COVID live news

COVID live news
That’s it from our live blog today 

You can follow again tomorrow for all the latest coronavirus news and updates. 

Until then, here’s our top stories from today: 

  • A further 462 coronavirus deaths and 26,860 new cases have been reported in the UK 
  • 26 people have been arrested over an anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool
  • Austria is returning to a national lockdown beginning on Tuesday

Seven people have died in a fire at a COVID-19 intensive care unit in Romania – authorities

The fire broke out in two rooms housing 16 COVID-19 patients on Sunday, an emergency services spokesperson for Romania’s Neamt County said. 

It is believed those killed had coronavirus and an eighth patient is in a serious condition, while a staff member received serious injuries. 

The fire has now been put out. 

Coronavirus infections slowing in Italy 

National health officials say they are seeing early data that restrictions which came into force a month ago are starting to work. 

The transmission rate has been dropping, although health minister Roberto Speranza warned it is not enough yet to show the country has turned a corner. 

Italy recorded 37,255 confirmed cases today and 544 deaths.

In pictures: Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world celebrate Diwali 

Skies are being lit with fireworks and candles displayed in homes as millions are taking part in the festival of lights. 

This year will feel very different for those in the UK as people are not able to meet in each other’s homes during the coronavirus lockdown. 

In India, where the festival originated, there has been a spike in cases in recent weeks so many temples are live streaming prayer sessions to avoid large gatherings. 

Despite things being different this year, we hope everyone is having a happy Diwali. 

COVID-19 mutations in mink farms not expected to jeopardise vaccines 

Health authorities in Denmark have reviewed data on COVID-19 mutations found on mink farms and said they are not particularly concerned because there is little evidence the mutations spread more easily, make the virus more deadly or could jeopardise vaccines. 

The announcement of a mutated cluster on the Danish farms had prompted concern in the scientific community and caused the country’s prime minister to bring an end to mink farming. 

Despite the good news, experts say it is still necessary to cull some 17 million mink as the virus could continue to evolve and spread amongst the animals. 

French police investigate illegal party of 400 people 

A party attended by up to 400 people in a large private house near Paris is being investigated for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules.

Police said partygoers threw bottles at them as they broke up the event in the early hours of Saturday. 

At least one person at the party had tested positive for COVID-19.

Mo Salah has ‘mild’ coronavirus symptoms, says doctor

Liverpool striker Mo Salah tested positive for coronavirus yesterday ahead of Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo. 

Egypt’s national team doctor, Mohamed Abou Elela said the footballer has mild symptoms and will spend at least the next week self-isolating in his home country. 

He will therefore miss Liverpool’s first game against Leicester in the Premier League next Sunday. 

Speaking to The Associated Press, the doctor said Salah may have caught the virus at his brother’s wedding but he is not certain. 

Watch: ‘The real pandemic is mental health’

When lockdown restrictions were announced on 23 March, Christopher Ealden’s family said he felt “isolated from the world”.

The 35-year-old paramedic, who worked at South Central Ambulance Service, had no history of mental health issues. He was found dead in July, leaving behind his devastated family.

Psychiatrists are now warning they face a surge in demand for mental health services as people struggle to cope with the second lockdown.

26 arrested over ‘irresponsible’ Liverpool lockdown protest

A group of lockdown protesters have gathered in Liverpool city centre, despite police enforcing a dispersal zone in the area. 

Twenty-five people have been arrested on suspicion of public order offences and breaching coronavirus restrictions. 

A man was also arrested after a police officer was assaulted. 

Police earlier said they had arrested 15 people, but this number has increased in the last hour.

In a post on Twitter, Merseyside Police said: “Unfortunately a small number of selfish and irresponsible individuals have chosen to gather in the city centre today… putting themselves, their families, the public and our staff at risk from this global pandemic.”

UK cases and deaths 

The UK has reported a further 462 coronavirus deaths and 26,860 confirmed daily cases – a slight uptick on last Saturday. 

