Coronavirus latest news: England and Wales saw 38 per cent spike in excess deaths during first wave

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England, Wales and Scotland are among nations with the highest numbers of excess deaths as a result of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study has found. The research, led by Imperial College London, analysed weekly death data from 19 European countries, Australia, and New Zealand, between mid-February and end of May. The results, published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed England and Wales and Spain experienced the largest increase in mortality, with nearly 100 excess deaths per 100,000 people.

According to the researchers, this is an increase of 37% for England and Wales and 38% for Spain, when compared to how many deaths would have been expected without the pandemic. In Scotland, the excess death deaths rate was 84 per 100,000 people during the first wave, which is a 28% increase from average expected deaths. Elsewhere, Liverpool could surpass the peak of its first coronavirus wave within 10 days, and its hospital’s intensive care beds are already at 90 per cent capacity, according to a council leader.

Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, said: “Our intensive, critical care beds are filling up very fast.” Follow the latest updates below.

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10:49AM

Arlene Foster announces new restrictions in Northern Ireland

Pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools will shut for two weeks over the half-term Halloween break in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, First Minister Arlene Foster said.

10:36AM

Vaccine expected early next year

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said it was “reasonable” to work on a timeline of having a Covid-19 vaccine by the early stages of next year. He told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee: “There is not just one vaccine, there are multiple vaccines being trialled around the world and they will have setbacks at different stages.

“I think the overall trajectory is the same and most scientists agree that it is a reasonable enough scenario to think we will have one towards the beginning of next year, and clearly there are challenges around rollout.”

Oliver Dowden is optimistic about a vaccine coming soonCredit:Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

He said the situation would improve by next spring, even without a vaccine or improvements in quick-result mass testing. Mr Dowden said: “It is the case anyway with the disease we will get to the point in the spring where we come out of a difficult period, which is people being indoors and the ‘flu season.”

9:47AM

‘Inevitable’ that Lancashire will move into Tier 3

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver told BBC Breakfast: “With the high rates of infection in most parts of the county area it’s inevitable we’re going to move into Tier 3. “It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy.”

The Conservative councillor said he did not feel the county was being “railroaded” into the measures. He added: “It’s an inescapable fact and the very, very firm advice that we’re getting from our directors of public health is that closing the pubs and bars will not, in itself, get on top of the virus, so we will need to take other measures in addition to that and in order to do that effectively we need more resources. “That’s the push that we’re making with Government at the moment.”

“It’s inevitable that we’re going to move into tier three”
Leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver tells #BBCBreakfast they’re working with government to put together a package to support businesses when it happens.https://t.co/5qZWZC9Nrh pic.twitter.com/wcAlHsiN5p

— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 14, 2020
9:33AM

Circuit breaker would ‘buy time’

Professor Matt Keeling, one of the scientists behind a non-peer-reviewed paper claiming a circuit-breaker lockdown could save lives, said the “stricter the restrictions, the greater the impact”.

A circuit-breaker would “buy us more time” in the struggle to reduce the rising number of infections,” he said. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we’ve got at the moment is a situation where most areas of the country are facing an exponential rise in cases, and what a circuit-breaker or precautionary break would do is drive down R for that short two-week period. “It would effectively bide us more time to put other controls in place.

“One of the ways of thinking about this is it kind of takes us back in time to when cases where lower, and therefore gives us opportunities to do other things, it reduces the number of cases as well as leading to a similar decline in hospitalisations and also deaths over a short period.” Asked about the numbers of lives that could be saved as a result of a circuit-breaker, he said: “We looked at a range of different scenarios, from a relatively low growth rate going forward where we might sort of reduce deaths by a third between now and new year, to some extreme scenarios, which I think are the ones that have been quoted in the papers, which really were if we don’t do anything between now and the new year.” Put to him that a circuit-breaker “simply postpones” deaths, Prof Keeling said he “completely” agreed with that but added: “We stress that this is only a short-term measure – it buys us time to put other measures in place, but at the moment we do need that time.”

