Coronavirus live: 42,776 new cases in the UK; travellers stranded after NHS Covid vaccination pass app crashes

LIVE – Updated at 23:30

coronavirus live: 42,776 new cases in the uk; travellers stranded after nhs covid vaccination pass app crashes
© Photograph: Guardian UK users were greeted with an error message when trying to load the NHS Covid pass.

UK also reports 136 further deaths; some people unable to travel after issue with downloading proof of vaccination.

 

23:30

Mexico’s health ministry reported 6,320 new cases of Covid-19 in the country and 420 more deaths on Wednesday.

The number of daily new cases has been decreasing in Mexico since reaching a peak of nearly 29,000 in mid-August.

The latest figures bring the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,738,749 and the death toll to 283,193.

It has previously said that these numbers are likely significantly higher than those reported.

 

23:00

The head of the Chicago police officers union has called on its members to defy the city’s requirement to report their Covid-19 vaccination status by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave, AP reports.

In a video posted online Tuesday, first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, John Catanzara vowed to take Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to court if it tries to enforce the mandate, which requires city workers to report their vaccine status by the end of the work week.

After Friday, unvaccinated workers who won’t submit to semi-weekly coronavirus testing will be placed on unpaid leave.

Catanzara suggested that if the city does enforce its requirement and many union members refuse to comply with it:

It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up.

He instructs officers to file for exemptions to receiving the vaccine, but to not enter that information into the city’s vaccine portal.

I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history.

During a news conference Wednesday, Lightfoot accused Cantazara of spreading false information and dismissed most of his statements as “untrue or patently false.”

 

22:45

Brazil registered 7,852 new coronavirus cases and 176 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

This compares to 7,359 new cases and 185 Covid deaths recorded on Tuesday.

More than 600,000 Brazilians have lost their lives to Covid since the pandemic began.

More than 72% of Brazilians, 154 million people, have received at least one shot and 47% have been fully vaccinated.

 

22:42

Beleaguered business owners and families separated by Covid-19 restrictions rejoiced on Wednesday, AP reports, after the US announced it will reopen its land borders to non-essential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze.

Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential.

In Del Rio, Texas, Mexican visitors account for about 65% of retail sales, said Blanca Larson, executive director of the chamber of commerce and visitors bureau in the city of 35,000 people.

Along the border, we’re like more of one community than two different communities.

The ban has also had enormous social and cultural impact, preventing family gatherings when relatives live on different sides of the border.

Community events have stalled even as cities away from US borders have inched toward normalcy.

In Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where hockey and ice skating are ingrained, the Soo Eagles haven’t had a home game against a Canadian opponent in 20 months.

The players, 17 to 20 years old, have been travelling to Canada since border restrictions were lifted there two months ago. Now the US team can host.

Ron Lavin, co-owner of the Eagles, said:

I almost fell over when I read it. It’s been a long frustrating journey for people on a lot of fronts far more serious than hockey, but we’re just really pleased. It’s great for the city.

 

22:08

Reuters have provided the latest vaccination figures for the United States as announced by the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Wednesday morning, 404,371,247 doses have been administered and 489,254,145 doses distributed.

Reuters reports:

Those figures are up from the 403,576,826 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by 12 October out of 488,178,975 doses delivered.

The agency said 217,627,490 people had received at least one dose while 187,937,559 people are fully vaccinated as of 6:00am ET on Wednesday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech , as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

About 8.90 million people received a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine since 13 August, when the United States authorised a third dose of the vaccines for people with compromised immune systems who are likely to have weaker protection from the two-dose regimens.

WHO unveils new team to investigate origins of Covid pandemic

22:08

The World Health Organisation has unveiled a new team of scientists tasked with reviving the stalled probe into Covid-19’s origins, AFP reports.

The group of 26 experts will be charged with producing a new global framework for studies into the origins of emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential.

In addition, the group has been asked to give the WHO an independent evaluation of all available scientific and technical findings from global studies on the origins of Covid-19.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last.

Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise.

We are very pleased with the calibre of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer.

The 26 proposed members, chosen from a field of more than 700 applications and drawn from a range of disciplines, are subject to a two-week public consultation.

 

21:42 Tom Phillips

More than 600,000 of his citizens have lost their lives to a Covid-19 outbreak he once pooh-poohed as a “little flu”, but Brazil’s science-denying president, Jair Bolsonaro, has announced he will decline to be vaccinated, saying “it makes no sense” for him to do so.

“With regard to the vaccine, I’ve decided not to have it any more,” the 66-year-old populist told a right-wing radio station on Tuesday.

“I’ve been looking at new studies … Why would I get vaccinated?”. He said his antibody levels were already “sky high” because of a past infection.

“It would be the same as betting 10 reais (£1.30) on the lottery to win two. It makes no sense.”

Bolsonaro said he was not anti-vaccination, but did oppose what he called the vaccine-buying “frenzy”.

His comments, which came just days after Brazil’s Covid death toll rose above 600,000, caused anger, with many people accusing him of trying to distract from problems such as rising hunger, poverty and inflation.

Related: President of Brazil says it ‘makes no sense’ for him to be vaccinated

 

21:00

Nigeria will require civil servants to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative test to gain access to their offices from the beginning of December, a presidential committee said on Wednesday.

Reuters reports:

The presidential committee said unvaccinated government workers will need to present a negative test result done within 72-hours before they are granted access to their offices across the country and its embassies abroad.

‘An appropriate service wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process,’ Boss Mustapha, chairman of the presidential steering committee on Covid-19, said in a statement.

Nigeria has administered some five million vaccine doses to its 200 million citizens, and is in the midst of deploying millions more doses of Moderna and AstraZeneca shots received through the COVAX vaccine scheme for developing countries.

It also has 1.12 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that it purchased through an African Union programme and is scheduled to receive 7.7 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine via COVAX.

Nigeria, which has not tested widely for Covid-19, has so far recorded 208,153 confirmed infections and 2,756 deaths from the virus.

 

20:10 Jim Waterson

Travellers were prevented from boarding flights and ferries today, after an NHS England Covid app outage left them unable to prove their vaccination status.

Although the app was restored after around four hours, the outage highlighted the problems that can be caused by putting a single centralised system at the heart of modern life, according to Jim Waterson.

Read more of his analysis here:

Related: NHS England Covid app outage shows problems of single centralised system

 

19:18

Unvaccinated patients are filling coronavirus beds in one Rome hospital, AFP reports.

The vast majority of Covid patients in intensive care at the ICC Casalpalocco Covid hospital are unvaccinated – 17 out of 19.

