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‘Critical point’ in Liverpool hospitals as coronavirus patients on course to top first wave

Health officials in Liverpool expect to see the number of Covid-19 patients in the city’s hospitals surpass the levels of the first peak in the next seven to 10 days.

Councillor Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, said there were around 277 confirmed cases currently in hospital – compared to around 400 during the pandemic’s spring peak.

Around half of the intensive care beds across the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are currently occupied by those being treated for the virus.

“We’re expecting to see rates of inpatients continue to rise and probably surpass the levels in March or April within the next seven to 10 days,” Mr Brant told the PA news agency on Tuesday.

He added: “What will happen is they will stop the elective surgery, stop diagnostic procedures and stop screening services in order to free up beds that would otherwise be used for that activity, to ensure that any sort of surge capacity in relation to Covid is accommodated.”

As there is not a temporary Nightingale hospital in the area, Mr Brant said wards in the half-built new Royal Liverpool Hospital were utilised as overfill capacity for patients during the first wave.

On Monday, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Steve Warburton told staff in a memo that it had reached a “critical point”.


Sadiq Khan joins calls for ‘circuit break’ lockdown

Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, has said he agrees with Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a short national coronavirus lockdown.

“A short, national ‘circuit break’ – as advised by the experts on SAGE – will save lives, protect the NHS and support our economic recovery by preventing longer restrictions that will otherwise be inevitable,” Mr Khan tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, he added: “We are at a critical point. As the Government has failed to provide a functional test, trace and isolate system, it is clear to me that it should now heed the advice from SAGE and introduce a short national circuit breaker.”

Read more…


Matt Hancock rebuked over herd immunity by Government scientific adviser

Herd immunity will be critical in the long term to end the pandemic, a health expert has said as he responded to comments by Matt Hancock that it is “a flawed goal”.

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh who advises the Government, said herd immunity should not be discounted but said there was currently not enough exposure for it to work in the short term.

His comments come after the Health Secretary dismissed the strategy as “flawed” without a vaccine, and that it was “simply not possible” to segregate the old and the vulnerable on the way to herd immunity.

Prof Woolhouse told the PA news agency: “Going forward, we would expect more people to be exposed at some stage or another and that immunity would be important, whether natural or through a vaccine.

“Herd immunity is the way this thing ends, one way or another, it is critical to what happens to Covid-19 in the long term.”

He said the “end point” for the virus may be years or decades away but that there is “no way” for global eradication of the disease.

Prof Woolhouse described the Health Secretary’s comments about it being impossible to segregate the old and the vulnerable as a “tremendous fallacy”.


A Conservative MP fought back tears after learning a friend had died with Covid-19 shortly before she made a Commons speech.
Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) rose to her feet to contribute to a debate on the Fisheries Bill, telling MPs: “If I may just take a few moments, I’ve just received a text message alerting me to the news that a good friend of mine and former guitarist and former band member has just died following a two-day battle with coronavirus.
“I just want to send my love and prayers to his wife and pay tribute to a gentle giant and an awesome guitarist, and a true family man.”


The latest on tonight’s lockdown rules Commons vote…

MPs have approved the three-tier Covid-19 alert level system for England. 

Boris Johnson’s new lockdown measures were rushed through Parliament on Tuesday ahead of coming into force on Wednesday. 

It came as Conservative rebels failed to inflict a symbolic defeat on Downing Street over regulations linked to the 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses, which many have complained causes undue economic damage. 

Read more…


Rebel Tory MP tweets after Commons curfew vote…

Esther McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton, was among those who revolted against the Government on tonight’s vote on coronavirus rules – as Labour abstained.

“Along with 83 like minded colleagues I voted against the 10pm curfew,” she tweeted.

“Labour again sat on their hands and didn’t have an opinion.”


Green Party MP tweets after voting against the 10pm curfew… 

Following tonight’s retrospective Commons vote on the 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Just voted against 10pm curfew – it’s damaging businesses & SAGE has said it has “marginal impact” on spread of virus Frustrating that no amendments allowed – other measures need strengthening in line with SAGE & @IndependentSage advice, together with far more financial support.”


New: three-tier lockdown system approved by MPs

Tory rebels were unable to inflict a symbolic defeat on the Government over regulations linked to the 10pm curfew.

A motion on the statutory instrument which contained the curfew, among other measures, was approved by 299 votes to 82, majority 217.

The division list showed 42 Conservative MPs opposed regulations linked to the 10pm hospitality curfew in England.


Welsh First Minister demands domestic travel bans in England coronavirus hotspots again

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, has called again on Boris Johnson to impose travel bans in and out of coronavirus hotspots in England, a measure already in place in Wales. 

Under the new three-tier system, travel is advised against in tier three areas but not banned by law. 

Mr Drakeford has written to the Prime Minister calling for stricter curbs, just hours after the Welsh health minister hinted a second Wales national lockdown could be looming. 

“We believe people from high-covid areas shouldn’t travel to low-covid areas anywhere in the UK,” Mr Drakeford tweeted. “This is not about stopping people from England coming to Wales. It’s about stopping the virus travelling.”


Here’s the latest advice on shielding…

More than two million people who shielded during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic do not yet need to shield again despite the rollout of the new three-tier alert system, the Government has said.

