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Father-of-one writes children’s book to combat the lack of diversity

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father of one writes childrens book to combat the lack of diversity

A single father-of-one has revealed how he sometimes feels like a ‘unicorn’ because his siutation as a black gay dad with an adopted child is so rare. 

Leon Wenham, 41, from London, who works as a head of client relations, welcomed his son last year – who he’s chosen not to name for safeguarding reasons – having wanted to adopt a child for the last 20 years.

‘It’s just a beautiful connection that we have. It’s not unconventional at all, he’s happy, I’m happy,’ he said.  

‘As a single black gay adopter, it’s so rare so I almost feel like a unicorn sometimes and everyone is just so interested to find out more.’ 

Leon’s unique situation, plus the existing lack of diversity in books for children, has prompted him to write his own book so that children like his son can feel represented. 

He also hopes that You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love will encourage more people of colour, people from the LGTBQ+ community and single people to consider adoption. 

Leon Wenham, 41, (pictured), who works as a head of client relations, is publishing a children's book which aims to combat the lack of diversity in junior literature and encourage more people to consider adoption

Leon Wenham, 41, (pictured), who works as a head of client relations, is publishing a children's book which aims to combat the lack of diversity in junior literature and encourage more people to consider adoption

Leon Wenham, 41, (pictured), who works as a head of client relations, is publishing a children’s book which aims to combat the lack of diversity in junior literature and encourage more people to consider adoption

Leon’s adoption process took 12 months from the moment he enquired about adopting in February 2018 to being matched with his son. 

Describing his decision to adopt, Leon told Femail: ‘I’m 41 now and it’s just always something I’ve wanted to do. As a gay man having children the conventional way wasn’t really an option for me.

‘As I get older it’s something that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind. So I picked up the phone in 2018 and started the process.’

Leon knew it was time to adopt his son when he moved house four years ago.

‘It was a project and I did it up knowing that it would be a family home,’ he said.

‘So once the refurb project was completed I knew that the next phase in life was to be a father. I bought the house and did it up for this purpose.’

Despite Leon’s adoption experience being relatively straightforward, he said that this isn’t always the case and that his adoption journey was ‘quite quick’. 

Leon's book, You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love aims to offer greater representation to minority demographics in children's literature

Leon's book, You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love aims to offer greater representation to minority demographics in children's literature

Leon’s book, You, Me and Lots and Lots of Love aims to offer greater representation to minority demographics in children’s literature

Leon's adoption process took 12 months from the moment he enquired about adopting in February 2018 to being matched with his son - but he said that this was quite quick

Leon's adoption process took 12 months from the moment he enquired about adopting in February 2018 to being matched with his son - but he said that this was quite quick

Leon’s adoption process took 12 months from the moment he enquired about adopting in February 2018 to being matched with his son – but he said that this was quite quick

His son is now five-years-old but Leon is worried about the lack of diversity in children’s books, and said only four per cent of children’s books published last year featured a BAME character.

Leon’s book aims to do more than just tackle the stigmas around adoption and he hopes his book can be a trailblazer in diversifying the representation of non-conventional families. 

‘One of the reasons I chose to write the book is because most books on adoption usually use animals,’ he said. 

‘I didn’t find any books that represented our nuclear family. I’m black Caribbean and all the books were very much all conventional and featured Caucasian people and I think when you’ve got a child that’s adopted and doesn’t have a conventional family, if you keep seeing that in books it’s just not really helpful for them. 

‘It just highlights that they’re different, which for a four or five-year-old that can be quite difficult.’

Leon's book aims to do more than just tackle the stigmas around adoption and he hopes his book can be a trailblazer in diversifying the representation of non-conventional families

Leon's book aims to do more than just tackle the stigmas around adoption and he hopes his book can be a trailblazer in diversifying the representation of non-conventional families

Leon’s book aims to do more than just tackle the stigmas around adoption and he hopes his book can be a trailblazer in diversifying the representation of non-conventional families

However, the issue of a lack of representation for minority groups is something Leon believes should be tackled at an early stage. 

Leon said: ‘When you go to school children have got diverse friends and that’s society now. Why are there not more books that reflect that? 

‘My son’s got a lot of friends and I was speaking to one of the parents recently, and I asked: “Out of interest, how diverse is your little boy’s book collection?” and she was quite embarrassed when she said that it wasn’t at all. 

‘This is an example of why I’m doing this book, it’s to normalise diversity from a young age.’

Speaking about what he hopes the book will achieve, Leon said: ‘Normalising diversity from a young age is number one. 

‘Number two is explaining adoption to children in a way that is encouraging and encourages them to share their emotions and recognises some of the big emotions that children and adults go through during the process. 

‘Also one of the key things is to shine a light on black fathers because I think that black dads have had quite a bad reputation over decades – even from within the black community. 

‘Being a single black gay adoptive father I think it’s something quite positive. Long term would be for more black families or single black people, the black LGBT community to really consider adoption as an option into parenthood.’

Leon’s son had a difficult start to his life, having lived in five different homes before being matched with his new father. 

Despite this, Leon said that this hasn’t posed a problem during his adoption journey. 

Leon has also set up a Facebook group of black fathers who have adopted children to offer support and guidance to one another

Leon has also set up a Facebook group of black fathers who have adopted children to offer support and guidance to one another

Leon has also set up a Facebook group of black fathers who have adopted children to offer support and guidance to one another

‘All my friends and family and people I come into contact with are really positive about the whole thing obviously. 

When asked what advice he would offer people of all backgrounds and demographics, Leon said having a large support network is key.

He said: ‘I’ve got emotional support if I need to pick up the phone rant or get advice, then I’ve got that in abundance, but it would be nice to have a bit more “Can you watch him for an hour while I go to a restaurant”.’

However, despite his own positive experience with adoption, Leon has no immediate plans to adopt again but if his circumstances were different ‘then maybe’. 

In addition to his new book, Leon has also set up a Facebook page dedicated to supporting black adoptive fathers to provide a safe space for discussion and to help each other. 

He said: ‘So what that was about was I was in a lot of parent groups on Facebook and actually gay parent groups and gay parent forums and they were majority white spaces and I just felt the cultural differences, the differences in the way we care for our children.’

The group has grown to include fathers from as far as America, Canada, Australia, Africa, Middle East, Caribbean, Jamaica and Leon describes the group as a global village because ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus UK: SAGE calls for national lockdown to ‘save’ Christmas

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coronavirus uk sage calls for national lockdown to save christmas

Britain’s second coronavirus crisis is on track to kill more than 85,000 people this winter if the country doesn’t lock down immediately, SAGE warned today as 274 more Covid-19 victims and 24,405 cases were announced.

The Government’s scientific advisers have called for the UK to follow in the footsteps of Germany and France and retreat back into a full national shutdown ‘for at least a month’ because they say the current three-tiered lockdown system is failing. But top experts say interventions take at least three weeks to take effect. The tiered system only came into force on October 14, little over two weeks ago.

SAGE sent a stark warning to Boris Johnson today that deaths were on already on track to exceed the 85,000 they projected in their ‘worst case scenario’ modelling over summer – which estimated there would be 100 Covid-19 fatalities a day by the end of October. Britain is already recording three times that amount. 

SAGE also released a document from October 14 that show the group warned two weeks ago that the virus was spreading faster than their ‘worst case scenario’ and there were up to 75,000 new infections per day.  

The group, which has been banging the drum about a harsh two-week lockdown for months, said the Prime Minister had missed the boat for a ‘circuit breaker’ and that a longer, more severe, intervention was needed to bring down cases and give hospitals some breathing room. Currently, the NHS is filling up fast with infected patients, spiking by about a third in the most recent week, and SAGE says hospitals could be overwhelmed by mid-December.

