalities are increasing, and disadvantaged communities are suffering disproportionately,” it said. 

“It is essential that, as we map out the coming weeks and months of our collective efforts to get back on our feet, we look beyond baseless assumptions and a culture of fear, and move toward evidence-based interventions.”

Read more: Concerns about health impacts as Parkrun return scrapped

1:27PM

Panic buying in supermarkets measures introduced by Tesco and Morrisons

Tesco has introduced a three item limit on key products such as flour, pasta, toilet roll and anti-bacterial wipes to stop shoppers bulk-buying after the Government rolled out new curbs to suppress Covid, writes Chris Johnston.

Many customers stockpiled staples at the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March, stripping some shelves bare.

“To ensure that everyone can keep buying what they need, we have introduced bulk-buy limits on a small number of products,” a Tesco spokesman said.

A sign limiting three items to per customer was on display in a Tesco in Manchester this morning. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Waitrose is also imposing limits on some items in all stores on Friday, a spokeswoman said.

Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to put fresh restrictions on sales of goods, including disinfectant and toilet roll, on Thursday.

1:09PM

Wales lockdown areas expanded to include Swansea, Cardiff and Llanelli

Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli will all go into local lockdown from this weekend, the Welsh Government has announced.

The restrictions mean people in the affected cities and towns should not meet indoors, aside from extended households, and nor should they enter or leave their regions without a “reasonable” excuse.

People must also work from home whenever possible, the Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said.

The Cardiff and Swansea lockdowns will begin at 6pm on Sunday, while the town of Llanelli will have its restrictions imposed from 6pm tomorrow.

1:05PM

Scotland coronavirus rules: Sturgeon tells students ‘I’m so sorry’

Speaking at her daily press briefing, Nicola Sturgeon has apologised to students and their parents with regards to the draconian new rules introduced.

The First Minister said:

The Government is having to make tough decisions, but none of us are immune to the impact and we understand.

I am so sorry, so heart-sorry, this time of your life is being made so tough. I really feel for you.

However Ms Sturgeon reiterated that students should not have parties in student accommodation, attend any hospitality settings, or mix with people outside of their households this weekend.

She said that the issue of students getting home to parents was a “difficult balancing act”, on which more guidance is expected in the next two days.

12:56PM

England coronavirus cases rise by 60 per cent in a week

The estimated number of cases of coronavirus across England has jumped 60 per cent in one week, new data from the Office for National Statistics has shown.

There were around 9,600 new coronavirus infections per day in England, up on 6,000 the week before, according to its new surveillance survey which tests thousands of private householders for the virus every seven days.

It estimated that 103,600 people had Covid-19 from September 13 to 19, which would equate to around one in 500 people.

The ONS said: “The estimate shows the number of infections has increased in recent weeks.

“In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 age group.

“There is evidence of higher infection rates in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, London and North East.”

The ONS also estimated that during the week of September 13 to 19, 10,800 people in Wales had Covid-19, equating to one in 300 people. There are currently six local lockdowns in Welsh regions, with capital Cardiff poised to become the seventh as its council considers new measures.

12:38PM

Spain coronavirus cases rise followed by expansion of Madrid lockdowns

Madrid’s regional government expanded the number of areas under partial lockdown on Friday, raising to over a million the total number affected by strict restrictions on mobility.

Antonio Zapatero, the region’s deputy health chief, said the restrictions would affect 167,000 people in eight new areas who will not be able to leave their neighbourhood except for work, school or medical reasons.

A resurgence in Covid-19 cases continues in Spain, with the country’s seven-day rate per 100,000 people sitting at 168.7, as of Thursday. 

Protesters yesterday clashed with police officers after gathering in their dozens to demand better healthcare and protest against the imposition of what they feel are targeted, class-based measures.

Credit: Emilio Naranjo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Spanish troops were this week deployed to Madrid to help enforce strict new lockdown rules after thousands of residents took to the streets in protest.

The country’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, agreed to send in the army after a meeting with the regional governor.

12:25PM

London lockdown could loom as city added to watch list

London has been added to the national coronavirus ‘watch list’ following a spike in infections.

A formal Public Health England announcement will take place later today, but the news has already been confirmed this morning by London Councils.

The organisation said that it serves as a reminder of the need for “all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.

The Mayor London Sadiq Khan has previously said that further measures for the city, which does currently not face any additional restrictions, cannot be ruled out.