What is a circuit breaker?9:06AM

Mayor of Liverpool says party images “shame” the city

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson is not happy about the scenes in his city last night.

People were partying in the street showing little regard for social distancing, in a last hurrah before strict ‘Tier three’ restrictions were brought in. He has taken to Twitter to voice his displeasure.

These pictures Shame our City, attacking our brave Police Officers is unacceptable.Our Health Service is creaking,300 in Hospital&30 people dead in week ?ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures. https://t.co/WIW12AuAhr

— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) October 14, 2020
9:03AM

Wales has supressed virus better than other parts of the UK

First Minister Mark Drakeford said coronavirus had been more “effectively suppressed” in Wales than in some other parts of the UK.

“But we want to act now in order to prevent the worst from happening, to give us a better chance of getting through the rest of the autumn and the winter, and if a circuit-breaker is the right way to do it then that is what we will do,” he told Sky News.”We’re very actively talking about and preparing for that should it be necessary.”Mr Drakeford said “detailed work” was ongoing to allow Wales to take the same decision as Northern Ireland if figures continued to go “in the wrong direction” this week.”I’m not announcing it today but I do want people to know we are planning very seriously, so if we do need to do it we’ll be in a position to do it and in a position to do it quickly,” he said.
8:58AM

Wales preparing for ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown

The Welsh Government is “very actively talking about and preparing for” a circuit-breaker lockdown in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. Mr Drakeford told Sky News that “detailed planning” was under way to establish what measures would be put in place during a circuit-breaker, how long it would last for, how schools would be treated and how to come out of it.

He said comments by Therese Coffey about a circuit-breaker not being the right move “fly in the face of the advice of Sage”. “I don’t think it is sensible for the UK Government to dismiss that idea, they ought to sit down with everybody, look at it seriously and then make a proper decision,” Mr Drakeford said.

First Minister for Wales @MarkDrakeford tells @KayBurley he is ‘actively preparing’ for a circuit break lockdown, but adds he’s ‘not sure’ Wales is at that point. He says: “If figures continue to rise, we will have to take further action.”#KayBurley: https://t.co/e0lJ4H0ZJY pic.twitter.com/1M0eK6Bm5N

— SkyNews (@SkyNews) October 14, 2020
8:53AM

Hospitals stopping routine operations to deal with virus patients

Liverpool’s intensive care units are more than 90% full, with the city soon expected to reach levels of bed occupancy seen during the first wave of Covid-19, a city council leader has said.

Liverpool City Region is the only part of England under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions, with the closure of pubs and bars and bans on socialising. Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, said intensive care capacity in the city was over 90% full, with Covid-19 patients making up an increasing proportion of patients. “It has become clear that the intensity of the demand on hospital services here in Liverpool is crowding out anything other than dealing with Covid,” he said.

On Tuesday, other hospitals in the UK announced they were having to stop routine operations to deal with Covid-19 patients.

Pressure is already increasing on hospital staffCredit:REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said it was temporarily pausing non-critical planned surgery at Derriford Hospital, although day case procedures are still going ahead. Victoria Eaton, Leeds director of public health, said hospitals in the city were “very close” to having to strip back non-Covid services, and areas may struggle for staff to fill Nightingale hospitals put on standby. In Northern Ireland, Belfast Health Trust has cancelled all elective procedures this week to cope with a rise of Covid-19 cases being admitted to hospitals.

On Monday, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Steve Warburton told staff in a memo that it had reached a “critical point”. He said the trust was scaling back planned procedures, adding it was “taking a phased approach to reducing our elective programme, while exploring options with other providers to maintain some of this work in alternative locations”.

8:22AM

“Sage is the place for scientists not business people”  

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said she did not think a circuit-breaker lockdown was the right move. Asked on LBC radio whether there was appetite in the Conservative Party for a two to three-week lockdown, she said: “No, I don’t.

