UK on ‘edge of losing control’ of virus, says Sage adviser

Boris Johnson has been urged to abandon the Government's campaign to get people back to the office as cases in the UK surge - AFP
Boris Johnson has been urged to abandon the Government’s campaign to get people back to the office as cases in the UK surge – AFP

The UK is on “the edge of losing control” of the virus and people who can work from home should continue to do so, according to Sage adviser and former Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, he said: “I think one would have to say that we’re on the edge of losing control, and you’ve only got to look across the Channel to see what’s happening in France and what’s happening in Spain.

“The French on Thursday had 9,800 new infections and one can see that their hospital admissions and indeed intensive care admissions are going up.

“The figures in the UK on September 5, it was about 1,800 people identified with infection. On the 11th it was about 3,500, and the study from Imperial suggested that the doubling time was about seven days.”

He added that the “only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with”. 

It is “very important” to get children back into school and people to university, but that means “we’re going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas”.

“Where people can work from home, there’s an extremely strong argument that they should do so,” he said. 

Follow the latest updates and reaction below.

02:34 PM

Indigenous group in Brazil celebrates six months without Covid case

An indigenous group in Brazil have celebrated six months without a single confirmed case of coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.

In March, the Tembé, of the Alto Rio Guama indigenous territory on the western edge of Para state, locked the gates to their villages and allowed people out only in case of emergency, while restricting entry to agents from the federal Indigenous health care provider, SESAI.

After the number of daily coronavirus cases and deaths in Para has finally plunged, they now hope they will emerge from the pandemic unscathed.

Sérgio Muxi Tembé, the leader of the Tekohow village, told the Associated Press:

“We didn’t go to the city, we didn’t go to other villages. We remained in quarantine. We got through, we are still getting through. We are doing a small commemoration because of that, and it’s because of that we are happy that today we do not have any cases.”

At the very start of the epidemic, women from the Tembé people’s three villages formed councils and visited neighbours at their board-and-batten homes to educate them about the peril of Covid-19 and how it is transmitted.

Tenetehara Indigenous children play around a campfire during a festival in the Alto Rio Guama Indigenous Reserve - AP
Tenetehara Indigenous children play around a campfire during a festival in the Alto Rio Guama Indigenous Reserve – AP
Tenetehara Indigenous Sandra Muxi Tembe smiles as she talks about the importance of the indigenous women's council formed to guide families on the pandemic - AP
Tenetehara Indigenous Sandra Muxi Tembe smiles as she talks about the importance of the indigenous women’s council formed to guide families on the pandemic – AP

02:26 PM

Newcastle’s public health director doesn’t fear party weekend

Newcastle upon Tyne’s director of public health Eugene Milne has said he did not think large numbers of people would go out for a big binge ahead of the tighter controls coming in.

He told Tyne Tees TV News: “At the opening of lockdown there was a real fear that that might happen in the city, and that didn’t happen so I think we can trust people.

“The idea of the rule of six is to make it easier for people to know how to stick with the guidance and I think one of the big problems has been the guidance has progressively got so complicated, so specific to particular areas, that it becomes very confusing for everybody.”

02:19 PM

Late night discos and sauna socials pushing Covid rate to soar further in Spain

Spain is pleading with young people to stop socialising at illegal parties as the country’s monunting Covid caseload continues to lead the way in Europe’s impending second wave of infections.

In spite of the warnings from authorities to rein in expansive social behaviour, in the early hours of Thursday Madrid police caught and fined 73 people who had sidestepped a ban on late-night discotheques by partying in a basement sauna in the capital’s main business district. No one was wearing a face mask.

Last weekend, a few blocks away, 75 people were caught in an unlicensed premises operating as a bar and brothel, openly defying Spanish government orders to close down bordellos.

The city is one of the worst-hit places in Spain, with hospitals recording an alarming rise in admissions.

James Badcock has more here. 

02:14 PM

Hospital deaths in England up by eight

A further eight people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,656, NHS England said today.

Patients were aged between 61 and 91 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.

The dates of the deaths were between August 30 and September 11.

One other death was reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

02:03 PM

Cases in Wales up by 164 but no further deaths

There have been a further 164 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 19,228.

Public Health Wales said no further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remaining at 1,597.

01:44 PM

New coronavirus cases in Scotland hit four-month high

Daily coronavirus cases in Scotland have hit a four-month high, the latest Scottish Government figures show.