A 41-year-old patient, who gave his name as Francesco, said he was opposed to the vaccine, but that if he could go back he would get jabbed.

The vaccine doesn’t inspire confidence but unfortunately we’ve got to do it, because in any case it’s the only thing that can help at this precise stage of the pandemic.

Breathing oxygen through a mask, 55-year-old Salvatore said he was a big supporter of vaccines but had not had his coronavirus jab before he fell gravely ill.

In the space of a few hours, I went from being a person full of vitality to an empty sack, deprived of force.

In September, an analysis by the hospital found that 69% of its coronavirus patients were not vaccinated.

More than 85% of over 12s have now received at least one shot in Italy, one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

From Friday, the green pass – showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from Covid-19 – will be required for all employees, in public and private workplaces.

 

18:59

A UK hospital worker who was not advised to shield until days before his death was placed at an increased risk of developing Covid-19, an inquest heard.

PA reports that Kevin Smith, 64, a plaster technician at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, in South Yorkshire, England, was taking immunosuppressant drugs for rheumatoid arthritis when he contracted coronavirus in 2020.

His wife Diane told an inquest at Doncaster Coroner’s Court that a letter advising her husband to shield, which arrived while he was in hospital, was “too little, too late”.

Senior coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion that Mr Smith died from natural causes.

She added: “Kevin Smith took immunosuppressant drugs and these drugs, together with the absence of shielding, placed him at significant increased risk of developing Covid-19 infection.

“He went on to contract Covid-19, which led to his death on April 12 2020.”

She continued: “The fact he had not received any advice to shield did place him at increased risk of developing Covid-19, which ultimately led to his death.”

Ms Mundy said she could not say where Mr Smith, who sometimes travelled to work on a shuttle bus and had received visits from family members at his home before his illness, had contracted Covid-19, and she could not say that he contracted it at his workplace.

She said: “I cannot find that the Covid-19 was contracted during the course of employment.

“I simply cannot say where it was contracted and while it is a possibility, I cannot find it was a probability.”

 

18:46

The New York Times reports on analysis of evidence for booster shots from Johnson & Johnson.

Reporters Carl Zimmer and Noah Weiland write:

In a new analysis, the Food and Drug Administration questioned the strength of evidence Johnson & Johnson provided in its application for booster shots.

A key test used by the company was likely not sensitive enough, the agency suggested, adding that it didn’t have enough time to independently review much of the raw data from the trials.

The document, released in advance of a Friday meeting of the agency’s vaccine advisers, could have significant influence on whether the 15 million Americans who have received the one-dose vaccine will be allowed to get a second shot, or if they will instead be urged to get a different brand of vaccine for added protection.

You can read more here.

 

18:33

The Republic of Congo has announced a 45-day ban on weddings – a move it said will help to stem the spread of coronavirus, AFP reports.

Communications minister Thierry Moungalla said in a televised statement:“Ceremonies for civil, religious and traditional marriages and dowries are being suspended for a duration of 45 days.”

He said that the Central African country, also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from the larger Democratic Republic of Congo, is facing a third wave of the virus.

He added: “This extremely concerning and serious situation stems greatly from a widespread decline by the public in following distancing measures.

The decline he said was “particularly noticeable at wakes, burials, weddings and other festivities, in public transport,” he said, criticising the “near absence” of controls to rectify such behaviour.

However, the new measures have been met with criticism.Local rights activist Tresor Nzila said the ban was “disproportionate and ineffective” and a “further attack” on liberties.

Congo, a country of around 5.5 million people, has officially recorded 15,445 cases of Covid-19 since March 14, 2020, of which 222 have been fatal, according to figures published on Sunday.

 

18:12

France has reported 23 new Coronavirus deaths in hospitals, Reuters reports.

There are 1,091 people in intensive care units with the virus.

And 5,578 new Coronavirus cases have been recorded.

 

18:03

Reuters reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) said its newly formed advisory group on dangerous pathogens may be “our last chance” to determine the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and called for cooperation from China.

The first human cases of COVID-19 were reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. China has repeatedly dismissed theories that the virus leaked from one of its laboratories and has said no more visits are needed.

A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around Wuhan earlier this year with Chinese scientists and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal but further research was needed.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the investigation was hampered by a dearth of raw data pertaining to the first days of the outbreak’s spread and has called for lab audits.

As reported earlier, the WHO has named the 26 proposed members of its Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). They include Marion Koopmans, Thea Fischer, Hung Nguyen and Chinese animal health expert Yang Yungui, who took part in the joint investigation in Wuhan.

 

17:59

Following on from the global study which found scientists were abused and threatened for discussing Covid, Dr Andrew Hill PhD, details how his research into ivermectin led to Twitter Death threats.

Dr Hill, who is a senior visiting research fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Liverpool said: “I know many other scientists who have been threatened and abused in similar ways after promoting vaccination or questioning the benefits of unproven treatments like ivermectin. If scientists cannot communicate for fear of threats and abuse, how can all the misinformation be controlled?”

Related: How my ivermectin research led to Twitter death threats | Dr Andrew Hill

Scientists abused and threatened for discussing Covid, global survey finds

17:49 Denis Campbell

Scientists around the world have received threats of death and sexual assault after speaking to the media about Covid-19, a new survey has revealed.

Of 321 scientists asked by Nature magazine 15% said they had received death threats and 22% had been threatened with physical or sexual violence as a result of talking publicly about the pandemic.

Two-thirds said they had a negative experience after appearing in the media.

Scientists disclosed how they have been left distressed and scared and in some cases stopped sharing their views publicly after experiencing harassment and intimidation.

Related: Scientists abused and threatened for discussing Covid, global survey finds

 

17:44

Following the NHS Covid app disruption earlier today.

Here is a statement from an NHS Digital spokesperson:

The NHS COVID Pass service was temporarily unavailable between 11:45 and 15:15 today as a result of a technical issue with a global service provider that affected many different organisations.

Following an urgent investigation, this has been fixed and COVID Passes are available both via the NHS App and online.

 

16:49

Here is a brief summary of events so far:

The UK records 136 deaths and 42,776 new cases Oliver Dowden, the chair of the Conservative party, said he was “very sorry” and admitted “we didn’t get everything right” regarding the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. The NHS app that lets people prove their vaccine status was not working for a time this afternoon causing havoc for those trying to use it for travel. Australia will stop manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine onshore after “negative press”. Production will continue into early 2022. EU says it will recognise NHS Covid pass ‘soon’ The NHS in Wales is entering its “most challenging period” as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic and rising waiting lists, its chief executive has said. Russia has set a record for the number of Covid deaths in a 24-hour period for the second day running. Today’s official toll of 984 is slightly higher than yesterday’s then-record 973 deaths. Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is set to become the most Covid-vaccinated city in the world. “The current evidence suggests that the ACT will be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” said the territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr.

