Germany begins ‘light lockdown’
Germany goes into “lockdown light” mode today, as the country’s disease control agency recorded 12,097 new confirmed Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours.
Bars, cinemas, theatres, museums, fitness studios and swimming pools will remain closed from today, while cafes and restaurants are allowed to offer takeaway food only.
Meetings in public are restricted to two households or no more than 10 people. Unlike during the first lockdown in the spring, schools and nurseries will stay open.
While the new “wavebreaker” restrictions will for now only apply until the end of the month, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, has said it cannot be ruled out that the soft lockdown could last longer. On Sunday, health minister Jens Spahn called on the public to prepare for “months of restrictions and abstinence”.
One positive trend among the latest coronavirus numbers in Germany is that the case fatality rate is lower than in the spring, and on Monday fell below 2 today for the first time since mid-April.
However, the head of the association of German hospitals, Gerald Gaß, warned in an interview with tabloid Bild that that trend could be reversed in two to three weeks’ time, when the number of patients in intensive care is expected to surpass its April peak.
While Germany has spare capacity for about 6,000 high-care patients, there are concerns about a future lack of staff to attend those on emergency care beds.
at 10.50am GMT
German defence minister self-isolating
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA
German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is self-quarantining after learning that she came into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19, her ministry said today.
A coronavirus test on Kramp-Karrenbauer herself was negative, it added in a statement.
at 10.39am GMT
Malaysia’s health ministry reported 834 new coronavirus cases today, taking its total to 33,339 infections.
The south-east Asian country also recorded two new deaths, raising total fatalities from the pandemic to 251
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Indonesia has today reported 2,618 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 415,402, data from the country’s Covid-19 taskforce showed.
This is the lowest daily rise of coronavirus cases since 26 August.
It also reported 101 deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 14,044. An additional 3,624 people had recovered from the virus, taking the total number of recovered cases to 345,566.
at 10.25am GMT
The Philippines’ health ministry today reported 2,298 new coronavirus infections and 32 more deaths.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 385,400, while deaths had reached 7,269. The Philippines has the second-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.
Ireland-based airline Ryanair said it is preparing for a “hugely challenging” period to continue as it reported a loss of €197m (£178m) in the first half of the year.
The low-cost carrier said it “expects to record higher losses” in the second half of the year, despite having a lower cost base and a stronger balance sheet.
Coronavirus led to the grounding of 99% of the carrier’s fleet for almost four months between mid-March and the end of June. The company said traffic in the first half of the year fell from 86 million to 17 million passengers, compared with the same period last year – a fall of about 80%.
Its revenue dropped 78% to €1.18bn, while the loss in this half-year contrasts with a profit after tax of €1.15bn in the first half of the last financial year.
With almost no traffic in the first quarter of the year, the “vast majority” of the first half of the year’s revenue was earned in the second quarter, the firm said.
Given the current Covid-19 uncertainty, Ryanair cannot provide FY21 PAT (profit after tax) guidance at this time.
The group expects to carry approximately 38 million passengers in FY21, although this guidance could be further revised downwards if EU Govts continue to mismanage air travel and impose more uncoordinated travel restrictions or lock downs this winter.
A Ryanair plane. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
at 9.58am GMT
Thousands of lives in England would have been saved if the government had imposed a two-week “circuit-break” lockdown when advised to by experts in September, a leading medical figure has said.
Prof Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, and a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) advisory committee, also said such a move would also have caused less damage to the economy than the four-week lockdown outlined by the government on Saturday.
Asked what difference it would have made if the government had taken the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Hayward, speaking in a personal capacity, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
Well, we can’t turn back the clock. But, I think if we had chosen a two-week circuit-break at that time we would definitely have saved thousands of lives.
And, we would clearly have inflicted substantially less damage on our economy than the proposed four-week lockdown will do.
Hayward was at the meeting of Sage on 21 September that recommended a circuit-break around half term.
Russia today reported 18,257 new coronavirus cases, including 4,796 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 1,655,038 since the pandemic began.
Authorities said 238 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 28,473.
