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Hope for carers

Care minister Helen Whately has shared more details about a pilot visiting scheme for care homes.

In an online update, she said designated family members who provide regular personal care will be able to visit care home residents several times a week.

The pilot was announced earlier this week but it is unclear when it will start.

Ms Whately said she is “determined to give social care all the help we can to control Covid-19 this winter”.

She continued: “I hope further peace of mind will come for care staff, residents and visitors following news that we are working up proposals with clinicians and stakeholder groups to run a new visiting scheme.

“This scheme will allow specific or designated care home visitors, who provide regular personal care, to attend residential settings multiple times a week.

“We hope this will help reduce feelings of isolation among residents and provide additional support to care staff.”


England’s hospital death toll up by 82

A further 82 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.

This brings the total number of deaths reported in hospitals to 30,825.

Patients were aged between 35 and 97. All but eight patients, aged between 49 and 94, had known underlying health conditions, NHS England said.

The deaths were between October 2 and October 15, with the majority on or after October 14.


Wales sees almost 1000 new cases as deaths rise by five

There have been a further 979 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 34,005.

Public Health Wales said five further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,703.


London couples can only meet outdoors… and no touching – No10

Downing Street said Tier 2 restrictions meant couples living apart could see each other outdoors – but social distancing restrictions meant they would not be able to have physical contact.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stressed that the restrictions were set out in law.

“The rules on household mixing in Tier 2 set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you have formed a support bubble and that obviously does apply to some couples,” he said.

The spokesman confirmed couples not in support bubbles and living apart could meet outside but should “follow social distancing and the hand, face, space rules”.

Asked why an exemption for “established relationships” was not written into the law for those in Tiers 2 and 3, he added: “Because the purpose of the measures we’ve put in place is to break the chain of transmission between households and the scientific advice is that there is greatest transmission of the virus indoors.”


Government package ‘not enough’ to protect Lancashire businesses

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, Labour leader of Pendle Borough Council, said: “We do not think closing pubs and bars is the right approach to bring down the level of Covid-19 in Pendle, although we are pleased that those serving substantial meals such as lunch or an evening meal can remain open.

“I know how hard businesses across Pendle have worked to make sure their businesses are safe places to visit, and for the Government to impose closures is simply wrong.

“We’re doing everything we can to protect them and our community to ensure those in financial hardship get the help they need.

“Pendle and other Lancashire authorities have been negotiating with the Government and have fought for a support package for Lancashire which is not available in other areas in the country.

“In my view, the package the Government has agreed is not enough but it will offer a measure of support to businesses and local people.”


Lancashire ‘blackmailed’ into Tier 3 

The Labour leader of South Ribble Borough Council in Lancashire said they had moved into Tier 3 restrictions “very reluctantly” after they were “blackmailed and forced” to accept the Government’s terms.

Councillor Paul Foster said: “As leaders throughout Lancashire, we have been negotiating in really good faith with the Government for over a week now because many of us believe, and still believe, what the Government is proposing will only have minimal if any impact on the strength of the virus.

“What will happen though is a number of businesses will now be forced to close and we are desperately, desperately upset at the financial and the mental anguish this will cause to a number of people.

“We got to a situation this morning where basically – and I don’t use these words lightly – the Government blackmailed and forced us into agreeing to the terms they were offering to the point if we didn’t agree they were basically going to place more draconian measures on you all.

“We could not accept that so therefore I very reluctantly agreed to the terms of the Government’s deal.”


North East infections ‘down slightly’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said while Greater Manchester’s infection rate was going up, it had declined “slightly” in the North East and the Yorkshire and Humber regions.

The No 10 spokesman said: “We have published the data for hospital admissions in the North West.

“I think you can see that that continues to be of significant concern.

“I believe there are new R and growth rates that have been published today as  well – in the North West, the growth rate is now 1.3 to 1.5 and that compares to 1.2 to 1.4 last week.

“The growth rate is from 5+% to 7+% in the North West, which again is an increase on last week.

“In the North East and the Yorkshire region the R rate is 1.32 (and) 1.4 – and that is down slightly on the figures that were released last week.”


PM refuses to concede to circuit-breaker calls

Number 10 said the Prime Minister was not currently looking at imposing a so-called “circuit-breaker” national lockdown.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think you’ve heard from the PM on a number of occasions on this topic this week.

“We do keep all measures under review but he has set out this week that he doesn’t believe there should be a national lockdown, and that we believe our three-tiered approach is the right way forward.”


No10 insists local leaders worked ‘constructively’ to secure Tier 3 deal for Lancashire

Asked about some Lancashire leaders reportedly saying they were bullied into the Tier 3 move, Number 10 said it had worked in “consultation” with councils.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “He (Boris Johnson) is very grateful that those council leaders in Lancashire have worked in consultation with the Government and have come on board.

“We want to continue to work with local authorities in other areas where we have significant concerns in order to seek to put in place further measures to control the virus.”

The No 10 spokesman was also pressed on Pendle Council leader, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, saying Downing Street had effectively “threatened” to withhold funding to individual local authorities if they objected to the upgrade in restrictions.

He replied: “I don’t personally know the detail of the discussions that were had.

“But I know our approach throughout was to work constructively with local authorities and to ensure we had the right level of support for people locally because we know just how difficult the coronavirus restrictions are.”


