Covid live: UK reports close to 50,000 new cases as government warns of ‘challenging' months ahead

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© Photograph: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock The UK reported close to 50,000 new Covid cases on 18 OCtober.

UK reports 49,156 new cases, highest since mid-July, and 45 Covid-linked deaths; Britons warned of difficult months ahead as cases rise.

Summary

18:57

Here is a round-up of all today’s top Covid stories from the UK and around the world:

  • Britain reported 49,156 new Covid cases on Monday and 45 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed. The figures compared to 45,140 cases and 57 deaths reported a day earlier.
  • New data from the UK suggests two doses of a Covid vaccine offers a similar protection against testing positive for the coronavirus as a previous natural infection.
  • A close friend of Boris and Carrie Johnson did stay with the couple during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown last Christmas, Downing Street has in effect confirmed, while insisting no Covid rules were broken.
  • In Australia, more than 40 Victoria police staff have been stood down and face losing their jobs after refusing to have the Covid vaccine.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it expects Bharat Biotech to provide more information on its Covid vaccine in a further setback to the Indian company’s hopes of getting an emergency-use listing for the shot.
  • South Africa’s drugs regulator said today that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.
  • Headteachers’ unions are calling for children to be allowed to use walk-in vaccination centres in England after figures revealed the scale of the low take-up of the Covid jab among young teenagers.
  • Italian police used water cannon and teargas to clear a sit-in at the port of Trieste, where opponents of the government’s mandatory Covid health pass have tried to block access.
  • The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has issued a statement this morning that the European Union has exported over 1bn doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the last 10 months.
  • Russia has again set a new record daily caseload, recording 34,325 new cases in the last 24 hours. That’s up just slightly on the previous day’s 34,303. There were 998 further deaths. The population of Russia is around 144 million people.
  • Slovakia has reimposed coronavirus restrictions in the hardest-hit parts of the country amid the latest surge of infections.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. Goodbye.

Keep following for all the latest Covid news.

 

18:32

Burundi rolled out its first Covid vaccines, months after most African countries, on Monday.

It is the latest step in the East African nation’s shift towards a more active approach to containing the pandemic.

The vaccination campaign started in the commercial capital of Bujumbura without fanfare. Dozens of city residents queued quietly at a vaccination site, telling Reuters they heard about the drive through word of mouth.

No government officials were present to officially inaugurate the launch.

“I rushed to take the vaccine because I have a trip very soon and, of course, I also want to protect myself,” said 30-year-old Blaise, who asked to only use his first name. “People’s fears are groundless. I am reassured by the fact that I was with a doctor when I got it.”

The jabs administered Monday were part of a Chinese donation of 500,000 Sinopharm doses.

 

18:20

Algeria lifted an overnight curfew that was imposed in parts of the country last month to help contain the coronavrius, the prime minister’s office said in a statement today.

The curfew, running from 11pm to 5am was in effect in 23 out of 58 provinces in the North African country.

Gatherings, weddings, and social events are still under a ban, the statement said.

 

18:03

Today’s 45 new coronavirus deaths also means UK total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic is up to 138,629.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 163,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 49,156 lab-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, the government said.

© Provided by The Guardian A woman speaks on a video call next to the National COVID Memorial Wall in London. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Covid situation in UK ‘concerning’, says government expert

18:01

Following on from those latest statistics, epidemiologist and government adviser Professor Andrew Hayward said the current situation in the UK was “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure” this winter.

Prof Hayward, a member of the Sage scientific advisory panel, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One:

I think it’s concerning that we’ve got very high rates of infection and higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality than many of our European counterparts.

He said waning immunity is “probably part of” the reason infections are currently high, adding there is “some evidence” protection against infection is beginning to wear off and “probably some evidence” protection against severe disease is waning to a lesser extent.

© Provided by The Guardian A woman undergoes a free coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid antigen test at a testing centre. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Prof Hayward added:

We shouldn’t be complacent because there is still huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure and for there to be a lot of unnecessary deaths.

So we need to get the vaccination rates up and we need to be prepared potentially to think about other measures if things do get out of control.

 

17:49

Of those new infections announced today, Scotland has recorded 2,194 new coronavirus cases but no deaths in the past 24 hours, the latest Scottish Government figures show.

It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 8,930.