Mr Khan wants to introduce additional measures which could include the wider wearing of face coverings outdoors, it was reported by the Financial Times this week.

12:14PM

Leeds lockdown rules to come into place from midnight, expects council

Leeds could face new Covid-19 restrictions as soon as midnight in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, according to its local authorities.

Judith Blake, Leeds council leader, has said that she expects Leeds to be made an “area of intervention” and told reporters that it is to face new measures aimed at stopping transmission from midnight onward.

Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Leeds could be subject to a ban on different households from mixing in homes and gardens.

If the Yorkshire city were to see the changes introduced, this would take the number of Britons living under local lockdown restrictions to more than 16 million.

12:00PM

Sweden coronavirus news: How consistent rules are staving off second wave

Sweden’s state epidemiologist has claimed that the consistency of his country’s coronavirus restrictions is what has so far saved it from the surges in cases seen elsewhere in Europe, reports Jason Orange. 

Asked what had prevented Sweden from so far suffering a second wave like those seen in Spain and elsewhere, Anders Tegnell downplayed the importance of immunity and said achieving ‘herd immunity’ had never been a goal of Sweden’s strategy.

Dr Tegnell said:

I’m not sure that the level of immunity in Sweden and in Spain differs very much.

I think the main difference between Sweden and many other countries is that we have had the same kind of restrictions and recommendations in place the whole time.

And we have a really big adherence from the population to those recommendations. And that makes a difference, that makes us hopefully less susceptible to a second wave.

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell appears to have been vindicated in his approach to Covid-19 compared to methods in countries such as Spain. Credit: Pontus Lundahl/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ever since Sweden decided not to close primary and lower secondary schools, bars, restaurants, or sports clubs, Dr Tegnell has insisted that restrictions and recommendations needed to be light enough that they can be kept in place for a long period.

11:45AM

Scotland Covid rules leave students ‘treated like criminals’

Students have been banned from visiting their family homes and will be ordered to stay away from pubs, after a surge in coronavirus cases in Scottish halls of residence left more than 1,000 teenagers in self-isolation, reports our Scottish correspondent Daniel Sanderson.

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of a “shocking lack of foresight” for failing to do more to prevent a rapidly escalating crisis, with a series of major Covid-19 outbreaks emerging in university accommodation – resulting in hundreds self-isolating – since students arrived earlier this month. 

In a draconian set of new rules agreed between universities and backed by SNP ministers on Thursday night, all students will be ordered to “avoid all socialising outside of their households”.

This includes visiting pubs, bars or restaurants this weekend, and means students now face significantly harsher rules than any other group in Scottish society.

It was also agreed that students will face tough disciplinary action, including being kicked out of university, if they break institution codes of conduct that mandate social distancing and, in many cases, the wearing of face coverings in university buildings.

11:35AM

NHS app launch reveals no ‘low risk areas’ in England

The new NHS Covid-19 app has classified no local areas in England as low risk coronavirus zones amid the UK’s caseload continuing to climb.

It would not be appropriate to deem anywhere in England low risk, the Department for Health said, but the department admitted this is to reflect the general infection increase across the country.

In England, the localised risk level is determined by data from the Local Authority watch list and the list itself most recently only highlighted 44 areas of intervention, with a further 11 areas of concern.

The NHS Covid-19 app has reached the top of the download chart since being launched, with more than one million downloads confirmed on Android alone.

But it was hit by chaos when people were left unable to download it due to a glitch yesterday, as the Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed people who ignored its self-isolate notifications would not face fines.

Read more: How does the new NHS Covid-19 app work?

11:22AM

Rishi Sunak announcement: Are the Chancellor and PM pulling in different directions?

Never has Boris Johnson been more conspicuous by his absence than at Thursday’s hugely significant Commons statement by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, writes Camilla Tominey.

As Mr Sunak introduced his winter economy plan, which will replace the furlough scheme with a new Job Support Scheme, the Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen on the front bench.

While Mr Sunak set out one of the most difficult announcements of the pandemic to date, Mr Johnson was talking to the broadcast media about Sky News, but insisted that he has given his “full support” to the new measures.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak at a Cabinet meeting at the start of this month Credit: Toby Melville/AFP

However even Conservative MPs felt a sense of Downing Street pulling in different directions as some questioned the PM’s priorities.

And it will do nothing to quell the tensions between Number 10 and backbench Conservatives, who are already mounting a revolt against the latest lockdown rules.

