3.46pm GMT

A major Covid outbreak at Barlinnie prison raises serious concerns both for prisoner and staff health and prison service transparency, says the Howard League Scotland.

The Scottish Prison Service confirmed that 400 prisoners – a third of the jail’s population – were self-isolating, while 205 of staff are reported to be on sick leave or isolating themselves.

But Howard League Scotland points out that information about the numbers of prisoners testing positive – which leapt to 116 this afternoon – had not been updated on the prison service website for 42 days.


Without questions being asked of SPS & @HumzaYousaf by the media, us and others, would the @scottishprisons website have been updated from this morning’s (on the left), to this afternoon’s (on the right)? 42 days have passed since a formal update. pic.twitter.com/pYqC8MyRcz

November 13, 2020

The campaigners also point out that, in the midst of a second wave of infections, the prison population has already returned to 93% of its pre-pandemic levels.

3.43pm GMT

And in Northern Ireland there have been 607 more coronavirus cases. That is up from 548 yesterday and 595 last Friday.

And there have been 11 further deaths, down from 15 yesterday but up from eight last Friday.

Department of Health

The Department of Health #COVID19 dashboard has been updated with latest data.

607 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Sadly, a further 11 deaths have been reported. https://t.co/YN16dmGzhv pic.twitter.com/2TXPRAXbvh

November 13, 2020

3.32pm GMT

These are from Sky’s Beth Rigby.

Beth Rigby

ANALYSIS: Cummings & Cain’s departure marks the end of an era. PM expended huge amount of political capital saving Cummings over Barnard Castle debacle & it cost him, with his party & public. His best assets becoming liabilities in recent mths, now a resethttps://t.co/s70adyif0I pic.twitter.com/LVZUgPh0DM

November 13, 2020

Beth Rigby

Have also heard there’s talk in No 10 of a shake up of the policy unit. Two sources tell me there’s been some discussion in No 10 circles about whether Munira Mirza moves… Bigger agenda about ditching culture wars & focusing on climate, girls & women welfare, infrastructure pic.twitter.com/EXtbMO2TDp

November 13, 2020

Munira Mirza, head of the No 10 policy unit, in Downing Street today. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

3.28pm GMT

Labour has suspended a number of members who passed a motion criticising the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn for his reaction to the damning report into antisemitism within the party during his leadership. As PA Media reports, the group from the Bristol West constituency Labour party (CLP) face disciplinary action over the motion which branded the former leader’s treatment as a “politically motivated attack against the left” of the party.

3.27pm GMT

Scotland has recorded 1,357 further coronavirus cases. That is up from 1,212 yesterday and 1,072 last Friday.

There are 1,228 people in hospital. That is up from 1,207 yesterday, but slightly down from 1,237 last Friday.

And there have been 56 further deaths. That is the second highest daily death figure released during this wave of the pandemic, after Wednesday, when 64 deaths were announced. On Friday last week 31 deaths were announced.

3.15pm GMT

NHS England has recorded 246 further coronavirus hospital deaths. The details are here.

That is down from 317 yesterday, but up from 218 a week ago.

at 3.25pm GMT

3.08pm GMT

School reopening may have higher impact on Covid transmission than previously thought, report says

The Welsh government’s technical advisory group (TAG) has said there is new evidence that schools being open is associated with higher rates of Covid infection in the general population.

It calls for other measures such as older pupils wearing face coverings in classrooms and mass testing in schools and colleges to be considered.

A TAG report published today said:

Additional modelling and empirical data … indicates that there is now evidence of higher levels of infection and transmission in school-based age groups than previously recognised, a higher rate of asymptomatic transmission, and children are more likely to be the first case in a household.

This new evidence indicates that schools being open is associated with higher rates of infection in the population, although the mechanism for this remains unclear (potentially including many factors such as reopening of workplaces, parents returning to work, shops and hospitality, social mixing outside schools).

But it also says there is a positive case for schools staying open.

There is strong evidence that continuing preschool, school or college attendance is important to support the wellbeing of children and young people in terms of physical, psychological and social needs, to access additional support such as free school meals and SEN support, as well as being instrumental in reducing inequalities in educational outcomes.

The report suggests further measures should be considered to reduce transmission in schools.

Additional mitigations should be considered including ways of reducing daily face to face contacts to reduce exposure risk, and the possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport. This could even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis.

Consideration should be given to exploring the feasibility of mass asymptomatic testing programmes in school and college settings to enhance infection control and maintain confidence of students, parents and staff.

at 3.30pm GMT

3.01pm GMT

The ONS weekly infection survey (see 12.29pm), which is seen as one of the most reliable guides to the prevalence of coronavirus, now covers all four nations of the UK. Here are the four-nation figures from today’s report which covers the week ending 6 November.

In England around 1 in 85 people had Covid, the ONS said. That amounted to 654,000 people, according to the central estimate.

That is an increase from 1 in 90 the previous week.

In Wales the rate was also 1 in 85, the ONS said. That amounted to 35,300 people, according to the central estimate.

That was an increase from 1 in 110 people the previous week.

In Northern Ireland around 1 in 105 people had Covid, the ONS said. That amounted to 17,800 people, according to the central estimate.

That was a decrease from 1 in 75 people the previous week.

And in Scotland around 1 in 135 people had the virus, the ONS said. That amounted to 39,700 people, according to the central estimate.

That was a decrease from the figure for the week before, 1 in 110, although that was the figure for a two-week period (because the ONS Scottish data came later, and so it did not have a week-only figure last week).

And here is a chart showing different infection rates for the English regions.

Infection rates for English regions Photograph: ONS

at 3.38pm GMT

2.37pm GMT

Covid cases in prisons in England and Wales double in October

The number of prisoners who have tested positive for coronavirus in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic more than doubled in the space of a month in October, my colleague Jamie Grierson reports.

2.35pm GMT

This slide shows the number of coronavirus cases falling back in most parts of Wales.

Welsh Government

Here’s the slide from today’s press conference 👇 pic.twitter.com/bgJ6th585i

November 13, 2020

In Merthyr the rate per 100,000 people is around 420, down from a peak of almost 770. The rate in Wrexham has almost halved to around 150 cases.

The only place the trend is up is Ceredigion in west Wales – this is largely due to care home cases.

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, said: “We need to keep building on this.”

at 3.39pm GMT

2.08pm GMT

Post-lockdown rules in England will need to be stricter than before it started, Sage suggests

The government has just released a new batch of papers from Sage, its Scientific Advisory Committee for Emergencies, and one document shows that Sage wants restrictions in England after the lockdown ends on 2 December to be stricter than what was in place when it started.

Here is the report (pdf), a consensus statement from SPI-M-O, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which is effectively a Sage sub committee. It is dated 4 November, the day before the lockdown started.

At that point SPI-M-O said R, the reproduction number, for England was between 1.1 and 1.3 – meaning the virus was still growing. And it said the growth rate was between 2% and 4% per day.

Here are the key quotes.

SPI-M-O said that, if England just went back to the restrictions in force pre-lockdown after 2 December, the virus would start growing again. It said:

The longer-term outlook depends on both the nature of non-pharmaceutical interventions that are implemented in England after 2 December and policies over the festive period. If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before 5 November, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.

It said tier 3 measures on their own might not be enough to drive R below 1. In a passage assessing the impact of the three-tier system in place before the lockdown started, it said:

Initial analysis shows a clear effect from tier 3 interventions and much less from tiers 1 and 2. It is not yet clear whether tier 3 measures alone are sufficient to reduce the reproduction number below 1.

Tier 3 measures were the strictest, involving, among other restrictions, pubs only be allowed to open as restaurants and people in tier 3 areas being advised not to travel outside them.

But it said the lockdown should drive R below 1. It said:

If well-adhered to, the lockdown measures due to start in England on 5 November are likely to reduce R to less than 1. 24.

If this is sustained until 2 December, the number of hospital admissions and deaths would be expected to fall until at least the second week of December.

The report also includes projections showing what would happen to hospital numbers and deaths without the lockdown, and what would happen to the figures if the lockdown got R down to 0.6 (purple line), 0.8 (blue line), 0.9 (green line) or 1.1 (yellow line).

Sage projections for death figures – with and without lockdown Photograph: Sage

Sage projections for death figures – with and without lockdown Photograph: Sage

1.33pm GMT

More than 50 people who attended a student party in Cardiff have been issued with fixed-penalty notices, South Wales police have said. A spokesperson said:

South Wales police was alerted to the large gathering at a halls of residence on Friday night [6 November] and on arrival officers found music blaring and dozens of individuals inside.

The details of each person were taken on the night, and officers have since worked closely with Cardiff Metropolitan University to retrospectively issue 52 fixed-penalty notices.

The Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, said those caught needed to think about the risk they were posing to each other and to everyone else they might come into contact with. “I hope they think again about the choices they make in the future,” he said.

South Wales P😷lice

#WATCH | Officers break up party which clearly breaches #COVID19 restrictions. @SWPCardiff have worked with @cardiffmet to retrospectively issue 5️⃣2️⃣ FPNs following the gathering at a halls of residence last Friday.

Read more 👉 https://t.co/ccsY18Ut9V#SWPCovidAction

^cl pic.twitter.com/L3yzb5U5hG

November 13, 2020

at 3.40pm GMT

1.30pm GMT

Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary and a Vote Leave supporter, has said the departure of Dominic Cummings from No 10 will be “a good opportunity for a fresh start”. She told PA Media:

Clearly there are concerns about the dismissive attitude sometimes shown by Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings towards people in government and MPs on the backbenches.

And this is an opportunity to move on from that and to have a more collaborative approach.

at 3.42pm GMT

1.27pm GMT

Leading Scotland’s coronavirus briefing, deputy first minister John Swinney began by welcoming “a real piece of bright good news”. He was, of course, referring to the national team’s nail-biting win over Serbia last night, qualifying for a major tournament after more than 20 years, and not the personnel changes at Downing Street.

Asked about some concerning scenes posted on social media of relieved fans crowding together, Swinney said he acknowledged that “we are all missing the chance to embrace, to hug”. He went on:

We all understand the natural desire to celebrate but the virus is a very real threat to all of our lives and our communities. Although we’re all frustrated and fed up with restrictions and when something comes along like a magnificent football team victory we all want to celebrate … but we all have to understand that following social distancing rules and facts guidance is critical.

Responding earlier to scenes of football fans in an Aberdeen beer garden, Susan Webb, director of public health at NHS Grampian, said:

While I cannot comment on these specific circumstances, I can say this: this virus does not rest. It does not take a minute off, much less 90 minutes, extra time and penalties.

at 3.41pm GMT

1.18pm GMT

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman refused to say anything more about the departure of Dominic Cummings. He would not even say whether Cummings had handed in his notice. All he did was refer to the blog that Cummings wrote in January alluding to his future.

For the record, here is the key section. I’ve highlighted the key sentence in bold.

We want to improve performance and make me much less important – and within a year largely redundant. At the moment I have to make decisions well outside what Charlie Munger calls my ‘circle of competence’ and we do not have the sort of expertise supporting the PM and ministers that is needed. This must change fast so we can properly serve the public.

Cummings also flagged up this passage when he spoke to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about his future. If you are leaving a job, it always less embarrassing if you can say that you were always intending to go anyway.

Cummings, of course, has got form for citing previous blog entries to show that events haven’t taken him by surprise. However, unlike in a previous example, in this case he has not had go back to quietly edit his previous work to make him seem more prescient than he was.

at 3.42pm GMT

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