The blog will now be paused for an hour.

UK records 136 deaths and 42,776 new cases

16:24

In the UK, 42,776 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours and there were 136 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive Covid test, according to UK government figures.

Some 49,252,939 people had been given a first dose of a vaccine by the end of 12 October and 45,239,759 people had been given a second dose.

 

16:03

Some people are now reporting their Covid NHS app is working again.

Awaiting an update from NHS Digital.

Tory minister apologises for mistakes in dealing with Covid pandemic

15:55 Aubrey Allegretti

A senior minister has apologised for mistakes made in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, after the death of at least 160,000 people and a landmark report that found the government’s management of the outbreak was one of the worst public health failures in British history.

Oliver Dowden, the chair of the Conservative party, said he was “very sorry” and admitted “we didn’t get everything right”, after a major investigation by two cross-party parliamentary select committees chaired by Tory MPs found a “fatalistic” approach taken in the early days of the outbreak led to many unnecessary deaths. It said an approach of British “exceptionalism” meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than others.

After the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay refused to apologise on Tuesday, Dowden struck a more humble note. He told Sky News: “Of course I’m sorry, as the prime minister is sorry. I was just listening to the sort of experiences yesterday of those bereaved families and that kind of terrible loss that they have suffered. We are sorry for the losses that all those families have suffered.

“This was an unprecedented crisis, a once-in-100-years event. There isn’t some perfect rulebook that we could follow, we were having to adapt and move very quickly, and of course we would do some things differently with hindsight.”

Related: Tory minister says sorry for mistakes in Covid pandemic handling

 

15:47

More reaction to the NHS app going down, which has meant people cannot prove their vaccine status, including one passenger who says he is now stranded in Greece.

This has been an absolute nightmare. We’re stuck here in Greece as they wouldn’t let us on plane without a pass – are you going to reimburse us for the missed flights and hotel? Of course there was NO ONE we could contact about this also 😡😡😡😡

— Henry Martin (@henry_oneforall) October 13, 2021

 

15:39

Australia will stop manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine onshore after “negative press”, Daily Mail Australia reports].

The biomedical firm CSL was contracted by the federal government to produce 50 million doses of the vaccine at its Melbourne manufacturing base.

However, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation later pulled the plug on younger Australians receiving the dose due to the extremely rare risk of fatal blood clots – about one in 1.6 million.

Out of the 12.5 million doses of the vaccine administered in Australia to date, it reported eight patients have died of TTS (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome) after getting the shot.

Once CSL delivers the remainder of their AstraZeneca vaccine order it will no longer be produced at their Melbourne hub.

In a statement to investors CSL chairman Brian McNamee said:

‘Notwithstanding the perhaps disproportionate criticism that this vaccine’s reputation has experienced, we couldn’t be prouder that the AstraZeneca vaccine has given protection to many millions of Australians.

A CSL spokesperson said production will continue into early 2022.

The company added: “We are fully committed to our agreement to manufacture approximately 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – with production expected to be completed early next year.

Associate Professor Paul Griffin from the University of Queensland told Australia’s 9News: “Obviously we don’t want to manufacture something that is not going to be utilised and we will have a number of other options moving into the future.

“It obviously has received a lot of negative press although it’s a vaccine that has proven highly effective and very safe.”

 

15:33 Aubrey Allegretti

The NHS app that lets people prove their vaccine status is not working for some users, a problem that could cause havoc for those trying to use it for travel.

An error message when people try to access their Covid pass says: “Please try again later.”

NHS Digital confirmed there was an issue in a statement on its Twitter feed, where it says the latest information will be posted. A post said: “There are currently issues with accessing the Covid Pass on the NHS app and website. We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.”

Chuck Adolphy, 24, told the Guardian he was meant to fly from Gatwick airport to Slovenia on Wednesday.

When he opened the app, he found he could not retrieve his Covid pass to prove he had been double-jabbed. He said he was turned away and not able to board his plane, despite showing his vaccine card. He called the situation a “shambles”.

More follows …

Related: Malfunctioning NHS app for Covid vaccine status causes travel delays

 

15:27

Passengers have been tweeting in response to NHS Digital’s announcement that there are “issues with accessing the Covid pass on the NHS app and website”.

Many are panicking as they are unsure what to do in light of the technical problem.

Others have been enquiring about an alternative so that they can continue with their travels.

One tweeted: “Do you have a work around… What can we do I need to board soon.”

Another added: “Please can you make some sort of workaround with the airports and ferry operators so that we can continue about our lives. This is disgraceful. We have complied with every restriction and requirement asked of us and still we might not be able to travel.”

Please can you make some sort of workaround with the airports and ferry operators so that we can continue about our lives. This is disgraceful. We have complied with every restriction and requirement asked of us and still we might not be able to travel. We go to Holland tomorrow

— Pam Whittingham (@whitbot) October 13, 2021

NHS Covid App goes down leaving foreign travel in chaos

15:06

The NHS Covid App went down today leaving foreign travel in chaos as passengers were unable to access vaccine passports.

Some people complained they were stuck at the airport while others reportedly missed their flights.

People trying to log into the app this afternoon saw the message: “There are currently issues with accessing the Covid pass on the NHS APP and website.

“We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.”

One twitter user tweeted in response: “Cheers guys missed my flight with it.”

Others were unsure even to set out for their travels with another tweeting: “Is there any estimation of how long the fix will take? Due to travel in 4 hours time, but won’t be if the app isn’t working again.”

Some were panicking as their travels were imminent with one passenger lamenting: “On a flight in half an hour, what do I do?”

NHS Digital has been contacted for comment.

There are currently issues with accessing the Covid Pass on the NHS App and website. We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.

— NHS Digital (@NHSDigital) October 13, 2021

Related: NHS app proving Covid vaccine status malfunctions, causing travel delays

 

14:53

The NHS Covid app has crashed, leaving foreign travel in chaos as passengers were unable to access vaccine passports.

Some people complained they were stuck at the airport while others reportedly missed their flights.

People trying to log into the app this afternoon saw the message: “There are currently issues with accessing the Covid pass on the NHS APP and website.

“We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.”

coronavirus live: 42,776 new cases in the uk; travellers stranded after nhs covid vaccination pass app crashes
© Provided by The Guardian The NHS Covid pass app and website have crashed. Photograph: Guardian

 

14:36

PA Media reports that the chief executive of UK travel trade organisation Abta has said many travel firms remain “perilously close to the cliff edge” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Tanzer was speaking at Abta’s annual convention in London.

He said:

International travel has been forced into a mini-ice age. Two summers and one-and-a-half winters have been written off, and only now are we starting to see the thaw.

It’s too early to speak of recovery, and I’m acutely aware of how many of our members are still perilously close to the cliff edge.”

There are “signs that the darkest clouds may be breaking up”, he said, with research indicating the intention to travel during the next 12 months has nearly recovered to pre-Covid levels.

But he warned many of those trips involve bookings that have been deferred, rather than new transactions.

He added:

Our members are still starved of cash. Despite the more positive outlook, it will take time for travel to get fully back on its feet. We desperately needed to see the restrictions and testing requirements eased, and we’re glad that the Government has finally responded to our calls.

But the job is not yet done. We still need to think of how unvaccinated passengers can be freed to travel; how we can ease the red tape around entering the UK, and how we can harmonise vaccine certification across the world.

 

14:36

Reuters reports:

The World Health Organization on Wednesday proposed 26 experts to form its new Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of novel pathogens, including several who served on its mission to Wuhan, China, to probe the source of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. The statement named the 26 proposed members ahead of a two-week period of public consultation, including Marion Koopmans, Thea Fischer and Hung Nguyen who took part in the joint investigation with China this year. The WHO launched the request for applications last August, saying it was looking for the greatest scientific minds to advise on investigations into new high-threat pathogens that jump from animals to humans and could spark the next pandemic.

 

14:18

Hungary will help Romania treat 50 Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care, reports Reuters.

Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said the 50 people would be treated at two Hungarian hospitals with the countries working out the logistics over the coming days.

 

14:18

Feeling depressed is the main reason behind more than 300 trips to A&E every day in England, figures suggest.

PA Media news agency reports on NHS Digital data showing that in the year to March, “feeling depressed” was a patient’s main complaint in 114,000 attendances at NHS emergency departments – an average of 312 a day.

Leila Reyburn, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said:

It is deeply concerning to see so many people feeling so mentally unwell that they need to go to A&E.

This is supported by data which shows an increasing number of people, including children, being treated by the NHS in a mental health crisis.

Many people have seen their mental health worsen during the pandemic, which is why it is vital the Government uses the upcoming Spending Review to fund mental health services, so that people can get help early on before they find themselves in an emergency.

The data analysed refers to chief complaints.

These are what a clinician views during a patient’s first assessment as the main reason that drove them to seek emergency care. It is not an official diagnosis.

 

14:17

Staff at the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK are to be balloted for more strikes in a long-running dispute over Covid-related safety, PA Media reports.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at offices in Swansea, south Wales, will vote in the coming weeks on whether to continue with industrial action, which originally began in February.

The union has been calling for fewer staff to work at the site, allowing more to work from home. The DVLA insists it has taken measures to ensure the safety of workers.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

The determination of our members to secure a just deal remains steadfast.

Ministers have admitted they scuppered the dispute-ending deal back in June, but they have underestimated our members’ unbreakable resolve.

We want a deal that has Covid safety measures at its heart, appropriate reward and recognition for staff working throughout the pandemic and a workplace recovery plan, agreed with the union.

If our members vote once again for strike action, we will support them every step of the way.”

The union has been calling for fewer staff to work at the site, allowing more to work from home.

The DVLA insists it has taken measures to ensure the safety of workers.

 

14:16

PA Media reports on the impact of coronavirus travel restrictions, which new figures suggest are affecting UK tourism more than most countries across the world.

Spending by international visitors to the UK is forecast to drop by nearly 50% this year compared with 2020, the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said.

This is making the UK “one of the worst-performing countries in the world”, according to the organisation. The WTTC said the UK’s “destructive” testing and quarantine policies mean it is lagging behind other countries such as the US and China.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive, said:

WTTC research shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

Despite government announcements, the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day-two tests which simply put people off travel.

Just as the world opens up, the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.

An estimated 307,000 jobs in the sector in the UK were lost last year due to the pandemic.

 

14:12 Gwyn Topham

UK rail firms have started moves to shed thousands of staff as the industry seeks to cut costs by £2bn after losing millions of passengers due to coronavirus.

Employees working for train operators have been invited to apply for severance schemes in a move denounced by unions as “ludicrous” and a “breach of trust”.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train firms in Britain, has not put a limit on numbers who could apply for severance. It said the scheme was “part of a vital set of reforms” for the railway to recover from the pandemic and respond to changing travel patterns.

Passenger numbers are at about 65% of pre-Covid levels, having dropped by almost 95% in the first lockdown, but commuting on the railway – providing revenue from peak-time and season tickets – is lagging far behind the recovery in leisure travel.

Related: UK rail firms move to shed thousands of jobs amid Covid cost cuts

 

14:11

Ugandan teachers are leaving the profession to become coffin-makers after Covid-19 overwhelmed the country and schools shut, AFP reports.

Livingstone Musaala, 28, was forced to quit his maths teaching job following school closures and turned to coffin-making to pay the bills and help his community.

Musaala from Bugobi, which is 140 kilometres (90 miles) east of Kampala, realised he could make and sell coffins for a lot less than the high prices charged by other carpenters after demand surged because of the pandemic.

He told AFP:

It was a tough decision but people now appreciate it. At the height of the pandemic, we did brisk business, we sold between four to 10 coffins daily.

He was earning between 150,000 to 450,000 shillings ($42 to $125 or £31 to £92) per coffin.

About 30 other teachers have now joined him. Some had already been trained in carpentry, but most have learned on the job. Many, reports the agency, say they will not return to teaching even if classes resume.

On average, teachers working at private schools in Bugobi earn between $100 to $250 (£74 to £184) a month.

Another teacher-turned carpenter, Godfrey Mutyaba, said:

If I was given an option between teaching and carpentry, I would take the latter because it is ready cash,” Godfrey Mutyaba told AFP as his colleagues shuffled around for pieces of timber to put the final touches on a coffin.

I liked teaching but due to poor pay, I won’t go back.

France to try to extend emergency laws

13:39

The French government will ask lawmakers to extend its pandemic state of emergency until 31 July next year to deal with the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said:

There is a non-negligible risk of an epidemic resurgence. We must stay vigilant until next summer.”

The extension would mean the government will keep the power to extend or reinstate restrictive measures such as health passes to gain access to venues including restaurants, bars and cinemas, Reuters reports.

The state of emergency and the requirement of a health pass are due to expire on 15 November.

EU says it will recognise NHS Covid pass ‘soon’

13:00 Daniel Boffey

Trips to Europe over October half-term could become easier for British travellers after Brussels said a technical tie-up with the EU ensuring the NHS Covid pass is recognised across over 40 countries would be “going live soon”.

In some European countries, such as the Netherlands, tourists from the UK have faced constant Covid tests as the NHS app proving full vaccination status is not recognised at the Dutch border or in its bars, restaurants and museums.

But nearly three months after making an application to the European Commission to join the EU-wide scheme, a spokesperson in Brussels indicated that the wait would soon be over, though without giving a firm date. The spokesperson said: “The commission received the UK’s application on 28 July. Significant progress was made on the technical front with the aim of going live soon.”

Related: EU says it will recognise NHS Covid pass ‘soon’

Today so far

12:16 Russia has set a record for the number of Covid deaths in a 24-hour period for the second day running. Today’s official toll of 984 is slightly higher than yesterday’s then-record 973 deaths. On Tuesday, Russian health minister Mikhail Murashko revealed that the country was treating 1.1 million people with Covid symptoms. Russia’s heath ministry has said it will have discussions with the European Union about terms for the mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccine certificates for their respective shots. After a 19-month travel ban, the US has announced it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel. It’s a huge relief for families who have been separated since the beginning of the pandemic and comes after multiple countries pressed the US for months to ease restrictions. Hotels and hospitality businesses in Indonesia’s main tourism hotspot of Bali are slowly coming back to life after being shuttered for 17 months. On Thursday, Bali is due to reopen to travellers from several countries including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates. There are reports that authorities in Wuhan in China are set to test a store of up to 200,000 blood samples from around the end of 2019, which may provide further clues as to the origins of the pandemic. Scientists, however, have urged China to allow external oversight of the process. In the UK, Conservative co-chair Oliver Dowden apologised on Sky News for some of the government’s handling of the pandemic, saying: “We’re sorry for the losses that all those families have suffered. And of course, we accept that during this Covid crisis, this was an unprecedented crisis, a once-in-a-hundred-year event. There wasn’t a perfect rulebook to follow, and of course, we would do some things differently with hindsight.” It was in stark contrast to his colleague Stephen Barclay who yesterday refused to make any apology, despite a damning report into the Conservative’s handling of the early stages of the Covid crisis. Bereaved families have called for an acceleration of the UK Covid public inquiry. Labour’s Ed Miliband said this morning that the UK government’s approach to the pandemic had been “chaotic … they were deeply unprepared.” He also said that “politics as a whole let down the families and the people who died”. Health and care leaders in the UK have warned the NHS faces a mounting beds crisis as care homes suffering unprecedented staff shortages are forced to stop taking patients from hospitals. Thousands of staff who are declining Covid vaccinations are expected to be told they can no longer be deployed in care homes in the coming weeks. UK economic growth picked up in August as bars, restaurants and festivals benefited from the removal of most remaining pandemic restrictions. Ukraine registered 471 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours. That sees the nation approaching the record daily toll of 481, which was reported on 7 April. Infections in Japan have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a year, triggering optimism that the worst may be over for the world’s third-biggest economy, a huge reversal in fortunes compared with the anxious run-up to hosting the Tokyo Olympics earlier in the year. New Zealand reported 55 community cases of Covid-19, its second-highest daily count in six weeks. Auckland continues to be the hardest hit region. Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is set to become the most Covid-vaccinated city in the world. “The current evidence suggests that the ACT will be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” said the territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr. In Australia, a regional Victorian newsagent has backed down on her refusal to be administered a Covid-19 vaccination after she threatened to close her post office in a remote town, citing state health orders. Former NBA player Etan Thomas has written an open letter to current player Jonathan Isaac, warning him that certain sections of America will co-opt him for their own ends, after Fox News, Trump supporters and Texas senator Ted Cruz have all backed Isaac’s decision not to get vaccinated. Developing countries are increasingly turning to homegrown Covid vaccinations as the UN-backed Covax programme falls behind.

That’s me done for the day. I’m Martin Belam and I will be back with you early tomorrow from London. Andrew Sparrow has a Brexit-dominated UK politics live blog today, but we’ll be continuing to carry UK coronavirus lines on this blog as well as the latest international news. Jane Clinton will be along shortly to take you through the rest of the day.

 

12:11

Bahar Ostadan reports on the vaccine-hesitant New Yorkers who may leave the city as Covid mandates take effect.

Deysia Padilla’s family thought she was at work. Instead, she spent last Thursday afternoon unloading a mound of orange and pink baby socks in a sunny South Bronx laundromat – one-by one, in all their three-inch glory. She had 48 hours to consider an impossible choice: either get vaccinated or lose her job.

Padilla is one of thousands of unvaccinated New Yorkers affected by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ultimatum last week. Not only do city employees face the reality of losing their jobs, but without a shot, they’ll even forgo unemployment payments. Some unvaccinated Bronx natives would rather pursue a life outside New York City than be forced to take the vaccine.

“I feel like my dream is being shattered by the government,” said Padilla. “I’m being taken out of my home.” The 25-year-old mother had plans to become an art teacher one day. Now, she’s considering moving to Florida with her husband and three-month-old baby.

Related: Vaccine hesitant New Yorkers consider leaving the city as mandates take effect

 

12:10

The NHS in Wales is entering its “most challenging period” as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic and rising waiting lists, its chief executive has said.

Dr Andrew Goodall told PA Media the health service is treating people for Covid-19 but is also dealing with other emergencies and routine appointments.

He told the BBC:

I think it will be right to say that this feels like this is the most challenging period of time.

We are still responding to a coronavirus context, we still have significant numbers in our system, we have high community prevalence levels, and, whilst the number of patients being hospitalised are much lower than we’ve seen over the last 20 months or so, it still means that we have patients who are affected by lots of the precautions that we take within our hospital and our healthcare environments.

But the real thing that has changed over these last three or four months in particular is the recovery of activity because NHS staff want to ensure that patients are cared for and treated.

We’ve actually seen months where high, if not record, numbers of patients are coming into our system from ambulances through to A&E, and of course we’ve been wanting to restore planned operations across the system.

The numbers are increasing and we are probably at the fullest that we’ve seen across our system in the last 20 months at this stage.

But we need to continue to make sure that we’re also able to bring in patients who have been waiting for access to care over the last 20 months.”

His comments come as there are record waiting times in Wales for treatments to start with more than 600,000 people on lists.

Accident and emergency units are also under pressure and the Welsh ambulance service has had to call in support from the military for the third time since the pandemic began.

