UK coronavirus live: new restrictions for Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli; London placed on Covid-19 watchlist

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Measures to come into force in three areas in Wales this weekend; no extra measures to be taken in London yet; new restrictions for Leeds likely from Saturday

The new lockdown restrictions, which will apply to everyone living in Llanelli, Cardiff and Swansea, are:

The lockdowns for Cardiff and Swansea means that around 50% of the Welsh population will be subject to local lockdowns by the end of the weekend.

Asked why the whole country was not going into a national lockdown, the health minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “We have a different pattern in south Wales to north Wales.”

Gething said there were “challenges” in north Wales but the rates of infection were more significant in the south.

On reports of panic buying taking place, Gething asked people to stay calm, adding: “There isn’t a need to buy large additional amounts of items.”

Gething said action was being taken now at an earlier point in the outbreak than in March to try to prevent a stricter lockdown.

Only parts of Llanelli will be under local lockdown. The situation in other areas of south Wales including the Vale of Glamorgan, where Cardiff airport is sited, are being closely monitored.

Nicola Sturgeon addressed students directly at her daily briefing, as she confirmed 558 new coronavirus cases overnight, telling them:

I know you might feel like you are somehow being blamed, you don’t deserve to be facing this – no one does – and it’s not your fault.

She said that she had spoken personally to university principals today to stress their duty of care to students, in terms of both practical and emotional support.

Following concerns raised particularly by parents about their self-isolating or sick children not being allowed to return home if they are not coping in their halls of residence, she said that the Scottish government was “looking at what might be possible” and aimed to publish further guidance over the weekend.

Universities Scotland confirmed to the Guardian on Friday morning that no student representatives or organisations had been involved in the drafting of last night’s rules.

Universities are acutely aware of mental health concerns in their student communities and have taken steps, ahead of the start of term, to be able to offer extra support for students that require help … The extra measures announced on Thursday were a rapid response to concerns about increasing transmission in specific contexts as relevant to students.

Meanwhile, Louise Macdonald of Young Scot said she was “concerned” about freshers, especially those away from home for the first time. She pointed out:

The evidence shows the vast majority of students – indeed the vast majority of young people in Scotland – are complying with Covid-19 measures such as FACTS and want to play their part in stopping this virus.

Macdonald called for students to be treated as equal partners in the formulation of regulations such as this:

It would be great to see even more solutions on campus and in halls of residence which are co-produced with students – setting out clearly what support systems universities have in place and what students can do to make those work.

Cardiff and Swansea will be subject to local lockdowns from Sunday evening, the Welsh government has announced.

From 6pm on Sunday residents will not be able to travel in or out without reasonable excuse. Nor will they be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with.

Some parts of Llanelli in south Wales will also be under a local lockdown from Saturday evening.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething called on the people of Cardiff and Swansea not to treat the weekend as a “big blow-out” ahead of the lockdowns on Sunday evening.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pointed to a lack of testing capacity in the capital as the reason why it had become an area of concern (see previous update). He said:

London is at a very worrying tipping point right now. We’re seeing a sharp rise in 111 calls, hospital admissions and patients in ICU [intensive care units].

The near collapse of test and trace and the resurgence of the virus means new measures to slow its spread were absolutely necessary.

Testing capacity was diverted away from London in the last two weeks to other national hotspots and weekly testing numbers are now down 43% in the capital since mid-August. The lack of testing capacity is totally unacceptable and it is why London has been added to the government’s coronavirus watchlist as an area of concern.

Ministers simply have to get a grip. It’s vital that testing capacity is increased immediately in London and focused in the areas it is needed most. Any delay will mean letting the city down and will cost lives.

London is being placed on the national Covid-19 watchlist, London Councils, a cross-party organisation which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, announced a short while ago.

The list is divided between areas where intervention is required via local lockdown restrictions and areas of concern that are closely monitored.

London Councils said no additional measures were being taken in the city but that its entry on the list was a “stark reminder that now is time for all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.

There are no additional measures at this stage but it is welcome that that the city’s testing capacity is boosted so that Londoners have timely access to Covid-19 tests and the government must ensure that this is sustained from now on. If Londoners have Covid-19 symptoms they should apply for a test at nhs/coronavirus or call 119.

