9.17am BST

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 3,257 additional infections, marking the 11th straight day the country has recorded more than 3,000 daily cases, Reuters reports.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 279,526, most of which are in the capital, while deaths rose 47 to reach 4,830.


The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has reached 279,526 on September 18, 2020.

▪️New cases: 3,257
▪️New deaths: 47
▪️New recoveries: 733
▪️Total active cases: 65,906
More updates on #COVID19PH here: https://t.co/qcx94TZnuP pic.twitter.com/Kxkwp2PxXW

September 18, 2020

9.12am BST

Restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses could could be shut or asked to close early for a few weeks to stop a surge in coronavirus cases in England from getting out of control as part of a national “circuit break”.

The measures are being considered, according to the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, as the number of cases of the virus is doubling every seven to eight days, with more than 3,300 new cases reported on Thursday.

Schools and workplaces would remain open but hospitality businesses would have “circuit breaks” – essentially shutting their doors or changing their opening hours for a few weeks.

8.52am BST

Russia has reported 5,905 new coronavirus cases, its largest daily rise since July.

It brings the country’s tally to 1,091,186, the fourth largest in the world. Cases have been steadily increasing in Russia since the start of September.

The authorities also said 134 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 19,195.


⚡️В России за сутки коронавирусом заразились 5 905 человек. Общее число инфицированных достигло 1 091 186:https://t.co/77pCMi70Eg pic.twitter.com/XcjixINF32

September 18, 2020

at 8.57am BST

8.34am BST

Thailand has reported its first coronavirus death in more than 100 days, after an infected Thai citizen had returned from abroad earlier this month, Reuters reports.

The 54-year old man, who was an interpreter based in Saudi Arabia working for the Thai labour ministry, had been treated in a Bangkok hospital for two weeks and died on Friday, Somsak Akksilp, the head of the department medical services said.

Officials will hold a briefing on the case later.

Earlier, Thailand announced seven more cases of coronavirus among people flying into the country.

PR Thai Government

#COVID19 situation in #Thailand as of 18 Sep 2020

Thailand reported 7 new confirmed cases from people on repatriation flights

😷New Confirmed Cases: 7

🦠Cumulative number of cases: 3,497 (+7)

🩺Receiving medical treatments: 111

👍🏻Recoveries: 3,328 (+3)

📣Fatalities: 58(+0) pic.twitter.com/UqReJo1Hqs

September 18, 2020

at 8.57am BST

8.22am BST

Two thousand ultra-Orthodox Jews are being blocked by armed guards from entering Ukraine for an annual pilgrimage to a rabbi’s grave, creating a makeshift camp at the country’s border with Belarus.

The men ignored warnings by the Ukrainian authorities not to travel after its borders closed at the end of last month in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19.

On Thursday, an official with Ukraine’s interior ministry official repeated that the pilgrims would not be allowed to cross the border. “Ukraine has shut its borders to foreigners, and no exclusions will be made for the Hasidic [ultra-Orthodox] pilgrims,” said Mykhailo Apostol. “It’s getting colder and we suggest that they … go home.”

The Israeli higher education minister, Ze’ev Elkin, appealed to the men to leave the border.

at 8.58am BST

8.17am BST

Czech Republic reports a record 3,130 new cases

The Czech Republic has reported another record rise in cases for a third successive day.

Radio Prague International reports a 3,130 new cases for Thursday, a day after more than 2,000 new cases was reported for the first time.

Radio Prague International

NEWS: 3,130 fresh cases of Covid-19 were registered in the Czech Republic on Thursday, only one day after the 2,000 mark was surpassed for the first time. New measures aimed at containing the virus are coming in on Friday.

Report: https://t.co/7HouugmlQX pic.twitter.com/6iZpzTKC0G

September 18, 2020

The health ministry recorded 2,139 cases for Wednesday, up from a previous record of 1,675 reported the previous day.

at 8.58am BST

8.10am BST

Prof Catherine Noakes, a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has warned that “things are going to be awful” if the UK does not get start reversing a rise in new cases.

Prof Cath Noakes 😷

Folks we’re close to a tipping point and if we don’t pull back things are going to be awful. Hands, face, space, ventilate and be really careful in social settings. Highest risk are household gatherings and pubs and restaurants. Please.

September 18, 2020

at 8.58am BST

7.50am BST

UK hints at second national lockdown

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, has refused to rule out the imposition of a second national lockdown.

Speaking to Sky News he said: “The number of people in hospital is doubling every eight days or so … we will do what it takes to keep people safe.”

Asked about the possibility of a two-week imposition of national restrictions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, he added: “A national lockdown is the last line of defence and we want to use local action.”