11:14AM

Is Cardiff going into lockdown?

The leader of Cardiff council has warned that the Welsh capital city could go into a local lockdown following cases in the area rising “rapidly”.

Huw Thomas told an authority meeting last night that the area has seen 38.2 cases per 100,000 residents, and that it is on the precipice of entering the Welsh Government’s so-called ‘red zone’.

Mr Thomas added that if this were to happen, he would “fully expect that we will be implementing further restrictions”.

Credit: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

He added that new limits could include a ban on households mixing, as has been introduced throughout Scotland, or a ban on travelling elsewhere.

The capital would become the seventh area in Wales to be placed under regional restrictions, including people not being allowed to leave their locality without a reasonable excuse.

11:02AM

Sunak warns of ‘1980s levels of unemployment despite emergency jobs package

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been warned his latest emergency package will not be enough to prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs from sectors hardest hit by coronavirus. 

Conservative peer Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, said roles will be shed from the retail industry as consumers make a permanent shift to shopping online.

Credit: John Sibley/PA

And shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned unemployment was heading towards “1980s levels” despite Mr Sunak’s wage subsidy package, as official figures showed borrowing continued to soar.

Steve Barclay, who is Mr Sunak’s deputy as chief secretary to the Treasury, defended the measures as being targeted to roles that remain “viable” but warned “we cannot save every job”.

10:57AM

EU air safety head says in-flight Covid infection risks are marginal

The risks of air travellers catching Covid-19 on a passenger aircraft are “very marginal” provided health measures are applied, Europe’s top aviation safety regulator said today. 

Only seven out of three million passengers on flights in recent weeks showed symptoms of the virus while on board, according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said.

The risks are “highly controlled” by airline and airports, Executive Director Patrick Ky told French aerospace journalists in an online briefing

10:46AM

Tesco blocks bulk-buying of toilet roll and flour

Tesco will prevent customers from bulk-buying flour, pasta, toilet roll and anti-bacterial wipes to prevent a re-run of the Covid-19 stockpiling that stripped shelves bare earlier this year.

Customers stocked up on long-life goods in March as the country entered a national lockdown, forcing many people to queue for hours or drive further than normal to find goods such as toilet roll, tinned fruit and rice.  

Empty shelves where lettuces are normally sold at the Portsmouth North Harbour Tesco. Credit: PA

The retailer has placed staff at the entrance to stores to ensure that face coverings are worn.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.”

“To ensure that everyone can keep buying what they need, we have introduced bulk-buy limits on a small number of products.”

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Andrex toilet rolls and Kleenex wipes, said yesterday it was seeing a moderate increase in the demand for Andrex toilet tissue, but that it had more than enough product to ensure a steady supply across the UK.

10:35AM

Lockdown turbocharges Britain’s millionaire property market

Cash-rich upsizers searching for rural living are leading the property market “mini-boom” and have turbocharged sales of Britain’s most expensive homes.

The number of £1m-plus house sales agreed in August was more than double (105 per cent) than in August 2019, new data from property website Rightmove showed. Million-pound homes were sold within 63 days of being listed – 18 days faster than in 2019.

The jump in sales outpaces the national average increase of 61pc by 44 percentage points.

Norfolk, Wiltshire and Cornwall were Britain’s hottest millionaire markets. Between July and August, the number of agreed £1m-plus sales jumped 244pc, 174pc and 165pc respectively, compared with 2019. 

Melissa Lawford has the full story here. 

10:30AM

Japanese researchers trial early warning test for acute Covid-19 cases

Researchers in Japan have developed a blood test they say appears to serve as an early warning system for serious cases of Covid-19, and deployed 500 prototype machines to trial its effectiveness nationwide.

Scientists from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine initially tested for five compounds in the blood of 28 patients, finding that low readings of the serum CCL17 were predictive of serious coronavirus infections.

The results suggested that early tests for the serum could help determine which patients will need hospitalization, they said in a paper published this month.

“If CCL17 is lower than 100 picograms per milliliter, then we ask them to be hospitalized, but if it’s over 400, the patients can stay in a hotel or their house and check in every three days,” lead researcher Masaya Sugiyama told Reuters on Friday.

More data was needed to confirm the results of the small study, Sugiyama said, but since the 28-patient trial the group has worked with a Japanese company to develop a prototype testing machines for the serum.

