Government considers moving six more areas to Tier 3 rules

Dominic Penna
·74 min read
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London - PRU/AFP via Getty Images
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London - PRU/AFP via Getty Images

06:05 PM

What happened today

Good evening. Here is a roundup of today's major coronavirus news:

05:52 PM

Summer Olympics were targeted by Russia before coronavirus cancellation

The Russian military intelligence unit behind the Novichok attack in Salisbury targeted the summer Olympics before they were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, British spy chiefs have disclosed.

The GRU launched "cyber reconnaissance" operations on both the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which had been due to be held in Tokyo. Targets included the events' organisers and sponsors.

The public disclosure is designed to cause further embarrassment to Vladimir Putin's regime as part of a strategy to "call out" illegal Russian cyber hacking. It is also intended to deter the Russians from launching further attacks when the Games finally take place.

Russia is banned from competing at the Olympics under its own national flag because of repeated breaches of doping rules.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said: "The GRU's actions against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless. We condemn them in the strongest possible terms. The UK will continue to work with our allies to call out and counter future malicious cyber attacks."

Robert Mendick and James Cook have the story.

05:49 PM

Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to eradicate disease, warns Sir Patrick Vallance

Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that a vaccine is unlikely to eradicate coronavirus with the disease likely to become endemic in Britain, writes Sarah Knapton.

The government’s chief scientific adviser said that the ‘notion of eliminating covid is not right’ and said people would have to learn to live with the virus.

Speaking at the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy, Sir Patrick said even if a vaccine was available by the Spring, it would not wipe out the virus entirely.

Sir Patrick Vallance speaks at a briefing on COVID-19 measures, as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in London - Simon Dawson/Reuters/File Photo
Sir Patrick Vallance speaks at a briefing on COVID-19 measures, as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in London - Simon Dawson/Reuters/File Photo

“I mean it is worth reflecting that there's only one human disease that's been truly eradicated, and that's from the highly effective vaccine to smallpox, so it's a very difficult thing to do,” he told MPs and peers.

“I think that’s quite likely, we can’t be certain but I think it’s unlikely we will end up with a truly sterilising vaccine, something that completely stops infection and it’s likely this disease will circulate and be endemic."

Sir Patrick added that a vaccine is unlikely to be in "any sort of widespread use" until spring at the earliest as eight different jabs continue to undergo clinical trials.

Full story: Vallance says people have to learn to live with Covid

05:45 PM

US coronavirus cases rose 13 per cent last week to nearly 400,000

The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week rose 13 per cent to more than 393,000 - approaching levels last seen during the peak of the virus in the summer.

Since the start of the outbreak, a total of more than 8.1 million Americans have now been infected with the virus - which is at least one-fifth of global infections - and almost 220,000 have died.

Deaths declined by two per cent to 4,900 deaths in the week ending on October 18, when the US recorded 69,478 new cases, the highest single-day total since July 24.

With two weeks and a day until Americans next go to the polls, thirty-four of the 50 states have seen their caseload increase for at least two weeks in a row.

Workers place a ballot box for dropping off mail-in ballots next to a tent being used as an early voting polling location - Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Workers place a ballot box for dropping off mail-in ballots next to a tent being used as an early voting polling location - Ethan Miller/Getty Images

These include North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania - all of which are set to be crucial battlegrounds on November 3.

Follow all of the latest US news and analysis here.

05:22 PM

Analysis: Who will blink first in the battle for the North?

Andy Burnham insists his standoff with the Government is “not about a big cheque”. Nonetheless, a hefty sum will inevitably be required to end the impasse over financial support for Greater Manchester after it was moved into the highest tier of Covid restrictions amid a rise in infections.

Tier 3 rules mean pubs and bars have to close, on top of a range of other restrictions on enterprise and day-to-day life. As well as calling for the 80pc wage subsidy to be restored for all affected workers, including the self-employed, Burnham wants “a proper compensation scheme for businesses”.

A man walks past a bar where a sign mentions Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues - Phil Noble/Reuters
A man walks past a bar where a sign mentions Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues - Phil Noble/Reuters

The British Chambers of Commerce backed his plea, telling the Prime Minister any new lockdown restrictions must come with "truly commensurate" financial support or risk "catastrophic economic consequences".

The Government, meanwhile, is urging Burnham to accept an offer believed to be worth tens of millions of pounds. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said on Monday that "every side needs to now come together and reach an amicable conclusion for the sake of people in Greater Manchester." But has Whitehall coughed up enough cash?

Lizzy Burden has the full story.

05:11 PM

Lancashire lockdown restrictions will be reviewed monthly 'at a maximum'

Matt Hancock says that the restrictions in Lancashire will be reviewed every 28 days "as a maximum".

He does not rule out easing restrictions before this if this correlates with a decline in the caseload.

He says the goal for everybody in Blackpool "should be to do their bit, play their part, follow the rules and try to get the number of cases down so then we can restore some of our freedoms".

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 19, 2020 - PRU/AFP via Getty Images
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 19, 2020 - PRU/AFP via Getty Images

 

04:56 PM

Confusion as Government portal sends people to testing site that does not exist

The Government’s test and trace system faced fresh criticism this weekend after officials admitted they had sent dozens of people to a testing centre that did not exist, writes Tony Diver.

People with coronavirus symptoms in Kent were directed by the Government’s testing portal to a mobile testing centre at a former park and ride site in Sevenoaks, only to find the gates locked and the car park empty.

The Telegraph understands there was originally a mobile testing centre earmarked for the site, but it was never actually established.

Staff collect samples at a drive through test centre in Leicester. A new three-tier system of alert levels for England has been implemented following rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions - Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Staff collect samples at a drive through test centre in Leicester. A new three-tier system of alert levels for England has been implemented following rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions - Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Worried members of the public were then directed to a real testing centre to be swabbed for the virus.

Bryan Shaw, who drove from his home in Stansted to the empty car park, said: "The last thing you need when you are feeling ill is a wasted journey.

"I have emailed the Prime Minister to let him know how disgusted I am."

Richard Baker, who works nearby, told the Telegraph dozens of people had come into his business looking for the centre.

Read the full story here.

04:51 PM

Coronavirus vaccine 'unlikely' before spring, admits Sir Patrick Vallance

On vaccinations, Sir Patrick Vallance says:

The average time of making a vaccine from scratch is 10 years and it's never been done before under five years at the very quickest.

We are now in an extraordinary situation where there are eight vaccines which by and large are in clinical studies across the world, some of which will start to read out from a late stage of clinical studies over the next few months.

So we will know over the next few months whether we have any vaccines that really protect, and how long they protect for.

What we do know is there are a number of vaccines that create an immune response and they create antibodies. But that's a necessary step on vaccines, it's not the answer. The answer comes from the phase three clinical trials where we find out whether they stop you getting infected.

At that point I will also have some clearer idea on the safety profile of the vaccines and from there can look at what a sensible vaccination strategy could be across the population.

It's unlikely we'll have a Covid vaccine for any sort of widespread use in the community, before at least spring next year.

04:47 PM

Antibodies waning in some people after a few months, says Sir Patrick Vallance

"Antibodies can wane after a few months so we see antibody levels decreasing in some people, and we also know some people can be infected," Sir Patrick Vallance told the national security strategy committee today.

"In London in the first wave it was probably something like 17 per cent of the population or so was infected. Overall you'd say about six per cent of the population got infected.

"It's much less predictive for you as an individual as to whether you are protected against it and for how long.

"Antibody tests are clinically a bit less useful at the moment, and we don't have absolute answers on those things yet."

04:42 PM

Hancock grilled on gyms and Tier 3 inconsistency

Matt Hancock is asked why gyms have been able to stay open in Lancashire, but not Liverpool.

"That decision was taken in consultation with the local area and part of the work with local areas on this has been to agree exact details on the package in Level 3," Mr Hancock says.

04:39 PM

Protect care homes by keeping virus down, says Hancock

On care homes, the Health Secretary says:

The situation is that we have different restrictions in different areas according to local circumstances, with a great deal of delegated authority to the local director of public health to make judgements on these heartbreakingly difficult decisions.When the case rate is high in the community, naturally that increases the risk in care homes. Not just because of visitors but because care home staff live in the community.The best thing that we can do is keep the prevalence of coronavirus down and that way we help protect people in care homes as well.