Manchester won’t receive financial incentive to join Tier 3 – No10

Downing Street suggested that no further fiscal support would be provided to Greater Manchester in the bid to encourage the region to accept Tier 3 proposals.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “You can see the package of support which we have put forward, it is a generous package of support to local authorities because we do recognise that these measures will have a huge impact on people’s lives.

“As the Chancellor set out earlier this week, local authorities placed into different tiers will receive extra financial support on a per capita basis to support their local areas and local public health teams with the response, whether that is more enforcement, compliance or contact tracing.

“And for local authorities at that High or Very High level, we are supporting public health and local economic initiatives with up to £465 million.

“To protect services we’re also providing around £1 billion of additional funding for local authorities on top of the £3.7 billion that we’ve already provided since March.”

The spokesman said he was “not aware” of any new funding for businesses in Tier 2 that are impacted by the change in restrictions to households being allowed to mix indoors.


Mayor’s fury at region being treated differently ‘without scientific evidence’

Steve Rotheram added: “We simply will not accept our region being treated differently to other Tier 3 areas without robust scientific evidence.

“These inconsistencies in restrictions between areas within the same tier risk undermining the new system from the beginning.

“So today we are once again demanding that Government urgently supplies us with the scientific evidence behind their decision to close gyms in our area, while allowing them to stay open in other areas.

“In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to support hospitality and leisure businesses that are affected by the new restrictions via our own £40 million emergency fund, using local funds that have been repurposed to support our economy.

“The fund has opened for applications today and we are continuing to press the Government for a wider economic support package, including increased funding for furlough and self-employed people,” the Liverpool City Region mayor added.


Liverpool calls for explanation over Tier 3a discrepancies

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “This week the Government imposed Tier 3 measures on Liverpool City Region.

“We are very conscious of the high rates of coronavirus in our region and the pressure this causes on our NHS, and have therefore always understood the need for some action to bring the virus under control and protect our residents.

“However, we have always been clear that we were given no choice about the specific package of measures that would be applied to us, or the scientific evidence to support them.

“We note the decision to move Lancashire into Tier 3 today, while also being concerned that there appear to be differences between the two packages of measures, particularly the opening of gyms.

“We therefore require the Government to explain, with evidence, why they believe gyms in the Liverpool City Region are a greater risk for Covid transmission than those elsewhere.”


This map shows the breakdown of Covid tiers across England:


Virus transmission shows no sign of slowing

Sage has said it is “almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow exponentially across the country, and is confident that the transmission is not slowing”.

It added: “There is no clear evidence that the epidemic’s trajectory has changed in the past month.”

The estimates for R and the growth rate are provided by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), a sub-group of Sage.

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between four per cent and seven per cent for the UK as a whole.

The most likely value is towards the middle of that range, according to the experts.

Sage also said the figures published on Friday more accurately represent the average situation over the past few weeks rather than the present situation.


UK R rate between 1.3 and 1.5

The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above 1.

Data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.3 and 1.5.

Last week, the R number was between 1.2 and 1.5.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

An R number between 1.3 and 1.5 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 15 other people.


No end in site for Welsh cross-border travel ban

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he cannot give a guaranteed date when the travel ban will end between Wales and areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus.

“That will depend upon the way that events and circumstances unfold over the next couple of weeks,” Mr Drakeford said.

“As I’ve said many times, the fewer people we meet, the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are, and our arrangements on travel are just designed to reinforce all of that.

“So, while they are necessary to turn back the flow of this deadly virus, while they are necessary to protect our NHS, while they’re necessary to save people’s lives, then those arrangements will have to stay in place.”


Sobering news for north Londoners here:

London is moving into the Tier 2 category of coronavirus restrictions following a surge of Covid-19 infections across the capital.

However the latest Public Health England (PHE) data indicates the virus is spreading at a faster rate in boroughs north of the River Thames.

Eight boroughs have now gone above the key threshold of 100 new cases a week per 100,000 population.

With the exception of Richmond of Thames, nine out of 10 boroughs with the highest coronavirus rates are north of the Thames.


Could a circuit-breaker save Christmas?

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it is hoped that a circuit-breaker in Wales would give the “breathing space” needed to get through to Christmas “without further disruptions of this sort”.

“It is very important to say a circuit-breaker is not a magic wand of any sort – it doesn’t make coronavirus disappear,” Mr Drakeford said.

“What it does is to buy us time to be able to manage the difficulties we face over a longer period, and in a better planned way.

“Our ambition is that if we do, and it’s still an if, if we do decide on a circuit-breaker, that will be sufficient to take us through to Christmas.”


‘We have to level with you – normal life isn’t coming back any time soon’

The public health directors for Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool made a joint plea to the public to stick to the rules.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Professor Dominic Harrison and Dr Arif Rajpura said: “We are at a very dangerous phase of the pandemic.

“Infection rates are going up across Lancashire, hospitals are getting busier and people are quite frankly sick of coronavirus and just want life to return to normal.

“That’s something we all want, but we have to level with you – it isn’t happening any time soon. All of our lives have been affected by coronavirus and will continue to be so until we have a vaccine. Now that Lancashire has entered Tier 3 the next month is critical to getting the virus under control.

“In the meantime, as public health professionals we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect the people of Lancashire and we are working night and day to do so.

“But you also have a role to play as well to protect yourself, your family and your community. By sticking to the restrictions – even though we know it’s hard – and following the simple guidance around hands, face and space you will help limit the spread of coronavirus.”

Read more on what’s happening in Lancashire here: