Calls are intensifying for ministers to impose a national lockdown amid reports the Government expects the second coronavirus peak to be deadlier than the first.
It comes as pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to consider a circuit-breaker, after the UK recorded its highest daily Covid-19 death toll since May. One expert, Dr Zubaida Haque, renewed criticism of the Government for failing to implement the measures as advised by Sage scientists in September.
Meanwhile, new figures show every borough in London has seen their coronavirus rate rise above the key threshold of 100 new cases a week per 100,000 people, though this level is still significantly below the worst hotspots in the country. Three are above a 200 rate: Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kingston.
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Manchester Nightingale begins to receive patients
The Nightingale hospital in Manchester will start receiving patients who do not have Covid-19 from today, the NHS has confirmed.
Nightingale hospitals in northern England were put on standby earlier this month as a result of rising Covid-19 cases.
A spokesperson for the NHS in the North West said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will accept patients from today to provide care for those who do not have Covid-19, but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social care assessments.”
A second lockdown is on the cards
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Evening StandardA new Covid-19 lockdown covering much of Britain looked increasingly likely today after a Cabinet minister called the current approach right “for now”. As senior scientists warned of hospitals being overwhelmed with 25,000 coronavirus patients by the end of November, expectations were growing that Boris Johnson will reluctantly have to order a temporary major shutdown before the end of the year. Environment Secretary George Eustice kept the door open to such a move when asked about reports that the Government was being driven towards a “circuit breaker”.
Discussions ongoing about restrictions after firebreak ends
Wales’ counsel general Jeremy Miles has said discussions are ongoing about whether contact with people and travel will be restricted when the country’s firebreak lockdown expires on November 9.
He said First Minister Mark Drakeford would announce a “clearer picture of what lies ahead” in the “coming days”.
Mr Miles told a press conference in Cardiff: “The sorts of measures which are under review are measures in relation to contact with other people, of course, measures around travel, and the sorts of restrictions we’ve been facing so far.
“It’s important that as those ideas are being discussed that we’re also able to speak to our stakeholders and other partners in different aspects of government and other sectors in Wales, so that we can discuss whether those ideas are the right ideas for Wales, and that process is under way at the moment.”
Sturgeon defends hospital discharges into care homes
Nicola Sturgeon said the Public Health Scotland report on care homes concludes that allowing for other factors, such as the size of a care home, “hospital discharges were not found to have contributed to a significantly higher risk of an outbreak”.
Quoting directly from the report, the First Minister said: “The analysis does not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks.”
But she added: “Nothing in it detracts from the tragedy of the deaths that have occurred in care homes over the course of the pandemic, and nothing ever will detract from the heartbreak of those bereaved.”
She said Public Health Scotland would now be carrying out further work to give a more detailed understanding of Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes.
The First Minister also pledged: “Where the reports conclusions highlight the need for additional measures, we will act on that.
“I want people to know we take this very seriously.”
Death toll proves firebreak lockdown is ‘essential’
Wales’ counsel general Jeremy Miles has said the 37 reported deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday proves that the country’s firebreak lockdown is “absolutely essential”.
Mr Miles told a press conference in Cardiff: “What it tells us is that a firebreak is absolutely essential.
“And it tells us a deep firebreak of the sort the Welsh Government is asking people in Wales to observe is the right response in order to protect people’s lives and to protect the NHS in its capacity to keep us all alive.”
37 deaths in Wales
The Welsh Government’s counsel general Jeremy Miles has said 37 deaths from coronavirus have been recorded in Wales over the last 24 hours.
The figure, which is reported by Public Health Wales, is the highest amount of deaths in a single day since April.
Mr Miles told a press conference in Cardiff: “Yesterday, Public Health Wales recorded seven more deaths.
“Today, I’m sorry to say that it will confirm a further 37 deaths.
“My thoughts are with the families and friends who are mourning the loss of a loved one at this time.”
“As our first Covid winter approaches, there are certainly reasons to be cheerful. But our natural human longing for good news must be tempered by realism: no less than politicians, we should be guided by the science”, Matthew D’Ancona on the pandemic.
