People wearing protective face masks in Westminster, London, after a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases came into place in England.

A report has warned the NHS is facing a “triple whammy” of issues because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

Official figures show the number of weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has risen to more than 100 after a two-week dip. Office for National Statistics data shows there were 139 deaths registered in the week ending 18 September where “novel coronavirus” was mentioned, up 40.4 per cent from the 99 deaths registered in the previous week. 

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Coronavirus Act’s criminal offences must be repealed, campaigners say after 141 people unlawfully prosecuted

Campaigners have called for criminal offences created by the Coronavirus Act to be scrapped after the law was wrongly used to prosecute 141 people, home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden reports.

MPs will vote on whether to renew the act, which contains “some of the most sweeping powers seen in modern times”, on Wednesday amid threats of a Tory revolt.

It gives police the power to direct “potentially infectious persons” to a place suitable for screening and assessment, and take them by force if they refuse.

The law makes it a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 to refuse a direction, escape or provide false information.

But the Coronavirus Act has not been used lawfully in a single criminal case since it came into force on 25 March, according to a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Samuel Osborne29 September 2020 18:37

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Ex-Sainsbury’s boss to join beleaguered Test and Trace service as NHS chief returns to trust

The former chief executive of Sainsbury’s is set to take over as testing director at the government’s crisis-hit coronavirus contact tracing service, Conrad Duncan reports.

Mike Coupe, who retired as chief executive of Sainsbury’s at the end of May, is set to replace Sarah-Jane Marsh, who is returning to her post as chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

He will join NHS Test and Trace amid widespread criticism of the service following its difficulties with responding to a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests in recent weeks.

Baroness Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, said in an email to staff that Mr Coupe would “bring a wealth of experience in large scale supply chains, logistics and digital transformation”.

It is understood he will be in the role until Christmas.

Samuel Osborne29 September 2020 18:22

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Some 265 local authority areas in England report increase in weekly rare of infections

In total, 265 of the 315 local authority areas in England recorded an increase in the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in the seven days to 26 September.

The rate fell in 48 areas and was unchanged in two areas.

New cases were recorded in all 315 local authority areas.

Samuel Osborne29 September 2020 17:55

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Burnley’s rate of coronavirus cases rises above 300 per 100,000 people

The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in Burnley has risen above 300 per 100,000 people, new data shows.

A total of 279 new cases were recorded in Burnley in the seven days to 26 September – the equivalent of 313.8 cases per 100,000, up sharply from 164.2 in the previous week (the seven days to 19 September).

Burnley currently has the highest weekly rate in England.

Eight areas of England have weekly rates that are now between 200 and 300 cases per 100,000 people, including Liverpool (265.6), Newcastle upon Tyne (258.2) and Manchester (217.1).

All figures are based on Public Health England data published on Tuesday.

Samuel Osborne29 September 2020 17:33

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Highest daily number of coronavirus cases recorded since outbreak began

There have been a further 7,143 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK as of 9am on Thursday, the government said, marking the highest daily figure recorded since the outbreak began.

Experts have previously warned that describing the daily figure as a record could be “misleading” as it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the height of the first wave due to a lack of community testing at the time.

The government also said a further 71 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

It brings the UK total to 42,072.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been nearly 57,900 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Samuel Osborne29 September 2020 17:09

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Israelis protest bill to stifle protests during lockdown

Hundreds of people have demonstrated outside the Israeli parliament against a government-backed bill likely to stifle protests near prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home during the current coronavirus lockdown.

The proposed law, which the government said was aimed at curbing Covd-19 infections, bans Israelis from holding street demonstrations more than one kilometre (0.6 mile) from their homes.

The measure, which critics said was really intended to block anti-Netanyahu protests, was approved by a parliamentary committee and is expected to be ratified by the full Knesset (legislature) later today.

Many of the thousands of protesters who have gathered weekly outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem to demand his resignation over his handling of the health crisis, and alleged corruption, have travelled there from other cities. 

Israel went back into lockdown for at least three weeks on 18 September after new Covid-19 cases climbed to around 7,000 a day in a population of nine million, overtaxing some hospitals.

Chiara Giordano29 September 2020 15:35

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PM urged to explain test and trace comments

Boris Johnson has been urged by a senior committee of MPs to explain his comments that testing and tracing has “little or nothing” to do with the spread of coronavirus.

Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, writing in his capacity as chair of the liaison committee, also asked the prime minister how the government would achieve his “moonshot” mass testing programme, considering the “widespread concern” over testing so far.

The committee of MPs also called on Mr Johnson to bow to pressure from the Conservative backbenches to allow the Commons a vote on coronavirus legislation.

“The majority of us support this principle and expect that the Government will also wish to accept it,” Sir Bernard wrote.

“The idea that such restrictions can be applied without express parliamentary approval, except in dire emergency, is not widely acceptable and indeed may be challenged in law.”

Chiara Giordano29 September 2020 15:08

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Ex-Sainsbury’s boss to join test and trace

The former chief executive of Sainsbury’s is set to take over as testing director at the government’s crisis-hit coronavirus contact tracing service, Conrad Duncan reports.

Mike Coupe, who retired as chief executive of Sainsbury’s at the end of May, is set to replace Sarah-Jane Marsh, who is returning to her post as chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

He will join NHS Test and Trace amid widespread criticism of the service following its difficulties with responding to a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests in recent weeks.

Chiara Giordano29 September 2020 14:49

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Welsh government considering allowing adults living alone in lockdown to meet others indoors

The Welsh government is considering allowing adults living alone in local lockdown areas to meet other people indoors, the country’s first minister has said.

People living in areas of Wales with local restrictions in place currently cannot meet indoors with anyone they do not live with.

“That consideration for single-adult households is part of the current three-week review which was discussed by cabinet colleagues this morning,” Mark Drakeford told the Senedd on Tuesday.

“I’m hopeful that we will be able to complete the necessary regulations and the advice we need to take from the chief medical officer and others in order to complete our consideration of it within the three-week review that culminates this week.”

Conrad Duncan29 September 2020 14:28

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Why are people experiencing coronavirus symptoms for months?

Although much is still unknown about the long-term impact of coronavirus, there is growing body of evidence indicating that some people suffer symptoms of Covid-19 for longer than the typical two-week period of infection.

A study published in September reported that up to 60,000 people in the UK had been living with so-called “long-Covid” for more than three months.

Our reporter, Sophie Gallagher, has put together an explainer on the condition below:

Conrad Duncan29 September 2020 14:21



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