UK coronavirus LIVE: Experts say record daily case rise is 'stark warning' as more than one million download new Covid-19 app

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  • September 25, 2020
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A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop window advertising a closing down sale in Nottingham city centre

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More than 6,600 new Covid-19 infections have been recorded in the UK, marking the largest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic.

Public Health England’s Professor Yvonne Doyle insisted people must follow the stricter measures announced this week, as she said the latest figure was “a stark warning for us all”.

It comes after the newly launched NHS coronavirus app was downloaded more than one million times by Android users by Thursday evening according to the Google Play Store. It is expected the figure will likely be higher when iPhone downloads are included.

Meanwhile Rishi Sunak told MPs in the House of Commons it is everybody’s responsibility to defeat the virus as “the cost is paid by all” and defended steps taken to reopen the economy over the summer

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2020-09-25T08:03:41.630Z

Former prime minister Gordon Brown believes Rishi Sunak will have to rethink his jobs plan to deal with the pandemic

Mr Brown claims there was nothing in Mr Sunak’s message for the unemployed, those who are on universal credit and looking for employment, or young people who are outside of education and do not have a job.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “He (Mr Sunak) did something for part-time work, but is only paying 22 per cent of the wages. It will be cheaper, I am afraid, for an employer to keep a full-time person on than to keep two part-time people on.”

Mr Brown said the Chancellor “has got to reconsider this” and suggested a summit with the mayors around the regions, the unions and the business community would be a good move.

The former prime minister, who served as chancellor for 10 years in the former Labour government, told the programme: “I think he needs to come back with a better budget for jobs.

“I suspect he knows himself this morning that he is going to have to change his measures because we have got the health restrictions, but the support for the people who are protected by them is now being reduced.”


2020-09-25T07:50:00.000Z

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay asks if he agrees with Lord Wolfson’s view that a lot of retail jobs will be deemed unviable

Mr Barclay told the Today programme that it is “very sadly” the case that there will be more unemployment as a consequence of coronavirus.

He said: “The Chancellor has been very honest that we cannot save every job, but what we need to do with these measures is target our funding on jobs that are viable, enabling people to come back, rather than them being at home with a furlough that’s already for eight months, for a very long period of time.

“But the equally important thing is not just the number of people that are unemployed but how quickly we get them back into the labour market, because the length of unemployment is absolutely critical.

“So we need to get those who were not able to retain their jobs back into the labour market, and it’s not in their interest, or the wider economy’s interest, for them to be at home for months on end,” he said.


2020-09-25T07:40:00.000Z

Professor says universities are “particularly high risk settings”

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, is part of a team which devised a new testing programme for students and said universities are “particularly high risk settings” with potential for rapid spread of the virus.

Prof Ball said the university has had a pilot running with veterinary students who started back towards the end of July being tested weekly and told the Today programme they identified a single positive case in an asymptomatic person and three weeks on there have been no more cases identified.

Prof Ball said they were able to identify the case rapidly and “potentially stop an outbreak before it started”.

Asked if he thinks there is a case for more co-ordination, he said: “I think for some time most universities have recognised that this is a problem for a long time.

“I know that our university in particular have been trying to reach out to Government, for example, to try and work closely with pillar 2 testing, with track and trace, and to try and get a co-ordinated effort across universities working with health authorities, public health in particular, local NHS – those kinds of collaborations to try and increase our capacity to test and to be able to do community surveillance because that’s something that’s very low on the ground.

“If you think about these people aren’t going to have symptoms and yet potentially can spread, then if you’re missing those out of your testing strategy and regime then you’ve got a potential problem.”


2020-09-25T07:23:05.380Z

Chief secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay defends new jobs protection scheme as a “targeted” approach to get people back to work

Asked what a viable job is, he told BBC Breakfast: “One where the employer is able to bring someone back to work.

“That really reflects a change in focus from the initial first phase where through the furlough we protected a peak of 8.9 million jobs … to the next phase where we recognise we will be living with this virus for a longer period of time than initially thought and therefore we need to take more targeted measures rather than for people being home for a very long period of time, to start to bringing people back into the labour market where we can and, where that’s not possible, then focus very much on the skills the training and how we get them into other jobs.”

Mr Barclay denied the new jobs protection scheme would not give enough of an incentive to employers to keep workers on, with suggestions it is cheaper to bring back one furloughed employee than two on half-time.