He calls on everyone in Tier 1 areas to "do their bit to stay in Level 1 by following hands, face and space, and following social distancing."

04:30 PM

'No, no, no' to local authority delegation from Hancock

"He can complain that we're doing too much but that's not normally the complaint we get," Matt Hancock says in response to a Labour request to delegate contact tracing to local authorities.

"As for handing over to local authorities - no, no, no.

"It's got to be teamwork with local authorities, not this attempt to separate out people and say one side's good, one side's bad. We're all on the same side in this fight against the virus."

04:26 PM

Sweden coronavirus news: Shift in strategy with local approach

From today onward Swedish local health authorities will be able to work with the Public Health Agency to issue 'general recommendations' to deal with local spikes in Covid-19 cases.

Edicts have only previously been issued at a national level, and Bitte Bråstad, the chief legal officer for the country's Public Health Agency, has said the measures are "something in between regulations and recommendations".

"You could say it's a 'strong recommendation'," she told The Local newspaper.

While the guidelines are not considered legally binding, they will apply to residents and visitors to Sweden alike.

04:16 PM

Matt Hancock: Government will not rule out further Newcastle restrictions

Pressed on further economic support for Newcastle, which is currently in Tier 2, Matt Hancock says that if Newcastle requires further restrictions then the Government will impose these.

Mr Hancock once again describes the existing economic support as "unprecedented".

04:11 PM

Matt Hancock: Boroughs will be taken out of restrictions when data permits

Matt Hancock says that the regulations are written "on a borough-by-borough basis" and that if areas can be taken out of restrictive measures, they will be "when that's what the data has shown".

"On the testing, we're rolling out these tests as fast as we can," Mr Hancock says. "We want to get more NHS staff tested on an asymptomatic basis, more testing in care homes, more support in education, and asymptomatic testing where areas where there is a big outbreak.

"All of this will be there to support outbreak control and get this virus under control."

04:07 PM

Blower's take on the Welsh fire break lockdown

Blower cartoon for October 20
Blower cartoon for October 20

 

04:05 PM

Matt Hancock: Government taking 'consensual, collaborative' approach

The Health Secretary says that the Government is taking a "consensual and collaborative approach", and in London "there has been a similar approach".

"In Greater Manchester I would merely point out that the rate of infection among those who are age over 60 - the group most likely to end up in hospital - has risen from 171 to 100,000 to 283. So it is vital from a public health perspective that we ask".

The SNP's Pippa Whitford says that ventilation is crucial in the battle against Covid-19, and that the Government should use its taxation powers to make hospitality settings more secure.

"Absolutely we'll support hospitality businesses and all the sectors of the economy," Mr Hancock responds. "The UK Government is supporting businesses right across the whole country.

"So where there is action by the Scottish Government in a devolved way, it is the UK Government that then comes in with the economic support. This is yet another example of where we are stronger all together."

04:02 PM

Matt Hancock: Labour should 'congratulate and support' testing efforts

Matt Hancock says that Jonathan Ashworth should "congratulate and support" those involved in testing efforts, and that the Government "puts the most support into the efforts that need it most".

"I think that to be truthful to him, he's far closer and more supportive of the Government position than he feels able to express at the despatch box," he says.

Mr Hancock says that Government fiscal support has been "unprecedented" and "is part of the discussions that we have with local authorities when local actions are needed".

"These are all things that the Government is doing and I behove the honourable gentleman to acknowledge and support them, since we are all clearly trying to deliver the same thing which is to suppress the virus and save lives."

Mr Hancock does not respond to the question he was asked about a fire break lockdown.

03:59 PM

Jonathan Ashworth calls for Government to 'follow advice of Sage' with circuit-break

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, calls on Matt Hancock to turn around more results in the space of 24 hours, step up contact tracing, and fix what he describes as "a badly designed system... paying consultants £7,000-a-day".

"After spending £12 billion, ministers just shrug their shoulders and say the virus is accelerating," he says. He calls on Mr Hancock to use retrospective contact tracing, as is currently in use in Japan, to deal with "clusters" of the virus.

Mr Ashworth says Rishi Sunak should "spend less time admiring himself on Instagram" and deliver "proper financial support" to Manchester.

He says it is in the national interest to "follow the advice of Sage and adopt a two or three-week circuit break".

"The cost of delay could be a deeper, longer, fuller lockdown. We do have a window of opportunity. For much of the country it's half-term next week. If it's politically easier for him he can call it a firewall. Whatever he calls it, we need something. The longer the Prime Minister dithers the harder it becomes to take control of this virus, protect the NHS and save lives."

03:54 PM

Hancock: 'We are once again at a decisive moment'

After paying tribute to Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson's brother, who recently died with Covid-19, Matt Hancock says that lamp and lateral flow testing, as currently being trialled in settings like schools and universities, "can give us hope on the way back to normal life".

"We must be ready to deploy a vaccine as soon as one is safely available," he says, referring to measures taken which will allow people in a greater number of roles to administer a vaccine.

"We are once again at a decisive moment in our fight against coronavirus and while our scientists work round the clock on the solutions that will keep us safe, we must all come together and work together to suppress the virus and save both livelihoods and lives."

03:51 PM

Greater Manchester lockdown talks ongoing, confirms Matt Hancock

"I'm sure that the willingness to put politics aside will save lives and protect livelihoods at this difficult time," Mr Hancock says of the Tier Three agreement reached with Lancashire.

"Talks are continuing this afternoon, led by the Communities Secretary, with Greater Manchester. And this week further discussions are planned with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside."

Mr Hancock says "we're doing 300,000 tests a day" and that over 500 testing sites have now been opened.

03:48 PM

'Support the NHS by keeping the virus down', Matt Hancock urges Britons

"I know that this is difficult, and I know that this is relentless, but we must have resolve, and see this through, and never stop striving to support the science that one day will make us safe," Mr Hancock says.

He says everyone must "support the NHS by keeping the virus down", so that the health service can also treat non-Covid patients.

Mr Hancock notes that cancer waiting times are down 63 per cent compared to the first peak of the pandemic.

"The best way to protect cancer treatment and all the other treatments in the NHS is to keep the prevalence of the coronavirus down," he says.

03:46 PM

Matt Hancock: Coronavirus remains 'perilous'

Matt Hancock is on his feet in the House of Commons and notes that deaths in the UK have doubled in the last twelve days.

"The situation remains perilous," he says. "While this disease is dangerous for all adults, it is especially dangerous for older people. I'm very worried that the cases per 100,000 among the over-60s is 401 in the Liverpool City Region, 241 in Lancashire, and in Manchester it has risen over the past week from 171 to 283.

"This is why the Government has been working so hard to act, and I'm very glad we've been able to agree the necessary measures across party lines in Liverpool and Lancashire."

He says ministers are "working very hard" to secure such measures in Greater Manchester.

03:43 PM

Coronavirus can survive on skin for nine hours, researchers find

The coronavirus can survive on skin for up to nine hours, underscoring the importance of regular hand washing, Japanese researchers have found. 

In a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, experts tested how long Sars-Cov-2 and flu survived on skin samples collected during autopsies.

They found that while the coronavirus survived for just over nine hours, influenza A virus (IAV) remained active for less than two. 

“The nine-hour survival of Sars-Cov-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV, thus accelerating the pandemic,” the researchers, from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, wrote.  

They added that this finding increases the possibility of transmitting the virus through human contact, although “hand hygiene can reduce this risk”. 

During the study both the coronavirus and influenza were killed within 15 seconds when ethanol, which is included in most hand sanitisers, was applied.

Sarah Newey has the full story.

03:39 PM

Analysis: Why 'blue on blue' Tory row is more about old vs new than South vs North

Harold Macmillan once commented that the only quality needed to be an MP was the ability to write a good letter, writes Camilla Tominey.

Yet in sending "ill-advised" correspondence to Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, southern Conservatives have been accused of employing a poison pen against their own colleagues in the North. 

The furious "blue on blue" row erupted after 20 Tories urged Manchester to accept Tier 3 Covid restrictions as their "Red Wall" comrades were railing against the measures.

The party's internal WhatsApp group reflected the scale of the infighting, with Northern MPs accusing the signatories of "throwing them under a bus" in order to curry favour with Number 10.