In new advice published on Tuesday, officials said none of the alert levels in place in England will automatically trigger a warning to shield again – where people were told to stay home at all times.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “With #coronavirus rates continuing to increase, now is the time to take action & ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society. Today’s announcement will help keep the most vulnerable as safe as possible.”

Read more…


NEW: Government minister quits over Bolton lockdown ‘failure’

Chris Green, the MP for Bolton West and Atherton, has resigned from his ministerial post as Parliamentary Private Secretary because the local lockdown in his constituency “has clearly not worked”. 

In a resignation letter to Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening, the Conservative MP said the Greater Manchester borough’s long-standing lockdown was “creating many other health problems, which are leading to pain, suffering and death”. 

“The closure of pubs, restaurants and cafes combined with the reduction of footfall on our high streets has brought many family owned businesses in my constituency to the brink of collapse and pushed others over the edge,” he wrote.

He added: “I now believe that the attempted cure is worse than the disease”. 

Bolton has been placed in the “high” category under the new three-tier system, banning households from mixing indoors. 


Labour leader rejects that ‘circuit break’ would wreak economic disaster 

Sir Keir Starmer told reporters the economic damage of failing to control the virus would be greater than a short “circuit breaker” lockdown.

He said during his press briefing this afternoon: “We are all concerned about any damage to the economy, but the prolonged agony of the tiered approach – which will have to be ramped up and ramped up over the weeks to come because it’s not going to work – will be far worse for the economy than the circuit break which we are proposing of two to three weeks, which will bring the R rate down and actually mean we could ease the restrictions more quickly.”


Sir Keir denied that local Labour leaders resisting Tier 3 restrictions will bear responsibility for rising cases in their areas.

“The responsibility falls squarely on the Government,” he said, blaming ministers for the failure to establish a properly functioning testing and tracing system.

“The loss of control of the virus rests very heavily with the Government.”


Labour’s shadow chancellor tweets… ‘This Government has failed’ 

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, becomes the latest red frontbencher to hit out at the Government this evening, after the Labour leader’s press conference. 

“This government has failed. Failed to get a grip on the virus after six months of trying. Failed to protect jobs and businesses,” she tweeted.

“Failed to keep people safe. Enough is enough. We need a circuit break to get a grip on this virus and protect jobs and livelihoods.”



Named: The UK’s worst coronavirus hotspots

  • Derry City & Strabane in Northern Ireland continues to record the highest weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases of any local authority area in the UK, with 954.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to the latest data

  • Nottingham, the highest in England, which currently stands at 880.4 cases per 100,000

  • Glasgow continues to have the highest rate in Scotland, at 268.8 cases per 100,000

  • Merthyr Tydfil continues to have the highest rate in Wales, at 207.2 cases per 100,000

All figures are based on data published on Tuesday afternoon and are for the seven days to October 10.

Data on new cases for October 11-13 is incomplete and therefore not included.


Labour’s deputy leader tweets… ‘Utterly grim’ numbers and PM has ‘lost control’ 


Starmer issues warning direct to Boris Johnson

In a message to the Prime Minister down the barrel of the camera in his press briefing, Sir Keir Starmer said: “You know that the science backs this approach. You know that the restrictions you’re introducing won’t be enough.

“You know that a circuit break is needed now to get this virus under control.

“You can’t keep delaying this and come back to the House of Commons every few weeks with another plan that won’t work.

“So act now. Break the cycle. If you do, you will have the votes in the House of Commons – I can assure you of that. You don’t need to balance the needs of your party against the national interest.”


Starmer: ‘Significant sacrifices’ needed now with circuit break lockdown

Sir Keir Starmer said schools would not need to close but household mixing would be restricted, pubs, bars and restaurants would be shut and non-essential offices forced to close under the proposed “circuit breaker”. The Labour leader said:

This would not mean closing schools. But if this happens imminently, it can be timed to run across half-term to minimise disruption. But a circuit break would require significant sacrifices across the country.

It would mean only essential work and travel. That everyone who can work from home should do so. Non-essential offices should be closed.

Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who’ve formed support bubbles.

And all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed for two to three weeks – but compensated so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all have to make. It should also mean that the UK Parliament moves to remote working.


BREAKING: Keir Starmer demands two to three week circuit break lockdown 

Citing the Sage recommendation for a circuit-breaker lockdown three weeks ago, that emerged in meeting minutes last night, Sir Keir tells the press briefing: “The Prime Minister has not acted on this advice.”

“There’s no longer time to give this prime minister the benefit of the doubt. the government’s plan simply isn’t working, another course is needed. 

“That’s why I’m calling for a two to three-week circuit break in England, in line with Sage’s recommendation.”

This would not mean schools closing, he says, adding it could run over half-term. It would mean only essential work and travel, non-essential offices closed, household mixing restricted to one household and all pubs, bars and restaurants closing but compensated financially. 

“A circuit break would provide the opportunity to reset and to rectify some of the mistakes the Government has made,” he says, citing the ongoing testing fiasco. 

“This was not inevitable but it is now necessary,” he adds. 


Starmer press briefing LIVE: ‘Decisive moment’ in fight against virus

Sir Keir Starmer has appeared for his press briefing and says the UK is at a “decisive moment” in its battle against coronavirus. 

“The figures are stark… and heading in the wrong direction,” he says. 

“Three things are clear: the Government has not got a credible plan to slow infections, it has lost control of the virus, and it is no longer following scientific advice.”