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£1million funding to tackle space debris which could destroy the ISS

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1million funding to tackle space debris which could destroy the iss

Space debris — detritus orbiting Earth from satellites — is a growing problem which threatens the future of human space exploration. 

To tackle this issue, the Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced £1million in funding, via the UK Space Agency (UKSA), for seven space-cleaning programmes. 

Astronomers are concerned that high-value craft in low-Earth orbit, such as the International Space Station (ISS), could be destroyed by a rogue piece of debris. 

Currently, there is no way of accurately monitoring and tracking small pieces of debris which could be hurtling towards a multi-million pound satellite.

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This infographic reveals which countries owns the most space debris. It reveals Russia is responsible for 14,403 pieces and the US comes in second with 8,734

This infographic reveals which countries owns the most space debris. It reveals Russia is responsible for 14,403 pieces and the US comes in second with 8,734

Seven programmes to clear space debris  

Lumi Space 

Working on photonic technologies to spot items in orbit and tell if they are junk or satellite.   

Deimos 

This project focuses on the design, prototyping and demonstration of a Low-Cost Low-Earth Orbit Optical Surveillance Sensor.  

A ’40×40 squared degrees one-eye’ prototype will be built. 

In the final solution, ‘9 eyes’ will be combined.

Lift Me Off 

Project will create an AI-powered algorithm that can differentiate between junk and actual satellites.  

D-Orbit UK 

Tweak and repurpose existing sensors to spot and identify objects moving around a spacecraft. 

Fujitsu and Amazon 

Fujitsu and Amazon  will develop machine-learning methods to integrate planning for space debris into existing missions. 

Mr Sharma said this will improve the commercial viability of missions that seek to remove debris.

NORSS 

The project will rapidly design and deploy an extremely low-cost prototype optical camera system to track objects in Low Earth Orbit. 

Andor 

Will make ‘significant improvements’ to Andor’s existing Balor very large area (17 megapixel / 70mm diagonal) scientific CMOS camera.

The proposed project will significantly increase Balor’s sensitivity resulting in considerably faster imaging and/or enabling the tracking of smaller in-orbit debris.

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It is believed there are around 160million pieces of debris floating around Earth, trapped in our planet’s gravity and travelling at 18,000mph.

Of these, almost one million are believed to be larger than 1cm. If one of these were to collide with a satellite the damage would be devastating. 

Not only would it destroy the craft, it would likely set off a chain reaction, seeing innumerable satellites knocked out of action. 

This would have catastrophic implications for life on Earth, as modern society relies on satellite services for GPS, mobile communications and weather forecasting. 

‘Millions of pieces of space junk orbiting the earth present a significant threat to UK satellite systems which provide the vital services that we all take for granted – from mobile communications to weather forecasting,’ says Business Secretary Alok Sharma. 

He told The Telegraph that action to clean up space must be taken now, before it is too late. 

‘If we don’t take action now, low-Earth orbit could become too perilous for satellites or even humans on the International Space Station,’ he said. 

Currently, there is no way to remove space debris, and only the biggest items in orbit can be spotted. 

It is hoped the £1million funding will help make this possible from the UK. 

It has been allocated to seven different projects, each with a unique plan to improve our understanding of our mucky orbit. 

One project, dubbed ‘Life Me Off’, will create an AI-powered algorithm that can differentiate between junk and actual satellites. 

Another, called Lumi Space, will use lasers to track and map the objects. 

These seven made the cut from a total of 26 proposals, the UKSA says.  

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency said: ‘People probably do not realise just how cluttered space is.

‘You would never let a car drive down a motorway full of broken glass and wreckages, and yet this is what satellites and the Space Station have to navigate every day in their orbital lanes.

‘In this new age of space megaconstellations the UK has an unmissable opportunity to lead the way in monitoring and tackling this space junk. 

‘This funding will help us grasp this opportunity and in doing so create sought after expertise and new high skill jobs across the country.’ 

To tackle the issue of space debris, the Business Secretary Alok Sharma (pictured on Monday arriving in Downing Street)  has announced £1million in funding, via the UK Space Agency (UKSA), for seven space-cleaning programmes.

To tackle the issue of space debris, the Business Secretary Alok Sharma (pictured on Monday arriving in Downing Street)  has announced £1million in funding, via the UK Space Agency (UKSA), for seven space-cleaning programmes.

While the government funding will help astronomers identify space junk and avoid collisions, plans are also afoot to actively remove space debris. 

Swiss firm ClearSpace received the go-ahead from ESA for a £100million mission to build a space ‘tow truck’ designed to remove dead satellites from Earth’s orbit.

British engineers at aviation giant Airbus created a space harpoon that could help capture rogue satellites and pull them back down to Earth.

The 3ft (95 cm) missile would be fired from a ‘hunter-killer’ spacecraft, which would pull it – and its prey – back using a cord.

A Russian startup hopes a foam-spewing spacecraft that catches debris like a spider web and tosses them into Earth’s atmosphere to burn up could be the solution. 

StartRocket is developing a ‘Foam Debris Catcher,’ which is a series of small and autonomous satellites that collects and de-orbits space junk using a sticky polymer foam.

WHAT IS SPACE JUNK? MORE THAN 170 MILLION PIECES OF DEAD SATELLITES, SPENT ROCKETS AND FLAKES OF PAINT POSE ‘THREAT’ TO SPACE INDUSTRY

There are an estimated 170 million pieces of so-called ‘space junk’ – left behind after missions that can be as big as spent rocket stages or as small as paint flakes – in orbit alongside some US$700 billion (£555bn) of space infrastructure.

But only 22,000 are tracked, and with the fragments able to travel at speeds above 16,777 mph (27,000kmh), even tiny pieces could seriously damage or destroy satellites.

However, traditional gripping methods don’t work in space, as suction cups do not function in a vacuum and temperatures are too cold for substances like tape and glue.

Grippers based around magnets are useless because most of the debris in orbit around Earth is not magnetic.

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Around 500,000 pieces of human-made debris (artist’s impression) currently orbit our planet, made up of disused satellites, bits of spacecraft and spent rockets

Most proposed solutions, including debris harpoons, either require or cause forceful interaction with the debris, which could push those objects in unintended, unpredictable directions.

Scientists point to two events that have badly worsened the problem of space junk.

The first was in February 2009, when an Iridium telecoms satellite and Kosmos-2251, a Russian military satellite, accidentally collided.

The second was in January 2007, when China tested an anti-satellite weapon on an old Fengyun weather satellite.

Experts also pointed to two sites that have become worryingly cluttered.

One is low Earth orbit which is used by satnav satellites, the ISS, China’s manned missions and the Hubble telescope, among others.

The other is in geostationary orbit, and is used by communications, weather and surveillance satellites that must maintain a fixed position relative to Earth. 

 

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Creepy waxwork models of the Queen, Henry VIII and even Adolf Hitler go on sale as museum shuts down

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creepy waxwork models of the queen henry viii and even adolf hitler go on sale as museum shuts down

Creepy waxwork models of the Queen, Henry VIII and Hitler, as well as a giant military transport plane are up for sale as a museum shuts down. 

The military aircraft is up for grabs for £30,000, after being on display for 20 years at Fort Paull Museum near Hull  which closed down last year. 

The hulking Blackburn Beverley transport aircraft XB259 is the last surviving example of a historic British aircraft. 

The collection includes more than  a thousand items such as swords, armoured cars, a ship’s cannon and a Replica Set of The Crown Jewels with Royal Family and Guardsmen.

Additionally wax models of the Royal Family, Henry VIII and Adolf Hitler are up for sale. 

Wax models of the Queen and Prince Philip are up for sale for £160 and £240 respectively

Wax models of the Queen and Prince Philip are up for sale for £160 and £240 respectively

The collection includes a  wax model of of Henry VIII

The collection includes a  wax model of of Henry VIII

A waxwork model of Adolph Hitler is up for sale

A waxwork model of Adolph Hitler is up for sale

And those keen to mingle with royalty could see their dreams become reality at a dream price, if current top bids stay the same.

The wax replica of the Queen is only fetching £140 at the moment, with her husband topping £260 already.

Henry VIII is a far more popular prospect, with bidders already racking up a £480 price tag.

But one of history’s most despicable evils, Adolf Hitler, is currently the highest priced famous fake.

The Blackburn Beverley Transporter Aircraft is up for sale for £30,000

The Blackburn Beverley Transporter Aircraft is up for sale for £30,000

The Nazi is leading the bids at the moment with a top offer of £550 currently in place. 

For those looking for something a bit bigger, the Blackburn Beverley was a heavy transport plane built by the Blackburn and General Aircraft Company.

It saw service with the RAF Transport Command between 1957 and 1967.  

They could transfer paratroopers and cargo and ware particularly important as they could land on rough desert terrain.

After a decade of sterling service, the Beverley, which was operated by the RAF Transport Command, was retired by the RAF in 1967 and replaced by the Hercules.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak begs Boris Johnson ‘Don’t go too far’

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chancellor rishi sunak begs boris johnson dont go too far
The Prime Minister said a second lockdown was the 'last thing anybody wants' but revealed his administration was considering whether it needed to 'go further' than the current national restrictions that were put in place this week

The Prime Minister said a second lockdown was the ‘last thing anybody wants’ but revealed his administration was considering whether it needed to ‘go further’ than the current national restrictions that were put in place this week

Rishi Sunak has urged Boris Johnson not to risk the recovery by going too far with any new lockdown rules.

Issuing his ‘sombre’ warning, the Chancellor highlighted the huge potential damage to the economy – including mass job losses. 

A Government source said: ‘Everybody’s general health depends on the economic health of the UK – there is a way to bring in restrictions without going overboard.’ 