He said: “What that doesn’t take on board, a spreadsheet interpretation, doesn’t reflect the fact that many employers value the flexibility of being able to tailor how much time employees are working as we go through the uncertainty of the winter months and they want to retain the skills and expertise of their labour market.”


2020-09-25T07:09:53.020Z

Shadow Chancellor comments on the package of support for the economy announced on Thursday

Anneliese Dodds told the Today programme: “I think the real question now, and I asked this in Parliament yesterday of the chancellor, is whether this system of targeted wage support will incentivise employers to keep people on.

“That’s the real kind of million-dollar question, because if it doesn’t, if it’s not actually designed in a way that will make it economically sensible for employers to keep people on, then unfortunately it won’t be living up to the promise of other wage support schemes that we’ve seen being so successful.”

She said she is a “little bit concerned” that the scheme may not offer sufficient incentive.


2020-09-25T06:50:00.000Z

Chief secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay denies that Rishi Sunak’s message to “live without fear” was a suggestion people should ignore the coronavirus rules

He told Sky News: “Quite the opposite. I think what’s very clear from the message the Chancellor said we need to address the health risks in order to protect jobs.

“It’s as a consequence of people following the health guidance, adhering to that, that’s also how we enable the economy to recover and we protect as many jobs as possible.

“This false choice that’s sometimes presented between the health needs and the economic needs is wrong.

They both sit side by side and it’s through taking strong measures to address the virus that we can get the business confidence back into the economy.”


2020-09-25T06:45:00.000Z

Next Chief Executive says city centres will have to change following pandemic

Lord Wolfson was asked if he thinks city centres are “doomed”, and in the interview broadcast on the Today programme, he replied: “I don’t think so. I think they’re going to have to change.

“It’s not that people aren’t going to have their hair cut or aren’t going to buy sandwiches or aren’t going to go shopping, it’s that they might do less of it in city centres and more of it elsewhere.”


2020-09-25T06:40:00.000Z

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, says many traditional retail jobs may become unviable after a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the job support scheme (JSS) will help – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

It was put to Lord Wolfson that the permanent-looking shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.

In the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

“I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.

“We’re taking on people in our call centre. We’re training new recruits in our call centres, in our warehousing, our distribution networks are taking on new employees.”


2020-09-25T06:28:22.433Z

‘Potential rebellion on emergency coronavirus measures from backbenchers’ says senior Tory MP

Senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat has told the Government to enter discussions with backbenchers as a potential rebellion on emergency coronavirus measures threatened to overturn Boris Johnson’s majority on a key vote.

The chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You can give various blanket permissions in emergency ways but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to come and ask for permission as soon as is practical.

“The Government needs to enter this conversation and let’s see where this conversation goes because what we’ve seen in the last six months, when we voted in the Coronavirus Act about six months ago, nobody expected it to last this long.

“It’s quite clear that there’s at least another six months of it as the Government has announced and it may indeed be longer than that depending on whether a vaccine comes or not, so the idea that we can have a permanent state where the Government is making emergency decisions for people and effectively controlling the lives of 65 million people by fiat is not sustainable.”

Asked who was running the Government, Mr Tugendhat lavished praise on the Chancellor. “I’m sure the Prime Minister is running the Government but I think Rishi Sunak did an extremely impressive job yesterday and I have to say he enjoys huge amounts of confidence on Conservative benches, and when I speak to people around the country, and certainly the people I represent in Kent, he has huge support as well,” he said.


2020-09-25T06:04:13.950Z

Around half of nearly 1,000 key workers who self-reported symptoms of Covid-19 did not test positive for antibodies to the disease, according to research

The study, from Public Health England (PHE), includes police, fire and healthcare workers and was conducted in June.

The researchers say their findings, which are yet to be peer-reviewed, suggest the symptoms were due to other conditions.

Ranya Mulchandani, a field epidemiology training programme fellow at Public Health England and the study’s lead author, said: “Although these findings are still subject to peer review, it is possible that a large number of people in the general population incorrectly believe that they have already had Covid-19.

“It is crucial that people do not get complacent and continue to observe government health advice, including social distancing and good hand hygiene, even if they think they have been infected in the past.”

The experts led by Ms Mulchandani studied three key worker groups at six acute NHS hospitals and two police and fire and rescue sites across England. The third group, which was the control group in the cohort, included healthcare workers who had previously had a positive test for Covid-19.

The team collected information on the self-reported signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and compared this with the results from two antibody tests.