It was later noted that most of those who signed the letter are on the Government's payroll, leading to accusations that Downing Street is actively working against the very MPs who helped propel Boris Johnson to power with an 80-seat majority in December. 

The row reflects a party management problem that has increasingly plagued the Prime Minister as he attempts to steer Britain through the coronavirus crisis. 

03:25 PM

UK coronavirus cases today rise by 18,804

The Government said that, as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 18,804 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, which brings the total number of cases in the UK to 741,212.

The Government also said a further 80 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of Monday. This means that the UK's official Covid-19 death toll stands at 43,726.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics and other agencies show there have now been 58,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

03:15 PM

Sir Patrick Vallance: 'Very difficult to predict' course of infectious disease

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, is appearing before the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.

"Pandemic flu remains the highest risk because flu virus mutates so readily, we just know from history that's a big risk," Sir Patrick says.

"We know now coronavirus can make that leap in quite a dramatic way as well. Although this virus mutates much less easily and much less quickly than flu, other jumps from animals to humans could come.

"So as a group you might say there's a possibility that might be as high as for pandemic flu. One of the problems is that it's very difficult to predict. It's not been easy to predict at all what is the next infectious disease."

03:09 PM

Comment: While the West locks down, China parties

The Chinese response has been as effective as it has because from the end of January onwards, the goal has been clear and simple - eliminate transmission of virus in the population, writes Daniel Falush.

The goal of testing has been to identify every active infection, the goal of tracing to identify every single contact of each potentially infectious person and the goal of isolation to ensure that every individual who might be infectious is safely housed in a medical facility or, for lower risk cases at home, and cannot pass it to anyone else.

Over the months, each step has got more rigorous, more effective and less intrusive, in a virtuous circle. It is worth testing every single member of a city to identify a small number of potentially infectious individuals because it should allow a return to normal life within in a few weeks. Strict local measures are popular because they allow freedom most of the time for the great majority of the population.

Audience members wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus take their seats before a concert by the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra to open the Beijing Music Festival in Beijing - Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo
Audience members wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus take their seats before a concert by the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra to open the Beijing Music Festival in Beijing - Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo

In the West the circle has instead started to turn vicious. There is not a lot of point in testing and tracing if infected people are not effectively isolated, nor is it valuable to isolate people if a large faction of infectious individuals go undetected. When public health measures are ineffective, faltering compliance with them is an inevitability.

The Chinese have had the right goals since January because their leaders listened to their best infectious disease epidemiologists, who came quickly to correct conclusions. In the West, many leaders have been reluctant to take painful measures until they are led to them by public opinion.

Read more: The simple ingredients underlying China's Covid success

03:02 PM

Italy coronavirus rules criticised as not tough enough by own health experts

The Italian government is being criticised by health experts for not going far enough in its new anti-coronavirus restrictions, writes Nick Squires in Rome.

In a new decree announced on Sunday night, the government called for more people to work from home, ordered restaurants to close at midnight, banned festivals and fairs and said bars and pubs can only serve seated customers after 6pm.

Many medical experts said that with Italy recording around 10,000 new cases a day, the measures should have been much tougher.

People wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they travel in a subway train, in Milan, Italy - Luca Bruno/AP Photo
People wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they travel in a subway train, in Milan, Italy - Luca Bruno/AP Photo

Walter Ricciardi, a consultant to the health ministry on Covid-19, said the government should be announcing local lockdowns to contain outbreaks.

"I think some targeted lockdowns must be done immediately, we must absolutely not wait for Christmas," he told Italian TV.

If tough measures are taken now, Italians could look forward to an "almost normal" Christmas.

"But if we hesitate, we'll see an exponential growth in cases over the next few weeks and then we'll have to take very tough decisions later, but much more time will be needed".

02:53 PM

India 'over Covid-19 peak' as nation posts lowest death toll for three months

India recorded its lowest daily Covid-19 death toll in three months as scientists said the country had passed the peak of its outbreak and case numbers would continue to fall, writes Ben Farmer.

A government-appointed committee of scientists said the disease was likely to "run its course" by February 2021, if people used masks and kept physical distancing precautions.

The world's second most populous nation has been the global epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic for weeks, but has started to see the daily tally of both cases and deaths fall.

People are seen at a market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease - Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters
People are seen at a market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease - Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

Officials reported 579 fatalities from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the lowest since July, driving its death toll to 114,610.

The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 55,722 new cases of coronavirus infection, raising India's total to more than 7.5 million, second in the world behind America.

Read the full story here.

02:42 PM

House prices: The local hotspots where Covid has pushed values to record highs

Lockdown, the shift to working from home and the stamp duty holiday have brought a summer property surge that has pushed home values to record highs.

But which micro-markets have been the ultimate winners of the post-pandemic house price boom?

Using an exclusive dataset from property website Zoopla, The Telegraph has looked at the local authorities that recorded the biggest year-on-year price jumps in August in each part of England, Wales and Scotland.

Melissa Lawford has the full story.

02:25 PM

Belgium coronavirus cases worse than during first wave, say officials

Belgium's health situation is worse now than it was during the first wave of the pandemic, officials in the country have said.

Case rates have reached new highs and the number of people in hospital doubling each week, authorities said this afternoon.

"The situation is serious. It is worse than on March 18 when the lockdown was decided," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Belgian television RTL-Info.

Bars and restaurants have been ordered to close for the next four weeks, while all employees except key workers must work from home and a night-time curfew will start from midnight on Monday.

Marc Van Muylders, vice-president of the Brussels catering industry organization HORECA, said the measures were unfair and could backfire.

"Now what will happen probably is that a lot of people will make parties at their home without any restrictions about safety so that it will probably even increase the transmission rate in the future," he said in an interview with the Reuters news agency.

02:11 PM

Quarantine could be cut to seven days in time for Christmas, says Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has said that quarantine could be reduced to seven days by December 1 in time for Christmas, reports Charles Hymas.

The Transport Secretary said he hoped to have testing in place by the beginning of December to enable holidaymakers and business travellers to quit quarantine after paying for a single negative test on the seventh day after their return.

“The only caveat being this will now be in the hands of private sector provision, and making sure that sufficient tests are available,” he told the Airlines 2050 summit for the aviation industry.

Italian and British passengers at Fiumicino airport, near Rome, Italy, 18 October 2020. United Kingdom imposed a 14-day quarantine provision for people arriving from Italy from 18 October 2020. - TELENEWS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Italian and British passengers at Fiumicino airport, near Rome, Italy, 18 October 2020. United Kingdom imposed a 14-day quarantine provision for people arriving from Italy from 18 October 2020. - TELENEWS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

It would mean that families and their children could go on holiday in the knowledge that they would not have to go into 14-day isolation and miss school on their return and enable relatives to visit depending on local or national lockdowns by then.

Mr Shapps also revealed that he was studying proposals to eradicate quarantine through travellers taking a pre-departure test followed by daily testing both before and after arrival.

Such a scheme could initially be trialled on “blue riband” US-UK routes to open up business and a tourist trade worth some £25 million a day between the two countries.

Read more: Rapid daily tests could end quarantine altogether

02:06 PM

Wales lockdown rules: The latest restrictions as 'sharp, deep' curbs announced

A two-week “fire break” lockdown designed to contain the latest spike in coronavirus cases will be introduced across Wales from 6pm on Friday October 23rd, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed. 

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after the Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after the Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

After discussions with the Welsh cabinet Mr Drakeford said a “short, sharp, shock to turn back to clock, slow down the virus, and give us more time” was agreed.  

The break will begin on Friday, include the half-term holiday and last until Monday November 9.

Lizzie Roberts has more on the latest rules here.

01:55 PM

Italy coronavirus latest: Mayors in rebellion against new anti-virus measure

Italy's mayors are in rebellion against a new anti-virus measure by which it will be up to them as to whether piazzas and other public spaces should be closed at night to prevent too many people from drinking and socialising, Nick Squires reports from Rome.

The new regulation is part of a package of measures which the coalition government announced on Sunday night. The authorities are worried about the virus being spread by young people who go out on the town at night, meeting outside bars and pubs and ignoring social distancing and mask wearing.

But mayors are accusing the government of passing the buck, unfairly devolving a difficult decision to the local level.

People have a drink and relax at the Naviglio Grande canal, one of the favorite spots for night life in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the aim of Italy's new anti-virus restrictions limiting nightlife and socializing is to head off another generalized lockdown. - Luca Bruno/AP Photo
People have a drink and relax at the Naviglio Grande canal, one of the favorite spots for night life in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the aim of Italy's new anti-virus restrictions limiting nightlife and socializing is to head off another generalized lockdown. - Luca Bruno/AP Photo

Antonio Decaro, the head of the local authorities association, accused the government in Rome of wanting to "shift the responsibility of the curfews onto mayors. 

"It is not acceptable that mayors must be the ones who shut down nightlife in the piazzas," he said. But those criticisms were rejected by Francesco Boccia, the regional affairs minister. He said mayors would be able to count on the support of the police and national authorities "24 hours a day."

Another stipulation of the new decree is that people cannot be served standing up in bars and pubs after 6pm - they must be seated at a table in groups of six or less.

Italy reported more than 11,000 new cases on Sunday, with experts saying the spread of the virus is now "exponential". The death toll stands at 36,500.

01:45 PM

10pm curfew: Hundreds of hospitality workers gather to protest

Hundreds of hospitality workers gathered in Parliament Square, central London, to protest against tougher coronavirus restrictions and urge the government to provide more financial support for the industry.

Ronnie Murray, a chef who's appeared on BBC's The Great British Menu, said, "The 10 o'clock curfew is crazy, it doesn't make any sense.

"Everyone's now out at 10 o'clock which, living in central London, puts pressure on the tube network, everyone's out at the same time."

Hundreds of hospitality workers take part in a demonstration in Parliament Square against the lack of scientific evidence behind the new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government, such as the mandatory 10pm curfew, and a lack of sector-specific financial support for businesses in tier 2 areas, on 19 October, 2020 in London, England - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Hundreds of hospitality workers take part in a demonstration in Parliament Square against the lack of scientific evidence behind the new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government, such as the mandatory 10pm curfew, and a lack of sector-specific financial support for businesses in tier 2 areas, on 19 October, 2020 in London, England - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mr Murray, the Chef Director at Peckham Manor, continued: "It looks as if restrictions have been put in place without anyone in the industry being consulted."

The protest comes days after businesses in the hospitality sector called for more support after Sage minutes showed that curfews were likely to have a marginal impact on the transmission of the virus.

 

01:34 PM

UK coronavirus latest: 76 more hospital deaths confirmed in England

Seventy-six people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospitals, NHS England has confirmed, taking the total number of confirmed reported hospital deaths in England to 31,047.

Patients were aged between 47 and 99 years old, all of whom except one - aged 85 -  had known underlying health conditions. The deaths recorded were between October 9 and October 18.

The North East & Yorkshire was the worst-affected region, with 25 deaths, followed by the North West, with 24. 

There were 16 deaths in the Midlands, five in the East of England, three in London, two in the South West, and one in the South East.

01:28 PM

Andy Burnham: 'I won't roll over at the sight of a cheque'

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has said he won't "roll over" and place the region under Tier 3 restrictions at the "sight of a cheque".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to offer Manchester's leaders up to £100 million to accept the measures or risk having them imposed against their will.

Mr Burnham told Sky News: "Tier 3 is a serious thing, it's a serious development if you have to ask people to go into just before winter, just before Christmas...

"People can't just be pressurised into it and I'm not going to be pressurised into it.

"And I'm not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque, this is about properly supporting those people whose lives will be damaged by Tier 3."

 

01:20 PM

Army could be called in to help with Test and Trace, says Robert Jenrick

More military personnel could soon be deployed in Covid-19 hotspots such as Manchester, Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, has said.

"We also want to see what other things we can do together including through local contact tracing and using the military,” Mr Jenrick said during an appearance on BBC Breakfast.

He added: “Some parts of the country have asked for use of the military to support them with contact tracing, for example, and with putting in place infrastructure where it’s necessary for testing sites.

"That’s been done very successfully by the armed forces so if that is useful to an area then we will be able to put that in place and the armed forces are more than happy to assist us.”

01:03 PM

NHS Covid app can’t be downloaded by most over-60s, survey finds

The NHS test and trace app cannot be downloaded by most over-sixties because their smartphones are too old, writes Henry Bodkin.

A leading charity for older people has accused the government of failing to think through the needs of the group most vulnerable to the virus, after releasing findings that just 31 per cent of its members have installed the NHS Covid-19 app.

Of the majority who have not, nearly six in seven said it was because their mobile phone was too old to support the technology.

A smartphone displays a screen from the newly released 'NHS COVID-19' contract tracing app in view of traffic in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. - Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
A smartphone displays a screen from the newly released 'NHS COVID-19' contract tracing app in view of traffic in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. - Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Launched last month, the app notifies users if they have been in close proximity for a prolonged period to another app user who has tested positive, instructing them to isolate.

It also enables users to “check in” to public venues such as pubs and restaurants, meaning they will be automatically contacted if an outbreak is traced back to that location at the relevant time.

There is also a geographical function which advises users as to the risk level in their local area, indicating what restrictions apply.

Read more: Those most vulnerable to Covid likely to have limited hardware access

12:56 PM

Indonesia coronavirus news: President cites concerns over whether vaccines are halal

The president of the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Joko Widodo, called on Monday for Indonesia not to rush the rollout of vaccines, citing concerns over public awareness about whether they were halal.

With more than 365,000 coronavirus cases and 12,000 deaths, Indonesia has struggled to get its outbreak under control and the government has been racing to secure a supply of vaccines while still under development.

Senior ministers have indicated that emergency vaccine authorisation could be granted as early as November, but the president - better known by his moniker "Jokowi" - hinted at a more cautionary approach, warning against haste and urging clear public messaging about whether vaccines were halal, or permissible under Islam.

Healthcare workers clad with hazmat suits collect blood samples from a women during an antibody rapid test for coronavirus in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia - Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Healthcare workers clad with hazmat suits collect blood samples from a women during an antibody rapid test for coronavirus in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia - Dedi Sinuhaji/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Indonesia has previously pledged to vaccinate more than 100 million people next year, but Jokowi on Monday said that this scale of inoculation in an archipelagic nation of 270 million would be uniquely challenging.

Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before in Indonesia, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa declaring a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam.

Indonesia has secured 50 million doses from China's Sinovac by March next year and 100 million from AstraZeneca by next April, in addition to other deals.

12:49 PM

Coronavirus cases in UK cities declining as town caseloads rise

Covid-19 case rates have started to decline in some of England's biggest cities, new figures suggest, with sharp increases now happening in towns and suburban areas.

Nottingham, Newcastle and Sheffield are among the cities where the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases rose rapidly at the end of September amid the return of students to university, but levels have now been falling for several days.

Exeter and Liverpool - both cities with large student populations - have also seen case rates fall in recent days.

The places in England now logging the most significant growth in their case rates are no longer big cities, but a mixture of towns and suburbs.

Gedling, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool have recorded the largest rises in week-on-week case rates.

12:42 PM

Are you in Wales? We want to hear from you

If you're living in Wales, we want to know how you're feeling ahead of the new restrictions on Friday.

We want to know what your thoughts are on the new measures, and how you'll be impacted by this latest set of 'fire break' restrictions.

You can get in touch with us by leaving a comment at the bottom of this live blog, or by sending us an email at yourstory@telegraph.co.uk.

12:28 PM

Unicef unveils plan to stockpile half a billion vaccine syringes by Christmas

Unicef has unveiled plans to stockpile more than half a billion syringes by Christmas, amid concerns that shortages could delay the rollout of successful Covid-19 vaccines, writes Sarah Newey.

The United Nations agency announced on Monday that it aims to have 520 million syringes stored in its warehouses across the globe by the end of the year. The aim is to ensure that the injection equipment arrives in countries before any potential coronavirus jab.

A small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration  - Dado Ruvic/Reuters/File Photo
A small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration - Dado Ruvic/Reuters/File Photo

As vaccines are temperature sensitive, they tend to be rapidly transported across the globe via air. By contrast syringes, which are bulky and have a shelf life of five years, generally travel via sea freight. There are growing concerns that this could result in a situation where countries have doses available, but no equipment to administer them.

