Early evening summary
Here’s a roundup of the key UK coronavirus developments over the past few hours:
Hospitals in some parts of England are treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the fist wave of the pandemic. On Wednesday, national medical director for NHS England, Prof Stephen Powis, said hospitals in Liverpool, Lancashire and Nottingham were treating more Covid patients than in April.
A further 310 Covid deaths have been recorded in the UK. Another 24,701 cases have been confirmed, government data shows.
Wales has recorded its highest daily death toll since April. The Welsh government’s counsel general, Jeremy Miles, has said 37 deaths from coronavirus have been recorded over the last 24 hours.
The Department of Health and Social Care has denied it is bringing in a “plus” tiered system after additional measures were added to current tier 1 restrictions in Bristol. Extra measures are also expected on top of tier 3 restrictions in Nottinghamshire, with beauty salons likely to close.
All of Nottinghamshire is to enter tier 3 coronavirus restrictions on Friday. Previously, it was expected that only the city, as well as the boroughs of Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe, would be subject to the strictest measures.
That’s it from me, Amy Walker. Thank you very much for following our coverage today. This live blog is now closing, but our coronavirus coverage continues over on the global live blog.
at 5.27pm GMT
Brighton and Hove is “very close” to the threshold where an escalation to tier 2 measures would be considered, the chair of the city’s health & wellbeing board has said.
Sue Shanks added: “It’s sensible for Brighton & Hove to start to plan for a move to tier 2 (high alert level) and think about what that would mean to all aspects of life.
“We do believe that we are very close to the thresholds whereby other regions have started to have those discussions with government which sees them then escalate to tier 2.”
at 4.49pm GMT
A convicted murderer who died after contracting Covid in prison had refused to shield despite being offered the chance to isolate, the prisons ombudsman has found.
Angela Burkitt, 55, died in hospital from respiratory failure and Covid-19 pneumonia on 17 April 2020 while a prisoner at HMP New Hall in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
She was serving a life sentence after being convicted in December 2017 of killing a neighbour.
She also had chronic COPD, hepatitis C and was a former intravenous drug user, all factors which did not cause but contributed to her death.
Sue McAllister CB, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, said in a report that she was satisfied Burkitt “was given the opportunity to shield during the Covid-19 pandemic, but that she refused to do so, despite being advised of the risks to her health.”
The report added: “We are also satisfied that she was sent to hospital promptly when her condition deteriorated.
“However, we consider the prison should have acted sooner to isolate Ms Burkitt when she displayed symptoms of Covid-19, in order to reduce the risk of her infecting other prisoners and staff.”
at 4.47pm GMT
An extra £37m will be invested in Scotland’s NHS as part of a winter preparedness plan, which will involve a 50% increase in flu vaccinations and a national framework to mitigate pressure on non-Covid services.
The Scottish government’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman, told the Holyrood parliament this afternoon that the winter efforts would also involve work on a national plan with local delivery for the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as increasing overall Scottish testing capacity from the current position of around 27,000 to at least 65,000 tests per day.
Freeman told MSPs that Scotland’s contact-tracing record remained strong, saying: “Over the four-week period of 21 September to 18 October, weeks when case numbers were rising – 91% of positive cases successfully completed within 48 hours – 75% of that number within 24 hours.”
She also revealed that more than 4,000 outpatients had been seen in NHS Louisa Jordan since July, with the facility offering crucial additional capacity in orthopaedics, dermatology, oral medicine and imaging as well as remaining ready to care for Covid patients if necessary.
at 4.48pm GMT
Newark and Sherwood district council has confirmed that it, alongside Nottingham city and other boroughs in Nottinghamshire, is expected to go into tier 3 restrictions on Friday at 12.01am.
Newark and Sherwood District Council
⚠️Latest Covid-19 Update⚠️
In response to the increase in infection rates across Nottinghamshire and following a meeting with government this morning, Newark and Sherwood, along with the other Nottinghamshire Districts and Boroughs and Nottingham City, will move into Tier 3.
October 28, 2020
In a tweet, the council said: “In response to the increase in infection rates across Nottinghamshire and following a meeting with government this morning, Newark and Sherwood, along with the other Nottinghamshire districts and boroughs and Nottingham City, will move into tier 3.