Out of 2,847 participants, 943 (33 per cent) said they believe they had had Covid-19 based on their symptoms.

However, the researchers found that 466 (49 per cent) of the 943 individuals tested negative on antibodies, suggesting “it is very unlikely they had had Covid-19”.


2020-09-25T05:56:42.146Z

Good morning and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage

We will be bringing you all the latest updates from the UK and across the world.


2020-09-24T21:47:05.760Z

Hospitality bosses slam support package

Hospitality firms hit hard by the pandemic said their hopes were “crushed” after the Chancellor announced his latest economic support package, and the measures “don’t go far enough”.

The chief of pub giant Young’s, Patrick Dardis, was among leaders to criticise the new measures, saying they will “not stop businesses from laying off staff”.

Bosses said that greater support is still needed to aid the recovery of pubs, bars, restaurants and other businesses, although trade groups hailed Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend VAT cuts.

He announced plans to extend a current 15% cut on VAT for hospitality and tourism firms from January until the end of March.

Mr Sunak said the extension would add around £800 million to the existing £2.5 billion cost of the measure.

The move, which maintains a VAT of 5% on food, non-alcoholic drinks and accommodation, was welcomed by industry leaders.


2020-09-24T20:25:21.496Z

‘Welsh capital on the verge of more restrictions’

Leader of Cardiff Council Huw Thomas has said the Welsh capital is on the verge of further restrictions due to a rise in Covid-19 in the city.

He said the rate of new cases had “accelerated rapidly” over the last five days and that Cardiff has reached a test positivity rate of 3.8 per cent, exceeding the “amber” threshold of 2.5 per cent set by the Welsh Government.

He added:  “This has meant that over the past week Cardiff has moved from a relatively stable position to one where the city is on the verge of entering the Welsh Government’s ‘red zone’.”

“As we have seen over the past week, the situation can change quickly.

“If case numbers continue to rise over the weekend there is a very real possibility that Cardiff will enter into the Welsh Government’s ‘red zone.’

“If that were to happen then I fully expect that we will be proposing further restrictions.”


2020-09-24T20:00:21.220Z

NHS Covid-19 app downloaded more than one million times

The NHS Covid-19 app has been downloaded more than one million times by Android users as of Thursday evening, according to the Google Play Store.

The total figure is likely to be higher when iPhone downloads are included, but Apple does not provide similar data for app downloads.

Officially launched in the early hours of Thursday morning, the contact tracing app runs on an Apple and Google-developed system, using Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of people a user has been close to.


2020-09-24T19:43:16.856Z

Scottish students banned from going to the pub this weekend to stem coronavirus outbreaks

(PA)

Students studying at Scottish universities have been banned from going to the pub this weekend to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Higher education representatives implemented temporary rules for the region to try and combat the number of outbreaks on campuses.

As well as being banned from pubs and restaurants, students will be required to download the Protect Scotland tracing app.

Read the full story here


2020-09-24T18:17:50.673Z

NI government to inject £29 million into arts industry

Another £29 million of public money will spearhead a “cultural recovery” for the arts industry, Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister has said.

Venues and workers have been devastated by the pandemic and the flagship Lyric Theatre is not expected to reopen until next year.

The Stormont Finance Minister has previously been accused of “sitting on” Covid relief funding as the sector is “crumbling”.

On Thursday he said: “I am pleased to announce £29 million for cultural recovery.

“This on top of the £4 million previously allocated means that a total of £33 million is going to this important sector.”


2020-09-24T17:59:23.020Z

Rationing has returned

Morrisons brings back rationing to ward off panic buying

Evening StandardMorrisons has rationed some of its products to prevent customers from stockpiling over second wave fears.  Restrictions will be placed on items including toilet roll and disinfectant to maintain current supply levels. Morrisons said current stock levels “are good”, but it has brought in the measure to ensure goods continue to be “available for everyone”amid fears panic buying will restart.


2020-09-24T17:53:33.496Z

Chancellor warned of ‘tidal wave of redundancies’ in night-time economy

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), has urged the Government to rethink its rescue package.

He tweeted: “While these new financial aid measures are helpful, they do not go far enough to keep many businesses viable, and I predict a tidal wave of redundancies across the UK night time economy as we enter the end of the year.

“At the start of the crisis, the Chancellor assured us he would stick by all businesses, but today has turned his back on this commitment. Live Music Venues, Nightclubs, Musicians, Performers, Freelancers, Events. All forgotten.”