UK coronavirus LIVE: London on standby after 'watch list' inclusion as local lockdowns hit quarter of population

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  • September 26, 2020
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London residents are on standby after all the capital’s boroughs were added to the Government’s Covid-19 “watch list” following a record surge in coronavirus rates across the UK.

It comes as more than a quarter of the UK population are set to be living under extra coronavirus restrictions when new measures on socialising come into force in parts of the country.

A ban on households mixing in each other’s homes came into effect at midnight in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds, while restrictions are already in force across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland. Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard has warned anti-lockdown protesters to abide by social distancing restrictions ahead of a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. The protest follows a separate event that took place last weekend in which several officers were injured when a “small minority” turned violent.

Read our live updates below…

Live Updates


The 10pm curfew for the hospitality industry was not discussed at meetings of the government’s top scientific advisers, an infectious disease expert has said.



All of London’s boroughs have been made areas of “concern”, Public Health England’s latest coronavirus weekly surveillance report said.

The report shows the seven-day rolling average of case rates in the capital, with the rate in the City of London estimated at 185.4 per 100,000 people, while in Havering it stands at 139.2.

Read more…


17 million Brits under local lockdown

More than a quarter of the UK population – 17 million people – will be living under extra coronavirus restrictions when new measures on socialising come into force in parts of the country.

A ban on households mixing in each other’s homes came into effect at midnight in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds.

Residents in those areas are also advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any other settings including bars, shops or parks.

It comes as the UK recorded its highest single-day figure of coronavirus cases, with 6,874 lab-confirmed cases. However, the figure was thought to be in excess of 100,000 a day at the peak.

Restrictions are already in force across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland.

And a ban on households mixing indoors was extended across Northern Ireland earlier this week.

Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

People will not be able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse. They will not be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with, with extended households suspended.


Some 1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University have been forced into self-isolation after 127 tested positive for coronavirus. 

The Birley campus and Cambridge Halls have been locked down, with residents told to stay in their rooms for 14 days even if they have no symptoms and police patrolling the area. 


‘Real and very serious’ coronavirus crisis in Wales

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the country’s coronavirus crisis was “real and very serious”, with transmission driven by households mixing indoors and in pubs.

He told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “I’d say we are in a comparable place to the end of February and, of course, we ended large parts of NHS activity about two weeks later, we were in full lockdown three and a bit weeks later.

“We have seen a sharp rise in cases in all of the areas where we are taking local restrictions and it is being driven by indoor household contact, so more people than should be in that household bubble going in and mixing.

“That has extended out into licensed premises as well, where again people are not following the rules.”

A “breakdown in social distancing” and imported cases from European holidays have also been to blame, the minister said. 

Mr Gething said the spread of Covid-19 was not just in younger adults but was now being seen in older people in their 40s and 50s, with hospitalisations also rising. 


Protesters taking part in an anti-lockdown demonstration in London have been urged to abide by coronavirus restrictions and warned that violence will not be tolerated.


Leeds local lockdown may not go far enough, council says 

Leeds city council warned that new local lockdown curbs rolled out at midnight may not be enough to halt the spread of the virus on their own.

Council leader Judith Blake told BBC Breakfast: “We know that the restrictions themselves won’t just work on their own, it has to come as part of a whole raft of measures.

“The important message that we know from other areas is there is a lot of confusion, a lack of clarity, particularly in areas where there are different rules in one borough and the next-door borough has another one.

“This has to be a wake-up call to people.

“If things carry on the way they are then I can’t see how the Government won’t be forced to take more measures that have more of an impact on our lives, on our ability to go out and do the things we need to do to keep the economy going.”

She added: “What we are also saying to Government is we need more local testing capacity, trying to get across to government that if they give us the resource to do things locally we can do a much better job than a national programme run outside the city.”

She said council officials were working with the Yorkshire city’s five universities to ensure students were supported. 


‘100 deaths a day in weeks’, says Sage expert

Infectious disease modelling expert Professor Graham Medley warned there would be 100 deaths a day linked to coronavirus in a matter of weeks. 

Prof Medley, who attends meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The treatments have improved, the way the virus is transmitting is going to be different, but nonetheless it is a dangerous virus and inevitably it will lead to some deaths.