However the Scottish Government noted that register offices are generally closed at weekends.

The daily test positivity rate was 11.5%, up from 10% the previous day. There were 857 people in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid, with 44 in intensive care.

© Provided by The Guardian Health and social care staff queue for a coronavirus vaccine at the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

UK records almost 50,000 new Covid cases today

17:30

Britain reported 49,156 new Covid cases on Monday and 45 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

The figures compared to 45,140 cases and 57 deaths reported a day earlier.

 

17:19

Slovakia has reimposed coronavirus restrictions in the hardest-hit parts of the country amid the latest surge of infections.

Five counties all located in northern Slovakia are affected by the measures, which include the closures of restaurants with people only allowed to buy meals at takeout windows, Reuters reported.

Fitness and wellness centres also have been closed. The number of people allowed to attend public gatherings is reduced to 100 fully vaccinated people. It’s also mandatory to wear face coverings both outdoors and indoors.

The number of infected in those counties is higher than 400 per 100,000 people in the last seven days.

Slovakia is facing a new wave of infections, with daily numbers in the country reaching 2,406 on Tuesday, the highest number since the middle of March.

Two doses of Covid vaccine offer similar protection as natural infection – ONS analysis

16:24 Nicola Davis

New data from the UK suggests two doses of a Covid vaccine offers a similar protection against testing positive for the coronavirus as a previous natural infection.

The analysis, carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is based on NHS test and trace data as well as ONS survey results for the period between 17 May to 14 August, when the Delta variant was dominant.

The results reveal that those who had received two doses of the Covid jabs at least 14 days before the period of interest had a lower risk of testing positive during that time than those who had only had one dose at least 21 days before.

However, two doses of either jab offered a similar level of protection as that provided by a natural infection.

© Provided by The Guardian A medic prepares a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

According to the data, those who have previously had Covid had a 71% lower risk of testing positive than those without a prior Covid infection and who were not yet vaccinated. Meanwhile, those who had received two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab 14 or more days before the period of interest had a 62% lower risk of testing positive for Covid and those who had received two doses of the Pfizer jab had a 73% lower risk.

While the two types of vaccine appear to offer different levels of protection, the team urge caution, noting the jabs were given to different age groups and had different follow-up times.

 

16:23

Italy reported 44 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, up from 24 the previous day, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 1,597 from 2,437.

Italy has registered 131,585 deaths linked to Covid since the outbreak in February last year. It has the second highest toll in Europe behind Britain, and the ninth highest in the world. The country has reported 4.7 million cases to date.

The number of patients in hospital with Covid – not including those in intensive care – stood at 2,428 on Monday, up from 2,386 a day earlier.

UK government warns of ‘challenging’ months ahead in battle against Covid

15:31

Britons have been warned the coming months will be “challenging” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Downing Street said an increase in coronavirus cases had been expected over the winter and the government would keep a “close watch” on the situation, PA Media reported.

Epidemiologist and government adviser Prof Andrew Hayward said the situation was “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure”.

Government data up to Sunday show more than 300,000 confirmed cases reported over the last seven days, a 15% increase on the previous week. The 852 deaths reported from 11-17 October was 8.5% higher than the figure for the previous seven-day period.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said:

We obviously keep very close watch on the latest statistics. We always knew the coming months would be challenging.

What we are seeing is case rates, hospitalisations and deaths still broadly in line with the modelling as set out a few months back now. The vaccination programme will continue to be our first line of defence, along with new treatments, testing and public health advice.

But we will obviously keep a close watch on cases. But it is thanks to our vaccination programme that we are able to substantially break the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

The spokesman said the success of the vaccines meant “we are able to be one of the most open economies in Europe, which is benefiting the public and indeed businesses as well”.

 

15:31 Peter Walker

A close friend of Boris and Carrie Johnson did stay with the couple during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown last Christmas, Downing Street has in effect confirmed, while insisting no Covid rules were broken.

It is understood that Nimco Ali, a campaigner and Home Office adviser who is godmother to the Johnsons’ infant son, Wilfred, was at Downing Street over the Christmas period as part of their childcare support bubble.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson declined to formally confirm that Ali was there. “As you might expect, I’m not going to get into speaking about individuals that the prime minister has seen over Christmas,” he said. “What I can say is that the prime minister and Mrs Johnson have followed the coronavirus rules at all times.”

