Apathy towards Covid-19 measures on the rise across Europe, says WHO

Eufemia Didonato

Italy has now made mask wearing compulsory outside - Reuters
Italy has now made mask wearing compulsory outside – Reuters
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

New data shows significant increases in apathy towards Covid-19 across Europe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Fatigue has been measured in different ways across 27 countries but “is now estimated to have reached over 60 per cent” of the population in some places, said WHO regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge.

Dr Kluge set out three strategies for addressing the slide towards apathy.

Regular community consultation, including with local authorities as well as “expertise beyond the medical and public health sectors”, should be promoted, he suggested.

There had been positive responses when Scandinavian countries asked the public to help devise “reasonable guidance”, which Dr Kluge said is “a good example of recognising that people are experts in their own environment”.

“Citizens are at the heart of a solution to the pandemic and policymakers should treat them as such,” he added.

New ways of meeting with friends and family are also to be encouraged, with Dr Kluge citing the example of how community groups found safe ways of breaking the fast during Ramadan by doing so virtually or with delivered meals for distanced celebrations.

“A courageous approach, with empathy at its core, will get us through this crisis,” he said.

“We have an opportunity to maximise our community insights into behaviour, to integrate real community participation into public health policy on a scale that has not been done before.”

Follow the latest updates below.

Table of Contents

11:38 AM

We won’t shut down entire economy, says Sturgeon

Ahead of the announcement of further restrictions tomorrow, Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish Government will not be imposing the kind of lockdown seen in March.

The First Minister said that there won’t be blanket stay-at-home orders, travel limits or the shutting down of the entire economy.

“We are not proposing to close schools,” she added, fully or partially. 

11:36 AM

Apathy towards Covid-19 measures on the rise across Europe, says WHO

New data shows significant increases in apathy towards Covid-19 across Europe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Fatigue has been measured in different ways across 27 countries but “is now estimated to have reached over 60 per cent” of the population in some places, said WHO regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge.

Dr Kluge set out three strategies for addressing the slide towards apathy.

Regular community consultation, including with local authorities as well as “expertise beyond the medical and public health sectors”, should be promoted, he suggested.

There had been positive responses when Scandinavian countries asked the public to help devise “reasonable guidance”, which Dr Kluge said is “a good example of recognising that people are experts in their own environment”.

“Citizens are at the heart of a solution to the pandemic and policymakers should treat them as such,” he added.

11:30 AM

Further action is necessary, says Sturgeon

Speaking at her daily coronavirus news briefing, Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish Government is receiving “very strong” public health advice that further action against the virus is necessary, as she is set to announce further restrictions tomorrow.

It is “probably the most difficult decision point we have faced so far”, the First Minister said, as “figures demonstrate that we face a sharp rising rate of infection again”. The situation is particularly prevalent in the Central Belt, she added.

Notwithstanding, it’s “important to recognise that cases are rising everywhere” and levels of infection are now higher in most parts of Scotland “than we are comfortable with”, she said.

Most places in the country have cases higher than 50 per 100,000 now. For context, she added that Aberdeen went into lockdown when cases were at around 20 per 100,000.

There is also now evidence of spread from younger to older age groups, and the numbers of people being admitted to hospital and also intensive care are rising.

But for balance, she said, the situation is “not out of control” because cases were reduced so heavily in the summer and also because of Test and Protect. However, it is still of “increasing concern”.

Two weeks ago cases in Scotland were at an average of 285 per week but are now at 729, she added.

11:11 AM

Joe Biden leads criticism of Donald Trump after president urges America ‘don’t be afraid’ of Covid-19

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has hit out at Donald Trump for downplaying the severity of coronavirus. 

Just hours after the president returned to the White House following a three day hospital stay and removed his face mask, Mr Biden gave a swift reprimand: “Masks matter.”

“I would hope that the president, having gone through what he went through – and I’m glad he seems to be coming along pretty well – would communicate the right lesson to the American people,” Mr Biden said at a NBC News town hall from Miami, Florida.