A total of 221 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours – the highest daily figure since May 8.

Since the start of the pandemic, 22,435 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Scotland and 2,499 have died with the virus.

Restrictions on people meeting indoors in Lanarkshire were announced on Friday amid a rise in cases in that health board area.

It came after lockdown restrictions in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire were continued for a further week on Monday, having first been introduced on September 1.

The area covered by the rules was extended to Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire on Monday.

01:37 PM

Oxford University resumes vaccine trial

Oxford University has announced that clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine, under development with the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, are to resume in the UK.

The late-stage trials were briefly halted last Sunday to allow an independent committee to review safety data when a participant fell ill.

In a press release this afternoon, Oxford University said the pause had given time for a “review of safety data by an independent safety review committee, and the national regulators.”

It said: “The independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the UK regulator, the MHRA, the trials will recommence in the UK.

“We cannot disclose medical information about the illness for reasons of participant confidentiality.

“We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our studies and will continue to monitor safety closely.”

Read more here

01:25 PM

Cases continue to climb in the Netherlands but deaths remain steady 

The Netherlands has reported 1,231 new cases of coronavirus, as daily infection rates again ramp up in the country.

However, according to the latest update from the Dutch national institute for public health and the environment, just one new death from Covid-19 was registered today.

Daily new cases hit a nadir on July 10, following months of lockdown measures, and have gradually risen since then. So far, daily death tolls have not followed a similar trajectory.

01:07 PM

BBC faces major backlash after curtailing coverage of Sturgeon press conferences

The BBC is facing a major backlash from Scottish nationalists after it said it would no longer routinely broadcast Nicola Sturgeon’s daily press conferences on TV.

The First Minister suggested the decision, which came after opposition politicians compared her performances to party political broadcasts, could place older people at risk and some of her supporters demanded boycotts of the corporation.

Since the start of the pandemic, the briefings have attracted average audiences of 208,000 on BBC 1. A longer version, on the BBC Scotland channel, has been watched by 40,000 people on average, figures released by the corporation to The Daily Telegraph show.

The BBC has said that from Monday, it will take a decision on whether to screen the briefings on “editorial merit”, meaning they would only be shown if Ms Sturgeon is making a significant announcement. It will continue to be shown on the BBC website, as well as by the Scottish Government’s online channels.

However, Ms Sturgeon said her ability to communicate directly with the public was “more important than ever,” as the country approaches winter and with cases on the rise.

Daniel Sanderson has more here. 

12:55 PM

‘Stop clapping, start paying’: NHS workers demand better wages

Frontline NHS workers, many of whom have been helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic, have protested to demand better wages.

Campaigners in central London, many wearing scrubs or other NHS uniforms, held banners which read “stop clapping, start paying,” “priceless yet penniless” and “640 healthcare workers dead, blood on their hands” alongside images of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Demonstrators began a march to Trafalgar Square after a two-minute silence in honour of 640 healthcare workers who have died during the pandemic.

The protest comes after nurses were excluded from the wage increase for around 900,000 public sector workers announced in July because they are in the final year of a three-year agreement. The pay increase does not apply to junior doctors after they agreed a four-year deal last year.

Alia Butt, 33, an NHS psychotherapist in Essex and chair of Nurses Staff Voices, said: “We have simply had enough.

“The money is there. They are simply just not providing it to NHS staff. It turns out that the only way to ensure the NHS is able to continue to function is by the sheer force of organising.”

She added: “The Government clearly has not got a clue about what it is doing and that is very scary. Nurses saved the lives of the Prime Minister. What more do we need to do to get paid properly? It’s bizarre.”

NHS workers march from the BBC headquarters to Trafalgar Square - Getty Images Europe
NHS workers march from the BBC headquarters to Trafalgar Square – Getty Images Europe
Nurses and NHS staff are protesting after being excluded from a recent pay rise announcement - Getty Images Europe
Nurses and NHS staff are protesting after being excluded from a recent pay rise announcement – Getty Images Europe

12:38 PM

Homeless man to repay locals’ kindness with 24-hour charity bike ride

A homeless man who found support from the local community is hoping to pay them back by raising money for their Royal British Legion clubhouse.

Bob Oath, 32, was given a room at The Dorrington in Halstead, Essex, at the start of lockdown, joining a number of other homeless people at the hotel.