“Vaccinating the world against Covid-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef.

“In order to move fast later, we must move fast now. By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively.”

Read more: Unicef unveils plan to stockpile vaccine syringes

12:20 PM

Manchester coronavirus cases continue to rise sharply

Greater Manchester's intensive care capacity could be overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases by November 12, Downing Street said as it increased pressure on the region to accept Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions.

Covid patients could take up the entire ICU capacity by November 8 under 'best case' projections, with patients potentially taking up the entire surge capacity by November 12.

All three intensive care capacity will be used up by the 28 October, with a peak in hospital admissions expected by November 2.

Data on Manchester provided by the Prime Minister's spokesperson also showed that cases have tripled among the over-60 age group in the last 15 days.

There were 282 cases confirmed in Manchester on 12 October, compared to 89 cases per 100,000 on September 28, with hospital admissions doubling every nine days.

The number of Covid inpatients in hospital beds is currently 40 per cent of the number at the height of the first wave, but the Prime Minister's spokesperson said that this is expected to rise significantly.

12:02 PM

Fire break lockdown will mean travel ban from outside Wales continues

Mark Drakeford acknowledges that the fire break period may end "with cases still rising" but insists that the new measures will end of November 9.

"I absolutely recognise the torrid time that [tourism] businesses have had," he says. "But that business is equally affected as any other bit of Welsh life by the fact that we have over 800 people already in hospitals in Wales because they are suffering from coronavirus.

"We are already seeing over this weekend some of them now needing critical care beds, because they are so ill. Nothing can be an exception to the need for the national effort that we are asking people to make.

"Regrettable as it is, and much as we look forward to welcoming people from outside Wales back to Wales again, now is not the time to do it.

"Nor can I rule out further measures this year if the virus were to come back and spreading at the velocity it is today. The aim of the fire break is to get us to Christmas without restrictions of this sort, and allow us to get through Christmas together."

11:59 AM

Fire break lockdown will see 'absolute minimum' exemptions

"This will never work if what we get is a stream of questions that says 'why isn't there an exception for this? Why isn't there an exception for that?'" Mr Drakeford says in response to a question about exemptions for outdoor sports.

That is not the way in which a circuit break, fire break period will work. We have a minimum number of exceptions that are necessary to allow our society to keep functioning. 

There are inevitably a small number but the aim in a fire break period is to make it the absolute minimum. Not to be asking ourselves 'why can't we do this? Why can't we do that?'

Every single thing that we cut down on - however small it may be - will make a difference. And that will include outdoor sports, as that is to miss the point of a fire break period.

11:54 AM

End of furlough: Drakeford hopes difficulties 'can be avoided'

Mark Drakeford says that "at the moment businesses would have to apply for one sort of help in the first week and a second sort in the second week" amid the end of the UK Government's furlough scheme on October 31.

"We hope that can be avoided," he says. "We think more could be done and should be done, we've been listening carefully to the debate with our colleague Andy Burnham and I agree with some of the points there.

"Our role is to support businesses with all the other costs they face. We have brought together the largest sum of money that we are able to provide."

11:46 AM

Mark Drakeford: Those who don't follow rules 'putting other people's lives at risk'

"Exercise needs to start and end at your home because this is a stay-at-home regime," says Mark Drakeford, but confirms that people will be able to exercise more than once a day.

Saying that one member of the press asked "simply the wrong question", he says that there should not be a focus on what should and shouldn't close.

"Some of those may seem marginal, but when you add those little bits together they can make a difference. This has to be strict and deep in order for it to work. The majority of people in Wales do the right thing every day.

"In this case, everyone must do the right thing. Because if you don't, this is other people's lives, other people's futures, that you are putting at risk."

11:42 AM

Wales lockdown: 'Every single person must make their contribution'

Mark Drakeford says that "every single person" and "every single part" of Wales must make a contribution, and that "everybody, wherever they live, must make their contribution" to the new two-week national lockdown.

"There will be a regime of course when we emerge from this on November 9," he says. "And we will work hard in the coming days to design that regime so it builds on everything we achieve in our period."

He confirms that people who are key workers on either side of the Welsh border will be able to continue to work throughout the fire break period.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after the Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday until 9 November, - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after the Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday until 9 November, - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

"My national party leader Sir Keir Starmer has been advocating a two week fire break across the whole of the United Kingdom," Mr Drakeford adds.

"And he does that because it was the recommendation to the UK Government from Sage. It is also the recommendation of the Welsh chief medical officer... to turn it back to a point where it is lower and slower for the rest of the period up to Christmas."

11:34 AM

Fire break benefit will not be immediately obvious, warns Drakeford

Mr Drakeford says "we will not see the benefit of this two weeks by November 9", but "in the weeks that follow".

He says that "organised events" that have already been planned for Remembrance Sunday (November 8) will be allowed to go ahead, but Bonfire Night and Halloween gatherings or events will be forbidden.

He also confirms that for those with "very low incomes" there will be £500 for self-isolation.

11:29 AM

Mark Drakeford: 'Together we can still keep Wales safe'

"It is only the UK Government that has the financial power to guarantee the levels of income support workers need," Mr Drakeford says. "And we need more generous payments to help workers through this crisis.

"Our health service will be able to care for people with coronavirus and everybody else, those people with cancer or people suffering from strokes or with heart disease. That will be possible provided we keep this opportunity.

"And most importantly at all it will save people's lives. Of course this will not be easy but we can succeed. Thank you all so much for everything you have already done and everything you will do over the weeks to come.

"Together we can still keep Wales safe." 

11:25 AM

Wales lockdown: Support confirmed for businesses 'directly affected'

"As a Cabinet we are acutely aware of an impact a circuit-breaker will have on businesses," says Mr Drakeford, confirming an extra £350 million for businesses "directly affected by the fire break".

Every business covered by the small business rate relief will get a £1,000 business, and leisure and hospitality businesses which have to close will receive an automatic payment of up to £5,000.

There will also be a "discretionary" grant for smaller businesses struggling because of the new restrictions.

"Beyond that the £80 million fund we announced for businesses will be increased to £100 million, and there will be a £20 million sum ringfenced for tourism and hospitality."

He says the funding channels will open in the first week of the fire break.

11:24 AM

No gatherings permitted during lockdown, confirms Welsh Government

"There will be no gatherings with people you do not live with, either indoors or outdoors during this two-week period.

"There will be continue to be an exception for adults living alone and single parents will be able to continue to join with one other household for support."

11:23 AM

Wales circuit breaker: 'Stay at home', says Mark Drakeford

"Everyone in Wales will be required to stay at home," says Mark Drakeford.

"This means working from home wherever possible and the only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is simply not possible. All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close, just as they had to during the March lockdown.

"Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will close. Places of worship will be closed for normal services other than funeral or wedding ceremonies.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday until 9 November - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference after Welsh cabinet announced that Wales will go into national lockdown from Friday until 9 November - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

"Childcare facilities will stay open, primary and special schools will reopen as normal after the half-term week. Secondary schools will reopen after the half-term, but for children in years seven and eight only.

"Other students who are taking examinations will be able to attend for them, but all other students will continue their studies from home."

He adds that universities will continue a blend of in-person and online learning, but students "will also have to stay at home in their university accommodation".

11:21 AM

Breaking: Wales fire break lockdown confirmed

Mr Drakeford says that intensive care units are already full and that "the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling seriously ill" without further Government action.

"Most starkly of all, even more people will die from this deadly virus," he says. "And if that is the position we would have to take even more serious measures. We would be looking at an open-ended national lockdown such as the one we had in March this year.

He says ministers discussed a "short, sharp shock" and confirms Wales has "reached the difficult decision to introduce a two-week fire break starting at 6pm on Friday this week.

"The fire break period will include the half-term holiday. This fire break is the shortest we can make it but that means that it will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus."

11:18 AM

Mark Drakeford: 'Very real risk' NHS could be overwhelmed

"On Friday of last week I explained the very serious situation we are facing in Wales and asked once again for your help in bringing the coronavirus under control," says Mark Drakeford.

"Those discussions have shown that once again there are no easy choices in front of us as the virus spreads rapidly in every part of Wales.

