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Coronavirus latest news: New lockdown restrictions for London increasingly likely, says mayor

It is “increasingly likely” that lockdown restrictions will soon be needed to slow the spread of coronavirus in London, the capital’s mayor has warned.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was of the “firm view” that action should be taken before the virus spirals out of control.

In a statement, he said he had held an emergency meeting with London council leaders, the Government and Public Heath England to discuss the next steps.

Mr Khan added: “The Prime Minister has said that we are now seeing the start of a second wave of Covid-19 across the UK.

“Londoners should also know that I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I’ve seen today from public health experts about the accelerating speed at which Covid-19 is now spreading here in London.

“It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus.

“We will be considering some of the measures which have already been imposed in other parts of the UK.”

Follow the latest updates below.

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9:28AM

Solicitors report 10-week wait to see clients in prison as court cases back up

Defendants on remand in prison are having to wait up to 10 weeks to see their solicitors due to restrictions on contact time caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a legal chief has said.

Richard Atkinson, co-chairman of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, said he is aware of cases where solicitors have been forced to join waiting lists of nearly two-and-a-half months just to secure a one-hour videolink slot with clients in prison while face-to-face contact is not permitted.

Even then, he said, counsel can only book two one-hour slots with each client, per month.

The situation is a far cry from this time last year when solicitors could block out consecutive whole-day video meetings with clients, at just one week’s notice.

Mr Atkinson told the PA news agency: “You can only spend two hours a month with your client. If it is a paper-heavy case, that’s just woefully inadequate.

“A 10-week delay means it is impossible to meet timetables and time limits for service of defence statements set by courts in order to facilitate the matter through the court.

“The state at present is very alarming with the time it is taking for legal visits to be booked and lawyers getting access to their clients.”

9:14AM

Police urge people to stick to social distancing rules over sunny weekend

Police officers prevented a wedding party going ahead on Friday as forces urged people to comply with coronavirus restrictions during the warm and sunny weather this weekend.

Officers in Manchester said they stopped restrictions being breached after they were called to reports of a wedding party at a home, amid increased police patrols prompted by stricter rules on social gatherings.

It comes as the Met Office forecasts a weekend of “largely dry, bright and fine” weather, which could see temperatures rise as high as 24C (75F).

Greater Manchester Police said officers attended a property in Wythenshawe on Friday evening, having received intelligence that a wedding party was being held.

“Police attended and found that a gazebo had been erected in the garden of a property,” the force tweeted.”Officers prevented the illegal gathering before restrictions were breached.”

Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix, of Kent Police, said there would be an increased presence in “key areas” around the county, as Covid-19 remains a “real and deadly threat”.

The Metropolitan Police urged Londoners to “continue to act responsibly” amid forecasts of warm weather for the capital over the weekend.

The force said it will continue to patrol public spaces and respond to incidents where groups of more than six are gathering, reminding the public of fines for breaching coronavirus guidelines.

Forces in Dorset, where large crowds have previously flocked to the beaches to enjoy the heat, also warned that anyone flouting the new “rule of six” over the weekend may be subject to fines.

9:07AM

Prof Ferguson: ‘Sustainable’ restrictions needed if repeated lockdowns to be avoided 

Prof Ferguson has also said the Government needs to develop a set of “sustainable” coronavirus restrictions if it wants to avoid repeated lockdowns.

“You can lock down and then completely relax and then lock down again,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“My own view is at the moment a temporary lockdown – it wouldn’t be like it was in March, it would be less restrictive than that – would pull down infection numbers to allow the testing system to cope a bit better.

“But I think actually what we want is to have a set of sustainable measures through until we have a vaccine, not go through this cycle again.”

9:01AM

New restrictions needed ‘sooner rather than later’, warns Prof Neil Ferguson

Professor Neil Ferguson has warned that new coronavirus restrictions will be needed “sooner rather than later” if the authorities are to prevent the disease surging again.

Prof Ferguson – whose modelling led to the Government ordering the lockdown in March – said the country was facing a “perfect storm” following the easing of controls over the summer.

“Right now we are at about the levels of infection we were seeing in this country in late February,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“If we leave it another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid-March. That’s clearly going to cause deaths because people will be hospitalised.

“I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later.”

He added: “We have in some sense a perfect storm right now of people, as they have been told to, getting back to normal – schools reopening, a surge in cases so therefore the testing system is under strain.

“So unfortunately we do have to roll the relaxation of measures back a little bit and get contacts down in the population.”

8:49AM

Constant supervision of visitors in care homes to continue under winter plan

Visitors to care homes in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases will continue to be constantly supervised as part of the Government’s adult social care winter action plan.

Any facility listed by Public Health England’s (PHE) surveillance report as being an area of intervention should immediately move to stop visiting, except in “exceptional circumstances”, the plan says.

The number of people affected is expected to increase as ministers consider tough new coronavirus restrictions after Boris Johnson said the long-feared second wave of the pandemic had arrived in the UK.

The plan was published on Friday evening along with a letter from care minister Helen Whately in which she expressed hope the virus would be eradicated from care homes by September 2021.

In the letter addressed to the heads of local authorities, care home providers and public health and adult social care directors, Ms Whately said: “This time next year, it would be wonderful to achieve our objective of Covid-free care homes, resilient communities and a health and care workforce still able to give their very best.”

The plan sets out the national support available to the sector to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.

Ms Whately said with the prevalence of coronavirus rising in the general population and in social care, “now is the time to act”.

8:42AM

Labour urges Boris Johnson to call Cobra meeting

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has urged Boris Johnson to call a meeting of the Government’s civil contingencies committee to consider the rise in coronavirus cases.

“We are deeply concerned with the sharp rise in infection rates. What we have seen over the last six months is the Government still can’t get the basics right, she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“The Prime Minister has to convene a Cobra meeting this weekend. He has to look at the science and the evidence and he has to make sure the measures are in place and a clear communications strategy on that so people can do the right thing.

“It has been absolutely shocking to see how monumentally they have failed at the testing, tracing, tracking system that they put in place.”

8:04AM

Family make 200-mile round trip to get tested

A North East mum has described the “crazy journey” she and her family had to make to Scotland to get a Covid-19 test.

Karen Reynoldson revealed how she, her partner David Smith, and their daughters Sofia aged four and eight-year-old Neve had to make a 200-mile round trip from their home in Burnhope, County Durham, to Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway.

To make matters worse, during their two-hour drive there, she was told by her mum, who was also checking the availability of test times, that slots had become available in Newcastle.

“We were half way to Scotland by then so couldn’t turn back,” said Karen, 39. “I was spitting feather.”

Worse still, she said an official at Moffat told her, unofficially, that she and he family could probably have used the ‘QR codes’ they received to access their tests at any testing station.

“He said they wouldn’t turn you away. I’ve heard this a couple of time now,” said Karen, a medical secretary in the NHS. “We must have passed loads of testing stations on the way up there and I can imagine there were lots of people travelling in the opposite direction to us for tests down here.”

Read more: Sage member hits back at Harding over claims testing demand surge not predicted

7:59AM

Queen given payment holiday as Crown Estate profits stagnate

The Queen has been given a payment holiday after the money she pays annually to the Treasury was deferred for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old monarch gives the Government all net revenue from the Crown Estate – derived from a collection of land and holdings including London’s Regent Street and more than half the UK’s foreshore – in return for an annual income, the Sovereign Grant.

But estate managers have this year had to agree a “staged” payment process, so far transferring just £87 million of the £345 million owed to the Government for the last financial year.

Read the full story

6:38AM

In pictures: Sniffer dogs trained to detect Covid

Researchers from the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Adelaide are working to train sniffer dogs to detect Covid-19 in people.

The dogs taking part in the study are being trained to pick the positive Covid-19 sweat sample from a line-up of samples, using positive reinforcement in the form of play with their favourite toy for each correct answer

The dogs taking part in the study are being trained to pick the positive Covid-19 sweat sample from a line-up of samples, using positive reinforcement in the form of play with their favourite toy for each correct answer

Credit:
Getty

Early results also show dogs trained in this way are able to identify infected individuals prior to the development of symptoms

Early results also show dogs trained in this way are able to identify infected individuals prior to the development of symptoms

Credit:
Getty

The study is part of an international research effort aimed at training Covid-19 detection dogs who could be used to screen people for coronavirus such as at airports, hospitals or quarantine facilities

The study is part of an international research effort aimed at training Covid-19 detection dogs who could be used to screen people for coronavirus such as at airports, hospitals or quarantine facilities

Credit:
Getty

6:14AM

Can Amazon save Britain’s test and trace system?

News that the Government could soon turn to Amazon to solve its ongoing testing and tracing fiasco should come as no surprise.

The cohort of people that will be able to get tests in the UK will be restrained even further over the coming months with prioritisation lists set to be drawn up by health officials.

It is the opposite of what was meant to happen. The Government has made countless pledges to increase testing with the latest goal to reach 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, which would represent a doubling in capacity. Most of its targets have been missed.

By contrast, Amazon has enjoyed a sterling period through the pandemic, reporting record profits and establishing itself as a clutch for many of those stuck at home.

Read the full story

Read more: Barcode glitch prompts new testing system chaos as thousands refused entry

5:45AM

More than a million active cases in India

India has maintained its surge in coronavirus cases, adding 93,337 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry on Saturday raised the nation’s caseload to more than 5.3 million out of the nearly 1.4 billion people. It said 1,247 more people died in the past 24 hours for a total of 85,619. The country has over a million active cases with about 80 per cent recovery rate.

India has been reporting the highest single-day rise in the world every day for more than five weeks. It’s expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced scathing criticism from opposition lawmakers in India’s Parliament for its handling of the pandemic amid a contracting economy leaving millions jobless.

Read more: Indian doctors should be valued like soldiers, medical association says, after 380 die from Covid-19

Relatives lower the body of a person who died from the novel coronavirus pandemic at a graveyard in New Delhi

Relatives lower the body of a person who died from the novel coronavirus pandemic at a graveyard in New Delhi

Credit:
Anadolu

3:25AM

Canada’s opposition leader tests positive

Canada’s conservative opposition leader Erin O’Toole tested positive for the new coronavirus on Friday, his office announced, one day after another federal party leader did, too.

Both Mr O’Toole and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet were “feeling well” and were self-isolating, according to statements.

Each had had close contact with staffers who tested positive for the Covid-19 illness.

Mr O’Toole said he is “very relieved that his wife and children have tested negative”.

A man looks around as people wait in their cars at the Etobicoke General Hospital Drive-Thru coronavirus testing facility in Etobicoke, Ontario

A man looks around as people wait in their cars at the Etobicoke General Hospital Drive-Thru coronavirus testing facility in Etobicoke, Ontario

Credit:
Reuters

3:03AM

China’s new infections fall 

Mainland China reported 14 new cases on Sept. 18, down from 32 cases reported a day earlier, the Chinese national health authority said on Saturday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. It also reported 24 new asymptomatic cases, up from 20 a day earlier, though China does not classify these patients without symptoms as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The total number of cases for mainland China now stands at 85,269, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

A person raises his wrist towards a security guard using an infrared thermometer at the entrance to a park in Beijing

A person raises his wrist towards a security guard using an infrared thermometer at the entrance to a park in Beijing

Credit:
Bloomberg

2:37AM

Daily cases at 3-month low in Australia’s hot spot

The Australian state at the centre of the country’s outbreak on Saturday reported its lowest daily increase of infections in three months, putting it on course to relax a hard lockdown in the capital city by the end of the month.

Victoria recorded 21 new cases in the prior 24 hours, less than half the previous day’s number and its lowest since June 24.

None of the seven other Australian states and territories had reported new case numbers but all except Victoria have reported single-digit or no case increases for weeks.

Victoria also reported seven new deaths related to the virus, taking the national total to 844, according to government figures. 

Read more: Lord Sugar faces Australian backlash after flying to Sydney

A deserted view from Melbourne city

A deserted view from Melbourne city

Credit:
Anadolu

2:26AM

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