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Evening StandardIn the intense crucible of a pandemic, today’s lab discovery can have a transformative effective upon tomorrow’s modes of living. For this reason, the research into population immunity by Imperial College, London, released yesterday, provides important clues to what we should expect in 2021. The team’s key finding — based on the screening of 365,000 people in England between June 20 and September 28 — is that the proportion of test subjects with coronavirus antibodies dropped by more than a quarter in the space of three months.
Covid patients discharged into Scottish care homes
A total of 78 hospital patients in Scotland who had tested positive for Covid-19 were discharged into care homes from March 1 to April 21, according to a Public Health Scotland report.
The study found that between March 1 and April 21 there were 3,599 discharges from hospital to a care home, the majority (81.9%) of which were not tested for Covid-19.
Of the 650 who were tested, 78 had received a positive result while in hospital.
Between April 22 and May 31, there were 1,605 discharges from hospital to a care home.
The majority (1,493 – 93%) were tested for Covid-19, in line with changes in clinical guidance.
Of these, 1,215 tested negative and 278 tested positive.
Of those who tested positive, 233 had a negative test result prior to discharge.
Nottinghamshire faces Tier 3
The whole of Nottinghamshire is reportedly set to face Tier 3 restrictions by the end of the week, subject to last-minute changes.
Talks between the Government and local leaders in the northern parts of the county have concluded, but negotiations are ongoing as to what the exact measures needed will be.
It is understood the restrictions are now likely to come into force on Friday.
Nottingham City, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe council areas will go into Tier 3 at midnight tonight.
There have been calls for capital to be assessed borough by borough
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Evening StandardSome London boroughs should be removed from Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions when the curbs are reviewed and the capital should no longer be treated as a whole, a senior Tory said today. Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Select Committee and MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, said it was wrong that his constituents and others in areas where the prevalence of coronavirus is lower were being “penalised” for higher infection rates elsewhere.
Russian ICU beds capacity close to being overwhelmed in 16 regions
The coronavirus situation in Russia is continuing to deteriorate, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova told a meeting on Wednesday of senior government officials and President Vladimir Putin.
Golikova said there was a critical situation in 16 Russian regions, where hospital beds were at more than 90 per cent of capacity.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday it would send army medics to a region in the Urals hit by a surge in Covid-19 cases, after doctors there made a public plea to Putin for help.
Labour MP warns of pandemic’s mental health toll in her interview with The Standard.
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Evening StandardHer Balham boxing gym hasn’t fully reopened but Rosena Allin-Khan – Labour MP for Tooting, former deputy leadership candidate and NHS doctor – has already ordered her new pair of gloves. They’re red, “obviously”, and a symbol she is ready for the next surge of battle as the country enters its first winter fighting Covid-19.
Tiers 2 and 3 won’t stop Covid, says top scientist
Prof Neil Ferguson, the scientist whose modelling prompted the UK-wide lockdown in March, said that measures in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas are “unlikely to cause daily cases and deaths to fall rapidly”.
He said that modelling suggests that this could leave the country with “high levels” of Covid cases, demand on health care and deaths “until spring 2021”.
Prof Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said: “The concern at the moment is that even if the measures adopted in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas slow spread in the next few weeks, they are unlikely to cause daily cases and deaths to fall rapidly.
“Modelling from all the academic groups informing Sage suggests that this could leave the country with high levels of Covid circulation, healthcare demand and mortality for several months, at least until spring 2021.”
The Eastenders star said Old Etonians have had their chance
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Evening StandardDanny Dyer has called for people with “real lives” to be in Parliament, saying the pandemic has proved that Old Etonians “can’t run this country”. The 43-year-old said it is now time for “working-class people” who are “in touch with reality” to be given responsibility for how the UK is run. The EastEnders actor added that the “little group” from “the same school in the same class” have had their chance in power. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a former pupil at Eton.
