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Coronavirus latest news: New North East lockdown set to include pub curfew and household mixing ban

A pub curfew and ban on household mixing are among the new restrictions set to be introduced in the North East, the leader of Newcastle City Council has revealed.

Nick Forbes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that pubs and bars, homes and grassroots sports are the three main areas where spread of the virus is being witnessed – and the additional restrictions are “primarily focussed on those areas”.

“In pubs and restaurants, we’ve asked for a 10pm curfew or closure, and table service only to prevent people congregating and standing around bar areas. It’s much easier for people to maintain social distancing if it’s seating only.

“We’ve asked for people to only have contact between households if they’re in a social bubble, and for people not to make contact with people outside their own households or social bubble. I appreciate that is quite restrictive for childcare, so we’ve asked for an exemption for extended family members for informal childcare arrangements.”

Other restrictions expected to be announced by the Government this morning include spectators being advised not to attend sporting venues, travellers being told to avoid public transport at peak times and avoid car-shares, and care home visits being restricted to essential visitors.

Follow the latest updates below.

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8:01AM

‘Man-made’ antibody cuts risk of hospitalisation by 70pc

A single dose of a man-made antibody has been found to cut the risk of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 by more than 70 per cent, a small study has found.

The therapy – called monoclonal or neutralising antibodies – is the first treatment to be specifically designed for Covid-19 and experts are excited about its potential.

The findings were released by drug firm Eli Lilly but were not published in a peer-reviewed journal and full trial data have not yet been released.

According to the US-based firm, 452 newly diagnosed patients received either the monoclonal antibody or a placebo infusion.

Some 1.7 per cent of those who received the monoclonal antibody were hospitalised compared to six per cent of those who received the placebo – a 72 per cent reduction in risk.

Read the full story here.

8:00AM

Office staff ‘face work from home order if coronavirus cases keep rising’

Office staff will be given a “work from home” order within a fortnight if the “rule of six” fails to bring down coronavirus infection rates, ministers have been warned.

The current shortage of Covid-19 tests means employers will have no choice but to send more workers home, undermining the already weak economic recovery, business leaders said.

Senior Government sources said it would take two weeks to assess whether the “rule of six” had brought down infections. If it was found that it had failed to do so, further lockdown measures may be required.

Read the full story here.

7:45AM

Health Minister plays down second national lockdown 

Edward Argar has played down reports that the Government is considering a two-week national lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

“It is not something I have seen within the department,” he told Sky News.

“The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. He doesn’t want to see another national lockdown. He wants to see people abiding by the regulations and making the local lockdowns work.”

With further lockdowns expected to be announced in North East England, Mr Argar said the region was seeing a spike in cases similar to that in the North West.

“In the North East we are seeing a spike in infections. It is exactly what we have seen in the North West. We monitor that rate. Where we need to, we step in and take action,” he said.

7:27AM

Symptom tracker app developer: Don’t ask for test if you’re sneezing and have runny nose

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, developed the Covid-19 symptom tracker app, which is being used by around four million people.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that 80 per cent of people in all age groups who reported their symptoms in the first week had severe headaches and tiredness or fatigue.

Losing sense of smell is quite uncommon in older people and children and the immune system can react differently in people of varying ages, he said.  

However, runny nose, congestion and sneezing are symptoms which are not associated with Covid-19 and are more likely to be a common cold, he said.  

“We have 6,500 new cases every day, which on a countrywide basis is still very small, so the chances are most people don’t have Covid-19,” he said.

“We have to start thinking about ways to exclude it rather than going on these standard criteria.  

“Don’t overburden the system by trying to get a test. By all means keep your child at home, but don’t rush around the country trying to get a test for something that is highly likely to be a cold and not Covid-19.”

7:12AM

Schools draw up plans to go part-time if testing chaos continues

Headteachers have said that unless the Government can get a grip on the testing system, they will need to instigate rota systems where pupils are taught on two weeks on, two weeks off basis.

Education leaders warned the Prime Minister that nearly every school in the country is struggling to access tests for students and staff.

Secondary schools should only move to a rota system if cases are rising in a local area and “all other measures have been exhausted”, according to official contingency planning advice published by The Department for Education.

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said that teachers may be forced to put the rota plans in place sooner rather than later. 

Read the full story here.

6:58AM

‘Tough’ restrictions necessary to ‘protect’ Christmas, insists PM

Boris Johnson has warned actions to stop a second surge of coronavirus must be “tough now” in order to “protect” Christmas.

His words came as stricter new measures are expected to be announced for the North East of England, where cases are on the rise – including a reported curfew on pubs.

The PM said people have to be “both confident and cautious” and that it is “crucial” the country does not re-enter “some great lockdown again that stops business from functioning”.

“Christmas we want to protect, and we want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas,” he said.

“But the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now.

“So if we can grip it now, stop the surge, arrest the spike, stop the second hump of the dromedary, flatten the second hump.”

6:57AM

North East temporary restrictions to prevent full lockdown

The North East looks set to become the latest area in England to come under local restrictions as coronavirus cases rise.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said “additional, temporary” measures are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.

He said he expected Health Secretary Matt Hancock to make an announcement on Thursday morning.