10:19AM

Marseille bars protest against coronavirus shutdown

Hundreds of restaurant owners and bar staff protested outside Marseille’s commercial court against a government order to shut from Saturday to curb the surge in new coronavirus cases in France’s second biggest city.

The government ordered bars and restaurants in the city to close for two weeks after placing the city on the maximum alert level for the spread of the virus.

But Marseille residents and local officials say the move is disproportionate to the risks and will devastate the local economy.

Angry restaurant and bar owners demonstrate, one with a placard reading “Save cafes and restaurants” in Marseille, southern Franc Credit: AP

“We’re in complete despair. When they shut us down, they humiliate us,” said restaurateur Bernard Marty.

“This doesn’t just penalise the restaurateur behind the till. It’s an entire sector plunged into crisis: suppliers, event organisers, discotheques. Do they expect us to die in silence?”

9:50AM

Covid-19 sniffer dogs screen passengers at airport

A team of Covid-19 sniffer dogs has begun work at Helsinki airport, to screen passengers for infection.

Volunteers are training a team of 15 dogs and 10 instructors for the trial at part of a trial at Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

Trainer Susanna Paavilainen is seen with sniffer dogs Kossi (L) and Miina (R), detecting Covid-19 from the arriving passengers’ samples Credit: REUTERS

The dogs can detect the coronavirus five days before humans develop symptoms, researchers say, and detect close to 100 per cent of cases.

Passengers wipe their neck with a cloth that is then placed before a detector dog. While the trial is still ongoing, passengers are also being given a swab test to confirm any results

9:45AM

Rio de Janeiro carnival postponed over coronavirus pandemic

Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous carnival parades became the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic as officials announced they were indefinitely postponing the February 2021 edition.

Rio’s carnival, the world’s biggest, is an epidemiologist’s nightmare in a pandemic: an extended festival of tightly packed crowds dancing through the streets and flocking to the city’s iconic “Sambadrome” for massive parades featuring scantily clad dancers, small armies of drummers and all-night partying at close quarters.

A samba performance at the Rio’s Carnival parade in February 2020 Credit: AFP

Meeting to assess the situation, “we came to the conclusion that the event had to be postponed,” said Jorge Castanheira, the president of the group that organizes the annual parades, the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro (LIESA).

“It’s not a cancellation, it’s a postponement. We are looking for an alternative solution, something we can do when it’s safe to contribute to the city…. But we aren’t certain enough to set a date.”

9:38AM

 USA: New York governor Cuomo demands independent vaccine review 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process.

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York state Credit: Reuters

Mr Cuomo, a Democrat who has repeatedly criticised President Donald Trump and his Republican administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters at a briefing he was going to form a review committee to advise the state on the safety of a vaccine.

“Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Mr Cuomo said. “New York state will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe.” 

“The way the federal government has handled the vaccine, there are now serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” he added.  

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. On Wednesday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told a U.S. Senate committee that the agency would only approve a vaccine that was safe and effective.

9:32AM

China’s annual production capacity of Covid-19 vaccine expected to reach 610 mln doses by Christmas 

China’s annual production capacity of Covid-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of 2020, the country’s National Health Commission said today.

Production capacity of the vaccines is forecast to reach 1 billion doses per year by 2021, Zheng Zhongwei,Director General of the Development Centre for Medical Science and Technology of the commission, told a news briefing. 

Sinovac Biotech CEO Yin Weidong speaking to journalists at an event where the company is producing their potential Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac Credit: Getty Images

Read here: When will a Covid-19 vaccine be ready in the UK? Latest updates from around the world 

9:23AM

Former prime minister Gordon Brown believes range of measures needed to help job market.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown believes that a range of measures are needed to help the job market.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Unemployment is not inevitable, it is the decisions that we make to do something about it.

“Let’s listen to what people are saying about what jobs could be created, companies that are struggling that perhaps need more loans to keep going – perhaps we should convert that into equity taken by regional growth funds – and at the same time we have to get these young people into work.”

Mr Brown also told the programme: “Of course, if it is a one-in-a-century event, you have got to say: ‘We have got to take action now to prevent worse damage later’.”

‘There was nothing in his message yesterday for the 1.5m who are now unemployed.’@OfficeGSBrown says Rishi Sunak needs to reconsider his jobs package that makes it ‘cheaper to keep one full time staff member than two part time.’ pic.twitter.com/dQUa4WooGq

— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 25, 2020

9:19AM

Chief executive of Next says many traditional retail jobs may become unviable after shift to online shopping during pandemic. 

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, said a lot of traditional retail jobs may become unviable after a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the job support scheme (JSS) will help – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

It was put to Lord Wolfson that the permanent-looking shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.

In the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

“I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.

9:13AM

Russia’s new Covid-19 cases hit highest since June 23

Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit its highest level since June 23 on Friday as officials reported 7,212 infections across the country, bringing the national tally to 1,136,048.

In the capital Moscow, the tally of new cases rose almost 50% overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 the previous day.

Authorities said 108 people had died across Russia, pushing the official coronavirus death toll to 20,056. 

8:42AM

National debt at record high

Some eyewatering figures have been announced this morning.

The UK’s national debt hit a new record at the end of August, the latest figures show as the country’s embattled public sector borrowed another £35.9 billion.

Debt hit £2,023.9 billion, just weeks after passing £2 trillion for the first time ever in July.

It comes as both central and local Government is investing billions of pounds in trying to help people and the economy through the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It means that borrowing is now equivalent to 101.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the combined value of all goods and services produced in the UK each year.

In July borrowing rose higher than GDP for the first time since the early 1960s.

The UK’s national debt hit £2,023.9 billion, just weeks after passing £2 trillion for the first time ever in July.   Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) casts some light on the huge costs involved in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most countries borrow money even in good times, for instance, last year in August the country borrowed £5.4 billion, but the scale of borrowing is different right now.

In August, the public sector borrowed more in a single month than at any time since 1993, when monthly records began.

8:32AM

Government prioritising saving ‘viable’ jobs

Chief secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay has defended the new jobs protection scheme as a “targeted” approach to get people back to work while the unemployed can be retrained.

Asked what a viable job is, he told BBC Breakfast: “One where the employer is able to bring someone back to work.

“That really reflects a change in focus from the initial first phase where through the furlough we protected a peak of 8.9 million jobs … to the next phase where we recognise we will be living with this virus for a longer period of time than initially thought and therefore we need to take more targeted measures rather than for people being home for a very long period of time, to start to bringing people back into the labour market where we can and, where that’s not possible, then focus very much on the skills the training and how we get them into other jobs.”

Mr Barclay denied the new jobs protection scheme would not give enough of an incentive to employers to keep workers on, with suggestions it is cheaper to bring back one furloughed employee than two on half-time.

He said: “What that doesn’t take on board, a spreadsheet interpretation, doesn’t reflect the fact that many employers value the flexibility of being able to tailor how much time employees are working as we go through the uncertainty of the winter months and they want to retain the skills and expertise of their labour market.”

8:20AM

Government and universities must coordinate testing

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, is part of a team which devised a new testing programme for students and said universities are “particularly high risk settings” with potential for rapid spread of the virus.

Prof Ball said the university has had a pilot running with veterinary students who started back towards the end of July being tested weekly and told the Today programme they identified a single positive case in an asymptomatic person and three weeks on there have been no more cases identified.

Prof Ball said they were able to identify the case rapidly and “potentially stop an outbreak before it started”.

Hundreds of students in Scotland are self isolating after a spate of cases at universities Credit: James Chapelard 

Asked if he thinks there is a case for more co-ordination, he said: “I think for some time most universities have recognised that this is a problem for a long time.

“I know that our university in particular have been trying to reach out to Government, for example, to try and work closely with pillar 2 testing, with track and trace, and to try and get a co-ordinated effort across universities working with health authorities, public health in particular, local NHS – those kinds of collaborations to try and increase our capacity to test and to be able to do community surveillance because that’s something that’s very low on the ground.

“If you think about these people aren’t going to have symptoms and yet potentially can spread, then if you’re missing those out of your testing strategy and regime then you’ve got a potential problem.”

7:51AM

‘Traditional retail jobs may become unviable’

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, said a lot of traditional retail jobs may become unviable after a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the job support scheme (JSS) will help – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

It was put to Lord Wolfson that the permanent-looking shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.

‘We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops’ said Lord Wolfson Credit:  Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

In the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

“I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.

“We’re taking on people in our call centre. We’re training new recruits in our call centres, in our warehousing, our distribution networks are taking on new employees.”

7:42AM

Steve Barclay on the tv and radio shows this mornng

And the Chief secretary to the Treasury is lauding his boss Rishi Sunak, and his post-furlough job plan.