Then, 413 deaths were recorded and there were 24,957 new cases. 

Coronavirus cases and deaths have continued to increase across the country, but experts say there is now some evidence the growth in infections is slowing down. 

Wales cases and deaths

A further 933 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Wales. 

Public Health Wales has also recorded 20 more deaths, taking the overall death toll to 2,191. 

Austrian chancellor confirms national lockdown will begin on Tuesday

Sebastian Kurz said non-essential shops will close and the current 8pm-6am curfew will cover the whole day.

Exceptions include shopping for essentials or exercise.

People are being urged to work from home wherever possible.

The lockdown is due to last almost three weeks, until 6 December.

Mayor of Istanbul calls for lockdown of at least a fortnight

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who had COVID-19 last month, said: “This job is not like it was in the March-April-May period. The circle is getting narrower.”

He added: “Especially in the last week, there are at least 50 more deaths in Istanbul alone than the number reported in the whole of Turkey.” 

Mr Imamoglu said he endorsed a local committee’s proposal for an immediate 2-3 week lockdown.

Earlier, President Erdogan said Turkish hospitals are not overwhelmed at present but matters could get worse if people do not wear masks and social distance.

People in Bolsover say the pandemic is far more important than Dominic Cummings

The prime minister’s chief adviser was seen leaving Downing Street carrying a large box on Friday evening.

But in the former mining area of north Derbyshire, it matters little compared to putting
food on the table or the health of your family.

Bolsover Boxing Club owner Gavin Downs (below) tells Sky News he is desperately hoping to reopen in early December, when England’s latest lockdown is due to end.

“That’s
what people are bothered about now – we’re in a fight to keep the doors open,” he said.

“Westminster – what’s happening with Boris and all that just isn’t something I take much
notice of.”

Just outside Bolsover, Samantha Hill runs a tea
room next to the garden centre in Glapwell. 

She
said: “Life at the minute is tough for a lot of people so I don’t think people
are that bothered about what’s going off up there (Westminster) – more how that
filters through to their daily lives and how it affects them.”

Ten more deaths reported in Northern Ireland

Its health department says the total is now 846.

A further 511 positive tests have been recorded in the latest 24-hour period.

Lebanese police patrol Beirut as country begins two-week lockdown

Officers are forcing shops to close amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases that has left intensive care units almost full.

A curfew lasts from sunset to sunrise, and driving is to be completely banned on Sundays. 

Vehicles with odd and even number plates will be allowed to drive three days a week each, to limit traffic.

Gym owner faces £67,000 fine after refusing to close during England’s second lockdown

Andreas Mishli, 34, said he finally shut Zone Gym in Wood Green in north London on Wednesday after police blocked customers from entering.

Haringey Council, which has repeatedly issued fines against him, is now seeking a closure order through the courts. 

Mr Mishli said: “There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t close.

“I couldn’t actually find a reason why to not keep it open, other than there was legislation in place.

“It felt like the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically.”

Gyms are included in the list of venues that must close under national lockdown restrictions which came into effect on 5 November.

Next two weeks ‘crucial’ in ensuring England’s lockdown ends on 2 December

Professor Susan Michie, who is on the SAGE group of scientists which advises the government, said the next fortnight will be “very challenging, partly because of the weather (and) partly because, I think, the promise of a vaccine may be making people feel complacent”.

Prof Michie added: “But the vaccine is very unlikely to come in until the end of the year or beginning of next year and that’s going to make no difference to the current second wave.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So I think for the next two weeks, everybody has to really get all their resolve together.”

Iran to impose tougher restrictions from next Saturday

The strictest measures – classified by health officials as “red” or level 3 – will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 100 other towns and cities.

Non-essential businesses and services will be closed, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in a televised news conference.

President Hassan Rouhani said: “Shutdowns are not limited to jobs, but also include universities, schools and training centres.”