In a video released shortly after leaving Walter Reed Medical Centre, Mr Trump urged Americans “get out there” and not to be afraid of the virus. Although he wore a mask upon leaving hospital, the 74-year-old president later removed it for a photo opportunity. 

Verity Bowman has more here. 

11:05 AM

NHS cannot cope with its current budget, says NHS Providers

The NHS cannot cope with its current budget, health leaders have said as they called on the Prime Minister to avoid a “have our cake and eat it” approach to NHS funding.

NHS Providers called for more investment in the health service which is facing a “perfect storm” as it goes into winter.

The NHS faces multiple challenges alongside traditional winter pressures including the threat of a second spike of Covid-19, recovering services which were disrupted during the pandemic, staff in danger of burnout and additional pressures for infection control, NHS Providers said.

Even before the pandemic struck earlier this year “growing demand for treatment has consistently outstripped capacity”, according to NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson.

“Despite the best efforts of frontline staff treating more patients than ever before, many patients have not received the care they need and that NHS staff wanted to provide,” he added.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, called for the Government to examine funding for the NHS.

Mr Hopson told the NHS Providers’ first online conference that the health service faces a “similar fate” to social care – which is “in crisis” because it has not been funded properly and sustainably.

11:00 AM

Italy confirms mask wearing to be made compulsory outside

The Italian Government has confirmed reports that it will make the wearing of face masks outside compulsory across the country, reports Nick Squires in Rome.

Currently just a few regions, such as Lazio and Campania, have decreed that everyone must wear masks when they are in outdoor public spaces. But that will soon be extended to the whole country, says health minister Roberto Speranza, who is presenting a new anti-virus decree to Parliament.

“There has been a significant leap in the number of cases in two months,” the minister said. “At the moment 3,487 people are in hospital (with Covid-19) and we have 323 in intensive care.

“Today these figures are sustainable for the national health service.

“It is clear that the situation is manageable compared to the most difficult days (of the emergency), when we had 4,000 people in intensive care.

“But the virus is circulating and it continues to put people into a state of great suffering”.

 A pink flamingo mannequin at a restaurant is seen with a protective mask at Campo de Fiori - Corbis News
A pink flamingo mannequin at a restaurant is seen with a protective mask at Campo de Fiori – Corbis News

10:55 AM

How do Britons feel about new restrictions?

As the UK experiences a second wave of Covid-19 infections, with new restrictions in place and fears of a second wave, how to Britons feel about these new developments?

According to a poll of over 12,000 people from Piplsay, 75 per cent would support new goverment-imposed restrictions amid the second wave.

A further 42 per cent think that schools should be shut down again to safeguard children, and 66 per cent would support another national lockdown if the situation worsens.

10:49 AM

Diagnostics for cancer ‘could be on a high street’, says Hancock

Asked for assurances that there is a cancer recovery plan in light of referrals and treatment being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hancock said that the “most important” thing is to “bear down on the long waits”, which he claims is happening.

It’s also important to make sure that referrals are brought forward, he said.

As such, they are “expanding the diagnostics available” in both hospitals and community health, he said, which is “safer from a Covid point of view” but also means that diagnostics can be sped up. 

Diagnostics for cancer “could be on a high street or perhaps where people live”, he said, adding that you “shouldn’t have to go to hospital” to get that part of the diagnosis pathway done.

10:43 AM

Hancock answers questions on cancer referrals 

The NHS recovery approach is restoring urgent cancer referrals and treatment to “at least 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels”, Matt Hancock has claimed in the Commons today.

Answering questions from MPs, the Health Secretary was also asked whether private hospitals could be used as “Covid secure” treatment venues for patients who may be nervous about contracting the virus, such as those with cancer.

Mr Hancock responded that because private hospitals very rarely have the same pressures as emergency hospitals, they are as “free as feasibly possible from coronavirus” and an important part of the recovery plan.

“It’s very important that the message goes out that the NHS is open,” he added.

10:30 AM

US still lagging in Covid-19 testing, says Fauci

The United States remains behind when it comes to Covid-19 testing, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has said.

