Boris Johnson is briefing Cabinet ministers this afternoon ahead of the unveiling of a new three-tier system for local coronavirus restrictions on Monday.

The new system, which has sparked anger from leaders and councils in the north of England, is expected to lead to millions being banned from mixing indoors and outdoors and thousands of pubs being forced to close.

It came as Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, rejected calls for more financial support for areas affected by local restrictions, arguing that “the national debt is rising” and the government “can’t do everything” to protect all jobs.

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US: Trump claims to be ‘immune’ to coronavirus after illness

Donald Trump has claimed he is now “immune” to coronavirus after receiving treatment in hospital for Covid-19 earlier this month.

The president, who returned to the White House on Monday, also said he had a “protective glow” following his illness.

Health experts are undecided over how long immunity to the virus lasts after infection, with some studies suggesting antibodies fade after a few months.

Our reporter, Griffin Connolly, has more on this breaking story below:

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 16:08


‘Get real’ about Covid risk and play your part, Ireland’s health chief tells public

The coronavirus pandemic is worsening at pace, the head of Ireland’s health service has warned as he urged members of the public to “get real” and play their part in protecting patients and health workers.

“We all need to get real and play our part to protect patients and our healthcare workers,” Paul Reid, the HSE chief executive, said.

“Increased hospital cases lead to more people in intensive care units and cancelling heart, cancer and other care.

“Let’s turn this around quickly by doing the right thing today.”

His warning came as Taoiseach Micheal Martin pledged extra resources to a health system bracing itself for the most difficult of winters.

At midnight last Tuesday, the Irish government moved the country to level three of its plan for living with Covid-19.

Level three involves a greater level of restrictions on people and society, particularly on the hospitality sector.

“If we all change our behaviours and work together we can make level three work, protect lives and livelihoods, show that we can contain the virus and prevent its growth,” Mr Martin said.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 15:51


US: Regeneron executives sold more than $1m in stock after Trump treatment

Two executives at US pharmaceutical firm Regeneron have sold $1m (£765,000) in stock after the White House revealed Donald Trump had been given the drug

The president has spoken effusively about the treatment since leaving hospital, describing it as a “cure” for coronavirus.

Our reporter, Harriet Alexander, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 15:28


Questions raised over government’s failure to account for £3bn spent on coronavirus contracts

Concerns have been raised after new figures showed the government has failed to account for £3bn spent on private contracts since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

The figures came as three cross-party MPs and the Good Law Project, a non-profit legal organisation, launched legal action against the government over its failure to disclose details of its spending during the pandemic.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams and Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran have filed a judicial review against the government for breaching the law and its own guidance.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has disclosed at least £11bn worth of contracts awarded since April, new analysis shows that more than £3bn worth of these contracts has not been made public.

DHSC said due diligence was carried out on all government contracts which have been awarded.

“What we know about the government’s procurement practices during this pandemic gives real cause for concern,” Jolyon Maugham QC, director of Good Law Project, said.

“Huge sums of public money have been awarded to companies with no discernible expertise.

“Sometimes the main qualification seems to be a political connection with key government figures.”

He added: “We don’t know what else there is to discover because the government is deliberately keeping the public in the dark.

“We are left with no option but to push for transparency through the courts.”

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 15:15


Scotland reports nearly 1,000 new coronavirus cases

Scotland has recorded 956 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours but no deaths, according to official statistics.

The number of new infections is down from the 1,009 cases on Saturday and from Friday’s record high of 1,246 positive test results.

Sunday’s figure represented 14.9 per cent of newly-tested individuals, up from 14.1 per cent on Saturday.

Full UK-wide case figures are expected later today.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 15:04


Ireland planning to introduce coronavirus testing at airports, minister says

Ireland is planning to introduce coronavirus testing at airports as part of a possible alternative to quarantine for some arriving passengers, the country’s health minister has said.

Under an EU system to be signed off next week, travellers from regions with extremely low levels of the virus will be placed in a “green” category and allowed to travel without restriction.

Other regions would be listed as “amber” or “red” with governments to impose restrictions.

Stephen Donnelly, Ireland’s health minister, said the default position would be to require travellers from “red” and “amber” regions to restrict their movements.

However, plans are being worked on by the government for testing that could allow some passengers to avoid quarantine.

Testing at airports “will happen because it is required as part of the protocol,” Mr Donnelly said in an interview with RTE radio, but he declined to specify a time-frame.

One option being considered would be to allow passengers from some destinations to avoid a quarantine if they produce negative tests taken three days before travelling.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 14:47


Johnson to hold telephone call with Cabinet in rare move ahead of new restrictions

Boris Johnson is holding a telephone call with Cabinet ministers this afternoon as he prepares to bring in a new three-tier system for local coronavirus restrictions.

The prime minister’s decision to brief Cabinet members on a Sunday is a rare move and comes as Northern leaders have expressed anger at the economic impact of further rules in their areas.

Mayors and council leaders in the North have warned local economies could be “shattered” as a result of sweeping new restrictions set to be unveiled in the Commons on Monday.

Mr Johnson is set to announce measures which are likely to include pubs and restaurants being forced to shut across the north of England and millions of people being banned from mixing indoors and outdoors.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 14:30


In response to a viral video of an impromptu cricket match in south London last night, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said a rethink on the 10pm pubs curfew is “urgently needed”.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 14:13


India’s confirmed Covid-19 cases pass seven million

India’s total of confirmed coronavirus cases has passed seven million as health experts warn mask and distancing fatigue is taking place in the country.

The Health Ministry reported another 74,383 infections in the past 24 hours, with India expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the US.

A further 918 deaths were also reported, taking India’s total fatalities to 108,334.

“We have been able to keep the curve rise slow, but I do agree that we have not been able to get it to move aggressively down,” Dr Randeep Guleria, a government health expert, said.

“That’s related to our population density, diversity of our country and socioeconomic challenges in our country.”

However, some experts have warned that India’s death toll may not be reliable because of poor reporting and inadequate health infrastructure and testing.

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 12:53


Premium: How Spain battled a previous pandemic with children as ‘human vaccines’

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Spain has drawn attention to a groundbreaking 19th century voyage to combat smallpox in the country’s colonies, according to Laura Mannering.

You can find the full story below:

Conrad Duncan11 October 2020 12:48

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