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Infection figures rocket to a record 12,872 A DAY – nearly double yesterday’s 6,968 cases

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infection figures rocket to a record 12872 a day nearly double yesterdays 6968 cases

Britain tonight saw a record rise in coronavirus infections, with more than 12,000 new cases – nearly double the number from yesterday.

Figures released five hours late by the Department of Health, showed a total of 12,872 new positive tests.

It was a hammer blow to hopes the virus’s reach had calmed and was blamed on a ‘technical error’ in counting from the entire week. 

The Department of Health warned the infection figures could be even higher ‘over the coming days’ after the problem meant thousands of cases were missed off the official figures. 

In a statement it said: ‘Due to a technical issue, which has now been resolved, there has been a delay in publishing a number of COVID-19 cases to the dashboard in England.

‘This means the total reported over the coming days will include some additional cases from the period between 24 September and 1 October, increasing the number of cases reported.’

It came as the figures today show 49 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 deaths.  

Earlier today, figures showed Britain recorded another 52 hospital deaths as the number of fatalities inside wards more than doubled in a week, preliminary figures show.

Of these, 42 new deaths were reported in England, with a further four fatalities in Scotland, five in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.  

Close to half of England’s hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions.

The preliminary total saw an increase of 126 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital.   

All those who died in England were between 40 and 80 years old.   

Health officials in Scotland also today confirmed 764 further cases of Covid-19, as Public Health Wales reported another 576 infections – up from 462 announced a day earlier.

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33938724 0 image a 11 1601735570300

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33925568 8802177 image a 38 1601756185338

The Department of Health warned the infection figures could be even higher 'over the coming days' after a 'technical problem' meant thousands of cases were missed off the official figures

The Department of Health warned the infection figures could be even higher 'over the coming days' after a 'technical problem' meant thousands of cases were missed off the official figures

The Department of Health warned the infection figures could be even higher ‘over the coming days’ after a ‘technical problem’ meant thousands of cases were missed off the official figures 

The announcement was issued on the Department of Health and Social Care's website today following the announcement of the figures

The announcement was issued on the Department of Health and Social Care's website today following the announcement of the figures

The announcement was issued on the Department of Health and Social Care’s website today following the announcement of the figures

In Northern Ireland, 726 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours. 

Britain’s second wave of coronavirus showed signs of slowing down on Friday, as the number of new positive tests were just 1.4 per cent higher than last week.

Another 6,968 cases were announced yesterday, only marginally higher than the 6,874 last Friday. This small rise comes as most days in September saw a week-on-week increase of more than 35 per cent. 

Friday’s was the lowest weekly increase since August 25, suggesting last month’s resurgence in cases has hit its peak. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also backed up signs that the outbreak is slowing and estimated there were 8,400 daily cases of the disease in England in the week ending September 24. This marks a 12.5 per cent fall from the 9,600 infections thought to have been occurring every day the week before.

The ONS described its findings as ‘limited evidence’ transmission of the virus ‘may be levelling off following steep increases during August and September’. 

The estimate is based on 300,000 tests sent to homes across the country over the past six weeks – they produced 400 positive swabs and mathematical modelling is used to apply the result to the whole population.

The latest figures come as Government sources today revealed a Covid-19 vaccination could be just ‘three months away’ in Britain.

The preliminary hospital death total saw an increase of 122 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital. Pictured: Oxford Circus on Friday

The preliminary hospital death total saw an increase of 122 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital. Pictured: Oxford Circus on Friday

The preliminary hospital death total saw an increase of 122 per cent on the figure recorded last Saturday, when 23 people were confirmed to have died in hospital. Pictured: Oxford Circus on Friday

Close to half of England's hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: London

Close to half of England's hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: London

Close to half of England’s hospital deaths were in the North West, where 1,603 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours despite localised Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: London

Every adult in the country could be vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as Easter as plans are put in place to train an army of careworkers to administer the jab.

It coincides with Boris Johnson’s hint last night that the Rule of Six could be suspended on Christmas Day to ensure a family of five can have both grandparents round for festive lunch.

The Prime Minister stressed the Government would do ‘everything we can to make sure Christmas for everybody is normal as possible’.

Mr Johnson has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted ‘we must never cut corners’ or ‘sacrifice safety to speed’ in the search for one. 

It comes just days after it was claimed that Britain’s rising coronavirus infection rate may actually speed up vaccine trials and move the world one step closer to eradicating the disease. 

But scientists are sceptical and say it could be much longer before full vaccination can be carried out, reported The Times.

Earlier this week, a Royal Society report warned there would be significant challenges in distributing and producing the vaccine on such a mass scale. 

Nilay Shah, head of the department of chemical engineering at Imperial College London, and a co-author of the report, said: ‘Even when the vaccine is available it doesn’t mean within a month everybody is going to be vaccinated. 

Boris Johnson, pictured last night, has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted 'we must never cut corners' or 'sacrifice safety to speed' in the search for one

Boris Johnson, pictured last night, has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted 'we must never cut corners' or 'sacrifice safety to speed' in the search for one

Boris Johnson, pictured last night, has often identified a vaccine as the key to being able to lift many of the restrictions imposed on the public since March, but has insisted ‘we must never cut corners’ or ‘sacrifice safety to speed’ in the search for one

‘We’re talking about six months, nine months… a year. There’s not a question of life suddenly returning to normal in March.’

Oxford University has been running human trials on a vaccine since April and there are hopes it could be approved by regulators by Christmas.

Care home residents and staff will be first to get a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of NHS staff and all over-80s 

Care home residents and staff will be the first to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved, according to fresh government advice.

Everyone over the age of 80 and NHS staff will be second in line, updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation states.

The body, which consists of 20 top scientists, advises ministers on all vaccines. It admitted its guidance for any UK Covid-19 vaccination scheme is likely to change in the future.

Matt Hancock previously pledged that Britons with underlying conditions would be near the front of the queue for any jab. But millions living with heart disease or other ailments that raise their risk of dying of Covid-19 won’t be vaccinated until everyone over the age of 65 is inoculated, according to the new guidance. 

WHO WILL GET A COVID-19 JAB FIRST?

Under the proposed ranking by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the vaccines will be rolled out in the following order:

  • older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
  • all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
  • all those 75 years of age and over
  • all those 70 years of age and over
  • all those 65 years of age and over
  • high-risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health woes
  • moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health woes
  • all those 60 years of age and over
  • all those 55 years of age and over
  • all those 50 years of age and over
  • rest of the population (priority to be determined)
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Government sources involved in the much-anticipated vaccine said it would be less than six months before a full programme, excluding children, would be ready.

Plans to speed up the process include the creation of drive-thru vaccination centres and rules allowing more staff to give the jabs.

The armed forces could even be drafted in for extra help.        

‘We are looking at closer to six months and it is likely to be far shorter than that,’ a government source said.

To administer two doses of a vaccine to 53 million adults in the six-month time period would involve 600,000 jabs a day. 

Those who need the injections most are first on the list, meaning care home residents and staff will get it as soon as it’s ready.

Those aged over 80 and NHS staff are next, followed by all over 65s, younger adults at higher risk and people over 50.

Some care home managers were asked for a list of eligible frontline staff last month.

Around 100million doses of the Oxford vaccination, which is yet to be proved successful, have already been ordered by the Government.

It is hoped scientists will know if it prevents at least 50 per cent of infections, the threshold for success, by the end of this year. 

Britain is currently bound by the European Medicines Agency until January, meaning it can’t administer the drug even if approved by UK regulators.

But Ministers have revealed plans to change the law to allow vaccinations to start sooner.

