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Canada

COVID plunges us into a long haze

Our current war on COVID-19 is marked, as in all wars, by a lack of information about us, our adversary, our capabilities and our goals.

For the Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz, this state of mind, in the middle of a fight, would be like a fog of war: “The great uncertainty [liée au manque] information in times of war is of particular difficulty because all actions must to some extent be planned with a slight gray area which […] like the effect of fog or moonlight gives things exaggerated or unnatural dimensions. “

Our elected officials

Last March, the pandemic plunged our elected officials into the fog in two stages, three movements.

Our governments have started to act unnatural at a time when transparency and consistency are normally required. They are, in good conscience, ready to turn corners in the name of the pandemic.

For example, the lack of debate leads to mistakes like the infamous $ 1000 for travelers who have to quarantine. A loophole that could have been avoided had the bill not been approved in just five days.

It is even made almost impossible for the opposition, in both the National Assembly and the House of Commons, to ask questions about the measures put in place without being accused of being conspirators.

Return of the sun

Someday we’ll see the sun again and come out of this dormant state. Chances are it will happen when the vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated.

However, when we take a closer look at vaccination, our governments again seem to be in the dark.

But this fog is to their advantage, as the big losers are mostly the opposition parties at the moment.

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Headline USA

PM plunges England into even TOUGHER lockdown than March

The brutal new lockdown for England 

  • The measures will come into force when the legal regulations are laid, probably tomorrow, but the PM urged people to follow them immediately. 
  • Primary and secondary schools will be shut from tomorrow until at least February half-term, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in.
  • Nurseries can stay open. 
  • University students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while exams are said to be unlikely to go ahead as planned. 
  • GCSE and A-Level exams unlikely to go ahead as planned, subject to discussion between DfE and Ofqual. 
  • Non-essential retail, personal care, gyms and all hospitality are being ordered to close across the country. 
  • Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. 
  • Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible. 
  • Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place. 
  • The public must only leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help. 
  • Childcare bubbles and support bubbles stay in place
  • Children from split parents can go between homes
  • Children’s playgrounds remain open. 
  • Elite sports will continue, as can PE lessons and sports clubs for critical worker kids. 
  • Only ‘essential’ international travel is allowed. 
  • Free school meals vouchers will be available during the lockdown. 
  • Driving lessons can continue. 

Boris Johnson plunged England into a national lockdown in some ways even more brutal than last March tonight in a desperate bid to keep the mutant coronavirus at bay while vaccines are rolled out.

Just a day after he urged parents to send their children back, PM declared in a sombre address from No10 that primary and secondary schools will be shut from tomorrow until at least February half-term, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in.

University students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while exams will not go ahead as planned. Nurseries can stay open.

Non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools are being ordered to close across the country. 

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible. Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place. 

The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help.  

The extraordinary third national squeeze will come into effect as soon as regulations are made tomorrow, but Mr Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now. MPs will get a vote on them on Wednesday when Parliament is recalled, although there is no prospect of them being defeated. Aides believe there is little chance of them being lifted for at least seven weeks. 

With his hands clasped together and seated behind a desk in Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic. It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out.’

He said it would not be ‘possible or fair’ for exams to go ahead this summer as normal.

‘The weeks ahead will be the hardest but I really do believe that we are reaching the end of the struggle,’ he said, pledging that by mid-February the top four categories on the vaccine distribution list will have had their first jabs. 

But he admitted that he could only give assurance that the situation will improve assuming that ‘our understanding of the virus does not change again’. 

Mr Johnson said he was left with no option after being confronted with dire figures by science chiefs today. 

Hospital patients with coronavirus had risen by 40 per cent over a week, and are now higher than at the peak of the first wave. 

The scale of the problem was underlined as the latest grim daily tally was released, with 58,784 new cases – a 42 per cent rise on last Monday. 

It means the UK has passed the milestone of 50,000 infections every day for a week, suggesting that the easing of restrictions at Christmas helped fuel the outbreak.

Department of Health chiefs also posted 407 more deaths, up just 14 per cent on the figure recorded last week. But it can take infected patients several weeks to fall severely ill and succumb to the illness, meaning fatalities have yet to reach their peak and will continue to rise. The UK recorded almost 1,000 deaths twice last week, in grisly tolls not seen since the darkest days of the spring.

Nicola Sturgeon announced a drastic crackdown in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, with a legally-enforced stay at home order from midnight and schools north of the border set to stay closed until February.

Even the Scilly Isles has not escaped, shifting from Tier 1 straight to full lockdown when the restrictions come into force. 

No10 sources insist that the government wants to go back into a tiering system when the virus subsides and vaccinations make it possible.      

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the crackdown was ‘essential’ and his MPs will support them.  

Senior Tory MPs had joined the Opposition in called for the introduction of another national lockdown. But the idea of hardening the restrictions is likely to spark fury from other Conservatives, who insist the country’s experience of the pandemic shows that lockdowns do not work and are crippling the economy. 

On another grim day of coronavirus chaos:

  • Matt Hancock said he is ‘incredibly worried’ about a new South African variant of coronavirus that experts fear might not be caught by the current crop of vaccines;
  • Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old retired maintenance manager from Oxford, has become the first to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine outside of trials;
  • Teaching unions launched a concerted bid to shut down all classrooms despite Boris Johnson’s plea to stay open, leaving millions of parents to begin homeschooling their children for at least a fortnight with often only a few hours’ notice;
  • The latest data show a 33 per cent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and January 2. 

In an address from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘Our hopsitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic. It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out.’

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended today that the Covid-19 alert level be reduced

Jeremy Hunt warned that mutant Covid has put the NHS under 'off the scale' pressure compared to normal winters and the government 'cannot afford to wait' even one more day

Jeremy Hunt warned that mutant Covid has put the NHS under ‘off the scale’ pressure compared to normal winters and the government ‘cannot afford to wait’ even one more day

In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said the previous tiers would have been enough to cope with Covid as it was originally, but the new variant – which is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more transmissible – was spreading in a ‘frustrating and alarming’ manner.

‘As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,’ he said.

Mr Johnson said that in England the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 – some 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.

On December 29 ‘more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK’, the number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week ‘and will sadly rise further’.

‘With most of the country, or maybe under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.

‘In England we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.’

Mr Johnson said parents ‘may reasonably ask why’ decisions on schools were not taken ‘sooner’.

‘The answer is simply that we’ve been doing everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances,’ he said.

‘And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children. Children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.

‘The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.’

Mr Johnson said the move on schools means ‘it’s not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer, as normal’.

He said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will work with regulator Ofqual to put in place ‘alternative arrangements’.

The PM added: ‘We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we will distribute more devices to support remote education.’

The premier suggested England could ‘steadily’ move out of lockdown from mid-February – but he heavily caveated his optimism, in a sign that the crisis could drag on much longer.

‘If our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically, once again, if the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful, if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect and – critically – if everyone plays their part by following the rules, then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers,’ Mr Johnson said.

He rounded off his downbeat address by repeating the mantra from the first lockdown, ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.

‘I want to say to everyone right across the UK that I know how tough this is,’ he said.

‘And I know how frustrated you are and I know that you have had more than enough of Government guidance about defeating this virus.

‘But now, more than ever, we must pull together.’

He warned that ‘the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet’ but ‘with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people’.

‘Thanks to the miracle of science not only is the end in sight but we know exactly how we will get there.’

Mr Johnson confirmed this morning that ‘tougher’ measures were coming despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses being administered – although at that point he appeared to hint he would prefer to stick with the Tier system in England. 

SAGE has cautioned that it is probably impossible to control the new coronavirus variant while they remain open – although experts say a total shutdown still might not be enough to bring the ‘R’ reproduction rate below one.   

Michael Gove held a conference call with the First Ministers from the four nations to coordinate strategies. But in a sign of splits, Wales has said it will push ahead with reopening schools over the next fortnight unless there is new evidence about the variant strain.

Earlier, ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined demands from Labour and Tory MPs for an immediate national squeeze with schools and borders shut and a ban on all household mixing.

Mr Hunt warned that mutant Covid has put the NHS under ‘off the scale’ pressure compared to normal winters and the government ‘cannot afford to wait’ even one more day.

Mr Hunt posted on Twitter: ‘To those arguing winter is always like this in the NHS: you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as Health Sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those.’

Mr Hunt said the ‘No1 lesson’ from the pandemic is that countries can ‘save lives and get their economies back to normal faster’ if they ‘act early and decisively’.

‘We therefore cannot afford to wait: all schools should be closed, international travel stopped, household mixing limited and the tier system reviewed so that the highest tier really does bring down infection levels,’ Mr Hunt said.   

‘The good news is that unlike before these restrictions will be time limited to the 12 weeks or so it will take to get the vaccine out to those most vulnerable to covid – so there is light at the end of the tunnel.’ 

Mr Hunt was among a growing band of Conservative MPs, including ex-No10 adviser Neil O’Brien, urging emergency steps to tackle the coronavirus surge. 

Labour has also been pushing for a squeeze, with Sadiq Khan saying Mr Hunt was ‘spot on’. 

Earlier Matt Hancock suggested the first step will be to escalate even more of the country into Tier 4, saying Tier 3 did not seem able to hold back the more infectious version of the deadly disease.

He insisted the problem was partly down to people failing to obey the rules, amid calls from some MPs for police to be given more powers.  

But there were questions about how much more impact extending the coverage of Tier 4 could have, given three-quarters of England is already subject to the harshest bracket, where only essential shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people are meant to stay at home. 

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England (PHE), said the latest daily figures were a ‘bitter warning’ about the threat.

‘The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all. We must not forget the basics – the lives of our friends and family depend on it,’ she said. 

Speaking during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London this morning, Mr Johnson warned of ‘tough tough’ weeks to come. 

He added: ‘If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.’ 

Mr Johnson tried to strike a positive note, promising there will be a ‘massive ramp up’ in vaccination numbers.

Boris Johnson visited Chase Farm Hospital in north London today, with the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine launching

Boris Johnson visited Chase Farm Hospital in north London today, with the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine launching

The measures will replace the tiers system, which had already seen three-quarters of England subject to the harshest level 4 where only essential retail can open and people are meant to stay at home

The measures will replace the tiers system, which had already seen three-quarters of England subject to the harshest level 4 where only essential retail can open and people are meant to stay at home

He added: ‘There’s a massive ramp up operation now going on.

‘The rate limiting factor is now not supply of vaccines although we want that to go faster, it’s getting them properly tested and getting them to the NHS.

‘It’s not the ability to distribute the vaccine, it’s not the shortage of staff.

‘It’s getting it properly tested. That will ramp up in the weeks ahead.’

Asked in a round of interviews about the prospect of a national lockdown, Mr Hancock said: ‘We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.’

Pressed whether changes could be announced over the next 24 hours, he replied: ‘We have shown we are ready to move incredibly quickly… We look at the data on a daily basis.’ 

Mr Hancock said the ‘old tier system is no longer strong enough’ because the new variant is ‘much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country’.

Challenged on Sky News over whether Tier 4 restrictions work, Mr Hancock said: ‘It is down to people’s behaviour, frankly. What matters is, yes of course, the rules that we put in place, but it is also about how people act.

‘And frankly what I would say is this: it is critical that everybody in the country does all that they can to reduce the spread of the virus.’  

In a stark message about the length of the fight the UK faces, Mr Hancock said the problem was ‘how we collectively as a society keep this under control for the next couple of months… until the vaccines can make us safe’. 

The Government’s ‘Covid-O’ committee, which makes decisions on lockdown restrictions, is thought to have meet today to decide on the next steps to take.  

Ms Sturgeon announced this afternoon that Scotland will be plunged back into a national coronavirus lockdown from midnight.

The SNP leader said the new crackdown, lasting all of January, will include a legally enforceable stay-at-home rule.

Scotland in national lockdown from midnight 

Scotland will be plunged back into a national coronavirus lockdown from midnight this evening, Nicola Sturgeon announced this afternoon.

The SNP leader said the new crackdown, lasting all of January, will include a legally enforceable stay-at-home rule.

Exercise and essential journeys will be the only reasons why people will be allowed to leave their homes.

The planned reopening of schools on January 18 is also being pushed back to February 1 at the earliest while workers are being instructed to work from home wherever possible.

Rules on outdoor gatherings will be tightened to allow a maximum of just two people from two households to meet.

Meanwhile, places of worship will be closed from this Friday but weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead.

A maximum of 20 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and a maximum of five people will be allowed to attend weddings.

Ms Sturgeon said the tough new curbs are necessary because of the ‘steeply rising’ rate of infections north of the border as she warned the lockdown could be extended beyond January if necessary.

The measures effectively mean a return to the restrictions seen during the first UK-wide lockdown which was imposed at the end of March last year.

All of mainland Scotland is already placed in the highest tier of Covid-19 rules but case numbers have prompted Ms Sturgeon to take more drastic action after 2,464 new cases were announced yesterday.

Exercise and essential journeys will be the only reasons why people will be allowed to leave their homes.

The planned reopening of schools on January 18 is also being pushed back to February 1 at the earliest while workers are being instructed to work from home wherever possible.

Rules on outdoor gatherings will be tightened to allow a maximum of just two people from two households to meet.

Meanwhile, places of worship will be closed from this Friday but weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead.

A maximum of 20 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and a maximum of five people will be allowed to attend weddings.

Ms Sturgeon said the tough new curbs are necessary because of the ‘steeply rising’ rate of infections north of the border as she warned the lockdown could be extended beyond January if necessary.

The measures effectively mean a return to the restrictions seen during the first UK-wide lockdown which was imposed at the end of March last year.

All of mainland Scotland is already placed in the highest tier of Covid-19 rules but case numbers have prompted Ms Sturgeon to take more drastic action after 2,464 new cases were announced yesterday.

Mr Johnson said yesterday that he is also considering further closures of schools. 

But Mr Hancock said this morning that people should keep obeying the rules – which mean most primaries are meant to be back this week.

He told Times Radio that people understood why the Government was changing its position.

He said: ‘One of the big challenges in the middle of a pandemic is that the data changes, and therefore the public health advice rightly changes, and we have to change our position.

‘One of the interesting things as Health Secretary I’ve noticed over the last year is that people get that, right?

‘People get that the virus moves – we’ve seen this new variant making things much, much harder because it spreads so much easier and then we have to update our position based on updated public health advice.

‘On schools, our approach is we should follow that public health advice.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock put Britons on notice that stronger restrictions will be needed for months, despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses being administered

Health Secretary Matt Hancock put Britons on notice that stronger restrictions will be needed for months, despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses being administered

First Briton to get Oxford jab outside trials is 82-year-old dialysis patient 

Britain today started to dish out Oxford’s game-changing Covid vaccine in what has been called a ‘pivotal moment’ in the fight against the pandemic, with an 82-year-old dialysis patient becoming the first person to receive the jab.

Brian Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who describes himself as Oxford born and bred, said he was ‘so pleased’ to be getting the vaccine and was ‘really proud’ it was developed in his city.

Mr Pinker, who is now looking forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary next month with wife Shirley, received the coronavirus vaccine at 7.30am at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

In the biggest vaccination drive in British history, half a million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab will be made available for vulnerable people this week with ‘tens of millions’ promised by April.

Chiefs at AstraZeneca had previously suggested up to 2million doses a week could be ready by mid-January and officials have promised to deliver the jabs as quickly as they get them.

But that ambitious target may be further off than hoped, with fears that the UK won’t receive enough supplies until February. Matt Hancock today revealed increasing the country’s manufacturing capacity was ‘a big medium-term project’.

And he said the ‘bureaucracy’ involved in signing up to be a volunteer vaccinator is being reduced, after it was revealed last week that thousands of retired medics who are trying to help dish out the jabs were tied up in red tape.  

However, in a joint statement, education unions said staff were at ‘serious risk’ of infection.

The statement, signed by GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, Unison and Unite, said: ‘The Government’s chaotic handling of the opening of schools has caused confusion for teachers, school staff and parents alike.

‘Bringing all pupils back into classrooms while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic.

‘Unions have called for a pause in the reopening of schools for anyone other than vulnerable children and children of key workers, and a move to remote learning for all while Covid-secure working arrangements are reviewed. All school staff continuing to work in schools should be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccinations.