London boroughs are working with their communities, business and the police to engage, educate, explain and, if necessary, enforce the new restrictions and regulations, and the government must ensure that it funds these so resources do not need to be drawn from other services.

We ask all Londoners to work together and abide by the national restrictions announced on Tuesday.

The former rector of Glasgow University, Aamer Anwar, whose three-year term ended earlier this year, has posted this highly critical thread describing the treatment of students as a “shambles” and alleging that they are regarded as “cash cows” by accommodation providers.

As former Rector @UofGlasgow a thread on Universities shambles👇🏽 far too desperate for income from ‘cash cow’ students, exploitative rents, international fees, fill the halls but what were the contingency plans to keep them safe until it was too late? https://t.co/eeE0SpRBh5

Anwar is also critical of reporting of the guidance not to attend pubs as a ban – in fairness to the media, this may have stemmed from lack of clarity in the original Universities Scotland press release which didn’t make it clear that this only applied to the coming weekend, not indefinitely.

He also points out that many students themselves work in pubs and bars to support their studies, and that “patronising diatribe against students, thinking this is about getting a pint, fails to recognise how many struggle financially”.

Leeds is likely to face new restrictions from midnight in the fight against Covid-19, including a ban on households mixing, its city council leader has said.

Judith Blake said she expected Leeds to be made an “area of intervention”, meaning “more household restrictions along the lines of those already in force across three of the West Yorkshire districts in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale”.

The addition of Leeds’ 793,000 population would take the number of people living under local restrictions to more than 16.2 million people across the UK.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds city council, said: “What we are trying to do is give a simple message: you shouldn’t really mix with other households.”

He said about 780,000 people would come under the new measures, which could be in place through the winter, PA Media reports.

He added: “I think we know from the experience of Leicester, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire that when these restrictions are brought in they do not tend to be lifted after a week or two.”

Our headline estimates suggest that at any given time between 13 and 19 September, around 1 in 500 people not in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings in England would test positive for #COVID19, an average of 103,600 people https://t.co/fOqrNsqFaq pic.twitter.com/IIpmxtM9K3

During the most recent week, we estimate there were around 9,600 new #COVID19 infections per day in England, not including those living in institutional settings.Our evidence shows that the incidence rate for England has increased in recent weeks https://t.co/zYPLnAfNmb pic.twitter.com/cMbEBNMyxw

In Wales, during the same week, we estimate that at any given time 10,800 people had #COVID19 (around 1 in 300 people) https://t.co/hvw0fAqqt6 pic.twitter.com/gPstMiehka

For the first time we are also publishing data on Northern Ireland. From 6 to 19 September we estimate that 0.35% of people in Northern Ireland had #COVID19 (around 1 in 300 people), though these are early estimates and should be interpreted with caution https://t.co/MWw69dv4ZQ pic.twitter.com/vHOlQSdJiV

Concern and confusion reign as the implications of the Universities Scotland guidelines for students sink in this morning.

The Scottish children and young people’s commissioner, Bruce Adamson, has expressed his concern about their human rights implications, and said that his office is “seeking an urgent conversation with the Scottish government and Universities Scotland to establish the nature and legal basis for these restrictions”.

As well as the limits on socialising, there are particular worries about clinical director Jason Leitch’s insistence yesterday that parents and children could not meet indoors, something that has particularly troubled those with sick student children.

The Scottish government’s higher education secretary, Richard Lochhead, did try to soften this earlier today, saying that individual universities should be “pragmatic” in exceptional circumstances, but there is still much confusion about what that actually means.

Elsewhere, students have been asked how the rules – which Universities Scotland insist are merely advisory, despite the involvement of Police Scotland – affect their individual circumstances.

Is a student who lives off campus in a private flat still only allowed to socialise within their own household, when the rule of 2/6 would normally apply? What if a student needs to return to their home town for a medical appointment?

There is no central place to find fuller guidance and exceptions and exemptions, because these have been left up to individual universities, which not only adds to the confusion but also risks inconsistency across the country.

The number of people with symptomatic Covid in the UK has more than doubled in the past week, for the second week in a row, according to scientists behind the Zoe Covid symptom app.

