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UK coronavirus LIVE: Experts’ warning after Covid death toll passes 50,000 as study suggests R rate is below one


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eading doctors have blasted the UK’s coronavirus death toll as a “terrible indictment” of the Government’s lack of preparation and organisation for the pandemic.

The latest Government data showed that 50,365 people have now died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, making it the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 deaths. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the UK’s death toll was another “grim milestone” in the pandemic.

Meanwhile scientists working on a Covid Symptom Study said the latest data revealed the coronavirus R rate, an average measure of the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, is currently below one in the UK.

King’s College London epidemiologist Tim Spector, who runs the project, said rates of new disease are “falling slowly” below 36,000 with an R number of 0.9.

Live updates

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A&E attendances at hospitals in England continue to be below levels of a year ago

A total of 1.6 million attendances were recorded in October 2020, down 26 per cent from 2.2 million in October 2019.

NHS England said the fall is “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response” – suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The year-on-year drop in A&E attendances of 26 per cent in October compares with falls of 20 per cent  in September, 19 per cent in August and 30% in July.

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Total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was down 27% in September compared with a year ago

According to the latest NHS Endland figures, some 209,562 patients were admitted for treatment during the month, down from 288,230 in September 2019.

The year-on-year decrease recorded in August was 43 per cent, and in July the drop was 55 per cent.

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NHS England figures: 1.72 million people were waiting more than 18 weeks to start treatment in September 2020

The number of people having to wait more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in England stood at 139,545 in September of this year – the highest number for any calendar month since September 2008.

One year earlier, in September 2019, the number having to wait more than 52 weeks to start treatment stood at just 1,305.

The figures, from NHS England, also show that 1.72 million people were waiting more than 18 weeks to start treatment in September 2020.

This is down from 1.96 million in August, but is up sharply on the equivalent figure for September 2019, which was 672,112.

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Broadcaster ITV says advertising revenues will return to growth in the final quarter of 2020, but warned over a hit from the second lockdown

The group behind shows including I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! said advertising spend dropped 7 per cent in the third quarter after plunging 23 per cent in July.

It forecast total ad revenues to rise “slightly” in the fourth quarter, with a 6% bounceback expected in November, while its production arm resumed the “majority” of its productions.

But it warned that the second national coronavirus lockdown in England and ongoing UK restrictions elsewhere will continue to knock revenues and make it “challenging” to bring production back to full capacity.

ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “Advertising trends are improving, with the fourth quarter forecast to be slightly up year on year and 85 per cent of our productions in the UK and internationally that were paused as a result of Covid-19 are back in production or have been delivered.

“However, Covid restrictions and further national lockdowns have added production costs and are making it challenging to bring ITV Studios productions back to full capacity.”

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Boris Johnson’s Number 10 operation in turmoil after communications chief Lee Cain quits in power struggle

Boris Johnson’s Downing Street operation has been thrown into turmoil following the dramatic resignation of his communications chief Lee Cain.

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Companies boosted by pandemic should face profit levy, think tank argues

The Resolution Foundation argues supermarkets such as Tesco and Ocado, as well as private services contractor Serco, should be hit by a windfall tax.

The living standards think tank also recommends a new health and social care tax as part of a £40 billion recovery plan to meet wider challenges facing the UK over the next decade.

In its “unhealthy finances” report published on Wednesday, experts say tax rises rather than public service cuts should drive the recovery after a decade of austerity.

They recommend the recovery should start later and proceed more carefully than in the past, with interest rates near zero, but that it should go further than in past recessions.

The pandemic profit levy of 10 per cent on above-normal profits in 2020 would raise £130 million and ensure fairness is at the heart of the recovery scheme, the think tank said.

It argues much of the profits made by these firms reflects the luck of not being adversely affected by social distancing, while some, like Serco, have profited from Government contracts such as test and trace.

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More progress on tackling Covid in Scotland needed if we are to meet at Christmas, says expert

Professor Linda Bauld said case numbers are not going down quickly enough in Scotland despite the current restrictions and warned it is “difficult” to look ahead to a period where people might be able to see others who are not from their household indoors.

The professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “If you look at the local authorities within Greater Glasgow and Clyde, particularly East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire actually, around an 11 per cent increase in East Dunbartonshire in cases over the last week and 12 per cent in west Dunbartonshire, and even in Glasgow City it’s not going down, in fact there is a very small increase between the last two weeks.

“So it just doesn’t seem, because we had still infection in the community even though the measures are in place, we’re not pushing the numbers down quickly enough and certainly the R number is still above one including in those parts of the west of Scotland.

“If we see these numbers now they are baked into the system and it means that they will follow through to ICU admissions and sadly deaths a number of weeks from now. We really need to get those numbers down.”

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Ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan films pandemic panto in back garden

Former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan has signed a deal with two cinema chains to show a pantomime he filmed in his back garden over summer.

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Call for ‘designated visitors’ to tackle coronavirus care home loneliness

Care home providers and relatives today called on the Government to urgently allow each resident to have a “designated visitor” to help tackle “heartbreaking loneliness”.  

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Chancellor responds to news UK economy surged 15.5% in third quarter

Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s figures show that our economy was recovering over the summer, but started to slow going into autumn.

“The steps we’ve had to take since to halt the spread of the virus mean growth has likely slowed further since then.

“But there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic on the health side – including promising news on tests and vaccines.”

He added: “There are still hard times ahead, but we will continue to support people through this and ensure nobody is left without hope or opportunity.”



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