The Department of Health said: ‘We are confident we have adequate provision or transport, PPE and logistical expertise to deploy a Covid-19 vaccine across the country as quickly as possible.’ 

Several challenges had been highlighted in the Royal Society report, including the need to inject people with RNA, a type of genetic material, in some of the most promising studies, even though an RNA vaccine has never been produced at a large scale.

Questions also remain over supply chains, with some vaccines having to be kept at -80C while being transported.

Furthermore, as much as 80 per cent of the population may have to be innoculated to achieve herd immunity, even if a vaccine proves to be 90 per cent effective in reducing transmission. 

Prof Shah added that some 20,000 people would need to be recruited by the NHS to deliver the drug and that field hospitals may have to be built for the mass vaccination programme. 

It comes after it was revealed New York-based company Codagenix plans to begin experiments of its vaccine in London by the end of the year.  

The jab will be of a type called a live attenuated vaccine, meaning people will be given a genetically-modified version of the coronavirus that is weaker than the real thing but still infectious.

People enter Oxford Circus underground station in London after the 10pm curfew that pubs and restaurants are subject to in order to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England

People enter Oxford Circus underground station in London after the 10pm curfew that pubs and restaurants are subject to in order to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England

People enter Oxford Circus underground station in London after the 10pm curfew that pubs and restaurants are subject to in order to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England

Live attenuated vaccines — such as the MMR jab — work by stimulating the immune system in the same way that real Covid-19 would, but by relying on viruses unable to cause severe illness.

Codagenix says its vaccine was successful after a single dose in animal trials and is designed to produce immunity against various parts of the coronavirus, rather than just the ‘spike protein’ on the outside that many others have focused on.

This could mean it would still work even if the virus mutated. Using a live virus may enable medics to create a type of immunity that is similar to what the body would make naturally.  

Oxford University’s front-runner vaccine candidate was supposed to be rolled out this autumn but trials came to a standstill when infection rates petered out over summer.

Studies had to be moved abroad to the likes of Brazil, the US and South Africa – where coronavirus was still rife – to test if the jab can prevent infection.

In order to prove beyond doubt a vaccine works, scientists need to inoculate tens of thousands of people then send them back into the community and wait for some to get infected.

This has been a sticking point for the Oxford team because there was barely any Covid-19 transmission for months in the UK. 

But experts have told MailOnline the one ‘silver lining’ to Britain’s climbing Covid-19 rates is that it could speed up this process. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Lockdown slashes the coronavirus R rate in half within a month, study shows

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lockdown slashes the coronavirus r rate in half within a month study shows

Ordering people to stay at home is a futile move when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus, according to a major review published today in the Lancet. 

It found that, on its own, this measure sees the R rate drop from 1 to just 0.97 after 28 days.   

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above one, an outbreak can grow exponentially. 

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries.

They found combining measures similar to a national lockdown, including banning public events and closing schools, could cut the R rate by as much as 52 per cent.  

However, opening schools again can lead to a 24 per cent increase in the R rate within a month of the measure being lifted, the researchers discovered.  

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus.

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing.

A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

A lockdown involving school closures and stay at home orders can halve the R rate within a month, study finds, but opening schools again can increase it by a quarter

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied various government intervention measures on the R rate in 131 different countries

The Scottish researchers examined a variety of measures and how they individually, or in combination with other options, can reduce or raise the rate of infection.  

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days.    

Meanwhile, the measures most strongly associated with an increase in R were lifting bans on gatherings of more than 10 people  – seeing a 25 per cent spike in the rate. 

The findings, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, are based on a modelling analysis, taking into account of measures across 131 countries.

Study author Harish Nair said a combination of measures was the best approach when looking to reduce the rate of transmission for Covid-19. 

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

Looking at the measures individually, a ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R, amounting to a 24 per cent reduction after 28 days

‘As we experience a resurgence of the virus, policymakers will need to consider combinations of measures to reduce the R number.’