Mr Johnson tonight warned Britain was now ‘seeing a second wave coming in’ and ministers were looking at going beyond the ‘rule of six’ limit on gatherings. 

Figures today suggested daily coronavirus cases have doubled in a week, with the R-Rate now potentially as high as 1.4. 

Government scientific advisers have modelled a range of new restrictions, including the reimposition of a temporary full lockdown. 

However No 10 has insisted this is not being considered and is focusing on a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ – next month or sooner. 

Workplaces and schools would remain open but there could be a nationwide ban on socialising, with venues such as pubs closed. 

The time-limited measures may be announced as soon as next week and repeated over the next six months. 

In other pandemic developments: 

  • London mayor Sadiq Khan held an emergency meeting about the ‘accelerating speed’ of Covid in the capital and said extra measures would be required; 
  • A further 4,322 confirmed cases were recorded nationally – the highest total since May 8 – with officials warning Covid-19 was ‘spreading widely’; 
  • However official figures suggest the total has almost doubled in a week to around 6,000 a day in England alone; 
  • Data also showed a big rise in cases in children, and in London. Officials warned of rising hospitalisations among the elderly; 
  • Local lockdown restrictions were extended to cover around 13million people, with 3.5million more affected in the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands; 
  • The NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham was moved back to ‘high alert’; 
  • The Scottish and Welsh leaders, as well as the Labour leader, called for an emergency Cobra meeting; 
  • Teachers said eight in ten schools had seen pupils absent while awaiting tests; 
  • Police warned coronavirus remained a ‘deadly threat’ and called for compliance with the rule of six over a warm weekend; 
  • St Andrews University urged students to observe a voluntary lockdown. 

Officials, including chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, are thought to be arguing for tough restrictions before the death toll rises significantly. 

But the Mail understands that the Prime Minister is facing intense pressure from his Chancellor to limit the impact on the economy. 

At a meeting in Downing Street on Thursday, Mr Sunak urged Mr Johnson to minimise the number of businesses affected by any new curbs. 

A Government source said of the discussion: ‘Mr Sunak gave sombre warnings – Boris said he was confident it will all be OK in the end.’ Allies of Mr Johnson insist he will try to balance both the threat of the virus and the risks to the economy. 

Rishi Sunak has urged Boris Johnson not to risk the recovery by going too far with any new lockdown rules. Issuing his ¿sombre¿ warning, the Chancellor highlighted the huge potential damage to the economy ¿ including mass job losses

Rishi Sunak has urged Boris Johnson not to risk the recovery by going too far with any new lockdown rules. Issuing his ‘sombre’ warning, the Chancellor highlighted the huge potential damage to the economy – including mass job losses

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A Downing Street source said last night: ‘Previously we had to use a mallet as a blunt tool to come down hard on the virus. We now know an awful lot more about the virus and can use a lot more sophisticated measures where we keep the economy going while targeting where we know the virus is breeding within society. 

‘Most of that is social and that is the sort of area we are looking to target if we take further measures.’ 

Business leaders last night echoed Mr Sunak’s concerns and warned that a second lockdown would cripple the economy. 

Hannah Essex of the British Chambers of Commerce said: ‘Uncertainty and speculation around future national restrictions will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy. 

‘While protection of public health must be the priority, Government should do everything in its power to avoid further national lockdowns that will cripple businesses. Any new restrictions must be accompanied by a comprehensive support package for the hardest hit firms forced to close or reduce capacity through no fault of their own.’ 

Tej Parikh of the Institute of Directors said: ‘Any return to widespread restrictions would be a big challenge. Some companies’ balance sheets are in a grim state, and they may need to take on further debt.’ 

The economy shrank by more than 25 per cent in March and April after the first coronavirus lockdown was introduced. 

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But output rose by 18.6 per cent over the following three months as restrictions were eased and the economy began to reopen. Figures from the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed retail sales grew for a fourth month in a row in August. 

Kate Nicholls of UK Hospitality said: ‘The hospitality sector is still on a knife edge. One in five businesses is still closed and those that are open are trading at severely reduced capacity and are not out of the woods by a long way.’ Meanwhile Tory rebels are threatening to halt the renewal of ministerial powers to impose coronavirus restrictions. 

The Government fears a revolt when MPs vote on extending legislation that gives them power to bring in measures without needing to give the Commons a say. 

Nightingale hospitals were today ordered to be ready to open again within 48 hours – and another swathe of England was plunged into lockdown.

Health bosses have revealed the temporary hospital in Birmingham’s NEC arena – officially opened by Prince William via videolink during the darkest days of the outbreak in April – has been placed on standby so it can start treating patients within two to three days. 

The dramatic move came as the UK’s daily infections hit a four-month high of 4,322, with figures showing the outbreak has nearly doubled in size in a week and the R number is potentially as high as 1.4. 

Visiting the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson said: 'I don't want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all,  we want to keep schools open ... we want to keep businesses going. The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance'

Visiting the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson said: ‘I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all,  we want to keep schools open … we want to keep businesses going. The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance’

Amid growing alarm that the situation is sliding out of control, curbs including a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on socialising outside of households have been announced across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire from Tuesday. 

A total of around 13million people are now under under local restrictions. And Health Secretary Matt Hancock has raised the prospect of even more draconian steps, begging the public to ‘come together to tackle this virus’.

Ministers are mulling a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ nationwide halt that could see much of the hospitality industry shut – although no final decisions have been made as ministers wrangle over the effect on the economy. 

Mr Johnson suggested the public – who were until this month being encouraged to return to work and eat out to help the economy – dropped their guard and allowed the virus to gain a new foothold. 

Asked if the Government had eased lockdown too quickly, he said: “They got that peak under control, they brought it right down, they brought the number of infections right down by discipline and everybody adjusting our behaviours and the way we go about our lives – hands, face, space.

“And I think probably, truth to tell, what’s happened here and what alas has happened in so many other countries is that people find it difficult to keep this up.’ 

How could the ‘circuit breaker’ work? 

The government is mulling what has been described as a ‘circuit breaker’ in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

But it would not be quite as draconian as the lockdown that was imposed at the previous height of the crisis in March.

Instead it would be similar to the lockdowns that have been introduced locally in areas with high infection levels. 

Restrictions would be imposed nationwide for perhaps a fortnight, in the hope that short sharp action can break the chain of transmission. 

LOCKED DOWN:  

  • People only allowed to socialise with their own household or support bubble. 
  • Curfews and restrictions on activities in public spaces such as town centres and parks.
  • Face masks need to be worn in more public areas and venues. 
  • Pubs and restaurants and other firms like hairdressers and beauty salons could either be ordered to close altogether, or have their opening hours severely restricted. 
  • The edict to work from home where possible could be reinstated, after Boris Johnson spent months urging people to return to offices. 

UNLOCKED 

  • Non-essential shops and workplaces would stay open, to avoid further disastrous damage to the economy. 
  • Schools would also probably be kept going, after ministers warned of the massive impact on the prospects of pupils. 
  • There is speculation the curbs could be introduced over the half-term at the end of October – if the government can wait that long with cases doubling every eight days.
  • Healthcare and dentistry is likely to be kept going, rather than being reduced to urgent care as in the previous lockdown. 
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The Prime Minister said his administration was considering whether it needed to ‘go further’ than the current national restrictions that were put in place this week.

Asked about the possibility of a two-week October half-term in order to bring in a short lockdown, Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘What I can certainly say about parents and schools is we want to keep the schools open, that is going to happen.

‘We want to try and keep all parts of the economy open as far as we possibly can – I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown but clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we have brought in on Monday, so we will be looking at the local lockdowns we have got in large parts of the country now, looking at what we can do to intensify things that help bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures as well.

‘What I will say is, as we go forward, we will be explaining in great detail to people what the scientific background is, what the epidemiology is saying and really how we propose to do it.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is believed to have raised concerns about the consequences of a blanket lockdown at a meeting yesterday.

One option under consideration is believed to be timing the curbs for the half-term holidays in October, and extending the break to a fortnight. That would minimise the harm to children, many of whom have already seen their education seriously disrupted. 

However, it is not clear whether the government can wait that long as cases surge, with new figures confirming they are doubling every eight days. Schools and workplaces could instead stay open instead while the rest of society is subject to restrictions. 

The chilling developments came as concerns grow about the shambolic testing system, with demand four times capacity and claims the Government’s seven ‘lighthouse labs’ are in chaos due to shortages of staff and equipment. 

A leading scientist warned that ‘testing is dying on its a**e’, adding he was ‘appalled by what I saw’ at the labs. 

The latest areas to face lockdown are Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington, Halton, Wolverhampton, Oadby & Wigston, and parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale. 

The restrictions vary across areas, but include only socialising with their own households or support bubble, restricting restaurants to table service, and curtailing late-night operating hours. 

In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton, and Lancashire, apart from Blackpool and Greater Manchester, people are also advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work, and to avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

The new rules do not apply to Bolton or Greater Manchester where separate restrictions are already in place.

People who are shielding in parts of north-east Blackburn where eight wards are under local restrictions will no longer need to from October 5, bringing them into line with the rest of Blackburn with Darwen where shielding is already due to pause Monday. 

In the Midlands, residents in Wolverhampton and Oadby & Wigston will be banned from socialising with people outside their own households or support bubbles in private homes and gardens from September 22.

Meanwhile in West Yorkshire, residents in all parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale are also banned from socialising with other households or bubbles in private homes and gardens.

Some wards in these areas had previously been exempt from such restrictions but the Government has confirmed they are now all bound by them.

Another change announced is that individuals who are shielding in Leicester will no longer need to from October 5.

The new north-west restrictions apply to Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, Preston, Rossendale, Hyndburn, Burnley and South Ribble, West Lancashire, Chorley, Wyre, Fylde, Lancaster and Ribble Valley in Lancashire, and to Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Halton and Warrington in Merseyside and Cheshire.