“We’re better off now than we were a couple of months ago, that’s for sure,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday night. But the country is still not where it needs to be, he said.

“We need to flood the system with testing,” he added.

10:27 AM

Universities vow to ensure students can access essentials during self-isolation

Vice-chancellors have pledged to support students who have to self-isolate in university halls when campus outbreaks occur.

Universities UK (UUK), which represents 139 institutions, has published a checklist to help universities support student wellbeing in the autumn term as they face a variety of challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities should ensure that students have access to basic necessities during self-isolation, including food, laundry services, cleaning materials, bin bags, tissues and toilet rolls, the guide says.

It comes after students have hung signs out their windows claiming they did not have food.

More than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of coronavirus as students return to campus.

A surge in cases has led to thousands of students having to self-isolate in their halls, including Manchester Metropolitan and Glasgow University.

​Read more: ‘Like a prison where you are charged an extortionate rent’ – Rite of passage becomes nightmare

10:17 AM

UK: Weekly coronavirus deaths rise by more than half in seven days

The number of weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has risen by more than half in seven days, official figures show.

There were 215 deaths registered in the week ending September 25 mentioning “novel coronavirus” – 2.2 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It was the third weekly rise in a row and represents a 54.6 per cent increase in deaths involving Covid-19 from the previous week, when 139 deaths were registered.

The number of deaths involving coronavirus increased in eight of nine regions in England, and in Wales.

The exception was the East Midlands, where the weekly total fell from 14 to 11.

Just two areas – London and the East – had lower overall deaths than the average over five years for this time of year.

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart – deaths default

10:12 AM

Compulsory tests for Britons arriving in Italy

British travelers to Italy could soon be subjected to compulsory Covid-19 tests as the country tries to contain what looks increasingly like a second wave of infections, reports Nick Squires from Rome.

According to reports in the Italian press, British, Dutch and Belgian travelers will soon be obliged to take swab tests on arrival.  Currently, that applies to people arriving from the high-risk countries of Spain, Malta and Croatia, as well as some regions of France.

The government in Rome is due to issue a new decree on Wednesday with a raft of new anti-virus measures.  It is likely to include an obligation for all Italians to wear face masks in public outdoors – currently just a handful of regions, such as Lazio which includes Rome, have introduced the measure.

In Rome, the vast majority of people are now wearing masks on the streets and in piazzas, as well as on public transport, in shops, bars and restaurants.

People wear face masks as local authorities in the Italian capital Rome order face coverings to be worn at all times out of doors - Reuters
People wear face masks as local authorities in the Italian capital Rome order face coverings to be worn at all times out of doors – Reuters

10:00 AM

What are the social distancing rules and when will it end?

The most recent update from the Government means that people can no longer socialise in groups of more than six (the “rule of six”).

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

On September 22, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that the new restrictions could last for six months – taking them well beyond Christmas – “unless we palpably make progress”.

Find out more here.

09:49 AM

‘We may lose large chunks of the economy’

The boss of trade body UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, told MPs: “In hospitality, the question is going from whether we are endangering jobs to are we endangering the businesses who will employ people further down the line?

“There is a very real danger that we will lose large chunks of the economy – in hospitality we will have insolvent businesses, businesses going into administration and therefore that engine of growth for re-employing people will be lost for good,” the head of UKHospitality said.

“I think that’s what we need to be focusing on to make sure we support viable jobs for the future.”

09:37 AM

Elderly likely to get vaccine first, says Government adviser

A coronavirus vaccine will not offer a “sudden and complete solution” to the pandemic but is likely to be given to older people first, a Government adviser has said.

Professor Adam Finn from the University of Bristol, who is a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), which advises ministers on vaccines, said the evidence showed that the jab should be first given to older people, carers and those who are vulnerable, before other considerations such as people’s occupations were looked at.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Monday that the Government would follow JCVI advice on who to vaccinate.

Mr Hancock has distanced himself from comments made by the head of the UK vaccine taskforce, who said less than half of the UK population could be given a jab to protect against the virus.

