World news – GB – Wales imposes new local lockdown, as hospitals urge people to avoid A&E – follow live


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A new local lockdown has been imposed in Rhondda Cynon Taf in south Wales after coronavirus cases spiked to 82.1 per 100,000 people.

It comes as people opted to turn up to hospital A&Es yesterday in a bid to get a Covid-19 test because of a lack of available bookings through the online system. 

Meanwhile, a minister has suggested the government will wait two weeks to see whether the new “rule of six” is effective in stopping the spread of Covid-19 before considering tougher social distancing measures, according to ITV’s Robert Peston. 

Rhondda Cynon Taf in south Wales will be placed under a local lockdown from 6pm on Thursday following an increase of coronavirus cases.

Rhondda Cynon Taf, which has a population of about 240,000, has seen a rolling seven-day case rate of 82.1 per 100,000 people.

Under the lockdown, people must not enter or leave the local council area without a reasonable excuse.

People will only be able to meet outdoors and will not be able to meet members of their extended household indoors.

The infection spike been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from holidays abroad, Mr Gething said.

Boris Johnson has been accused of blaming the British people for chaos in the coronavirus testing system after he said a “colossal spike” in demand was causing delays.

At prime minister’s questions, Mr Johnson insisted the UK was testing more people than any other country in Europe, but urged families to comply with guidance about when to get a test to help the system deal with “a huge, huge surge” in requests.

But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner challenged his assertion that 240,000 tests are being conducted a day, pointing to leaked documents which suggested at the weekend that the true number of people tested daily was around 62,000.

Coronavirus infections in Romania has risen by 1,713 in the past day, a record high, taking the cumulative total to 107,011 cases.

About a third of cases have been concentrated in four areas – the capital Bucharest, Transylvania’s medieval city of Brasov and in the counties of Arges and Prahova.

The spikes have been among Europe’s fastest, together with Spain, France, Malta, Croatia and the Czech Republic, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

President Klaus Iohannis ordered a strict lockdown across the country of 20 million in March and while restrictions have been eased, masks have been compulsory in public transport and indoor public spaces since May.

The government reopened schools for 2.8 million children on Monday after a six-month closure, ordering pupils to wear face masks.

Since the outbreak came to light in February, 4,285 people have died and about 50,000 recovered.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested families whose children are sent home due to a positive case in a school may not need to get tested if they have no symptoms.

Addressing concerns about testing, Mr Williamson told the Education Select Committee: « To emphasise, people only with symptoms are the ones that should be actually doing the testing.

« So if a child and their contacts have been sent home, it’s not that all those children that are sent home should be getting tested. It is only the child that is displaying symptoms as against the whole cohort. »

Rob Halfon, chairman of the committee, asked Mr Williamson if he could « guarantee » pupils and teachers who need local Covid-19 tests would be able to get them within 48 hours in the event of outbreaks.

Mr Williamson replied: « Schools are, I think, the only organisation that actually has a set of testing kits that have been sent to them directly in order to be able to ensure that if they are in a situation where someone isn’t in a position to be able to get a test then they actually have testing kits on site.

Each school and college was given 10 home-testing kits at the start of term and schools can now order more kits online from today, the minister added.

A Greater Manchester hospital has told people to stay away from its A&E department unless they have a life-threatening illness or injury as surging coronavirus cases across the region begin to translate into rising hospital admissions, Colin Drury reports.

The Royal Bolton is now so busy health chiefs said they “cannot afford for the situation to worsen”.

In a desperate plea, Dr Francis Andrews, the hospital’s medical director, suggested the department was being overwhelmed partially by people turning up for Covid-19 tests because they could not access one as part of the government’s failing national scheme. But he told them to stay away so more serious cases could be effectively treated.

Royal Bolton becomes first hospital in country to issue such a plea since height of pandemic in the spring

Sir Keir Starmer has announced the coronavirus test for one of his children has come back negative today.

The Labour leader wrote on Twitter: « I’m very pleased and relieved that the test result for one of my children came back negative this morning.

« Thank you to the NHS hospital where my wife works for ensuring that their staff and family members have quick access to a test.

« However, I know the situation is desperate at the moment for thousands of families across the country who are struggling to get a test.

It is understood he will not question Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, with his deputy Angela Rayner taking his place as planned.

Targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement are set to be introduced in Madrid in areas with high Covid-19 cases.

Madrid accounts for about one-third of active coronavirus cases in Spain, with a higher incidence in high-density and low-income neighbourhoods, mainly in the south of the city.

Antonio Zapatero, head of Madrid’s Covid-19 response, told reporters there had been a “relaxation of behaviour that we cannot afford » with people organising parties, drinking in the street and not respecting quarantine rules.

He did not give details of the measures to be announced on Friday, but said the health department was considering locking down areas with the highest incidence of the virus.

Since restrictions on movement were lifted and mass testing began in late June, infections have risen in Spain from a few hundred a day to thousands, outstripping other hard-hit nations such as Britain, Italy or France.

Spain’s cumulative number of cases, at 603,167, is the highest in Western Europe, while the number of deaths exceeded 30,000.

Donald Trump has suggested the coronavirus pandemic could end with some form of “herd mentality » to the virus, appearing to attempt to refer to the concept of community immunity.

Speaking at a televised ABC News town hall in Pennsylvania, the US president defended his administration’s handling of the pandemic as he promised Covid-19 “would go away”.

Asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos whether or not the coronavirus could disappear without a vaccine, the president replied: “Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away.

The chief executive of British Airways has told MPs: “We’re still fighting for our own survival.”

Speaking to the Transport Select Committee, Alex Cruz said BA is burning through £20m in cash per day, and that he has taken a one-third pay cut.

He criticised the government’s policy of announcing new candidates for quarantine each Thursday, saying: « The weekly [quarantine] announcement is incredibly disruptive – primarily for our passengers.”

Alex Cruz told MPs BA is burning through £20m in cash per day, and that he has taken a one-third pay cut

Boris Johnson must « take charge » of delays in obtaining Covid-19 tests to ensure schools remain open, organisations representing headteachers and governors have said.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), school leaders’ union NAHT and the National Governance Association have written to the prime minister to express concern about difficulties with the testing system.

The letter warns of a « deep sense of foreboding about the potential for the system to become ever-more riddled with delays as more cases emerge ».

ASCL said it has received 264 emails on the test and trace system from schools and colleges which said they had symptomatic staff and/or pupils who were struggling to access tests.

The letter says: « Schools are left in a position of either leaving close contacts of the infected person in school while they wait for guidance, or making a public health call themselves and deciding on who to send home. »

It adds: « Our purpose in writing is to implore you to personally take charge of this situation in the interests of keeping our schools and colleges open, and protecting pupils and staff. »

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