“Now whether it is as many – in February and March we were essentially assuming 1% of infections would lead to deaths.

“Now even if that is 0.8%, which I think would be a great success in terms of treatment, it still means that we are going to see deaths increase.

“At a level of 10,000 (cases) we are seeing now, means that in three or four weeks we are going to see 100 deaths a day.

“In order to stop that process increasing again, then we need to make sure that that transmission comes down now because that doubling time will carry on. The things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day but they will stop that progressing much higher.”

He also said he had “never heard” the 10pm curfew for hospitality discussed during Sage meetings.


UN leaders appeal for unity to battle virus 

European leaders have criticised a collective failure to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, telling the UN General Assembly that the time has come for countries to reinvent international cooperation.

This year’s unusual work-from-home General Assembly – with leaders communicating only in pre-recorded speeches – comes as Covid-19 cases escalate and the global confirmed death toll nears two million. 

In many regions but especially in Europe, some of the most advanced hospitals in some of the world’s richest countries are again under strain.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said: “This emergency has, more than a thousand treaties or speeches, made us suddenly realize that we are part of one single world.”

EU Council president Charles Michel said the pandemic “has also revealed the fragility of countries that thought they were strong. It has thrown us all into the same sudden battle, against the same common enemy”.

The virus has also exposed weaknesses within the European Union – a body founded on the ashes of the Second World War, like the UN, to avert new conflict and encourage cooperation. The latter has been in short supply this year.

The EU has fought internally about access to equipment and vaccines, erected barriers among neighbours to keep out virus infections, and struggled to agree on collective solutions to fight Covid-19.

Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte, whose country became a global symbol of the crisis as the first in the west to face a vast wave of infections, said the pandemic should offer world governments “the opportunity for collective renewal”.

He added: “This tragedy has changed us, but has also offered us the opportunity for a new beginning that is up to us to seize.”


Lockdown stretched the learning gap for disadvantaged pupils to ‘a gulf’

The learning gap between financially disadvantaged and better off pupils in England “has become a gulf”, a leading educator has warned.

Oasis Community Learning founder Steve Chalke says recent research suggests disadvantaged children fell further behind during the lockdown than more affluent pupils.

The boss of Oasis, which is responsible for 31,500 children at 52 academies across England, has called on the Government to treble the pupil premium funding used to boost the education of the nation’s most disadvantaged pupils.

He told the BBC: “Government should respond to the need before it causes irrevocable damage by trebling this funding, at least over the next three years, and focusing it on children living in persistent poverty and facing long-term disadvantage.

“It is vital that Government makes this move now, to ensure that a generation of children, already disadvantaged before the Covid-19 lockdown but whose situations have deteriorated even further, are not completely abandoned, doomed to spend their lives struggling for opportunities their peers will have ready access to, rather than flourishing.”

Mr Chalke also called for a boost to the Government’s £350m National Tutoring Programme.


Warning ahead of Trafalgar Square anti-lockdown protests

The Metropolitan Police have warned anti-lockdown protesters to abide by coronavirus restrictions ahead of a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

The protest is set to start at midday and move to Hyde Park, and follows a separate event that took place last Saturday in which several officers were injured when a “small minority” turned violent.

Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation on Saturday, said: “Officers will, of course, continue to use the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to following the regulations.

“However, if people fail to comply, and continue to put themselves at risk, officers will take enforcement action.

“I know there is great frustration to these regulations but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus. By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”

He added: “Last weekend it was highly disappointing to see that a small minority of demonstrators targeted officers with violence. Some 15 officers were injured during this protest, with more than 32 arrests being made during the course of the day. I will not tolerate a repeat of this behaviour this weekend and officers will respond quickly to any scenes of violence.”


Good morning and welcome back to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Stick with us as we bring you all the latest updates, both from the UK and around the world. 


That’s all from our blog for tonight, we will be back tomorrow!


Canada braces for second wave

Canada’s two most populous provinces on Friday moved to clamp down further on social gatherings in a bid to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections that since the start of the pandemic now total more than 150,000 nationwide.

Ontario ordered the closure of bars and restaurants from midnight to 5 a.m. except for takeout and delivery and said strip clubs would have to shut down from Saturday.