Mr Hancock said: ‘We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton.

‘Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them.

‘I know these restrictions will make every-day life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.’ 

Ian Brookfield, the leader of Wolverhampton city council, said: ‘These measures are like those which were in place at the height of the pandemic and the message is simple; you mustn’t allow people who are not part of your household or bubble into your home or garden, or go to visit them in their house or garden in Wolverhampton or elsewhere.’

‘We’ve all had to do this before; now we need to do it again if we are to stop the spread of coronavirus, keep our loved ones safe and protect jobs and our economy. Please play your part and together we will get through this.’

Hancock claims tests are ‘available in every part of the country’ despite system being in chaos

Matt Hancock today defied evidence that the testing system is in chaos as he claimed checks are ‘available in every part of the country’.

Despite the government’s own website turning people away or offering them tests huge distances from home, the Health Secretary accused the media of making up the problems.

‘The message to people is do come forward, there are tests available,’ he told the BBC.

‘By the way there are tests available in every part of the country.

‘Do not believe these stories when they appear on newspapers saying there aren’t test available here, there are tests available in every part of the country.’

A Downing Street spokesman added: ‘I am not aware of anything to suggest that tests aren’t available in some parts of the country.’ 

The claims came despite the government’s own figures showing that testing availability is being stretched to breaking point.

One in 10 people were having to travel more than 27 miles for a test as of last week – and 5 per cent have to travel more than 47 miles.

However, many people claim they have been unable to access any tests at all. In one extreme case, a Durham resident was offered a test at Aberdeen airport.  

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London mayor Sadiq Khan warned that the capital was not far away from being plunged into lockdown, as he confirmed that New Year celebrations are being axed. 

‘What we’ve seen in other parts of the country and in the North East in particular is an instruction for bars and restaurants to close at 10pm,’ Mr Khan said.

‘The reason for that is to minimise the amount of hours people spend socialising which can increase the risk of the virus spreading.

‘We’re looking into all possibilities in London and we’re looking to see which policies across the country are successful.

‘According to the latest evidence I’ve seen we’re about two weeks behind some parts of the country.’

The Government’s chief science and medical officers have warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month.

They are said to be pushing for harsher restrictions across England, including on activities in public space and either the closure of pubs and restaurants or tough curfews.  

Confirming the SAGE advisory board had considered the option, one scientist on the panel told the FT: ‘As schools will be closed for one week at half-term, adding an extra week to that will have limited impact on education.’

Recent analysis from Imperial College London suggests Covid-19 rates are doubling every seven to eight days.

The unnamed scientist warned rising coronavirus levels could ‘break the NHS’, criticising the Government’s test-and-trace system by warning it was ‘creaking at the seams’.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson told a committee of MPs: ‘I don’t want a second national lockdown. I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.’ 

But the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) has been considering a two-week shutdown in October.

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Hancock said a national lockdown was the ‘last line of defence’. But he warned that this is a ‘big moment for the country’ and the situation is ‘deadly serious’. Unless the ‘Rule of Six’ restrictions worked more would have to be done, he warned.

‘The virus is clearly accelerating across the country,’ Mr Hancock told Sky News. ‘We have got to take the necessary action to keep people safe. We will do what it takes to keep people safe.’     

UK records 4,322 Covid-19 cases in four-month high as ONS estimates England’s outbreak has DOUBLED in a week 

Another 4,322 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, the Government announced today in the highest one-day rise since May 8, as a raft of worrying statistics revealed the Covid-19 crisis appears to be rebounding.

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggests 6,000 people are catching the life-threatening illness every day in England while hospital admissions have doubled in a week and government scientists warn the R rate could now be as high as 1.4.

For comparison, last week the ONS estimated just 3,200 new cases were truly occurring each day but now there are more than this showing up in positive tests alone.

The ONS report suggests swab-testing is picking up around half of all infections, with an average of 3,300 people currently testing positive for Covid-19 each day. It is considered the most accurate data of its kind and falls in line with figures from a separate symptom-tracking app, which estimates cases have also doubled in a week to 7,500.

SAGE today revealed the R rate of the virus in the UK could be as high as 1.4 – the highest estimate since the group began making them. Outbreaks are also growing in all regions and expanding by up to eight or nine per cent per day in some places, Number 10’s advisory board also warned.

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Asked about the prospect of blanket curbs, Mr Hancock said: ‘It isn’t something that we ever take off the table, but it isn’t something that we want to see either.

‘The country once again needs to come together and recognise there is a serious challenge. That the virus is accelerating.

‘Unfortunately, it isn’t just cases increasing, it’s also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing.’ 

A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘We have always been clear that our strategy is to keep the virus down as much as possible while protecting education and the economy.

‘I would point to the words of the Health Secretary this morning where he said that we are prepared to take action if necessary.

‘But we, obviously, want to avoid any extended lockdown… Our focus is to reduce transmission rates.’

Mr Hancock also dismissed rumours that Mr Johnson was ‘exhausted and defeated’ by his workload, months after recovering from coronavirus.

He said the PM remained ‘enormously vigorous’ and that the seriousness of the decisions taken by the Government should not be overestimated.

‘(He’s) enormously vigorous and I think it’s important to recognise that this is a really big moment,’ he told Times Radio.

‘The seriousness of the decisions we take can’t be overestimated and we’re making judgments about how to protect the health of the nation and how to save tens of thousands of lives whilst balancing that with the enormous social and economic and health impacts of the measures that we have to take.

‘These are huge decisions and very weighty ones and so it’s hugely understandable that the people making them should be taking them extremely seriously.’

Experts warned that the tougher restrictions look inevitable. 

Dr Julian Tang, an honorary associate professor in the department of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, told MailOnline: ‘Australia has already gone into (short-circuit lockdowns) and so has New Zealand. I think that probably is going to come here too. 

‘You won’t reduce the rate of transmission if the schools stay open and people are going out shopping.’

Dr Tang added: ‘Local lockdown approach may work to start with but once they start to coalesce you’re looking at a national lockdown option as they are combining into one mass of cases.

‘People travel between cities, they travel between places. Unless you stop people from travelling this is going to continue to happen.

‘It’s like a forest fire. If you don’t have major fire breaks all along the forest line you’re going to get it jumping across to other parts, unless you make a fire break around the whole forest boundary.

‘If you shut down just one part the virus goes around it so it’s going to be, I suspect, that this half-term lockdown may happen.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Boris Johnson to convene a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

He said: ‘I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in coronavirus cases and the difficulties people across the country are facing getting a test.

‘There is mounting concern about whether we have got the virus sufficiently under control. This is the time for swift, decisive national action. We cannot afford to be too slow.

‘That’s why I’m asking the Prime Minister to convene a Cobra meeting and to update the country on the measures the Government is taking to keep the virus under control, including to fix testing.

Sadiq Khan is slammed for ‘devastating’ decision to scrap New Year’s Eve fireworks in London 

Sadiq Khan was today criticised for his ‘devastating’ decision to scrap the New Year’s Eve fireworks in London – as events industry bosses urged him to consider the impact of cancellation.

The Mayor of London has confirmed the display, which typically takes place near the London Eye, will not go ahead as ‘we can’t afford’ to have large numbers of people congregating amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Khan added the New Year will instead be welcomed by ‘something that people can enjoy in the comfort of their living rooms,’ but he was unable to give details.

The move has since been slammed by industry insiders, with Peter Heath of the Professional Lighting and Sound Association urging Mr Khan to ‘think about the impact of cancelling live events on industry, on the UK economy and the wellbeing of citizens.’

Speaking to MailOnline, he added: ‘This is devastating news, not just for the event workers responsible for putting on a show-stopping spectacle, but also for the millions of spectators that look forward to ringing in the New Year.

‘While we understand the need to exercise social distancing, we need to think about the impact of cancelling live events on industry, on the UK economy and the wellbeing of citizens.

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‘The British public want to know what the situation is and what the Government is going to do about it.

‘I want to make clear too that Labour will continue to act in the national interest. We will support whatever measures the Government take to protect the NHS and save lives.’

Drinkers flocked to watering holes in the northeast last night after Matt Hancock confirmed the region would be hit by a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars starting tonight.

Around 9.2 million Britons had already been put under tougher local lockdown restrictions because of a spike in cases of coronavirus, but that figure has now risen to around 13million. 

The Northeast saw a busy night in bars before its curfew came into force at midnight, meaning different households are prevented from mixing and making pubs and restaurants close at 10pm.

Venues in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham are now only allowed to offer table service. 

Sean Southern from The Gateshead Arms told MailOnline of the impact the new restrictions are likely to have on business.

He said: ‘We used to be open until 12.30am, then because of Covid we reduced that to 11pm and now we’re being told we have to shut at 10pm.

‘Those hours are absolutely crucial for us, and probably our busiest time for those who want to have a few drinks before going further afield or going home.

‘There’s a few bars in the area which have closed down over the last few weeks and so we’ve sort of taken on those customers as well as our regulars recently.

‘Things seemed to be getting better and then all of a sudden we’re told last night that there’s going to be big changes and we haven’t really had time to prepare.

‘People forget that closing at 10pm also has an impact on staff who might have wanted to pick up a few extra hours.’

Some 2,350 pubs and restaurants ware affected by the measures, according to real estate adviser Altus Group. 

The government is facing a growing backlash as the ‘world class’ testing system creaks under the pressure of rising cases.

Mounting requests for swabs as children return to school and workers head back to their desks, together with logistical chaos, has caused havoc. 

Testing tsar Baroness Dido Harding revealed yesterday that demand for Covid screening is up to four times the system’s capacity. 