Iran reported 452 coronavirus-related deaths over the last 24 hours to take its total to 41,034, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Cases rose by 11,203 to 749,525.

Below: Iranians in masks visit the Imamzadeh Saleh mosque in Tehran.

Pilot testing scheme launched in 20 care homes in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall

The government briefing says: “If successful, care home testing will be rolled out in a phased way across the country.”

Click on the link in the tweet for more details.

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli tests positive

The 55-year-old, pictured below, is not showing symptoms but is isolating at home, the Italian club said.

Saturday’s training session for the Serie A leaders has been cancelled.

The club said “all other tests carried out by the squad and staff came back negative”.

Positive coronavirus tests in the UK

Greece closes nurseries and primary schools until the end of November

The additional measures have been added to a second national lockdown which is already in place until the end of the month – including a curfew between 9pm and 5am.

The country announced 3,038 new positive tests on Friday. 

On Thursday, it recorded 3,316 new infections and 50 deaths – its highest daily figures during the pandemic.

Austria to bring in lockdown from Tuesday until Sunday 6 December

People will be urged to work from home wherever possible.

Non-essential shops will close, as will hairdressers.

Schools that have not already switched to distance learning will do so, but childcare will be provided where needed.

Currently, there is a curfew between 8pm and 6am.

The number of daily cases reached a record high of 9,586 on Friday – nine times higher than during the peak of the first wave.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is due to hold a news conference this afternoon.

Croatia and Inter Milan footballer Marcelo Brozovic tests positive for COVID-19

The Croatian soccer federation says the 27-year-old midfielder, pictured below, has been isolated from the rest of the team.

Croatia are playing Sweden in Stockholm today in a Nations League game.

On Wednesday, defender Domagoj Vida was withdrawn from Croatia’s friendly against Turkey after also testing positive.

The Swedish soccer federation says defender Carl Starfelt is isolating after testing positive for coronavirus too.

Poland reports record number of deaths with coronavirus

Poland reported 548 further COVID-related fatalities on Saturday – a record high – taking the total above 10,000.

It also announced 25,571 more positive tests – lower than a record 27,875 recorded on 7 November.

More than 100,000 people tested in Liverpool pilot scheme, mayor says

Podcast: A coronavirus vaccine – hope on the horizon

People in Wales urged to celebrate Diwali safely

Russia records record number of daily cases

Russia has reported 22,702 positive tests in its latest 24-hour period – up from 21,608 previously.

It takes the total to 1,903,253.

A further 391 deaths have been recorded, down from 439 the previous day.

Lights will not go out on Hindu and Sikh festivals disrupted by coronavirus lockdown

Greggs to cut more than 800 jobs because of the pandemic

Greggs’ chief executive, Roger Whiteside, said he was “very saddened by the need to part company with around 820 friends and colleagues, many of whom have worked with us for many years”.

Coronavirus restrictions across the UK mean the “battle with COVID hasn’t gone away”, he added. 

Mr Whiteside said: “At lockdown levels of sales, even after all of the mitigating action that we have taken, Greggs will not be profitable as a business and there can be no room for complacency.”

He continued: “Some stores have staff hours which are just off what’s needed for current demand. But others are a long way off and will need significant change.”

Religious leaders challenge decision to close churches

More than 100 church leaders are seeking a judicial review of the decision by the government to ban people from worshipping together in England.

They are also challenging a similar ban by the Welsh Government during its 17-day “firebreak” which ended earlier this month.

They claim the restrictions on public worship breach Article 9 of the Human Rights Act on freedom to express religious beliefs.

Pastor Ade Omooba, who is leading the challenge, said: “We have been left with no alternative but to pursue a judicial review on this crucial issue and at this significant moment for the freedom to worship in church in this country.

“We call on the government to recognise the vital importance of church ministry and the principle of church autonomy from the state.”