Premier Doug Ford, whose government has already slashed the size of permitted gatherings indoor and outdoors, repeated his concerns that the majority of new cases were in people under 40.

“I can tell you I don’t see seniors going into nightclubs too often,” he told a daily briefing.

Health officials in Canada have been making increasingly gloomy comments in recent days. Theresa Tam, the chief medical officer, told reporters on Friday that some local authorities could be overwhelmed unless the wave was curbed.

“We now have active cases in every single province. What we do now will be critical for the weeks and months to come,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the same event.


Cases continue to soar in France

France reported that its total number of coronavirus cases jumped over 500,000 for the first time, as it registered 15,797 new confirmed cases on Friday, just shy of a daily record of 16,096 set on Thursday.

The total number of cases now stands at 513,034, health ministry data showed.

The number of people who have died from the infection increased by 150 – triple the daily levels of the past week – to 31,661. 


Outbreak at Manchester Metropolitan University accommodation

Manchester Metropolitan University students at two accommodation sites in the city have been instructed to self-isolate for 14 days following a spike in coronavirus cases.

The immediate measures have been introduced at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls after 127 students tested positive.

Dr Yasmin Ahmed-Little, consultant in health protection at Public Health England North West, said: “We have seen an increase in positive cases and students with symptoms in the university, and all students in these accommodation blocks are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days – even if they have no symptoms – to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

“It is really important for all students to follow the advice from the university and the city council to stay safe.

“Young people play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus to protect those at much greater risk. If you are one of the students that has been asked to self-isolate please follow the advice and stay in your accommodation to help us prevent the infection from spreading.”

Bev Craig, executive member for adult health and wellbeing for Manchester City Council, said: “This is obviously very difficult for all of the young people involved and we will be working with the university and other public services to make sure that any of the students affected get the support they need.”


Mayor Khan blames lack of testing for spike in London

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The lack of testing capacity is totally unacceptable and why London has been added to the Government’s coronavirus watchlist as an area of concern.

“The Government have got to get a grip. Testing capacity must be increased immediately in London – lives depend on it.”


Army on standby in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council is hoping to use military personnel to provide extra capacity for its door-to-door coronavirus testing service.

As the latest figures showed a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the city over the past five days, the council’s deputy leader Brigid Jones said 500 council staff had been redeployed to its “drop-and-collect” testing service.

Ms Jones told a meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority on Friday that the initiative involved going door to door in high-risk areas offering testing kits to those with or without symptoms.

She told the meeting: “We have been in talks with the military about them giving us some extra capacity for drop-and-collect.

“It’s very much in an extra capacity, feet-on-the-ground sense. It’s literally just to support the civilian effort side of things and we’ll be in a position next week to confirm whether or not they will be providing extra capacity and how that might be working.”


Being placed on watchlist will help London, PHE says

Public Health England’s (PHE) regional director for London has said the news will enable officials “to respond more rapidly and with additional measures should cases rise further and faster”.

Professor Kevin Fenton said: “The placement of London on the watchlist as an area of concern is a reflection of the rising number of cases of Covid-19 being shown by a range of indicators.

“We are currently seeing much more widespread transmission in the city and being recognised as an area of concern is an important step in our efforts to control the virus.”

It comes on the same day that more areas in Yorkshire and the North West learned they will be under local lockdown from Saturday.

Measures will be put in place in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds from midnight, meaning that people will no longer be allowed to mix with people outside their household or bubble in private homes, including gardens.


Government confirms local lockdown in parts of North West

The Government has confirmed local lockdown measures will be introduced in parts of the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, following a rise in coronavirus cases in the areas.

Following discussions with local leaders, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), Public Health England (PHE) and the chief medical officer for England have agreed to introduce local measures in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds.

From 12.01am on Saturday, residents in the areas will no longer be allowed to mix with people outside their household or bubble in private homes, including gardens.

They are also advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any setting – whether a bar, shop or leisure facility – indoors or outdoors.

Mr Hancock said: “We continue to see an acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country, especially in the North West and the North East. Working alongside our scientific and public health experts and local leaders, we are prepared to take swift and decisive action to reduce transmission of the virus and protect communities.

“I recognise the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections.”