He added: “I want to avoid a national lockdown.”

Pressed on the possibility of a national lockdown, Hancock said:

It isn’t something that we ever take off the table, but it isn’t something that we want to see either.

The country once again needs to come together and recognise there is a serious challenge. That the virus is accelerating. Unfortunately, it isn’t just cases increasing, it’s also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing.

at 8.59am BST

7.35am BST

Indonesia says its average daily death toll from coronavirus stands at 105 cases – an increase of 25% from last week.

Wiku Adisasmito, the spokesman for the Covid taskforce, also announced a further 122 people had died from the virus as of 17 September, taking Indonesia’s death toll to 9,222.

Most days of September have seen more than 100 deaths from the virus in Indonesia, as the death toll has steadily risen towards the peak of 139 recorded on 22 July.

Adisamito also said there were now 56,720 active cases in the country.

Sekretariat Kabinet

The number of #COVID__19 active cases in Indonesia, as of 17 September 2020, was 56,720 cases, Spokesperson for the #COVID__19 Handling Task Force, Wiku Adisasmito, has reported.https://t.co/Xa3P1kf2KO

September 18, 2020

at 8.59am BST

7.05am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for this week. My esteemed colleague Matthew Weaver will bring you the next few hours of Friday’s pandemic news.

Thanks for following along. Here is our global report:

6.47am BST

Pfizer Inc is betting that its coronavirus vaccine candidate will show clear evidence of effectiveness early in its clinical trial, according to the company and internal documents reviewed by Reuters that describe how the trial is being run, Reuters reports.

Pfizer’s clinical trial protocol calls for a first assessment of the vaccine’s performance by the monitoring board after 32 participants in the trial become infected with the novel coronavirus. So far, more than 29,000 people have enrolled in the trial that started in July, some receiving the vaccine and the others receiving a placebo.

Pfizer’s vaccine would need to be at least 76.9% effective to show it works based on 32 infections, according to its protocol. That would mean that no more than six of those coronavirus cases would have occurred among people who received the vaccine, the documents showed.

6.39am BST

Boris Johnson reached for an unlikely reference in attempts to clarify when exactly British people should call the police on neighbours who break the “rule of six”: the lurid 1978 college comedy Animal House.

In an interview with the Sun, the prime minister used the John Landis film, which focuses on a chaotic year at the fictional Faber College, as cultural shorthand for debauchery and the kind of parties with “hot tubs and so forth”, that would pose “a serious threat to public health”.

Landis’s college comedy, which came from the team behind National Lampoon magazine, is regarded as a seminal classic by its fans and an outmoded throwback that should be confined to history by its critics.

In a piece marking the film’s 40th anniversary, the film critic Charles Bramesco, said at a time when cultural commentators are looking at older works for “offences against modern mores” that there’s “no target fatter than Animal House”.

It has been criticised for having “gay-panic undertones”, using “casual” racism and normalising misogyny – in one scene a character debates whether he should rape a girl who has passed out:

6.28am BST

German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II, Reuters reports.

The preparations for Sunday’s match in Lower Saxony’s 3. Kreisklasse – the 11th tier of German football – were complicated when it emerged that Holdenstedt players had been in contact with an opponent infected with Covid-19 in a previous match.

While all members of the Holdenstedt squad later tested negative for the virus, Ripdorf, from Uelzen in Lower Saxony, did not feel the conditions were safe and were able to field only seven players – the minimum number required for a match:

6.19am BST


Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide passed 30 million on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The global death toll stands at 943,203 people and is expected to pass 1 million by 1 October. The US accounts for than 22% of global cases, at 6.67m, and nearly 200,000 fatalities.
The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, again criticised the President Trump’s handling of the pandemic as “close to criminal”, in particular Trump’s supposedly intentional downplaying of the severity of the virus. Biden also questioned Trump’s claims on a vaccine: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines,” he said, adding that he trusted Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious diseases expert sidelined by Trump. “If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president,” said Biden. Roughly one in every 50 Americans is infected, and one in every 1,600 has died since the start of the pandemic.
Reports emerged late on Thursday that guidance about the novel coronavirus testing posted last month on the website of the US CDC was not written by the agency’s scientists and was posted despite their objections. The New York Times reported the story, citing people familiar with the matter and internal documents. The guidance said it was not necessary to test people with no symptoms of Covid-19, even if they had been exposed to the virus. The agency’s previous position recommended testing all people who had close contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19. The reversal shocked doctors and politicians and prompted accusations of political interference.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned of “alarming rates of transmission” of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods. The WHO said the number of coronavirus cases in September “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us”.
France confirmed a new 24-hour record late on Thursday, registering 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours and pushing the cumulative number to 415,481. The previous high was 10,561 new cases in a day, recorded on 12 September. The sharp increase is a result of a higher infection rate but also of a massive increase in testing, Reuters reported. Extra measures to curb the epidemic in the cities of Lyon and Nice were announced by the health minister on Thursday, adding to the three other regions already deemed as virus “red zones”.
Israel is preparing to enter a second national coronavirus lockdown on Friday, becoming the first country to re-enter nationwide restrictions. The unpopular lockdown is expected to last at least three weeks, upending a normally festive period filled with Jewish holidays.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak, is reopening for international flights, ending an eight-month moratorium. China stopped international flights in March as Covid-19 swept the world, but has now largely brought the disease under control at home through travel restrictions, testing and lockdowns.
China reported 32 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, marking the highest daily increase in more than a month and up sharply from nine cases reported a day earlier, the Chinese health authority said on Friday. The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new cases were imported infections among returned travellers.