"We know that if we do not act now, it will continue to accelerate and there is a very real risk that our NHS would be overwhelmed."

11:16 AM

Circuit breaker lockdown 'absolute worst case scenario', says minister

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has spoken today on BBC Breakfast calling a 'circuit breaker' lockdown an "absolute worst-case scenario".

He believes there are too many "variations" in the concentration of the virus, so a total national lockdown "doesn't seem sensible", though the government will "continue to keep things under review".

Talking of risks to businesses, people needing operations, and the mental health of the population, he says: "Damage that could be done with an indefinite circuit break... is very, very significant."

 

11:10 AM

Wales lockdown update expected shortly

A decision on a two or three-week "fire break" lockdown which would cover the whole of Wales is expected to be announced in the next five minutes or so at a press briefing.

One letter which leaked at the weekend suggested a two-week lockdown will start at 6pm on Ocober 23, with everything except essential retail outlets set to shut.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is expected to announce a decision today.

Watch the conference live at the top of this blog from around 12.15pm.

10:52 AM

Trump gambles on Nevada as pandemic leaves casinos empty

In Las Vegas even the statues are wearing masks, writes Ben Riley-Smith. The 15ft white emperor that greets gamblers at the entrance of Caesars Palace has a cherub by his right foot and a gold covering stretched across his mouth.

It is a reminder of the damage the pandemic has wrought on the epicentre of American extravagance, a city driven by tourism and reliant on people willing to let loose. Inside the casino resort there are more reminders.

General views of the statue of Julius Caesar wearing a golden health mask at the entrance of Caesars Palace hotel and casino on August 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. - AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
General views of the statue of Julius Caesar wearing a golden health mask at the entrance of Caesars Palace hotel and casino on August 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. - AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Plexiglass screens divide poker players. Slot machine stickers order a seat to be left between users. Everywhere masks are mandatory, but it is the emptiness that sticks out most.

Amid the financial chaos caused by Covid-19, the Republicans could have an electoral opening. Nevada has voted Democrat in each of the last three presidential elections, but the margins have been getting slimmer every time.

Read more: Trump hopes to go one better amid virus chaos

10:40 AM

The hidden victims of the pandemic

Michael Parsons, a sturdy Falklands veteran, was “just skin and bone” when he died from bowel cancer in May, writes Margarette Driscoll.

His wife, Carol, is still haunted by his last few weeks, a time when it felt as if the NHS was so focused on coronavirus its doors were shut to families like theirs.

“My daughter and I looked after him at home but it was tough,” she says. “His bowel became blocked and we couldn’t get the right medicine to keep him comfortable. When he died he was all yellow; it was awful. He wasn’t seen by a doctor at home, not even once.”

Carol Parson, whose husband Michael died after his cancer treatment was disrupted by the Covid crisis - David Rose
Carol Parson, whose husband Michael died after his cancer treatment was disrupted by the Covid crisis - David Rose

Michael, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was unlucky enough to need care as Britain went into lockdown.

In the scramble to fight the pandemic, NHS hospitals took drastic action: more than two million operations were cancelled. Screenings, scans and treatments – from physiotherapy to chemotherapy to counselling – were paused.

Read more: The patients left ill and dying as the NHS closed for Covid

10:27 AM

Yasmin Qureshi in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19

The Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19.

The shadow international development minister wrote on social media:

Two weeks ago, I began to feel unwell. I then tested positive for Covid-19, so my family and I immediately self-isolated at home. I have not travelled to Westminster or anywhere else.

I continued to work as best I could remotely, attending virtual meetings and doing casework, but after 10 days, I began to feel much worse and on Saturday I was admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital with pneumonia.

An official Parliament portrait of Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP who has been hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19. - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament
An official Parliament portrait of Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP who has been hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19. - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

I'm being very well looked after and have nothing but praise and admiration for the wonderful staff at the hospital. They have been amazing throughout the process and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone working here in such difficult circumstances.

Although I am currently in hospital, my staff are continuing to work as normal - if you have any issues that you need help with, please get in touch by contacting the office on qureshiy2@parliament.uk.

10:23 AM

Air travel: UK developing 'test and release regime', says Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has told the Airlines 2050 conference - the leading aviation summit in the UK - that the Government is developing a 'test and release' regime for international arrivals amid the ongoing pandemic.

Such a test would be paid for by arrivals, however, and would still entail "a period of self-isolation" of one week.

Mr Shapps said:

My ministerial colleagues and I have agreed a regime, based on a single test provided by the private sector and at the cost to the passenger, after a period of self-isolation and doing those things could achieve our objectives.

The next step is to develop how this approach can be implemented.

It will mean a single test for international arrivals, a week after arrival.

10:19 AM

Russia coronavirus cases today surge to record high

The outbreak in Russia this month is breaking the records set in spring, with the daily tally of coronavirus cases surging to a new record high of 15,982 on Monday, reports Maria Georgieva in Moscow, bringing the official death toll to 24,366. Russia has reported 1,415,316 cases since the pandemic began. 

Starting today, October 19, Muscovites will be required to register their phone numbers before entering bars and nightclubs in order to control the spread of the virus. Residents will be required to scan a QR code or send a text message to a designated number, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced last week.

Emergency paramedics and an ambulance by the Novomoskovsky multipurpose medical center for patients with suspected COVID-19 coronavirus infection - Mikhail Tereshcenko/TASS via Getty Images
Emergency paramedics and an ambulance by the Novomoskovsky multipurpose medical center for patients with suspected COVID-19 coronavirus infection - Mikhail Tereshcenko/TASS via Getty Images

Meanwhile, only 30 per cent of Russians believe that their personal data, collected by the state during the pandemic, is protected, according to a joint study by the Russian Venture Company (RVC) and the Institute of National Projects, business newspaper Rbk reported on Monday. 

Russians are ready to share their personal data if it helps the state identify new potential cases. However, 54 per cent approve the collection of data if it means submitting it in exchange for digital passes.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents believe that Russians themselves should be able to choose what kind of data the state can have access to.

10:10 AM

Dementia and Alzheimer's deaths in private homes up 79 per cent during pandemic

Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's in private homes have risen by 79 per cent in England during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

There were 2,095 excess deaths from these conditions registered between March 14 and September 11, according to the Office for National Statistics, representing a 79 per cent rise compared to the average period over the last five years.

Wales experienced a 94 per cent rise, with 133 excess deaths recorded which involved dementia and Alzheimer's.

There were 24,387 excess deaths in private homes in England by comparison with the five-year average. The leading cause of these deaths was ischaemic heart disease.

Men and women aged between 70 and 89 accounted for the majority of excess deaths.

09:58 AM

New British Airways chief calls for self-isolation to be scrapped

Sean Doyle, the new British Airways chief executive, has called on the Government to scrap the self-isolation requirement for international arrivals, as "we do not believe quarantine is the solution".

He told the Airlines 2050 conference: "We believe the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.

"For the UK, this approach reduces the stress on the NHS testing systems within the UK and on policing the quarantine system.

"If we look abroad to our near neighbours, we see that business travel and indeed tourism is being prioritised by some countries.

"We need to get the economy moving again and this just isn't possible when you're asking people to quarantine for 14 days.

"It's our view that even if that quarantine period is reduced to seven days, people won't travel here and the UK will get left behind."

Read more: How airport testing in Italy works – and what happens if you test positive

09:40 AM

Deploy £14m-a-month 'shielding programme' instead of shutting down Manchester, says council leader

The leader of Manchester City Council has called for the Government to deploy a £14million-a-month "shielding programme" to protect those most at risk from coronavirus while keeping the economy open. 

Sir Richard Leese, who joined Andy Burnham on the steps of Manchester Town Hall during last week's press conference, has written a blog claiming that the Government's approach "is not based on the evidence or supported by the science".

"The dispute is often represented as being simply about money," he wrote. "However, more important than money are the actions to address the problem."

Sir Richard noted that while case numbers are rising, the vast majority of people who test positive "are not getting particularly ill" while improved treatments mean that hospital staff are expecting much lower fatality rates this winter than in the spring. 

"Wouldn't it be much better to have an effective shielding programme for those most at risk, rather than have a blanket business closure policy of dubious efficacy," he wrote. "Greater Manchester have estimated the cost of a shielding programme at around £14m a month, less than a fifth of the estimated cost of business closures.