And extraordinarily, she claimed that no-one had predicted the spike in demand – blaming the modelling from the government’s own SAGE experts.

Science committee chair Greg Clark told the Tory peer that her words were ‘dispiriting’, pointing out it was obvious that there would be a huge surge in demand. 

A group of revellers enjoy a night out in Newcastle city last night, the last evening before lockdown measures came in

A group of revellers enjoy a night out in Newcastle city last night, the last evening before lockdown measures came in

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured on Sky News today) pleaded with the public to 'come together to tackle this virus' as ministers consider imposing draconian restrictions for a fortnight in a 'circuit break' to stop the spread

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured on Sky News today) pleaded with the public to ‘come together to tackle this virus’ as ministers consider imposing draconian restrictions for a fortnight in a ‘circuit break’ to stop the spread

No staff at test centre on the same day the new measures were announced 

Dozens of drivers turned up at a test site to find there were no staff to swab them, on the day the Health Secretary announced tougher coronavirus measures for people in the north-east.

People who had booked a test on Thursday at Doxford Park, an out-of-town business park in Sunderland, were told by the media they would not be tested, as there were no officials there to inform them.

Some had been turned away on the approach to the centre by security guards, who told them the computers had crashed and to try again later.

HGV mechanic Brad Cockburn, 28, made a 100-mile round trip from Bedale, North Yorkshire, only to find there were no staff, not even a tent or other infrastructure, at the site on the out-of-town business park.

He said: ‘There’s no organisation, it’s piss-poor performance as usual.’

Rob Reid, a 58-year-old cash and carry manager from Sunderland, booked for 3.45pm, only to find there were no staff.

He said: ‘It annoys me. My concern is about my health and it comes across that the Government is not that concerned, when they are taking bookings on the NHS website and there’s nobody here to do it.’

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However, deeper problems have been highlighted in the government’s processes today, with claims the ‘Lighthouse’ lab centres are in turmoil. 

Genomics scientist and inventor Phil Robinson told The Times they were poorly managed, running out of staff and failed to set up automatic processes before a second wave of infections. 

He told the paper: ‘Every part of the process was poor. The other ludicrous issue they have is they have 20 different types of tube coming into the lab. When you are running a high throughput lab it’s only sensible to have one. Why they haven’t standardised that I have no idea.’

Lady Harding admitted yesterday that they were trying to automate far more of the processes. 

Dozens of drivers turned up at a test site yesterday to find there were no staff to swab them, on the same day the tougher measures were announced.

People who had booked a test on Thursday at Doxford Park, an out-of-town business park in Sunderland, were told by the media they would not be tested, as there were no officials there to inform them.

Some had been turned away on the approach to the centre by security guards, who told them the computers had crashed and to try again later.  

Around two million people live in the seven authorities, of which only three — Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sunderland and Gateshead — were formally named on Public Health England’s most up-to-date watchlist. 

Council bosses argue they needed tougher measures across the region to prevent a full-blown lockdown and save lives. 

Labour MPs in the North East welcomed the new measures outlined by Mr Hancock, while urging the Government to work better with local councils.

In a joint letter to the minister, they said: ‘We do (…) believe that this must be done in close collaboration with local authorities, who must have access to all appropriate information, data and support in order to make the best decisions for their areas.’

Mr Hancock’s announcement came after measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham were put in place in a bid to address rising rates of infection.

Meanwhile, at the Doxford Park site, drivers continued to turn up while others sat in the car park working out what to do next.

HGV mechanic Brad Cockburn, 28, made a 100-mile round trip from Bedale, North Yorkshire, only to find there were no staff, not even a tent or other infrastructure, at the site on the out-of-town business park.

He said: ‘There’s no organisation, it’s piss-poor performance as usual.’ 

What are the new restrictions for the North East?

Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham are subject to new restrictions from today to curb the spread of the virus. The new restrictions are:

  • Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
  • Pubs, bars and other hospitality businesses can only run table service
  • Leisure and entertainment venues to shut between 10pm and 8am

People have also been advised to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Not to socialise with other people outside of their own households in all public venues
  • Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
  • Take holidays only within your own household or support bubble
  • Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators

The Health Secretary said they were necessary to stop the spread of the virus and prevent another lockdown.

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Rob Reid, a 58-year-old cash and carry manager from Sunderland, booked for 3.45pm, only to find there were no staff.

He said: ‘It annoys me. My concern is about my health and it comes across that the Government is not that concerned, when they are taking bookings on the NHS website and there’s nobody here to do it.’

Police said they will enforce the lockdown measures as a last resort.

Superintendent Steve Long, of Durham Constabulary, said: ‘The Government has announced that further local restrictions are necessary in addition to those already in place nationally.

‘We would like to thank the vast majority of people who have taken personal responsibility, done the right thing and stuck to the guidance over the last few months.

‘Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the new regulations and encourage people to act responsibly: only then will we move to enforcement as a last resort.’ 

Around 9.2million people across the UK are now in areas of intervention, including parts of Greater Manchester, Leicester and Scotland. 

But neither Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the North East, two other authorities officially named as a hotspot by Public Health England, were hit by the tough new measures. 

The announcement comes amid fears thousands of students returning to university in the area could cause cases to rise even further. 

Around 40,000 students are expected to flock back to Newcastle University in the coming days, as well as nearly 20,000 to Durham University. 

Rising numbers of infections in London and Leeds have prompted warnings the cities may soon head in the same direction as the North East with additional restrictions. 

And in North Yorkshire ‘full emergency mode’ has been declared after cases surged by 167 per cent in the first week of September. 

Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13

Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13

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Local authority watchlist – Is your home town on the list?

KEY: Infection rate per 100,000. Are cases rising or falling? Have special measures been taken? 

Bolton: 121.9 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Bradford: 72.2 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Oldham: 66.6 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Salford: 62.3 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Blackburn with Darwen: 61.8 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Preston: 59.9 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Pendle: 58 per 100,000. Falling. Intervention.

Rochdale: 57.7 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Tameside: 56.8 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Manchester: 56.8 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Birmingham: 50.8 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Bury: 46.8 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Leicester: 43.1 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Kirklees: 36.9 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Solihull: 34.9 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Calderdale: 34.3 per 100,000. Rising. Intervention.

Trafford: 31.3 per 100,000. Falling. Intervention.

Sandwell: 22.6 per 100,000. Falling. Intervention.

Rossendale: 80.4 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Burnley: 57.6 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

South Tyneside: 50.6 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Leeds: 47.3 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Hyndburn: 42.1 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Gateshead: 40.5 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Sunderland: 32.4 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 28 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Stockport: 20.2 per 100,000. Rising. Enhanced support.

Hertsmere: 53.7 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Wirral: 43.6 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Middlesbrough: 42 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Hartlepool: 38.6 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Corby: 35.3 per 100,000. Falling. Concern.

Liverpool: 31.1 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Sefton: 31.1 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Knowsley: 30.1 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Sheffield: 28.5 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Peterborough: 27.9 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Northampton: 25.8 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Stoke-on-Trent: 25 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

St. Helens: 23.3 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Great Yarmouth: 23.1 per 100,000. Falling. Concern.

Norwich: 20.5 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

Swindon: 16.7 per 100,000. Falling. Concern.

Breckland: 16.5 per 100,000. Falling. Concern.

South Norfolk: 10.9 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: 4 per 100,000. Level. Concern.

Broadland: 3.1 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

North Norfolk: 2.9 per 100,000. Rising. Concern.

ENGLAND: 19.7 per 100,000. Rising. 

Source: Public Health England

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The Prime Minister yesterday pleaded for Brits to ‘save Christmas’ by obeying his ‘Rule of Six’, warning that lockdown will only get stricter if the UK does not ‘flatten the hump of the camel’. 

Ministers batted away claims that chief medical officer Chris Whitty is pushing for a two-week national lockdown. 

But it has now emerged that the prospect is real – albeit the restrictions would not be as draconian as those imposed in March.

Leading experts have insisted the current spike in Covid-19 cases is nowhere near the scale of what was seen during the darkest days of the crisis in March and April, with one telling MailOnline: ‘We are not near the stage of the peak.’  

Meanwhile, the Government is expected to announce tighter restrictions on care home visits in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases.

Care homes in areas subject to local lockdowns may be advised to temporarily restrict visits in all but end-of-life situations, it is understood.

For parts of the country where there is no local lockdown, but where community transmission is a cause for concern, an option officials are considering is advising that visits are restricted to one designated visitor per resident.

The Government will set out further details of its social care action plan to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.

The Financial Times reported that leading scientists advising the UK Government have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The experts, from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m), have suggested a lockdown to coincide with the October school half-term, it added.

Newcastle City Council has sent proposals to the Department of Health for pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and for people to be banned from socialising outside their bubble.

London could be ‘weeks away’ from further restrictions as its infection rate has started to double every two weeks. Redbridge, in north-east London, has the highest rate of coronavirus infections at 38 per 100,000. It is followed by Hounslow, in the south-west, with 34.6 per 100,000, and Barking and Dagenham, also in the east, at 31.5 per 100,000. 

Cllr Peter John, chairman of London councils, said he is ‘massively worried’ authorities will be forced to enact further restrictions as cases are ‘only going in one direction and only going to speed up’. Kevin Fenton, PHE’s director for London, has suggested that curfews could also be deployed in the capital.

London boroughs have the power to order local lockdowns but, as people tend to move between local authority areas to work or study, it is not clear how this restriction would work. 

A No10 spokesman said: ‘Specifically in London, no restrictions are currently planned, the important thing is we ask people to remain vigilant and comply with the rule of six.

‘We will always keep the transmission rate under review and any measures that we deem required’.

Leeds has been told it has entered a ‘critical phase’ in transmission. 