But senior SAGE sources said it was still ‘not too late to save Christmas’ if a month-long lockdown was introduced immediately. They are calling for the closure of all pubs and restaurants and other venues where households mix indoors, in a move that could bring the crippled economy to its knees. SAGE is said to be in favour of a similar lockdown to the one imposed today in France, where residents can only leave home for one hour a day to exercise and all non-essential businesses must shut for a month – but schools can stay open. 

Today’s 274 deaths are up almost a quarter on last Friday’s 224. There were 24,405 new infections today, which is nearly a fifth more than a week ago when there were 20,530. 

Despite SAGE’s doomsday projections, conflicting data has made it difficult to put a finger on exactly how dire the coronavirus situation in the UK currently is. A report from the Office for National Statistics – a Government-run agency – today found daily coronavirus infections in England surged by 50 per cent last week. It estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago. 

The weekly update is far lower than another shocking Government-funded study, called REACT-1, which this week claimed there were 96,000 new cases per day by October 25, putting the current outbreak on par with levels seen in the first wave. Other researchers at King’s College London, however, predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’. 

Meanwhile, Cumbria County Council said Carlisle and surrounding areas – including communities such as Longtown and Brampton – will move into Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow.

A spokesman for the authority said tonight: ‘The announcement follows rising cases in Carlisle and this week’s public health update which showed Carlisle overtaking Barrow borough in having the greatest number of new cases in the county. Barrow and Carlisle’s rates are currently higher than the national average.’ 

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SAGE released a document from October 14 that show the group warned two weeks ago that the virus was spreading faster than their 'worst case scenario' and there were up to 75,000 new infections per day

SAGE released a document from October 14 that show the group warned two weeks ago that the virus was spreading faster than their 'worst case scenario' and there were up to 75,000 new infections per day

SAGE released a document from October 14 that show the group warned two weeks ago that the virus was spreading faster than their ‘worst case scenario’ and there were up to 75,000 new infections per day

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SAGE is said to be calling for a lockdown akin to the one imposed in France today

SAGE is said to be calling for a lockdown akin to the one imposed in France today

SAGE is said to be calling for a lockdown akin to the one imposed in France today

REACT-1 predicted earlier in the week the reproduction ‘R’ rate across all of England had climbed to 1.6 – the highest since the first national lockdown – and possibly as high as 2.8 in London. When the R is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially. An R of 1.8 would mean on average every 10 people infected will infect 28 other people. Yet SAGE’s latest official R rate estimates – also published today – claimed the figure had dropped and estimated it stood between 1.1 and 1.3 both nationally and in London.

Amid confusion about the true scale of the country’s infection rates, one thing is clear – hospitals are filling up with infected patients, spiking by about a third in the most recent week. MailOnline analysis shows 19 NHS trusts are already treating more virus patients now than they were during the darkest days of the pandemic in spring.

Trusts in Tier Three lockdown areas such as Nottingham, Liverpool and Doncaster are seeing up to three times the number of Covid-19 patients compared to mid-April, with five brutal months of winter still to go.  The fact several trusts have surpassed spring levels already will be a cause for concern so early into winter. As the country moves deeper into the colder months, people tend to get sicker from a slew of other illnesses and need care, which heaps even more pressure on hospitals. 

But there is some reason to be optimistic, given that, overall, total beds occupied by Covid-19 sufferers across the country are still only half of what they were during the darkest days of the crisis in spring. Even in April, hospitals were not overwhelmed. And, although hospitals are filling up fast, they are mainly in hotspot areas and some experts believe it has been a direct result of a mid-September surge in infections, meaning admissions could soon tail off. 

Reacting to SAGE’s warnings tonight, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘We are in deeply serious situation with Coronavirus spreading with ferocity. Boris Johnson should have used the school half term for a time limited circuit break to push infections down, fix Test & Trace and save lives. It’s urgent Boris Johnson outlines the action he will now take to bring the virus under control and deliver on his promise to get R below 1 quickly.’

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Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data

Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data

Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data

Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas

Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas

Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas 

SAGE's presentation of the estimates of the median R rate in the four nations of the UK. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the estimates of the median R rate in the four nations of the UK. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE’s presentation of the estimates of the median R rate in the four nations of the UK. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the median R rate in different NHS regions of England. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the median R rate in different NHS regions of England. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE’s presentation of the median R rate in different NHS regions of England. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the growth rate of Covid-19 in the NHS England regions. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the growth rate of Covid-19 in the NHS England regions. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE’s presentation of the growth rate of Covid-19 in the NHS England regions. The bars represent different independent estimates, the grey shaded areas represent the combined numerical range and the black bars are the combined range rounding to one decimal place

SAGE's presentation of the median R rate in the UK, with bars representing different independent estimates

SAGE's presentation of the median R rate in the UK, with bars representing different independent estimates

SAGE’s presentation of the median R rate in the UK, with bars representing different independent estimates

So what’s the TRUTH about Britain’s second wave? R rate drops again and symptom-tracking app says outbreak is ‘stable’ – but Imperial warns of 96,000 cases a day and even ONS claims infections are ‘rising steeply’ 

There is no doubt that coronavirus infections are still surging in the UK but mathematicians and scientists don’t agree on how bad the second wave really is. 

A raft of statistics have been published in the past 48 hours with conflicting estimates of the number of people getting infected with the virus ranging from 35,000 to 96,000 per day, and some casting doubt over doom-laden warnings of a repeat of March’s catastrophe.

Statistics published this week have produced a wide range of possible daily infections in England, from as few as 34,000, according to an estimate by King's College London to as many as 96,000, according to the Government-run REACT study

Statistics published this week have produced a wide range of possible daily infections in England, from as few as 34,000, according to an estimate by King's College London to as many as 96,000, according to the Government-run REACT study

Statistics published this week have produced a wide range of possible daily infections in England, from as few as 34,000, according to an estimate by King’s College London to as many as 96,000, according to the Government-run REACT study

One of the Office for National Statistics’ top Covid-19 analysts today said cases in England are ‘rising steeply’, while an epidemiologist behind another project said people could be ‘reassured’ that the virus isn’t out of control. 

Of studies estimating the numbers of new infections each day in England, the ONS put the figure at 51,900; King’s College’s Covid Symptom Study said 34,628; a Cambridge University ‘Nowcast’ said 55,600; and the Government-funded REACT study by Imperial College London put it at 96,000. The Department of Health’s official testing programme is picking up 22,125 infections each day, but is known to miss large numbers without symptoms.

All the calculations have increased since their previous estimates and are in agreement that the outbreak is getting worse, but the speed at which this is happening is unclear. 

Meanwhile, SAGE today published its weekly estimate of the R rate and said the speed of spread has dropped. The Government’s scientific advisers put the ranges for the UK and England at 1.1 to 1.3, down from 1.2 to 1.4 last week. They said, however: ‘SAGE is almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow rapidly across the country.’

Numbers of people being admitted to hospital and dying of coronavirus continue to rise rapidly, with an average of 230 deaths per day now being announced and 10,308 people in hospital with Covid-19, increasing by more than 1,000 per day. 

These will keep increasing for the coming weeks and months even if cases start to slow down or even fall, officials say, because hospitalisations and deaths are ‘baked in’ by infections that happen two to three weeks earlier.

One statistician not involved with any of the predictions – Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford – said there were ‘uncertainties’ in all of them, meaning no one number was correct. He added: ‘We can be almost certain that we will see an increase in the number of deaths per day from Covid-19 over the next few weeks.’

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It comes as local leaders warned it is ‘inevitable’ that Birmingham will soon be moved into Tier Three as ministers warned the nation is heading for a national lockdown ‘by proxy’ while streets were largely empty in London amid fears the capital will be plunged into the top tier within the next two weeks.

Some 21 million people across England will soon be living in areas subject to Tier Two restrictions while 11 million will be in Tier Three, which means some 32 million – almost 60 per cent of the population – will be in the higher tiers.  

West Yorkshire will be placed into Tier Three from midnight on Sunday, as 2.3 million people across Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield will join the eight million in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and Nottibghamshire already under the strictest curbs.

Ministers were said to have been shown ‘very, very bleak’ data this week which experts believe could result in the whole country being in Tier Three by Christmas. 

The latest coronavirus developments came as: 

  • Dominic Raab said the public would find it ‘desperately unfair’ to impose a national lockdown while rates of infection vary across the country. 
  • Nottinghamshire Police said 40 young people are facing fines after a party was broken up at a student hall of residence. 
  • It emerged that Britain’s biggest lenders charged the Government more than £65 million in interest in just three months to provide loans to British businesses during the pandemic. 
  • British Airways’ parent company IAG swung to a pre-tax loss of 6.2 billion euros (£5.6 billion) for the nine months to the end of September, compared with a 2.3 billion euros (£2.1 billion) pre-tax profit during the same period a year ago.
  • Official statistics suggested nearly one in every 13 UK workers was still on furlough in mid-October as the scheme ends this weekend.
  • Official statistics showed there has now been more than 62,000 deaths in the UK involving Covid-19.
  • Mark Drakeford revealed Wales will not return to a ‘network of local restrictions’ after its ‘firebreak’ national lockdown ends and will instead roll out a ‘simple set of national rules that are easier for everyone to understand’. 

Tier Three restrictions mean pubs and bars have to close unless they are serving substantial meals while the mixing of households indoors or outdoors, including in gardens, is also banned.   

But some experts are sceptical that the top tier is enough to get the spread of coronavirus back under control amid growing calls for tougher action. 

The Government is reportedly considering introducing a new Tier Four of restrictions which would approach the measures imposed during the national lockdown. 

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab this morning did not deny that is the case as he told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘We are always ready for further measures that we can take but I think the most important thing about further measures is we continue on the track that we are on of targeting the virus.

‘The difference between now and the first lockdown is we are in a much better place to really focus on where the virus is the greatest and I think that is right, not only in scientific and virus management terms, I think in terms of the way people feel about tackling the virus it is fair, it fits the natural justice that we are focusing on the areas where the uptick is the greatest and we are not taking a one-size-fits-all approach or a blanket approach or a blunt approach.’

Mr Raab said the Government wanted to avoid the ‘arbitrariness of a blanket approach’ as he claimed the public favour targeted restrictions. 

However, he did not rule out eventually having to impose a national lockdown after France and Germany made the move earlier this week. 

He said: ‘You mention France. France of course tried a localised approach and then fell back on the national approach.

‘What I think that shows you, Germany is the same, is how important it is that we all rally together at local level through to national level, communities, local leaders, national leaders, and really lean in to the localised focused approach.

‘That is the most effective way to tackle the virus and avoid the blanket approach which I don’t think would be in the best interests of this country and which we are striving to avoid.’ 

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Scientists have warned the second wave of coronavirus could result in 85,000 deaths, almost double the number of victims from the first epidemic

Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent

Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent

 Percentage change in coronavirus cases across England in the week to October 25: The five local authorities where the infection rate grew the most are: Kingston upon Hull City, 92.81 per cent; Derby, 91.84 per cent; North Somerset, 82.99 per cent; Medway, 77.17 per cent; and Bath and North East Somerset 69.72 per cent

Data for the week between October 12 and October 15 suggests the rate of infection has increased significantly in some parts of the country

Data for the week between October 12 and October 15 suggests the rate of infection has increased significantly in some parts of the country

Data for the week between October 12 and October 15 suggests the rate of infection has increased significantly in some parts of the country

Birmingham City Council leader urges Boris Johnson to ‘immediately’ impose national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown

Boris Johnson is facing a lockdown rebellion in Birmingham as the city council’s leader claimed the Government’s tiered system ‘just isn’t working’ and urged the Prime Minister to ‘immediately’ impose a national ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown. 

Birmingham is widely expected to be dragged into Tier Three restrictions within days because of rising infection rates. 

But Councillor Ian Ward said areas already in Tier Three ‘are still seeing rising cases’ as he warned ministers not to ‘repeat the mistake of last March in not moving soon enough’. 

Mr Ward, who runs England’s biggest council with a population of 1.1 million, said: ‘The problem is the tier system just isn’t working. Areas in Tier Three are still seeing rising cases.’

He added: ‘I am of the opinion England needs to follow France, Germany and Wales with a national circuit-breaker as quickly as possible.

‘We must not repeat the mistake of last March in not moving soon enough.’

The Labour council chief said a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown would ‘buy us valuable time’.

‘Delaying this decision will mean more avoidable deaths and only prolong the economic damage because the current system just doesn’t work,’ he said. 

Andy Street, the Conservative West Midlands mayor, said he was ‘not proposing’ a national lockdown but added it was clear more action was needed ‘to turn the tide’.

He claimed that blanket England-wide measures had the ‘greater economic and social impacts’ but he said the differences between the best and worst infection case rate areas in the country were ‘equalising’.

He added: ‘There is evidence delay in the best areas is actually counter-productive.

‘So, whether it be a national four-week lockdown, I do not know, but what I do know is that the message is very clear: we have to take further action to turn this tide, and sooner rather than later.’ 

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Covid-19 outbreaks are growing quickest in Hull, Derby and Somerset, official data reveals

Covid-19 outbreaks are growing the fastest in Hull, Derby, and Bath, according to official data that has revealed only 20 of all 150 authorities in England saw a drop in infections last week. 

Hull and Derby saw their coronavirus epidemics almost double in the seven-day spell ending October 25, with seven-day infection rates jumping to 279 and 329 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. 

Both cities, along with the rest of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, will be moved from Tier One into Tier Two from Saturday to try and stem the rise in infections, it was announced yesterday as England crept another step closer towards a full national lockdown.

But most of the authorities where epidemics have grown the most remain in Tier One, where only the rule of six and 10pm curfew apply. Scientists have argued these rules are not stringent enough to shrink the outbreak, with top Government advisers warning the current growth is ‘very bleak’.  

For example, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, where cases jumped up 83 per cent and 70 per cent in one week, have yet to be hit by any tougher virus-controlling restrictions. It comes despite warnings that the coronavirus crisis is ‘speeding up’ in the south of the country. 

Meanwhile, figures from Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report show the infection rate has fallen in Nottingham by 30 per cent. Despite the city’s outbreak shrinking, it will be thrown under the toughest Tier Three restrictions from tomorrow, along with the rest of the county.

And the data offered more proof that the tightest lockdown measures do work, with Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens all seeing their weekly coronavirus infection rates drop. All of the Merseyside area has been under Tier Three lockdown since October 14. 

It suggests the brutal restrictions — which ban people from socialising with anyone outside their own household and mean many pubs, bars, and in some cases gyms, have to close — are beginning to work. However, scientists say the true effect of measure won’t be clear until a few weeks have passed.  

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Mr Raab said it is ‘crucially important’ to ‘carry the public with us’ and that he believed the Government’s tiered approach is the best way to do that. 

‘Carrying the public with us is crucially important and the longer this pandemic goes on, every country is experiencing the same thing, the more challenging it is,’ he said. 

‘But the best means of carrying the public with us is that they understand intuitively, even if it feels difficult in their area or whether it is on the business side or the domestic side, that they know we are targeting the virus where it is the greatest threat.’

Mr Raab’s comments came as local leaders said it is ‘inevitable’ that Tier Three restrictions will soon be imposed on Birmingham. 

Many areas in the East and West Midlands are currently in Tier Two but Councillor Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, said yesterday a move to Tier Three is on the cards even if it is not ‘imminent’. 

He said: ‘Given the rising case rate and other factors, a move to Tier Three would seem to be inevitable at some stage and I’m talking to the other met (council) leaders, MPs and public health officials on a daily basis as we put our asks together for moving into Tier Three.

‘That’s because we want the Government to work with us to protect lives, jobs and the economy.

‘We don’t want imposition without negotiation. But I have certainly not said that we are going into Tier Three imminently. That’s not currently the case.’  

Health experts are warning that the UK’s three tier system is not enough to ‘get on top of the numbers’, with deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly beginning to change his mind over whether regional lockdowns will suppress the virus. 

He backed the move at a Number 10 press conference last week.

Presenting what one source called ‘very, very bleak’ data to a meeting of Covid-O, the Cabinet subcommittee on coronavirus, Mr Van Tam said that daily hospital admissions had now reached the highest level since April at 1,404.  

There are fears that the whole country will be at Tier Three by Christmas, scuppering family get togethers, unless urgent action is taken now. 

Experts believe that allowing people to visit family at Christmas will be a ‘spreading event’ that could cause a spike in infections many times worse than that caused by the return of university students to campuses earlier this year.

But some believe that introducing national restrictions before and after Christmas, while lifting them for the big day, could help minimise the impact. 

One senior health official told the Telegraph that anti-Covid measures were most likely to be successful if they were taken on a national basis rather than toughening up the rules for Tier Three or introducing a Tier Four. 

They added that a post-Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could also help reverse numbers and curb rising numbers of hospitalisations as fears spread that Britain’s ICUs could be overrun.

‘Releasing measures for two days is unlikely to cause a big upswing,’ a source said.

‘But it won’t do nothing. Christmas brings people from all over the country to sit inside together, so its quite likely to be a spreading event.

‘But people want to see their loved ones and they want to make physical contact, and we have to recognise that.’ 

Almost 60 per cent of the population – around 32.6 million – will be under stricter rules by Monday, and it is thought London could be moved into the top tier in two weeks unless infection rates drop significantly.

However, analysis by MailOnline suggests that only one London borough currently has a coronavirus infection rate above the England average amid fears the capital’s R-rate could be as high as three. 

The borough of Ealing had a weekly infection rate of 228.5 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending October 24, just slightly above the national average of 225.9. 

But for the other 31 boroughs, their rates were below the national benchmark.

And when the city’s Covid-19 outbreak is broken down to smaller districts within the boroughs, only six areas had infection rates at 400 per 100,000 – which is the level across much more badly affected Tier Three Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.

Nonetheless, no boroughs in the capital have an infection rate below 100 per 100,000, way above the level of 20 per 100,000 at which the Government considers curbs on travel to foreign countries. 

Sixteen more areas will move into the ‘high risk’ Tier Two at midnight including Oxford, Luton, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston Upon Hull, Derbyshire Dales, Derby and Staffordshire

That means that more than 21.6 million face the restrictions that include a ban on socialising indoors with anyone from another household, whether at home or in bars, restaurants and cafes.

It comes after SAGE piled fresh pressure on the Prime Minister to impose tougher restrictions as it warned up to 85,000 people could die in a second wave of infections. 

A ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ put forward by SAGE suggested daily deaths could remain above 500 for three months or more until March next year.

Escape from Paris: City is gridlocked as tens of thousands flee, stations are packed, violent protests break out and shelves are stripped ahead of month-long lockdown that BANS travel 

By Jack Wright for MailOnline  

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron’s new national shutdown. 

Video posted to Twitter shows huge numbers of Parisians attempting a mass exodus out of the city in a bid to avoid the 9pm curfew and the start of the second lockdown from midnight.

The night air was filled with the sound of blaring car horns while social media users estimated that Parisians had created ‘hundreds of miles’ of gridlock to escape to their second homes in the country. 

Revellers also seized the opportunity to spend one last night with friends and family last night before bars and restaurants are closed as the French government plunges the country back into lockdown.

Meanwhile French people emptied supermarkets in a repeat of the panic-buying that swept Europe in March as Parisians and other city dwellers prepared for a month in confinement. 

Shoppers stocked up on pasta and toilet roll while people queued outside hairdressers for a final trim. Office workers in the capital’s business district hauled their equipment to cars and trains in preparation for WFH.  

Emmanuel Macron’s draconian measures are due to be enforced until at least December 1, with people required to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home that will be subject to police checks.

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron’s new national shutdown 

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

France’s health minister yesterday warned that up to a million people may be infected with the disease, while Prime Minister Jean Castex extended mask requirements to schoolchildren as young as six. 

French schools will stay open but the stay-at-home measures for adults are as strict as in the spring, with written paperwork needed to go outside for shopping, medical care or one hour a day of exercise.     

President Macron said a curfew in Paris and other major cities had failed to stem the tide of infections, claiming that 400,000 people would die of Covid-19 if drastic action were not taken. 

In a televised announcement, he said: ‘Our target is simple: sharply reducing infections from 40,000 a day to 5,000 and slowing the pace of admissions to hospital and intensive care.’ 

Hospitals are already scrambling for intensive care beds and ‘no matter what we do, nearly 9,000 people will be in intensive care by mid-November,’ he said. The French leader called the new restrictions ‘heartbreaking’ but said he ‘could never stand by and see hundreds of thousands of our citizens die’.   

Bars, shops and restaurants are closing entirely again while France’s government is urging businesses to have employees work from home ‘five days a week’. 

35031140 8895437 image a 12 1604045257899

35031140 8895437 image a 12 1604045257899

 

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be ‘more deadly’ than the first

Mr Macron said some shops could be allowed to open in mid-November if the situation improves – but his scientific adviser’s warning raises the prospect of lockdown measures continuing up to Christmas.    

State-approved reasons for leaving households include buying essential goods, seeking medical attention or taking a daily one-hour allocation of exercise, the French government announced. Though bars and restaurants will close again, all public services, schools and essential workplaces will stay open.   

Stores and businesses across France were also filled by people racing to get supplies on Thursday – and maybe a last-minute haircut – ahead of the new lockdown. 

Yesterday the French government recorded 47,637 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 36,437 on Wednesday and a record high of 52,010 on SundayThe total number of infections rose to over 1.28 million while the death tally went up by 235 to 36,020. The number of people going into hospital with Covid-19 fell to 976, after three days of about 1,200 hospitalisations per day. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus Paris: Police check shoppers obeying lockdown laws

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coronavirus paris police check shoppers obeying lockdown laws

Police in Paris have begun carrying out checks on shoppers to ensure they are not flouting France‘s new national lockdown laws which came into effect at midnight.

Pictures from the French capital showed officers patrolling the mostly empty streets around some of Paris’ most recognisable attractions and checking on the few people who had chosen to venture outside.

The pictures from today offered a stark contrast to just a week ago when people could still freely move around the city during the day while bars and restaurants serving food remained open before the 9pm curfew. 

All of France’s 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors, or risk steep fines or prosecution, with a few exemptions. 

People are only allowed to leave home if they are armed with a self-signed certificate stating their urgent business – food shopping, taking the kids to school, going to work if this cannot be done from home, going to the hospital or a pharmacy. 

Citizens are also allowed out for one hour of exercise a day within a half-mile of home. Restaurants and cafes are shuttered, apart from those that offer takeout. Those found breaking the rules risk a fine of 135 euros. 

On Thursday night, tens of thousands of Parisians caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron’s new shutdown that will last until at least December 1.

A police officer confronts a woman carrying her shopping in the streets of Paris on the first day of the country's new national lockdown. All of France's 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors, or risk steep fines or prosecution, as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise

A police officer confronts a woman carrying her shopping in the streets of Paris on the first day of the country's new national lockdown. All of France's 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors, or risk steep fines or prosecution, as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise

A police officer confronts a woman carrying her shopping in the streets of Paris on the first day of the country’s new national lockdown. All of France’s 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors, or risk steep fines or prosecution, as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise

People are only allowed to leave home if they are armed with a self-signed certificate stating their urgent business - food shopping, taking the kids to school, going to work if this cannot be done from home, going to the hospital or a pharmacy. Pictured: A street cleaner walks in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero esplanade which is completely empty on the first day of the new lockdown

People are only allowed to leave home if they are armed with a self-signed certificate stating their urgent business - food shopping, taking the kids to school, going to work if this cannot be done from home, going to the hospital or a pharmacy. Pictured: A street cleaner walks in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero esplanade which is completely empty on the first day of the new lockdown

People are only allowed to leave home if they are armed with a self-signed certificate stating their urgent business – food shopping, taking the kids to school, going to work if this cannot be done from home, going to the hospital or a pharmacy. Pictured: A street cleaner walks in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero esplanade which is completely empty on the first day of the new lockdown

French police officers patrol in front of the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral in Paris, on October 30, the day the new lockdown rules come into power across the country in a bit to stem the spread of the coronavirus

French police officers patrol in front of the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral in Paris, on October 30, the day the new lockdown rules come into power across the country in a bit to stem the spread of the coronavirus

French police officers patrol in front of the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral in Paris, on October 30, the day the new lockdown rules come into power across the country in a bit to stem the spread of the coronavirus 

Concerns were growing that rising infections would swamp the country’s health system, so authorities ordered another four-week lockdown beginning Friday. 

Many areas of the French capital resembled a regular lazy weekend morning – on what would normally have been a bustling weekday. Those who were out frequently clutched permission forms proving they had an exemption that allowed them to to be on streets.

The only places that were busy were grocery stores and markets as people stockpiled food and other necessities.

‘Going to friends’ houses, having friends over and moving around for anything other than the reasons set out’ will be impossible, Prime Minister Jean Castex explained firmly on Thursday.

That will hit hard for many.

People out in the streets of Paris on Friday were seen frequently clutching permission forms proving they had an exemption that allowed them to to be on streets

People out in the streets of Paris on Friday were seen frequently clutching permission forms proving they had an exemption that allowed them to to be on streets

People out in the streets of Paris on Friday were seen frequently clutching permission forms proving they had an exemption that allowed them to to be on streets

Police officers check a couple's phones and ID cards near the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, atop the Montmartre hill in Paris on Friday after all of France's 67 million people were ordered to stay at home

Police officers check a couple's phones and ID cards near the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, atop the Montmartre hill in Paris on Friday after all of France's 67 million people were ordered to stay at home

Police officers check a couple’s phones and ID cards near the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, atop the Montmartre hill in Paris on Friday after all of France’s 67 million people were ordered to stay at home

Officers stop a number of people on the street - carrying shopping - of France's first day of its new national lockdown. People are allowed out of their hopes for a handful of exemptions, including shopping

Officers stop a number of people on the street - carrying shopping - of France's first day of its new national lockdown. People are allowed out of their hopes for a handful of exemptions, including shopping

Officers stop a number of people on the street – carrying shopping – of France’s first day of its new national lockdown. People are allowed out of their hopes for a handful of exemptions, including shopping

‘It’s not nice because I left my country to enjoy the experience of living in another country,’ said Laura Beimberg, 28, an intern at cosmetics giant L’Oreal who is from Mexico. ‘And this experience of being between four walls, far away from family and friends is so hard.’

French President Emmanuel Macron implemented the lockdown as a last resort to curb the steep spike in infections across the country, where new daily cases are currently averaging around 50,000. That means that, on a per capita basis, France is seeing about two and a half times the number of new cases each day that the United States is.

But France is not alone. Many of its European neighbours are experiencing rising infections, some even beyond what they saw in the spring. In Belgium, the average number of daily cases is around 150 per 100,000 people, compared to France’s approximately 62.

October 30: The pictures from today offered a stark contrast to just a week ago when people could still freely move around the city during the day and bars and restaurants serving food remained open before the 10pm curfew. Today, a woman was seen pushing a pram across a deserted deserted Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower on the first morning of the lockdown

October 30: The pictures from today offered a stark contrast to just a week ago when people could still freely move around the city during the day and bars and restaurants serving food remained open before the 10pm curfew. Today, a woman was seen pushing a pram across a deserted deserted Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower on the first morning of the lockdown

October 30: The pictures from today offered a stark contrast to just a week ago when people could still freely move around the city during the day and bars and restaurants serving food remained open before the 10pm curfew. Today, a woman was seen pushing a pram across a deserted deserted Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower on the first morning of the lockdown

October 26: As recently as Monday, people were seen walking across Paris' Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower while wearing face masks, an example of how quickly Paris has emptied

October 26: As recently as Monday, people were seen walking across Paris' Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower while wearing face masks, an example of how quickly Paris has emptied

October 26: As recently as Monday, people were seen walking across Paris’ Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower while wearing face masks, an example of how quickly Paris has emptied

The government in Belgium is meeting Friday to consider even tougher restrictions on movement that would amount to a quasi-lockdown. Germany, which is also seeing an increase in cases though on a much less dramatic scale, agreed this week to a month-long shutdown of restaurants, bars, theatres and other leisure facilities, dubbed ‘lockdown light.’

Such measures have taken a brutal toll on economies around Europe, and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire gave grim predictions during an interview on France-Inter, raising his estimate for the depth of the recession. He forecasted an 11% fall in GDP this year.

French residents could perhaps be forgiven for thinking it was groundhog day, just a few months after they emerged from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.

Some were accepting of the reality.

October 30: Two police officers confront a woman in the Paris subway on the first day of the new coronavirus lockdown in the city. Those found breaking the rules risk a fine of 135 euros

October 30: Two police officers confront a woman in the Paris subway on the first day of the new coronavirus lockdown in the city. Those found breaking the rules risk a fine of 135 euros

October 30: Two police officers confront a woman in the Paris subway on the first day of the new coronavirus lockdown in the city. Those found breaking the rules risk a fine of 135 euros

October 21: This is what Paris' Gare du Nord railway station looked like as recently as October 21. Rush-hour morning commuters wearing masks fill much of the station on their way to work. France has now asked people to work from home 'five days a week' under the new lockdown implemented from Friday

October 21: This is what Paris' Gare du Nord railway station looked like as recently as October 21. Rush-hour morning commuters wearing masks fill much of the station on their way to work. France has now asked people to work from home 'five days a week' under the new lockdown implemented from Friday

October 21: This is what Paris’ Gare du Nord railway station looked like as recently as October 21. Rush-hour morning commuters wearing masks fill much of the station on their way to work. France has now asked people to work from home ‘five days a week’ under the new lockdown implemented from Friday

‘We just have to live with it. You have resign yourself to it,’ said Yoann Boulle, 28, a sanguine evening manager at a Parisian brasserie.

But many Parisians, who had had enough last time around, didn’t wait to be confined to their typically cramped apartments for four weeks.

Carlo Ponti, a 54-year-old interior decorator, was among those who fled Paris, but he did it by train. He called the departure of the Parisians a ‘historic exodus.’

October 30: Chairs are seen stacked through the window of a closed cafe on the Champs-Elysees, on the first morning of the second national lockdown, dubbed reconfinement , in Paris

October 30: Chairs are seen stacked through the window of a closed cafe on the Champs-Elysees, on the first morning of the second national lockdown, dubbed reconfinement , in Paris

October 30: Chairs are seen stacked through the window of a closed cafe on the Champs-Elysees, on the first morning of the second national lockdown, dubbed reconfinement , in Paris

October 21: While by no means full, people could still be seen enjoying a coffee on a restaurant terrace on avenue des Champs-Elysee last week

October 21: While by no means full, people could still be seen enjoying a coffee on a restaurant terrace on avenue des Champs-Elysee last week

October 21: While by no means full, people could still be seen enjoying a coffee on a restaurant terrace on avenue des Champs-Elysee last week

He left Friday morning with his husband after finding all trains were booked Thursday night.

‘The minute the French president gave his speech (announcing a lockdown), the entire national train website went down, was overloaded. Everyone wanted to book to get away,’ Ponti said.

He plans to stay in his second home in the French region of Burgundy until over Christmas.

October 30: Citizens are allowed out for one hour of exercise a day within a half-mile of home. Restaurants and cafes are shuttered, apart from those that offer takeout. Pictured: A man goes jogging at Tuileries garden as parks remain open during the lockdown, but few other people can be seen in the park

October 30: Citizens are allowed out for one hour of exercise a day within a half-mile of home. Restaurants and cafes are shuttered, apart from those that offer takeout. Pictured: A man goes jogging at Tuileries garden as parks remain open during the lockdown, but few other people can be seen in the park

October 30: Citizens are allowed out for one hour of exercise a day within a half-mile of home. Restaurants and cafes are shuttered, apart from those that offer takeout. Pictured: A man goes jogging at Tuileries garden as parks remain open during the lockdown, but few other people can be seen in the park

October 23: A group of friends socialise in Luxembourg park in Paris last week. Now, people can only leave their homes for essential errands or face being fined 135 euros, meaning many will not be able to see friends and family they do not live with

October 23: A group of friends socialise in Luxembourg park in Paris last week. Now, people can only leave their homes for essential errands or face being fined 135 euros, meaning many will not be able to see friends and family they do not live with

October 23: A group of friends socialise in Luxembourg park in Paris last week. Now, people can only leave their homes for essential errands or face being fined 135 euros, meaning many will not be able to see friends and family they do not live with

‘During lockdown, the quality of life in the capital is terrible and so everyone who can do, tries to get away,’ he said.

Highways around the capital descended into scenes of traffic chaos during the night as residents fled the capital. French media reported that the logjams were more than double the usual in the region around Paris, reaching near record levels as many headed for country or family homes with more space.

The traffic was worsened by the fact that many were also leaving for the Nov. 1 All Saints’ Day holiday.

October 30: An elderly couple walks past a closed bookstore in Paris on Friday after the new lockdown rules closed a number of shops and businesses

October 30: An elderly couple walks past a closed bookstore in Paris on Friday after the new lockdown rules closed a number of shops and businesses

October 30: An elderly couple walks past a closed bookstore in Paris on Friday after the new lockdown rules closed a number of shops and businesses

October 22: A store remains open - with social distancing a mask rules in effect - last week before the new nationwide lockdown came into force on Friday, closing unessential shops and businesses

October 22: A store remains open - with social distancing a mask rules in effect - last week before the new nationwide lockdown came into force on Friday, closing unessential shops and businesses

October 22: A store remains open – with social distancing a mask rules in effect – last week before the new nationwide lockdown came into force on Friday, closing unessential shops and businesses 

Macron said that authorities would be ‘tolerant’ about families returning from the holiday on Monday, but otherwise interregional travel is strictly prohibited.

Yesterday the French government recorded 47,637 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 36,437 on Wednesday and a record high of 52,010 on Sunday.

The total number of infections rose to over 1.28 million while the death tally went up by 235 to 36,020. The number of people going into hospital with Covid-19 fell to 976, after three days of about 1,200 hospitalisations per day.  

Yesterday the French government recorded 47,637 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 36,437 on Wednesday and a record high of 52,010 on Sunday. Thursday also saw 235 coronavirus related deaths after seeing a recent high of 523 on Wednesday - the highest number since the first wave in the Spring

Yesterday the French government recorded 47,637 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 36,437 on Wednesday and a record high of 52,010 on Sunday. Thursday also saw 235 coronavirus related deaths after seeing a recent high of 523 on Wednesday - the highest number since the first wave in the Spring

 Yesterday the French government recorded 47,637 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 36,437 on Wednesday and a record high of 52,010 on Sunday. Thursday also saw 235 coronavirus related deaths after seeing a recent high of 523 on Wednesday – the highest number since the first wave in the Spring

Video posted to Twitter showed huge numbers of Parisians attempting a mass exodus out of the city in a bid to avoid the 9pm curfew and the start of the second lockdown from midnight.

The night air was filled with the sound of blaring car horns while social media users estimated that Parisians had created ‘hundreds of miles’ of gridlock to escape to their second homes in the country. 

Revellers also seized the opportunity to spend one last night with friends and family last night before bars and restaurants are closed as the French government plunges the country back into lockdown.

Meanwhile French people emptied supermarkets in a repeat of the panic-buying that swept Europe in March as Parisians and other city dwellers prepared for a month in confinement. 

Shoppers stocked up on pasta and toilet roll while people queued outside hairdressers for a final trim. Office workers in the capital’s business district hauled their equipment to cars and trains in preparation for WFH.  

Emmanuel Macron’s draconian measures are due to be enforced until at least December 1, with people required to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home that will be subject to police checks.

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron's new national shutdown

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron’s new national shutdown 

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

View of traffic jams in Paris as traffic records have been broken in Paris ahead of the new shutdown coming into force

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

The exodus from Paris came amid anti-lockdown protests which saw a chair thrown in the window of a closed outdoor cafe

The exodus from Paris came amid anti-lockdown protests which saw a chair thrown in the window of a closed outdoor cafe

The exodus from Paris came amid anti-lockdown protests which saw a chair thrown in the window of a closed outdoor cafe

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Paris on the eve of the new restrictions, with some letting off flares

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Paris on the eve of the new restrictions, with some letting off flares

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Paris on the eve of the new restrictions, with some letting off flares 

Protesters are cheered by a woman in a cafe as they voice their anger at the French government's new lockdown restrictions

Protesters are cheered by a woman in a cafe as they voice their anger at the French government's new lockdown restrictions

Protesters are cheered by a woman in a cafe as they voice their anger at the French government’s new lockdown restrictions 

French security forces wearing riot gear try to keep order during a march against Emmanuel Macron's new lockdown

French security forces wearing riot gear try to keep order during a march against Emmanuel Macron's new lockdown

French security forces wearing riot gear try to keep order during a march against Emmanuel Macron’s new lockdown  

Huge queues were seen outside the Gare de Lyon just hours before France's second national shutdown begins

Huge queues were seen outside the Gare de Lyon just hours before France's second national shutdown begins

Huge queues were seen outside the Gare de Lyon just hours before France’s second national shutdown begins

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Empty shelves of toilet paper are seen in a supermarket in Paris as thousands of city dwellers stock up for the new shutdown

Empty shelves of toilet paper are seen in a supermarket in Paris as thousands of city dwellers stock up for the new shutdown

Empty shelves of toilet paper are seen in a supermarket in Paris as thousands of city dwellers stock up for the new shutdown

Parisians made the most of their final night of freedom as they packed the bars ahead of new lockdown restrictions

Parisians made the most of their final night of freedom as they packed the bars ahead of new lockdown restrictions

Parisians made the most of their final night of freedom as they packed the bars ahead of new lockdown restrictions

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

After the start of the lockdown hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered on the streets of Paris

After the start of the lockdown hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered on the streets of Paris

After the start of the lockdown hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered on the streets of Paris 

A short while later, Paris was completely deserted, with the Eiffel Tower pictured standing alone as the shutdown starts

A short while later, Paris was completely deserted, with the Eiffel Tower pictured standing alone as the shutdown starts

A short while later, Paris was completely deserted, with the Eiffel Tower pictured standing alone as the shutdown starts

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron this week announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be ‘more deadly’ than the first

France’s health minister yesterday warned that up to a million people may be infected with the disease, while Prime Minister Jean Castex extended mask requirements to schoolchildren as young as six. 

French schools will stay open but the stay-at-home measures for adults are as strict as in the spring, with written paperwork needed to go outside for shopping, medical care or one hour a day of exercise.     

President Macron said a curfew in Paris and other major cities had failed to stem the tide of infections, claiming that 400,000 people would die of Covid-19 if drastic action were not taken. 

In a televised announcement, he said: ‘Our target is simple: sharply reducing infections from 40,000 a day to 5,000 and slowing the pace of admissions to hospital and intensive care.’ 

Hospitals are already scrambling for intensive care beds and ‘no matter what we do, nearly 9,000 people will be in intensive care by mid-November,’ he said. The French leader called the new restrictions ‘heartbreaking’ but said he ‘could never stand by and see hundreds of thousands of our citizens die’.   

Bars, shops and restaurants are closing entirely again while France’s government is urging businesses to have employees work from home ‘five days a week’. 

Mr Macron said some shops could be allowed to open in mid-November if the situation improves – but his scientific adviser’s warning raises the prospect of lockdown measures continuing up to Christmas.    

State-approved reasons for leaving households include buying essential goods, seeking medical attention or taking a daily one-hour allocation of exercise, the French government announced. Though bars and restaurants will close again, all public services, schools and essential workplaces will stay open.   

Stores and businesses across France were also filled by people racing to get supplies on Thursday – and maybe a last-minute haircut – ahead of the new lockdown.  

Revellers seized the opportunity to spend one final evening with friends and family on Thursday before bars and restaurants are closed

Revellers seized the opportunity to spend one final evening with friends and family on Thursday before bars and restaurants are closed

Revellers seized the opportunity to spend one final evening with friends and family on Thursday before bars and restaurants are closed

On Thursday, the French public health agency announced 47,637 new infections in 24 hours and 235 deaths, pushing the overall tally beyond 36,000

On Thursday, the French public health agency announced 47,637 new infections in 24 hours and 235 deaths, pushing the overall tally beyond 36,000

On Thursday, the French public health agency announced 47,637 new infections in 24 hours and 235 deaths, pushing the overall tally beyond 36,000

Emmanuel Macron announced new measures on Wednesday in an effort to curb the rising Covid infections across the country

Emmanuel Macron announced new measures on Wednesday in an effort to curb the rising Covid infections across the country

Emmanuel Macron announced new measures on Wednesday in an effort to curb the rising Covid infections across the country

The national measures will take effect from Friday morning until December 1 and are considered to be 'more flexible' than the country's first lockdown

The national measures will take effect from Friday morning until December 1 and are considered to be 'more flexible' than the country's first lockdown

The national measures will take effect from Friday morning until December 1 and are considered to be ‘more flexible’ than the country’s first lockdown

Stores and businesses across France were also filled by people racing to get supplies on Thursday - and maybe a last-minute haircut - ahead of the new lockdown

Stores and businesses across France were also filled by people racing to get supplies on Thursday - and maybe a last-minute haircut - ahead of the new lockdown

Stores and businesses across France were also filled by people racing to get supplies on Thursday – and maybe a last-minute haircut – ahead of the new lockdown

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gather in Paris to protest the measures adopted by the French government

Is Spanish strain of Covid-19 behind Europe’s second wave? Scientists blame strain that was ‘spread across continent by summer holidaymakers’ 

A mutated strain of coronavirus that originated in Spain may be the culprit behind Europe’s catastrophic second wave, a study has claimed.

An international team of scientists tracking the virus as it spreads and evolves, said the variant, called 20A.EU1, is behind 90 per cent of cases in the UK since summer. 

Every virus mutation has its own genetic signature, which means they can be traced back to the place they originated. 

The experts tracked 20A.EU1 back to a farm in northern Spain in June and believe it raced through the continent as holidaymakers returned over summer, when there was a lull in transmission and lockdowns were eased.

It raises questions about whether the spiralling second wave – which is forcing European nations to retreat back into national shutdowns – could have been averted by improved screening at airports and borders.

The scientists believe the strain is also behind 80 per cent of infections in Spain, 60 per cent in Ireland and up to 40 per cent in Switzerland and France.

All viruses naturally mutate as they spread through populations. There are hundreds of different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, circulating around Europe. 

However, only very few of these variants have spread as successfully and become as prevalent as the newly-identified strain. 

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There are now 21,183 people in hospital with Covid-19, compared to a high of more than 32,000 mid April. The number of people in intensive care went up by 111 to 3,156. 

Essentials like pasta and toilet paper were in high demand, as were printer ink and electronics for working from home, while yoga mats were not to be found at many sporting goods stores.

‘I’m stocking up, since we don’t know when this will end,’ said Catherine Debeaupuis, shopping at an electronics retailer in central Paris.

Just under 33 million people watched President Macron announce the grim news in a prime-time address on Wednesday – a mere five days after having said: ‘it’s still too early’ to consider new lockdowns.

The president said hospitals would soon be overwhelmed by a virus that is spreading ‘at a speed that even the most pessimistic did not predict.’  

People are now only allowed to leave home only if armed with a self-signed certificate stating their urgent business – food shopping, taking the kids to school, going to work if this cannot be done from home, going to the hospital or a pharmacy.  

A certificate is be needed by people wishing to go for a jog or walk their dog, within a limit of one hour and no further than one kilometre (0.6 miles) from home.

Funeral attendance is now limited to 30 and six for weddings. Those found breaking the rules, which will be policed, risk a fine of 135 euros.  

Europe’s infection rate has already overtaken America’s for the first time since March, although cases are rising again in the US just days from the presidential election. 

Germany also took action as Angela Merkel announced a so-called ‘lockdown light’, shutting bars and restaurants to fend off a ‘national health emergency’ while saying that schools and shops could stay open.  

The return of lockdown measures across Europe has led to protests breaking out in Spain and Italy where crowds have let off fireworks and looted luxury stores to voice their rage at the tightening controls on public life.  

Spain’s parliament voted to extend the country’s state of emergency. 

During a meeting with European health ministers, WHO’s European regional director Dr Hans Kluge said ‘hospitalizations have risen to levels unseen since the spring’ and deaths have sharply risen by more than 30 per cent. 

He noted that Europe has now reported more than 10 million coronavirus cases and ‘is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again.’ 

Coroanvirus cases are rising rapidly in most major European countries, prompting leaders to consider more lockdown measures. Curfews are now in place in Spain, Italy, and UK, with France and Germany announcing circuit breaker shutdowns

Coroanvirus cases are rising rapidly in most major European countries, prompting leaders to consider more lockdown measures. Curfews are now in place in Spain, Italy, and UK, with France and Germany announcing circuit breaker shutdowns

Coroanvirus cases are rising rapidly in most major European countries, prompting leaders to consider more lockdown measures. Curfews are now in place in Spain, Italy, and UK, with France and Germany announcing circuit breaker shutdowns 

Cyprus and Lithuania are put on UK quarantine list with Britons facing dash back home to beat 4am deadline on Sunday to avoid 14-day isolation 

Cyprus and Lithuania have been removed from the Government’s list of travel corridors, meaning travellers arriving in the UK from those places after 4am on Sunday must self-isolate for 14 days, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Thursday. 

Shapps added in a post on Twitter that the Government would not be adding any countries to the UK’s list of travel corridors where Britons can travel without having to self-isolate this week. 

