World news – UK coronavirus live: minister dismisses claim PM preparing for new two-week national lockdown


    News updates: Edward Argar says Boris Johnson does not want a new national lockdown; Matt Hancock due to announce restrictions in north-east of England

    PA Media has published figures showing the rolling seven-day rate for new coronavirus cases for every local authority in England. Here are the top 100 local areas, rated according to where there are the highest number of new cases per head of population.

    There are four figures for every local authority. They show: the rate of new cases in the seven days to 13 September, expressed as number of new cases per 100,000 people; (the total actual number of new cases in that period); the rate of new cases in the seven days to 6 September, expressed as number of new cases per 100,000 people; (and the actual number of new cases in that period).

    – Liverpool (up from 56.8 to 106.4, with 530 new cases)- Leicester (up from 60.7 to 89.8, with 318 new cases)- Salford (up from 75.3 to 89.6, with 232 new cases)- Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 51.2 to 64.1, with 194 new cases)

    Bolton 204.1 (587), 152.0 (437)Oadby and Wigston 136.8 (78), 52.6 (30)Hyndburn 132.0 (107), 64.2 (52)Preston 125.8 (180), 75.5 (108)Burnley 124.8 (111), 70.9 (63)Blackburn with Darwen 120.2 (180), 73.5 (110)Oldham 114.7 (272), 66.6 (158)Liverpool 106.4 (530), 56.8 (283)Tameside 105.1 (238), 75.1 (170)Warrington 104.8 (220), 57.6 (121)

    Knowsley 102.7 (155), 51.0 (77)St Helens 101.3 (183), 50.4 (91)Rossendale 96.5 (69), 44.8 (32)Bradford 93.6 (505), 82.8 (447)South Tyneside 93.4 (141), 60.9 (92)Wirral 91.7 (297), 66.0 (214)Rochdale 90.8 (202), 68.8 (153)Leicester 89.8 (318), 60.7 (215)Salford 89.6 (232), 75.3 (195)Bury 85.9 (164), 70.2 (134)

    Birmingham 83.4 (952), 80.9 (924)Sunderland 82.1 (228), 73.5 (204)Gateshead 81.7 (165), 58.4 (118)Manchester 79.9 (442), 68.7 (380)Leeds 72.9 (578), 66.1 (524)Halton 72.6 (94), 28.6 (37)Pendle 71.7 (66), 58.6 (54)Kirklees 70.7 (311), 42.7 (188)Solihull 68.4 (148), 64.7 (140)Newcastle upon Tyne 64.1 (194), 51.2 (155)

    Blaby 63.0 (64), 53.2 (54)Sandwell 62.4 (205), 41.7 (137)Calderdale 58.6 (124), 45.4 (96)Wolverhampton 55.4 (146), 41.4 (109)Barrow-in-Furness 53.7 (36), 29.8 (20)Sefton 52.5 (145), 37.3 (103)Hartlepool 52.3 (49), 52.3 (49)Rugby 51.4 (56), 28.5 (31)Selby 49.7 (45), 47.5 (43)Wyre 49.1 (55), 23.2 (26)

    South Ribble 48.7 (54), 39.7 (44)Sheffield 47.7 (279), 38.1 (223)North Tyneside 46.7 (97), 37.5 (78)Wigan 45.3 (149), 37.7 (124)Stockport 45.0 (132), 32.7 (96)Chorley 44.8 (53), 20.3 (24)Spelthorne 44.1 (44), 31.0 (31)Windsor and Maidenhead 43.6 (66), 20.5 (31)High Peak 43.2 (40), 25.9 (24)Trafford 43.0 (102), 32.9 (78)

    Corby 41.5 (30), 47.1 (34)Rotherham 41.4 (110), 30.1 (80)St Albans 39.7 (59), 20.9 (31)Charnwood 38.7 (72), 20.4 (38)Craven 38.5 (22), 26.3 (15)Redbridge 38.3 (117), 35.4 (108)Northampton 38.3 (86), 33.4 (75)Scarborough 37.7 (41), 39.5 (43)County Durham 37.4 (198), 32.4 (172)Bolsover 37.2 (30), 18.6 (15)

    Fylde 37.1 (30), 17.3 (14)Hounslow 36.8 (100), 30.2 (82)Kettering 36.4 (37), 28.5 (29)Middlesbrough 36.2 (51), 51.8 (73)Walsall 36.1 (103), 25.2 (72)Broxtowe 36.0 (41), 40.3 (46)Mansfield 34.8 (38), 26.5 (29)Stevenage 34.2 (30), 17.1 (15)Coventry 33.4 (124), 27.5 (102)Wakefield 33.0 (115), 25.3 (88)

    Ashfield 32.8 (42), 28.9 (37)Cannock Chase 32.8 (33), 12.9 (13)Barking and Dagenham 32.4 (69), 30.1 (64)Blackpool 32.3 (45), 22.9 (32)Hambleton 31.7 (29), 10.9 (10)Hertsmere 31.5 (33), 49.6 (52)York 30.9 (65), 14.2 (30)West Lancashire 30.6 (35), 38.5 (44)Amber Valley 30.4 (39), 14.0 (18)Stockton-on-Tees 30.4 (60), 24.3 (48)

    Enfield 30.3 (101), 23.4 (78)South Staffordshire 30.2 (34), 24.0 (27)Wellingborough 30.1 (24), 18.8 (15)Nottingham 30.0 (100), 31.8 (106)Cheshire West and Chester 30.0 (103), 19.8 (68)Castle Point 29.9 (27), 16.6 (15)Harborough 29.8 (28), 20.3 (19)Havering 29.7 (77), 33.5 (87)North East Derbyshire 29.6 (30), 17.7 (18)Welwyn Hatfield 29.3 (36), 18.7 (23)

    Stoke-on-Trent 29.3 (75), 30.0 (77)Harrogate 29.2 (47), 34.8 (56)Ealing 29.0 (99), 20.8 (71)Tamworth 28.7 (22), 20.9 (16)Hammersmith and Fulham 28.6 (53), 28.6 (53)Hackney and City of London 28.5 (83), 19.9 (58)Bromsgrove 28.0 (28), 29.0 (29)Runnymede 28.0 (25), 15.7 (14)Malvern Hills 28.0 (22), 30.5 (24)Luton 27.7 (59), 26.3 (56)

    During his interview on the Today programme this morning Edward Argar, the health minister, also confirmed that the government would shortly issue guidance on how it would prioritise access to testing. He said teachers would be among those getting priority.

    We will see this in the next few days, the official guidance coming out that will prioritise frontline NHS care workers, teachers and similar.

    It is possible that there are people with symptoms who apply for a test who have to wait longer because we are prioritising those key frontline workers we need to keep our NHS and care system working.

    Care providers in England will receive more than £500m extra funding to help reduce transmission of Covid-19 during the winter, the government has announced. As PA Media reports, the infection control fund will help pay staff full wages when they are self-isolating and ensure carers work in only one care home, reducing the risk of spreading the infection. The fund was set up in May but has now been extended until March 2021 and will offer the sector an extra £546m ahead of an anticipated second wave of the virus over the winter months.

    Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Today programme this morning that the shortage of coronavirus testing meant it was getting harder to track the spread of the disease. He explained:

    I think we are getting to the point where potentially we are losing our ability to accurately track the virus. That means that we could have a situation where it is getting into risk groups, we start to see more cases appear and we don’t have good warning of that.

    It also affects our ability to have more targeted, nuanced measures. If we lose the ability to track the virus it ends up that more blunt tools will be deployed. That is what we saw earlier in the year.

    On the Today programme this morning the Newcastle city council leader, Nick Forbes, said his team had sent proposals to the Department of Health for pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and for people to be banned from socialising outside their bubble. He explained:

    We know from the tracing that we’re doing, that the three main areas where we’re seeing the spread of the virus at the moment are in pubs and bars, in people’s homes …. and in grassroots sports.

    So in pubs and restaurants, we’ve asked for a 10pm curfew or 10pm closure of all pubs and restaurants.

    And we’ve also asked for 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 of their own households or their own social bubble.

    He said one exemption to this rule would be for extended family members who provide childcare.

    Forbes said people needed to understand that “if we don’t get on top of this now, it’s going to get out of control”. Some 40,000 students were expected back in the city and there was now a need for extra testing capacity to keep them safe, he added. He went on:

    I think we should all be deeply concerned about the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases we have seen over the last week in the north-east.

    And not just the rapid rise in numbers, but also the fact that the average age of people being infected is going up as well.

    Last week 60% of the people that were being tested were between the ages of 18 and 30.

    We know that when it starts to affect older people that’s when you start to get the hospitalisations and sadly also the mortality too.

    That’s why we are acting now as a preventative measure to try to put off any further spread of the virus and ensure that we don’t end up here in the north-east in a more restrictive lockdown instead.

    Good morning. Later today Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to announce details of new coronavirus restrictions being imposed in the north-east of England, but it could be much worse. Late last night Anthony Costello, a former director of the WHO, a former head of the Institute for Global Health at University College London and a regular commentator on coronavirus, sent a jolt of alarm through Twitter with this.

    I’m hearing from a well-connected person that government now thinks, in absence of testing, there are 38,000 infections per day. Chris Whitty is advising PM for a two week national lockdown.

    This morning his claim has been knocked down, by two good sources. This is what Edward Argar, the health minister, told Sky News when asked about the claim.

    It is not something I have seen within the department. 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.

    Later, on the Today programme, Argar also said this was not something that he had heard from Whitty himself.

    And Costello himself has retracted his claim. He posted this on Twitter about half an hour ago.

    I’ve been told by another insider I respect that Chris Whitty does not support a 2 week lockdown, so I’m pleased to correct the record.

    Of course, the truth or otherwise of this speculation may depend on how you define “national lockdown”. The Telegraph is reporting this morning that “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”. It attributes the story to unnamed senior government sources.

    9.30am: Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, gives evidence to the Commons Scottish affairs committee on coronavirus.

    Around 11.30am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a statement to MPs on coronavirus. He is expected to announce details of new restrictions for parts of north-east England.

    Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like Brexit, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.

    I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

    If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

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    World news – UK coronavirus live: minister dismisses claim PM preparing for new two-week national lockdown

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