Care home testing pilot to start on Monday

Family and friends of people living in 20 care homes across Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall are to get regular testing to allow them to visit their loved ones.

The scheme will be rolled out to other regions before Christmas, the Department of Health and Social Care said. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heartbreaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents – many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation – but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time.” 

The Alzheimer’s Society said: “The promise of care home visitors being at the front of the line to get more ring-fenced tests as the new ones become available must fast become reality.”

Read more here.

Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog

Follow for the latest coronavirus updates.

Key points:

  • UK records 462 coronavirus deaths and 26,860 new cases
  • Twenty-six arrested over lockdown protest in Liverpool
  • Returning to tiered restrictions in England next month will cause cases to rise to pre-lockdown levels, scientists warn
  • More than 100 church leaders launch legal challenge against ban on worship in England and Wales during second lockdown
  • People travelling back to the UK from mainland Greece will have to self-isolate for two weeks from this morning
  • The R number has fallen slightly to a maximum of 1.2, government scientists have said
  • Live reporting by Emily Mee

That’s all from our live blog today 

Follow again tomorrow for all the latest coronavirus news and updates. 

Until then, here’s a round-up of today’s top stories: 

  • The UK has recorded 27,301 daily cases and 376, down from yesterday’s figures 
  • R number has dropped to between 1 and 1.2 in Britain 
  • Travel Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested the travel quarantine time could be reduced ‘very soon’

How will a coronavirus vaccine be tested for safety?

In a video shared by the Department of Health, a top scientist has explained the processes a vaccine would have to go through before it can be approved for use. 

Dr Christian Schneider, interim chief scientific officer at MHRA, said the UK’s drugs regulatory body would assess the “quality, safety and efficacy” data with its scientists.

“And it will also seek independent advice from the government’s commission on human medicines,” he said. 

“Only after all these hurdles have been jumped over… a vaccine can be authorised.” 

Dr Schneider said experts now have a “pretty good picture” of what safety tests are needed for a new vaccine after several decades of their use. 

There are rules on what has to be done and these are internationally agreed, he said. 

Dr Schneider added that the safety process for a potential COVID-19 vaccine would be “no different” compared to previous vaccines. 

Watch: What happens after the current lockdown ends?

Sky’s Rowland Manthorpe examines the latest data and looks at what is next when England leaves national lockdown.

Where are the worst-affected areas in the UK?

The latest data shows the North of England is still the worst hit by the UK’s coronavirus epidemic, with Blackburn with Darwen, Oldham and Bradford among the hotspots.

US reports nearly 200,000 daily cases of coronavirus 

A further 194,610 new confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in the States, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The number of deaths rose by 1,147, taking the total death toll to 242,216. 

Listen to the Sky News Daily podcast: COVID-19 vaccine – hope on the horizon

It was the news the world had been waiting for. A major breakthrough in the race to find a vaccine in the fight against coronavirus.

While the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer financed the vaccine, the science itself is the work of German company BioNTech – founded by husband and wife team, physicians Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci.

We hear from Dr Sahin on this edition of the Sky News Daily podcast hosted by Dominic Waghorn.

We are also joined by Dr Charlie Weller, who is head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust research charity, and GP Dr Ellie Cannon as we examine what more we know about the vaccine, the preparations for distribution if approved and the challenges that still remain.

France reports 934 new coronavirus deaths in a day

This is more than double the 425 deaths reported yesterday.

The country also announced 23,794 daily confirmed cases, down from 33,172 the previous day.

Coronavirus deaths have reached alarming levels in France, with 1,220 deaths recorded on Tuesday. 

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that one in four deaths in France are now due to COVID-19, with one person admitted to hospital with the virus every 30 seconds.

People in lowest-paid jobs twice as likely to die from COVID-19, says report 

A report from an independent group of scientists has found the most deprived areas in England have a COVID-19 mortality rate more than twice as high as the most affluent areas. 

People in the lowest-paid jobs were twice as likely as those in higher paid jobs (such as professionals and business leaders) to die from coronavirus, according to the Independent SAGE report.

The group has called for the Test and Trace system to be improved and for people on lower incomes to be given more support to prevent further health inequalities. 

London mayor says ‘lessons must be learned’ after ‘devastating’ deaths of healthcare workers

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said it was “devastating” to hear more than 200 healthcare workers have been named following their deaths after contracting COVID-19. 

PA news agency confirmed the names of the 200 NHS workers who died after contracting COVID-19 since 11 March. 

“My heart goes out to all of their family, friends and colleagues,” Mr Khan said.

“I fear that the number who have lost their lives is much higher than this, and that those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have been disproportionately affected.

“We owe them all a great deal of gratitude for their selfless dedication, but lessons must be learned so that our health and care staff are given all the support they need so that they can safely do their vital work to protect Londoners.”

Is coronavirus slowing in the UK?

Sky correspondent Rowland Manthorpe looks at what we know after today’s slew of data drops

Today’s data adds to the mounting evidence that the pandemic is slowing in the UK. But it’s too soon to declare that lockdowns in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been a success.

The chief medical officers of the UK have reduced the R number by a small amount, suggesting that the speed of the growth of the outbreak is decreasing. 

This is not the same as an actual decrease. If R is 1 then every person with the virus infects one other person. If 10,0000 people have it, that means they’ll infect 10,000 more, with the inevitable effects on deaths and hospitalisations.

According to today’s Office for National Statistics survey, one of the most reliable pictures of the state of the epidemic, 654,000 people in England had the virus in the week leading up to 6 November. Unless R goes below one, those numbers will not begin to fall.

After its influential REACT study showed a similar flattening off, a scientist from Imperial college London compared it to being up a mountain.

If the gradient gets less steep, the climb might be easier, but you are still very high. That is the crucial fact.

That picture is borne out in the data on deaths and hospital admissions, which shows no sign of slowing, and may not for several weeks yet.

It is possible to find more optimistic assessments. The team behind the Covid Symptom Study app now estimates that R is below one in every region of the UK. But even if this is correct, and it may well be, as the app tends to be ahead of the official figures, the raw fact of high prevalence is inescapable. 

Until that goes down, and we see decreases in deaths and hospital admissions, it will not be possible to feel entirely safe.

COVID-19 infections will rise to pre-lockdown levels if tier system returns, SAGE warns

Returning to a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions next month will cause infections to rise to the levels which prompted England to enter its second lockdown, the government’s scientific advisers have warned.

In newly released documents, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the country’s coronavirus reproduction rate – or R number – is likely to fall below 1 during the four-week lockdown.

But the experts said that infections will “return to the same rate of increase” as before national restrictions were imposed on 5 November if the country returns to its previous three-tier system.

You can read more on this story here. The table below shows the R number in different parts of the UK…

Musk claims something ‘extremely bogus’ is going on after he tests positive and negative for COVID

Elon Musk claims to have taken four COVID-19 tests on the same day, two of which showed he was positive for the virus, and two that came back negative, as he stated “something extremely bogus is going on”.

It is not the first time the outspoken billionaire has expressed scepticism about the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, he described lockdowns as “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes” and “fascist”.

Mr Musk said he was tested with a rapid antigen test, which authorities have warned has a higher chance of delivering false negatives.

He tweeted: “Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for Covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse.”

Italy daily cases top 40,000 – but still no national lockdown

Italy has reported a record 40,902 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours – but there is still no national lockdown. 

Pressure is growing on the Italian government, which is currently pursuing a regional approach of different coloured tiers. 

The country, which was the first epicentre of the pandemic in Europe, saw 550 daily deaths.

Here’s more from Rowland Manthorpe on the COVID treatment that is available in the UK but not being widely used

It has emerged that 55 deaths could have been prevented if this steroid had been used on patients.

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