Having arrived with just 40p in his pocket, Mr Oath was forced to ask the community for help on Facebook, and they responded emphatically.

“The response I got from the people in Halstead was absolutely overwhelming,” Mr Oath told the PA news agency.

“It got to the point where I didn’t need to ask for things anymore, I’d come home and there’d be bags of shopping left at my door.

“I wanted to do something back for them so I started doing little tasks around the town … as a thank-you for making me feel like a human again really.”

The 32-year-old has got a taste for community projects and charity now, and having started a bike club in Halstead, is taking on a 24-hour bike-riding challenge to raise money for the local Royal British Legion clubhouse.

12:23 PM

Five things to read this lunchtime

Good afternoon. If you’re just joining us, here’s five stories from across our website to read this lunchtime:

12:04 PM

Oxford’s Sir John Bell: ‘We’re not going to beat the second wave’

At lunchtime on Tuesday, Sir John Bell received a call telling him that the groundbreaking Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial would, regretfully, be paused. Hours later, news of an urgent investigation into an “unexplained illness” in one of the trial volunteers began spreading across the world. It was, as White House adviser Anthony Fauci described it, “unfortunate”.

If the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency comes back and says it’s all over, “then it’s all over”, says Sir John, the Government’s leading life sciences adviser. “That’s just the way the game works.”

But the 68-year-old Canadian, who sits on the UK’s vaccine taskforce, doesn’t appear anxious. “When I got the call from Andrew Pollard [who leads the project], I told him look, fine, this stuff happens in clinical trials all the time. People who don’t do clinical trials see it and think, this is a disaster. But, when you’ve got so many people in the study, it’s really not very surprising to be honest.”

Sir John has more experience in this area than most. As one of the world’s top immunologists and Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, he knows how these things can go.

The majority of vaccines take around eight years to develop. “And we’ve been at this for just eight months.”

Read the full interview by Hannah Boland here. 

11:40 AM

Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader ‘furious’ over testing capacity

The leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council is “furious” over restrictions to Covid-19 testing capacity as the area struggles to avoid a local lockdown, the BBC reports.

Andrew Morgan tweeted on Friday evening that a “huge effort” was underway to “make sure there are tests available”.

He said he was furious the national testing had restricted the tests to 60.

The Welsh Government said it has intervened to increase testing capacity.

A spokesperson said there would be sufficient tests for residents on Saturday and Sunday.

“Testing arrangements have also rapidly been put in place in the area by the health board working in partnership with the council and the Welsh Ambulance Trust,” said the spokesperson.

“We are taking urgent steps to switch testing facilities to Welsh laboratories to increase capacity.”

11:26 AM

Ineos staff member who tested positive for coronavirus on Monday has returned two negative tests

The Ineos Grenadiers staff member who tested positive for coronavirus on Monday’s rest day, putting the team at risk of being sent home from the Tour de France, has now returned two negative tests for Covid-19, Telegraph Sport understands.

Ineos were one of four teams – along with Mitchelton-Scott, Cofidis and AG2R- La Mondiale – who had one member of staff each test positive for Covid-19 at the last round of testing.

With organisers ASO promising to send home any team who returned two positive tests in seven days, that put those four teams on red alert.

ASO has since confirmed that the ‘counter will be reset’ ahead of the next rest day on Monday. Nevertheless, Ineos would still have been sent home had any other staff member developed symptoms and then tested positive this week.

Telegraph Sport understands that the Ineos staff member, whose role it was to travel ahead of the race and prepare the hotels for the team, has now had a second PCR test and an antibody test. Both came back negative. The team are awaiting the results of a third PCR test. Ineos declined to comment.

Tom Cary has more here. 

11:12 AM

Iran’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 23,000

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose by 116 to 23,029, a health ministry spokeswoman told state TV today.

The total number of identified cases spiked by 2,139 in the last 24 hours to 399,940 in one of the Middle East’s worst-hit countries, Sima Sadat Lari was quoted as saying.

11:01 AM

UAE reports 1,007 new cases, highest since outbreak

The United Arab Emirates health ministry has today reported 1,007 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily number of infections since the start of the pandemic.

The Gulf Arab state has seen cases surge over the past six weeks from 164 cases on August 3, a trend Government officials have blamed on people not adhering to social distancing measures.