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In England, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, will today warn that coronavirus deaths over the winter could be twice as high as during the first wave of the pandemic when he outlines plans for a second national lockdown to MPs.
Johnson is set to use a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon to say there is “no alternative” but to impose four weeks of stringent restrictions across England to control rising cases.
It comes amid confusion over whether the measures could be extended beyond 2 December, after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove admitted they may need to be in place for longer.
Johnson will tell MPs the government will “seek to ease” restrictions and return to the tiered system on 2 December. A No 10 source insisted the measures would be “time-limited” for four weeks.
The prime minister was forced to announce the lockdown – which comes into effect on Thursday – at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street over the weekend after details were leaked to newspapers.
The measures will see pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail closed for four weeks, but schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.
People will also be allowed to exercise and socialise in outdoor public spaces with their household or one other person.
The prime minister will seek to face down growing unrest from backbench Conservative MPs over the new restrictions when he tells the Commons there is no option but to impose them.
He is expected to say:
Models of our scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave.
Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level.
I know some in the House believe we should have reached this decision earlier, but I believe it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level, with strong local action and strong local leadership.
MPs will debate and vote on the new measures on Wednesday, with several Conservatives likely to rebel against the government.
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Schools throughout Cambodia have reopened today for the first time since March but with class sizes and hours limited by coronavirus precautions.
Education minister Hang Chuon Naron said a second closing would be considered if any students became infected while attending classes.
A trial phase of reopenings for some schools in the capital, Phnom Penh, and parts of eastern Cambodia started last month, and Hang Chuon Naron said the good results prompted the approval for reopenings nationwide. He told reporters at a school in Phnom Penh:
As the government has controlled the Covid situation very well, we have seen that in Cambodia the number of cases has not increased, and especially the border control is every effective.
In addition to the limits on class sizes and hours, school buses, libraries, physical education and art activities and canteens will resume under the Health Ministry’s rules covering coronavirus safety. Hang Chuon Naron said:
We have two objectives. Number one is safety for our students, our teachers, as well as the community, and number two is to continue education for everyone.
Cambodia has reported 292 cases of coronavirus infection, with no deaths. The health ministry reported one new case today – a Cambodian returning from abroad.
Students disinfect their hands to avoid the contact of coronavirus before their morning class at Santhormok high school, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photograph: Heng Sinith/AP
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The Czech Republic has reported 6,542 new coronavirus cases for yesterday and 178 new deaths, health ministry data showed today.
The total number of cases in the country of 10.7 million rose to 341,644, while deaths reached 3,429.
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Hello, this is Haroon Siddique taking over the blog. If you want to get in touch you can do so via:
That’s it from me for today. It’s over to my colleague Haroon Siddique in London for the latest.
The full story now on US President Donald Trump threatening to fire Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, during a midnight rally in Florida 24 hours before the presidential election.
As crowds at the Miami Opa-Locka airport chanted “Fire Fauci”, Trump allowed the chants to continue for several seconds before responding: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice. I appreciate it.”
He continued: “Nah, he’s been wrong on a lot. He’s a nice man though. He’s been wrong on a lot.”
Fauci, one of the world’s foremost infectious diseases experts, has served for over three decades as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He is one of the lead experts on Trump’s coronavirus taskforce and has frequently offered frank public health guidance in contrast to the president’s repeated falsehoods on the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump’s rally in Florida, a critical swing state he needs to hold to win the election, was held as Covid-19 cases in the state continued to surge. Like countless Trump campaign rallies there was no social distancing and thousands of attendees did not wear face masks:
Global aviation manual expected in November
A global aviation manual now under review by a UN body and expected in November, suggests global guidelines calling for the use of tests with a sensitivity and specificity of 95% when screening passengers to detect the novel coronavirus ahead of flights, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said on Friday that travelling was now “relatively safe” and posed a “relatively low” health risk although there was no “zero risk”. More advice on risk management processes would be released soon, he added.