Kate Bingham told the Financial Times (FT) it was “misguided” for people to think the whole population would be vaccinated.

She said: “It’s an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable.”

09:30 AM

Cases rise by more than half in a week

The number of weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has risen by more than half in seven days, official figures show.

There were 215 deaths registered in the week ending September 25 mentioning “novel coronavirus” – 2.2% of all deaths in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It was the third weekly rise in a row and represents a 54.6% increase in deaths involving Covid-19 from the previous week, when 139 deaths were registered.

The number of deaths involving coronavirus increased in eight of nine regions in England, and in Wales.

09:20 AM

Fifty-three workers at Bernard Matthews turkey plant test positive for coronavirus

The firm in Suffolk has brought in Covid-19 bus marshals on its free staff transport in response to the outbreak at the facility in Holton near Halesworth.

Around 1,000 staff work at the site and 125 of them have been tested for coronavirus, with the majority returning negative results.

Most of the workers who have tested positive live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas.

Thirty-nine of the 53 workers who tested positive are currently self-isolating, with the others having finished their period of self-isolation.

Food production at the facility has not been affected.

09:15 AM

Coronavirus-ravaged music industry to be debated in Parliament

The debate today comes as the industry steps up its calls for the Government to help the crippled sector.

Industry body UK Music says the pandemic has wiped out at least £900 million of the £1.1 billion live music was expected to contribute to the economy in 2020.

MPs are expected to use the debate to outline the perilous state of the music industry as well as the threat of closure hanging over venues.

Pre-Covid, the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion a year to the economy, sustained 190,000 jobs and generated exports of £2.7 billion a year, according to figures compiled by UK Music.

The shutdown has been devastating for the industry, including for the 72% in the sector who are self-employed – many of whom are not eligible for financial support according to UK Music.

The body is calling for more assistance. Many music events cannot break even due to Government restrictions on social distancing.

08:57 AM

Almost 60,000 people in UK had Covid mentioned on death certificate

More than 58,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.

Figures published on Tuesday by the ONS show that 52,943 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to September 25, and had been registered by October 3.

Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,257 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to September 27, while 901 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to September 25 (and had been registered up to September 30), according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Together, these figures mean that so far 58,101 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

08:49 AM

Labour calls for NHS support ahead of winter

Labour is calling for urgent action to ensure the NHS is properly equipped to deal with the winter amid warnings that staff shortages and failing equipment are putting patients at risk.

An analysis by the party of 114 NHS Trust risk registers found more than half the trusts in England reported risks classified as “significant” or “extreme” just as coronavirus cases are picking up again.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “In a normal winter, these risks would be worrying.

“In the coming winter, with the incompetent handling of the Test and Trace system leaving the NHS wide open and poorly supported, they take on a whole new meaning.

“We urgently need a commitment from ministers to fix the problems with Test and Trace and a timetable by which these issues will finally be sorted.”

08:34 AM

Families missing out on having children due to restrictions

Age-related restrictions for NHS fertility care mean that some families may miss out on conceiving children due to the coronavirus pandemic, charities have said.

Many NHS bodies around the country have restrictions on the age limit for women eligible for NHS-funded fertility care.

A coalition including charities and patient organisations has warned that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, some patients are falling outside of this threshold and missing out on their chance of creating a family.

They have called for health officials to “stop the clock” to prevent patients from falling outside the criteria during the pandemic.

The upper age limit ranges from 34 to 42 across England, the coalition said.

08:22 AM

NHS staff winter burnout concerns

Hospital bosses in England have raised concerns about staff burnout from the first wave of coronavirus ahead of the winter months.

Leaders warned of a “perfect storm” of workforce shortages, staff burnout, a second wave of Covid-19 and a difficult winter, according to a survey by NHS Providers.

Concerns were also raised by hospital bosses about funding for social care in their local area, and the impact of seasonal pressures over winter amid rising coronavirus cases.

Almost all surveyed (99%) said they were either extremely or moderately concerned about the current level of burnout across the workforce.