6.11am BST

Families with children have experienced greater financial pressure and mental health worries during the coronavirus pandemic than those without, according to analysis commissioned by the Scottish government.

The report, which captures parental anxieties during lockdown, was published on Thursday amid growing concerns that the latest “rule of six” guidance on socialising has a disproportionate impact on poorer children.

The results of the polling, conducted by Ipsos Mori between 27 April and 3 May, found that respondents with children in their household were more likely than those without to have difficulties paying their rent or mortgage – 10% compared with 5% – to have a lower income than usual, and to be worried about their own and others’ mental health:

5.50am BST

More than 1,500 breast cancer patients in UK face long waits to have reconstructive surgery after hospitals could not operate on them during the pandemic because they were tackling Covid-19.

The women are facing delays of “many months, possibly years” because the NHS has such a big backlog of cases to get through, according to research by the charity Breast Cancer Now.

When the lockdown began in March the NHS stopped performing breast reconstructions for women seeking one after a mastectomy as part of its wider suspension of care. That was because so many operating theatres were being used as overflow intensive care units and because doctors and hospital bosses feared that patients coming into hospital might catch Covid:

5.27am BST

CDC was made to publish watered-down Covid testing guidelines – report

Guidance about coronavirus testing posted in August on the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was not written by the agency’s scientists and was posted despite their objections, the New York Times has reported, citing people familiar with the matter and internal documents.

The guidance deemed it unnecessary to test people with no symptoms of Covid-19, even if they had been exposed.

The agency’s previous position recommended testing all people who have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19. The reversal shocked doctors and politicians and prompted accusations of political interference:

5.12am BST

Here’s our full story the Joe Biden town hall:

Joe Biden sent a message to voters on Thursday night that differed starkly from Donald Trump’s unlikely coronavirus promises, saying: “The idea that there’s going to be a vaccine, and everything is going to be fine tomorrow is just not rational, just not reasonable.”

Speaking at a drive-in town hall in the Pennsylvania town of Moosic, just south of Scranton, the Democratic nominee warned the country would not immediately return to normal life even if a coronavirus vaccine was soon approved.

Biden’s CNN town hall came two days after Donald Trump held a similar event in nearby Philadelphia, but the president sent a very different message on the pandemic, once again implausibly suggesting coronavirus was “going to disappear” and that a vaccine would be available in weeks:

4.30am BST

More than half of patients and staff with Covid-19 monitored by an Irish hospital suffered persistent fatigue in the aftermath of the initial disease, according to a new study Friday highlighting the “significant burden” of lingering symptoms, AFP reports.

“Whilst the presenting features of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been well-characterised, the medium- and long-term consequences of infection remain unexplored,” said Liam Townsend, of St James’s Hospital and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute at Trinity College Dublin.

The study, which tracked 128 participants at St James’s Hospital, found that 52 percent reported persistent fatigue when they were assessed an average of 10 weeks after “clinical recovery” from infection, regardless of how serious their initial infection was.

The preliminary study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, included 71 people who had been admitted to hospital and 57 employees of the hospital who had mild illness. The average age was 50 and all participants had tested positive for Covid-19.

Researchers looked at a variety of potential factors, including the severity of the initial illness and pre-existing conditions, including depression.

They found that it made no difference whether a patient had been hospitalised or not. However, they did find that women, despite making up just over half of the participants (54%), accounted for two-thirds of those with persistent fatigue (67%).

Those with a previous history of anxiety or depression were also found to be more likely to have fatigue.

The authors said the findings showed that more work was needed to assess the impact of Covid-19 on patients in the longer term.

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