Japan’s largest airport on Monday opened a novel coronavirus testing facility aimed at outbound travellers who need proof they are virus-free, as it takes steps to reopen international travel that has been largely grounded for months by the pandemic.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sunday that he had been identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19, but added that he was feeling well and did not have any symptoms. Tedros said in a tweet that he would be self-quarantining “over the coming days”.
US President Donald Trump threatened to fire the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci. At Trump’s rally in Florida, a “Fire Fauci” chant broke out when Trump defended his handling of coronavirus. Anthony Fauci, a highly respected member of his coronavirus task force, has been increasingly critical of Trump’s handling of the virus. In response to the “Fire Fauci” chant, Trump said: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”
Trump broke a curfew at rally in Miami-Dade county. Trump spoke until well after midnnight in Miami-Dade county, breaking a midnight coronavirus cufew intended to mitigate infections.
Japan has used new technology to determine if large crowds can watch sports events in safety, less than a year before Tokyo is due to host the coronavirus-postponed Olympics.
South Korea will fine people for not wearing masks from later this month, as the country expands its rules on mandatory face coverings. Although South Korea has fared better than many other countries in containing the coronavirus outbreak, daily cases have risen to over 100 in recent days.
The trial over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack has been delayed for at least a week after two more defendants tested positive for coronavirus, Agence France-Presse reports.
Brazilian health minister returns to hospital. The Brazilian health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, who is ill with Covid-19, will stay in a military hospital overnight on Sunday, after having been discharged from a civilian facility earlier in the day.
England’s lockdown could be extended – Gove. The one-month lockdown for England announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this weekend could be extended as Britain struggles to contain a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday.
The Duke of Cambridge tested positive for coronavirus in April, according to reports. The BBC said it had been told by Buckingham palace sources that Prince William had contracted Covid-19 that month.
Brexit Party to rebrand as ‘anti-lockdown’ party, Farage says. Nigel Farage plans to rebrand the Brexit Party as an anti-lockdown party called Reform UK, the party leader has announced in an article in the Telegraph where he says “it is time to redirect our energies”.
More than 300 Brazilians gathered on São Paulo’s main commercial thoroughfare on Sunday to protest state Governor João Doria’s support for mandatory Covid-19 immunization and testing the potential vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac.
Iran’s true death toll is likely to be at least three times higher than the reported figure, the head of Iran’s medical council has said.
Brazil’s health minister has been discharged from hospital. He was admitted to hospital with coronavirus and dehydration two days ago.
There have been a further 23,254 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data. This compares to 21,915 new cases registered on Saturday.
Donald Trump’s campaign rallies may have led to 30,000 additional confirmed cases of Covid-19, and likely resulted in more than 700 deaths overall, according to a Stanford University paper posted online this weekend.
Greece has reported a further 1,678 new coronavirus cases,bringing the country’s total to 40,929. It comes after a record daily increase of 2,056 was announced on Saturday.
Geneva will impose a partial lockdown on Monday after the Swiss canton reported more than 1,000 new cases on several days.
France reported 46,290 further coronavirus cases on Sunday,bringing the total to over 1.4 million cases. Infections rose by 35,641 the previous day.
Slovakia tested almost half of its entire population yesterday, as part of a two-day mass testing programme designed to bring coronavirus under control without implementing further lockdown measures. Of the 2.58 millio people tested, 1% were positive and will have to quarantine.
Russia’s daily tally of coronavirus cases hit a record high of 18,665, taking the national total to 1,636,781. Meanwhile, Iran has marked its highest daily increase in its coronavirus death toll, with 434 recorded on Saturday.
The “rapid turnaround” coronavirus tests UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday are not approved for the public to interpret themselves without an expert’s help and so will not provide results in the promised 15 minutes, the Guardian has learned.
Boris Johnson’s briefing about this week’s national lockdown in England included the promise of a mass rollout of “tests that you can use yourself to tell whether or not you are infectious and get the result within 10 to 15 minutes”, which would be made available at universities and across whole cities.
He said the army would be deployed to roll out the “many millions of cheap, reliable and above all rapid turnaround tests” everywhere they were needed: