The move came as Sir Keir Starmer hinted that Labour could oppose the controversial 10pm curfew as he called on Boris Johnson to publish the science behind the measure.
The Labour leader said the Government should release the information before MPs vote on the restriction next Monday. During a heated PMQs, He also accused ministers of a “lack of clarity” over Covid curbs, accusing Mr Johnson of governing “in hindsight” .
It comes as the UK is on the brink of further lockdown measures after the number of Covid cases almost doubled in a week, while infections surged by 14,162 overnight, bringing the UK total to 544,275.
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Good morning and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage – bringing you all the latest updates from the UK and across the world.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak defends Eat Out to Help Out scheme after the Prime Minister suggested it may have helped fuel the second wave of coronavirus cases
Mr Sunak was dubbed Dishi Rishi after unveiling his August scheme of subsidised meals out to help a pub and restaurant sector badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Treasury figures show more than 100 million meals were eaten under the scheme, which gave diners a 50 per cent state-backed discount, up to a maximum of £10, on meals every Monday to Wednesday.
Mr Johnson told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the Treasury incentive “may have helped to spread the virus” and that its impact needed to be counteracted, with the country facing a second surge in positive Covid-19 cases.
But Mr Sunak, in comments made to The Sun before day three of the party conference, said the success of the initiative had helped prop-up two million jobs and that he had no regrets about paying for it.
“No, definitely not,” Mr Sunak is reported to have said when asked if he held any regrets. “We had an industry that I care deeply about because of employment. It’s over two million people.”
Exams could be pared down next year, says Association of School and College Leaders
General secretary Geoff Barton said suggestions that GCSEs and A-levels could be delayed by three weeks would not be enough, ahead of a meeting with schools minister Nick Gibb.
Asked if exams could be pared down, Mr Barton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we really ought to think about that.
“If the assumption is it can be business as usual but with three weeks extra teaching time you’re going to have some young people who won’t have covered, for example, the Tudors in history or photosynthesis in biology.
“It would be unthinkable that those young people would be tested in the same way that the previous generation would be, and therefore a modification of those exams would be useful.”
Leaders of Ireland’s coalition parties meet to discuss a potential return to lockdown
The leaders of Ireland’s three coalition parties are to meet with chief medical officer Dr Tony Holahan today to discuss a potential return to lockdown.
Dr Holohan and NPHET have recommended that the whole country moves to Level 5 – the highest level of the Government’s coronavirus plan.
Cabinet ministers are said to have been taken aback by the proposals and there are concerns that such a move would be damaging to the economy.
If approved by Cabinet, it would represent a return to the strictest possible public health measures, similar to those seen in April and May.
However, in a Level-5 scenario, schools and creches would remain open. People would be asked to stay within 5km (three miles) of their homes, while all non-essential retail outlets would close.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey unable to say how many close contacts of coronavirus cases were not contacted because of technical glitch
The Cabinet minister was also unable to say whether those contacts had now been traced following the error that led to almost 16,000 Covid-19 cases going initially unreported.
She told BBC Breakfast: “I’m conscious that PHE (Public Health England) had this glitch but they identified it so it is being rectified so we can get those contacts potentially into the system and being contacted as is appropriate and decided by the test and trace regime.
“We can’t change the recent history, PHE will make sure that this sort of error doesn’t happen again but they did pick up this error and I think they’ve acted quickly to rectify it.”
Asked if she knows how many potential close contacts have not been traced, she said: “I’m afraid I just don’t have that information.”
Asked if they have now been contacted, she said: “I know that people who had the initial results have all been contacted, I don’t know the answer to that question.
Chief executive of Ireland’s health service urges caution on proposals to return the country to lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that Ireland moves to Level 5 in its coronavirus plan, which would introduce the strictest measures possible in the battle against the disease.
But HSE chief executive Paul Reid, who does not sit on NPHET, has urged Government to also consider the impact such a move would have on “mental health and the economy”.
Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the head of the country’s vaccine taskforce
Kate Bingham told the Financial Times that officials were hoping to be able to administer the medicine to around 30 million adults in the country of around 67 million and “we just need to vaccinate everyone at risk”.
The head of the immunisation programme added: “People keep talking about ‘time to vaccinate the whole population’ but that is misguided.
“There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18.
“It’s an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable.”
Last month it was reported by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that care home residents were among those who should be at the top of the list for a jab when one becomes available.