Case numbers had been generally falling after peaking at 994 on May 22, though there had been some periodic rises before the recent surge.

The UAE has recorded 78,849 infections and 399 deaths from Covid-19 so far. The Government does not disclose where in the country of seven emirates the infections or deaths occurred. About ten million people, mostly foreigners, live in the UAE.

A health ministry official on Thursday asked the public to adhere to social distancing and avoid gatherings and mixing with people known to have the virus, which she said accounted for about 88 per cent of cases.

10:48 AM

What are the new social distancing rules for gatherings in England?

Boris Johnson has tightened restrictions following a surge in infections in England.

The most recent update from the Government on September 9 means that people can no longer socialise in groups of more than six from Monday, September 14.  

The latest announcement could scupper the previous hope that the rules on social distancing could be lifted by the end of the year.

At a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said: “In England from Monday [September 14] we’re introducing the rule of six. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six. And, if you do, you will be breaking the law.” 

Education settings and workplaces are unaffected by these new rules. 

Here’s a rundown of the new restrictions. 

10:40 AM

Prince William thanks football clubs and fans for supporting communities during pandemic

The Duke of Cambridge has thanked football clubs and fans for supporting their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aston Villa supporter William said the support offered in recent months “is a true testament to the spirit of football in this country”.

William delivered his message in a video on Twitter which featured a montage of footage and images including one of Manchester United star Marcus Rashford who was successful in campaigning for free school meal vouchers to be provided to pupils over the summer period.

In the video, William said: “As our national game, football is a source of togetherness and community spirit for millions.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen football come together to support its communities.

“Rivalries have been set aside to help those most in need.

“From reaching out to isolated fans, and promoting physical and mental health, to helping those who have felt the financial impact, and supporting our amazing NHS.”

10:26 AM

Sturgeon urges people to follow advice

10:19 AM

Police facing winter of discontent over XR, Covid, Brexit and economy

Police are warning of a winter of discontent ahead with large-scale protests across a range of issues likely to bring disruption to the country.

As well as ongoing Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and Far Right demonstrations, senior officers fear that anger over the state of the economy and frustration around Brexit will boil over in the coming months, bringing thousands of people onto the streets.

Forces are braced to deal with any civil unrest but are warning that they are already stretched to breaking point dealing with the pandemic and tackling crime which is back up to pre-Covid levels.

Despite fears of a perfect storm looming, Priti Patel has resisted calls to ban all large-scale protests during the coronavirus crisis, insisting “we live in a free and open democracy”.

Speaking at the annual Police Superintendents’ Association conference, Martin Hewitt, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said despite the pandemic, other issues had not gone away and could provide a flashpoint for further protests.

Martin Evans has more here. 

10:03 AM

Calls to resist ‘party weekend’ ahead of the ‘rule of six’ deadline on Monday

People have been warned against having a “party weekend” before the “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday.

The concern was raised as tough new Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced for parts of the UK, as cases continued to rise, and as the R number climbed above one.

New measures banning people from mixing in homes and gardens will be imposed on Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell from Tuesday in response to a rocketing infection rate in the area.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the body representing rank and file police officers urged people to look after each other before the “rule of six” comes into play on Monday.

John Apter, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.”

Read more here. 

09:54 AM

Russia reports over 5,400 new cases

Russia has reported 5,488 new coronavirus cases today, bringing the tally to 1,057,362, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 119 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing official total fatalities to 18,484.

Official Russian news agency Tass reports that 165,343 people are currently undergoing treatment for Covid-19 in Russia.

Meanwhile, the number of Russians who recovered from coronavirus increased to 5,428 over the past day to 873,535 – amounting to 82.6 per cent of all infected people so far.

09:48 AM

Government scrambles to pull coronavirus ads after test logjam

The Government is scrambling to remove thousands of its own advertisements from billboards, bus stops and websites as it emerged that they were one of the main drivers behind the logjam in Covid-19 testing in Britain.

The UK Covid testing system was slow to start and, despite improvements in capacity, has become overwhelmed in the last few weeks as tens of thousands of people without symptoms started turning up for tests.

In some areas, including Covid-19 hotspots, capacity has run so short that the NHS website is advising people to travel a hundred miles or more to receive a test.  Even for hospital in-patients, doctors are reporting significant delays in getting test results back.

Headteachers have also warned that plans to get children back to the classroom are being “derailed” by schools’ inability to access tests.  