Figures based on nearly 7,000 swab tests performed between 7 and 20 September point to 147,498 people with symptomatic Covid across the UK, up from 69,686 last week.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said the number of UK cases continued to rise “at an alarming rate” with figures now doubling each week across the country.

“In particular we are worried about places like London and other major cities like Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow where cases are surging and the R value is around 1.4,” he said. The R value is the average number of people that an infected person infects. When R is above one, the number of cases will grow exponentially.

The app, which has been downloaded by more than 4 million people, records symptoms and positive test results when people submit them. The latest data suggest that in the past two weeks, an average of 16,130 people a day have picked up new symptomatic Covid infections.

Most striking is the rise in the north-west where infections are estimated to have tripled over the past week from 12,544 to 36,316.

In the past week, the number of new infections appears to have doubled in London, too, reaching 18,200.

All 25 regions monitored by the app have seen “huge” rises, the scientists say, making all of them areas of concern.

No local area in England is considered a low-risk coronavirus zone within the nation’s new contact-tracing app, as cases continue to climb, the Press Association reports.

The NHS Covid-19 app was rolled out across England and Wales on Thursday after months of delay, designed to automatically alert people of anyone who tests positive that they have been close to.

One element within the app is a localised risk level based on the first part of a person’s postcode.

But in the current environment it is not considered appropriate for anywhere in England to be deemed low-risk, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

This is to reflect the general increase in infection rate across the country, the department added.

In England, the local risk level is determined by data from the local authority watchlist, though the list itself most recently only highlighted 44 areas of intervention, three on enhanced support and 11 marked as concern.

Meanwhile, the NHS Covid-19 app has shot to the top of the download chart on both iOS and Android since being launched, with more than a million downloads confirmed on Android alone.

DHSC said it expected to release an update on exact download numbers across both operating systems on Monday.

On Thursday, the app was hit by complaints from some users that they were unable to download it because of the age of their mobile phone. “The more people who download the app, the more people who may have Covid but otherwise wouldn’t be traced should be identified and instructed to isolate,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chairman.

“The use of the app does not diminish the pressing need to have sufficient testing capacity, and must complement a properly functioning national test-and-trace system which can also quickly identify local outbreaks.”

The UK government, Northern Ireland executive, Scottish government and Welsh government have issued a joint statement on Covid-19, in a sign that a more unified response to the pandemic may be on the cards.

The statement stressed that cases across the UK are “rising rapidly” and announced the need for action “to stop an exponential increase that could overwhelm our health services”, while “minimising the impact on the economy” at the “start of a second wave”.

The UK’s coronavirus alert level increased to 4 on Monday, which means “severe”, the second most serious of Boris Johnson’s five-point alert system.

1. Covid-19 threatens lives, health, prosperity and our way of life. We have taken action to protect the health of our citizens, communities and economies. However, the threat remains all too real.

2. We are seeing the start of a second wave. The chief medical officers have agreed the alert level should increase to 4. Cases are rising rapidly and we must take action to stop an exponential increase that could overwhelm our health services and aim to bring R back below 1 while minimising the impact on the economy and society.

3. Following our meeting at COBR this week, we therefore reaffirm our shared commitment to suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level and keeping it there, while we strive to return life to as normal as possible for as many people as possible. We agree that our policy decisions should be consistent with this objective.

● Make sure people are working and socialising safely, communicating clearly and effectively the steps we all need to take.

● Reach a long-term solution to the threat of Covid-19 in the form of a treatment or vaccine as soon as possible.

● Maintaining transparency and openness with the public, communicating clearly the measures each of us takes to suppress the virus.

● Coordinating and cooperating as much as possible across these islands, while respecting differences of approach and clarifying where measures apply.

● Creating a sustainable legacy from our work on Covid-19, building back better and becoming more resilient in the face of future threats.

6. The ongoing fight against Covid-19 will continue to require much from us all, wherever we live. We ask that everybody endeavours to adhere to the rules and advice designed for our safety, as this is the only way to keep the virus suppressed, and make further progress on the path back to normality. Failing to do so will put everyone else at risk. So in the weeks and months ahead we must carry on pulling together to protect and care for those most at risk, and keep the virus under control.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has sent his “deepest condolences” to the family, friends and colleagues of a police officer who died after being shot in Croydon.