Council chief executive Tom Riordan yesterday said they are in a ‘live situation’ where cases are rising. Dozens of regions in the UK, including Greater Manchester and Leicester, have already been hit with local lockdowns. 

North Yorkshire has been put into ‘full emergency mode’, meaning testing facilities have been redirected to areas of greatest need, care homes receiving extra support and the brakes put onto the reopening of social care day services.

The North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum – which includes emergency services, local authorities and the NHS – has labelled Selby, Harrogate and parts of Scarborough and Craven as places of concern owing to rising case numbers.

Richard Flinton, the chair of North Yorkshire’s resilience forum has warned they are seeing a ‘worrying rise’ in cases as he called on the whole county to ‘act now’ to stop the spread of the virus. 

Mr Flinton said: ‘We thank everybody again for their many sacrifices. 

‘However, as we have seen nationally and around the world, cases are rising again and the threat of the virus is a real and present danger.’

 ‘We know how quickly infection rates can change and we are calling on the whole county to act now with us in response.

‘Please show extra restraint and caution and to take additional actions above and beyond those required nationally to help us try to avoid another lockdown here.’

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Government sources have told The Telegraph that Boris Johnson is desperate to tackle rising cases through placing a curfew on the hospitality sector. Downing Street officials insisted all options were still be on table, despite warnings that ordering pubs to close early — like has been done in Bolton — would be ‘devastating’. 

The action comes amid warnings that schools could be forced to close by default in the coming weeks because of a massive shortage of tests across the UK. 

‘Lockdown is the only thing that we know works, to be frank,’ one government science adviser told ITV.

The dire prospect has been raised amid fears that the disease is on the verge of spiralling out of control again.

Although cases have spiked to nearly 4,000 a day, it had been mainly among younger people, who are less likely to be badly affected. 

But now Covid-19 cases are soaring among middle-aged people in England and have risen by upwards of 90 per cent in a fortnight as the outbreak continues to grow.

Public Health England (PHE) data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged between 40 and 49 — up from 12.4 at the end of August. And coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled in just a week for people in their fifties, jumping from 10.9 to 20. 

The ‘Rule of Six’ imposed by Boris Johnson on Monday makes it illegal to have larger gatherings, although in Scotland and Wales children under 12 do not need to be counted in the numbers. 

Ministers have suggested they are following the example of Belgium, where a surge appears to have been tackled using tight limits on gatherings and curfews. 

A senior member of the government told ITV’s Robert Peston that there was ‘no possibility of us waiting for the death rate to rise before we act’.

London’s infection rate ‘doubles every fortnight’

Passengers commute on the busy London underground

Passengers commute on the busy London underground

London’s infection rate is doubling every two weeks, the chair of the capital’s councils has warned.

Sounding a grim note Cllr Peter John told Times Radio he was ‘massively worried’ about further restrictions being hiked on the city in the coming weeks.

‘We are seeing in London at the moment infection rates doubling every fortnight,’ he said. ‘It is only going in one direction and only going to speed up.’

He also warned that testing rates for London had been cut by a fifth, leaving authorities less able to stop emerging infection spikes.

It comes amid mounting concerns the return of more than half a million students could cause an additional spike in infections.

A No10 spokesman told the Sun: ‘Specifically in London, no restrictions are currently planned, the important thing is we ask people to remain vigilant and comply with the rule of six.

‘We will always keep the transmission rate under review and any measures that we deem required’.

Government data shows the number of cases has been rising in the capital since late July, but began to surge upwards at the end of August. 

The largest number of cases has been recorded in those aged 25 to 29, followed by 30 to 34-year-olds.

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They added that the government will reassess whether the ‘Rule of Six’ has been enough to control the situation in fortnight – but there is a widespread view that schools should not be shut again.

A leading scientific advisor reportedly said: ‘I think that if we want to keep schools open, we probably have to give serious consideration to a wide range of other measures to stop a major second wave.

‘And we have to think about doing that right now – which we are starting to do.’

Mr Johnson said he understood a negative test had been returned for Sir Keir’s child, adding: ‘I don’t know why he is not here.’

The Labour leader was advised to self-isolate on Monday while awaiting the result of a test for a member of his household who showed possible symptoms of Covid-19.

Less than half an hour before PMQs was due to begin, Sir Keir said he was ‘very pleased and relieved that the test result for one of my children came back negative this morning’.

A decision had been made on Tuesday for his deputy, Ms Rayner, to take his place at the question session.

The possibility of a harsher crackdown comes despite a major Tory backlash at the restrictions on everyday life. 

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland yesterday denied that the ‘rule of six’ would effectively cancel Christmas, following criticisms from a source close to the Archbishop of Canterbury about the social restrictions imposed this week to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Cabinet minister said: ‘Archbishop Justin (Welby) makes an important contribution to this debate and he is right to point to the huge spiritual and social significance of Christmas. 

‘I don’t think any of us in Government want to be Oliver Cromwell-esque about this – we want to see families celebrate Christmas in a safe and happy way and we want to see our churches and indeed our other places of worship joining in that celebration.’ 

Mr Buckland added: ‘We are not going to cancel Christmas but the ‘rule of six’ is something that is clear and important and I do think we’ve committed to that and we need to stick to it.’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has batted away furious demands for young children to be exempted from the rules in England to save Christmas. 

He was repeatedly pressed on the ‘unfair and inflexible’ restrictions as he made a statement in the Commons.

But while Mr Hancock insisted he understood the ‘impact’ the rules were having, he said ‘simplicity’ was crucial for them to be effective.

Senior Conservatives lined up to urge the government to copy the Scottish and Welsh administrations, which have said that children aged under 12 do not count towards the limit on gatherings.

Why are some areas being locked down and not others? 

Lockdowns are imposed on local areas in response to a rise in infections, putting people’s lives at risk.

There’s no specific infection rate threshold after which a local lockdown is triggered, a Public Health England spokesman said, but rather it is a decision taken by local authorities and government based on advice from health professionals.

The professionals watch measures including the rate of change in infection rate, number of cases, level of demand for A&E, and which demographic has the most infections, to advise when and if further restrictions should be imposed.

The ‘nuanced’ and ‘bespoke’ approach means restrictions are re-imposed in regions with differing numbers of cases per 100,000.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel warned on Tuesday that two families bumping into each other on the street would be breaking the new law.

She said more than half-a-dozen people stopping to chat after accidentally meeting up would constitute ‘mingling’.

Lawyers questioned whether that was the case – but No10 offered backing, saying: ‘You can expect the police to ask you to disperse.’ 

Ms Patel also said she would report her own neighbours for any behaviour she believed was ‘inappropriate’ and risked spreading the virus. 

The comments came as police complained that they had been left in the dark on how to enforce the tough restrictions, with no guidance and widespread anger among the public. 

 

The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are spiralling across every age group. People in their twenties ¿ who aren't as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness ¿ are driving the spike with an infection rate of 46, which has doubled in the last three weeks

The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are spiralling across every age group. People in their twenties — who aren’t as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness — are driving the spike with an infection rate of 46, which has doubled in the last three weeks 

Public Health England (PHE) data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged between 40 and 49 ¿ up from 12.4 at the end of August. And coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled in just a week for people in their fifties, jumping from 10.9 to 20

Public Health England (PHE) data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged between 40 and 49 — up from 12.4 at the end of August. And coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled in just a week for people in their fifties, jumping from 10.9 to 20

When should I get a coronavirus test?

People suffering from coronavirus symptoms should get a test within five days of symptoms appearing, the NHS says. 

Its advice page says anyone suffering from the symptoms – a high temperature, continuous cough and loss of their sense of taste or smell – to get tested as soon as they can. 

‘If you have symptoms, get a test as soon as possible,’ they said. ‘You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms’.

But amid England’s mounting testing fiasco – with people in virus hotspots unable to access any swabs – a message has been posted saying those unable to get tested should ‘try again in a few hours’.

Who should get tested for coronavirus?

The NHS says that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus should get a test. These are:

  • a high temperature
  • New continuous cough
  • Loss of sense of taste and smell 

They add that a select group of other people will also be able to access testing. These are people who: 

  • Live in England and have been told to get a test before entering hospital for surgery
  • Asked to by their local council
  • Are taking part in a government pilot project 

Who should not get a coronavirus test?

Matt Hancock has claimed up to one-in-four tests are being given out to people who are not eligible for them.

He said he has heard stories of whole schools applying for them after one case of coronavirus was recorded there, and of people getting them because they are going on holiday.

This is not what the testing system has been designed for, he said. and it means that people who need a test cannot get one.

Source: NHS 

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But he urged people without symptoms to stay away from testing centres – although he acknowledged the reasons why they may want to find out if they had Covid-19.

‘What has happened is demand has massively accelerated just in the last couple of weeks,’ he told MPs. 

Professor Andrew Hayward, one of the government’s SAGE experts, said around half a million people every day could be expected to display symptoms similar to coroanvirus at this time of year, even before the pandemic appeared.

That would be far above the government’s current claimed testing capacity of around 375,000 – although they have never carried out that many in a single day. 

Prof Hayward, director of University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health, said: ‘The background to this of course is that we would expect the demand and the capacity to need to rise quite rapidly over the autumn and winter as the number of people who develop symptoms that could be Covid increase.

‘Some of our research has shown that at least in the winter, you would expect about half a million people a day to develop symptoms that are typical of Covid – and that would be in a winter when there was no Covid – so you can see that the capacity requirements will have to increase dramatically if we are going to keep up.’ 

Hundreds of schools have been partially or completely closed because of coronavirus cases – both proven and suspected – leading to fears of a domino effect, resulting in parents not being able to go to work and the return of empty offices.

More than one in 10 children were not in classes last Thursday, figures show, amid fears the growing number of pupils and staff awaiting tests could cripple parent confidence in getting their children back to school.

It comes after teachers held a protest outside the Department for Education, arguing that the lack of tests, and the inability of staff, pupils and parents to get to the front of the queue, is stopping schools returning to normal.

One told the i that they had been unable to book a test for their daughter on Sunday either online or on the phone despite trying on an hourly basis. 

Her efforts involved driving to a local test centre, which proved to be closed, and then to Gatwick, where there were no queues but she was turned away as for not having booked.

The public had been told to seek tests ‘if in doubt’. But checks by the Mail found that 46 of the 49 virus hotspots – including Bolton, Bradford and Oldham – had no swabs to offer. 

Preston, one of the three areas  providing tests said they were not available until January – and 22 miles away.

There have been reports that Mr Hancock is considering making GPs ‘gatekeepers’ for the system. 

However, that could put surgeries under massive strain, with complaints that appointment are already extremely difficult to access in many areas. 

Long queues were seen outside testing centres yesterday, involving many desperate people who had failed to get an online appointment but turned up anyway.

Lines formed in Southend – but in a sign of the general chaos – other test centres such as in Leeds were nearly empty. 

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, has called on the Government to prioritise the education sector for the allocation of tests.

In a letter to the schools minister, Dr Roach said the union had heard of approximately 600 pupils being told to self-isolate in Bury and the situation was ‘increasingly out of control’.

‘Teachers, support staff and children and young people are unable to access tests where they have Covid-19 symptoms,’ he wrote.

‘Employers are struggling to deal with the implications and consequences.’

He added: ‘We have reports that schools are unable to cope with a situation that is becoming increasingly out of control.’

The founder of Oasis Community Learning, which is responsible for 31,500 children at 52 academies across England, said 1,200 pupils had been sent home over the first six days of the new school year.

Writing in The Sun, Steve Chalke added: ‘The reason is either pupils or teachers have symptoms and can’t return until they get a negative test result.’   

One MP said her constituents in Twickenham, south-west London, had been told to travel to Aberdeen to book a test.

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Munira Wilson, Lib Dem health spokesman, said: ‘We were promised a world-beating test and trace system but what we have at the moment is an utter shambles.’

Mr Johnson swiped at Keir Starmer for failing to face him at PMQs today after the Labour leader revealed one of his children has tested negative for coronavirus.

The Labour leader said he was ‘pleased and relieved’ to be out of self-isolation after two days waiting for the result.

However, he skipped the showdown in the Commons this lunchtime, with deputy Angela Rayner standing in.

She raised the case of ‘Keir’ at the despatch box, saying he had needed to miss work because he had not received the result of a test in time.

But Mr Johnson pointed out that Sir Keir was now out of quarantine. ‘I don’t know quite why he is not here.’

The premier defended the shambolic testing arrangements, despite warnings that schools are on the brink of becoming ‘unsustainable’ due to delays.

‘Eighty-nine per cent of those that have in person tests get (results) the next day,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘We are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get.’ 

Struggling to explain the causes of the problems, Mr Johnson said: ‘The British people, quite understandably, are responding to that system, with a huge, huge surge in demand.’

He insisted it was ‘important that everybody follows the guidance about when they should be getting a test’.

Ms Rayner called on the Prime Minister to ‘get some skates on’ in delivering testing and PPE to care homes ahead of winter.

‘The Prime Minister has put his faith in Operation Moonshot, but meanwhile on planet Earth there are no NHS tests available for several high-infection areas,’ she said.

She asked: ‘Can the Prime Minister confirm yes or no, do all care homes in this country have weekly tests?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘Yes, to the best of my knowledge care homes in this country… should get weekly tests for all staff members and tests every 28 days for those who are in the care homes, the residents in the care homes.’

The premier also complained that Labour was ‘carping from the sidelines’ while the government tried to deal with ‘one of the most difficult dilemmas’ ever faced by any administration. 

Appearing before the education select committee today, Gavin Williamson revealed he had met the government’s Test & Trace tsar Baroness Harding this week to insist there must be ‘swift’ screening available for schools.

Covid cases rise among the middle-aged 

The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are spiralling across every age group. People in their twenties ¿ who aren't as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness ¿ are driving the spike with an infection rate of 46, which has doubled in the last three weeks

The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are spiralling across every age group. People in their twenties — who aren’t as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness — are driving the spike with an infection rate of 46, which has doubled in the last three weeks 

Covid-19 cases are soaring among middle-aged people in England and have risen by upwards of 90 per cent in a fortnight as the outbreak continues to grow, official figures show.

Public Health England (PHE) data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged between 40 and 49 — up from 12.4 at the end of August. And coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled in just a week for people in their fifties, jumping from 10.9 to 20.

The most up-to-date PHE data, which was released on Friday, clearly shows cases are increasing across every age group. People in their twenties — who aren’t as vulnerable to the disease and are likely to escape death or serious illness — are driving the spike with an infection rate of 46, which has doubled in three weeks.

Fears of a second wave are growing as the number of Britons being diagnosed with Covid-19 each day has topped 3,000 for the first time since May. Ministers have also been spooked by spiralling outbreaks in Spain and France and rising hospital admissions on the continent.

Hospital admissions — another way of measuring the severity of the pandemic — have doubled in England over the past nine days. More than 150 newly-infected patients required NHS treatment on Sunday, up from a rolling seven-day average of 52 on the last day of August.  

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‘We’ve always been conscious that with children coming back into schools there was going to be a situation where people would need more access to testing. That is why we ensured those deliveries of tests to every school in England. That is why this morning we opened the ordering system, for schools to be able to order new tests, for them to be able to get those directly from the NHS,’ he said.

Mr Williamson said he had stressed to Lady Harding that testing for schools must be a ‘priority’.

‘Just this week I met with baroness Harding from test and trace and the NHS, highlighting some concerns that schools have had in terms of the turnaround and to ensure that teachers are able to get tested as swiftly as possible, and they are able to be in a position to be back to teaching at the earliest possible stage.’

Mr Williamson dodged questions over whether the government could guarantee testing results for schools within 48 hours, but added: ‘The reason I had my meeting with Baroness Harding, as you can imagine, is to continue to emphasise the importance and the priority that we have to put on all our schools and education settings, about how vital it is that we always ensure there is swift testing available.’

Committee chairman Robert Halfon told BBC Radio 4’s World at One later that he had been told schools would be a priority under Mr Hancock’s new scheme.

‘As I understand it, schools will be on the priority list,’ Mr Halfon told the programme.

Department for Education sources said they had little control over the provision for schools, suggesting it was a ‘problem in the labs’. ‘We don’t run testing. We don’t oversee testing. It is a DHSC thing,’ one source said.

An ally of Mr Williamson told MailOnline they had doubts about whether schools were the main part of the extra demand, pointing out that 1.6million children went back in June and July and ‘we didn’t see any of this’.

The ally added: ‘There is definitely frustration there.’

Ministers first faced a crisis over testing early on in the first wave of Covid when a campaign by the Mail led to Mr Hancock vowing to deliver 100,000 tests a day.

That pledge was later raised to 200,000, then 500,000 by the end of October and now four million by next February under the ambitious ‘Operation Moonshot’.

However, the system has been thrown back into chaos in recent days because demand for tests has massively increased, overwhelming laboratories.

The surge has resulted from a rise in daily cases, the return of schools, the rolling-out of regular swabs to care homes and an increase in outbreaks.

There have also been rumours of logistical problems at laboratories. 

As a result, there has been a deluge of complaints that people cannot access tests locally or that they have to wait too long to find out if they are positive or negative. Schools have been closed while teachers wait for results on sick pupils.

NHS leaders warn of a crisis in hospitals, with medics forced to stay away from work and operations cancelled.

Figures today showed that, including antibody and surveillance screening, 221,192 tests were carried out across the UK in the previous 24 hours.

That was down from 227,075 yesterday, 231,969 on Monday and from 250,839 on Sunday.

The last time it was lower was September 9, when just 209,609 were conducted.

However, the government has not published a figure for the overall capacity since September 10, when it was claimed to be 374,917.

The Department of Health has refused to reveal how many people are trying to get swabs.

The number of people actually getting tested has gone up by 23 per cent since the end of August while capacity has increased by 12 per cent – although it is now not known.

Sodexo, which runs the centres, has posted job adverts for people to staff the drive- and walk-in sites as the UK scrambles to prepare for surging numbers of cases as infections are now on the rise in people of all age groups in England.

Labour MPs have called the testing fiasco a ‘farce’ and ‘unacceptable’, while scientists admit they are seriously concerned that the Government hasn’t prepared for what they’ve known for months would eventually happen.

Professor Alan McNally, a geneticist at the University of Birmingham who helped set up a Government lab in Milton Keynes, told BBC Breakfast yesterday there were ‘clearly underlying issues which nobody wants to tell us about’.

He said: ‘I think there is a surge in demand [and] I think our stated capacity is very different from actually how many tests can be run in a given day.’   

Dr Joshua Moon, from the University of Sussex Business School, added: ‘One of the deeper issues is why we are seeing an acute shortage when total tests per day currently sit at two thirds of the government’s claimed testing capacity. 

‘I am particularly worried about why the claimed capacity was so much higher than it actually was. 

‘Without proper understanding of the system’s capacity, there is a fundamental weakness in ability to plan for the future.’

In a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said testing capacity was ‘ramping up’ to deal with the demand. He said Mr Hancock would put forward the ‘priority’ list ‘in the next few days’. 

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Buckland said: ‘I’m not shying away from the current issue but what I’m trying to explain is that rather than us sitting back and pretending all is well, we have accepted the scale of the challenge, we’re ramping up the test centres, we have increased laboratory capacity, new labs coming on-stream so we can get that quick turnaround.’

He added: ‘The fact the Government kept on saying about the dangers of a second wave, at all times the Prime Minister, all of us, were absolutely focused on the dangers of the second wave – we have seen what’s happening in France.

‘We absolutely are onto this in terms of understanding that through the autumn, if we are to get the balance between getting the economy back on track and getting children into school, then all of us now have a special responsibility to follow all those guidelines and do whatever it takes to beat this virus.’

The testing meltdown has come in the context of a spike in coronavirus cases, with fears that the situation is on the verge of spiralling out of control again.  

Britons could face an even tougher lockdown within two weeks unless the Rule of Six brings down coronavirus cases, it was claimed today.

Ministers and government officials insist they are ready to take more draconian steps to stop the spread, despite a wave of criticism.

Options on the table could range from curfews to closing pubs – although there is a determination that schools will stay open. 

Local areas where cases are above 20 per 100,000

Bolton 204.1 (587), 152.0 (437)

Oadby and Wigston 136.8 (78), 52.6 (30)

Hyndburn 132.0 (107), 64.2 (52)

Preston 125.8 (180), 75.5 (108)

Burnley 124.8 (111), 70.9 (63)

Blackburn with Darwen 120.2 (180), 73.5 (110)

Oldham 114.7 (272), 66.6 (158)

Liverpool 106.4 (530), 56.8 (283)

Tameside 105.1 (238), 75.1 (170)

Warrington 104.8 (220), 57.6 (121)

Knowsley 102.7 (155), 51.0 (77)

St Helens 101.3 (183), 50.4 (91)

Rossendale 96.5 (69), 44.8 (32)

Bradford 93.6 (505), 82.8 (447)

South Tyneside 93.4 (141), 60.9 (92)

Wirral 91.7 (297), 66.0 (214)

Rochdale 90.8 (202), 68.8 (153)

Leicester 89.8 (318), 60.7 (215)

Salford 89.6 (232), 75.3 (195)

Bury 85.9 (164), 70.2 (134)

Birmingham 83.4 (952), 80.9 (924)

Sunderland 82.1 (228), 73.5 (204)

Gateshead 81.7 (165), 58.4 (118)

Manchester 79.9 (442), 68.7 (380)

Leeds 72.9 (578), 66.1 (524)

Halton 72.6 (94), 28.6 (37)

Pendle 71.7 (66), 58.6 (54)

Kirklees 70.7 (311), 42.7 (188)

Solihull 68.4 (148), 64.7 (140)

Newcastle upon Tyne 64.1 (194), 51.2 (155)

Blaby 63.0 (64), 53.2 (54)

Sandwell 62.4 (205), 41.7 (137)

Calderdale 58.6 (124), 45.4 (96)

Wolverhampton 55.4 (146), 41.4 (109)

Barrow-in-Furness 53.7 (36), 29.8 (20)

Sefton 52.5 (145), 37.3 (103)

Hartlepool 52.3 (49), 52.3 (49)

Rugby 51.4 (56), 28.5 (31)

Selby 49.7 (45), 47.5 (43)

Wyre 49.1 (55), 23.2 (26)

South Ribble 48.7 (54), 39.7 (44)

Sheffield 47.7 (279), 38.1 (223)

North Tyneside 46.7 (97), 37.5 (78)

Wigan 45.3 (149), 37.7 (124)

Stockport 45.0 (132), 32.7 (96)

Chorley 44.8 (53), 20.3 (24)

Spelthorne 44.1 (44), 31.0 (31)

Windsor and Maidenhead 43.6 (66), 20.5 (31)

High Peak 43.2 (40), 25.9 (24)

Trafford 43.0 (102), 32.9 (78)

Corby 41.5 (30), 47.1 (34)

Rotherham 41.4 (110), 30.1 (80)

St Albans 39.7 (59), 20.9 (31)

Charnwood 38.7 (72), 20.4 (38)

Craven 38.5 (22), 26.3 (15)

Redbridge 38.3 (117), 35.4 (108)

Northampton 38.3 (86), 33.4 (75)

Scarborough 37.7 (41), 39.5 (43)

County Durham 37.4 (198), 32.4 (172)

Bolsover 37.2 (30), 18.6 (15)

Fylde 37.1 (30), 17.3 (14)

Hounslow 36.8 (100), 30.2 (82)

Kettering 36.4 (37), 28.5 (29)

Middlesbrough 36.2 (51), 51.8 (73)

Walsall 36.1 (103), 25.2 (72)

Broxtowe 36.0 (41), 40.3 (46)

Mansfield 34.8 (38), 26.5 (29)

Stevenage 34.2 (30), 17.1 (15)

Coventry 33.4 (124), 27.5 (102)

Wakefield 33.0 (115), 25.3 (88)

Ashfield 32.8 (42), 28.9 (37)

Cannock Chase 32.8 (33), 12.9 (13)

Barking and Dagenham 32.4 (69), 30.1 (64)

Blackpool 32.3 (45), 22.9 (32)

Hambleton 31.7 (29), 10.9 (10)

Hertsmere 31.5 (33), 49.6 (52)

York 30.9 (65), 14.2 (30)

West Lancashire 30.6 (35), 38.5 (44)

Amber Valley 30.4 (39), 14.0 (18)

Stockton-on-Tees 30.4 (60), 24.3 (48)

Enfield 30.3 (101), 23.4 (78)

South Staffordshire 30.2 (34), 24.0 (27)

Wellingborough 30.1 (24), 18.8 (15)

Nottingham 30.0 (100), 31.8 (106)

Cheshire West and Chester 30.0 (103), 19.8 (68)

Castle Point 29.9 (27), 16.6 (15)

Harborough 29.8 (28), 20.3 (19)

Havering 29.7 (77), 33.5 (87)

North East Derbyshire 29.6 (30), 17.7 (18)

Welwyn Hatfield 29.3 (36), 18.7 (23)

Stoke-on-Trent 29.3 (75), 30.0 (77)

Harrogate 29.2 (47), 34.8 (56)

Ealing 29.0 (99), 20.8 (71)

Tamworth 28.7 (22), 20.9 (16)

Hammersmith and Fulham 28.6 (53), 28.6 (53)

Hackney and City of London 28.5 (83), 19.9 (58)

Bromsgrove 28.0 (28), 29.0 (29)

Runnymede 28.0 (25), 15.7 (14)

Malvern Hills 28.0 (22), 30.5 (24)

Luton 27.7 (59), 26.3 (56)

Dudley 27.4 (88), 24.6 (79)

Newham 27.2 (96), 30.6 (108)

Peterborough 26.2 (53), 26.2 (53)

Northumberland 25.7 (83), 21.1 (68)

Chesterfield 25.7 (27), 20.0 (21)

Haringey 25.7 (69), 25.3 (68)

Oxford 25.6 (39), 23.6 (36)

Barnsley 25.5 (63), 32.8 (81)

Wandsworth 25.5 (84), 24.6 (81)

Tower Hamlets 25.3 (82), 28.6 (93)

Rushcliffe 25.2 (30), 23.5 (28)

North Lincolnshire 25.0 (43), 11.0 (19)

Hinckley and Bosworth 24.7 (28), 11.5 (13)

Harrow 24.7 (62), 26.3 (66)

Darlington 24.3 (26), 14.0 (15)

Kensington and Chelsea 24.3 (38), 33.9 (53)

Waltham Forest 23.8 (66), 16.2 (45)

Cheshire East 23.7 (91), 23.9 (92)

Brent 23.3 (77), 18.2 (60)

Lancaster 23.3 (34), 14.4 (21)

Lincoln 23.2 (23), 44.3 (44)

West Lindsey 23.0 (22), 16.7 (16)

Camden 23.0 (62), 13.3 (36)

Brighton and Hove 22.7 (66), 13.1 (38)

East Staffordshire 22.5 (27), 35.1 (42)

Slough 22.1 (33), 21.4 (32)

Doncaster 21.8 (68), 11.2 (35)

Lambeth 21.8 (71), 27.0 (88)

Adur 21.8 (14), 15.6 (10)

South Kesteven 21.8 (31), 14.0 (20)

Newcastle-under-Lyme 21.6 (28), 23.9 (31)

Horsham 21.6 (31), 9.0 (13)

East Riding of Yorkshire 21.4 (73), 10.8 (37)

North Kesteven 21.4 (25), 26.5 (31)

Bedford 21.4 (37), 19.0 (33)

Bracknell Forest 21.2 (26), 19.6 (24)

Barnet 21.0 (83), 26.0 (103)

Erewash 20.8 (24), 14.7 (17)

Nuneaton and Bedworth 20.8 (27), 13.9 (18)

Wyre Forest 20.7 (21), 10.9 (11)

Southwark 20.7 (66), 21.0 (67)

Stafford 20.4 (28), 21.1 (29)

Derby 20.2 (52), 16.3 (42)

Wychavon 20.1 (26), 20.9 (27)

South Bucks 20.0 (14), 15.7 (11)

Local areas where cases are below 20 per 100,000

Ribble Valley 19.7 (12), 14.8 (9)

South Derbyshire 19.6 (21), 22.4 (24)

Tandridge 19.3 (17), 13.6 (12)

Herefordshire 19.2 (37), 12.4 (24)

Richmond upon Thames 19.2 (38), 20.2 (40)

Redcar and Cleveland 19.0 (26), 29.9 (41)

Gedling 18.7 (22), 16.1 (19)

Dartford 18.6 (21), 5.3 (6)

Watford 18.6 (18), 26.9 (26)

Hillingdon 18.6 (57), 22.8 (70)

Lichfield 18.1 (19), 16.2 (17)

Greenwich 18.1 (52), 12.2 (35)

Rushmoor 18.0 (17), 11.6 (11)

Lewisham 17.7 (54), 18.3 (56)

Melton 17.6 (9), 31.2 (16)