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, initially appeared to blame asymptomatic members of the public for seeking tests for which they were “not eligible”.

However, insiders say officials have since realised it is NHS Test and Trace’s (NHSTT) own own advertising which is to blame, as much of it makes no mention of symptoms.

Paul Nuki has more here. 

09:24 AM

Theatre’s self-employed and freelance workers remain in need of support, says Robert Lindsay 

Theatre’s self-employed and freelance workers remain in need of financial support, Robert Lindsay has warned, ahead of an online charity performance.

Dame Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Sanjeev Bhaskar will join the actor, 70, on Sunday for a live reading of Noel Coward’s Private Lives over Zoom to raise money for the Royal Theatrical Fund.

Speaking on Today on BBC Radio 4, Lindsay stressed the importance of the project. He said: “We are doing it for the reason of we are helping our colleagues in the industry.

“The people in the theatre, the people backstage, the people in lighting, all the technicians, they are self-employed and they all need help.

“They are all struggling at the moment and that is why we are presenting this tomorrow night.”

Director Jonathan Church told Today he remained concerned for the industry despite the Government’s announcement of a £1.57 billion support package for the arts.

“It’s very worrying. We haven’t yet seen where that money is going,” he said.

“It feels like – and this is why what we are doing is so important – that there are a number of companies and individuals that are inevitably going to fall through the cracks because they don’t meet certain criteria.”

09:21 AM

Philippines records highest daily death toll so far

The Philippines has reported the highest single-day coronavirus death toll so far recorded in South East Asia, Reuters reports

The health ministry today announced 186 more deaths related to coronavirus, a new daily record.

n a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 4,292, while confirmed cases rose by 4,935 to 257,863.

The Philippines has the most Covid-19 infections in the region.

09:09 AM

Indonesia reports over 3,800 new cases as emergency hospital re-opens

Indonesia has reported 3,806 new coronavirus infections and 106 new deaths, data from the health ministry website showed.

Today marked the fifth consecutive day that Indonesia registered daily infections of more than 3,000, bringing the total number of cases to 214,746.

Total Covid-19 deaths rose to 8,650, the highest in South East Asia.

Anies Baswedan, the governor of Jakarta, the country’s capital, has announced that a Covid-19 emergency hospital in the city is to be re-opened.

The decision was taken after national Covid-19 task force data showed that bed occupancy rates in isolation rooms and intensive care units in Jakarta had reached 69 per cent and 77 per cent respectively.

The capital city will return to local lockdown on September 14.

08:53 AM

Toots and the Maytals frontman dies aged 77

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, frontman of pioneering reggae group Toots And The Maytals, has died at the age of 77.

The Jamaican singer was being treated for suspected coronavirus at the University Hospital of the West Indies in the Caribbean island’s capital, Kingston.

A statement from his representative said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

“The family and management would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.

“Mr Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.”

They did not confirm the cause of death.

On September 1, Hibbert’s management confirmed he had been admitted to intensive care with suspected Covid-19 and was awaiting the results of a test.

08:41 AM

Woman in Australia fitted with monitoring bracelet for allegedly breaking quarantine rules 

A 33-year-old woman has become the first person in Western Australia to be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet for allegedly breaching a quarantine direction, ABC reports.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, who is also the state emergency coordinator, made the order and the device was fitted to the woman on Friday night.

In a statement, police said the woman arrived in WA from New South Wales on September 1, and was directed to self-isolate at her home in Perth for 14 days’ quarantine.

Police said officers with the Self Quarantine Assurance Team were conducting a routine check on Thursday this week, when they discovered two men visiting the woman at her house.

The woman, who was still under a self-quarantine direction, was advised she would be issued with a $1,000 infringement for failing to comply with the direction and was moved to a Perth quarantine hotel.

“After careful consideration of the circumstances of the breach and the woman’s previous history, the State Emergency Coordinator formed a view that it was necessary to monitor her location during the quarantine period,” the police statement read.

08:37 AM

Boating parties banned from hosting weddings in Istanbul 

Boating parties in Istanbul have been banned from hosting weddings and similar gatherings as part of the measures to combat the spread of coronavirus in Turkey’s most-populous city, AP reports. 

The governor’s office also reintroduced a ban on concerts and festivals in open spaces. A statement from the office late on Friday said the restrictions were needed because people were not adequately obeying precautions like physical distancing and confirmed virus cases have increased.

