Thursday’s huge rise in infections and deaths comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the new measures were “vital” in the fight to save lives and protect the NHS. The Government said that, as of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 18,980 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total number of cases to 673,622.
The Government also said a further 138 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the country’s official death toll to 43,293.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,500 deaths registered in the UK where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate.
Mr Hancock listed eight new areas of England set to be moved into Tier 2 as millions brace for tougher restrictions within days.
London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will move into the second tier of measures which will see the mixing of households banned indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Earlier the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said Greater Manchester chiefs have been informed they will be moving into Tier 3 later today, but are waiting to agree financial support packages. Lancashire is also at risk of moving to the “very high” top tier.
Manchester is poised to move into Tier-3 restrictions
Coronavirus map live
Ministers held talks with MPs and leaders in the two regions this morning, reports suggest, ahead of an the health secretary’s update in the Commons later today.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who has been fiercely resisting following the Liverpool City Region into Tier 3 restrictions, is also due to hold talks with No10 as he demands greater financial support.
His region and Lancashire are under pressure to accept the controls set out for “very high” risk areas which would see bars, gyms and betting shops forced to close.
It comes as the Government announced London will move in Tier 2 from Saturday.
The move will mean nine million Londoners will be banned from meeting people from other households indoors, including in their own homes and hospitality venues.
Londoners have also been told to avoid travelling on public transport.
Sadiq Khan said he is continuing to press the Government for more financial support for London as more stringent restrictions were announced for the capital.
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10.33pm update: Boris urged to sack Hancock as Health Secretary’s ‘I know best attitude’ under fire – poll
Boris Johnson has been urged to sack Matt Hancock over the health secretary’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as voters in a new poll say they have had enough of his “I know best attitude”.
Mr Hancock is facing pressure to step down from his ministerial post from renowned oncologist and vaccine researcher Dr Angus Dalgleish.
The professor of oncology at St George’s Hospital in London said the health secretary has had “nine long months to educate himself out of his ignorance of the scientific implications of the COVID-19 pandemic” as he blasted his dismissal of the possibility of herd immunity.
9.44pm update: Virologist ‘freaked out’ at lack of experience among lab workers
Working practices at one of the UK’s coronavirus swab testing “mega-labs” were “chaotic and dangerous”, a scientist has alleged.
Dr Julian Harris, an experienced virologist, claimed he was left “traumatised” and “freaked out” by the inexperience of colleagues handling biohazardous material at the Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes.
His comments form part of a joint investigation by the BBC and the Independent, which reported that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found “safety breaches” at the facility.
The Milton Keynes lab, run by UK Biocentre, is part of a network of seven facilities across country set up to significantly increase testing capacity for Covid-19.
A spokesperson for UK Biocentre said it had “strict safety measures” in place to protect staff and that HSE had made “some observations” that it was “addressing”.
Dr Harris highlighted “overcrowded biosecure workspaces, poor safety protocols and a lack of suitable PPE”, the BBC report said.
After starting work at the Milton Keynes facility in July, his concerns drove him to contact HSE and he claimed other workers did not receive proper safety inductions and had limited laboratory experience.
Dr Harris said: “I found they’ve got no experience with this sort of facility or handling bio-hazardous, and then they’re just launched into this facility.”
8.35pm update: House of Commons bars to stop selling alcohol – even with a meal
All House of Commons bars and restaurants will be banned from selling alcohol as of Saturday, the Speaker has confirmed.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the ban would apply to alcohol sold with food as well.
He said: “Following the Government’s decision to move London into the Tier 2 COVID-alert category, I have asked the parliamentary authorities to introduce measures to bring the House of Commons into line with the national picture.
“As MPs represent different constituencies in different tiers – with the very highest level ordering the closure of pubs – I have decided to stop the sale of alcohol across the House of Commons-end of the estate from this Saturday.
“This means it will not be possible to buy an alcoholic drink from any of our catering outlets for the foreseeable future – whether food is served or not.
“The House of Commons Commission will be meeting on Monday to consider other measures needed to protect MPs, their staff and House staff, while maintaining our Covid-secure status.”