Just over a third of trust leaders (34%) said they were extremely concerned about the current level of burnout across their workforce, while 48% reported being moderately concerned and 17% slightly concerned.

08:09 AM

 John Bercow: We’ve had months of mixed and misleading messages

The former Commons speaker has condemned the Government over its handling of the pandemic and described the coronavirus Test and Trace system as “shambolic at best and non-existent at worst”.

“This is a Government that doesn’t believe in accountability,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Asked whether he thought Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the right man for the job, he replied that it is “in a sense a red herring”.

“If the Prime Minister is not going to demand the resignation of the (Education Secretary) after the exams fiasco over which he presided, if he’s not going to ask for the resignation of the Heath Secretary despite the fiasco over Covid which he has presided, manifestly he’s not going to resign himself,” he said.

“My critique of the Government is that they have had months and months and months of mixed and misleading messages and, frankly, doing press conferences offering scripted soundbites and televised addresses to the nation or taking to Twitter are no substitute for accountability.”

07:44 AM

Private renters suffering during pandemic

Around half of private renters did not feel safe in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, while a quarter say their housing situation made lockdown harder, according to research.

England is in the midst of a housing, health and economic emergency, with just 51% of private renters saying their home made them feel safe during the Covid-19 outbreak, housing charity Shelter found.

Its survey, of 5,177 adults between September 4 and 7, also found that a quarter of private renters said their overall housing situation made lockdown harder to cope with, and their mental health had worsened.

If extrapolated to population level, Shelter’s findings suggest 2.1 million people found lockdown more difficult due to their housing situation, while three million were living in poor conditions.

07:24 AM

Joe Biden criticises Trump for not taking virus seriously

“I would hope that the President, having gone through what he went through, would communicate the right lessons to the American people – masks matter,” he told NBC News.

“The only thing I heard from him was a tweet saying something like ‘don’t be so concerned about all this’ essentially. There’s a lot to be concerned about.

“I’ve been fastidious about social distancing and wearing a mask when I’m not socially distanced.”

07:13 AM

Chancellor Rishi Sunak: Priority is to protect jobs 

“My overall focus at the moment is trying to protect as many jobs as possible. What is happening in our economy at the moment is significant and severe, many people are losing their jobs,” he told Sky News.

“So the focus of my intention in the short term is doing what we can to support as much employment as possible.

“Over time we need to have sustainable public finances. That is important to me, it is important to the Government, but in the short term the best way to have long-term sustainable public finances is to protect as much employment as possible.”

Mr Sunak has defended the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants saying it was “better than having places closed”.

07:11 AM

Paris-style bar and restaurant closure may be needed to keep schools open, warns Prof Neil Ferguson  

“Whilst we don’t think primary schools are a major vector of transmission, older teenagers do transmit the virus. We don’t yet know if we can control this virus with high schools open. If we want to keep schools open we have to reduce contacts in other areas of society by more. In other areas we may have to give up more to keep them open,” the Imperial College London epidemiologist told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Asked if bars and restaurants should be closed entirely, like in Paris, he said: “We see from the contact tracing data that attending bars, restaurants, hospitality venues is a risk. We may need to consider those measures, particularly in hotspot areas where case numbers are increasing fast.

Drinkers in Paris - Kiran Ridley /Getty Images Europe
Drinkers in Paris – Kiran Ridley /Getty Images Europe

“The death rate has gone down, we know how to treat cases better, hospitals are less stressed and we have new drugs. But admissions to hospitals and deaths are all tracking cases. They’re at a lower level but they’re doubling every two weeks.

“We just cannot have that continue indefinitely. The NHS will be overwhelmed again. If we allow the current trends to continue, modelling indicates there’s that risk.”

Universities UK president Professor Julia Buckingham said that the vast majority of students are being “looked after extremely well” by their universities during local lockdown measures.

07:03 AM

End of 10pm curfew in sight as dozens of Tories prepare to rebel

Boris Johnson’s 10pm coronavirus curfew for pubs, restaurants and bars could be thrown out after it emerged that dozens of Tory MPs are prepared to vote against the measure on Wednesday night.