The sergeant was shot dead overnight by a man who had been brought into the Croydon custody centre, police said, and the gunman then shot himself at about 2.15am.

The murder of a colleague on duty is utterly devastating news. Officers across London are in shock and sick to their stomachs at the nature of his death.

All our thoughts – and that of all our members – are with his family, friends and close colleagues at this time. We and all members of the police family across the country are all utterly heartbroken at this news.

Officers put themselves in danger every day to protect the public. Sadly, on very rare occasions officers make the ultimate sacrifice whilst fulfilling their role. When that happens we will ensure their bravery and sacrifice is never forgotten.

Colleagues involved in the incident will have our full support for as long as is needed.

A number of policing colleagues have changed their social media profile pictures to black, with a blue line, as a mark of respect to the officer who was shot dead, PA reports.

Independent Office for Police Conduct regional director Sal Naseem said the watchdog’s investigators were at the scene of the shooting.

Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this terrible event. We were notified by the MPS of the shooting incident at Croydon Custody Centre early this morning.

We understand a police officer has since sadly died and a man is in a critical condition in hospital.

A murder investigation by the force is under way. Our investigators are at the scene and police post incident procedure to begin our independent inquiries.

The shadow justice secretary, Labour’s David Lammy, tweeted his condolences in light of what he described as “appalling news”.

Appalling news that a police officer has been shot dead in Croydon.It is tragic when an officer loses their life in the line of duty, while doing their job keeping the public safe.My thoughts and condolences are with the officer’s family, colleagues and friends.

Rishi Sunak’s deputy has denied there is a rift between the chancellor and Boris Johnson over how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, PA reports.

Some interpreted Sunak’s statement that the nation must learn to “live without fear” as contradicting the prime minister’s move to impose new restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The chancellor’s remark that “our lives can no longer be put on hold” as he detailed his latest emergency jobs package was also welcomed by Tory backbenchers uneasy over fresh restrictions.

But the chief secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, insisted on Friday both men occupying the top offices in Downing Street were working in tandem.

Asked who was in charge, Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The prime minister and the chancellor are working extremely closely together and I think you can see that in the dovetailing of measures.”

He said there was a need to work “in tandem between both the health measures announced by the prime minister and those of the chancellor”.

On Sky News, Barclay was asked whether the chancellor’s use of the word “fear” was a suggestion that people should not follow the guidance.

He responded: “Quite the opposite. I think what’s very clear from the message, the chancellor said we need to address the health risks in order to protect jobs.”

Eyebrows were raised when Johnson did not appear in the Commons alongside his chancellor as he unveiled his new jobs support scheme.

Downing Street insisted there was no rift at the top of government, as the prime minister instead chose to visit a police station in Northamptonshire.

The senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat praised the chancellor’s approach when asked whether it was No 10 or 11 running the show.

He told Today: “I’m sure the prime minister is running the government. But I think Rishi Sunak did an extremely impressive job yesterday and I have to say he enjoys huge amounts of confidence on Conservative benches and when I speak to people around the country, and certainly the people I represent in Kent, he has huge support as well.”

Conservative backbenchers are growing increasingly uneasy over the government’s move to impose sweeping restrictions without parliament voting on them.

More than 40 Tory MPs have backed an amendment from the influential Conservative Sir Graham Brady which could force a debate on measures.

The number of rebels means there is the distinct possibility Johnson could lose if it goes to a vote, with his Commons majority just under 80.

A “landmark” report setting out a possible roadmap towards independence in Wales has been launched by the nationalist party Plaid Cymru.

The report argues that only independence can bring a fundamental improvement to the Welsh economy, claiming the country struggles not because it is too small or poor but because it is “trapped” within an economy shaped in the interests of the City of London.

It says the views of Welsh people should be tested in an “initial exploratory referendum”, setting out constitutional options, followed by a second binary referendum that could lead to independence.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2020/sep/25/coronavirus-uk-live-rishi-sunak-students-cases-covid-crisis-scotland-updates

Cardiff, Lockdown, Coronavirus, Wales, Swansea, Llanelli, Welsh Government

Actu monde – GB – UK coronavirus live: new restrictions for Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli; London placed on Covid-19 watchlist

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