Nine million Londoners are facing tougher restrictions this weekend
8.16pm update: Khan urges Londoners to ignore politicians who flouted virus rules
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told Londoners who are being asked to make “monumental sacrifices” in the forthcoming local lockdown to “ignore Government politicians” who have flouted coronavirus rules.
When asked if he was worried about how a lack of compliance by MP Margaret Ferrier, as well as by No10 adviser Dominic Cummings, might affect the willingness of Londoners to make more sacrifices themselves, Mr Khan urged Londoners to “do the right thing for our city”.
He said: “I know from anecdotal experience, speaking to Londoners from all walks of life, but also from polling done by independent polling companies, that the way the Prime Minister’s chief adviser behaved led to people asking the question ‘why should I follow the rules when he isn’t?’.
“My advice to Londoners is to ignore what Government ministers do, or Government advisers do, or members of Parliament do.
“Do what is the right thing for our city and for your loved ones and for yourself.”
7.20pm update: Health expert calls for all-island approach to tackling virus in Ireland
A leading epidemiologist has called for an all-island approach to the pandemic, saying “you could bet your life” one would be used if the disease affected animals.
Calls for a singular approach in how the governments in Belfast and Dublin respond to the crisis are growing after both jurisdictions saw record numbers of cases this week.
The Republic of Ireland saw 1,205 new cases – its highest daily increase – on Thursday, while Northern Ireland counted 763 new cases. NI saw its highest number of daily cases yet on Wednesday (1,217).
Seven further deaths were also recorded across the island on Thursday, with three in the Republic and four in Northern Ireland.
Dr Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine, blasted the “ridiculous situation” on this island, and said it was “disturbing” a joint approach was not being taken.
Dr Scally, who was born in Belfast, said: “If this was an animal disease affecting sheep or chicken or cattle, you could bet your life that there would be an integrated approach North and South. And a huge amount of joint working and joint testing. That is not happening. It’s very, very disturbing.”
He told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “Several people from the very beginning, myself included, said the best way of dealing with this was on an all-island basis. That has never happened.
“It needs to be a properly integrated effort North and South.”
6.22pm update: Huge jumps in hospital coronavirus patients
In Scotland, 570 COVID-19 patients were in hospital as of Wednesday, up from 319 a week earlier, with 49 in ventilation beds, up from 28 a week earlier.
In Wales, 384 COVID-19 patients were in hospital as of Wednesday, up from 277 a week earlier, with 29 in ventilation beds, up from 27 a week earlier.
And in Northern Ireland, 164 coronavirus patients were in hospital as of Tuesday, up from 147 a week earlier, with 17 in ventilation beds as of Wednesday, up from 11 a week earlier.
Data on patients with the virus is not comparable across the UK due to differences in the way the figures are reported.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media
5.18pm update: Italy, Vatican City and San Marino added to UK’s quarantine list
Italy, San Marino and Vatican City have been removed from the Government’s list of travel corridors, meaning travellers arriving in England from those places after 4am on Sunday must self-isolate for 14 days, the Department for Transport said.
People arriving from Crete will no longer have to isolate.
4.47pm update: UK records 18,980 new Covid cases, 138 deaths
The UK recorded 18,980 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 138 deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus within 28 days, Government data showed.
Of the new deaths, 111 occurred in England, 13 in Scotland, 10 in Wales and four in Northern Ireland.
The majority of fresh infections declared were in England, where 16,139 people tested positive.
Scotland saw 1,351 people diagnosed with the virus, while Wales had 727 and Northern Ireland had 763.
The daily cases figure was down from 19,724 a day earlier, while the number of deaths was stable.
4.15pm update: Andy Burnham says Manchester is being used as ‘sacrificial lamb’
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham accused ministers of treating the region as a “sacrificial lamb”.
He told a press briefing: “I’ve said it may be that we need to look at a national circuit-break as preferable to this unfunded, risky regional lockdown strategy.
“We have to protect the health of the nation but let’s do it as one nation, and not make the North of England the sacrificial lamb for an ill-thought-through Downing Street policy which doesn’t make sense in the real world.”
Mr Burnham said the Government was “treating us with contempt”, adding: “People are fed up of being treated in this way, the North is fed up of being pushed around.
“We aren’t going to be pushed around any more.”
He argued it would “cost less to support people now rather than let businesses go to the wall” and damage the speed of the post-Covid economic recovery.
3.23pm update: Margaret Ferrier to face no further police action over Covid trip
A Scottish MP who made an 800-mile round trip after contracting coronavirus will not face any further police action.
In a statement on their investigation into Margaret Ferrier, the Metropolitan Police said detectives investigated her account of taking a train between London and Glasgow having tested positive for coronavirus.
The force said: “Detectives tested the MP’s account including obtaining and reviewing CCTV and undertaking inquiries to establish the dates of the tests, results and travel arrangements.
“Officers considered possible offences including those under Reg 11(2) of the Health Protection Regulations 2020 which relates to self-isolation requirement.
“However, on detailed examination of this new legislation, and following legal advice, it was concluded that this regulation is applicable only after the 28th September 2020.
“In this case the test occurred prior to the 29th September 2020 and therefore the regulation does not apply.”
The force said it is taking no further action but has referred the matter to Police Scotland for consideration.
Donald Trump said he would go higher than $1.8 trillion on a Covid stimulus offer
3.09pm update: Trump says he would go higher than $1.8 trillion in Covid stimulus offer
US President Trump has said he would agree to go higher than $1.8 trillion on a coronavirus stimulus deal.
He made the comments in an interview with Fox Business on the day the second presidential debate was due to be held.
The event was cancelled after Mr Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate.
2.47pm update: Tier 2 restrictions could ‘decimate pubs’
Tougher coronavirus restrictions will “decimate” pubs unless they receive further government support, an industry body has warned.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the Tier 2 Covid-19 measures – which ban households from mixing indoors – could lead to permanent closures in the sector.
It came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that London, along with Essex, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will move into the second tier of restrictions from Saturday.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said the tighter measures will leave “most pubs fighting for their very survival”.
In a statement on Thursday, she said: “Tier 2 restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them.
“All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, Rule of Six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by a lack of tourists and commuters.
“Tier 2 measures mean pubs can remain open, but households cannot mix inside them.
“This completely kills our pubs’ business model, making many of them totally unviable, yet under Tier 2 restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from Government, unlike in Tier 3 where additional support is provided.”
2.08pm update: Wales announces latest coronavirus figures
There have been a further 727 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 33,041.
Public Health Wales said 10 further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,698.
1pm update: Government will not provide free school meals to children during Easter and Christmas breaks
Downing Street indicated ministers would not provide free school meals to children during the Easter and Christmas breaks.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown. We’re in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils.
“It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals.”
Coronavirus UK: Matt Hancock announced the new changes in the Commons this morning
12.20pm update: Test and Trace suffers worst week yet
NHS Test and Trace has recorded its worst ever week for contact tracing, according to new figures.
Data shows 62.6 percent of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending October 7.
This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 69.5 percent the previous week.
11.55am update: More areas face increased restrictions
London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash will move to the “high” Covid alert level from 0001 on Saturday, Mr Hancock confirmed in the Commons.
11.50am update: Matt Hancock gives update in Commons
Matt Hancock warned MPs the virus is rising “exponentially” in the UK.
The Health Secretary told the Commons: “The threat remains grave and serious. In Europe, positive cases are up 40% from one week ago, and in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands they’ve doubled in the last fortnight.
“And here, we sadly saw the highest figure for daily deaths since early June.
“Let us be under no illusions about the danger posed by this virus. Coronavirus is deadly and it is now spreading exponentially in the UK.”
Guidance on Tier 2
11.20am update: England’s latest test and trace figures announced
A total of 89,874 new people tested positive for COVID-19 in England in the week to October 7, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is an increase of 64 percent in positive cases on the previous week and is the highest weekly number since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.
10.48am update: London MP calls for extra financial support
Tory MP Nickie Aiken, who represents the Cities of London and Westminster, called for extra support for the capital’s businesses after the Tier 2 announcement.
“Whilst I appreciate the public health crisis we find ourselves in, I remain deeply concerned about the impact further lockdown will have on the capital’s hospitality, leisure and retail businesses,” she said.
“We must now urgently come up with a clear plan and timetable to get London back into Tier 1, as soon as it is right to do so.
“Alongside protecting the health of Londoners, protecting people’s jobs and livelihoods must be a priority at this time.