Ireland could be without intensive care beds by November if the current coronavirus surge continues, a member of NPHET has said
Dr Mary Favier, former president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, said Ireland is on course to see between 1,500 and 2,000 cases a day by next month if strict measures are not adopted.
It came as NPHET recommended the Government move to Level 5 restrictions, which would effectively return the country to lockdown.
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Dr Favier said: “If we keep going on the current trajectory, by the beginning of November we will have 1,500 to 2,000 cases a day and we will potentially not have ICU occupancy.”
She added: “The reality is that if things keep going as they are, if you or I had a bad road traffic accident in November or needed emergency cardiac surgery, there might not be an intensive care bed for you or I.”
Coronavirus figures remain steady in South Korea as holiday period ends
South Korea has reported 73 new cases of the coronavirus, its fifth straight day of below 100, although officials expressed concern that could rise because of increased travel during a five-day holiday period that ended on Sunday.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 24,164, including 422 deaths. Fifty-one of the new cases were reported from the greater capital area, where health workers have scrambled to stem transmissions tied to various places, including churches, hospitals, schools, restaurants and workplaces.
There is a possibility that the downward trend in confirmed infections is related to the fewer tests that were conducted during the five-day Chuseok harvest holiday.
Work and Pensions Secretary concedes some people may have been infected with coronavirus because a Test and Trace failure meant nearly 16,000 cases went unreported
Asked if some could have become infected because of the error, Therese Coffey told Sky News: “There may well be, and I’ve been made aware that probably the majority of that (contact tracing) has happened in the latest element of the week, in the last couple of days.
“So it’s important that we act quickly, and PHE (Public Health England) is acting quickly, to see whether or not people are required to self-isolate.
“Because I do recognise that not quite everybody going through the regime will be identified by the Test and Trace regime to undertake that further self-isolation.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses data fiasco
Mr Johnson said: “What happened here was that some of the data got truncated and it was lost. But what they have done now is not only contacted all the people who were identified as having the disease – that was done in the first place – but they are now working through all the contacts as well.
“The key thing, I would say, and it goes for everybody, is that if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace then you must self-isolate, if you are told you have been in contact with somebody who has the virus.
“There is support of £500 for doing so and of course a £10,000 fine if you don’t.”
Boris Johnson says updated figures show the prevalence of the virus was where experts had expected it to be
The Prime Minister added that it would soon be apparent if extra restrictions for some parts of the country were having the intended impact.
He told reporters: “The incidence that we are seeing in the cases corresponds to pretty much where we thought we were.
“And, to be frank, I think that the slightly lower numbers that we’d seen, you know, didn’t really reflect where we thought the disease was likely to go, so I think these numbers are realistic.
“The crucial thing is that in the next few days, week, we’ll see more clearly whether some of the restrictions that we put in – the extra enforcement of the rule of six, the extra enforcement of self-isolation, the rules on masks and so on – all the stuff that has come in, we’ll see whether that starts to work in driving down the virus.”
If people followed the guidance “I have no doubt that we will be able to get on top of it, as indeed we did earlier this year”.
Prime Minister says the Government wanted to keep local lockdown rules as “simple as possible” but did not confirm whether a three-tier system was about to be introduced
“One of the difficulties in fighting the pandemic is you keep having to adjust the strokes you play, the shots you play, depending on where the virus is and the effect it’s having in different localities,” he told reporters in central London.
“It’s certainly true, as Chris Whitty and others have said, that it seems more localised, this time than it was in March and April – that’s how it has been anyway.
“And we will be taking steps as you can imagine constantly to keep guidance, keep advice as simple as we can.
“When there’s more to say on that we will certainly be saying it, but for now it’s follow the local rules in the areas which are under special restrictions, get on the website to look at what you need to do, but generally it’s all the restrictions that you know.”
Any coronavirus vaccine will be offered first to the most vulnerable, says PM
Boris Johnson told reporters: “Obviously, if and when we get a vaccine then the crucial thing would be to ensure that we have sufficient supplies in this country, that we’re able to make it in this country, distribute it fast in this country, and clearly the priority for a vaccine will be… those who are the most vulnerable groups.
“That’s how you would start.”
The head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has warned that less than half of the British population should expect to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Kate Bingham said it is “misguided” to expect that every UK citizen will get a Covid-19 vaccine injection when it is widely released, as they will initially be reserved for at-risk groups only.