“This is expected to come into force in the early hours of Friday morning (00:01 Friday 30 October).
“Further details are expected to follow today including the financial support and what the new measures will mean for people who live and work in Newark and Sherwood.”
at 4.32pm GMT
More than 1,000 people who should have been self-isolating after entering the UK from abroad could not be traced by the police, new figures show.
Data released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Wednesday revealed that up to 19 October, in 380 cases investigated by the police, people had given the wrong address so they could not be found and no police action could be taken, while another 629 were out when officers attended and so also faced no further police action.
The NPCC said these cases are referred back to UK Border Force.
The NPCC chairman, Martin Hewitt, said:
It is not the police role to go searching for those people.
As things stand, policing is now back to demand levels, in terms of demand for service and crime, as we were this time last year, give or take a few percentages.
So we have to be very clear that we deal with those issues, and then we are very clear that we are supporting Covid regulations and the work against the virus, but we need to do that in a proportionate way.
The latest figures from the NPCC show that crime levels have returned near to those pre-pandemic – they were 6% lower in the four weeks to 27 September than in the same period last year – while forces are also dealing with enforcing coronavirus restrictions.
at 4.33pm GMT
UK Covid cases jump by nearly 25,000 as deaths up by 310
The UK has recorded a further 310 coronavirus-related deaths and another 24,701 people have tested positive for the virus, latest government data shows.
On Tuesday, 367 new deaths were recorded across the country – the highest daily number since May.
Some hospitals treating more Covid patients than in April
Hospitals in parts of England, including Liverpool, Lancashire and Nottingham, are now treating more Covid-19 patients than at the peak of the first wave, NHS England has said.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said:
Coronavirus cases and hospitalised patients are rising sharply and in some parts of the country including Liverpool, Lancashire and Nottingham hospitals are now treating more Covid patients than at the peak of the pandemic in April.
At University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, the number of patients with Covid has jumped 27% in five days.
Analysis of data from the trust, which runs three hospitals across the West Midlands, showed 294 patients who had tested positive for the disease were being treated on Wednesday. That compares with 231 patients on October 23.
Over the same period, the number of Covid-positive patients in ITU increased to 34, from 30.
at 4.41pm GMT
DHSC says it is not bringing in ‘plus’ tiered system
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said it was not introducing a plus system after Bristol city council described its latest measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus as “tier 1 plus”.
“There are three local Covid alert levels which are enshrined in law and we are not considering the introduction of a ‘plus’ system,” she said.
“Bristol is currently at medium and local leaders have the authority to bring in some additional measures for their area, and we welcome local efforts to break chains of transmission.”
Extra measures than those currently in place in other tier 3 areas are also expected to come into force in Nottinghamshire, with tattoo parlours, beauty salons and sunbed shops likely to close.
at 4.03pm GMT
The leader of Bradford council has said discussions about coronavirus restrictions in West Yorkshire are ongoing but the government appeared to be “unflinching in their resolve” to place the region into tier 3.
Susan Hinchcliffe said it was unclear what support would be offered to businesses in the event of a move to the higher tier but the government had told council leaders it would be a “template package” with no room for negotiation – although ministers had promised to clarify the support package in a further meeting.
The councillor said she was concerned about rising infection rates, hospitals reaching capacity, vulnerable people contracting the virus, rising mental health issues and people’s jobs.
It is clear from our conversations so far that government are unflinching in their resolve to put Bradford and West Yorkshire into tier 3.
Our local residents and our local businesses need certainty about whether we are going into tier 3 or not.
Whilst government only called us in for a meeting about tier 3 at the beginning of this week, I know that continued national media stories have led residents and businesses to speculate for some time about whether West Yorkshire would be next after seeing neighbouring regions go into tier 3.
at 3.48pm GMT
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS trust has said “some procedures and non in-patient activity will have to be postponed” to manage “large numbers of very sick patients” across its three main sites.
The trust said cancelling any procedure was regrettable but necessary in response to “the sustained and growing pressures on our hospitals”.
It added patients with “urgent clinical needs and cancer” were being prioritised.