Coronavirus infections and deaths began increasing in Turkey after the government loosened restrictions on public activity in June, returning to levels last seen in mid-May.

On Friday, the health ministry announced 56 more deaths and 1,671 new cases, bringing the country’s total death toll in the pandemic to 6,951 and cases to nearly 290,000.

Officials have cited engagement parties and weddings as a key source for new infections and introduced restrictions on social gatherings. Some turned to holding celebrations on party boats that cruise Istanbul’s scenic Bosporus strait, which bisects the city of about 16 million.

08:28 AM

Fines might be necessary to enforce self-isolation, suggests Gove 

Mr Gove said the warning from Government adviser Sir Mark Walport that the UK is on the edge of losing control of coronavirus is a “warning to us all”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think Sir Mark’s words, he’s a very distinguished scientist, is a warning to us all.

“There’s a range of scientific opinion but one thing on which practically every scientist is agreed is that we have seen an uptick in infection and therefore it is appropriate we take public health measures.”

Asked whether the Government should consider a carrot and stick approach with better financial support for those self-isolating as well as fines for breaches, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it is a very fair point.”

He also launched a defence of measures amid disquiet among Conservative backbenches.

“I don’t want to see fines being levied but even more I do not want to see people behaving in a way that puts the most vulnerable at risk,” Mr Gove said.

“Sometimes there’s an argument that’s depicted as though this is pernicious of the liberty of freedom-loving people, well there are restrictions, and I love freedom, but the one thing I think is even more important is that you exercise freedom with responsibility.”

08:23 AM

Gove: UK not heading towards second national lockdown

When asked if the UK was heading towards a second national lockdown, Mr Gove said: “No”.

He told Times Radio: “The reason why we’re taking the steps we announced this week and come into force on Monday is precisely to seek to avoid that situation.

“The R rate has increased, the number of people who have been infected sadly has increased.”

The senior minister said that the new measures such as “targeted local lockdowns” and “new regulations governing social contact” were to ensure that children can still go to school, adults can still go to work and the “life of the nation can continue”.

He also urged people to act “in tune with” the rules this weekend ahead of the “rule of six” coming into force or risk increasing the rate of spread of coronavirus.

He told BBC Breakfast: “If people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out then they are putting other people at risk.

“The reason why the country’s police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus.”

He denied that the Government was losing control of Covid-19. “No. I don’t accept that,” he said.

08:13 AM

‘Rule of six’ will not exempt children in England, says Gove

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has said the “rule of six” will not be altered to exempt children in England amid pressure on the Tory backbenches.

He told BBC Breakfast: “No. I entirely understand, family life is so important but the rule is there, the rule is clear and it commands public confidence.”

Mr Gove also said: “The key thing is if we maintain these rules, if we maintain a degree of restraint and self-discipline and co-operation, then we can keep the reinfection rate down, we can protect our grandparents which is the single most important thing.

“And then we can ensure in due course that these restrictions can be relaxed and my hope like so many is that we can have a proper Christmas.”

08:08 AM

People should continue to work from home, says Sage adviser 

The UK is on “the edge of losing control” of the virus and people who can work from home should continue to do so, according to Sage adviser and former Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, he said: “I think one would have to say that we’re on the edge of losing control, and you’ve only got to look across the Channel to see what’s happening in France and what’s happening in Spain.

“The French on Thursday had 9,800 new infections and one can see that their hospital admissions and indeed intensive care admissions are going up.

“The figures in the UK on September 5, it was about 1,800 people identified with infection. On the 11th it was about 3,500, and the study from Imperial suggested that the doubling time was about seven days.”

He added that the “only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with”. 

It is “very important” to get children back into school and people to university, but that means “we’re going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas”.

“Where people can work from home, there’s an extremely strong argument that they should do so,” he said. 

06:50 AM

Don’t panic, Britain – Christmas isn’t cancelled

Not even Agatha Christie could have dreamt up a twist like this. Before he entered Downing Street, Boris Johnson was, above all else, a vigorous defender of personal liberty. A tireless opponent of the nanny state. An implacable foe of bureaucratic bossiness. If he believed in anything at all, it was freedom.

And what does he do when he gets into power? He makes Christmas dinner a criminal offence.

No one could have seen that one coming. The man himself certainly didn’t. Only a couple of months ago, he told the country he was looking forward to a “more significant return to normality” by the end of the year, and declared that “the good solid common sense” of the British people would see us through.