“Many of our businesses are already on their knees, and I urge the Government to consider further support before they disappear for good.”
10.22am update: Coronavirus POLL: Should Boris Johnson sack Matt Hancock as Health Secretary?
Matt Hancock is facing calls to resign over his “ignorant” and “petulant” approach to tackling the coronavirus crisis. Express.co.uk is asking should Boris Johnson sack Mr Hancock as Health Secretary?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is under pressure after Professor Angus Dalgleish launched a blistering attack on the Tory politician, demanding he leaves his high profile job because he has failed to protect the British public.
Professor Dalgleish, a consultant medical oncologist at the Cancer Centre London, said: “Health Secretary Matt Hancock has had nine long months to educate himself out of his ignorance of the scientific implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But this week he was still responding to reasoned argument with petulant contempt.”
Express.co.uk is asking should Boris Johnson sack Matt Hancock as Health Secretary? Vote in our poll here.
London has moved to the high alert category
9.56am update: London has moved into tier 2 restrictions
London will move into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions from Saturday.
It means millions in the capital will be banned from meeting people from other households indoors, including own homes and in pubs and restaurants.
9.37am update: Sadiq Khan has called for ‘urgent action’ in London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged the Government to provide additional measures to protect people living in the capital and bring COVID-19 under control.
Alongside a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Khan wrote on Twitter: “Urgent action is needed to protect Londoners and bring the virus under control in our city…
“Government must provide proper financial help to all businesses and vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them.
“It is essential that no one should be faced with added financial hardship through redundancy or a loss of earnings, and is able to access benefits or crisis support straight away should they need to.
“We also need an immediate increase in testing capacity so that London’s testing rates can increase to the national average.”
9.04am update: Macron faces backlash after unveiling new curfew measures
Emmanuel Macron has received a brutal backlash after the French President announced a curfew for Paris and eight other French cities yesterday.
France’s daily case numbers have risen sharply, with daily infection rates exceeding 20,000 a day.
In an announcement yesterday, Mr Macron announced a curfew between 9pm and 6am for the next four weeks.
The curfew will apply to almost a third of the population of the country and includes Paris, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
London could be moved into Tier 2 restrictions this week
8.45am update: Merseyside gym fined after refusing to close
The owner of Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, kept his gym open on Wednesday, which went against the new Tier 3 restrictions.
After the new rules for the Liverpool City Region were announced, owner Nick Whitcombe said on his Instagram page the gym would be staying open.
He said: “We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members mental and physical well-being.
“Gyms should be supported in fighting against Covid obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases.”
On Wednesday he posted a video showing five police officers in the gym.
Merseyside Police said officers were called to the gym on Pasture Road at 8.35am on Wednesday after a report from a member of the public that it was contravening new legislation.
Officers ordered the gym to close but when they returned later that day and it was still open, the owner was issued with a fixed penalty notice ordering him to pay a £1,000 fine.
A Gofundme page set up to help the gym with any legal costs has raised more than £24,000.
8.13am update: London lockdown: Millions face Tier 2 restrictions as huge decision set for TODAY
London is staring down the barrel of higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions to fight the invisible killer disease after new figures show 12 boroughs have been hit with sharp rises in COVID-19 cases.
Millions in the capital face major new changes with a decision expected from the Prime Minister and his top team later today.
The capital’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said that as the rate of infections in London was “fast approaching” 100 cases per 100,000, it was “likely” the capital would move to the next alert level as early as this week.
It comes as 12 boroughs hit the threshold of over 100 daily cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 8.
7.43am update: Scotland set to ban non-essential travel from coronavirus hotspots
Scotland could implement measures to prevent non-essential travel from coronavirus hotspots, the SNP’s Westminster leader has said.
Ian Blackford told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We of course have the opportunity to put in place appropriate public health measures.
“What we can do, if necessary, is say that people should not travel from hotspots, whether they should be from in Scotland or people coming to Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom.
“But that will be done on an evidence-based approach where we think it’s appropriate to protect the people in all parts of the country from people travelling where it’s not necessary.
“When people have to travel for business, for work, and so on – essential journeys – they will still be allowed, but what we’re talking about is non-essential journeys, where it’s appropriate to do that.”
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