9.53am BST

The Philippines’ health ministry on Friday recorded 1,923 new coronavirus infections and 132 additional deaths, the largest daily increase in casualties in 15 days.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 365,799, while deaths had reached 6,915. The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.

9.51am BST

In Australia smartphone apps and wearable surveillance devices including ankle bracelets are among options that could allow returning travellers to quarantine at home rather than in a hotel, a review has suggested.

The national hotel quarantine review was released on Friday with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, stating all options were on the table and he would let “experts” develop “innovative” solutions.

Read the full story below:

9.49am BST

Poland reported a record 13,632 new coronavirus infections on Friday, health ministry data showed, as the government prepared to announce further restrictions to halt the spread of the pandemic.

The ministry also said the number of recorded deaths had fallen to 153 from a record high of 168 a day earlier.

8.38am BST

Aeroports de Paris, operator of the French capital’s main airports, cut its full-year passenger traffic outlook on Friday as a second wave of Covid-19 infections gathers pace, reports Reuters.

Traffic at Charles de Gaulle and Orly will fall 65-70% rather than the previously forecast 63%, ADP said as it posted January-September revenue of €1.67bn, down 53%.

ADP, which also holds stakes in international airports in countries including Turkey and India, said aviation and retail revenue both fell by more than half in the period.

Traffic has suffered a “new strong decrease” in recent weeks, chief financial officer Philippe Pascal said, “as a consequence of the new wave of epidemic around the world.”

ADP is rolling out Covid-19 testing at the Paris airports, but Pascal declined to comment on the target passenger capacity.

at 9.18am BST

8.29am BST

In Spain, the number of nights booked by tourists in hotels plunged 78% in September compared with the same month a year ago as travel restrictions ravaged the crucial tourism industry, data from the INE national statistics office showed on Friday.

Reuters reports:

The September data was worse than the 64% fall recorded in August.
Despite a slight uptick in activity after Spain emerged from a strict coronavirus lockdown in June, overall hotel bookings in the first nine months of the year have slumped 71% since the same period a year earlier, INE said.

The data showed the northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias had the highest levels of hotel occupation in September, at 37% and 35% respectively.

Tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Spain’s economic output has been decimated since the pandemic brought global travel to a grinding halt.

Still, there was a glimmer of hope on Thursday as England and Germany lifted warnings against travel to the Canary Islands, potentially salvaging some of the winter season on the archipelago

at 9.19am BST

8.04am BST

The Czech Republic registered 14,151 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, down from a record of 14,968 the previous day, health ministry data showed on Friday.

The country, which is experiencing Europe’s biggest surge in new Covid-19 cases, has recorded 223,065 infections since March. Deaths have risen to 1,845 from 1,739 reported a day earlier, which includes 55 deaths on Thursday along with revisions to previous days.

at 8.12am BST

7.32am BST

Ukraine registered a daily record of 7,517 Covid-19 cases, the national security council said on Friday, up from a previous record of 7,053 on Thursday. The total number of cases climbed to 330,396.

The council said 121 new coronavirus-related deaths were registered in the past day. On Wednesday, the toll hit a record 141.

Ukraine has recorded over 5,000 new coronavirus cases almost every day since the start of October. The rise in infections has prompted the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of 2020.

at 8.12am BST

7.14am BST

Good morning from London, where it is dark and a bit damp but we have plans to keep you illuminated all day (sorry).

In the usual way, if you have stories from where you are and you want to share please do get in touch. I’m on alexandra.topping@theguardian.com and I’m @lexytopping on Twitter – my DMs are open.

at 8.13am BST

7.13am BST

Scientists conducting tests for coronavirus in sewage to spot early warnings of where outbreaks are occurring say the approach is working and has helped reveal areas with high infection rates.

The programme has been piloted in the south-west of England since June. The sewage sampling data showed a spike in coronavirus content even though a relatively low number of people in the area had taken tests.

According to the government, the information was passed on to NHS test and trace and the local council, who were able to alert local health professionals to the increased risk and warn people in the area of the increase in cases:

7.07am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today.

Thanks for following along – and stay tuned for more update with Alexandra Topping.

6.50am BST

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways’s decision to force pilots permanently on to lower-paid contracts or risk losing their jobs is “draconian” and “short-sighted”, the head of the union representing them said on Friday.

The carrier on Wednesday announced plans to cut 5,900 jobs to help it weather the pandemic, including nearly all of the positions at its regional airline Cathay Dragon, which it has shut down.

It is also seeking changes in its contracts with pilots and cabin crew as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2bn ($283.87m).

“The vast majority (of other airlines’ pay cuts) are tied to a waypoint such as a point in time or profitability,” Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA) general secretary Chris Beebe said in an interview. At Cathay, he said, the cuts are “completely open-ended and perpetual”.

HKAOA said that under the new contracts Cathay will no longer need to follow the principle of “last in, first out” used at most legacy carriers, with the most recent joiners losing their jobs first.

That would enable it to target pilots for cuts based on the type of aircraft flown, which would be more efficient financially and operationally as it continues to review its fleet plans.

The new contracts, similar to those for new hires since 2018, also offer pay based more on flying hours than previously, leading to far lower salaries in periods where the airline is largely idle.

The degree of pay cut depends on which older contract the pilot was on, with one Cathay pilot telling Reuters on condition of anonymity that he expected a reduction of about 40%.

at 8.13am BST

6.39am BST

Or maybe Biden wasn’t the winner.

Many political pundits named someone else: moderator and NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker.