Britain turns digital during pandemic
Crossbench peer Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho spoke about the “rapid acceleration through digital” during the pandemic.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no doubt that there will be job creation in these areas and if you look at the companies that have grown most during this period of time, they are technology companies.
“You think about the rapid growth of Amazon for example, and it’s inevitable that this is going to just be more and more of a trend.”
She added: “It’s very important that we focus on the right skills and training for young people to be able to take up these opportunities in the UK.”
New employment prospects even worse than 2008
Conservative peer Lord (David) Willetts said the prospects now for finding new employment once someone became unemployed was “even worse” than after the 2008 financial crash.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It looks as if young people have been worst affected. The furloughing scheme, actually about one in five young people who have been on the furlough scheme have gone on to lose their jobs… compared with one in 10 overall.
“What we pinpoint as the key reason why the virus is so bad in the jobs market at the moment is that compared with previous recessions the real slowdown is in the number of new jobs that people are moving into… once you become unemployed… finding new employment looks like it’s even worse than it was, for example, after the financial crash.”
Too early to set out Christmas guidelines, says minister
Environment Secretary George Eustice said it is “far too early” to set out guidelines about Christmas.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a rapidly developing situation and we are making judgments all the time about what restrictions might be needed and what’s appropriate to have as restrictions in a particular area.
“It’s far too early to say exactly where things will be by Christmas, but the Prime Minister’s made clear he wants people to be able to have a Christmas that’s as close to possible as normal.”
He added: “We should set our guidelines, not as the Lib Dems say based on Christmas is coming, we should set our guidelines based on the epidemiology of this virus and follow the science and respond to emerging situations in a proportionate way.
“And that’s what we’re doing, and it’s too early I’m afraid to say exactly what the situation will be by Christmas, but we do understand people want to have a Christmas that’s as close as possible to normal and to meet family and to come together.
“It’s an important family occasion and we understand that and the PM’s clear he wants to try to support that.”
Environment secretary says national lockdown ‘not appropriate’
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the Government has introduced tiered restrictions for local areas in a “timely way” and a national lockdown is “not appropriate”.
Speaking on Times Radio on Wednesday morning, he said: “In some ways we’ve always anticipated that there would be a second spike.
“That’s why we have been monitoring the situation closely since September, introducing, in a timely way, restrictions that are appropriate to the level of prevalence in particular parts of the country with these three different levels of intervention.
“And we’re adding to that all the time, so yesterday Warrington was put into the very high risk area, and there’s discussions now about Nottingham.
“So we’re trying to intervene in things in a proportionate way across the country, but we don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national lockdown, because there’s parts of the country, like Cornwall, where the incidence of the disease is actually very low.”
Yorkshire hospital suspends non-urgent surgery for two weeks
Airedale Hospital, near Keighley, said it is suspending non-urgent surgery for two weeks.
It said in a statement: “We are seeing increasing demand on the hospital which is in turn meaning that our inpatient beds are at capacity.
“As a result, and as per our escalation plans, we have taken the decision to postpone any elective surgery that needs an overnight stay. This comes into effect immediately, for the next two weeks.
“Urgent and emergency cases and cancer surgery will be carrying on as normal.”
The hospital added: “Our day case activity will also continue for now, with our teams ensuring we’re working on the basis of clinical priority.
“We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and each speciality will be contacting anyone who is affected.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, but is necessary to ensure that we can continue to care for the patients who need us most.”
High cases will still lead to more deaths despite improvements in treatment, says Sage member
Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The numbers speak for themselves.”
The Sage member told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The number of cases is rising very significantly – it was 22,800 on 27 October and the seven-day average was just over 22,000, so there are an awful lot of cases.
“One of the differences of course is that we are better at looking after people with coronavirus now and so hopefully the case fatality rate will be lower than it was in the first wave, but at the end of the day the fatality rate, the number of people who die is a product of the number of people who are infected and their vulnerability.”
He added: “The numbers of deaths are rising, we can see from other countries. It is for the Government as policy-makers to decide how to manage that.”
Source: Evening Standard Business News