Read Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon’s comment in full

05:42 AM

Scotland’s Covid app may be ‘useless’

Major doubts have been raised about the reliability of Scotland’s new coronavirus contact tracing app after an expert warned that the technology is so flawed that it may prove useless.

Stephen Farrell, a computer scientist at Trinity College Dublin, said a series of tests had found the Bluetooth technology used is often unable to accurately assess distances between two smartphones. 

He warned that some people could needlessly be ordered to self-isolate for two weeks, while others could be missed despite having been at risk.

Read the full story

Read more: NHS app set be used as coronavirus ‘passport’

Read more: BBC faces backlash after curtailing Sturgeon coverage 

04:54 AM

India reports another record daily rise in infections

India reported a record daily jump in coronavirus cases for a second consecutive day, logging 97,570 new infections on Saturday, data from the federal health ministry showed.

With total cases of more than 4.65 million, India is the world’s second worst affected country, trailing only the United States, which has more than 6.4 million cases.

But the growth in infections in India is faster than anywhere else in the world, with cases surging through urban and rural areas of some large, populous states.

Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks wearing masks walks in a deserted market area in Dharmsala, India - AP
Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks wearing masks walks in a deserted market area in Dharmsala, India – AP

03:11 AM

Signs virus is slowing in Brazil

Brazil’s death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 130,000 Friday, amid cautious optimism over signs the virus is finally slowing in the hard-hit South American country.

With the second-highest death toll in the pandemic after the United States, 130,396 lives have now been claimed in Brazil, according to the health ministry.

Brazil, home to 212 million people, has registered nearly 4.3 million infections, behind only the US and India.

After a seemingly endless plateau in which the number of daily deaths was regularly over 1,000 from June to August, Brazil’s curve appears to be descending at last.

The average number of deaths per day for the past week was 696.

“The models indicate we are past the peak… and starting a descent, albeit with levels that are still unacceptably high,” immunologist Guilherme Werneck told a seminar this week organised by Brazil’s leading public health research institute, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).

Members of the "Bora Testar" or Let's Test project, walk through the the Paraisopolis neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil - AP
Members of the “Bora Testar” or Let’s Test project, walk through the the Paraisopolis neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil – AP

02:36 AM

BA ‘needs Government help to survive’

British Airways “can survive”, but only if the Government takes action on airport testing, the company’s chief executive has warned.

In an article for the Telegraph, Alex Cruz warned that the aviation sector was fighting “for its very survival” after losing 95 per cent of its flights during lockdown, and still running at only 30 per cent of capacity in face of the 14-day UK quarantine. This week, BA announced it had cut 8,236 jobs.

Mr Cruz said:

“Every aircraft at Heathrow supports 300 jobs in the supply chain.

“Every aircraft grounded because customers cannot easily travel puts those jobs at risk. Every business unable to make essential connections around the world puts Global Britain at risk.”

Read more: Thirty other countries have introduced airport testing. Why can’t we?

01:59 AM

Gove the puppet-master?

Following the Telegraph exclusive that Michael Gove persuaded Boris Johnson to adopt the comntroversial “rule of six”, Camilla Tominey asks: Is Mr Gove running the country?

“There is no doubt that the Prime Minister is becoming increasingly reliant on his former fellow Vote Leave frontman Mr Gove as they try to navigate the UK through the pandemic as well as the increasingly heated Brexit negotiations.

“Indeed, so central has Mr Gove become to the trade talks that it was he who was entrusted with the delicate task of trying to smooth things over with the EU on Thursday.”

Read more: Analysis: is Michael Gove pulling the strings?

01:18 AM

Canada reports zero deaths

Canada has reported zero deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time since March 15.

Though Canada’s infections have seen a mild rise in recent days, uthorities have been on high alert to avoid fresh outbreaks as most provinces ease lockdown restrictions and reopen schools for in-person classes.

As Covid-19 cases began to spike in mid-March, Canada shut its international borders to all foreign nationals and ramped up tests in an effort to isolate infected patients.

Ontario and Alberta faced outbreaks among temporary foreign workers on farms and meat-processing plants, which slowed reopening in certain regions.

Canada has lifted a number of restrictions - REUTERS
Canada has lifted a number of restrictions – REUTERS

12:34 AM

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