He told Sky News: “We’ve been honest with the public that we will not be able to save, regretfully, every job.

“There’s a whole range of investment going into the economy in those sectors whilst we protect as many of those jobs that are viable, that people have been protected in initially through the furlough and now through the winter package.

“It is right that we also look at the cost to the wider economy, these measures come at a significant fiscal cost, and that’s why it’s right we target those jobs that are viable during what is going to be sadly a difficult winter.”

Steve Barclay echoed the Chancellor that not all jobs will be saved Credit: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 He also denied that Rishi Sunak’s message to “live without fear” was a suggestion people should ignore the coronavirus rules.

“Quite the opposite,” he said. 

“I think what’s very clear from the message the Chancellor said we need to address the health risks in order to protect jobs.

“It’s as a consequence of people following the health guidance, adhering to that, that’s also how we enable the economy to recover and we protect as many jobs as possible.

“This false choice that’s sometimes presented between the health needs and the economic needs is wrong. They both sit side by side and it’s through taking strong measures to address the virus that we can get the business confidence back into the economy.”

6:59AM

Partygoers not put off by new rules

Would-be late-night drinkers in England have faced the first evening of new measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

All pubs, bars and restaurants had to shut by 10pm on Thursday evening to comply with new rules that were brought into force earlier this week.

But many people were not put off a midweek tipple or two by the new restrictions, with many pub-goers spotted in Soho, central London, while one video showed hundreds of people spilling out onto the streets after 10pm.

A small police presence was seen on the pedestrianised streets but no problems were reported.

The Metropolitan Police said Commissioner Cressida Dick was out on patrol in Shoreditch, a popular nighttime area, with local officers “who were engaging with members of the public, to remind them of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe to minimise the spread”.

(10pm curfew just meant everyone rolling out onto the streets and onto the tubes at the same time and it was the busiest I’ve seen central London in months) pic.twitter.com/7oWKH5APNG

— Kirsty Lewis (@kirstylewis6) September 24, 2020

The force said it would be stepping up its enforcement of Covid regulations in response to the changes and rising rates of infection in the capital.

“Londoners should expect to see police officers engaging with members of the public to remind them of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.

“Working with local authorities and other partners, the focus will be on public spaces with high footfall – where people are most likely to come into contact with each other and therefore the risk of transmission is increased.”

Wolverhampton Police posted a video on Twitter thanking the public for complying with the new regulations, saying all venues had shut at 10pm.

The mood was jubilant for some drinkers in Brighton, with revellers at one birthday celebration not put off by the curfew.

Along with the 10pm closing times, all hospitality venues must now offer table service only to try to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

6:28AM

Pupils lose bursaries and parents fight for refunds as private schools close

Parents left thousands of pounds out of pocket are fighting for refunds as private schools shut their doors during the Covid pandemic.

Historic schools including Minster in York, which can trace its origins back to 627AD, have had to permanently close due to financial difficulties.

Andrew Hennie, 50 from Surrey, paid £1,996 for a summer term of teaching that was never delivered after his daughter’s school, HawleyHurst, went into administration in March. The Hampshire school counted the Duchess of York among its alumni and was co-owned by the millionaire founder of The Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit.

Read the full story

Read more: Students ‘treated like criminals’ after they are banned from Scottish pubs and family homes

5:53AM

New cases in India stay below 90,000 for 5th day

India has reported another 86,052 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding daily infections this week.

The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.8 million on Friday. The ministry said 1,141 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 92,290.

The ministry said India’s recovery rate has crossed 81.55 per cent. This includes five worst-hit states – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which account for more than 60 percent of the confirmed cases.

The new daily cases have remained below the 90,000 mark for five straight days after hitting a record number of 97,894 on Sept. 16.

Though there was a 12 per cent dip in testing for five days, it picked up again to 1.1 million on Thursday, the ministry said.

Daily wage laborers wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus carry fruit baskets at a wholesale market in Bengaluru, India Credit: AP

5:34AM

South Korea to tighten restrictions during holiday weeks

South Korea on Friday said it would impose tighter restrictions during the Chuseok autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families, flagging the risks of new clusters of coronavirus infections.

The new curbs apply to at least 11 high-risk facilities in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, including nightclubs and bars.

Those restrictions are on top of the current so-called phase two social distancing, which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100, and bans spectators from sporting events.

The new measures will be in place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 11. Korea’s Hangul holiday, which memorialises when King Sejong introduced the language’s unique characters, is on Oct. 9.