“The reason being, Parliament has only just voted last night for this national approach of the three tiers with much stronger local measures where they are needed. “And we need to take communities with us right across the country in having some of the national measures, but frankly the Labour Party was saying 19 out of 20 areas in these lockdowns haven’t made any difference, now they want to see a national lockdown.

Ms Coffey insisted a full lockdown was not the right approachCredit:Aaron Chown/PA

“I don’t think it is the right approach. Right now we need to allow this chance for the localised interventions to really have an effect so that together we can be focused on saving lives and livelihoods.”

When asked if business leaders should be added to Sage – the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – Ms Coffey said: “The Prime Minister is advised by a number of different people – ministers and also officials – in order to make sure he takes that balanced approach. “And as this approach is about having social isolation that still allows people to go to school, hospital, work that means we keep the focus as well on economic freedoms, so it is that balance of lives versus livelihoods. “Sage is the place for scientists not business people.”

8:11AM

Therese Coffey disappointed by Liverpool parties last night

Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions says she is disappointed by images and videos of people hosting street parties in Liverpool last night.

“I’m very saddened by it,” she told Kay Burley on Sky News. “It’s the city where I grew up, it’s a great city, and I’m saddened by the closure today of those pubs and bars where you can’t get a meal or don’t have a meal with what you’re going to drink. “It is a big change for people but frankly I think it is irresponsible, I think it’s really disappointing and it’s gatherings like that which don’t help in any way to bring down the escalation of the virus.”

Last drinks in Liverpool as new restrictions come into force tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/y0INzShJ6t

— Simon Cullen (@Simon_Cullen) October 13, 2020
7:39AM

Lockdown set for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is set for a period of intensified coronavirus restrictions after executive ministers agreed to closures of schools, pubs and restaurants.

It is understood that pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways, while schools will close for two, one of which will cover the half-term Halloween break. The moves do not amount to a full scale lockdown similar to that imposed during the first wave of the virus, but the measures nevertheless mark a significant ramping up of the administration’s response to spiralling infection rates. It is understood retail outlets will remain open, as will churches and gyms for individual training.

The restrictions were agreed after a stop-start meeting of the Stormont executive that extended past midnight and into this morning.

A formal announcement is expected to be made during a special sitting of the Assembly in Belfast later on this morning  Credit:Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye / PA

A formal announcement is expected to be made during a special sitting of the Assembly in Belfast later on this morning. It is expected that most sporting activities will be limited to elite athletes for the four weeks. The current restrictions on household mixing are expected to remain as they are.

That would means no mixing of households in private dwellings, with exceptions including those joined in social bubbles, and gatherings in the gardens of private dwellings limited to six people from no more than two households. It is anticipated that closures of hospitality outlets will come into force on Friday October 16. The other measures would be rolled out from Monday October 19.

7:25AM

Scenes in Liverpool

As Liverpool headed into Tier three restrictions last night, these were the scenes in the city centre.

Doctors in the city are reported to be “disgusted, angry and disappointed”.

WATCH: Scenes in Liverpool city centre as people take to the streets just hours before the city region goes into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions. I wonder how @MetroMayorSteve and @mayor_anderson feel about this. @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/mYUN9AsBGy

— Inzamam Rashid (@inzyrashid) October 13, 2020

 Tier three means: 

  • Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions are not allowed
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space.

    The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.

  • People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.

7:04AM

Morning roundup

A “circuit-breaker” lockdown could save thousands of lives by the end of the year, scientists advising the Government have calculated, as pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to impose stricter restrictions. As the three-tier Covid alert level system comes into force across England, the Prime Minister is facing calls to go further by introducing a fortnight of nationwide curbs to bring the coronavirus resurgence under control. Downing Street is understood to be keeping the idea on the table, after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said a two to three-week national lockdown over the October half term was needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.