The rebel Conservatives, due to meet at lunchtime on Tuesday to plot their next steps, have been emboldened by comments from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, questioning the measure.

A bar in Soho, London - Victoria Jones /PA
A bar in Soho, London – Victoria Jones /PA

Tory backbenchers have also been encouraged by Labour’s refusal to say whether it will support the curfew until it has seen the scientific evidence that underlies it.  A Labour decision on how to whip the vote is not expected until Wednesday.

There were rumours in Westminster on Monday that Government whips might even pull the curfew vote on Tuesday in order to allow more time to work on bringing the rebels to heel.

Read the full story here.

06:41 AM

Almost 40% of psychiatric ward patients infected with Covid-19

At least 38% of older adults in psychiatric wards in London were infected with Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic, a new study has suggested.

University College London (UCL) researchers found that 15% of infected patients (19 people) in the mental health wards died from the disease.

According to the study, psychiatric wards were slow to receive tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), which may have increased the mortality rates.

The research looked at data from all 344 hospital patients of five mental health trusts in London who were either over 65 or had young onset dementia in March and April 2020.

More than half (56%) had dementia while most others had either a psychotic illness or depression.

06:23 AM

Police hand single offender four Covid fines totaling £800 for repeatedly throwing parties in Bolton

The single offender in Bolton now has four Fixed Penalty Notices by Greater Manchester Police, with an accompanying fine totaling £800.

Officers were called to reports of a large gathering at the same property in Pentland Terrace, Bolton on four separate occasions.

The last report of a party at the property was at 2am on Sunday 4 October 2020, the force aid.

Greater Manchester Police said they had issued a total of 400 FPNs for breaches of Covid 19 legislation following a busy weekend for officers – with 85 issued between Friday to Sunday.

Read the full story here.

06:15 AM

Charging migrants to use NHS hospital services is putting lives at risk, warn health experts

Doctors of the World UK (DOTW), the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and Lancet Migration – a research arm of the medical journal – have launched a campaign to call for “universal and equitable access” to NHS services during the Covid-19 pandemic and afterwards.

So far more than 20 organisations have joined the call for the Government to “immediately suspend the NHS charging regulations, which pose a serious risk to public health and are causing unnecessary suffering and death among some of those in the most vulnerable situations in the UK, such as destitute migrants.”

The group accused the Government of failing to act so far, arguing the change is “urgently needed” to ensure checks are not carried out and data is not shared to make sure no-one avoids seeking health care for fear of immigration enforcement.

Migrants from Afghanistan walk ashore in Lesbos, Greece - Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg
Migrants from Afghanistan walk ashore in Lesbos, Greece – Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

Launching the campaign, the group said: “The Government cannot afford to ignore the experts and wealth of evidence any longer.

“Failure to include migrant and refugee populations in the UK’s Covid-19 response at this critical point in time means any public health measures to control the virus are inequitable and ineffective.

“The Covid-19 pandemic shows clearly that nobody is protected unless everybody is protected.”

05:57 AM

How the latest fiasco hit the UK’s Test and Trace system

Ministers have blamed technical blunders after almost 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases became lost in their various aged computer systems. 

The fiasco occurred when an Excel spreadsheet, used in outdated software being employed by Public Health England (PHE), was unable to cope with high numbers of cases. 

As a result – and as infection numbers soared – thousands of positive cases were automatically thrown off the database when they should have been passed to the Test and Trace system. 

Labour said as many as 48,000 contacts of positive cases may not have been traced, with “thousands blissfully unaware” that they had been exposed to Covid-19 and could now be spreading it. 

Read the full story here.

05:42 AM

1 in 5 less likely to buy a home due to lockdown

One in five people are less likely to buy a home in the near future than they would have been before the coronavirus lockdown started, but one in 10 are now more likely according to a survey.

Some 20% of people surveyed by PwC in September said they are now less likely to purchase a home over the next couple of years compared to their situation in February 2020.

Concerns about the labour market and personal job security, recent income losses and uncertainty about the future direction of house prices are weighing on people’s willingness to commit to buying a home.