Welker, 44, the only person of color chosen to moderate presidential debate this year, quickly earned plaudits as the event unfolded in a calmer and less chaotic manner than the first presidential debate in Cleveland. That debate last month was widely panned after Trump aggressively and consistently interrupted Biden and Chris Wallace, a Fox News anchor and the moderator. In contrast, Welker rarely let Trump derail the debate or drown out Biden’s answers, and stood her ground when enforcing the rules.

The winner of Thursday night’s debate was “obviously” Welker, tweeted New York Times opinion writer Jamelle Bouie:

b-boy boooo-eebaisse

winner of the debate is obviously kristen welker

trump cleared the bar for himself, that is, he didn’t rant and rave again.

biden had a very solid performance.

no game changers here in either direction means, i think, that this is a good result for biden.

October 23, 2020

Following the debate, Wallace, whose own moderation was widely criticized after the first debate, was asked on air what he thought of the tenor of the final debate moderated by Welker. “First of all, I’m jealous,” he said.

6.28am BST

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was perceived as the winner of the final debate with Donald Trump on Thursday night, according to a CNN poll of debate viewers and a panel of undecided North Carolina voters.

Though the groups are not representative of actual US voters, they offered a snapshot of the reaction to the debate, which came just two weeks before election day, as Trump trails his opponent in national polls and was seeking to reset his appeal with more moderate Republican supporters.

The CNN poll found it was perceived as a slightly weaker performance compared to the first, chaotic presidential debate last month, when 60% of viewers perceived Biden as the winner, compared to 53% on Thursday night:

6.12am BST


Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

Trump and Biden sparred over the coronavirus pandemic in the final presidential debate, with the president defending his response to a pandemic that has already claimed 223,000 American lives. Trump said of the pandemic, “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault.” Biden argued Trump had “no clear plan” to bring the virus under control.
Australia will slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as local Covid-19 cases slow to single digits. Australia has since July capped the number of locals allowed to return home each week in an attempt to reduce the threat of spreading Covid-19 once they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels. Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290, after Western Australia and Queensland states said they would accommodate more locals.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat Covid-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization. The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery from 15 days to 10 on average in a large study led by the US National Institutes of Health.
Study finds between 130,000 and 210,000 US deaths could have been avoided. The Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic has led to between 130,000 and 210,000 preventable deaths, according to a report from a team of disaster preparedness and public health experts. The team calculated avoidable deaths by estimating how many people would have died in other nations, like Japan and South Korea, if they had the same population as the US, and comparing those figures to the US death rate.
French health authorities reported another 41,622 confirmed Covid-19 cases over 24 hours on Thursday, an all-time daily high that was published shortly after the government announced a broad extension of the curfew put in place a week ago in Paris and other major cities.
Trump tests negative for virus pre-debate. The White House chief of staff says president Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus ahead of Thursday night’s second and final presidential debate.
EU’s flagship Covid-19 recovery cash will come late -diplomat. States hit hardest by the pandemic will have to wait longer for €750bn meant to help restart their economies, a senior diplomat said, as a fresh rise in infections shuts down business on the continent again.
Supermarkets in Wales to sell only essentials during lockdown.They will not be allowed to sell items such as clothing and hardware during the Covid-19 firebreak lockdown, first minister Mark Drakeford said, to ensure a “level playing field” as many retailers will be forced to shut.
Greece will impose a curfew in areas most affected by Covid-19, including Athens. The prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said movement would be banned from Saturday between 12.30am and 5am in locations deemed high-risk.
The Canary Islands, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos were added to England’s travel corridor list. Travellers from those destinations will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Sunday 25 October. The opposite is true for travellers arriving from Liechtenstein, which was removed from the list.
France extended a night-time curfew to more regions, affecting two-thirds of the French population. The prime minister Jean Castex said the 9pm-6am curfew would be extended to 38 departments and some overseas territories for six weeks, starting from midnight on Friday.

at 8.14am BST

5.48am BST

Nicola Sturgeon will on Friday announce a five-tier plan of measures for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland, PA media reports.

The new set of restrictions has been anticipated since a similar three-tiered system was introduced in England by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If approved at Holyrood next week, the new measures will come into force in Scotland on Monday, 2 November.

The Scottish First Minister will discuss the tiered system at her daily coronavirus briefing on Friday afternoon as well as plans to increase testing capacity north of the border.

Ms Sturgeon has already said the three middle tiers will be broadly similar to the English system, where areas are classed as either “medium”, “high” or “very high” risk.

Since 9 October, bars and licensed restaurants in five health board areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – have been forced to close for all but takeaways.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes elsewhere in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

5.34am BST

India’s coronavirus infections reached a total of 7.76 million, with 54,366 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours, data from the federal health ministry showed on Friday.

The world’s second-most populous country also has the world’s second-highest caseload, behind the United States, which has 8.3 million infections so far.

Deaths in India have been relatively low, with 117,306 mortalities from the coronavirus, out of which 690 were reported in the last 24 hours, the ministry said.

5.22am BST

Australia to lift cap on citizens returning as thousands left stranded

Australia will slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as local Covid-19 cases slow to single digits, Reuters reports.

Australia has since July capped the number of locals allowed to return home each week in an attempt to reduce the threat of spreading Covid-19 once they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels.

Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290, after Western Australia and Queensland states said they would accommodate more locals.

The increase comes amid heightened pressure on Morrison’s government to help some 26,000 Australians that registered their intention to come home.

“The most effective way to get Australians home is to increase these caps,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Many, however, have struggled to secure a plane ticket and raise the several thousand dollars needed to pay for hotel quarantine when they arrive back in Australia.

Looking to offer more support, Morrison’s government earlier this month struck a deal with the Northern Territory government to allow up to 500 people each fortnight to return. These are outside the weekly cap, with the first plane landing on Friday.

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