A paper by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reportedly calculates that more than 7,000 lives could be saved if schools are closed and people are ordered to stay at home from October 24 for two weeks.

Boris Johnson has not ruled out a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdownCredit:Jonathan Brady/PA 

In other developments: – The UK recorded the highest daily death figure in four months, with a further 143 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday. – Mr Johnson suffered a major Tory backbench rebellion over the 10pm hospitality curfew, amid a growing backlash against Government coronavirus restrictions.

– Tory MP Chris Green, who represents Bolton West, resigned as a ministerial aide over local restrictions, saying the “attempted cure is worse than the disease”. – London mayor Sadiq Khan said that it is inevitable the capital will pass a “trigger point” to enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the “next few days”.

6:54AM

Romania introduces more restrictions to curb infections

Romania’s centrist minority government introduced new progressive restrictions to stem a rise in new coronavirus infections and will extend a state of alert until mid-November, authorities said late on Tuesday. Romania has been reporting daily infection rates of over 3,000 for the past few days, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 160,461 since the pandemic reached the country in late February.

The government will ban all indoor and outdoor private events such as weddings and baptisms from Oct.

15, and will make wearing protective masks in all public spaces mandatory in towns where the two-week average rate of infections exceeds 3 cases per 1,000 people.

A woman shouts holding a religious icon during a protest against the use of face masks and the protection measures against Covid-19 infections in BucharestCredit:AP6:47AM

Czech Republic reports more than 8,000 daily cases for second time

he Czech Republic recorded 8,325 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, its second-highest daily tally since the pandemic started, Health Ministry data showed on Wednesday. The country of 10.7 million has seen a five-fold rise in cases since the start of September. Since March, it has reported 129,747 cases, of which 59,901 have recovered.

Deaths have climbed to 1,106, from 696 on Oct.

1.  Read more:  Second wave – How the rest of Europe is dealing with an alarming rise in cases

People stand in front of a closed pub in Prague, Czech Republic, after the government decided to close restaurants, bars and clubs in new restrictionsCredit:MARTIN DIVISEK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock6:24AM

Bulgaria hits daily record for new cases

Bulgaria reported 785 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, setting a daily record for a fourth time in a week as infections keep rising, official data showed. The Balkan country now has 25,774 confirmed cases, including 923 deaths.

A total of 1,307 people are hospitalised and 63 are in intensive care, data from the coronavirus information platform showed.

6:18AM

China tests 4.2m people after outbreak in port city

China says it has carried out more than 4.2 million tests in the northern port city of Qingdao, with no new cases of coronavirus found among the almost 2 million sets of results received. The city has reported a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital. China on Wednesday reported 27 new cases, including 13 new cases of local transmission and 14 cases brought from outside the country.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 85,611 confirmed cases.

A health worker taking a swab from a resident as part of a mass testing program following a new outbreak in QingdaoCredit:AFP6:07AM

Mozambique’s health minister tests positive

Mozambique’s health minister, Armindo Tiago, has tested positive for Covid-19, he said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that he was well, however, showing no symptoms, and in isolation at home.

“I am infected, but not sick,” Tiago said. “No one in this world can say that they are immune to the new coronavirus.”

The southeast African nation has reported 10,258 infections, with 73 deaths. 

5:18AM

Outbreak at nursing hospital in Busan

More than 50 patients and workers at a nursing hospital in the South Korean port city of Busan have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and one patient has already died, the Yonhap news agency reported. The outbreak has highlighted the enormous challenge of keeping the virus under control even in a nation with globally-lauded pandemic prevention measures in place. The mass infections were discovered after an assistant nurse in her 50s was confirmed to be positive on Tuesday, prompting the authorities to conduct the coronavirus tests for all 262 patients and staff.

The hospital has now been put into isolation. On Tuesday, South Korea introduced a new law requiring anyone using public transport or visiting a medical centre or care facility to wear a face mask or risk a fine. 