‘Instead of casually asserting that schools are safe, the Prime Minister should sit down with unions to discuss a joint approach to ensuring safe working arrangements in all schools and prioritising enabling all pupils to have the equipment and access they need to receive a high standard of remote learning until the safety of them and the staff in their school can be guaranteed.’

SAGE member John Edmunds said tonight that the UK was on track to record more than 100,000 deaths. 

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine scientist told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘We’re in a really difficult situation.

‘The new strain is significantly more transmissible than the old strains. So we have to take significant extra measures to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed with Covid patients.

‘Unfortunately we are going to have to take some really major additional measures, I can’t see any other way out of it.

‘The biggest lever that has only partly been pulled is school closures. That would have the biggest effect of a single measure and I can see that happening.’

He later added: ‘What we have to do now, and it’s horrible I know, but we have to take really quite stringent steps right now and as stringent as we can right now.’

Prof Edmunds rejected suggestions that a lack of public compliance with restrictions is a major issue, saying: ‘I don’t think that’s a major issue myself, I think people are pretty compliant.’

As pressure grew on the PM earlier, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council joined calls for a new ‘lockdown’ amid rising case rates.

Speaking to BBC Radio WM, Cllr Ian Ward said that in the past week there had been a 36 per cent increase in the city’s seven-day case rate.

He added: ‘The NHS here in the city is under intensive pressure. University Hospital Birmingham has 98 per cent of its intensive care beds occupied and Sandwell and City (hospitals trust) has 100 per cent of its intensive care beds occupied.

‘We need decisive action now and the Government needs to act early for once and get ahead of the curve.’ 

On a more optimistic front, the UK today started to dish out Oxford’s game-changing Covid vaccine in what has been called a ‘pivotal moment’ in the fight against the pandemic, with an 82-year-old dialysis patient becoming the first person to receive the jab.

Brian Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who describes himself as Oxford born and bred, said he was ‘so pleased’ to be getting the vaccine and was ‘really proud’ it was developed in his city.

Mr Pinker, who is now looking forward to celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary next month with wife Shirley, received the coronavirus vaccine at 7.30am at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

In the biggest vaccination drive in British history, half a million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab will be made available for vulnerable people this week with ‘tens of millions’ promised by April.

Chiefs at AstraZeneca had previously suggested up to 2million doses a week could be ready by mid-January and officials have promised to deliver the jabs as quickly as they get them.

But that ambitious target may be further off than hoped, with fears that the UK won’t receive enough supplies until February. Matt Hancock today revealed increasing the country’s manufacturing capacity was ‘a big medium-term project’.

And he said the ‘bureaucracy’ involved in signing up to be a volunteer vaccinator is being reduced, after it was revealed last week that thousands of retired medics who are trying to help dish out the jabs were tied up in red tape.

 Mr Hancock insisted the manufacturing process will be the deciding factor in how fast vaccines can be deployed, rather than the NHS operation.

Covid alert going to top level over fears NHS will not cope  

The Covil alert is being raised to its highest level over fears the NHS will not be able to cope with soaring cases.

The UK’s four chief medical officers have recommended the change from level four to five following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

In a statement, they said: ‘Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. 

‘There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care. 

‘Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. 

‘We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

However, they urged people who need urgent attention to come forward stressing it is still possible to give ‘lifesaving treatment’. 

‘It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS111,’ the statement said. 

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘If the NHS needs to go faster, then it will go faster. If there were two million doses a week being delivered, then the NHS would deliver at that speed.

‘That’s the critical question, but that supply isn’t there yet, and we are working very closely with the manufacturers.’

Last night Sir Keir Starmer demanded an immediate nationwide lockdown as he warned the ‘virus is clearly out of control’. The Labour leader added: ‘Let’s not have the Prime Minister saying, ‘I’m going to do it, but not yet’.

‘That’s the problem he has made so many times. Nationwide lockdown – the Prime Minister has hinted that that’s going to happen, but he’s delaying again; and we can’t afford that again.’

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One yesterday, Mr Johnson said he was ‘entirely reconciled to doing what it takes to get the virus down’ and warned of a ‘tough period ahead’.

He said vaccinating more people would provide a way out of restrictions and that he hoped ‘tens of millions’ would be vaccinated in the next three months.

The Prime Minister stuck by his prediction that the situation would be better by the spring, but added: ‘It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. 

‘I’m fully, fully reconciled to that – and I bet the people of this country are reconciled to that because until the vaccine really comes on stream in a massive way, we’re fighting this virus with the same set of tools.’

Mr Johnson said the Government was assessing whether Tier Four restrictions were tough enough to control the spread of the virus or if further steps were needed, adding: ‘We’ve got to keep things under constant review.’

Asked whether people could be restricted to an hour’s exercise a day or a complete ban on any households mixing could be introduced, he replied: ‘There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider. I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be.

This map shows how the coronavirus variants have been tracked as they spread around the world

This map shows how the coronavirus variants have been tracked as they spread around the world 

Social distancing signs displayed at Coldfall Primary School in Muswell Hill, London, on January 2 as Covid cases across the capital city have been putting rising pressure on the NHS

Social distancing signs displayed at Coldfall Primary School in Muswell Hill, London, on January 2 as Covid cases across the capital city have been putting rising pressure on the NHS

‘Clearly, school closures – which we had to do in March – is one of those things. It’s not something we necessarily want to do.’

Government sources confirmed ministers were looking at putting even more areas of England into Tier Four – although curfews are not currently thought to be imminent.

But Tory former minister Sir Desmond Swayne was among those condemning the idea of tightening the curbs. ‘What more pain do they want to cause us? What are they going to stop us doing now?’ he told the Telegraph. 

‘Close down essential shops and the takeaways? The whole thing is madness – it’s going beyond ridiculous.’  

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Delhi The Buzz

India plunges into technical recession as GDP contracts 7.5 per cent in July-Sept quarter


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27

The economy contracted by 7.5 per cent in the second quarter (July-September) of 2020-21 as against a fall of 23.9 per cent during the stringent lockdown months of the first quarter (April to June), according to government data released on Friday.

With the contraction in two successive quarters, India has entered into a technical recession but the Union Finance Ministry feels the latest data, especially the high frequency indicators, suggest a recovery is under way.

The government, however, was not willing to commit that the fourth quarter could see positive growth after it was clear that the third quarter GDP growth will also be negative. “Recovery provides optimism but we urge caution on the pandemic. Winter months must warrant caution and safety protocols must be followed stringently as service to the nation,’’ said the Ministry’s Chief Economic Advisor Kris Subramanian.

In a break from the past, the government used six new indicators in a total of 23 to project -7.5 per cent GDP growth. These include data of rice and fish, purchase of private vehicles, passenger traffic at airports and Centre’s revenue spending.

There was V-shaped recovery in use-based industries in consumer goods, especially consumer durables, and investment, capital and infrastructure goods which suggest strong revival of both consumption and investment that together account for about 90 per cent of India’s GDP, said the Finance Ministry.

The corporate sector seemed back on track in the second quarter after two quarters of contraction, with its level of operating profits similar to that in September 2018, said Subramanian. However, bank credit rose by a little over 5.2 per cent and gross fixed capital formation remained in the negative territory.

The government also released the index of industrial production (IIP) which showed that core sector growth has remained in the negative zone at minus -13.0 per cent. In October the decline was minus 2.5 per cent after raising hopes in September about returning to positive territory with a contraction of 0.1 per cent.

On the positive side, steel production and consumption gathered momentum, signalling revival of construction activity. Power consumption and e-way bills also registered double-digit growth in October, suggesting buoyancy in industrial and commercial activities

Analysts, however, pointed out that consumption remains low, industrial recovery is still weak and the traction seen in IIP growth lately is triggered largely by the festival demand which was also pointed out on Wednesday by the Reserve Bank chief Shaktikanta Das.

Recovery ignites optimism, but a cautious optimism. Sustainability of the recovery critically depends on keeping the pandemic in control. — Union Finance Ministry


We are certain this trend will continue. Private consumption is weak and increased Government spending would help the momentum for a more robust growth in the coming months. — Chandrajit Banerjee, DG, CII.

The growth in manufacturing, though very nominal, is something to cheer for. The real test would be in Q4 when the festive season gets to closure and sustaining the demand would be a challenger. — Divakar Vijayasarathy, DVS Advisors LLP

We believe personal safety and convenience is driving the demand in auto and durables in Q2. It is clear that the size of unaffected parts of the economy is far greater than stressed sectors. Momentum can be sustained by government spending, the vaccine, and monetary policy tailwinds. — Prithviraj Srinivas, Chief Economist, Axis Capital





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Boris Johnson plunges Greater Manchester into Tier Three lockdown


Andy Burnham lashed out at a ‘brutal’ lockdown deal for Greater Manchester tonight as he realised his days of  hardballing ministers might have cost its residents tens of millions of pounds. 

The regional mayor looked on aghast as he was interrupted in the middle of a live press conference to be told that the area would be forced into a Tier 3 closure by Boris Johnson.

And information he was fed via a mobile phone suggested it would receive just £22million to help residents deal with their jobs being put on hold – little more than a third of the £65million he had been demanding.

Holding court before the cameras, his face dropped as he said: ‘It’s brutal, to be honest. This is no way to run a country in a national crisis. 

‘It’s not right, they should not be doing this.’

But Mr Burnham faced questions over whether he was ‘showboating’ and Government sources hit back that his own ‘pride’ was what scotched the deal. 

Minutes later Boris Johnson himself helped sow confusion when he refused to confirm the financial package for the city region.  

Fronting a Downing Street press conference he blasted Mr Burnham for rejected a ‘generous and extensive offer’ of £60 million of extra support for businesses. 

The PM was repeatedly asked to clarify whether Greater Manchester would still receive the money but he was seemingly unable to provide clarity. 

He said: ‘In respect of funding of Greater Manchester, obviously we want to do more, as we said earlier on today, but for the sake of fairness the deal has to be in line with the agreements we have reached with Lancashire and Merseyside for instance where we have made progress.’ 

He insisted the region will have access to ‘all kinds of funds’ to support it through the restrictions and that the funds are ‘massive’. 

‘What we couldn’t do is do a deal with Greater Manchester that was out of kilter with the agreements we had already reached with Merseyside and with Lancashire,’ he said. 

In the end it was left to Number 10 sources to subsequently insisted the £60 million is still on the table.

The new rules, which include strongly advising against travel into and out of the area, will be formally presented to Parliament on Thursday before coming into force just after midnight.

The extraordinary row came as other parts of the North West and North East vowed to resist pressure to go into Tier 3. 

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Shane Moore  last night tweeted: ‘No talks with us since update on Friday & if anyone suggests it to me this week they’ll be told to sod off.’ 

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • The UK has recorded another 21,331 coronavirus cases, a 23.8 per cent increase on last Tuesday, and 241 more deaths, compared to 143 on the same day last week; 
  • ONS figures show the number of people dying of Covid-19 in England and Wales rose for the fifth week in a row to 438 between October 3 and 9; 
  • Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended imposing a ‘firebreak’ lockdown despite case rates being below the UK average. The move meant England is the only UK nation to hold back from measures;
  • Ireland’s premier announced a six-week shutdown of the Republic with draconian curbs on movement, despite no new deaths being recorded;
  • Nicola Sturgeon has signalled that ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions on households mixing are likely to stay in place for longer; 
  • A leaked memo from No10 advisers has warned the PM can’t keep saying no to Ms Sturgeon’s referendum demands, urging ministers to ‘placate’ her with more powers. 

Boris Johnson today announced that he is imposing Tier Three coronavirus restrictions on the Greater Manchester region despite failing to reach an agreement with local political leaders

Boris Johnson today announced that he is imposing Tier Three coronavirus restrictions on the Greater Manchester region despite failing to reach an agreement with local political leaders

Nicola Sturgeon warns Scots they may face a stricter lockdown with MORE pubs and restaurants closed

Nicola Sturgeon warned Scots that an even stricter lockdown could be on the cards with more pubs closed under new regulations she plans to introduce within days.

A new tiered system of restrictions will come into force in Scotland on Monday November 2 if approved at Holyrood next week, the First Minister revealed today. 

She said some areas may face stricter measures than those currently in force in the central belt – which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh – where licensed hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants have been temporarily closed. 

The SNP leader used her daily coronavirus press conference to confirm she will lay out the plans tomorrow, as she announced 15 coronavirus deaths and 1,456 positive cases in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

‘What that means is (that) over the course of next week we will be assessing the up-to-date data and assessing whether all of the country would go into a certain level of the new framework or whether parts of the country would go into one level and other parts of the country into another,’ she said.

‘As part of that we will be considering, of course, whether there are parts of the country that need tougher restrictions than those in place in the central belt right now, or whether there are parts of the country that might be able to have less tough restrictions.

‘We need to assess that on the basis of the up to date data.’

Under the temporary restrictions already in place, bars and licensed restaurants in five health board areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – have been forced to close for all but takeaway services.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes elsewhere in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.  

Her Cabinet will decide if these restrictions, brought in on October 9 to stem a rise in cases and due to end on October 26, will be extended until the implementation of the tiered framework.

 

The Prime Minister tonight said he had been left with no choice but to impose the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants as well as banning households from mixing indoors and in most outdoor settings after the Government was unable to reach a deal with local leaders in Manchester.

Mr Johnson said he appreciated the rules are ‘tough, both on businesses and individuals’ but that the move to the Very High alert level is needed in order to combat a surge in coronavirus cases in the region.   

He added he regretted the fact the Government had been unable to strike a deal with Mr Burnham because ‘we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together’.

He said the funding package offered to the region was proportionate to what was offered to Merseyside and Lancashire which are already in Tier Three. 

Mr Johnson said ‘unfortunately’ Mr Burnham opted not to accept the deal as he added: ‘Given the public health situation, I must now proceed with moving Greater Manchester, as I say, to the Very High alert level because not to act would put Manchester’s NHS, and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents, at risk.’ 

The offer made by Mr Johnson on extra business support was believed to have been worth £60 million but it was not immediately clear whether the region would still be able to access the cash after the two sides failed to agree terms. 

Mr Johnson’s comments came after Mr Burnham effectively declared class war on the Prime Minister for dooming Greater Manchester to lockdown ‘poverty’ by refusing to hand over a ‘bare minimum’ £65 million bailout.

At his own press conference earlier this afternoon, the mayor had launched a furious tirade at the Government for imposing the harshest level of curbs without ‘proper support’, saying he had asked for what the region ‘needed’.

Painting himself as the champion of the northern working class, Mr Burnham said: ‘It wasn’t about what we wanted, it was about what we needed… what we have seen today is a deliberate act of levelling down.’   

Mr Johnson and Mr Burnham made a final bid to thrash out a bailout package in a phone call at lunchtime as a noon deadline passed. The premier upped his offer of business support from £55million. 

But Mr Burnham continued to demand £65million, saying the region needed £15million a month to top up furlough payments to 80 per cent of usual wages, rather than the two-thirds provided by Rishi Sunak. ‘It was his pride that got in the way of striking a deal,’ one government source said.  

The news immediately sparked a brutal blame game, with Labour desperate to pin the shambles on the Government and Tory MPs also fuming. 

Despite slamming ‘penny pinching’ ministers, Mr Burnham told people in Greater Manchester to ‘observe the law at all times’.  

Mr Burnham had taken aim at ‘selective’ figures highlighted by Downing Street that suggested Greater Manchester hospitals could be overwhelmed within weeks unless tougher action is taken. He insisted intensive care bed occupancy was about normal for this time of year, at 80 per cent. 

Boris Johnson warns Britain is ‘walking a narrow path’ as UK records 241 deaths and 21,331 COVID daily cases – the highest since June 

Boris Johnson today warned the UK is walking a ‘narrow path’ as it tries to squash the Covid-19 without hammering the economy with drastic lockdown rules after health officials recorded 241 more coronavirus deaths and another 21,331 cases.

The deaths mark a rise of 68.5 per cent from the 143 confirmed last Tuesday, while the cases are a 23.8 per cent jump on 17,234. The number of people admitted to hospital rose to 1,019 on October 15, data published today showed, marking the first time since May that it had surged into four figures.