Cyprus recorded just 91 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday while Lithuania had 413. Both totals are considerably lower than the UK figures, which showed 22,885 new cases on Tuesday.

While some Brits expressed confusion, tweeting from Cyprus that they felt perfectly safe there, others were enraged by the announcement and questioned the logic of closing the travel corridor on the last day of the English half-term holiday, likely forcing many families to keep their kids at home for two weeks. 

One Twitter user described taking Cyprus off the list as ‘madness’, sharing a photo taken on Wednesday night of a quiet-looking coastal view. 

‘It felt safe, organised and everyone was following the rules,’ he said. 

Another said there was ‘no risk’ in Cyprus, adding that people were tested on arrival as well as having to receive a negative test result before boarding a plane to leave.

‘Mask wearing in hotels is compulsory and even outside,’ he said. 

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‘At the risk of sounding alarmist, I must express our very real concern,’ Kluge said.

Speaking to Germany’s parliament ahead of a virtual summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening aimed at better coordinating Europe’s response to the disease, Merkel said her country faces ‘a dramatic situation at the beginning of the cold season.’

Germany’s disease control agency said local authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the country’s total close to the half million-mark. The death toll stood at 10,272. 

‘The winter will be difficult, four long, difficult months. But it will end,’ Merkel told lawmakers.

Under new restrictions going into effect Monday, German restaurants, bars, sports and cultural venues will be shut for four weeks. Gatherings are limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households and all non-essential journeys will be discouraged. Schools, kindergartens, stores and places of worship will remain open – albeit with safety precautions.

Merkel said authorities had no choice but to drastically reduce social contacts as three-quarters of infections in Germany now are no longer traceable. 

‘If we wait until the ICUs are full, then it will be too late,’ she said.

Opposition leader Alexander Gauland of the far-Right Alternative for Germany party accused Merkel’s government of ‘wartime propaganda’ and likened the pandemic to traffic, arguing that society accepts a certain number of car deaths each year but doesn’t ban driving.

Berlin announced a new 10 billion-euro (£9billion) fund for businesses affected by the additional measures.  

In Spain, authorities have been imposing incremental restrictions on free movement, nightlife and social gatherings, but they have refrained from a strict stay-at-home order like the one that curbed the first wave of infections but scarred the economy. 

But with officials predicting that current levels of infection will produce a serious shortage of intensive care beds in November, some experts are already calling for a full lockdown.

Spanish regions like Catalonia and La Rioja have already closed bars and restaurants, while most of the rest have imposed curfews limiting nightlife. But extra subsidies have not accompanied the restrictions, prompting loud protests in Barcelona this week by business owners who banged pots, waved cocktail shakers and chanted ‘We want to work!’

Spain’s parliament, meanwhile, voted by a majority to keep the country’s newly declared state of emergency in place until May to try to rein in the resurging pandemic, despite objections by some opposition parties. A vote to lift the measure could be held in March should things improve.

Spain has officially recorded more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases, although authorities say the true figure could be at least three times higher. Its virus death toll is at least 35,000. 

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35017230 8895437 image a 68 1604071177143

Spain and Italy have both seen deaths increase in recent weeks, although they are lower than during the first wave – unlike in the Czech Republic and other countries in Eastern Europe where deaths have risen to record levels  

35017160 8895437 image a 69 1604071177145

35017160 8895437 image a 69 1604071177145

 

Germany also took action as Angela Merkel announced a so-called 'lockdown light', shutting bars and restaurants to fend off a 'national health emergency' while saying that schools and shops could stay open

Germany also took action as Angela Merkel announced a so-called 'lockdown light', shutting bars and restaurants to fend off a 'national health emergency' while saying that schools and shops could stay open

Germany also took action as Angela Merkel announced a so-called ‘lockdown light’, shutting bars and restaurants to fend off a ‘national health emergency’ while saying that schools and shops could stay open 

As EU leaders met, officials in Brussels urged them to approve rapid virus tests, which are less reliable than standard kits but far quicker to provide results, and to prepare the vast amounts of cold storage that will be needed to keep large stocks of any virus vaccine once it becomes available.

With Belgium, France and Spain warning that their intensive care units could be overwhelmed within two weeks, the officials say it’s vital that EU countries agree to share information about ICU capacity so patients can be treated across borders if necessary.

Russia, meanwhile, said that it has no plans to impose a nationwide lockdown.

‘Despite a difficult epidemiological situation, right now we’re much better prepared for working during an epidemic,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Russia has recorded more than 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest number in Europe and the fourth largest tally worldwide.

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35017258 8895437 image a 5 1604029863905

As EU leaders met, officials in Brussels urged them to approve rapid virus tests as Covid-19 cases increase

As EU leaders met, officials in Brussels urged them to approve rapid virus tests as Covid-19 cases increase

As EU leaders met, officials in Brussels urged them to approve rapid virus tests as Covid-19 cases increase

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Dramatic video shows police breaking into shisha lounge with more than 150 people inside

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dramatic video shows police breaking into shisha lounge with more than 150 people inside

Police have closed down a shisha cafe after storming inside to find around 150 people crammed together just days after the venue was hit with a £10,000 fine for Covid breaches.

Kasablanca in Birmingham was filled with patrons at around 1am on Saturday despite being hit with the hefty penalty for breaking restrictions earlier this month, said West Midlands Police.  

A dramatic video shows the moment police had to break open the venue’s doors with tools after being refused entry.

Screaming and shouting can be heard as the police enter the venue.

A dramatic video shows the moment police had to break open the doors of a Birmingham shisha lounge after being refused entry

A dramatic video shows the moment police had to break open the doors of a Birmingham shisha lounge after being refused entry

A dramatic video shows the moment police had to break open the doors of a Birmingham shisha lounge after being refused entry

Once inside, police said they found crowds inside with no social distancing measures in place.    

Footage shows patrons milling past officers on their way out of the shisha lounge. 

Some can be heard giggling and telling police ‘We are social distancing’ despite apparent evidence to the contrary. 

Earlier this month, the shisha lounge was fined when officers gained entry despite staff pulling down the shutters on police.

Police said the venue had been issued with a closure order and will have to prove it is adhering to the law before it can reopen. 

Birmingham and the wider West Midlands combined authority area has been widely mooted for a move to Tier 3 ‘very high alert’ measures as soon as the end of next week, as infection rates continue to rise. 

Once inside the venue, police said they found crowds inside with no social distancing measures in place

Once inside the venue, police said they found crowds inside with no social distancing measures in place

Once inside the venue, police said they found crowds inside with no social distancing measures in place

Earlier this month, the same shisha lounge was fined when officers gained entry despite staff pulling down the shutters on police

Earlier this month, the same shisha lounge was fined when officers gained entry despite staff pulling down the shutters on police

Earlier this month, the same shisha lounge was fined when officers gained entry despite staff pulling down the shutters on police

In a separate incident, the owner of a venue in Smethwick, West Midlands, has been fined £10,000 after hosting a wedding celebration for more than 70 people. 

Viollet Salon received the fine on Thursday over an October 10 incident in which a large wedding of some 70 was taking place despite coronavirus restrictions.    

Chief Superintendent Andy Beard criticised businesses for ‘flouting the law, putting lives at risk and increasing the risk of infections as this deadly virus continues to spread.’

‘This is a difficult time for everyone, but we won’t be able to control this pandemic and return to a sense of normality if this continues to happen,’ Beard said in a press release.

‘We all need to help stop the spread of coronavirus, and no one is above the law when it comes to that.

‘The vast majority are following the guidelines and we want to say thank you to those people making those personal sacrifices.

‘We’re continuing to work with local authorities across the region to tackle this virus and help to protect those who live work and visit the West Midlands in the coming weeks and months.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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