Visitors wearing face masks look at a screen displaying precautions against the coronavirus in Seoul, South KoreaCredit:AP5:07AM

How the rest of Europe is dealing with an alarming rise in cases

Governments across the continent are bringing in new, tougher measures to try to contain the second wave of infections. More than 700,000 new cases were reported in Europe last week, an increase of 34 per cent compared to the week before, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

Deaths were up 16 per cent in the region last week compared to the previous week. Italy on Tuesday adopted an array of new measures to combat an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with around 5,000 being reported each day. Read the full story

Covid-19 restrictions4:49AM

Australia delays easing restrictions after spike in cases

Several coronavirus clusters have emerged in Australia’s two most populous states, officials said on Wednesday, prompting the biggest to delay easing some restrictions.

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was concerned the state was on the cusp of another major community transmission, after 11 new cases were locally acquired and a cluster appeared in the southwest Sydney suburb of Lakemba. She said the easing of some social restrictions involving restaurants and weddings would now be put on hold.

“We were going to further ease restrictions in relation to hospitality venues,” Ms Berejiklian said. “I’m still hopeful we can … As long as more people come along and get tested.”

Victoria state logged five deaths and seven new coronavirus cases overnight.

A second and third regional flare up is threatening a hoped for easing of harsh lockdown restrictions in place since mid-July. Three cases in the town of Shepparton, north east of Melbourne, were seeded by a truck driver travelling up from the city two weeks earlier who had not fully disclosed his travel to contract tracers until well after the event.

A social distancing sign is displayed outside Hotel Hollywood in SydneyCredit:Bloomberg2:21AM

Oxfam says international response to famine ‘dangerously inadequate’

The international community’s response to global food insecurity is “dangerously inadequate”, the NGO Oxfam said in a new report on Tuesday, published just days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN’s World Food Programme.

“The threat of ‘Covid famines’ and widespread extreme hunger is setting off every alarm bell within the international community, but so far sluggish funding is hampering humanitarian agencies’ efforts to deliver urgent assistance to people in need,” Oxfam wrote.”The international community’s response to global food insecurity has been dangerously inadequate,” said the report titled “Later Will Be Too Late”.

The NGO complained that funding for 55 million people facing extreme hunger in seven worst-affected countries – Afghanistan, Somalia, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen – was “abysmally low”. Read more: Food shortages in Afghanistan as coronavirus worsens country’s humanitarian crisis

A young woman sits in front of her shelter in Lukurunyang, South Sudan. Flooding has affected well over a million people across East Africa, another calamity threatening food security on top of a historic locust outbreak and the coronavirus pandemicCredit: Medecins Sans Frontieres2:06AM

World Bank approves £12b vaccine fund for developing countries

The World Bank said on Tuesday that it approved £12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatment. The financing “aims to support vaccination of up to a billion people”, the bank said in a statement. The money is part of an overall World Bank Group  package of up to £160 billion through June 2021 designed to help developing countries battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This financing package helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines,” the statement read.”It will also provide financing and technical support so that developing countries can prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners.”

Read more: Covid-19 to blow £28 trillion hole in world economy

12:39AM

Revellers take to the streets as last orders are called in Liverpool

 Scores of young people crowded into Liverpool city centre on Tuesday night ahead of strict tier-three restrictions which come into force on Wednesday.

Social media posts showed revellers failing to social distance as they danced in the streets and crowded outside pubs, which must shut unless they can operate as restaurants. Health officials warned that the number of Covid-19 patients in the city’s hospitals could surpass the levels of the first peak within 10 days.  Read the full story

Read more: Postcard from Liverpool – ‘We’re facing a long, dark winter of cancellations ahead’

WATCH: Scenes in Liverpool city centre as people take to the streets just hours before the city region goes into Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.

I wonder how @MetroMayorSteve and @mayor_anderson feel about this. @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/mYUN9AsBGy

— Inzamam Rashid (@inzyrashid) October 13, 2020
12:04AM

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