He said the findings can be used to inform decisions on whether to introduce or lift various restrictions and when to expect to see them take effect. 

COMBINATIONS OF MEASURES WORK TO REDUCE THE R RATE 
Day 7 Day 14 Day 28
  R RATE 
Option 1: Ban on public events and gatherings of more than ten  0.94 0.87 0.71
Option 2: Workplace closure, ban on public events and gatherings of more than ten 0.84 0.78 0.62
Option 3: Workplace closure, ban on public events, gatherings of more than ten people and internal movement limits 0.81 0.76 0.58
Option 4: School and workplace closure, ban on public events, ban on gatherings of more than ten people, internal movement limits and stay at home orders 0.65 0.58 0.48

Individual measures considered included: School closures, workplace closures, public event bans, limit of 10 people mixing, public transport closure, stay at home orders, limits on internal movement and and international travel restrictions.

A ban on public events was associated with the greatest reduction in R at 24 per cent after 28 days, which could be due to the fact they are likely causes of super spreader events and often the first restriction imposed by a country. 

Previous studies have found that measures, including school closure, social distancing, and lockdown, could reduce R substantially to near or below 1, but this is the first study to look at the effects on R following the relaxation of these measures.  

The analysis included 790 phases from 131 countries and used a model to measure the association between which measures were in place and changes in the R. 

The authors used this to estimate the effect up to 28 days on the R of introducing or lifting measures. In addition, they modelled four combinations of measures that could be introduced to tackle the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2.  

The combinations included mixtures of each of the individual measures, from a ban on events and limiting gatherings, to what is effectively a full lockdown. 

The team found that the least comprehensive package of measures would still reduce R by 29 per cent within 28 days of the measures being imposed.

That is still four per cent more than the most effective individual measure – banning public events such as sport matches and concerts. 

In contrast, the most comprehensive package – similar to a lockdown including school closures and limits on movement – would lead to a 52 per cent reduction.  

The effect of introducing measures was not immediate; it took an average of 8 days after introducing a measure to see 60 per cent of its effect on reducing the R.

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people due to the virus

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are 'still heading in the wrong direction' but also admitted Britain's outbreak appears to be slowing

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are 'still heading in the wrong direction' but also admitted Britain's outbreak appears to be slowing

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers found that reopening schools after lockdown could result in a 24 per cent increase in the R rate

Researchers didn’t, or couldn’t consider the impact of other measures linked to certain restrictions – such as hand washing, masks or people following the rules. 

For example, although reopening schools was associated with a large increase in R, the researchers said they were unable to account for the impact of class size limits, deep cleaning, social distancing or temperature checks on arrival. 

Professor Nair said: ‘We found an increase in R after reopening schools but it is not clear whether the increase is attributable to specific age groups.’

This is because there could be substantial differences in adherence in social distancing measures from one class to another – but they didn’t have the data.  

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

The R rate seems to be levelling off at between 1.3 and 1.5 after a peak of nearly 1.6 early in October

‘Furthermore, more data are needed to understand the specific role of schools in increased Sars-CoV-2 transmission through robust contact tracing,’ he said.

The study authors also did a secondary analysis using Google mobility data, modelling the total visits to workplaces and the total time spent in residential areas.

Thursday: UK confirms 21,242 coronavirus cases and 189 deaths 

The UK today announced another 21,242 positive coronavirus tests and the deaths of another 189 people as Sir Patrick Vallance claimed as many as 90,000 could be catching the virus every day. 

The chief scientific adviser said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing down.  

Official data this afternoon shows that cases are 12 per cent higher than the 18,980 on Thursday last week – the smallest seven-day increase of any day of any day this week – while deaths are up 37 per cent from 138.

Speaking in a TV briefing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sir Patrick showed slides that estimated there are somewhere between 22,000 and 90,000 new infections every day in England.

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Results indicated that people took some time to adapt their behaviour to comply with workplace closures and stay-at-home requirements, which was similar to the delay between the measures and the effects seen on R – around one to three weeks.

The authors suggest the delay was possibly due to the population taking time to modify their behaviour to adhere to measures.

The researchers also said that some of the greatest effects on R were seen for measures that were more easily implementable by law, like school reopening and introduction of a public events ban.

They suggest this may have been because their effects were more immediate and compliance was easier to ensure. 

However, likely low compliance when it comes to bans on gatherings of 10 or more people could explain why that measure saw a minimal impact on the R rate.

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Chris T Bauch from University of Waterloo, Canada, said despite the imperfections with R, the findings show measures including lockdown do work to reduce the rate. 

‘This information is crucial, given that some [measures] have massive socioeconomic effects. In a similar vein, transmission models that project COVID-19 cases and deaths under different scenarios could be highly valuable for optimising a country’s portfolio of [measures], the researcher, not involved in this study explained.

‘The success of large-scale [measures] requires population adherence. R can stimulate populations to act and gives them useful feedback on the fruits of their labour. Perhaps this is one reason that R has entered our vernacular in 2020.’

RESEARCHERS COMPARED THE IMPACT OF VARIOUS RESTRICTIONS ON THE R RATE WHEN THEY WERE IMPOSED AND RELAXED 
Day 7 Day 14 Day 28 
  R RATE   
SCHOOL CLOSURE 
Introduction 0.89 0.86 0.85
Relaxation 1.05 1.18 1.24
WORKPLACE CLOSURE 
Introduction 0.89 0.89 0.87
Relaxation 1.04 1.1 1.01
PUBLIC EVENTS BAN 
Introduction  0.9 0.83 0.76
Relaxation 1.02 1.07 1.21
BAN ON GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE 
Introduction  0.93 0.98 0.97
Relaxation 0.99 1.07 1.25
PUBLIC TRANSPORT CLOSURE 
Introduction  0.97 0.98 0.99
Relaxation  1 1.08 1.04
STAY AT HOME ORDERS 
Introduction  0.9 0.89 0.97
Relaxation 0.97 1.02 1.11
LIMITS ON INTERNAL MOVEMENTS 
Introduction  0.97 0.97 0.93
Relaxation 0.98 1.06 1.13
RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL 
Introduction  0.89 0.97 1.08
Relaxation 0.95 1.02 0.98

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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We should follow science on coronavirus… and ditch the curfew, writes restaurateur Jeremy King 

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we should follow science on coronavirus and ditch the curfew writes restaurateur jeremy king

A big man – and a bigger politician – admits he was wrong. I applaud Rishi Sunak for acknowledging yesterday that his Job Support Scheme, which had aimed to protect jobs during local lockdowns, was not fit for purpose.

Ruinously for pubs and restaurants, Tier Two restrictions stop people from different households mixing together indoors.

By pledging, along with other measures, new cash grants for the hospitality sector, it is clear that the Chancellor has listened to our industry, which employs millions across the country. Many of those jobs which would have been lost will now be saved.

People collect tables and chairs, as the region of Lombardy imposes a curfew after being hit by a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Milan, Italy, October 22, 2020

People collect tables and chairs, as the region of Lombardy imposes a curfew after being hit by a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Milan, Italy, October 22, 2020

People collect tables and chairs, as the region of Lombardy imposes a curfew after being hit by a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Milan, Italy, October 22, 2020

But, like thousands of other business owners, I’ve felt for a long time as though I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall as the Government failed to heed our pleas and protests.

We are constantly told of the need to ‘follow the science’. But the science I’m looking at comes from the World Health Organisation, the most influential medical authority in the world. Its clear guidance is that the financial and psychological damage of lockdowns will often far outweigh their benefits. For months now British people have been beset by a string of nonsensical and contradictory edicts. The absence of leadership has been palpable.

After so many new strictures and U-turns, no wonder that, at times, it feels like almost no one knows what the rules are any more. Even the police are confused. Earlier this week, as the Mail reported, the chief of the Met told restaurants and pubs to check people’s identities, by using driving licences and other documents, to ensure that customers dining together also lived together.

Police officers stand guard in the street before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

Police officers stand guard in the street before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

Police officers stand guard in the street before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

At that point, I began to feel that we were approaching the conditions of a police state. There was no logic to it: why should people obey a curfew and leave a restaurant at 10pm if they are all going home to the same house anyway? A day later Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick back-pedalled on that deeply misguided scheme.

Jeremy King, restauranteur

Jeremy King, restauranteur

Jeremy King, restauranteur 

Far from reassuring, this added to the impression that no one in Government knows what they are doing nor why the livelihoods of millions are being wrecked.

I am not prepared to stand by while ministers chase around in circles trying to work out what their own edicts mean. None of these overlapping rules fit together.

It’s clear these pernicious diktats have been drawn up by different committees that do not talk to each other. The other evening I was at our restaurant Fischer’s in central London. At 10pm I watched in dismay as all our customers reluctantly had to leave.

Outside it was raining and particularly cold. Many left their cars at home due to the ill-advised Congestion Charge extension, and Tubes and buses were packed.

Dozens huddled together cheek by jowl under the canopies outside, desperately trying to get black cabs and Ubers in the cold and wet. Anyone could see that this was a genuine threat to their health, whether from Covid, seasonal colds or even, for the vulnerable, pneumonia.

Yet they all could have been safe and warm if they had been allowed to stay inside and leave in their own time.

People gather outside bars the night before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

People gather outside bars the night before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

People gather outside bars the night before a local lockdown amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 22, 2020

Over the past three months more than a quarter of a million customers have come through the doors of our restaurants. As far as I am aware, at the time of writing, not one of them, nor a member of staff, has tested positive for Covid-19.

Yet our businesses are being hamstrung by absurd, counter-productive curfews and are under threat of even more stringent lockdowns. It makes no sense at all.

The shift in the country’s mood since the spring is palpable. I fear many are losing their faith in the Government altogether.

When that happens the breach of trust takes a long time to heal. While I welcome Mr Sunak’s measures, we need our leaders, starting with the Prime Minister, to follow the Chancellor’s example and have the courage to admit: we got it wrong.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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One woman, 23 lovers, no regrets: Author NELL DUNN reveals all about her muse and best friend Josie

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one woman 23 lovers no regrets author nell dunn reveals all about her muse and best friend josie

The Muse

by Nell Dunn (Coronet £14.99, 160pp) 

She may be an almost forgotten name now but, in the Sixties, Nell Dunn was one of the most controversial and talked-about writers in Britain.

Her books Up The Junction and Poor Cow were an unflinching look at the lives of working-class women, presented without any moralising or judgment, and caused a sensation. 

The women Dunn writes about talk endlessly about men, sex, motherhood, families, work and friendship. Husbands drift in and out of prison and the women sometimes dabble in prostitution to make ends meet. Their lives may be grim but they are remarkably philosophical about it all.

Nell Dunn, one of the most controversial authors of the 1960s has revealed more about the life of her muse - her best friend Josie. Pictured, Nell Dunn and her son Rueben Sandford in 1964

Nell Dunn, one of the most controversial authors of the 1960s has revealed more about the life of her muse - her best friend Josie. Pictured, Nell Dunn and her son Rueben Sandford in 1964

Nell Dunn, one of the most controversial authors of the 1960s has revealed more about the life of her muse – her best friend Josie. Pictured, Nell Dunn and her son Rueben Sandford in 1964

Living in Chelsea, Nell's grandfather was an earl, but she moved to Battersea in 1959 with her TV screenwriter husband Jeremy Sandford. Pictured, Nell and Jeremy

Living in Chelsea, Nell's grandfather was an earl, but she moved to Battersea in 1959 with her TV screenwriter husband Jeremy Sandford. Pictured, Nell and Jeremy

Living in Chelsea, Nell’s grandfather was an earl, but she moved to Battersea in 1959 with her TV screenwriter husband Jeremy Sandford. Pictured, Nell and Jeremy 

Nell Dunn, the granddaughter of an earl, moved from Chelsea to Battersea in 1959 with her old Etonian husband Jeremy Sandford, who was to write the classic play Cathy Come Home. Nowadays, Battersea is popular with wealthy professionals — Sting owns a flat there — but when they moved in it was solidly working class. ‘I had the only bath in the street, so there was always a queue for it,’ Nell writes.

In 1960, on the night of Princess Margaret’s wedding when everyone was drunk, she met Josie, who would become her best friend and her muse.

Josie had got married at 16 and had a son at 17. Her husband was often in prison and being married didn’t stop her having lovers: she once listed 23 of them for Nell, adding, ‘I loved them all — while I was with them.’

Through Josie, Nell found her writer’s voice, not just because of Josie’s use of language but also ‘the freedom and daring of her life’. Poor Cow was made into a film by Ken Loach and, last year, the BBC chose it as one of the 100 most inspiring novels in the English language. Novelist Margaret Drabble has said it was one of the first books ‘to treat women’s sexuality as though it were entirely natural’.

After they got married, the young couple moved to Battersea, which was not the highly sought after area it is now - with their house being the only one on the street with a bath. Pictured: Nell on her wedding day with her father

After they got married, the young couple moved to Battersea, which was not the highly sought after area it is now - with their house being the only one on the street with a bath. Pictured: Nell on her wedding day with her father

After they got married, the young couple moved to Battersea, which was not the highly sought after area it is now – with their house being the only one on the street with a bath. Pictured: Nell on her wedding day with her father

In her latest book, Nell describes the life of her best friend Josie, who she says helped her find her voice , including her numerous lovers while her husband was in prison and having a baby at 17. Pictured: Nell and son Rueben in 1965

In her latest book, Nell describes the life of her best friend Josie, who she says helped her find her voice , including her numerous lovers while her husband was in prison and having a baby at 17. Pictured: Nell and son Rueben in 1965

In her latest book, Nell describes the life of her best friend Josie, who she says helped her find her voice , including her numerous lovers while her husband was in prison and having a baby at 17. Pictured: Nell and son Rueben in 1965

In her early 30s, Josie met a South African called Bill. Nell disliked him on sight but Josie fell madly in love and took off with him to Australia on Christmas Day, ‘leaving the turkey in the oven to burn’, and abandoning her 15-year-old son.

The Muse by Nell Dunn (Coronet £14.99, 160pp)

The Muse by Nell Dunn (Coronet £14.99, 160pp)

The Muse by Nell Dunn (Coronet £14.99, 160pp)

Despite this, the women exchanged frequent affectionate letters. Josie writes in a near stream of consciousness, with appalling spelling, about the ups and downs of her life. ‘I got a job in a club but Bill didn’t like it. (Jelosee). So after a week I had to leave,’ she writes from Australia. Soon Bill falls foul of the law, ‘Smuggling uncut diamonds I think … I am trying hard not to get to deprest but some times failing.’

Bill turns violent and Josie flees home, in time for the opening of Dunn’s latest play Steaming, which is a great success.

She now lives on the south coast ‘with a handsome man’, and the two women still talk most days. Why has their friendship been so close and so enduring? Josie reminds Nell of her mother, who had the same ‘freedom and generosity’. As for Josie, ‘I think she loved me as an audience. She liked making me laugh. She loved me loving her.’

This slim volume is entertaining but frustrating because there are so many gaps. You long to know more about Nell’s life — her husband is never mentioned; did she ever move back to the posh side of town? What became of Josie’s abandoned son? While Poor Cow is a masterpiece, The Muse is no more than a pleasant addendum.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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