There are currently 294 patients with Covid-19, including 34 in ITUs, across its three main hospitals: Queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham, Good Hope hospital in Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham Heartlands hospital.
at 3.49pm GMT
Nicola Sturgeon moved to reassure residents of Lanarkshire that they would not be put into tier 4 – the harshest level of the new Scottish five-level system – as local council, NHS and police chiefs wrote to the Scottish government warning of “significant additional harms and consequences” of a move to the near-lockdown conditions required by the top tier.
Schools would stay open but other restrictions would resemble March’s lockdown, including non-essential shop and hospitality closures.
The leaked letter argues that the situation in the health board area of nearly 700,000 residents was improving. The eight-page plea from the two local authorities is also signed by the chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire and Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Lanarkshire.
It states that in recent days the health board has seen the first fall in the percentage of positive tests since mid-April, and points out that a surge in infections related to half-term trips to Blackpool has now slowed significantly.
At her daily briefing, Sturgeon said that she “very much hoped” the Lanarkshire would not be placed in the top tier, and that she would only use that level of restrictions “if it was really necessary to get dangerously high levels of transmission down.”
Elsewhere, community leaders across the Highlands and islands of Scotland have called for local people to be allowed to meet indoors, highlighting the dangers of rural isolation and the fact that worsening weather conditions make outdoor mixing increasingly difficult.
Shetland’s Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “Shetland has a harsh winter, and stopping people from meeting inside at all will add further to feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation.”
at 3.49pm GMT
About two-thirds of coronavirus fines have been handed to those under the age of 35, police figures show.
Data released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Wednesday shows 20,223 fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions were issued by police in England and Wales between 27 March and 19 October – 17,451 in England and 2,772 in Wales.
These include 980 for breaches of local lockdown laws – with the majority issued by the Greater Manchester (374) and Northumbria (366) forces.
Overall, the weekly number of fines rose between mid-September and early October.
Around eight in 10 of the enforcement notices were issued to men, 78%, while 35% went to 18 to 24-year-olds, 18% to those aged 25-29 and 14% to people aged 30-34.
at 3.50pm GMT
Nottinghamshire facing ‘tier 3 plus’ restrictions
Beauty salons in Nottinghamshire will have to close when the region is placed under England’s strictest lockdown restrictions from Friday.
Jason Zadrozny, the leader of Ashfield district council, said the county had been placed in “tier 3 plus” as nail parlours, tanning salons and tattoo parlours would have to close as well as many pubs and bars.
He told the Guardian: “We’re effectively in tier 3 plus. The additions for us in Nottinghamshire on top of tier 3 are personal care things – sunbeds, nail parlours, beauty salons, tattoo parlours – on the recommendation of Public Health England because they think tier 3 wasn’t enough to dampen the curve across Nottinghamshire.”
Although only Nottingham and some boroughs of the surrounding county were previously expected to go into tier 3, all of Nottinghamshire is now expected to face the tightest restrictions. Photograph: Jacob King/PA
Pubs and bars that cannot serve substantial meals will also have to close under the measures, it is understood, but hairdressers and barber shops will be allowed to remain open.
It had been thought that only the city of Nottingham and three other council areas would enter tier 3 this week, but rising infection rates mean this has been expanded to the whole of Nottinghamshire, a region of nearly 1.2 million people.
You can read the full report from my colleague Josh Halliday here:
at 4.10pm GMT
Bristol is introducing Covid marshals, conducting deeper analytic work and taking on further powers of its local test-and-trace service as part of what it describes as “tier 1 plus”.
Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, said the city had been in discussion with the Department for Health and Social Care and local partners in the NHS and across the city over the past few weeks.
“Our rates in Bristol are rising and we are currently in Tier 1, which is the ‘medium’ local Covid alert level,” Rees said.
“Within this tier, we are taking targeted actions including the introduction of eight Covid marshals, deeper analytic work to identify rising tides of cases and taking on further powers of our local test-and-trace service to prevent further spread of the virus and protect our communities.
“These actions are being called tier 1 plus. Any further actions will be based on what we’re seeing locally and through discussion with our local partners across the city and central government.”
Rees called for people to abide by the rule of six, maintain social distancing and wear a face covering when indoors in mandatory settings.
at 3.03pm GMT