"Sadly, government, having forced through badly thought regulations, seem unwilling to think again."

09:33 AM

Tory MPs' letter to Andy Burnham 'not helpful', says Cabinet minister

A letter signed by 20 Tory MPs to Andy Burnham, urging him to drop his opposition to Tier 3 restrictions for Greater Manchester, is not "helpful", a Cabinet Minister has said. 

Organised by Jerome Mayhew, the MP for Broadland, the letter called on Mr Burnham to “engage” with the Government’s regional approach in order to spare other areas the “pain” of tougher blanket restrictions. But it backfired with Red Wall MPs publicly hitting out against it, and the whole thing descending into (yet another)  ‘blue on blue’ row.

Asked about it this morning, Robert Jenrick said: "I don't think it’s helpful to pit one part of the country against another. It is clear that there are different rates of cases in different parts of the country....

"I do think it’s important we don't get into a narrative that it is North vs South or one part of country vs another," he added. "This is affecting all of us."

Read more: Politics Live: EU must show 'maturity' and 'respect' to strike last-minute deal

09:29 AM

ONS: Only 9 per cent of excess deaths in private homes were Covid

The ONS confirmed that excess deaths in private homes - the number of deaths above the average for the corresponding period in the previous five years - have mostly been deaths not involving Covid-19.

Of the 25,472 excess deaths in private homes in England that were registered up to September 11, 2,358 (9 per cent) were deaths involving Covid-19 while 23,114 (91 per cent) were non-Covid excess deaths.

In Wales, of the 1,624 excess deaths in private homes over the same period, 134 (8 per cent) were deaths involving Covid-19 while 1,490 (92 per cent) were non-Covid excess deaths.

09:17 AM

Male heart disease deaths at home increase by 26pc

Deaths in private homes in England for males from heart disease since the start of the coronavirus pandemic are 26 per cent higher than the five-year average, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Prostate cancer deaths have increased 53 per cent while deaths from bowel cancer are up 46 per cent.

For women, deaths in private homes from dementia and Alzheimer's disease have increased 75  per cent while deaths from breast cancer are up 47 per cent.

All figures cover deaths that were registered between March 14 and September 11.

09:09 AM

People sent to non-existent test site in Kent

People with coronavirus symptoms, who were in search of a test, were sent to a non-existent facility in Kent.

It follows numerous other difficulties with NHS Test and Trace in recent months, with patients being forced to drive hundreds of miles to secure tests.

Council officials in Sevenoaks said the location had been listed on a government website as open for bookings, according to The Guardian, but the site, which was due to open in response to rising cases in the area, was not yet operational. 

This resulted in some people driving around the facility for up to an hour before realising it was not yet up and running. 

A spokesperson for Kent County Council apologised for anyone who made a “wasted journey”.

08:50 AM

Trump advisor has anti-mask tweet blocked

Scott Atlas, White House coronavirus adviser and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a fellow at Stanford's conservative Hoover Institution, has no expertise in public health or infectious diseases. -  Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg
Scott Atlas, White House coronavirus adviser and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a fellow at Stanford's conservative Hoover Institution, has no expertise in public health or infectious diseases. - Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg

Twitter blocked a post on Sunday from an adviser to President Donald Trump who suggested that masks do not work to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Scott Atlas, who joined the White House in August as a science adviser, had tweeted "Masks work? NO," and said widespread use of masks is not supported.

The tweet violated a Twitter policy that prohibits sharing false or misleading misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to harm, a company spokesperson said. The policy bans statements that have been confirmed to be false or misleading by experts such as public health authorities.

In such cases, Twitter disables the account until its owner deletes the post in question.

Trump has downplayed the importance of masks in reducing the spread of the virus, even after he contracted the disease, which has killed more than 215,000 Americans.

"I don't understand why the tweets were deleted," Mr Atlas said in an email, calling Twitter's actions censorship. He said his tweet was intended to show that "general population masks and mask mandates do not work," and he clarified that the correct policy is to use masks when one cannot socially distance.

Researchers have concluded that masks can control the spread of the virus, and public health experts have urged the public to wear them. 

08:41 AM

Plaid Cymru: 'Fire break has to be start of different approach'

The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce a fire break lockdown for the whole of Wales - Matthew Horwood/Getty 
The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce a fire break lockdown for the whole of Wales - Matthew Horwood/Getty

Plaid Cymru has said the "fire break" lockdown which is expected to be announced today for Wales "has to be the start of a different approach".

"A failure of policy has led to an urgent need for a ‘fire break’, a limited period of buying time to address the weaknesses of the test, trace and isolate system," the party said in a statement via Twitter.

"No one wants to live in a perpetual state of lockdowns. This break has to be the start of a different approach."

08:28 AM

Andy Burnham: 'I won't roll over at the sight of a cheque'

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said he "wants to resolve" the deadlock between local leaders and central Government over placing the region into Tier 3, but he won't "roll over" at the sight of a cheque.

Speaking on Sky News he said: "Tier 3 is a serious thing, it's a serious development if you have to ask people to go into just before winter, just before Christmas...

"People can't just be pressurised into it and I'm not going to be pressurised into it.

"And I'm not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque, this is about properly supporting those people whose lives will be damaged by Tier 3."

08:05 AM

Five stories to read this morning

  1.  Isolation: 'There’s no point being miserable, there’s nothing we can do'

  2. Vaccine: UK could get 40m Covid jabs by New Year 

  3. Blue on Blue:​ Tory MPs in row over Manchester restrictions

  4. Switzerland: Face masks now compulsory in indoor public areas

  5. 'Collateral damage': Delayed operations have created a health timebomb

07:51 AM

Worldwide cases

Global coronavirus deaths have now almost reached 40 million, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University. 

07:33 AM

Jenrick rules out circuit breaker

Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, said the "situation in Manchester remains concerningly high". 

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Jenrick said in Salford almost all of it's ICU capacity is being used. 

But he said he would not support a national circuit breaker.

"The argument for a national circuit breaker is not one that I find personally at all persuasive," he said.

"The outright closure of all schools, of most work places, the damage to the economy and to our broader health and wellbeing that will be brought about by a circuit break would be a very very significant.

"The Government's approach is a proportionate and localised approach, for as long as there are such wide variations in infections that's supported by the evidence," he said.

07:13 AM

Decision on Wales 'fire break' expected today

A decision on whether to impose a short circuit breaker lockdown across Wales is expected to be announced later today. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make an announcement around midday.

The Welsh Government's cabinet met on Sunday to discuss the plans, with another meeting expected to take place Monday morning before a final decision is announced.

Two-thirds of the population of Wales are already living in increased lockdown restrictions, including the country's capital Cardiff plus Swansea and Llanelli.

Stay tuned to our live blog for all the latest.

06:44 AM

Jenrick: 'This isn't primarily about money'

Communities Secretary Mr Jenrick said: "We are going to be having further discussions today with the council leaders from across Greater Manchester and I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement.

"The contours of an agreement are there.

"But, as I say, every side needs to now come together and reach an amicable conclusion for the sake of people in Greater Manchester."

Asked about the additional funding offered to the area, Mr Jenrick said: "This isn't primarily about money... It should be about public health, that's our priority, protecting people and protecting the NHS.

"We are willing of course to support the councils and the local business community, we've done that in Merseyside and we've done it in Lancashire... if Manchester is willing to do the same then we'll put in place the resources that they need."

06:39 AM

Minister hits out over Greater Manchester 'uncertainty'

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has hit out over "uncertainty" regarding further coronavirus restrictions in Greater Manchester.

The Cabinet minister told Sky News: "I think the discussions have been productive but they have probably gone on too long now. We need to reach an agreement with local leaders."

He added: "I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but we do need to conclude this now. There has been a sense of uncertainty, which isn't helpful to people living in Greater Manchester.

"More importantly, the number of cases is rising and the pressure on some of the hospitals in Greater Manchester is there for all to see.

"So, I think further measures and action now is important."

06:35 AM

Greater Manchester could run out of ICU beds 'very soon'

Greater Manchester could run out of intensive care beds "very soon" without further restrictions, a BMA committee chair has warned.

Dr Indy Kapila, Intensive Care Consultant, chair of the North West Regional Consultants Committee of the British Medical Association, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the Greater Manchester area has around 270 ICU beds.