But 10% of people surveyed said they are more likely to do so. This may be partly due to a stamp duty holiday which is currently in place.

05:32 AM

Hospitals face ‘tsunami of cancellations’

Surgeons are calling for hospital beds to be “ring-fenced” for planned operations, to avoid a “tsunami of cancellations” due to rising Covid-19 cases.

A survey for the Royal College of Surgeons of England found most surgeons thought the NHS could not meet its targets to get surgery back to pre-pandemic levels.

Sir Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS in England, wrote to NHS trusts in July saying that, in September, they should hit at least 80% of their last year’s activity for both overnight planned procedures and for outpatient or day case procedures.

In October, this figure should rise to 90%, the letter said.

But the Royal College of Surgeons said its analysis showed trusts were not hitting the target, with issues including surgeons being forced to wait for coronavirus test results and a lack of access to operating theatre space.

05:17 AM

Sri Lanka confirms cluster in 300 factory workers

Sri Lanka on Tuesday confirmed a cluster of more than 300 garment factory workers infected with the coronavirus, days after reporting its first community infection in two months.

The health ministry said all 321 people infected are co-workers of the first patient, who was diagnosed at a hospital two days ago and was from the densely populated Western province.

The cluster in the suburbs of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo was identified despite the government saying it has successfully controlled the spreading of the virus.

The country has reported 3,471 patients with 13 deaths. Of the total patients, 3,259 have recovered.

Women walk past a mural painting in Minuwangoda on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo - AFP
Women walk past a mural painting in Minuwangoda on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo – AFP

05:12 AM

How bungled Excel spreadsheets have fed disaster since 1800 BC

When the affair of the London Whale became public in 2012, it sent shockwaves through the global financial system. Senior traders at JP Morgan Chase, scrambling to mitigate existing losses, had made a series of complex financial bets so big that they had visibly shaken the market.

In the end, the bank lost more than $6bn (£4.6bn) and paid almost $1m in fines. It was, as long-serving chief executive Jamie Dimon said later, “the stupidest and most-embarrassing situation I have ever been a part of”. And it might not have happened if not for a badly-written Excel spreadsheet.

Today, Britain’s health services appear to have suffered an Excel error even more consequential. We do not yet know how much suffering, or even death, the temporary loss of 16,000 coronavirus case records by Public Health England (PHE) – and the resulting distortion of England’s Covid-19 statistics – may have caused. 

Read the full story

Read more: How the latest fiasco hit the UK’s Test and Trace system

04:57 AM

India’s infections near 6.7 million after death toll passes 100,000

India’s total coronavirus cases rose by 61,267 in the last 24 hours to 6.69 million on Tuesday morning, data from the health ministry showed.

Deaths from Covid-19 infections rose by 884 to 103,569, the ministry said.

India’s death toll rose past 100,000 on Saturday, only the third country in the world to reach that bleak milestone, after the United States and Brazil, and its epidemic shows no sign of abating.

Last week, India further eased restrictions and permitted states to open schools and movie theatres.

A woman is assisted to walk at a government- run hospital in Jammu, India - AP
A woman is assisted to walk at a government- run hospital in Jammu, India – AP

04:30 AM

Malaysia and Myanmar emerging as Asia’s newest hotspots

Malaysia and Myanmar have emerged as Asia’s two newest coronavirus hotspots, while Indonesia and the Philippines are still struggling to control the spread of Covid-19.

Elsewhere in Asia, other countries are seeing a return to normal, including Vietnam and Japan and South Korea who are expected to soon resume two-way business travel.

Malaysia currently has 12, 813 cases after reporting record daily cases last week, partly because of clusters linked to an election in its second-largest state of Sabah.

In Myanmar, coronavirus infections have soared, and a record 41 deaths were recorded on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 412 from only seven a month ago.

The toll of 18,781 is now the third-highest in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and the Philippines, and both deaths and case numbers are doubling more quickly than anywhere in the world. Myanmar also faces nationwide elections next month. 