Although the numbers are rising across the board, there are signs the outbreak is slowing down in large parts of England, with infection rates falling in recent weeks and the speed of increase in national numbers shrinking and stalling in mid-October.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, sent out by ministers to set the scene for tougher lockdown rules in Manchester tonight, admitted there are ‘more patches of green’ this week on heat maps that show how infection rates are changing across the country.

And he claimed the outbreak had morphed into a ‘game of two halves’, pointing to data showing that the weekly infection rates have declined for 10-19 year olds and 20-29 year olds. But in the same breath, he warned that cases ‘seeded in the younger age groups are now penetrating those older age groups’, who are most at risk of becoming severely-ill or dying from Covid-19.

But Professor Van-Tam warned the outbreak has ‘extended from coast to coast and now extends quite a long way down the country’. He also emphasised that the disease is still mainly concentrated in the North, insisting that it wouldn’t be right to adopt tougher measures on millions living in the South.

The Prime Minister tonight conceded that ‘the virus is not spreading as quickly as it did in February and March’ but told millions tuned in to tonight’s Downing Street press conference that the data ‘shows clearly why we must act’.

Mr Johnson told the press conference this evening that he hoped leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with the Government to ensure the new restrictions are rolled out.

He also said the Government remained in negotiations with local authorities in a number of other areas about moving to Tier Three. 

‘Despite the failure to reach an agreement, I hope the Mayor and council leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with us to implement these measures,’ he said. 

‘Elsewhere, discussions on moving to the Very High alert level continue with local leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and the North East.

‘I hope and expect central and local government will continue to work closely together, as we are seeing in Merseyside, Lancashire, London and many other parts of the country.

‘Because – ultimately – all of us want to protect the NHS, and in doing so to save lives.’ 

As well as the prospect of extra business support, the Greater Manchester region is also in line to receive some £22 million to enhance test and trace efforts and enforcement.   

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the collapse of talks between Greater Manchester and Westminster was ‘a sign of Government failure’.

‘The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

‘Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

‘Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.’ 

William Wragg, Tory MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, said on Twitter: ‘The sense of failure is overwhelming.

‘I shall avoid political comment until I have heard @MattHancock’s statement in @HouseofCommons this evening.

‘Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office.’ 

Mr Burnham earlier railed at the ‘provocative’ noon ultimatum from the government, which came after a week of bitter wrangling over money.

However, in a grim warning, he said: ‘I would predict everybody will end up in Tier 3 at some point during the winter – what we need is a fair financial framework for Tier 3.’ 

The PM’s spokesman revealed that Mr Johnson would be holding a press conference at 5pm alongside NHS medical director Stephen Powis and deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam. 

Talks are continuing with the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber about further coronavirus restrictions.

‘That is part of the effort that we are making to create the maximum possible consensus behind the more strict kinds of local intervention,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Mr Johnson told Cabinet this morning that a package had already been ‘successfully agreed’ with Liverpool City Region and Lancashire on Tier Three.

He told ministers they were ‘seeking to work constructively’ with local leaders. 

But he raised concerns that ‘cases continue to be extremely high across the region’, and the ‘most worrying rises’ were among the over-60s.

The daily number of coronavirus cases, counted by the date specimens were taken, has eased in key cities over recent days

The daily number of coronavirus cases, counted by the date specimens were taken, has eased in key cities over recent days 

Mr Burnham (pictured at a press conference today) demanded £65million in business support and there was no breakthrough in the row

Mr Burnham (pictured at a press conference today) demanded £65million in business support and there was no breakthrough in the row

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham (right today) branded the government’s ultimatum ‘provocative’. Boris Johnson (left) gathered his Cabinet this morning as the coronavirus crisis continues

Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance were at the Cabinet meeting in the Foreign Office this morning

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

The graph on the left shows how many Covid-19 deaths (blue dots) have been recorded across Manchester¿s NHS trusts every day since the pandemic began. The three dotted lines are projections based on previous modelling from health bosses, leaked to The Guardian, which show how deaths could have sped up under different scenarios. The newspaper did not reveal what the different lines stood for but it is likely the steepest would have shown how quickly deaths would have spiralled under the worst-case scenario. The graph on the right shows the same but for how many infected patients were in intensive care. Red dots show the actual number of coronavirus patients receiving mechanical ventilation on any given day, while the three dotted lines show projections for how the numbers could grow under different growth speeds

The graph on the left shows how many Covid-19 deaths (blue dots) have been recorded across Manchester’s NHS trusts every day since the pandemic began. The three dotted lines are projections based on previous modelling from health bosses, leaked to The Guardian, which show how deaths could have sped up under different scenarios. The newspaper did not reveal what the different lines stood for but it is likely the steepest would have shown how quickly deaths would have spiralled under the worst-case scenario. The graph on the right shows the same but for how many infected patients were in intensive care. Red dots show the actual number of coronavirus patients receiving mechanical ventilation on any given day, while the three dotted lines show projections for how the numbers could grow under different growth speeds

North East fury at suggestions they could be next into Tier Three 

Tees Valley and North East leaders have reacted with fury after suggestions they could be upgraded to Tier Three lockdown.

Talks over entering the top bracket are ongoing with South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire, although announcements are not expected today.

But there was a storm of protest after Matt Hancock suggested last night the North East and Tees Valley were also on the brink. 

 Hartlepool’s independent council leader swiping that ministers could ‘s** off’. 

And Tory Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchem said: ‘I spoke to Matt Hancock’s team and I was pleased that they confirmed what local leaders were told on Friday – that there are NO imminent plans to move our area to tier 3.’ 

‘The PM said the stark reality is that there are now more COVID-19 patients in Greater Manchester Hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined, and the number of COVID patients will exceed the numbers from the first peak in April in 2 to 3 weeks,’ the spokesman said. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Burnham criticised the late-night statement from Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick laying down the noon ultimatum.

The mayor – who has been demanding support equivalent to the 80 per cent wages furlough scheme for those hit by the lockdown – claimed Greater Manchester leaders had ‘never been given a figure’ for how much funding they would get. And he said they must have carte blanche on how the money is spent.

‘What I’ll be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the Government setting out what we think a fair figure is for that support, given we’ve been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here,’ Mr Burnham said.

‘The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people that we think are going to need to be supported in a Tier 3 lockdown.’  

Mr Burnham said: ‘I don’t think the government should be enforcing or dictating in this way. We need to work together as a country and I have been offering to work with the government all year.

‘Greater Manchester needs to establish a fair financial framework for Tier Three, because there is a chance all parts of England will come under Tier Three at some point over the winter and if the terms aren’t right we are going to see real damage to people’s lives right across the country.

PM’s three-tier lockdown is ‘worst of all worlds’, SAGE member warns 

England’s three-tiered lockdown system is ‘the worst of all worlds’, a SAGE member warned today – highlighting the growing rift between ministers and their scientists.

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the St Andrews University, said the ‘disastrous’ scheme had failed at attempting to make local Covid-19 rules clearer.

He told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus – set up to scrutinise the Government’s handling of the crisis – the system had been a ‘good idea in principle’.

But a lack of transparency about the criteria being used to justify tightening rules in various towns and cities has left residents and local leaders in the dark about why their areas were being targeted.

Professor Reicher warned this lack of clarity and inconsistency had led to a ‘growing sense of inequality and resistance’ among the public.

‘This is an issue for everyone and is not just about taking a stand for Greater Manchester.’ 

Ministers gave Manchester leaders until noon today to reach an agreement on the city entering Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown, and say the government will ‘intervene’ if local leaders do not agree to impose the economy-crippling restrictions by the deadline. 

Up to 10million people now face living under the toughest measures this week after talks on whether the region should enter the ‘very high risk’ Tier 3 ended in deadlock again yesterday. 

In a statement released last night, Mr Jenrick said that he had written to local leaders giving them until midday today to reach an agreement on the introduction of Tier 3 curbs – and if they do not the Prime Minister will be forced to ‘intervene’. 

But Mr Burnham and local MPs have accused the government and Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s department of dubious use of ‘selective statistics’ to spread fear and panic about the NHS being overrun

Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, blasted the Government’s panic tactics, describing its attempts to ‘spin hospital data’ as ‘counter-productive and unhelpful’.  

But business minister Nadhim Zahawi repeated the claim this morning.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We have been negotiating in good faith for 10 days with Andy Burnham and other local leaders in Greater Manchester.

‘By the first week of November, if the trajectory continues at the rate it is at the moment, they will run out of ICU capacity in Greater Manchester.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak intervenes at the Cabinet meeting this morning, where coronavirus lockdowns were discussed

Chancellor Rishi Sunak intervenes at the Cabinet meeting this morning, where coronavirus lockdowns were discussed

Britain recorded 18,804 Covid-19 cases and 80 deaths yesterday as infections and fatalities rise

Manchester city mayor calls for ‘shielding’ plan 

The Manchester city mayor has called for a ‘shielding’ approach to coronavirus rather than shutting down the economy. 

Sir Richard Leese said most people who test positive for the virus ‘are not getting particularly ill’ but the problem was too many now getting ill and increasing hospital admissions and numbers in intensive care.

He said the Government’s ‘blanket business closure policy’ is questionable and instead suggested a shielding programme for those most at risk would work better.

‘Most people who test positive for the virus are not getting particularly ill,’ Sir Richard said in a blog post.

‘They are not the problem. Too many are now getting ill and the number of hospital cases is going up, as is the number of people with Covid in intensive care.

‘That’s the problem.’

He said medics now know the most at risk of hospital admissions: older people and people with existing underlying conditions, diabetes, obesity, high-blood pressure, other respiratory illnesses.

He added: ‘If this is the evidence, wouldn’t it be much better to have an effective shielding programme for those most at risk, rather than have a blanket business closure policy of dubious efficacy.

‘Sadly, Government, having forced through badly thought regulations, seem unwilling to think again.’ 

The idea was backed by local Tory MPs. James Daly, the Tory MP for Bury North, said he was ‘extremely sympathetic’ to Sir Richard’s proposal.

Chris Green, the Tory MP for Bolton West, said: ‘I think this is a good direction of travel. Let’s keep our hospitality running up to Christmas and support people at home if they are deemed vulnerable.’

William Wragg, the Tory MP for Hazel Grove, said: ‘I think Richard Leese’s proposal has merit and should be properly considered.’ 

Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West and chair of the powerful Tory 1922 committee, said: ‘The fundamental point about Tier 3 is the proposals don’t appear to have any evidential basis. 

‘That is something we should both focus on, set politics aside.’

Mr Zahawi said £22million has been offered to Greater Manchester to boost contact tracing, and made clear that more was on the table. 

‘We have said to Andy and other local leaders that we will put £22 million into help for Greater Manchester, £8 per capita,’ he said.

There would also be ‘additional support commensurate with what we have done in Liverpool City Region and in Lancashire’.

Mr Burnham said the government was trying to respond to the pandemic ‘on the cheap’.

‘It does appear there’s been an abrupt change since the summer, where it’s the opposite now,’ he said.

‘We’re trying to respond to a pandemic on the cheap, that’s how it feels.

‘It’s particularly relevant isn’t it when you then come to a regional lockdown, because by definition these are going to be divisive, and if you don’t fully fund them you are going to widen the divides in society.

‘The danger for me of underfunded regional lockdown is that it becomes an act of levelling down from a government which said it would do the opposite.’

Mr Burnham said he would tell people to follow the law if tougher restrictions were imposed.

But he added: ‘I do worry that if the Government is going to go down this route of imposing these punishing lockdowns on local areas, I think it will lose the public support that it will need to try and help us all as a country rise to the fight against this pandemic this winter.’

Mr Burnham’s deputy has argued that Greater Manchester could be spared Tier Three lockdown if the Government spent £14million per month shielding the most vulnerable people.

The leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese claimed that would be less than a fifth of the cost of the business closures that would happen under the restrictions, enabling businesses to stay open and the majority of people to avoid tougher restrictions.  

Sir Richard said: ‘Most people who test positive for the virus are not getting particularly ill. They are not the problem’, pointing out that those most at risk of hospitalisation were older people and those with existing underlying conditions, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or respiratory illnesses.

‘If this is the evidence, wouldn’t it be much better to have an effective shielding programme for those most at risk, rather than have a blanket business closure policy of dubious efficacy?’ 

The idea was backed by local Tory MPs. James Daly, the Tory MP for Bury North, said he was ‘extremely sympathetic’ to Sir Richard’s proposal.

Covid-19 will probably NEVER go away even with a vaccine, warns Patrick Vallance in another gloomy prediction 

Coronavirus will probably never disappear and a vaccine won’t stop it completely, according to Sir Patrick Vallance.

The chief scientific adviser, speaking to members of the House of Lords , said he thought the virus will one day become like flu and cause outbreaks each year.

He said ministers and experts should stop ‘over-promising’ and be realistic about the prospects of a vaccine and the likely timeline of one.

It is not likely that a jab will be completed before spring, Sir Patrick said, echoing his earlier warnings and those of his colleague Professor Chris Whitty that the Covid-19 fight will be a long one.

In the same meeting, Sir Patrick said he still believes a flu pandemic is the biggest threat to the UK and that his office has set up a second system in case there is another crisis before the coronavirus epidemic comes to an end.  

‘I think it’s unlikely that we will end up with a truly sterilising vaccine – i.e. something that completely stops infection – and it’s likely that the disease will circulate and be endemic,’ Sir Patrick said in a meeting of the Lords’ National Security Strategy Committee this afternoon.

‘That’s my best assessment and I think that’s the view of many people on SAGE that that’s a likely outcome.

‘Clearly, as management becomes better, as you get vaccination which will decrease the chance of infection and the severity of disease, or whatever the profile of the vaccines are, this then starts to look more like annual flu than anything else.

‘That may be the direction we end up going in.’

Chris Green, the Tory MP for Bolton West, said: ‘I think this is a good direction of travel. Let’s keep our hospitality running up to Christmas and support people at home if they are deemed vulnerable.’

William Wragg, the Tory MP for Hazel Grove, said: ‘I think Richard Leese’s proposal has merit and should be properly considered.’ 

Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West and chair of the powerful Tory 1922 committee, said: ‘The fundamental point about Tier 3 is the proposals don’t appear to have any evidential basis. 

‘There is no reason to think that closing some pubs and bars would have a significant impact on the spread on the virus.’

In his letter, Mr Jenrick said: ‘There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester Hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined. But, unfortunately, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control. 

‘I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday tomorrow then I must advise the Prime Minister that despite our best endeavours we’ve been unable to reach agreement. It’s not too late for local leaders to work with us to take action for the sake of the people of Greater Manchester.’ 

The letter, seen by MailOnline, is offering the area an extra £22m in financial support, equivalent to just £8 a head for the 2.8m population. 

It comes as official figures show that coronavirus infections are now falling in some of England’s biggest cities including Manchester, despite Mr Hancock’s threats to plunge many of them into Tier 3. 

In Nottingham the rolling weekly rate of cases peaked at 1,001.2 per 100,000 people for the seven days to October 8 – the highest in England – but since then the number has been falling, currently standing at 787.6.

Manchester’s current rate is 432.5, after peaking at 583.5 in the seven days to October 3, while in Sheffield it’s 396.7, down from a high of 500.3 in the week ending October 7. The rate in Newcastle stands at 371.5, down from 553.8 in the same period. 

Although some of the country’s major cities are seeing infections tumble, the towns and boroughs around them are starting to see the steep increases, which may explain the Government’s keenness to lockdown in more areas.  

Manchester city is the only area in Greater Manchester seeing daily infections drop, but outbreaks in Trafford, Stockport and Oldham have also stabilised, Public Health England figures. And the rate at which cases are rising in the other nine boroughs has began to decelerate. 

For example, Bury was reporting an average 108 cases per day by October 12, up from 97 daily cases the week prior, an increase of 11 per cent. This is down significantly from the rise between September 28 and October 5, when daily cases jumped 33 per cent from 73 to 97.

A similar trend has played out in the other boroughs. In Wigan, the rolling seven day average number of daily cases is 205 – which is up nine per cent compared the seven days prior. For comparison, this figure almost doubled from September 28, when it was 99.3, to October 5’s 188.