“We are at an important crossroads that will decide whether we will be able to return to the phase one social distancing policy or revisit another Covid-19 outbreak,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a briefing.

A fumigator truck spray fumigation and disinfect a street in Seoul Credit: KIM HEE-CHUL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

4:31AM

Chinese company says vaccine ready by early 2021

A Chinese pharmaceutical company said on Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.

Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.

“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.”Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the US, EU and others,” Yin said.

Stringent regulations in the US, European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines. But Yin said that could change.

3:22AM

US cases surpass 7 million

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million on Thursday – more than 20 per cent of the world’s total – as Midwest states reported spikes in infections in September, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, the world’s highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the US from Covid-19.

All Midwest states except Ohio reported more cases in the past four weeks as compared with the prior four weeks, led by South Dakota and North Dakota. South Dakota had the biggest percentage increase at 166 per cent with 8,129 new cases, while North Dakota’s new cases doubled to 8,752 as compared to 4,243 during the same time in August.

Many cases in those two states have been linked to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, that annually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Read more: Donald Trump unveils his ‘America First’ healthcare plan

Read more: South Dakota ‘super-spreader’ biker rally could be linked to 250,000 cases

Motorcycles and people crowd Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7 Credit: Getty

2:18AM

Rio’s Carnival parade plans suspended 

Rio de Janeiro on Thursday delayed its annual Carnival parade, saying the global spectacle cannot go ahead in February because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the pandemic.

Jorge Castanheira, president of Rio’s League of Samba Schools, announced that the continued spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood. No new date has been set, he said.

Rio’s City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that take place across the city. But its tourism promotion agency said in a statement on Sept. 17 that without a vaccine, it is uncertain when large public events can resume. 

Read more: Britons face virtual worldwide quarantine as four more countries are added to travel ban list

Carnival parade floats sit unfinished in the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school workshop in Rio de Janeiro Credit: AP

1:57AM

Australia eases lending laws to stimulate economy

Australia on Friday said it would simplify bank lending rules to free up credit in a bid to stimulate the economy, which slid into its first recession in nearly 30 years due to the pandemic.

The changes will ease the regulatory burden and reduce the cost and time faced by consumers and small businesses seeking to access credit, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

“The flow of credit will be absolutely critical to our economic recovery,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.”But our current regulatory framework, with respect to lending, is not fit for the purpose. It has become overly prescriptive, and responsible lending has become restrictive lending.”

Read more: Chancellor seeks to avoid business cash crunch with extended help

Read more: Sunak unveils new wage subsidy to save jobs

12:51AM

Brazil to join COVAX vaccine facility

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will issue decrees laying the legal groundwork for Brazil to join the global Covid-19 vaccine partnership known as COVAX and earmarking 2.5 billion reais (£360 million) for securing vaccines via the facility, his office said on Thursday.

It said that the decrees will be issued in an extra edition of the official gazette, without specifying when it would be published. 

Brazil plans to use the COVAX facility, which gives access to several vaccine candidates in development globally, to buy enough supplies to immunize 10 per cent of its population by the end of 2021, the press office said in a statement. That should cover Brazil’s “priority populations”, it said.

Cemetery workers place the coffin containing the remains of a man who died from Covid-19 related complications into a niche at the municipal cemetery in Nova Iguacu, Brazil Credit: AP

12:28AM

Today’s top stories

Are Johnson and Sunak pulling in different directions? Never has the PM been more conspicuous by his absence than at Thursday’s crucial statement by the Chancellor.
Rishi Sunak killed off the Government’s furlough scheme as he said it would be “fundamentally wrong” to save jobs that were only “viable” through taxpayer support.
Four more countries have been removed from Britain’s list of quarantine-free travel options: Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao. 
Dozens of Conservative backbenchers have backed a bid by rebels to force Boris Johnson to put all future lockdown measures to a vote of MPs.
Covid-19 may have become more contagious as it has mutated, the largest genetic study carried out in the US into the virus has suggested, as scientists warn it could be adapting to interventions such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, was unable to explain on Thursday whether couples living apart could have sex, as he was asked to define the Government’s rule that they must be in an “established relationship”.
The Italian president has rebuked Johnson’s claims that, unlike Italy, the UK is a freedom-loving country where it is hard to enforce anti-virus measures, as it emerged that the PMs fiancee is holidaying on the shores of Lake Como.