The UK recorded 16,171 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 15,650 on Friday.
The government also announced 150 further deaths from Covid-19. On Friday, 136 new deaths were reported. Saturday’s update brings the total number of cases in the UK to 705,428, and the country’s total confirmed death toll to 43,579.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The Press Association reports that there were 4,814 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England on Saturday, up from 3,225 a week ago, while 494 were in ventilation beds, up from 396 a week ago.
A total of 792 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Thursday, compared with 513 a week earlier.
Italy reports new record rise in cases
Italy registered 10,925 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Saturday, a not insubstantial increase from the previous record of 10,010 cases posted on Friday.
There were also 47 Covid-related deaths on Saturday, down from 55 the day before, the ministry said, far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April when daily fatalities peaked at more than 900.
Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit by Covid-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the region after Britain, with 36,427 fatalities since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.
Italy is considering tightening nationwide restrictions in response to an increase in cases, the head of the north-western region of Liguria said, Reuters reports.
Giovanni Toti said the Italian health minister Roberto Speranza met local authorities on Saturday to discuss possible new steps.
“We are working on some measures,” Toti said on Facebook, adding that the government would urge schools to alternate between online and in-person lessons, and tell companies to increase remote working.
I won’t always be able to respond, but I read everything.
My colleague Jason Rodrigues has alerted me to the fact that another anti-lockdown protest is taking place in central London, with Piers Corbyn again at the forefront. The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among protesters in Soho last night. He has has previously been arrested and fined £10,000 for breaching coronavirus regulations.
The head of Greater Manchester police, in northern England, has hit back in response to a report in the Daily Telegraph claiming that the prime minister has not imposed harsher coronavirus restrictions on the city because of concerns the police would side with the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, who is opposing the restrictions, and not enforce them.
In an open letter, Ian Hopkins, said:
I wish to clarify that as the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police I am accountable to the mayor of Greater Manchester and responsible to the people of Greater Manchester, critically I am operationally independent …
It is for local and national politicians to agree the necessary restrictions to keep us all safe. As the chief constable I will then ensure my officers and staff enforce these in a proportionate manner alongside our local authority partners.
The respective foreign ministers of Belgium and Austria have tested positive, we have learned today.
Here is a reminder of other politicians who have tested positive around the world since the onset of the pandemic:
Iran, the Middle Eastern country hardest-hit by the coronavirus, has today extended restrictions and closures in the capital Tehran into a third week, as the death toll in the country rose above 30,000.
Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran, where the infection rate has been highest, have been closed since 3 October, and Tehran’s province governor, Anoushiravan Mohseni-Bandpey, announced an extension of the measures until at least Friday, state media reported.
Iran is experiencing its third surge of coronavirus infections and says its fight against the coronavirus has been hampered by US sanctions, which have limited its crude oil sales and its access to foreign banks.
On Wednesday it reported record daily figures of 279 deaths and 4,830 new coronavirus infections. It has registered more than 250 deaths and 4,000 cases in each of the past six days.
The rial currency was trading at a new low of about 322,000 per dollar on Saturday on the unofficial market, according to the foreign exchange website Bonbast.com, hit by worries over new US sanctions that may block some Iranian medicine purchases.
A requirement to wear face masks in public in the capital, imposed last Saturday, remains in effect, as does a ban on travel in and out of five cities including Tehran, which was announced on Wednesday.
Belgium’s foreign minister tests positive
Belgium’s foreign minister Sophie Wilmes said today she has tested positive for Covid-19.
She said on Twitter:
My Covid test result is positive. Contamination probably occurred within my family circle given the precautions taken outside my home.
Wilmes yesterday said she was going into self-isolation with suspected Covid-19 symptoms. On 12 October she attended face-to-face talks with other EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
A further 86 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 30,910, NHS England said today.
Patients were aged between 44 and 99. All but two patients, aged 62 and 79, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between 16 September and 16 October. Three other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
In England, the standoff over whether tougher restrictions should be introduced in Greater Manchester appears no closer to resolution.