However, the spokesperson did say that neither Boris Johnson’s mother – who died last month aged 79 – or Carrie Johnson’s mother were with the family over Christmas. Asked to confirm whether or not Ali was there, he did not respond.

© Provided by The Guardian Nimco Ali. Photograph: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for AllBright

“It is entirely accurate to say that they followed coronavirus rules at all times,” the spokesperson said, rejecting the argument that it was legitimate to seek clear answers on the arrangements given lockdown breaches by senior government figures such as Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings and the ex-health secretary Matt Hancock.

“I don’t accept that,” he said. “We have been very clear that throughout this pandemic the prime minister has expected all ministers to adhere to the guidelines. That is what the prime minister and Mrs Johnson have done, both at this time and throughout, and I’m happy to make that clear.”

Related: No 10 appears to confirm Nimco Ali’s Christmas stay with Johnsons

 

14:59 Cait Kelly

In Australia, more than 40 Victoria police staff have been stood down and face losing their jobs after refusing to have the Covid vaccine.

Victoria police on Monday confirmed 34 police officers and nine protective services officers had not complied with the vaccination order by the state’s chief health officer and by a specific chief commissioner instruction.

Exemptions from having the mandatory vaccine only apply if an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to a medical issue, the force said.

Those refusing the jab have been referred to Professional Standards Command for failing to abide by an instruction of the chief commissioner and face subsequent disciplinary action, which may result in their sacking.

They have been stood down and directed to take accrued leave.

The Police Association backs mandatory vaccinations and has been contacted for comment.

Related: Victoria Covid update: more than 40 police stood down for refusing coronavirus vaccine

 

14:57

South Africa’s drugs regulator said today that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest HIV burdens, and some studies have suggested that administration of vaccines using the Adenovirus Type 5 (Ad5) vector – which Sputnik V does – can lead to higher susceptibility to HIV in men.

Viral vector vaccines such as Sputnik V use modified viruses as vehicles, or vectors, to carry genetic information that helps the body build immunity against future infections, Reuters reported.

SAHPRA, the regulator, said it had asked for data demonstrating Sputnik V was safe in settings with high HIV prevalence, but that it had not received enough to establish this.

© Provided by The Guardian A health worker prepares to administer the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to a man in Hyderabad, India. Photograph: Mahesh Kumar A/AP

“SAHPRA resolved that the … (emergency) application for Sputnik V … not be approved at this time. SAHPRA is concerned that use of the Sputnik V vaccine in … a setting of a high HIV prevalence and incidence may increase the risk of vaccinated males acquiring HIV,” the statement read.

The Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, said: “Concerns about the safety of Ad5-vectored vaccines in populations at risk for HIV infection are completely unfounded,” adding that SAHPRA would get all the information it needed.

More than 250 clinical trials and 75 international publications confirm the safety of vaccines and medicines based on human adenovirus vectors, the institute added.

 

14:51

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it expects Bharat Biotech to provide more information on its Covid vaccine in a further setback to the Indian company’s hopes of getting an emergency-use listing for the shot.

Without WHO’s approval the two-dose Covaxin is unlikely to be accepted as a valid Covid vaccine around the world. Bharat Biotech has been pursuing a WHO emergency-use listing for several months, having submitted data on a rolling basis since July.

“We are aware that many people are waiting for WHO’s recommendation for (Bharat Biotech’s) Covaxin to be included in the #COVID19 Emergency Use Listing, but we cannot cut corners,” WHO said on Twitter.

Bharat Biotech did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Covaxin is one of the three approved vaccines that have been used in India for the country’s vaccination drive for adults.

Around 30% of about 944 million eligible adults have been fully vaccinated so far, which includes the administration of more than 112 million doses of Covaxin.

 

14:06

Headteachers’ unions are calling for children to be allowed to use walk-in vaccination centres in England after figures revealed the scale of the low take-up of the Covid jab among young teenagers.

In some areas, the rate of vaccine take-up is as low as 5%, while only 15 local authorities in England have managed to give a first jab to at least a quarter of 12- to 15-year-olds, data shows.

The picture is very different in Scotland, where young people can also receive doses of the jab in drop-in vaccination centres, as the take-up is already more than 50% in half of local authority areas,PA Media reported.

School leaders’ unions are concerned that 12- to 15-year-olds in England are missing out on getting a Covid vaccination in school due to a high level of cases among the cohort, as well as logistical problems with vaccination teams having insufficient staff to deal with students needing jabs.

Three million pupils aged between 12 and 15 across the UK are eligible to receive a first dose of the Covid vaccine as part of a rollout that began a month ago.

James Bowen, the director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

Allowing 12- to 15-year-olds to attend walk-in vaccination centres would be a sensible decision. Those who want to get the vaccination should be able to do so as quickly as possible.

We know that the high level of cases among this age group has led to some pupils who want the vaccine not being able to get it in school, either because they are absent on the day or because they have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 28 days.

Assuming that this is designed to complement the existing in-school arrangements then it seems the sensible thing to do. It remains crucial that the in-school programme is rolled out as quickly as possible. We know that the health teams working in schools are working tirelessly to achieve this, but they need full support from the government.

Downing Street denies UK PM and wife broke Covid rules over Christmas

13:47

In the UK, Downing Street has insisted that Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie complied with coronavirus rules following reports Mrs Johnson’s friend Nimco Ali stayed with them over Christmas.

Johnson’s official spokesman said:

The prime minister and Mrs Johnson have followed the coronavirus rules at all times.

Ali insisted “I did not break any rules” after a report in the US in Harper’s Magazine claimed she “spent Christmas with the couple at No 10 despite pandemic restrictions on holiday gatherings”, PA Media reported.

© Provided by The Guardian Boris and Carrie Johnson. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

 

13:16

Good afternoon, I am Tom Ambrose and I will be bringing you all the latest Covid news from around the world and the UK today.

An interesting story from my colleague Mostafa Rachwani this morning, in case you missed it. In Australia, the Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, has hit back at US senator Ted Cruz who criticised the Northern Territory’s vaccine policy, telling the firebrand Texan conservative “you know nothing about us”.

The spat began when the US Republican shared a video of Gunner announcing the territory’s wide-ranging vaccine mandate for workers.

Cruz lamented the “Covid tyranny of their [Australia’s] current government,” which he said was “disgraceful and sad”.

G’day from Down Under @tedcruz. Thanks for your interest in the Territory. I’m the Chief Minister. Below are a few facts about COVID down here. https://t.co/cGFwBP7Nqx pic.twitter.com/mGNyOxlN41

— Michael Gunner (@fanniebay) October 18, 2021

“Individual liberty matters,” Cruz declared, adding he had considered Australia the “Texas of the Pacific”.

Gunner did not appreciate the feedback, responding on Twitter with a statement sharing a “few facts about Covid down here” and tagging Cruz. “We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate,” the chief minister began.

“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from Covid. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?

“We’ve done whatever it takes to protect the Territory. That’s kept us safe and free. We have been in lockdown for just eight days in 18 months. Our businesses and school are all open. Did you know that?”

Gunner went on to say that Cruz knows nothing about Australia, and criticised his stance on vaccination.

Related: Northern Territory chief minister and US senator Ted Cruz in Twitter spat over Covid vaccines

 

13:15

Italian police used water cannon and teargas to clear a sit-in at the port of Trieste, where opponents of the government’s mandatory Covid health pass have tried to block access.

The north-eastern port has been the focal point of protest in Italy over the introduction of rules last Friday that require all workers show either proof of vaccination, a negative coronavirus test or recent recovery from infection.

Police in full riot gear moved in this morning after several hundred dock workers disrupted access to one of the main gates at Italy’s largest commercial port, Reuters reported.

The crowds were pushed aside by jets of water followed by volleys of tear gas. Many of them headed towards the city’s main square to continue their protest in front of government offices.

© Provided by The Guardian People demonstrate at Piazza Unita d’Italia, as Italian riot police try to disperse protests that have taken place for several days. Photograph: Borut Zivulovic/Reuters

“They attacked us. I am speechless. I never expected it,” said Stefano Puzzer, the spokesman of the port protesters. “We will sit down here. We are keeping calm. We will not give up.”

The government says the mandatory health “green pass” is needed to keep workers safe and to encourage more people to get vaccinated. Under the rule, effective until year-end, workers will be suspended without pay and face a fine of up to €1,500 if they try to work without the certificate.

Most Italians support the provision, opinion polls show.

 

11:25

Moscow’s streets were buzzing with energy on Friday evening. At Simach, a trendy bar and nightclub in the city centre, the small, sweaty dance floor was packed and a long queue of chatty people formed outside. Looking at the crowd, it is easy to forget that Russia is at the centre of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, recording daily record deaths and infections

Russia topped the symbolic figure of 1,000 daily deaths on Saturday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and hit a new record in infection numbers on Monday with 34,325 cases reported.

Officials say the country is quickly running out of hospital beds and Russia’s chief doctor, Denis Protsenko, described the situation on Friday as “near critical” with vaccinations at a standstill.

During the first coronavirus wave, 60% of Russian households said they had lost income as a result of the economic crisis.

Several regions re-introduced QR codes for access to public places last week as well as mandatory vaccination for certain groups, but Moscow and St Petersburg – home to by far the biggest clusters of infections – have so far opted against new measures. The two cities are among most open places in Europe.

“Russians have consistently shown more concern about the economic situation than the epidemiological one,” said Christian Fröhlich, a sociology professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics who studies public dissent.

“People have very low expectations from the government and don’t expect to receive any support during a lockdown. This helps explain why many prefer for the country to stay open despite the deaths.”

Read more of Pjotr Sauer’s report from Moscow here: ‘You reap what you sow’: Russians party despite record Covid figures

Related: ‘You reap what you sow’: Russians party despite record Covid figures

Today so far

11:03

  • The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has issued a statement this morning that the European Union has exported over 1bn doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the last 10 months. She said “Together with President Biden, we aim for a global vaccination rate of 70% by next year” and promised to pressure world leaders at the Rome G20 summit next week on the issue.
  • Russia has again set a new record daily caseload, recording 34,325 new cases in the last 24 hours. That’s up just slightly on the previous day’s 34,303. There were 998 further deaths. The population of Russia is around 144 million people.
  • The UK recorded 45,140 new daily cases on Sunday – a significantly higher figure than is usually seen at the weekend, where test reporting tends to tail off, and is the highest jump in positive Covid cases since mid-July.
  • Take-up of a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine among young teenagers is below 10% in just over a third of the main local authorities in England, latest figures show.
  • This compares unfavourably to Scotland, where take-up is already over 50% in half of local authority areas.
  • Cases of psychosis have soared over the past two years in England as an increasing number of people experience hallucinations and delusional thinking amid the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • French pharmaceutical firm Valneva has reported positive results from its Covid-19 trial. CEO Thomas Lingelbach said: “We are committed to bringing our differentiated vaccine candidate to licensure as quickly as possible and continue to believe that we will be able to make an important contribution to the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • India’s vaccination campaign has slowed despite amassing record stockpiles of vaccine, health ministry data shows, as authorities maintain a wider-than-usual gap between doses in a strategy that has boosted coverage.
  • Thousands of students in New South Wales, Australia, put on uniforms and packed their lunches for the first time in months on Monday, as kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students returned to face-to-face learning.
  • Melbourne, Australia is set to lift stay-at-home orders this week, ending what is considered to be the world’s longest lockdown. About 5 million people living in Australia’s second-most populous city have spent more than 260 days under six lockdowns since March of 2020.
  • Australia’s Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, has hit back at US senator Ted Cruz who criticised the Northern Territory’s vaccine policy, telling the Texan conservative “you know nothing about us”.

That is all from me today, I will be back tomorrow. Tom Ambrose will be here shortly to continue bringing you the latest coronavirus developments from the UK and all around the world.

 

11:02 Cait Kelly

Thousands of students in New South Wales, Australia, put on uniforms and packed their lunches for the first time in months on Monday, as kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students returned to face-to-face learning.

Although the return to classrooms is a welcome change for parents and teachers, there are concerns that younger children will face social challenges heading back.

“I’ve noticed [five-year-old Jack] has become attached to me so I’m concerned to see how it goes the next few days,” parent Nicole Kastner said. “He has been by my side for the last three-and-a-half months.”

With only two months left of the school year, she said her focus would be on getting him into the rhythm of school again and out meeting friends. “We’re excited … we’re excited to go back to the new normal. It’s a fresh leaf, a new chapter,” she said.

Schools will look a bit different. Masks are now mandatory for high school students, and are recommended for primary school children. Teachers have been asked to keep the windows open for ventilation, but some classrooms have locked windows, and some worry about what will happen in summer when the temperatures soar.

Kastner runs Australian school mums, a Facebook group with 5,000+ members, and says a lot of parents are confused about masks and concerned private schools in the state will get air purifiers while other schools may miss out.

Read more of Cait Kelly’s report here: Nerves as NSW children head back to school, after months of Covid lockdown

Related: Nerves as NSW children head back to school, after months of Covid lockdown

EU has exported over 1bn vaccine doses worldwide – von der Leyen

11:01

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has issued a statement this morning about the EU reaching a vaccine milestone. She says the bloc has exported over 1bn vaccine doses worldwide. She says:

We have reached an important milestone in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to the world. The European Union has exported over 1bn vaccine doses worldwide, over the past ten months. Vaccines produced in the EU have been shipped to more than 150 countries. We delivered around 87m doses to low- and middle-income countries through Covax. Very clearly, the European Union is the largest exporter of Covid-19 vaccines.

In parallel, the EU has enabled the vaccination of our citizens. And more than 75% of adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. Together with President Biden, we aim for a global vaccination rate of 70% by next year. The EU-US Agenda for Beating the Global Pandemic will help us achieve that. On top of our exports, the EU will donate in the next months at least 500 million doses to the most vulnerable countries. But other countries need to step up, too.

Von der Leyen goes on to say that she will be pressing world leaders at the G20 summit in Rome next week on the issue.

Vaccine take-up among 12- to 15-year-olds below 10% in third of English local authorities

11:01

Take-up of a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine among young teenagers is below 10% in just over a third of the main local authorities in England, latest figures show.

In some areas the rate is as low as 5%, while only 15 authorities have managed to give a first jab to at least a quarter of 12- to 15-year-olds. The picture is very different in Scotland, where take-up is already over 50% in half of local authority areas.

First doses of Covid-19 vaccine began to be rolled out to all the UK’s 3.2 million 12- to 15-year-olds nearly a month ago.

But Ian Jones reports for PA Media that figures for England and Scotland – the two nations currently publishing daily statistics on take-up – show wide variations across the countries.

In 55 of the 149 upper tier local authorities in England, or 37% of the total, fewer than one in 10 children aged 12 to 15 are estimated to have received a first dose. Barking & Dagenham has the lowest take-up (3.5%), followed by Newham and Lewisham (both 5.2%), all of which are in London.

Take-up is also likely to have been affected by the level of infection circulating in the community. A first dose of vaccine cannot be delivered to someone if they are within four weeks of testing positive for Covid-19, waiting for the results of a coronavirus test, or self-isolating.

Around one in 10 children in England in school years 7 to 11 were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to 9 October – the highest rate for any age group – according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Russia sets another new daily Covid case record

09:39

Russia has again set a new record daily caseload, recording 34,325 new cases in the last 24 hours. That’s up just slightly on the previous day’s 34,303.

The official death toll was raised by 998, with the numbers continuing to hover close to 1,000 deaths per day.

About a third of adults in the country have had at least one Covid vaccine shot. The population of Russia is around 144 million people

 

09:13

French pharmaceutical firm Valneva has reported positive results from its Covid-19 trial.

In new phase 3 results reported today, Valneva said its vaccine showed superior neutralising antibody titer levels compared with the comparator vaccine from AstraZeneca. The company also said its vaccine – VLA2001 – induced broad T-cell responses, a part of the immune system believed to be involved in long-term immunity.

PA Media reports that the phase 3 trial recruited 4,012 people across 26 trial sites in the UK.

Thomas Lingelbach, the chief executive officer of Valneva, said: “We are committed to bringing our differentiated vaccine candidate to licensure as quickly as possible and continue to believe that we will be able to make an important contribution to the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Last month, the UK government scrapped a deal for Valneva’s vaccine, with health secretary Sajid Javid telling MPs it had been “clear” the vaccine “would not get approval” by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK.

 

08:30 Mostafa Rachwani

Australia’s Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, has hit back at US senator Ted Cruz who criticised the Northern Territory’s vaccine policy, telling the Texan conservative “you know nothing about us”.

The spat began when the US Republican shared a video of Gunner announcing the territory’s wide-ranging vaccine mandate for workers. Cruz lamented the “Covid tyranny of their (Australia’s) current government,” which he said was “disgraceful and sad”.

“Individual liberty matters,” Cruz declared, adding he had considered Australia the “Texas of the Pacific”.

Gunner did not appreciate the feedback, responding on Twitter with a statement sharing a “few facts about Covid down here” and tagging Cruz.

“We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate,” the chief minister began.

“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from Covid. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?

Read more of Mostafa Rachwani’s report here: Northern Territory chief minister and US senator Ted Cruz in Twitter spat over Covid vaccines

Related: Northern Territory chief minister and US senator Ted Cruz in Twitter spat over Covid vaccines

India’s vaccination campaign slows as vaccine stockpile grows

08:25

India’s vaccination campaign has slowed despite amassing record stockpiles of vaccine, health ministry data showed today, as authorities maintain a wider-than-usual gap between doses in a strategy that has boosted coverage.

Krishna N Das reports from New Delhi for Reuters that domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which accounts for nearly 90% of administered doses, has more than tripled since May, when a supply shortage prompted India to double the period between doses to between 12 and 16 weeks.

That gap, exceeding the eight to 12 weeks recommended by the World Health Organization, has allowed India to give at least one vaccine dose to 74% of its 944 million adults, with just 30% getting the full complement of two.

Over the last few days, daily stocks of all Covid vaccines have exceeded 100m doses. In contrast, daily vaccinations have dropped to an average of 5m doses this month, and even less in the past week.

Hope for tourists to return to Australia before Christmas

07:48

Australia has edged closer to national coronavirus coverage of 70% amid rising hopes international tourists, workers and students can return before Christmas.

More than 68% of people aged 16 and above have received two jabs, while 84.8% are covered with at least one.

Returning Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be the first quarantine-free arrivals into NSW when borders reopen from 1 November.

Trade and tourism minister Dan Tehan is optimistic that national double-dose vaccination coverage of 80% will give the nation more options.

“Returning Australians first,” he told Sky News on Monday. “Then my view is that before Christmas we can start looking at the tourists, the international students, the working holidaymaker visa holders and our Pacific workforce.”

Tehan said migrant labour would be crucial to driving Australia’s economic recovery.

Home affairs minister Karen Andrews said vaccination was key to Australia allowing people to travel internationally from next month.

“As soon as it’s possible, we want to make sure that we can bring into this country the skilled workers, the international students that we so desperately need,” she told parliament.

“Then of course we will be welcoming back international tourists.”

Australia will begin issuing vaccine proof certificates from Tuesday to confirm travellers’ immunisation status.

 

07:47

Good morning, it is Martin Belam here in London taking over from Samantha Lock in Sydney. Deputy prime minister and secretary of state for justice Dominic Raab is doing the UK media round this morning. I’ll bring you any Covid lines that emerge from that in due course.

 

07:47

Overnight, Reuters have this numbers from China. Mainland China says it currently has 96,546 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The country reported 24 new confirmed Covid cases for 17 October, up from 20 a day earlier. Two local cases were found in the north-western city of Xian, while the rest of the infections were imported from abroad, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.

China reported nine new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, down from 13 in the day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636.

 

07:47

In the UK, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has just been on Sky News, in an understandably sombre appearance following the killing of MP Sir David Amess on Friday.

He wasn’t really asked anything directly about the pandemic, however, having stressed that he was anxious to be careful not to potentially prejudice any criminal proceedings, he did address one aspect of the coverage and the response to the incident, and the use in the press of the phrase “post-pandemic radicalism”, saying:

I think what we saw over the period of the pandemic is a huge amount of additional activity online, and people using online, whether it’s for the work/life balance, whether it’s for educating their kids in a way that was in large part was a great relief and a great solace, given what we’re all going through with a pandemic. People can talk to their grandparents, their young children or relatives in ways that we hadn’t done before.

But there is also a dark side to what happens online, and I suspect a lot of people, or as well as experiencing the positives, there will have been just moments where people were anxious. We know that those with mental health struggled during the pandemic. Although crime as a result came down overall, because there were less people on the streets, we know that there was at least some extra nefarious activity online. I wouldn’t want to dub the whole of what happens online in negative ways, it’s hugely emancipating in many ways, but I think in the pandemic it really magnified the positive, but also some of the vulnerabilities, and that’s what we’re working through.

 

07:46

Sgt Randy Huserik and all other officers with the Seattle police department who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are prepared to report at 7am Tuesday morning to any of the city’s five precincts rather than their usual assignments. Some detectives could even be responding to 911 calls instead of following up on their case load, he said.

That’s because the city is implementing a vaccine mandate for officers on 18 October and preparing to fire hundreds of officers who refuse to get the vaccine, which could leave the department significantly understaffed.

“We will have additional bodies available to handle 911 calls but obviously there is going to be a backlash on that for all the officers assigned as detectives who then won’t be working on their caseload, which will then back up as additional cases come in,” said Huserik, who has been with the department for 28 years and works in public affairs.

The standoff between the city and officers is just one conflict among many across the US, with city leaders stating that they are trying to keep the public safe and some officers and their union representatives saying that the mandates violate their rights. In Chicago, the issue has even led to the mayor and the local police union trading legal actions.

While the penalties for officers who decline to get the vaccine differ from city to city, there is a common resistance among police unions to various restrictions. And policing experts warn that even if officers’ resistance to the vaccination is misguided, issuing mandates could further deplete departments that are already understaffed and thus hurt public safety.

Read more of Eric Berger’s report here: Police departments face a shortage as unions enable officers to refuse vaccines

Related: Police departments face a shortage as unions enable officers to refuse vaccines

 

07:45

We will get some fresh numbers from Russia in a few hours. Over the weekend, the country recorded more than 1,000 Covid deaths in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began.

In the meantime, Moscow Times is carrying two lines-worth, noting in its latest update on Covid in the country. Health minister Mikhail Murashko has called on doctors who are self-isolating or even retired due to the pandemic to get vaccinated and return to work.

Anna Popova, the head of the consumer rights body Rospotrebnadzor, says 38 of Russia’s 85 regions have introduced vaccine mandates for certain categories of citizens and employees working in designated sectors of the economy, such as retail and hospitality.

Summary

06:41

Good morning or afternoon from wherever you may be in the world and welcome to our rolling coronavirus coverage.

I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be reporting from Sydney, Australia, bringing you the latest developments.

Cases of psychosis have soared over the past two years in England as an increasing number of people experience hallucinations and delusional thinking amid the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There was a 75% increase in the number of people referred to mental health services for their first suspected episode of psychosis between April 2019 and April 2021, NHS data shows.

In New Zealand, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has extended Auckland’s level 3 lockdown by another two weeks.

“If we get this right, if we keep case numbers low while we vaccinate people then it makes it easier for us to keep control of Covid, while we ease restrictions in the future, and that is everyone’s goal,” she said on Monday.

Here’s a round-up of today’s top stories in case you missed it.

  • The UK recorded 45,140 new infections on Sunday, the highest jump in Covid cases since mid-July.
  • Cases surged in Russia as 34,303 new positive Covid tests and 997 deaths were reported.
  • England is planning to launch walk-in vaccine clinics within weeks for children aged 12 to 15, after its inoculation rate for this age group severely lags behind Scotland. The programme is hoped to stem rising rates of Covid-19 infections within secondary schools.
  • Melbourne, Australia is set to lift stay-at-home orders this week, ending what is considered to be the world’s longest lockdown. About 5 million people living in Australia’s second-most populous city have spent more than 260 days under six lockdowns since March of 2020. The figure surpasses Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the longest lockdown globally.
  • Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown urged an emergency Covid vaccine airlift to Africa, saying it could save 100,000 lives.
  • Italy announced 2,437 new Covid cases and 24 deaths, following its introduction of workplace vaccine mandates on Friday.
  • The lawyer of American convicted murderer Robert Durst said the real estate mogul has Covid and is on a ventilator, days after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  • Aid organisation World Vision warned the fallout of the pandemic could provoke a rise in child stunting in the Pacific as job losses and rising food prices threaten malnutrition.
  • Egypt announced new Covid requirements for public sector employees from 15 November, who will have to be vaccinated or take a weekly Covid test to work in government buildings.
  • Covid patient denies Covid exists while gasping for breath, ICU nurse says.

 

06:39

The US has administered 408,265,959 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The figures are up from the 407,446,961 vaccine doses the CDC said had been administered by 16 October.

The total numbers of deaths currently stands at 722,212.

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