A medical staff member works at a quarantine center amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in Yangon, Myanmar - Reuters
A medical staff member works at a quarantine center amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in Yangon, Myanmar – Reuters

04:09 AM

Mexico reports record number of deaths and infections

Mexico on Monday reported a sharp increase in the daily number of coronavirus infections and deaths, breaking previous records due to what the government said was a change in methodology.

The Health Ministry reported a jump of 2,789 deaths and 28,115 cases, far outstripping the prior daily records of 1,092 deaths and 9,556 cases. Total confirmed cases now stand at 789,780, with a reported death toll of 81,877.

The Health Ministry said the record jump includes additional cases and deaths that date back to June.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the public face of the government’s coronavirus strategy, said Monday’s increase was a one-off event. He said critics would use the figures to attack the government.

Coronavirus live map cases tracker
Coronavirus live map cases tracker

03:56 AM

What Trump’s return to White House tells us about his campaign plans 

It could have been the trailer for an action movie. Donald Trump cast himself as a hero returning from battle in a clip of his dramatic return to the White House shared with the American people on Monday night.

The 37 second video, accompanied by an upbeat soundtrack, showed the US president leaving Marine One, striding purposefully across the White House lawn and up the steps to the  Truman Balcony.

Against this iconic background, he saluted the departing helicopter and, despite still being treated for coronavirus, ripped off his face mask before stepping into the White House. The message to the country was clear: the president intends to return to business as usual.

Read the full analysis by Rozina Sabur in Washington

02:48 AM

Trump’s attitude alarms medical experts

Donald Trump’s nonchalant message about not fearing the virus has alarmed infectious disease experts.

“We have to be realistic in this: Covid is a complete threat to the American population,” Dr. David Nace of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said of Mr Trump’s comment.

“Most of the people aren’t so lucky as the president,” with an in-house medical unit and access to experimental treatments, added Nace, an expert on infections in older adults.

“It’s an unconscionable message,” agreed Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread.”

Likewise, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said during an NBC town hall Monday night that he was glad Trump seemed to be recovering well, “but there’s a lot to be concerned about – 210,000 people have died. I hope no one walks away with the message that it’s not a problem.” 

01:01 AM

Biden offers details of ‘national mask mandate’

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is detailing his approach on what he’s called a “national mask mandate” as he campaigns against President Donald Trump.

Mr Biden told NBC News during a town hall on Monday night that he doesn’t believe a president can impose a national mandate nationwide. But Mr Biden says as president he’d require masks on federal property, an executive action with wide reach across the country.

Mr Biden says he’d use the bully pulpit of the presidency to urge all governors, mayors and county executives to use their authority to require masks in their jurisdictions. Mr Biden says he’d call governors to the White House to talk about Covid-19, though he adds that he knows not all of them would come.

12:52 AM

Trump urges Americans to ‘get out there’ despite virus

President Donald Trump emerged on Monday from four days in a U.S. military hospital where he was treated for Covid-19 with a video message to Americans to “get out there” and not be afraid of coronavirus.

Though his doctors said he still was not “out of the woods,” Mr Trump appeared maskless and defiant in a video released shortly after he returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center.

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” Mr Trump said. “We’re going back, we’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front. … Don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there, be careful.”

12:24 AM

Vice presidential debate to include plexiglass barrier after outbreak

Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by a plexiglass barrier during their debate on Wednesday in an effort to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission, the commission overseeing the event said.

The debate, the only one scheduled between the vice presidential candidates, is scheduled for Salt Lake City, six days after President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Both Ms Harris and Mr Pence have tested negative in recent days, with the vice president working from home over the weekend instead of at the White House. A number of White House staffers and prominent Republicans, including three US senators, have tested positive.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said the two candidates would be seated more than 12 feet (3.7 m) apart. There will be a limited number of guests at the debate, all of whom will undergo testing, and anyone who does not wear a mask will be “escorted out”, the commission said.

Read more: US election debates schedule: Dates, times and how to watch Kamala Harris vs Mike Pence

Read more: Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tests positive

12:19 AM

Trump’s short flight back to White House

12:13 AM

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