"I would say the current situation is very concerning, we do have capacity at the moment but it's very hard to predict how things are likely to go over the next week or so.

"We are seeing rising numbers of admissions to hospital and to intensive care," he said.

Figures from Friday revealed admissions had increased by around 90  to 100 patients, Dr Kapila said.

"We do still have capacity currently but given the infection rates in Manchester, we have about 440 cases per 100,000 which is extremely high, we are very concerned that we may reach a situation very soon where intensive care beds will run out," he added.

Dr Kapila went on to add that increased restrictions were needed, but suggested those which would come into force with a Tier 3 lockdown may not be strong enough.

06:07 AM

Stadium to be turned into field hospital in Poland

Poland plans to launch a field hospital at the national stadium in Warsaw, as it faces a spike in new coronavirus cases and a health system overload, a government spokesman Piotr Muller told public television today.

Mr Muller added that the stadium's conference rooms will be transformed into the hospital with around 500 beds for Covid-19 patients.

05:52 AM

'Protect the NHS' message led to 90 per cent drop in hospital admissions

The devastating cost of efforts to "protect the NHS" in the pandemic has been exposed by a new analysis of 200 health conditions which reveals hospital admissions for plummeted by up to 90 per cent, Laura Donnelly reports. 

The major report shows that consultations for the most common cancers fell by up to two thirds during lockdown, while heart-attack checks reduced by almost half.

Experts said the findings were “staggering” and could mean thousands of extra deaths. They warned that the situation must not be repeated during the second wave of the pandemic, as hospitals come under growing pressure, with operations being cancelled.

Read the full analysis here.

05:30 AM

Global infections may reach 40 million on Monday

Worldwide coronavirus cases are expected to cross 40 million on Monday.

Experts believe the true number of cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries.

The United States, India and Brazil remain the worst-affected countries in the world.

Cases in North, Central, and South America represent about 47.27 per cent - or nearly half - of global cases.

Around 247 cases are seen per 10,000 people in the United States. For India and Brazil, those numbers stand at 55 cases and 248 cases per 10,000 people respectively.

New cases are growing at more than 150,000 a day in Europe, as many countries including Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic have reported record daily increases in the number of infections.

Europe currently accounts for more than 17 per cent of the global cases and nearly 22 per cent of the deaths related to the virus worldwide.

05:23 AM

Coronavirus news from around the world...

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said healthcare workers and high-risk populations, including some long-term care residents, would get priority in his state to receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved and available.

  • Panama will offer travellers a Covid test when they arrive at its main airport, a little less than a week after resuming international flights.

  • The Slovak government on Sunday approved plans to use up to 8,000 armed forces personnel to support mass testing of the population for Covid as it battles a surge of infections.

  • The Australian state of Victoria reported four new cases on Monday as people in Melbourne were granted more freedom to move about after a months-long lockdown, buoying hopes an outbreak in the city was nearing an end.

  • South Africa's health minister, Zweli Mkhize, and his wife have tested positive for Covid, his office said late on Sunday.

  • Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Israel on Sunday for treatment of a worsening case of Covid, the Palestine Liberation Organisation said.

05:17 AM

Italian mayors given power to shut piazzas at 9pm

Giuseppe Conte announces new safety measures following a national surge of infections - Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty Images
Giuseppe Conte announces new safety measures following a national surge of infections - Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has given mayors the power to shut public squares from 9pm to halt gatherings.

Mr Conte unveiled a further package of measures on Sunday to try to halt a sharp rise in cases in Italy.

The number of confirmed positive cases continued to rise to new records on Sunday, hitting 11,705 in 24 hours.

Many more tests are being carried out than during the March-April peak, when only the very ill were tested, but doctors have warned that the virus again is infecting more vulnerable patients and hospitals are increasingly under stress.

A total of 750 patients were being treated in intensive care on Sunday, up 45 from a day earlier, while more than 7,000 people were hospitalised, according to Health Ministry statistics.

Pressure was especially acute in Lombardy, where 110 ICU beds were filled and more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised. 

Italy has recorded a total of 36.543 deaths in the pandemic.

The government has made masks mandatory outdoors, banned casual pick-up sports and mandated the closure of bars and restaurants at midnight in a bid to stop the contagion.

05:02 AM

India records nearly 56,000 cases in 24 hours

India’s tally of coronavirus infections has reached 7.55 million, having risen by 55,722 cases in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

The world's second-most populous country also has the second-highest number of infections in the world, after the United States, which has around 8.1 million.

However, India recorded its lowest death toll in nearly four months on Monday with 579 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 114,610.

04:30 AM

PM moves to break Manchester deadlock with £100m offer

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attempt to call the bluff of Manchester’s leaders on Monday by offering them up to £100 million to accept Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions or risk having them imposed against their will.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, described talks with Downing Street on Sunday as “constructive”, increasing speculation he might be ready to do a deal.

The Prime Minister wants to avoid imposing Tier 3 status on Manchester without local consent, and Government sources said talks with its leaders could take “days”.

Ministers believe that if the situation in Manchester continues to worsen, Mr Burnham will come under increasing pressure locally to accept tighter measures for the sake of public health.

READ MORE: PM to call Andy Burnham's bluff with offer of £100m to Manchester's leaders if they accept Tier 3

04:00 AM

Industry insists cruises will be safe for tourists

Cruises will be safer than stepping on to an aircraft or staying in a hotel room under new rules designed to restart sailings, according industry leaders.

Operators such as Fred Olsen and Saga have drawn up new protocols that they hope will convince ministers to give British departures the green light in the New Year.

The Government is continuing to advise against cruise ship travel, despite countries on the Continent relaxing their guidance.

Read the full story here.

03:52 AM

South Korea tackles transmissions at live-in facilities

South Korea has reported 76 new cases of coronavirus as officials begin testing tens of thousands of employees at hospitals and nursing homes to prevent transmissions at live-in facilities.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 25,275, including 444 deaths.

Thirty-seven of the new cases were from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country's 51 million people, where health workers have scrambled to track infections linked to various places and groups, including hospitals, churches and schools.

Fifteen cases were reported from the southern port city of Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly.

Health officials from Monday will start a process to test 130,000 employees and 30,000 patients at hospitals, nursing homes and welfare centres for senior citizens.

03:24 AM

Switzerland introduces first national restrictions

Switzerland will make face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces and ban gatherings of more than 15 people from Monday amid growing concern over a spike in coronavirus cases. 

The Alpine country of 8.5 million people was largely spared during the early stages of the pandemic, but Covid-19 has spread faster in Switzerland than in any other European country over the past week. 

President Simonetta Sommaruga said the spread of the virus was “exponential” as she announced Switzerland’s first national restrictions and urged people to work from home.

Read the full story here.

03:03 AM

Find out more about the three-tier lockdown rules

In case you missed it, the Government has introduced a new system of "Local Covid Alert Levels" in England, more commonly known as the three-tier system. 

The approach will see different parts of the country placed in different categories dependent on rates of infection, with areas in the highest level facing the toughest restrictions.

READ MORE:

02:41 AM

Heat is on to buy garden winter warmers

Homeowners are getting ready for a winter lockdown, sending sales of patio heaters and pizza ovens through the roof.

Under the new three-tier rules, those in Tier 2 can mix only with other households outdoors, leading many to take steps to get their garden ready for Covid-compliant socialising.

Home improvements were a common theme of the first lockdown, but the tropical temperatures meant that the garden was more likely to be ignored in favour of home offices and kitchen goods.

READ MORE:

02:38 AM

Tony Blair asked Health Secretary about Covid rules before US visit

Tony Blair asked Matt Hancock for guidance on Covid-19 restrictions before seemingly ignoring quarantine rules by failing to self-isolate after a trip to the US, The Telegraph can disclose.

It is understood that Mr Blair contacted the Health Secretary directly before flying to Washington DC for an event at the White House.

Ten days after his return to London, the former prime minister was photographed leaving a private members club in Mayfair.

Under quarantine regulations, Mr Blair should have remained in isolation for two weeks unless he qualified for an exemption.

The Telegraph is not aware of any other exemption that might apply.

Read the full story here.

02:35 AM

Today's top stories