Rochdale’s is currently recording 149 cases per day, up by 16 per cent the week before, when it was 128. The week-on-week rise then was much smaller than the increase between September 28 and October 5, when daily cases jumped 59 per cent from 86 to 128. 

Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham are also being closely monitored and could be put into the higher level of restrictions.

If that happened it would see a further 13.1 million placed under the most restrictive coronavirus rules. 

No10 has tried bouncing Andy Burnham into accepting curbs which would crash Manchester’s economy by warning that the region’s intensive care beds could be overrun by mid-November. 

So far only Merseyside and Lancashire are in Tier 3, which requires the closure of pubs and other venues that public health officials claim contribute most to the spread of Covid-19. 

A further 5.3 million in Scotland and Northern Ireland are already under even more draconian restrictions, while 3.1 million in Wales will be placed under full lockdown from Friday night.   

In a joint statement, Mr Burnham and Sir Richard said they still hoped for a ‘positive outcome’. But at the same time they made clear their determination to hold out for a financial support package.

They said it was ‘surprising and disappointing’ that an earlier offer of a hardship fund to top up furlough payments and support the self-employed had bee taken ‘off the table’ by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

‘This evening we have written to the Prime Minister reiterating our willingness to continue to work towards an agreement but reminding him that Greater Manchester has been in Tier 2 style restrictions for almost three months, and that this has taken a toll on people and businesses here,’ they said.

‘With this in mind, we do not believe it is in any way unreasonable for us to require better protection for our lowest-paid residents.’ 

The Prime Minister had previously said he wanted to gain the ‘consensus’ of local leaders before moving them into Tier 3.

Ministers fear public confidence in restrictions will be damaged if they do not get their support.

But after more than a week of talks, Whitehall sources last night indicated that the PM felt he had no choice but to take action in Greater Manchester to tackle the ‘health emergency’ there.

Mr Jenrick yesterday held ‘final discussions’ with local leaders, which ended in acrimony.

In a gloomy statement, a Government spokesman described the talks as ‘disappointing’, adding: ‘This is particularly concerning against the backdrop of rising cases and hospitalisations in Greater Manchester. We are carefully considering next steps.’

Projections produced by the Government yesterday suggested Greater Manchester’s hospitals risked being overwhelmed. 

‘Cases in Greater Manchester continue to rise,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. ‘Hospital admissions in Greater Manchester are doubling every nine days.’

The PM’s spokesman said that in the ‘best case scenario’ modelled by Government scientists, all free intensive care capacity would be used by October 28 and would pass the peak of the first wave by November 2.

The projections suggest Covid patients would take up the entire current intensive care capacity by November 8 and the entire surge capacity by November 12.

However, No 10 acknowledged that the figures do not include capacity in Nightingale hospitals.  

In a round of interviews, Mr Jenrick said: ‘I do think it is very clear that having now discussed this for well over a week this does now need to be brought to a conclusion.

‘I think everybody in Greater Manchester would agree with that. So, I am hopeful that either today, or tomorrow, we will reach a conclusion, one way or the other.’

Liverpool City Region received £30million in support for local businesses when it went into Tier Three, along with £14million for extra contact tracing capacity, and £7million when it entered Tier Two.

Adjusting the total package for the larger population in Manchester would give a figure of around £95million.

Although Mr Burnham has been pushing for furlough to be paid at 80 per cent rather than the two-thirds offered by the government, that is met centrally and separate from the bailouts. 

Projections produced by the Government suggested Manchester’s hospitals risked being overwhelmed.   

Currently the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is around 40 per cent of that seen at the peak of the first wave. 

But, assuming a 14-day doubling time – the ‘best case’ according to the SPI-M modelling group – all free intensive care capacity would be used by October 28 and would pass the peak of the first wave by November 2.

The projections suggest Covid patients would take up the entire current intensive care capacity by November 8 and the entire surge capacity by November 12.

Asked if that meant hospitals being overwhelmed, the spokesman said: ‘Yes, that’s the entire surge ICU capacity.’

Downing Street said discussions about coronavirus restrictions were also taking place with leaders from the North East, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. 

It comes as Wales and Ireland were both plunged into lockdown in a desperate attempt to suppress Covid-19, with Irish premier Micheal Martin announcing plans to impose one of Europe’s toughest shutdowns for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday despite no new Covid-19 deaths being reported yesterday.  

Ireland will be plunged into one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday even though no Covid-19 deaths have been recorded yesterday. Taoiseach Mícheal Martin said the Government was introducing Level 5 restrictions because 'the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead was now too strong'

Ireland will be plunged into one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday even though no Covid-19 deaths have been recorded yesterday. Taoiseach Mícheal Martin said the Government was introducing Level 5 restrictions because ‘the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead was now too strong’

Ireland has recorded a total of 49,962 cases, with another 1,283 infections added to that tally in the last 24 hours

Fatalities remain low with just three deaths recorded on Sunday, adding to a total of 1,852. There were no new deaths

Fatalities remain low with just three deaths recorded on Sunday, adding to a total of 1,852. There were no new deaths

Counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are currently at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3

Counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are currently at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3

Cabinet ministers have agreed to impose Level 5 restrictions which will force most businesses to close, prevent mass gatherings and limit free movement across the Republic until December 1.

Matt Hancock reveals that millions more people in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside could be heading for Tier 3 lockdown with talks due to take place THIS WEEK 

Millions more people across the North of England face being plunged into the top Tier 3 lockdown this week, Matt Hancock revealed this afternoon. 

The Health Secretary said talks would take place with local leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside after deals were agreed for Liverpool and Lancashire.

But it came amid a continued stand-off with Greater Manchester. Ministers have sent an ultimatum to the area’s Labour mayor, Andy Burnham, and mutinous MPs that they must do a deal on today – or face being forced into the tougher curbs as early as tomorrow.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick warned that talks had gone on ‘too long’ and urged the region to accept a package of funding worth up to £100million.  

Downing Street attempted to pile pressure on the Mancunian rebels today by warning that the region’s hospitals are on track to be overwhelmed by October 28 unless the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.

The region could use up all its intensive care capacity by that date, and demand will pass the previous peak by November 2, according to the latest estimates. Even the ‘surge’ fallback will be overrun four days later than that.

Downing Street highlighted the grim assessment, based on the SPI-M group’s ‘best case’ scenario that cases are doubling every 14 days, amid bitter wrangling with mayor Andy Burnham and local MPs over whether to impose ‘Tier Three’ lockdown. 

Mr Hancock told MPs in the Commons this afternoon:  ‘Following the successful introduction of measures in Liverpool and Lancashire, talks are continuing this afternoon led by (the Communities Secretary) with Greater Manchester, and this week further discussions are planned with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.’

Under the new measures, the public will be told to stay at home, with exercise permitted within a 5km radius of their home. 

Public gatherings except for groups of 10 at funerals and 25 at weddings will be banned, and only essential shops will be allowed to stay open. 

Construction will be permitted, but pubs, restaurants and cafes will only be able to provide takeaways and deliveries.   

The Taoiseach said the Government was introducing Level 5 restrictions for the entire country because ‘the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead was now too strong’.

Micheal Martin said schools and creches would remain open because ‘we cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease’. He added: ‘They need their education.’ 

He also said the Government will be supporting efforts to suppress the virus with ‘enhanced financial supports’ for individuals and businesses, which would include improvements to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. It will also be rolling out new mental health services.

Mr Martin added that social isolation and anxiety were very ‘real issues’ and therefore those living alone or parenting alone would be able to pair with another household as part of a ‘support bubble’. 

Ireland yesterday recorded 1,283 coronavirus cases, but fatalities remain low with just three deaths recorded yesterday. No new deaths were reported. 

Of the new cases, 235 were in Dublin, 232 in Cork, 60 in Galway, 47 in Limerick, 47 in Kerry, and the remaining 410 cases were spread across 21 counties. As of 2pm this afternoon, 298 people with Covid-19 were in hospitals, including 34 people in intensive care units. 

Public health officials yesterday recommended moving to Level 5 for six weeks. It was the second time in a fortnight they had advised the Government to move to the highest level of measures.

The Government did not heed the previous advice. Instead they placed the entire country into Level 3 restrictions. Currently counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3.

Political leaders received briefings from health officials in Dublin on Saturday about their concerns over the recent rapid spread of the virus. The Cabinet sub-committee met this morning to discuss Nphet’s latest advice.

The leaders of the Government parties also met to discuss the final details of the plan ahead of the Cabinet meeting on Monday evening.

Earlier, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan indicated that any new restrictions would not be introduced immediately saying ‘you don’t just flick a switch’.

Asked about a timeline for introducing new measures as he arrived for a sub-Cabinet meeting on Monday, he said: ‘We’ll decide that.

‘I think one of the lessons previously is you don’t just flick a switch, you have to give people a wee bit of notice. But Cabinet will have to decide that.’

Green Party leader Mr Ryan said he hoped the decisions reached would give clarity to the public.

He said: ‘I hope there can be because that’s the important part of it. The Tanaiste put it right the other day, you need a series of indicators, but that will be for Cabinet to decide. ‘

Pubs curfew should be brought forward to 6pm not 10pm says Jonathan Van-Tam

England’s deputy chief medical officer has called for the nation’s 10pm pub curfew to be brought forward to 6pm in an effort to reduce the increasing rates of transmission, according to reports.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam admitted there was little evidence supporting the benefits of a 10pm curfew and said he would prefer a closing time of 6pm instead as he spoke to Greater Manchester MPs during a virtual meeting regarding the city’s refusal to enter Tier 3 restrictions.

When asked if the 10pm curfew reduced the rates of coronavirus transmission, the professor said: ‘Not really. I’d prefer 6pm, or even earlier.’

However the Government advisor also admitted there was no evidence that shutting pubs down completely under a Tier 3 lockdown would control the virus, according to The Daily Telegraph.

His comments come as scores of revellers today braved the winter chill as they enjoyed a night out in the capital’s expanded beer gardens- just a day after London entered Tier Two lockdown.

Pub-goers swapped a night in at home to sit outside the numerous bars in central London’s Soho and get round curbs putting a stop to multiple households sitting inside pubs and restaurants.

He also defended the length of time Government has taken to act on Nphet’s advice to move to level five restrictions for six weeks, which were delivered to Health Minster Stephen Donnelly on Thursday.

‘I think it’s getting things right. It’s complicated, there’s a huge amount of implications for people’s everyday lives.

‘I think it’s appropriate that we try and get the arrangements and the details right in that time.’

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said that social supports must be put in place.

She also called for the cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to be fully restored.

Ms McDonald told RTE’s Morning Ireland that changes to the restrictions must be ‘balanced’ and clearly communicated because people were going to ‘really struggle’ and would be ‘worried sick’ by any new restrictions. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan last week urged the government to bring in the Level 5 restrictions for a six week period.

Counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3. 

On Sunday, it was reported that a new lockdown would last for four weeks, but it has since emerged that ministers are being asked to back six weeks. 

Gaelic games, horse and greyhound racing are still permitted behind closed doors, under the Level 5 rules.

Non-contact sports training for children and young people can continue outdoors but only in pods of 15. Funerals will be limited to 10 people.  

Meanwhile, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that everyone in Wales will be ordered to ‘stay at home’ unless they are critical workers or are unable to work from home. 

The Labour chief warned failure to act now would mean ‘more people will die’ as he said households will be banned from mixing indoors and outdoors while exercise outside will be allowed but it must ‘begin and end at home’.

Primary schools will reopen after half-term next week but secondaries will only reopen years seven and eight, and for pupils doing exams.

The decision to impose a ‘short and deep’ lockdown until November 9, which echoes national demands made by Sir Keir Starmer and wipes out Halloween and Bonfire Night, has sparked a furious political backlash after statistics suggested Wales has a lower coronavirus infection rate than England.  

The ‘firebreak’ step was criticised by Welsh Tories, who said it was dooming Wales to an endless cycle of two-week lockdowns while Conservative MPs in Westminster said it was a ‘blunt instrument’ and ‘closing down the whole of Wales is disproportionate to the level of risk in some parts of the country’.

They also lashed out at Mr Drakeford, accusing him of ‘small man syndrome’, with one MP telling MailOnline: ‘You have got somebody who is the head of what is essentially smaller than the West Midlands but where they have got a mayor, Wales has a first minister. 

‘He is trying to show he is an equal to Boris Johnson. He wants to be regarded as his equal but he is not.’

However, the move has heaped pressure on Mr Johnson who has been desperately resisting the option in England despite backing from his own SAGE experts. 

Lockdown’s lethal toll laid bare: 50,000 children see surgery postponed, treatments for strokes plunge by almost 50%, and one in FIVE people were hit with depression in just one month as devastating effect of coronavirus restrictions are revealed 

A devastating picture of the impact of the lockdown on the nation’s health and wellbeing is today revealed in an exclusive analysis that brings together more than 130 studies.

The Daily Mail audit – based on research published by medical journals, leading academics and charities – shows that the damage inflicted by the lockdown extends into every sphere of health, including cancer, heart disease, addiction, the welfare of children, domestic violence and mental illness.

Experts say the analysis suggests that even after the pandemic ends, it will take years for the NHS to catch up with backlogs – and it will be too late for tens of thousands of patients.

Doctors and politicians called on the Government to ensure all health services are protected if the spread of Covid-19 continues. The audit of 132 documents shows:

  • Delays in treatment are set to cause a 20 per cent rise in deaths among newly diagnosed cancer patients in England – 6,270 excess deaths this year;
  • Treatment for strokes fell by 45 per cent during lockdown and there were more than 2,000 excess deaths in from heart disease;
  • More than 50,000 operations for children were cancelled;
  • Organ transplants fell by two thirds, with the number of those who died on the transplant waiting list almost doubling;
  • Total waiting lists for routine orthopaedic and eye operations are at record levels;
  • Calls to child abuse helplines rocketed;
  • As rates of depression and anxiety doubled, thousands of recovering alcoholics have relapsed.

At least 25,000 more people have died at home during the pandemic in England and Wales because they were unable to – or chose not to – go to hospital, a surge of 43.8 per cent on normal levels.

And 85,400 people died in private homes rather than in hospitals or care homes between March 20, when lockdown started, and September 11, an Office for National Statistics report revealed, the equivalent of around 100 extra deaths a day.

Prince William, speaking to Liverpool business owners yesterday, days after the city was forced into Tier Three virus restrictions, revealed his fears of a ‘mental health catastrophe’ if Britain’s entertainment industry goes bust due to Covid-19.

Cancer patients set to suffer for years

The toll of lockdown on cancer patients will be felt for years, researchers say.

If a tumour is spotted early, it can often be dealt with quickly. But if it spreads there is often nothing a doctor can do.

The suspension of cancer screenings during lockdown is likely to lead to a surge of cases caught too late.

GP appointments also plummeted and between April and August urgent cancer referrals fell by 350,000 in England, according to Cancer Research UK.

Treatment was also put on hold – with chemotherapy procedures falling by between 45 per cent and 66 per cent in April alone.

Academics at UCL calculated that within a year 6,270 extra Britons will have died of cancer in England owing to the pandemic. Hospitals are bracing themselves for a leap in cancer referrals which could add to the impact of a second wave. 

Boris Johnson is poised to place Greater Manchester into the highest level of lockdown restrictions today, despite opposition from local politicians. Talks on whether the region should enter the ‘very high risk’ Tier Three ended in deadlock again.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said talks were continuing with local leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Teesside and the North East. It means another ten million Britons could face the toughest restrictions by the end of this week.

Wales announced it was to re-enter what First Minister Mark Drakeford called a ‘time-limited firebreak’. He described it as ‘a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time’.

More than 43,700 Britons have died from coronavirus, and thousands more would have died had there been no lockdown in March. But, as the country faces tighter restrictions, the focus is now turning to the indirect casualties of those measures.

Professor Karol Sikora, a cancer specialist and head of Buckingham Medical School, said the findings of the Mail’s audit were a ‘stunning demonstration of lockdowns’ harmful effects across society’.

He added: ‘If lockdown were a drug, you’d need to consider the side effects, and yet we’re not – even though we seem to be diving headlong into another one.