 

10:36

Former NBA player Etan Thomas has written an open letter to current player Jonathan Isaac, warning him that certain sections of America will co-opt him for their own ends. Here’s an excerpt:

You – and some other vaccine hesitant players – have clearly stated that you are not against vaccinations. More importantly you have not discouraged others to get them. Instead, you’ve articulated that you are personally “uncomfortable with getting the vaccine at this time”. While we hold different opinions on the vaccine, I’m not going to demean, ridicule or purposely misrepresent you because of them. If I did that, I would be as bad as the hypocritical right-wing media, Donald Trump and his followers who purposely misrepresented Colin Kaepernick’s reasons for taking a knee.

coronavirus live: 42,776 new cases in the uk; travellers stranded after nhs covid vaccination pass app crashes
© Provided by The Guardian Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac. Photograph: John Raoux/AP

The same people who once told all athletes to “shut up and dribble” are now praising you for expressing your hesitancy in taking the vaccine, and are attempting to co-opt your uncertainty to promote their agenda – a push against vaccine mandates – which was the sole reason Fox News invited you to appear.

Getting the support of Fox News, Trump supporters and Texas senator Ted Cruz of all people should ring alarm bells. Cruz has castigated NBA players for his entire career for speaking out, but he now tweets that “he stands” with players like yourself who are unvaccinated.

Read more here: Etan Thomas – Fox News and the right will praise unvaccinated NBA players … then use them

 

10:24

Ed Miliband is doing the UK media round for the opposition Labour party this morning. He’s just been questioned on Sky News about whether Labour should be apologising, in the wake of yesterday’s damning report on the country’s Covid response, for failing to force the government into an earlier lockdown.

He said that he felt “collectively the whole of politics should apologise”. He went on to say:

Government as a whole, politics as a whole, let down the families and the people who died. The government is the lead on that, and they need to be held accountable for that. We’ve got to learn lessons from this, about what went wrong. But there are deeper lessons about the inequalities and deprivation in our country. They way the government handled it was chaotic, and they were deeply unprepared.

 

10:23

The Washington Post has a lead item this morning looking at the increasingly partisan politicising of vaccine mandates in the US. It reports:

The anti-mandate cause is becoming increasingly central to pro-Trump Republicans, with figures such as Texas Gov Greg Abbott and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis loudly promoting it, a development that complicates President Biden’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

The clash over mandates is playing out far beyond Texas. On Tuesday, a federal judge said New York state, which has imposed a mandate on health-care workers, must allow religious exemptions while the mandate works its way through the courts. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an outspoken conservative, tweeted that “Ohio should ban all vaccine mandates.”

And the Brooklyn Nets basketball team told superstar guard Kyrie Irving on Tuesday that he must get vaccinated or he cannot play or practice with the team — prompting a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, lauding Irving over what he had “sacrificed.”

This growing clamour over vaccine mandates — which public health experts say are the best way to end the nearly two-year pandemic, and which have proved effective in other countries — poses a direct challenge to Biden. After initial hesitancy, he has embraced vaccine requirements as he seeks to deliver on the central promise of his presidency to take the country past Covid.

Read more here: Washington Post – Ban on vaccine mandates in Texas sharpens political battle lines

Russia reports record number of Covid deaths for second day running

10:22

The numbers coming out of Russia continue to gradually ratchet up. Reuters are carrying the news that the country has set a record number of Covid-related deaths in a 24-hour period for the second day in the row. The new peak now stands at 984, after yesterday recording a then-record 973 deaths.

Russian president Vladimir Putin told lawmakers on Tuesday that the country had to “increase its pace” of vaccinations. Roughly a third of the country’s 144 million people have had at least one shot of a vaccine so far. Health minister Mikhail Murashko revealed yesterday that the country was treating 1.1 million people with Covid symptoms. There were 28,717 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.

 

10:20

CNN has what it describes as an exclusive today from Nick Paton Walsh, that China is to test thousands of Wuhan blood samples in a new Covid-19 probe. He writes:

The store of up to 200,000 samples, including those from the closing months of 2019 were pinpointed in February this year by the World Health Organization’s panel of investigators as a possible source of key information that could help determine when and where the virus first crossed into humans.

The samples are kept in the Wuhan Blood Center, and are thought to span 2019, providing real-time tissue samples from a wide swathe of the population in the Chinese city where SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have first infected humans.

The blood bank samples have been retained for two years, Chinese officials have said, in case they are needed as evidence in any lawsuits related to the blood donations they are from. That two-year waiting period will soon expire for the key months of October and November 2019, when most experts think the virus could first have infected humans.

An official from China’s National Health Commission, told CNN preparation for testing is currently underway, and confirmed testing would happen once the two-year limit was reached.

They “absolutely will contain vital clues,” said Maureen Miller, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. She urged China to permit foreign experts to observe the process. “No one will believe any results that China reports unless there are qualified observers at the very least,” she said.

Read more here: CNN – China to test thousands of Wuhan blood samples in Covid-19 probe

 

09:40

Andrew Sparrow has launched his UK politics live blog for today. It will be very dominated by Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol, so I’ll be continuing here with UK coronavirus lines as they emerge. If you do fancy UK politics instead, then you can find that over here.

Related: Brexit: Cummings claims No 10 always intended to ‘ditch’ parts of Northern Ireland protocol – live

Bars and festivals lift UK economy in August after restrictions dropped

08:52 Richard Partington

UK economic growth picked up in August after an unexpected fall in July, as bars, restaurants and festivals benefited from the removal of most remaining pandemic restrictions.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product rose by 0.4% in August as consumers increased their spending on leisure during the first full month without Covid controls in England.

However, the ONS cut its growth estimate for July from a rise of 0.1% to a fall of the same amount, after fresh economic data revealed a worse hit for car manufacturing caused by global supply chain problems and microchip shortages.

Growth in August was offset by a decline in the health sector amid a drop in testing and vaccinations for Covid-19. Retail sales fell, reflecting shortages on the high street and consumers switching more of their spending from goods to services after the easing of pandemic controls.

Read more of Richard Partington’s report here: Bars and festivals lift UK economy in August after July fall

Related: Bars and festivals lift UK economy in August after July fall

 

08:06

My colleagues Andrew Gregory and Robert Booth have this report today on the NHS in the UK facing a beds crisis as care homes stop taking patients from hospitals:

The NHS faces a mounting beds crisis as care homes suffering unprecedented staff shortages are forced to stop taking patients from hospitals, health and care leaders have warned.

Ministers are desperately trying to free up space in the NHS to tackle a backlog of 5.6 million people – equivalent to almost 10% of people in England – awaiting treatment.

But efforts to speed up the discharge of hospital patients into the community are being hampered by care worker shortages.

Thousands of staff who are declining Covid vaccinations are expected to be told they can no longer be deployed in care homes in the coming weeks. Many have already quit. Nearly 13% of staff in older adult care homes had not been double vaccinated by 3 October – over 59,000 workers.

Staffing levels in certain areas are likely to be disproportionately hit. Almost one in four care workers in Manchester have not had two jabs, and around one in five in Stoke, Thurrock, and Hackney and Lambeth in London, NHS England data shows.

The government has made double vaccination a “condition of deployment” in care homes in England from 11 November to limit infection spread. Care home operators have called for the deadline to be postponed.

Read more here: NHS faces beds crisis as care homes stop taking patients from hospitals

Related: NHS faces beds crisis as care homes stop taking patients from hospitals

 

07:58 Caitlin Cassidy

A regional Victorian newsagent in Australia has backed down on her refusal to be administered a Covid-19 vaccination after she closed her post office, citing state health orders.

Angela Spedding, who had operated Merrigum’s only post office for more than six years, said she had booked in a jab after being told the post office would close if she hadn’t secured an appointment by the end of the working week.

“I have booked in for the vaccination next week,” she said.

A spokesperson for Australia Post said the licensee had recently informed the organisation they would be complying with the latest health order requirements which mandated the vaccine for about 1.25 million authorised workers – including newsagents and post office workers – by Friday.

“We are pleased to say the outlet will continue to operate as normal,” the spokesperson said.

Read more of Caitlin Cassidy’s report here: Victorian post office licensee backs down over refusal to get Covid jab

Related: Victorian post office licensee backs down over refusal to get Covid jab

 

07:57

Developing countries are increasingly turning to homegrown Covid vaccinations as the UN-backed Covax programme falls behind.

While western countries roll out booster jabs to their own populations, Covax, which was set up by UN agencies, governments and donors to ensure fair access to Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, has said it will miss its target to distribute 2bn doses globally by the end of this year.

According to the latest supply forecast, on 8 September, the programme is now expecting to provide 1.4bn vaccine doses over 2021 – a shortfall of nearly a third.

The shortage is largely a result of export and manufacturing constraints and increasing demand from vaccine-producing countries. India – a key producer – only delivered 28m of a promised 40m doses in March when infections surged domestically as the Delta variant spread around the country.

Developing countries have responded by producing new local vaccines. Among them is Egypt, which has launched human trials for its homemade vaccine Covi Vax, after successful laboratory tests.

Earlier this year, researchers in Saudi Arabia announced the start of early-stage human trials of a vaccine developed by researchers at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.

Cuba is seeking WHO approval for its own vaccines as it seeks to reach full immunisation, including children as young as two, by the end of 2021.

Several Brazilian research institutes are also betting on the development of homegrown vaccines against Covid-19.

Read more of Hazem Badr, Helen Mendes and Papiya Bhattacharya’s report here: Local Covid vaccines fill gap as UN Covax scheme misses target

Related: Local Covid vaccines fill gap as UN Covax scheme misses target

 

07:56

There is a little bit of news on the Reuters wire, which is coming out of Russia’s Interfax news agency. They are reporting that the Russian health ministry has said it will be having talks with the EU to discuss terms for the mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccine certificates for their respective shots.

The European Medicines Agency is yet to approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use, which is the source of some friction between the two parties. Russia has accused the EU of doing so for political reasons, while the EU has in turn suggested that the vaccine’s manufacturer has not been forthcoming with the required data for approval.

 

07:49

I’ve just been watching Conservative co-chair Oliver Dowden be interview by Kay Burley on Sky News in the UK. After a bit of pressing he was much clearer in offering an apology to her viewers for the criticism of the government handling of Covid. He stressed that prime minister Boris Johnson had said earlier in the year that he was “deeply sorry” for the suffering of people and families with Covid. Dowden went on to say:

We’re sorry for the losses that all those families have suffered. And of course, we accept that during this Covid crisis, this was an unprecedented crisis, a once in a hundred year event. There wasn’t a perfect rulebook to follow, and of course, we would do some things differently with hindsight.

He was keen to stress areas like the vaccine rollout where he said the government had acted quickly.

There was a somewhat awkward exchange when Burley pointed out that on the previous day’s show, as we reported yesterday, Stephen Barclay, the minister for the Cabinet Office, refused to offer any apology. Burley said he had refused to do so on eleven occasions during the interview, and that it was the kind of behaviour that made her viewers feel politicians were out of touch with their feelings and lives.

In a not exactly ringing endorsement of his colleague, Dowden said “Steve said what Steve said yesterday.”

It should be noted that when the prime minister offered that apology in January, Johnson also said: “Of course as I was prime minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done. What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering.”

The handling of the coronavirus crisis was yesterday described as “one of UK’s worst ever public health failures” in a report led by two former Conservative ministers.

 

07:29

New Zealand reports 55 community cases of Covid-19, its second-highest daily count in six weeks.

Auckland continues to be the hardest hit region battling the nation’s Delta outbreak, with 53 cases announced on Wednesday alongside two in the Waikato.

The city’s lockdown, as well as Northland and much of the Waikato – involving more than half of New Zealand’s population – will next be assessed on Monday.

 

07:29

Good morning from London, it is Martin Belam here taking over from my colleague Samantha Lock. Co-chairman of the Conservative party Oliver Dowden is the government spokesperson doing the media round in the UK this morning. I suspect he will mostly be asked about supply chains and Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland, but I will endeavour to bring you any Covid lines that emerge, as well as the latest coronavirus news from around the world.

Ukraine daily death toll and cases rise

07:29

A quick snap from Reuters here that Ukraine registered 471 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours health ministry data showed.

That sees the nation approaching the record daily toll of 481, which was reported on 7 April. The number of new daily coronavirus infections in Ukraine, which has a population of 41 million, has also increased over the past several weeks. Ukraine registered 16,309 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.

 

07:28

Here’s how the New York Times has been reporting the news that the US is to reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico in November. Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Emily Cochrane write that:

The lifting of the two bans will effectively mark the reopening of the United States to travelers and tourism, signaling a new phase in the recovery from the pandemic. But the new requirements also indicate that the country will be a welcoming destination only for those who are vaccinated.

They quote New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand claiming that the closure had cost “cost Erie County in New York at least $660m annually”, and saying:

Finally, the New York-Canadian border will be open again to vaccinated travelers from both nations. This reopening will be welcome news to countless businesses, medical providers, families and loved ones that depend on travel across the northern border.

They also have quotes from Texas Democrat representative Veronica Escobar saying:

Border communities have been hamstrung because of port closures. Not only did we suffer more significant health devastation in 2020, but the economic devastation has been longer for us because of those port closures. This is great, and long overdue, news

Read more here: New York Times – The US will open the Canada and Mexico borders for fully vaccinated travelers in November

Japan’s Covid infections fall to lowest levels in more than a year

06:51 Justin McCurry

Just days after the Tokyo Olympics drew to a close, Japan appeared to be hurtling towards a coronavirus disaster with the host city reporting a record 5,773 new Covid-19 cases.

Yet in the two months since Emperor Naruhito declared the Games closed a dramatic turn of events has seen infections plummet in Tokyo and across the country.

This week, almost a fortnight since emergency measures were finally lifted, new infections continue to fall while parts of Europe, including Britain, struggle to contain cases.

Infections in Japan have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a year, triggering optimism that the worst may be over for the world’s third-biggest economy.

On Monday, Tokyo reported 49 cases, the lowest daily figure since late June last year, while the nationwide count was 369.

Read the full story here:

Related: Back from the brink: how Japan became a surprise Covid success story

 

06:19

Thanks for joining us for all the latest coronavirus updates as they happen.

I’m Samantha Lock, coming to you from Sydney, Australia, and I’ll be giving you a rundown of developments in the pandemic.

After a 19-month travel ban, the US has announced it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico for nonessential travel.

It’s a huge relief for families who have been separated since the beginning of the pandemic and comes after multiple countries pressed the US for months to ease restrictions.

Meanwhile hotels and hospitality businesses in Indonesia’s main tourism hotspot of Bali are slowly coming back to life after being shuttered for 17 months.

On Thursday, Bali is due to reopen to travellers from several countries including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates. Visitors will be required to follow certain regulations – they need to be fully vaccinated and take two PCR tests, both before their flight and on arrival. They will also need to quarantine for five days.

Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is set to become the most Covid vaccinated city in the world. “The current evidence suggests that the ACT will be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world,” said the territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr. “We expect to be at around 99% of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November. It’s a testament to ACT residents and their willingness to protect themselves, their family and their community.” Senior figures in the UK say the failure to a prevent second wave was inexcusable given what was known about the virus. The failure to prevent tens of thousands of deaths during Britain’s brutal second wave of Covid infections was a more serious error than the timing of the first lockdown, senior scientists told the Guardian, after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic. Bereaved families call for acceleration of UK Covid public inquiry to be accelerated and for ministers to apologise after a damning report by MPs on the handling of the pandemic. A first official report on the UK’s early handling of the pandemic, published on Tuesday by cross-party MPs, described it as one of the worst public health failures in British history. “Groupthink” by ministers and scientists, including a deliberately slow approach to imposing the first lockdown, led the UK to fare “significantly worse” than other countries, it concluded. IMF says Covid support has left world open to new financial crisis. The emergency support provided by central banks and finance ministries during the Covid-19 pandemic has fuelled speculation and left the world vulnerable to another financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned. The US has administered 403,576,826 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Tuesday morning and distributed 488,178,975 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The UK reported a slight fall back in cases to below the 40,000 mark with 38,520 confirmed cases of Covid-19, down from 40,224 yesterday. Russia will test a nasal spray form of its Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 among adult volunteers, according to a state document published on Tuesday.

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Steelers just missed out on another potential Ben Roethlisberger replacement

© Provided by Fansided Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be replacing Ben Roethlisberger in 2023 with Clemson football player D.J. Uiagalelei, as the Tigers signal-caller just got benched vs. Pitt. ... Read more »

Stock Watch: Kenny Pickett's Big Day

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports With Saturday’s victory, the Panthers now have an inside track to the ACC Championship game. Pittsburgh sits at 6-1 overall, 3-0 in the conference, and ... Read more »

LSU football fans roasted Gary Danielson to a crisp for biased call of Ole Miss game

© Provided by Fansided LSU football fans wanted to put earplugs in during their game against Ole Miss because of the perceived bias of Gary Danielson. LSU fans had a ... Read more »

Arch Manning committing to Clemson hinges on Dabo Swinney firing one of his coaches

© Provided by Fansided As Arch Manning’s high-profile recruitment towards 2023 intensifies, the Clemson football program has no choice but to fire offensive coordinator Tony Elliott if the Tigers want any hope ... Read more »

Ohio State football shares availability report for game against Indiana

© Provided by Buckeyes Wire Ohio State football availability, injury report for Indiana game It’s time for a prime-time matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers for Ohio State. It’s a breath ... Read more »

Notre Dame Will Be Without 3 Players Tonight

© Provided by The Spun Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. For the most part, Notre Dame’s starting lineup is relatively healthy heading into tonight’s showdown with USC. ... Read more »

D.J. Uiagalelei transfer rumors are scorching hot after Clemson QB is benched

© Provided by Fansided Clemson benched D.J. D.J. Uiagalelei during the game vs. Pitt but the Tigers have quarterback insurance in case he decides to transfer after losing his job. ... Read more »

D.J. Uiagalalei joins Spencer Rattler as cautionary tales of preseason Heisman lore

© Provided by Fansided D.J. Uiagalelei was heralded as a Heisman favorite. Now that he’s been benched, he joins Spencer Rattler as proof that preseason hype doesn’t matter. College football ... Read more »

Everyone Said The Same Thing About Spencer Rattler, D.J. Uiagalelei Today

© Provided by The Spun Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei warms up before a game. Spencer Rattler and D.J. Uiagalelei started this season as a pair of Heisman-hopeful stars. Now, they’re ... Read more »

Carolina vs New York Giants Prediction, Game Preview

© Provided by College Football News Carolina vs New York Giants prediction, game preview, how to watch: Sunday, October 24 Carolina vs New York Giants How To Watch Date: Sunday, ... Read more »

Kenti Robles Features In Mexico’s 6 - 1 Demolition Of Argentina

© Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images Kenti Robles played the full ninety in Mexico’s 6-1 win over Argentina in an international friendly. The scoreline ended up being lopsided but it ... Read more »

International friendly match recap: México 6, Argentina 1

© Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images México didn’t get off to the best start, but roared back despite a physical match to down Argentina 6-1 at Estadio Gregorio “Tepa” ... Read more »

Premier League clubs in sponsorship row over Newcastle after takeover

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The Premier League is set for a bitter battle among leading clubs next month over the Saudi takeover at Newcastle United as a ... Read more »

Mason Mount reveals he 'had to put pressure' on himself to score

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Mason Mount could not stop smiling as he held the match-ball after his first Chelsea hat-trick, admitting he had put himself under pressure ... Read more »

Free-agent faceoff: Kevin Gausman vs. Robbie Ray

© Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports Kevin Gausman went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA for the Giants this year. There are a few options for teams playing at the top of ... Read more »