Downing Street indicated a call had been arranged for tomorrow morning to resolve the row over the region entering the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
However, a spokesman for the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has denied that talks have been scheduled, saying: “Nothing has yet been arranged.”
Local leaders say that if Greater Manchester is to enter tier 3 (the “very high” level of alert) the government must be willing to cough up more cash than it has thus far offered.
There have been a further 674 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 34,679.
Public Health Wales said five further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,708.
The former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned the UK is heading for a double cliff edge of Brexit and an economic collapse caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brown, who is the longest serving chancellor of the exchequer in modern times, said the impending double whammy would cost jobs.
He said the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, would have to introduce further measures to limit the impact of rising unemployment, as his replacement for the costly furlough scheme was “very limited”.
Addressing a Welsh Labour party event, Brown said:
I think we’ve got two cliff edges coming, if it is possible to go over two cliff edges at once.
We’ve got 31 October and the end of the furlough scheme, and then we’ve got the end of the negotiations over Brexit.
You’ve got two critical points where at each of them, jobs are at risk.
Brown went on:
There’s not enough money available for furlough. His [Sunak’s] new proposals seem very limited.
I believe the chancellor will have to come back to the House of Commons quite soon to update, revise and change his plans because it is simply not adequate for the circumstances of today.
We praised him in March for doing the furlough and I’m afraid now he has proved he is not doing enough to help us through this crisis, and unemployment will definitely rise very fast if he doesn’t take further action.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s latest Ebola epidemic is now under control, a leading scientist has said as the nation continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fifty-three people have died since June in what has been the 11th outbreak of Ebola in the central African country since 1976.
On Saturday, Prof Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the man tasked with leading the nation’s Ebola response, tweeted: “We are on the 16th day without new cases.”
The situation in the affected north-west province of Equateur is now “under control”, he added.
He said the treatment centres no longer had any Ebola patients and just one of 13 affected zones remains under surveillance.
His comments were echoed by the World Health Organization.
The latest epidemic was declared at the beginning of June in the remote north-east of the country.
Since then, 128 cases of the haemorrhagic fever have been recorded (119 confirmed and nine probable) with 53 deaths, according to the DRC authorities.
The previous epidemic, which broke out in the east in August 2018, was the deadliest in the country with 2,277 deaths.
The DRC has recorded 11,000 Covid cases, including 302 deaths, according to the latest government figures.
Austria announces record infections
Austria has joined the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Malaysia in reporting a record daily number of coronavirus infections. It said today there have been 1,747 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours.
The daily count has this month repeatedly exceeded the peak of 1,050 reached in March during the first wave of infections.
Mayor of Liverpool’s brother dies
The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has said his brother has died after being admitted to intensive care with Covid-19.
On Friday evening, Anderson urged people to follow the rules to prevent the spread of the virus as he revealed his eldest brother was in a “very serious condition” in hospital in the city.
Here are the latest developments:
- An adviser to the UK government has said a short national circuit-breaker – a near total shutdown – may be necessary as he described other measures as “biting around the edges”. Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme numbers in parts of the country were “pretty eye-watering”. The Conservative former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also indicated support for a national circuit-breaker lockdown.
- Iran has announced that its death toll from the coronavirus has passed the milestone of 30,000 deaths. The health ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, said Iran’s total death toll from the outbreak was 30,123 killed, with a total of 526,490 confirmed cases since it announced its first infections in February.
- The Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland and Malaysia all recorded their highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.
- Thailand has recorded its first two locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in more than a month. The country’s Covid-19 administration centre said in its daily report that the cases were among two Myanmar nationals living near the border with Myanmar, where infections have been surging recently. The two were tested on 13 October, they showed no symptoms but results were positive, the centre said in the statement.The last known local case was in early September.
- The UK government and local leaders in Greater Manchester remain at odds over whether the harshest level of restrictions – tier 3 – should be introduced in the area. The local leaders say the government is trying to impose it without sufficient financial assistance.