‘People sometimes claim it’s a question of health versus the economy, but it’s not – it’s health versus health.’ Professor Sikora supports last week’s Great Barrington Declaration, now signed by more than 10,700 scientists and 29,700 doctors worldwide, calling on governments to adopt an approach of ‘focused protection’, shielding the vulnerable while opening up the economy.

Sunetra Gupta, one of the Declaration’s authors and an Oxford University epidemiologist, said: ‘These papers and data are starting to build the evidence to show that the collateral damage has been immense – and will continue with extreme measures such as lockdowns. The time has surely come to take their full costs measures into account.’

Children’s operations dangerously delayed

Huge numbers of child patients were unable to have operations during lockdown, figures show.

A total of 50,000 children had surgery postponed from March to May.

The figures were revealed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

It warned in a report in July: ‘There is an urgent requirement to re-establish elective children’s surgical services.’ It stressed there was an ‘enormous excess of children…waiting far longer than the recommended 16-week limit for a procedure.’

Meanwhile, a British Paediatric Surveillance Unit survey showed that 32 per cent of experts had seen children whose treatment was delayed by the end of April.

In nine cases where the child died ‘delayed presentation was considered a contributing factor’.

Professor Allyson Pollock, a public health expert at Newcastle University, said: ‘I went along with the previous lockdown, but now the question is, did its harms outweigh the benefits, especially for children and young people?

‘I’m very uncertain about the evidence for the benefits of further blanket measures. They have not been evaluated, and may do real harm. Without very significant investment and expanded public service capacity, the damage will never be repaired. Even with it, it’s going to take years.’

The analysis shows that cancer patients have been especially hard hit and the full cost may not become clear for several years.

A British Medical Journal study found that during lockdown, endoscopies for bowel cancer averaged just 12 per cent of normal levels, and at one point were down to 5 per cent. Delays in bowel cancer diagnosis are likely to lead to between 650 and 2,250 excess deaths in England, according to another BMJ paper. A Lancet study found delays for breast, lung and oesophageal cancer patients caused by the lockdown were likely to cause a further 2,000 excess deaths.

A University College London study for the British Medical Journal found that hospital admissions for chemotherapy fell by up to 66 per cent in April, while urgent referrals for early cancer diagnosis were down by up to 89 per cent. It concluded that this would lead to 6,270 extra deaths in the first year.

According to another BMJ study, there were nearly 2,100 excess deaths in England from heart attacks and strokes, an increase of 8 per cent, while the numbers treated for strokes fell by 45 per cent. The Health Foundation said during the lockdown, accident and emergency visits in England fell by more than half, from more than 80,000 a week to just over 40,000.

Another Lancet paper discovered the average number of organ transplants performed every day fell from 11.6 to 3.1. The total who died while waiting for a transplant increased from 47 in the same period last year to 87 during the three months of lockdown.

How ‘stay at home’ led to fatal heart attacks

Thousands of Britons died of heart attacks and strokes at home in the first months of the pandemic.

Experts believe the Government’s ‘stay-at-home’ message scared the sick into avoiding hospital even when they desperately needed it.

The toll from cardiovascular causes rose by 2,085 in England and Wales from March to June, analysis by the University of Leeds found. Professor Chris Gale, a cardiologist at the university, said the deaths ‘should not have happened’, adding: ‘The message to stay at home was taken literally.

‘The sad irony is that heart attack services remained fully operational… during the peak of the pandemic.’

The British Heart Foundation found that even among under-65s there were 800 more deaths from heart attacks and strokes than average from March to July.

Waiting lists for elective procedures rocketed. The numbers needing orthopaedic operations such as knee and hip replacements rose by more than a third to some 700,000. More than 600,000 people are now waiting for eye procedures for conditions such as cataracts.

According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50,000 children in England had scheduled operations cancelled. The impacts on mental health and addiction to drugs and alcohol were also severe.

The Office of National Statistics found that rates of depression across all ages and genders in England roughly doubled, from one in ten to one in five.

Another paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry said 18 per cent of UK adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the first month of the lockdown. Another suggested: ‘There is a high probability that suicide rates will increase.’

The charity Action on Addiction found that patients recovering from drug or alcohol addiction were likely to suffer a relapse – almost 40 per cent of the total.

There was a surge in calls to the NSPCC emergency helpline, from an average of 5,593 a week before the lockdown to 8,287 in May.

Calls to the domestic abuse charity Refuge were also almost 50 per cent higher in April than the average before the pandemic.

Leading politicians called for the Government to protect health services if restrictions are tightened further.

Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Commons health committee, told the Mail that the mistakes of the first lockdown must not be repeated.

‘The last lockdown was devastating for cancer sufferers and we now know led to thousands of avoidable deaths,’ the former health secretary said.

‘Whatever course of action ministers opt for now, it is simply unconscionable for the NHS to become a Covid-only service: urgent treatment must continue at all costs.’

Labour MP John Spellar said: ‘The collapse of the economy can kill people, delays in diagnosis and treatment kills people. I don’t think Matt Hancock has got the right balance.’

The analysis was started by a senior doctor at a busy NHS hospital who has worked in both Covid and non-Covid wards.

Concerned that she was seeing many patients who were much more ill than she would have expected when they arrived in hospital, she decided to collate a database to present the studies of lockdowns’ impacts in an easily accessible form.



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Sadiq Kahn wears a ‘coat-under-a-blazer’ as he plunges city into Tier Two lockdown Twitter users


‘Sadiq ready for Tier Two beer garden life in his body warmer’: Twitter users have plenty to say about London mayor’s ‘coat-under-a-blazer situation’ as he plunges city into lockdown

  • Sadiq Khan read a statement at City Hall wearing a puffer coat under a suit jacket
  • The look prompted Twitter users to ask if London Assembly had paid heating bill
  • London mayor has plunged the city into Tier Two lockdown from midnight Friday

Twitter users had plenty to say about the London mayor’s ‘coat-under-a-blazer situation’ as he plunged the city into a stricter lockdown.

Sadiq Khan read a statement from City Hall today, wearing a puffer coat under a suit jacket, prompting some hilarious reactions on Twitter.

Some joked that he was ready for ‘beer garden life’ in Tier Two while others wondered whether City Hall had paid the bill for the central heating. 

Sadiq Kahn wore a puffer coat under a suit jacket with the unusual look prompting some hilarious reactions on Twitter as they joked he was preparing for the winter lockdown

Twitter user Sarah Ronan, joked that the London mayor was prepared for the winter lockdown spent drinking outside, writing: ‘Sadiq ready for Tier 2 Beer Garden Life in his body warmer.’

Under Tier Two restrictions, Londoners will be banned from mixing with friends indoors. 

But socialising outdoors – including in pub and private gardens – will still be allowed within the Rule of Six.  

The London Mayor's layered look had users asking whether City Hall had paid the heating bill

The London Mayor’s layered look had users asking whether City Hall had paid the heating bill

Other people chimed in to ask whether City Hall had paid the heating bill, worrying that the mayor needed a warm cup of tea.

Twitter user Kevin Hand said: ‘Someone get poor old Sadiq Kahn a nice warm cuppa.’

Some compared the layered coat and jacket look to a ‘struggling football manager’ or Tottenham Hotspur’s manager José Mourinho.

Some compared the layered coat and jacket look to Tottenham Hotspur's manager José Mourinho

Some compared the layered coat and jacket look to Tottenham Hotspur’s manager José Mourinho

However, social media users were in agreement that the ‘coat-under-a-blazer situation’ was an unconventional fashion choice. 

Paul Rose expressed the unity of opinion on Twitter, writing: ‘Whatever your opinions on London going into Tier 2 lockdown, I think we can all agree that Sadiq Khan wearing a puffy jacket beneath a suit jacket is a look.’

Another person tweeted the question: ‘I wonder if he had to buy a larger Suit Jacket especially!’  

Social media users were in agreement that the 'coat-under-a-blazer situation' was an unconventional fashion choice

Social media users were in agreement that the ‘coat-under-a-blazer situation’ was an unconventional fashion choice

London Assembly Member, Caroline Russell, who was at the Mayor’s Question Time in City Hall today suggested that it was in fact the heating that was the issue. 

She wrote on Twitter: ‘We all literally have layers of jackets and scarves and Caroline Pidgeon and I have blankets wrapped round our legs. 

‘I’m bringing a hot water bottle next time. #MQT [Mayor Question Time] is freezing.’

London Assembly Member, Caroline Russell, who was at the Mayor's Question Time in City Hall today suggested that it was in fact the heating that was the issue

London Assembly Member, Caroline Russell, who was at the Mayor’s Question Time in City Hall today suggested that it was in fact the heating that was the issue

It was announced earlier that the capital will go into a ‘high risk’ Tier Two lockdown from midnight on Friday night after a deal was done with mayor Sadiq Khan. 

Mr Khan had been pushing for the capital to be escalated to Tier Two which has the same restrictions as Tier One with a further ban on households mixing indoors.

As of Saturday nine million Londoners will be banned from overnight stays and mixing with other households indoors, including in bars and other venues.

Multiple households can mix outdoors, including in pub and private gardens, but to a maximum of six people.



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PM plunges millions deeper into lockdown with ‘Three Tier’ plan


Boris Johnson today plunged millions of people deeper into coronavirus lockdown as he delivered a grim warning that he country is teetering on the brink again. 

Unveiling his new ‘Three Tier’ system to MPs, the PM declared that the highest restrictions will mean pubs being shut and households banned from mixing altogether. 

But insisting he had no choice but to act, Mr Johnson said he could not ‘let the virus rip’. ‘Deaths are already rising,’ he said. 

From Wednesday at 5pm, locals in Tier Three zones will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as for work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day – although there are complaints the rules will only be guidance rather than legally enforced. 

Restaurants will be allowed to open, but only until 10.30pm. Where businesses are forced to shut, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. There is expected to be a £28million package to help parts of the country classed as Tier Three. 

‘Retail, schools and universities will remain open,’ Mr Johnson said. 

Liverpool is the highest profile area in the top bracket.

However, another swathe of the country faces being thrown into the Tier Two bracket, meaning bars can stay open but households cannot mix indoors. 

That includes Manchester, which was saved from the highest curbs after frantic lobbying from mayor Andy Burnham and local MPs, as well as the North East, Birmingham and Leicester.

London is not expected to be in Tier Two immediately, with Sadiq Khan and borough leaders due to have a conference call later. A source said Tier 2 was on the cards soon. ‘We are preparing for more measures in the very near future,’ the source said.

Confusingly some areas, such as Oldham and Warrington, will actually see their restrictions loosened, as households cannot currently mix outdoors. 

Mr Johnson told MPs: ‘The number of cases has quadrupled in the last three weeks, there are now more people in hospital with Covid than when we went into lockdown on March 23 and deaths are already rising.’

It comes after the government top advisers were sent out to ‘roll the pitch’ be setting out their grim assessment of the situation. 

As the coronavirus crisis enters a new worrying phase:

  • Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will produce its own ‘tiered’ lockdown system after taking part in the Cobra meeting today, but said she wanted the UK nations to be aligned ‘as closely as possible’; 
  • Professor Van-Tam warned that more deaths and hospitalisations are already ‘baked in’ due to the way cases have risen as he laid out a grim assessment of the COVID situation, teeing up the PM’s announcements later; 
  • The UK is still well below the grim projection of 50,000 cases a day warned of by Sir Patrick Vallance by this stage. However, 12,872 new infections were reported yesterday – up 9 per cent on last Sunday’s adjusted total;
  • London could be place into Tier Two, meaning more restrictions on households mixing, rather than the highest level amid claims that one in eight people in the capital already have antibodies; 
  • Researchers found Covid-19 can survive for a month on surfaces including banknotes and phone screens; 
  • Town hall bosses will be given powers to deploy volunteers to knock on doors and ask people to self-isolate;
  • Labour leaders in the North demanded more cash handouts from the government to support lockdown and called the new furlough scheme ‘insufficient’; 
  • The BCG vaccine was given to 1,000 people in Exeter University trial to test claims that it helps fight Covid by stimulating the immune system.

 

Boris Johnson (pictured in the Commons today) is facing fury as he finally unveils the government's new 'traffic light' coronavirus lockdown system

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam

Boris Johnson (pictured left in the Commons today) is facing fury as he finally unveils the government’s new ‘traffic light’ coronavirus lockdown system. Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam (right) unveiled grim figures at a press briefing in No10 this morning

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam laid out the government's latest assessment of the COVID situation with charts at a briefing today

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam laid out the government’s latest assessment of the COVID situation with charts at a briefing today

Pubs threaten to SUE ministers over curbs 

The UK hospitality industry is mounting a legal challenge to the government’s lockdown restrictions, aiming to stop its plans to close pubs and other venues to tackle the rise in coronavirus cases.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) revealed late on Sunday that the industry has taken legal action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed.

The judicial review will argue that no evidence supports hospitality venues having contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

‘The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England,’ NTIA CEO Michael Kill said in an email.

‘These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package,’ the statement read. 

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a briefing in Downing Street that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks. Nightingale hospitals in the worst affected areas are being put on high readiness to reopen. 

Professor Van-Tam also delivered a stark message that the surge in cases was a ‘nationwide phenomenon’ rather than just in the North, and was spreading from younger people to the more vulnerable old generation.

Prof Powis said the hope that the elderly could be isolated from the increase in infections was proving to be ‘wishful thinking’. 

Mr Johnson is facing fury as he finally unveils the government’s ‘traffic light’ coronavirus lockdown today – with ministers warning it could last till Christmas.

Mr Johnson held a Cobra emergency meeting this morning to finalise the plan, after a weekend of frantic talks with politicians and scientists. He will facing questions at a No10 press conference tonight.  

The PM is defying the wrath of local leaders and Tory MPs to plough ahead with the new system as he desperately struggles to get a grip on surging cases. 

Wrangling over the details – which will be voted on in the Commons tomorrow – went to the wire as politicians tried to squeeze more money out of the government. 

Professor Powis told the No10 briefing this morning: ‘It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest, particularly the North West.

‘In the over-65s – particularly the over-85s – we are seeing steep rises in the numbers of people being admitted to hospital so the claim that the elderly can somehow be fenced off from risk is wishful thinking.’ 

Prof Van-Tam used a series of charts to underline his fears about the situation snowballing. 

‘It has changed in a matter of just a few days and that is clearly of concern to me,’ he said. ‘There is the spread from those younger age groups into the 60 plus age group in the North West and the North East, and there are rates of change in the same places but also extending a little further south.’ 

The experts revealed that temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Prof Powis said there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.

He said: ‘To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms.

‘This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.

‘Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.

‘They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.’

It will be for local clinicians to decide whether they are used for Covid patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without coronavirus.

Prof Van-Tam warned that extra deaths were already ‘baked in’ due to the rise in cases and the lag between infections and people becoming seriously ill.

‘Already, with the cases that we know about, we have baked in additional hospital admissions and sadly we also have baked in additional deaths that are now consequent upon infections that have already happened,’ he said. 

He said the problem was ‘nationwide’ and not solely a problem for northern England.

Addressing a slide shown during the briefing about rates increasing in the South of England, he said: ‘You have worried me now that I might have presented a bi-polar picture that Covid-19 is a problem in the North and not a problem in the South.

‘On the contrary, the epidemic this time has clearly picked up pace in the North of England earlier than it did in the first wave and that almost certainly relates to the fact the disease levels in the North, and certainly in the North West, never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the South.

Medics put South on notice for curbs saying COVID surge is NOT limited to the North 

Government advisers today put the South on notice for new lockdown restrictions warning that the problems are not limited to the North. 

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the northern surge so far was partly because cases had not fallen as low there during the summer.

He insisted the increase was a ‘nationwide phenomenon’, saying extra deaths were already ‘baked in’ due to the lag between infections and people becoming seriously ill.

‘Already, with the cases that we know about, we have baked in additional hospital admissions and sadly we also have baked in additional deaths that are now consequent upon infections that have already happened,’ he said. 

He said the problem was ‘nationwide’ and not solely a problem for northern England.