The Chronicle Live website reported that measures would include a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises.

It also said people will be banned from socialising with anyone outside their household

Other restrictions it said were due to be announced but had not yet been confirmed include people being told not to go on holiday with different households and spectators advised not to attend sporting venues.

It said care home visits will be restricted to essential visitors, and people will be advised to avoid public transport at peak times except for essential journeys, and to avoid car-shares.

6:54AM

Wales local lockdown after rise in cases

A local lockdown will be enforced in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area of south Wales following a “rapid rise” in Covid-19 cases, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Under the new restrictions, which come into force at 6pm on Thursday, people must not enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse.

Meetings with other people indoors will not be allowed, including for extended households.

All licensed pubs, bars and restaurants in the area, which has a population of around 240,000, will have to close at 11pm.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said the lockdown followed two “significant” clusters of Covid-19 cases in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.

6:53AM

 £546m care homes rescue package for winter

The Prime Minister has announced he will unveil a rescue package of £546 million to protect care homes from the threat of Covid-19 during the winter.

The funds will be used to ensure staff are limited to working in one home and compensated for any reduced hours, said Boris Johnson.

Care home workers will also be given financial support to ensure they have sufficient personal protective equipment and are able to minimise their use of public transport.

“Be in no doubt we’re going to do absolutely all we can to stop the spread in care homes,” he said.

“And I’m afraid it’s an incredibly difficult thing, but we are going to have to place some restrictions on people, visitors being able to go into care homes.”

6:51AM

Don’t snitch on neighbours, says PM

Members of the public should not report their neighbours for breaching the the ‘rule of six’ unless they are having large parties, the Prime Minister has said.

Any social gathering of more than six people in England is against the law, with people facing fines of up to £3,200 if they do not abide by the new measure, which applies to both indoor and outdoor settings.

Boris Johnson urged people to speak with rulebreakers before notifying the authorities.

“I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself,” he said.

“What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours.

“But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbours’ activities – if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health then its reasonable for the authorities to know.”

5:36AM

India records nearly 100,000 infections in a day

India reported another record jump in daily coronavirus infections, with 97,894 cases in the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday.

With 5.12 million cases in all, India is the world’s second-worst affected country, and trails only the United States, which has a caseload of around 6.6 million.

Deaths, which have been relatively low so far, are showing an uptick, and the country has recorded more than 1,000 deaths every day for the past two weeks.

On Thursday, the federal health ministry said 1,132 people died of Covid in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities from the disease to 83,198.

4:06AM

Exclusive: Schools’ part-time plans if testing chaos continues

Schools are drawing up plans to go part-time if the testing chaos continues, The Telegraph has learned.

Headteachers have said that unless the Government can get a grip on the testing system, they will need to instigate rota systems where pupils are taught on a two weeks on, two weeks off basis.

Education leaders warned the Prime Minister that nearly every school in the country is struggling to access tests for students and staff.

Read the full story here.

3:58AM

‘Flights to nowhere’ taking off in Asia and Australia

Qantas Airways will operate a seven-hour scenic flight over Australia next month, adding to a growing trend in Asia of “flights to nowhere” that take off and land at the same airport.

Tough border restrictions to keep coronavirus under control have led to a 97.5 per cent plunge in international travel in the region.

Many frequent flyers miss getting on planes. Airlines including Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp and Japan’s ANA Holdings, desperate for revenue and to keep their pilots’ licences current, have offered special sightseeing flights.

Qantas said it would use a Boeing 787 typically used for long-haul international flights for the flight from Sydney that will fly at low levels over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour

Qantas said it would use a Boeing 787 typically used for long-haul international flights for the flight from Sydney that will fly at low levels over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour

Credit:
NitiChuysakul Photography

Just six months ago, it would have been unimaginable that Australians would be unable to hop on a plane and travel out of the country or even out of their own state due to border controls and quarantine requirements, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“While we may not be able to take you overseas right now, we can certainly provide inspiration for future trips to some of Australia’s most beautiful destinations,” he said.

Read the full story here.

1:06AM

Numbers drop in Australian hot-spot

The daily rise in coronavirus infections in Australia’s state of Victoria eased further on Thursday, as the state began relaxing most restrictions outside its largest city of Melbourne after a steady drop in cases in recent days.

Residents in regional areas of the state can now have outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, and cafes will be able to seat up to 50 people outside.

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported 28 new cases on Thursday, the lowest daily rise since June 24 and down from daily highs above 700 in early August.

The south-eastern state at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in the country reported eight deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, the same as reported a day earlier.

1:00AM

Exclusive: Only select few to get rationed Covid tests

Large numbers of people will be refused coronavirus tests even if they have symptoms under Government plans to ration testing if the crisis deepens, The Telegraph can reveal. 

A prioritisation list drawn up by health officials suggests routine testing would no longer be offered to swathes of the public, with tests restricted to select groups of people. 

It comes as the UK recorded nearly 4,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time since the start of May, with a jump from 3,539 to 3,991 in one day. 

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson said the Government was doing everything in its power to avoid a second national lockdown, which he said would be financially “disastrous” (watch the video below).

Read our exclusive story in full here.

11:49PM

Today’s top stories

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