Addressing a slide shown earlier in the briefing about rates increasing in the South of England, he said: ‘You have worried me now that I might have presented a bi-polar picture that Covid-19 is a problem in the North and not a problem in the South.

‘On the contrary, the epidemic this time has clearly picked up pace in the North of England earlier than it did in the first wave and that almost certainly relates to the fact the disease levels in the North, and certainly in the North West, never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the South.

‘But pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate and that extending brown map that I showed you, which is sourced from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, absolutely makes that point.

‘This is a nationwide phenomenon now that rates are changing upwards across the UK.’

‘But pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate and that extending brown map that I showed you, which is sourced from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, absolutely makes that point.

‘This is a nationwide phenomenon now that rates are changing upwards across the UK.’

Asked about the transmission of the disease in hospitality settings, the medic said: ‘We do know the virus thrives on the thing we like most which is human contact

‘We have increasingly strong evidence about shouting and singing as pressure points on the virus in terms of making the expulsion of virus-laden particles go further and the transmission therefore to become more intense.’

Despite the surge coinciding with the return of schools, Prof Van-Tam said they did not appear to be the driver of the increase.

‘If you salami slice the infection data very carefully across the school age bands, what you actually see is very low rates of increase in infection up to around the age of 16 and then picking up a bit in the 17-18-year-olds as we drift into that age bracket… of really quite intense transmission,’ he said.

‘The evidence that there is significant transmission in schools is not really borne out by the increased infection rates and indeed we already know that children are not drivers of infection and spread in the community in the same way we know they are for influenza, for example.’

Despite claims that the Three-Tier system was part of a drive to simplify the rules across England, it seems the rules could differ slightly different between locations in even within the same risk band. 

Areas such as Manchester fought desperately to be kept out of the toughest category altogether. 

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham tweeted that he was ‘glad the Government has listened’ and avoided putting the region under the harshest lockdown measures.

He added: ‘But any restrictions will lead to loss of trade for businesses & challenges for councils. The PM must give all areas under restrictions full financial support. Anything less will see them levelled down.’

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon also hailed the news. 

‘Pubs serving food remain open. Oldham will be removed from its enhanced lockdown measures and brought into line with GM *at last*,’ he posted.

But Labour frontbench colleague Lisa Nandy complained she had been left out of the Greater Manchester briefing with health Secretary Matt Hancock, even though her constituency is in the area. ‘I suspect this is because they don’t know where Wigan is,’ she sniped. 

London is expected to be kept in Tier Two, but that would still mean stronger limits on households socialising.  

The measures will initially be in place for four weeks before a review, but Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested this morning that they are likely to stay in place until Christmas. 

One angry Tory MP for a northern seat told MailOnline: ‘I won’t be going round his house on December 25.’ 

They added: ‘It will be very frustrating if pubs get closed with 48 hours’ notice. Why not focus on the elderly and vulnerable and save jobs and lives?’ 

Another MP for an affected region complained that the government was ‘running around like headless chickens’.

For Tier Two, households will not be allowed to mix indoors, similar to restrictions already in place in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, while Tier One will be similar to the rules currently in place across England. 

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Dowden said that tough new coronavirus restrictions may be needed until after Christmas.

Mr Dowden told Sky News: ‘If those measures are successful we hope to be able to take areas out of those high levels of restrictions.

Doctors ‘are better placed’ to save lives this time around 

Doctors now in a ‘better position’ to treat Covid-19 than in March and April, top NHS official says

Britain’s doctors are in a ‘better position’ to treat Covid-19 than they were in March and April, according to one of the NHS’ top officials.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, told the TV briefing at Downing Street that the nation has ‘clearly learnt many things from that first wave”.

He said: ‘We have learnt better treatments for patients, and dexamethasone… we learnt that that reduces deaths.’

Dexamethasone was added to doctors’ arsenal of medications for treating coronavirus in June, after University of Oxford researchers proved it could help critically-ill patients.

The cheap and widely available steroid — thought to cost £5 per patient — saves lives by calming the immune system.

Medical advice says it should be given in ‘severe and critical’ cases only, as in more mild infections it could make the disease worse by impairing the body’s ability to fight it off.

Professor Powis’ claims come after separate data today revealed the chances of surviving coronavirus after falling critically ill have increased significantly since the pandemic began.

The proportion of patients dying in hospital intensive care units has fallen from around 30 per cent to below 20 per cent since April.

The fall in the death rate as a proportion of all patients admitted to hospital is even more striking – plummeting from 6 per cent at the peak to around 2 per cent now.

‘The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control.

‘Indeed I hope it will be sooner than that.’

Mr Dowden denied that the government was ‘panicking’ about rising cases and imposing knee-jerk curbs.  

‘We are certainly not panicking. We are taking reasonable and proportionate measures because we can see the risk coming down the line,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘It is sadly the case that the number of deaths tends to lag the number of infections. If you look at the lead indicators – both the number of infections and now sadly the number of people that are in hospitals with Covid – all of those point to a rapidly rising disease. The path is very clear.’

Mr Dowden said the case for new restrictions on the hospitality sector was supported by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

‘We know there are challenges around hospitality – for example, the obvious point you can’t wear a mask when you are sat down and eating, that frequently you are in contact (with people) that you don’t normally meet, and we know that the virus thrives on that kind of social interaction.’

Speaking after the Cobra meeting this morning, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford voiced ‘deep disappointment at the inadequate proposals for travel restrictions in high infection areas in England’.

In a statement the Welsh government said they would be met with ‘great dismay in many parts of Wales where infection rates are lower’. 

‘He also requested greater clarity on the metrics for placing areas into each tier, and agreed with other devolved leaders that the Treasury’s proposals for financial support, while welcome, did not go far enough in protecting the lowest paid workers,’ a spokesman said. 

Vaughan Gething, Wales’ Health Minister, told a press conference: ‘Myself and the First Minister are meeting again later today but we’re both really disappointed that the Prime Minister is still taking an approach where there is only going to be guidance on whether people should or shouldn’t travel out of highly infected areas.

‘This isn’t just an issue for Wales, it’s an issue for the whole UK – lower prevalence areas in England will be equally affected as lower prevalence areas in Wales.

‘We do understand that there has already been an importation of coronavirus cases from contact with some of those high prevalence areas in England.’

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government, which has been considering imposing quarantine restrictions on people arriving in Wales from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus, would meet later on Monday and ‘make choices’.

Ms Sturgeon said she was putting together a Scotland version of the tiers, and would look to align as closely with the rest of the UK as possible.

‘At a strategic level, we will be looking to align as closely as possible with the other UK nations – I think it is important and it makes sense to try to do that,’ she said.

‘Though, I would stress that operational decisions about what tiers may apply in which parts of our nations will be for each of us to take at a devolved level.’

Sturgeon hails ‘good’ compliance with her ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown

Nicola Sturgeon insisted that compliance with her ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown had been ‘good’ over the weekend.  

Pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland have been ordered to close, while elsewhere alcohol can only be served in outdoor areas.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The early anecdotal evidence that we have from the police would suggest that compliance with the new rules and with rules generally has been good.

‘That’s encouraging – these new restrictions are really tough for everybody and they are tough for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.

‘Nobody is unaware of that but they are vital for helping to stem the increase in cases, bring it back under control and of course stem the increase in hospital admissions and illness that we have been seeing.’

With the measures in place for two weeks, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is looking to ensure the long-term suppression of the virus.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that compliance with her ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown had been ‘good’ over the weekend.  

Pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland have been ordered to close, while elsewhere alcohol can only be served in outdoor areas.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The early anecdotal evidence that we have from the police would suggest that compliance with the new rules and with rules generally has been good.

‘That’s encouraging – these new restrictions are really tough for everybody and they are tough for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.

‘Nobody is unaware of that but they are vital for helping to stem the increase in cases, bring it back under control and of course stem the increase in hospital admissions and illness that we have been seeing.’

With the measures in place for two weeks, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is looking to ensure the long-term suppression of the virus.

The upcoming clampdown is seen as a ‘gamble’ to avoid having to implement a Scottish-style ‘circuit-breaker’ national lockdown over the October half-term. 

Dr Margaret Harris, from the World Health Organisation, said the UK was now fourth in the world in terms of its rise in Covid-19 cases.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘You are certainly not on your own.

‘We are seeing very, very large outbreaks around the world – only last week India led the number of new cases, 504,000, followed by the US with 327,000 and then Brazil.

‘But the United Kingdom is number four and what we are seeing is that, in Europe particularly, in more and more countries we’re seeing a bigger change in the number of cases.’

Asked how the UK compared to other European nations, Dr Harris said: ‘The UK recorded 110,827 to us last week and France reported 110,065 – you’re essentially on parity with France at the moment.

‘Russia also recorded a large number, as did Spain but we’re seeing upticks in many countries across Europe, particularly as I said in France and Spain but also we’ve seen changes in Italy and more of the eastern European countries. 

Earlier, Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said discussions on new measures had been going on ‘all night’.

 Mr Rotheram made clear getting more money was his main aim, and took a thinly-veiled swipe at Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham – usually a close ally – for ‘shouting at the wind’. 

‘What we are trying to do is to see whether we can get support and the support package for the businesses in our city region that will be affected by the government’s decision,’ Mr Rotheram said.

On arriving at No10 this morning, Prof Van-Tam produced his pass from what appeared to be an otherwise empty briefcase

On arriving at No10 this morning, Prof Van-Tam produced his pass from what appeared to be an otherwise empty briefcase

Prof Van-Tam warned that more deaths and hospitalisations were already 'baked in' due to the recent rise in cases

Prof Van-Tam warned that more deaths and hospitalisations were already ‘baked in’ due to the recent rise in cases 

Covid-19 cases less than HALF of Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty’s doomsday prediction of 50,000 by tomorrow 

Britain’s coronavirus crisis has fallen far short of the Government’s doomsday prediction of 50,000 cases a day by tomorrow, figures show. 

Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, the country’s chief scientific and medical officers, made the bleak forecast last month as they urged Britons to abide by new lockdown curbs amid rising cases.

Speaking at the Downing Street TV press conference on September 22 — when there were about 4,000 infections each day — they warned that case numbers could continue to double every week.

Sir Patrick said: ‘If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated, and this grows, doubling every seven days, you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.’

But the latest figures released yesterday show the true trajectory of the virus has fallen well short of the doomsday scenario, with the Department of Health recording 12,872 positive tests.

Covid-19 case numbers are always lower on weekends because of a recording lag, which means the real number of infections on Sunday will probably be slightly higher.

But infections should have been above 40,000, according to the Government’s depressing estimates last month. And cases will need to rise by 37,128 within the next 24 hours for Sir Patrick and Professor Whitty’s predictions to come true. 

The advisers also warned deaths could soon surge past 200 but there were 65 victims yesterday — not even a third of the September forecast.

‘We were told we were going into Tier Three, no ifs, no buts. We can either expend energy on that or we can try and get a better deal.

‘Some people like to shout at the wind but if they can’t change the direction of the wind it is important to shield people from its effects.’ 

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson tweeted to say he had been told ‘no buts’ over what would be imposed on his city.

‘Let’s be clear that having ignored my pleas for over a month, the Government now blame us, and impose ‘lockdown by diktat’ without a full financial package and support for businesses we are levelling down not levelling up,’ he said.

‘We will continue to stand up for our local businesses.’

Politicians from Manchester launched a last-ditch appeal to ministers not to shut all pubs and restaurants in the city and instead hand them the power to only close those which are not meeting coronavirus safety restrictions. 

The City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said they have made the case that Greater Manchester should be placed in Tier Two rather than closing pubs and bars.

‘They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘We have far more finely-grained data collected by our own directors of public health that seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid.’

Shadow business minister and Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell called on the Government to publish proof that hospitality venues such as pubs were associated with high risk of coronavirus transmissions.

She tweeted: ‘Government and scientists still haven’t produced this evidence. The big problem for them is local leaders have all the same data (in fact better data for their areas) and they know hospitality settings make up a very small proportion of infection transmission.’  

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said local officials are still in discussions with the Government as to what restrictions should apply in the area.

He said they have made the case that Greater Manchester should be placed in Tier 2 rather than the stricter Tier 3 which could mean closing pubs and bars.

‘They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘We have far more finely-grained data collected by our own directors of public health that seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid.’

Covid alert body ‘must be more transparent’

The Government has been urged to lift the lid on the highly-secretive Joint Biosecurity Centre which took over the UK’s coronavirus response in July. 

The JBC – which was set up in May at the cost of £9billion – has been slammed as ‘far too opaque’.

MP and chairman of the science and technology committee Dr Greg Clark said the British public ‘deserve answers’ from the group – which advises decisions about widely-impactful local lockdowns up and down the country.

Little is known about the JBC – which is headed by Dr Clare Gardiner, a qualified epidemiologist, medical researcher, and cybersecurity director at GCHQ –  and it is unclear how much engagement it has with independent scientists.

What is known, however, is that that JBC decides on national alert levels and puts forward actions to help combat any local outbreaks.

Liverpool recorded the second-highest infection rate in England in the 14 days before October 4, with 4,593 confirmed cases (928.2 per 100,000 people). The neighbouring borough of Knowsley had the worst rate, with 1,412 cases and an infection rate of 944.

Government Sources told MailOnline that Liverpool is ‘basically there’ to be included in Tier Three. 

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

‘We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

‘This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.’ 

Manchester is also understood to be on the verge of Tier Three, with five of the city’s MPs warning Mr Johnson of the ‘devastating impact’ of closing businesses.

Not only would ‘jobs, livelihoods and businesses,’ be put on the line, but more illegal gatherings would result, they said.

The letter was sent by Labour’s Lucy Powell, Jeff Smith, Mike Kane, Afzal Khan and Graham Stringer.  

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has also blasted a lack of communication from the Government, while the leader of Bolton Council David Greenhalgh warned the squeeze would  destroy the economy of the north of England.

Revellers leave the pubs after closing time in Liverpool city centre after enjoying the last weekend before COVID restrictions are expected to force pubs and bars close in the area

Revellers leave the pubs after closing time in Liverpool city centre after enjoying the last weekend before COVID restrictions are expected to force pubs and bars close in the area

Some 65 more people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 - nearly double the 33 deaths recorded last week

Some 65 more people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 – nearly double the 33 deaths recorded last week

A further 12,872 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as the country’s daily case total stays above the 10,000 mark for an entire week

 

Londoners ‘face ban on mixing households’ within days  

London’s nine million-strong population is set to be banned by the government from seeing their friends and family indoors within days – as Boris Johnson prepares to stop households mixing, while still keeping pubs, restaurants and gyms open.

The capital is expected to be hurled into Tier Two of the new restrictions drawn up by the Tories to try and stem the spread of coronavirus infections, if the outbreak continues to spiral.

It will prohibit households from mixing indoors, although up to six from different homes will still be allowed to meet up outside. Health chiefs, who will this week meet to analyse several sets of Covid-19 data, are also understood to be discussing whether or not to limit travel to ‘only essential’ trips.

The tier level also sees pubs, restaurants and gyms still permitted to open up their doors. They will still have to obey the current 10pm curfew rules, however.

London mayor Sadiq Khan last week warned tougher lockdown measures in the capital are ‘inevitable’. He warned it was important to curtail the virus’s spread in the city before the pandemic gets to levels ‘we saw in March and April’.

It comes as medical chiefs today sounded a grim warning about the resurgent threat from coronavirus. Hours before the Prime Minister is due to set out a new ‘traffic light’ system of curbs for England, top government advisers were sent out to ‘roll the pitch’ with a stark assessment of the danger.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a briefing in Downing Street that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks.

 

Meanwhile, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has started legal proceedings to challenge the Government’s impending lockdown of hospitality and entertainment venues.

Mr Lord said leaders had not seen ‘any tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure’ of hospitality in the area and said lawyers had been engaged for a Judicial Review into the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the sectors.

Labour leader Keir Starmer seized on the wrangling to claim the government was treating parts of the country with ‘contempt’.

‘The government has been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East – and their leaders – with contempt, that Whitehall knows best and we will simply tell you what’s coming your way. It’s just not good enough, you have to take people with you on this, listen to what local leaders are saying,’ he told LBC during a phone-in.

MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures later this week.

The Prime Minister will hold a press conference in Downing Street with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty later on Monday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

‘We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

‘This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.’

Number 10 stressed the extent of discussions with local leaders over the weekend following criticism from some Northern authorities and mayors that not enough consultation had taken place since the Covid crisis began.

Downing Street said senior Number 10 advisers and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick held discussions local authority chiefs and mayors from ‘the highest areas of concern’.

The local authorities have also expressed concern about the impact of harsher restrictions on their own finances, with the statement saying they are existing ‘hand to mouth’.

It said: ‘(We) are currently unable to plan for the medium or long-term.

‘A clearer funding settlement must be achieved that enables us to forward plan, continue to deliver essential public services, avoid large scale redundancies for Local Authority key workers and set a budget for next year with confidence.

‘Therefore, we are seeking assurance from Treasury that, in coming to that national position, no local authorities placed on Tier 3 measures will be put in a position where they are unable to balance their budget this year or cannot set a legal budget next year.

‘In this respect we have agreed that a further discussion with Treasury will take place on this matter.’

The UK recorded another 12,872 coronavirus cases yesterday, marking a nine per cent increase on last Sunday’s adjusted total which followed the Government’s extraordinary figures blunder.

The figures mark a 2,294-case drop from Saturday’s daily total of 15,166. Saturday’s death toll was 81 – 16 more deaths than the 65 recorded today. 

Over the weekend Professor Van-Tam said ‘the seasons are against us’ and the country is running into a ‘headwind’ ahead of the winter months.

In a statement, Prof Van-Tam said that while the epidemic ‘re-started’ again among younger people over the past few weeks, there is ‘clear evidence of a gradual spread into older age groups’ in the worst-hit areas.

But he also said the UK has ‘much improved testing capabilities’ and ‘better treatments’ available, meaning that ‘we know where it is and how to tackle it’.

He stressed the importance of following public health guidance and minimising contact with others, adding: ‘I know this is very hard, but it is an unfortunate scientific fact that the virus thrives on humans making social contact with one another.’ 

Life in three-tier Britain: All your questions answered on restrictions for Medium, High and Very High risk areas 

The Prime Minister will today divide the country into ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ coronavirus alert sectors amid a tightening of lockdown rules that could last until Christmas.

The three-tier system comes after a 9.3 percent increase in cases on the previous week, with parts of northern England having the worst rates of infection.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a briefing in Downing Street this morning that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks.

Professor Van-Tam also delivered a stark message that the surge in cases was spreading from younger people to the more vulnerable old generation.

And Prof Powys said the hope that the elderly could be isolated from the increase in infections was proving to be ‘wishful thinking’.

Here MailOnline outlines what the tiers mean and who they could affect: 

TIER ONE  

Tier one restrictions are believed to mirror those already in place across England.

These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.  

TIER TWO 

Tier two restrictions are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, where indoor mixing of households is prohibited.

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

TIER THREE 

Locals will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas will also be banned, The Sun reports. 

Households are expected to be told not to mix either indoors or outdoors.  

From 5pm on Wednesday, hundreds of pubs in the northwest will be closed, The Telegraph reports. 

Restaurants will be limited to takeaway services only, the BBC says, and bookies, casinos, gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers could all be shut.

It is believed that these measures will be imposed for four weeks before they are reviewed.

If a business is closed due to third tier restrictions, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month under plans set out by Rishi Sunak last Thursday. 

WHO IS GOING INTO TIER THREE LOCKDOWN? 

The Government has not yet confirmed revealed which areas will go into the strictest lockdown.

But politicians inLiverpool said they expected to be put in Tier Three, subject to the most draconian restrictions, including shutting pubs and banning households from mixing from 5pm on Wednesday. 

Other parts of the North West including Manchester could follow. Dr Jane Eddleston, medical lead in Greater Manchester, told the briefing: ‘The North West has about 40 per cent of all Covid cases at the moment and this is proving very challenging for us.

‘Within Greater Manchester, we have seen a threefold increase in the number of patients admitted to intensive care in the last five weeks and an eightfold increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals.

‘The situation at the moment is that 30 per cent of our critical care beds are taken up with patients with Covid and this is starting to impact on the services we provide for other patients.’

The decision will be based on the rate of infection.

Nottingham leads in England, with 2,763 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 8 – the equivalent of 830.0 cases per 100,000 people.

This is a huge jump from 314.5 per 100,000 in the seven days to October 1.

Nottingham City Council expects a local lockdown to be imposed on Monday, with councils in the area asking residents to not mix with people outside of their households or bubbles.

Knowsley has the second highest rate, which has climbed from 485.9 to 669.5, with 1,010 new cases.

Neighbouring Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has increased from 504.4 to 598.5, with 2,981 new cases. 

Other areas recording big jumps in their seven-day rates which may lead to restrictions include West Lancashire (up from 217.8 to 398.1, with 455 new cases); Exeter (up from 229.8 to 380.5, with 500 new cases); Blackburn with Darwen (up from 208.4 to 355.4, with 532 new cases); and Broxtowe (up from 115.8 to 265.7, with 303 new cases).

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? 

The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Government’s COBR committee this morning to finalise the scheme, and will give a statement in the Commons at around 3.30pm

In a statement today, seven local leaders from Merseyside including Metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City mayor Joe Anderson said they had been told pubs, bars, betting shops, casinos, adult gaming centres and gyms would all have to close.

They said that they had made clear the support on offer – including the job support scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak for the Government to pay up to two thirds of the salaries of staff in businesses ordered to close – was inadequate.

Mr Rotheram said there was little they could do to challenge the decision, but that discussions had been continuing through the night on an improved support package.

‘We were told we were going into Tier 3, no ifs, no buts. We can either expend energy on that or we can try and get a better deal,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘Some people like to shout at the wind but if they can’t change the direction of the wind it is important to shield people from its effects.’

Mr Anderson said on Twitter that leaders had been told restaurants would not have to close under the new restrictions.

He said: ‘To be clear the Government agreed with CA leaders and me that restaurants can continue to stay open across the city and region till 10.30 pm.’

In Manchester, City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said local leaders were still in discussions with the Government as to what restrictions should apply in the area.

Despite high levels of infections, he said they had made the case that Greater Manchester should be placed in Tier 2 as there was little evidence that pubs and bars had been responsible for the spread of the disease in the area.

‘They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work,’ he told the Today programme.

‘We have far more finely-grained data collected by our own directors of public health that seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid.’

This evening Mr Johnson will host a press conference at Downing Street where he will be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Downing Street said MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the three-tier measures next week.

WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN? 

Many of the local political leaders in the areas likely to face the harshest restrictions were in discussions with the Government over the extent of the lockdown and financial support available.  

They fear that Rishi Sunak’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) upgrade announced last week to cover 67 per cent of wages will not be enough and want something closer to the 80 per cent paid out by the soon-to-end furlough programme.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden denied that ministers had been ‘panicked’ into imposing economically damaging new measures at a time when deaths from Covid-19 were relatively low compared to the start of the pandemic.

While he said that he hoped controls would be able to be eased, he acknowledged that they may be required to remain in place until Christmas and beyond.

‘The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control,’ he told Sky News.

‘Indeed I hope it will be sooner than that.’

St Helens Council leader David Baines said the level of restrictions and the detail of businesses which would be forced to close were ‘not up for negotiation’ with the Government.

In a statement, he said: ‘Government had decided this already and were adamant that they wanted to keep education, retail and the majority of workplaces open, giving us the indication that all other settings were chosen for closure by default.

‘There is no scientific evidence we have been given that shows the areas told to close are a higher risk than others.

‘We still do not know the full list of businesses and settings that will be told to close.

‘It was suggested in one call with senior Government officials at the weekend that pubs that serve ”substantial meals” may be allowed to stay open, but I can’t confirm this.’

He said leaders had asked for details on the thresholds for each tier but no details had been given so far.

Meanwhile, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, has started legal proceedings to challenge the lockdown of hospitality and entertainment venues.

Mr Dowden made clear the Government would resist any legal action, insisting ministers were supported by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

‘We know there are challenges around hospitality – for example, the obvious point you can’t wear a mask when you are sat down and eating, that frequently you are in contact with people that you don’t normally meet, and we know that the virus thrives on that kind of social interaction,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

He said the Government had to act now amid clear evidence the disease was on the rise again. 

Graph by graph: What the data presented today REALLY show 

‘Second peak’ of cases since the summer – but not comparable to April

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, held a televised briefing today to warn that hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 will rise in the next few weeks

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, held a televised briefing today to warn that hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 will rise in the next few weeks

The first graph presented by the deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam was the familiar day-by-day count of positive coronavirus tests over time.

It shows a dramatic spike in cases in September and October after a lull in the summer, which illustrates that the virus is rebounding in the UK.

Department of Health testing data shows that in the last week of July, when the virus appeared to have been driven into submission over the summer, there were an average of 753 people diagnosed with Covid-19 each day.

The daily cases hit a low point of 352 on July 6, when there were fewer cases than at any time since the public testing system was set up.

By the September 24, however, the average number of daily infections had surged to 4,964 per day and, now in the second week of October, there have been more than 12,000 cases every day for the last nine days straight.

However the Government graph, Dr Van-Tam admitted, is an ‘apples and pears comparison’ and it could be misleading if looked at over the entire year.

It makes the spike in cases now appear larger than the one that sent the country into lockdown in the spring, which is inaccurate.

The first hump of cases, seen in March, April and May, happened at a time when there was no public testing system for many weeks and, when one was set up, it managed fewer than 30,000 tests per day until the end of April.

This meant criteria for tests had to be stricter and they picked up on the most seriously ill patients, not people who only had mild illnesses.

By comparison, there are now around 230,000 tests done per day, the vast majority of which are negative. 

Dr Van-Tam said: ‘Comparing [the first peak] with the second peak, please bear in mind that this is an apples and pears comparison based on case numbers, because our testing capacity in the spring was very much lower than it is now.

‘But the key point is that having had a rather flat summer with very low amounts of Covid-positive patients in the UK, you can see that from early September there has been a marked peak.’

This slide shows how the number of positive coronavirus tests has spiked in the UK since a lull in the summer. The second spike is not comparable to the first because so many more tests are being done now than they were then

This slide shows how the number of positive coronavirus tests has spiked in the UK since a lull in the summer. The second spike is not comparable to the first because so many more tests are being done now than they were then

Outbreak focused in the North of England but ‘extending south’ 

Dr Van-Tam presented a series of maps which show how the second wave of coronavirus is focused in the North of England.

This backs up what official data has been showing for weeks and makes clear that the worst-affected parts of the country are in the region around Manchester and Liverpool, as well as Newcastle and Sunderland. 

Darker patches on the map illustrate higher numbers of Covid-19 cases per person (purple map) and outbreaks that are growing more quickly week by week (brown map). 

Dr Van-Tam said: ‘There are now very dark areas in the North West of England, in the North East of England and, really, a confluent dark purple colour across the northern part of the UK, extending down into the West Midlands and the East Midlands.’

He added: ‘Of rather more concern [statistics on the brown map] indicate the latest data on where things are heating up…  

‘You can see that the reach of the dark brown colours is further south into a greater land mass across England and, in fact, I received these slides this morning – I showed very similar data to MPs in the House of Lords on Friday and the brown chart had not extended that far south.

‘So it has changed in a matter of just a few days and that is clearly a matter of concern to me.’

Weekly Public Health England data showed on Friday that 18 out of the 19 areas with a coronavirus infection rate of more than 250 cases per 100,000 people (0.25 per cent) are in the North of the country, with the exception only of Nottingham.

The vast majority of areas with local lockdown rules are in the North and there are no regional restrictions further south than the Midlands.

Knowsley in Merseyside was the worst-affected area by Friday, October 9, with 557 cases of Covid-19 for every 100,000 people – meaning one in every 180 people is infected.

This was followed by Manchester (532 per 100,000), Liverpool (517) and Newcastle (475). 

The fastest rate of growth in the first week of October was seen in Nottingham, where cases surged almost seven-fold from 62 per 100,000 to 424 in a week, making it the fifth worst hit place in the country.

There were also fast rises of more than triple in areas outside of the Northern hot spot, including Devon, Suffolk, Torbay, Brighton and Richmond upon Thames.

Mapped coronavirus infection rates show that cases are concentrated in the North of England but the outbreak is 'extending' south, Professor Van-Tam said. (Pictured: Areas with the darkest patches are the worst-affected. Purple map, left, shows the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000. Brown map, right, shows the change in the infection rate between the last week of September and first week of October)

Mapped coronavirus infection rates show that cases are concentrated in the North of England but the outbreak is ‘extending’ south, Professor Van-Tam said. (Pictured: Areas with the darkest patches are the worst-affected. Purple map, left, shows the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000. Brown map, right, shows the change in the infection rate between the last week of September and first week of October)

Cases highest among teens and 20s but leaking into older at-risk groups

Separate maps and heat charts presented by Dr Van-Tam showed how cases are rising in elderly people in areas that have bad outbreaks.

Throughout the second wave the resurging cases have been pinned on young people, with infection rates highest in people in their 20s, followed by teenagers.

Much of the rise in cases has come after students returned to school and university, and student areas are seeing up to seven times as many people getting infected as other parts of the country.

To begin with rising infections among young people were not a huge concern because they are significantly less likely to die from Covid-19, and young schoolchildren did not seem to be experiencing more cases.

But in the worst-hit areas – as chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned would happen in the last TV briefing – infections have now crept into older groups.

Dr Van-Tam said today: Our resurgence of cases this autumn has been mainly in adults aged 20 to 29 years of age and that is absolutely true.’

Showing maps plotting cases of specifically people aged 60 and over, the deputy chief medical officer explained: ‘You can see that there is the spread from those younger age groups into the 60-plus age group in the North West and the North East and there are rates of change in the same place, but also extending a little futher south.

‘This is again of significant concern… because, of course, the elderly suffer a much worse course with Covid-19. They are admitted to hospital for longer periods and they are more difficult to save.’

Last week’s PHE report showed that infection rates are highest in 10 to 19-year-olds – at 237 cases per 100,000 people – followed by 20 to 29-year-olds (200).

They are markedly lower in the older age groups, with rates of 62 for those in their 60s, 39 per 100,000 for people in their 70s and 53 for the 80+ group.

Cases are rising among the at-risk over-60s in areas that have bad outbreaks, top medics warned, meaning hospital admissions will rise in those areas. The same trend is likely to continue across the whole country, they said (Pictured: Areas with the darkest patches are the worst-affected. Purple map, left, shows the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000. Brown map, right, shows the change in the infection rate between the last week of September and first week of October)

Cases are rising among the at-risk over-60s in areas that have bad outbreaks, top medics warned, meaning hospital admissions will rise in those areas. The same trend is likely to continue across the whole country, they said (Pictured: Areas with the darkest patches are the worst-affected. Purple map, left, shows the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000. Brown map, right, shows the change in the infection rate between the last week of September and first week of October)

However, although these age groups have lower rates they have risen at approximately the same pace as younger people. 

Rates may be lower because elderly people are more aware about the personal risks they face and more likely to keep social distancing and shield themselves at home.

In the month up to October 4, the infection rate in people in their 60s more than tripled from 21 cases per 100,000 to 62.

This 199 per cent increase was close to the 221 per cent rise seen in the 20 to 29 age group, where the infection rate rose from 62 to 199.5 during the same time frame. 

While rising cases in the under-30s may not directly increase the death toll, it is dragging up case rates in the elderly, data shows, which will inevitably lead to fatalities.   

In a series of heat charts, Dr Van-Tam explained that although in the North West cases appeared to be growing only among 16 to 29-year-olds in early September, they quickly spread to older, more at-risk age groups.

This heat map illustrates how infection rates have changed in different age groups since the start of September. Age groups are listed horizontally with the oldest at the top for each region, while the dates run across the bottom. The darkening of a box shows infections are increasing. As the dark boxes move higher towards the top of the graph, it means cases are increasing among at-risk older age groups

This heat map illustrates how infection rates have changed in different age groups since the start of September. Age groups are listed horizontally with the oldest at the top for each region, while the dates run across the bottom. The darkening of a box shows infections are increasing. As the dark boxes move higher towards the top of the graph, it means cases are increasing among at-risk older age groups

The trend was most obvious in the North West, Professor Van-Tam pointed out, where most of the infections (dark orange boxes) were concentrated in younger groups (lower rows) in early September, but have since moved higher up meaning older people are getting infected

The trend was most obvious in the North West, Professor Van-Tam pointed out, where most of the infections (dark orange boxes) were concentrated in younger groups (lower rows) in early September, but have since moved higher up meaning older people are getting infected

The diagonal line broadly shows that the infection rates seen in younger people at the start of September are now happening in older groups, meaning hospital admissions and deaths are likely to increase

The diagonal line broadly shows that the infection rates seen in younger people at the start of September are now happening in older groups, meaning hospital admissions and deaths are likely to increase

More patients in hospital than before first lockdown, and admissions rising 

Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director for NHS England, flanked Dr Van-Tam this morning to warn the public that hospital admissions are rising.

There are more people in hospital now, Professor Powis said, than there were before Britain went into lockdown in the spring.

Statistics show there were 3,097 patients in hospitals in England with coronavirus on March 23, the day Boris Johnson made his landmark address to the nation. 

This number was surpassed on Saturday, when the number of people on wards hit 3,225, and it is now at least 3,451. 

The rate of increase in March was immense, however – the number of patients tripled in just one week to 10,767 on March 30.  

At the current rate of rise, according to Government figures, it took three weeks for the number of patients in hospital to treble, from 1,141 on September 20.  

Daily admissions are significantly lower now than they were then, but are rising as case numbers continue to go up around the UK.

There are an average of 487 admissions per day in England at the moment, compared to around 1,049 daily in the first week of lockdown and more than 2,700 at the peak.

Professor Powis said: ‘You will see, since the beginning of September, paralleling that rise in infection in the community… we are starting to see an increased rise in hospital cases.

‘It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest… particularly the North West, where you can see that hospital cases are accelerating the fastest and are at the highest.’

The hospitalisation graphs show that, although cases are high in young people and low among the elderly, the opposite is true of hospital cases. 

In the week to October 4 there were nearly 40 over-85s admitted to hospital every day with Covid-19, compared to an average of fewer than five under-65s.

As well as a clear age divide, there is a regional divide in hospitalisations that is not seen in the graphs.

Of the 3,451 hospital patients recorded yesterday, 2,132 are in the North West and North East & Yorkshire regions alone (62 per cent). 

In the week to October 4 there were nearly 40 over-85s admitted to hospital every day with Covid-19, compared to an average of fewer than five under-65s

In the week to October 4 there were nearly 40 over-85s admitted to hospital every day with Covid-19, compared to an average of fewer than five under-65s

NHS England's medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: 'It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest... particularly the North West, where you can see that hospital cases are accelerating the fastest and are at the highest'

NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest… particularly the North West, where you can see that hospital cases are accelerating the fastest and are at the highest’

Hospital cases are currently concentrated in the North of England where daily admissions are higher than the national average, this graph shows. Separate Government data shows that of the 3,451 hospital patients recorded yesterday, 2,132 are in the North West and North East & Yorkshire regions alone (62 per cent)

Hospital cases are currently concentrated in the North of England where daily admissions are higher than the national average, this graph shows. Separate Government data shows that of the 3,451 hospital patients recorded yesterday, 2,132 are in the North West and North East & Yorkshire regions alone (62 per cent)

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust currently has the highest number of coronavirus patients of any hospital in England, data shows

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust currently has the highest number of coronavirus patients of any hospital in England, data shows

Time lags mean hospital cases and deaths now relate to a time with fewer cases; both will rise in coming weeks

While warning about rising numbers of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19, the chief medics stressed the point that there is a lag in the records.

On average it takes a severely ill coronavirus patient around seven to 10 days to become sick enough with coronavirus to need hospital care.

Once they are in hospital, they usually spend between five and 23 days on wards until they recover enough to go home or die. Some patients stay for longer, while others recover or die faster than the average period.

Around one in three people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have died with the disease so far in England. 

The time delays mean it can take a month or more between someone catching the virus and then dying, so the surging number of cases now (an average 14,000 diagnosed per day, plus others that do not get tested) may not lead to an obvious increase in deaths until mid-November.

‘I want to be very clear with you that, as patients become ill with Covid-19, they don’t immediately go into hospital,’ said Professor Van-Tam.

‘And they don’t die in hospital the moment they arrive. Some, unfortunately, do die – but not instantly. 

‘The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a lag between cases and when we see hospital admissions rise and when we see deaths rise.’

He added: ‘Hospital admissions we have now actually relate to a time when there were fewer cases of Covid-19, and what I’m trying to say here is that already, with the cases that we know about, we have baked in additional hospital admissions and, sadly, we also have baked in additional deaths that are now consequent upon infections that have already happened.’

On average it takes a severely ill coronavirus patient around seven to 10 days to become sick enough with coronavirus to need hospital care. Once they are in hospital, they usually spend between five and 23 days on wards until they recover enough to go home or die. Some patients stay for longer, while others recover or die faster than the average period

On average it takes a severely ill coronavirus patient around seven to 10 days to become sick enough with coronavirus to need hospital care. Once they are in hospital, they usually spend between five and 23 days on wards until they recover enough to go home or die. Some patients stay for longer, while others recover or die faster than the average period

Risk of coronavirus death in hospital is FALLING: Treatment helps intensive care fatalities drop to 20%, new figures reveal 

The chances of surviving coronavirus after falling critically ill have increased significantly since the pandemic began, data shows.

Scientists say improved treatment has seen death rates in the most seriously ill patients fall by almost a third since the peak.

The figures have also been helped by more widespread testing picking up a greater number of less serious cases.

The proportion of patients dying in hospital intensive care units has fallen from around 30 per cent to below 20 per cent since April.

The fall in the death rate as a proportion of all patients admitted to hospital is even more striking – plummeting from 6 per cent at the peak to around 2 per cent now.

The proportion of patients dying in hospital intensive care units has fallen from around 30 per cent to below 20 per cent since April. The fall in the death rate as a proportion of all patients admitted to hospital is even more striking – plummeting from 6 per cent at the peak to around 2 per cent now

The proportion of patients dying in hospital intensive care units has fallen from around 30 per cent to below 20 per cent since April. The fall in the death rate as a proportion of all patients admitted to hospital is even more striking – plummeting from 6 per cent at the peak to around 2 per cent now

Professor Peter Horby has welcomed the 'good news,' that the proportion of Covid-19 patients dying in hospital has fallen dramatically since April

Professor Peter Horby has welcomed the ‘good news,’ that the proportion of Covid-19 patients dying in hospital has fallen dramatically since April 

Professor Peter Horby, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, welcomed the ‘good news’ amid rising case numbers.

He said increased testing and tracing capabilities combined with a ‘much better understanding of the disease’ has led to death rates among the sickest dropping to a less than a fifth. 

‘What’s great to see is that it is the risk of death in hospitalised patients is coming down,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Government data shows that the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the only regions to have seen a sustained and sharp increase in people being admitted to hospital (line graphs show daily hospital admissions between April and October)

Government data shows that the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the only regions to have seen a sustained and sharp increase in people being admitted to hospital (line graphs show daily hospital admissions between April and October)

‘It was pretty high at about 25 to 30 per cent in the last wave. And although the data are preliminary, it looks like it’s coming down and may be below 20 per cent so that’s something that is good news.’

Experts agree that treatment breakthroughs have had the most significant effect on the rate of people dying from coronavirus. 

Dexamethasone, a common steroid which costs around 50p a day, has been found to cut deaths among the sickest patients by a third.

The antiviral drug remdesivir, originally developed to tackle Ebola, has also been found to improve recovery time in the sickest patients.

One in eight Londoners is immune to coronavirus: Up to 13% of capital’s residents now have Covid antibodies – while other regions are as low as 1% 

London could be shielded from the worst of a second wave of coronavirus because one in eight people in the capital have developed antibodies.

There is growing optimism that the UK’s largest city is not seeing a rapid rise in case numbers because a higher percentage of residents have become immune to the virus than in any other region.

Recent data from Public Health England shows a prevalence of SARS-Cov-2 antibodies among blood donors as high as 13.4 per cent.

The figures from London stand in contrast to the rest of the country, with the North East and Yorkshire showing a 3.9 per cent prevalence, and the South West region at 3.5 per cent. 

And in the north west, which has been largely placed under local lockdown for the past month, had a prevalence of 6.8 per cent in the latest figures, suggesting high infection rates in the region had meant more people produced antibodies.

The rate of antibodies in the population does vary over time, and government advisers are believed to have suggested up to 20 per cent of the capital’s residents could be immune to the virus, according to the Sunday Times.



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NS&I plunges into meltdown: Delays as rates tumble


National Savings & Investments has been hit by a customer service meltdown, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. We have been bombarded with emails and letters from customers who are at their wits’ end after tortuous dealings with NS&I call centres. 

Many staff are understood to be working from home as they deal with a huge backlog of cases – and last night the savings organisation admitted it would have to bring in more employees to cope. 

Complaints sent to the MoS reveal that savers are: 

Stranded: Monica and Frank Bishop have waited months to transfer their Isas

  • Facing delays lasting weeks to withdraw cash from their accounts or top up their holdings; 
  • Routinely waiting as long as an hour on the phone to get through to call centre staff; 
  • Having payments mistakenly processed up to three times – and then waiting days to be refunded; 
  • Left in the dark about bungles that cause their bank account to go overdrawn; 
  • Fobbed off when they try to access money in a deceased relative’s account – even if it had been set aside to pay funeral costs. 

The customer service nightmare comes after state-owned NS&I, which offers secure savings backed by the Treasury and has more than 25million customers, last week slashed the rates on its most popular accounts to as little as 0.01 per cent. 

The cuts will hit the nest eggs of millions of savers who turned to NS&I for Premium Bonds, Isas and easy access accounts for a better return. Many of its deals had risen to the top of best buy tables after banks and building societies cut their rates to the bone. 

NS&I Income Bond holders face the biggest hit, with rates plunging from a current rate of 1.15 per cent to a pitiful 0.01 per cent, while Premium Bond prizes will drop by more than one million to just over 2.85 million a month from December. 

NS&I’s service woes could worsen if last week’s rate cut announcement leads to a deluge of savers seeking to withdraw their funds. 

Its customer service department has come under intense pressure taking in £14.5billion of deposits between April and June alone from income-starved savers. Customers paid in almost double the £8billion deposited over the same months in 2019. 

On its website, NS&I warns savers they may face a wait if they call its customer service team. A box pops up saying: ‘We’re working with much smaller teams at the moment…Don’t call us unless you absolutely have to. You may have a long wait.’ 

But when they call, some customers are being told they cannot even choose to wait to speak to an operator. A recorded message tells callers to go online or call back later, before the call is disconnected. 

Derrick Neilson hopes he never has to hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony blaring from his telephone again. The 72-year-old from South Yorkshire has spent hours on hold to NS&I waiting to speak to customer services about his account.

‘I have to listen to their music for up to 50 minutes at a time – along with their recorded messages about delays due to Covid,’ he says. Derrick and his wife Vickie were left overdrawn on their current account for the first time in their 45-year marriage after a transaction with NS&I went wrong. 

‘We tried to pay £3,200 into a Direct Saver online in August,’ says Derrick. ‘During the transaction, the system timed out, so we pressed ‘enter’ again. The next day we found out we had been charged twice, emptying our current account.’ 

The Neilsons received no notification from NS&I that the transactions had gone through twice and found out only when they logged on to their online banking. 

‘We had to phone the bank to increase our overdraft – we found it quite shameful,’ says Derrick. ‘It took over two weeks to get a refund, but we were told by NS&I they were still working on complaints from two months ago.’ 

Robert Huntley, 60, from Bristol, has been trying for months to add extra funds to his Premium Bonds. 

‘Every time I try to buy Premium Bonds my debit card is declined,’ he says. ‘My own bank has investigated for me and confirms it approves the transaction. I think the issue must lie with NS&I, but it does not respond to my queries. I’ve phoned it several times, but give up after 40 minutes when my call is not answered.’ 

Frank and Monica Bishop have been trying to transfer out of their NS&I Isas for months, having got fed up with low rates. ‘Every time I try to get hold of NS&I, I am on the phone for well over an hour,’ says Frank, 86, from Leatherhead. One time, I was waiting for two hours before I got a response. Then the call was cut off after two minutes. It’s infuriating.’ 

The couple want to move to a shares Isa and fear they will miss out on investment opportunities. 

In the most heartrending cases, people who are recently bereaved are being given the run-around when they enquire about their loved one’s NS&I holdings. 

Helen Driver, whose husband Geoff passed away suddenly in the middle of July, spent hours on hold to the NS&I customer service team – when all she wanted to know was the balance on her late husband’s account so she could tie up his affairs. 

Anger: Customers hit by bungles then face long waits on the phone to complain

Anger: Customers hit by bungles then face long waits on the phone to complain

‘This is undoubtedly the worst financial institution I have dealt with in what is an extremely stressful and distressing time’, says Helen. ‘The website says don’t ring unless it’s urgent, and don’t write to them either – how else am I supposed to contact them? 

‘I went on the online chat and was told that due to Covid I would ‘just have to wait’. I suggested I could log on to my husband’s account as I knew his account details, but they said I would be committing fraud.’ Helen’s complaint about the delays was rejected because NS&I said it was ‘due to the current Covid-19 pandemic’. 

‘I understand that things are difficult for companies, but if other financial institutions can manage working productively during the pandemic, why can’t NS&I? Halifax has been marvellous – sorting within a week. Nottingham and Skipton building societies as well.’ 

Meanwhile, Helen has received distressing emails and letters sent to her husband asking what he would like to do with his maturing account. 

NS&I says it had not received Helen’s death claim form before the standard maturity letter was sent. 

A spokesman for NS&I says: ‘This resulted in her receiving maturity documents in her late husband’s name. We appreciate that, at a time of grief, this caused Mrs Driver further distress and we apologise for the upset caused.’ 

Hazel Boardley says she now knows to make sure her cordless landline phone is fully charged before phoning NS&I. After her mother died in April, the 67-year-old from Felixstowe tried to cash her mother’s Premium and Investment Bonds and put them into her father’s account. 

She thought it would be a simple process, but after providing the necessary forms and documents, Hazel was told she would need grant of probate first. ‘I feel it is completely unnecessary and has just compounded the grief that I am dealing with,’ Hazel says. In the interim, Hazel’s father also passed away. 

‘I have lost both my parents within 12 weeks of each other,’ says Hazel. ‘I really don’t see how they should be allowed to carry on in this way.’ 

Hazel made a formal complaint on June 9, but was told on July 1 that NS&I had not yet started its investigation. Again, Covid was blamed, with NS&I stating that it would send a final response no later than 35 working days from the date it received the complaint. 

NS&I says it has now conducted a full investigation and provided a written response with its findings. 

A spokesman for NS&I says: ‘We are sorry some of our customers are experiencing delays when trying to contact us and that it is taking us longer than usual to respond to some of their requests. We are seeing very high demand and high call levels. We are continuing to bring in more staff to help our customers and we are doing all we can to help customers manage their savings with NS&I. 

‘We encourage customers to use the NS&I website – www.nsandi.com – to manage their savings wherever possible. For customers who are most in need, our call centre team is available from 7am to 10pm every day, but customers will experience a longer wait than usual to get through.’

MY 35 PRIZES WORTH £875 WERE BLOCKED 

Janine Powley suddenly realised in July that she had not received a Premium Bond prize for some time. 

Janine, 90, from East Sussex, whose name we have changed to protect her identity, was surprised because she has the maximum £50,000 in Premium Bonds and tends to win a small prize most months. 

Concern: Janine Powley¿s National Savings & Investments letters

Concern: Janine Powley’s National Savings & Investments letters

After contacting NS&I, she received 35 prizes at once – each one posted in a separate envelope. The cheques totalled £875. NS&I claims the letters had been returned undelivered so they put a block on her account as a ‘security measure’ until Janine got in touch and it was removed. 

It sent her a £25 goodwill payment for the inconvenience caused.

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