Plymouth 17.6 (46), 13.0 (34)

Reigate and Banstead 17.5 (26), 16.1 (24)

Kingston upon Thames 17.5 (31), 17.5 (31)

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 17.2 (68), 17.7 (70)

Worthing 17.2 (19), 29.8 (33)

Newark and Sherwood 17.2 (21), 16.3 (20)

Merton 16.9 (35), 15.0 (31)

Islington 16.9 (41), 23.1 (56)

West Suffolk 16.8 (30), 15.6 (28)

Richmondshire 16.8 (9), 7.4 (4)

Westminster 16.5 (43), 22.6 (59)

Daventry 16.3 (14), 17.5 (15)

Three Rivers 16.1 (15), 18.2 (17)

East Northamptonshire 15.9 (15), 23.3 (22)

Warwick 15.3 (22), 15.3 (22)

Redditch 15.2 (13), 11.7 (10)

Croydon 15.0 (58), 19.1 (74)

Basildon 15.0 (28), 16.6 (31)

Woking 14.9 (15), 17.9 (18)

Southend-on-Sea 14.7 (27), 13.7 (25)

South Gloucestershire 14.7 (42), 13.3 (38)

Huntingdonshire 14.6 (26), 3.9 (7)

Broxbourne 14.4 (14), 16.4 (16)

Brentwood 14.3 (11), 15.6 (12)

North Hertfordshire 14.2 (19), 18.0 (24)

Bromley 14.1 (47), 16.5 (55)

Cherwell 14.0 (21), 10.6 (16)

Elmbridge 13.9 (19), 24.9 (34)

Worcester 13.8 (14), 12.8 (13)

South Holland 13.7 (13), 3.2 (3)

Chiltern 13.6 (13), 20.8 (20)

Shropshire 13.3 (43), 11.5 (37)

Allerdale 13.3 (13), 12.3 (12)

Staffordshire Moorlands 13.2 (13), 20.3 (20)

Copeland 13.2 (9), 2.9 (2)

Bristol 13.2 (61), 19.6 (91)

Eden 13.1 (7), 11.3 (6)

Great Yarmouth 13.1 (13), 17.1 (17)

Mendip 13.0 (15), 12.1 (14)

Epping Forest 12.9 (17), 12.1 (16)

Cheltenham 12.9 (15), 12.0 (14)

Bexley 12.9 (32), 10.5 (26)

Breckland 12.9 (18), 11.4 (16)

Rochford 12.6 (11), 6.9 (6)

Rutland 12.5 (5), 5.0 (2)

Central Bedfordshire 12.5 (36), 10.7 (31)

Crawley 12.5 (14), 7.1 (8)

Telford and Wrekin 12.2 (22), 15.0 (27)

Portsmouth 12.1 (26), 10.7 (23)

North Somerset 12.1 (26), 26.5 (57)

East Lindsey 12.0 (17), 7.8 (11)

Hastings 11.9 (11), 13.0 (12)

Fenland 11.8 (12), 2.9 (3)

South Northamptonshire 11.6 (11), 12.7 (12)

Sutton 11.6 (24), 13.6 (28)

Mole Valley 11.5 (10), 11.5 (10)

Wycombe 11.5 (20), 15.5 (27)

South Lakeland 11.4 (12), 17.1 (18)

Guildford 11.4 (17), 14.1 (21)

Tonbridge and Malling 11.4 (15), 6.1 (8)

Cambridge 11.2 (14), 16.0 (20)

Epsom and Ewell 11.2 (9), 22.3 (18)

Milton Keynes 11.1 (30), 14.1 (38)

Bassetlaw 11.1 (13), 13.6 (16)

Thurrock 10.9 (19), 11.5 (20)

Hull 10.8 (28), 10.0 (26)

Chichester 10.7 (13), 14.0 (17)

North Warwickshire 10.7 (7), 19.9 (13)

Norwich 10.7 (15), 12.8 (18)

Wokingham 10.5 (18), 10.5 (18)

Forest of Dean 10.4 (9), 5.8 (5)

Swindon 10.4 (23), 16.2 (36)

Havant 10.3 (13), 3.2 (4)

Gravesham 10.3 (11), 10.3 (11)

Stratford-on-Avon 10.0 (13), 14.6 (19)

Boston 10.0 (7), 5.7 (4)

West Oxfordshire 9.9 (11), 17.2 (19)

Chelmsford 9.5 (17), 11.8 (21)

Test Valley 9.5 (12), 26.9 (34)

Southampton 9.5 (24), 8.3 (21)

Fareham 9.5 (11), 11.2 (13)

New Forest 9.4 (17), 25.0 (45)

South Cambridgeshire 9.4 (15), 11.3 (18)

Swale 9.3 (14), 19.3 (29)

Reading 9.3 (15), 21.0 (34)

Tunbridge Wells 9.3 (11), 20.2 (24)

Harlow 9.2 (8), 5.7 (5)

Exeter 9.1 (12), 10.7 (14)

Ryedale 9.0 (5), 12.6 (7)

Aylesbury Vale 9.0 (18), 7.5 (15)

Surrey Heath 9.0 (8), 17.9 (16)

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 8.9 (51), 5.8 (33)

Vale of White Horse 8.8 (12), 13.2 (18)

Waverley 8.7 (11), 18.2 (23)

East Hertfordshire 8.7 (13), 9.3 (14)

Mid Sussex 8.6 (13), 13.9 (21)

Tewkesbury 8.4 (8), 6.3 (6)

East Suffolk 8.4 (21), 6.4 (16)

Dacorum 8.4 (13), 14.9 (23)

Stroud 8.3 (10), 9.2 (11)

Sevenoaks 8.3 (10), 13.3 (16)

Wiltshire 8.2 (41), 19.0 (95)

Cotswold 7.8 (7), 8.9 (8)

Thanet 7.8 (11), 2.8 (4)

Gloucester 7.7 (10), 9.3 (12)

Somerset West and Taunton 7.7 (12), 9.0 (14)

North East Lincolnshire 7.5 (12), 9.4 (15)

Wealden 7.4 (12), 14.2 (23)

Torridge 7.3 (5), 8.8 (6)

Sedgemoor 7.3 (9), 7.3 (9)

Ipswich 7.3 (10), 8.0 (11)

South Norfolk 7.1 (10), 7.1 (10)

Derbyshire Dales 6.9 (5), 6.9 (5)

Broadland 6.9 (9), 10.7 (14)

Arun 6.8 (11), 16.8 (27)

North West Leicestershire 6.8 (7), 15.4 (16)

Eastbourne 6.7 (7), 26.0 (27)

Mid Suffolk 6.7 (7), 6.7 (7)

Uttlesford 6.6 (6), 26.3 (24)

Medway 6.5 (18), 8.3 (23)

Carlisle 6.4 (7), 12.0 (13)

Winchester 6.4 (8), 5.6 (7)

Bath and North East Somerset 6.2 (12), 17.6 (34)

Hart 6.2 (6), 7.2 (7)

Colchester 6.2 (12), 6.7 (13)

Dorset 6.1 (23), 10.3 (39)

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 5.9 (9), 7.3 (11)

Gosport 5.9 (5), 3.5 (3)

Maidstone 5.8 (10), 9.3 (16)

West Berkshire 5.7 (9), 9.5 (15)

South Oxfordshire 5.6 (8), 12.7 (18)

East Devon 5.5 (8), 12.3 (18)

Folkestone and Hythe 5.3 (6), 9.7 (11)

Teignbridge 5.2 (7), 6.7 (9)

North Devon 5.1 (5), 10.3 (10)

Basingstoke and Deane 5.1 (9), 6.8 (12)

Isle of Wight 4.9 (7), 6.3 (9)

East Hampshire 4.9 (6), 13.1 (16)

Lewes 4.8 (5), 11.6 (12)

Canterbury 4.8 (8), 9.1 (15)

Eastleigh 4.5 (6), 6.7 (9)

Rother 4.2 (4), 16.7 (16)

Braintree 3.9 (6), 7.2 (11)

Mid Devon 3.6 (3), 7.3 (6)

South Somerset 3.6 (6), 8.9 (15)

Maldon 3.1 (2), 4.6 (3)

Ashford 3.1 (4), 5.4 (7)

Tendring 2.7 (4), 2.0 (3)

Dover 2.5 (3), 14.4 (17)

South Hams 2.3 (2), 10.3 (9)

East Cambridgeshire 2.2 (2), 2.2 (2)

Babergh 2.2 (2), 10.9 (10)

West Devon 1.8 (1), 3.6 (2)

North Norfolk 1.0 (1), 3.8 (4)

Torbay 0.7 (1), 10.3 (14)

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When will Zoe Ball tune in to her new lover’s turbulent past? A £1m pay rise and stunning new home

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when will zoe ball tune in to her new lovers turbulent past a 1m pay rise and stunning new home

 ZOE Ball prides herself on a relentlessly perky broadcasting style which some of her listeners find a touch hard to take first thing in the morning.

But this week, as outrage has flared over the disclosure of her gigantic £1.36 million BBC salary, she has carried on regardless. ‘Keep your good news stories coming in, people,’ she urged. ‘Busy show today.’

There has been no mention, significantly, of her own considerable good news, which is that she is now set to usurp Gary Lineker as the best paid person at the BBC.

For, since taking the reins at the Radio 2 breakfast show in January 2019, Zoe, 49, has been handed a £990,000 pay rise.

It works out at nearly £1 for every one of the million listeners who have switched off since she replaced Chris Evans. She’s wise to try not to rub in her good fortune as reaction has been somewhat negative.

 One licence-fee payer wrote: ‘Nothing against her personally but can someone please explain why Zoe Ball is worth 60 times more than my daughter who is a staff nurse on an NHS critical care unit?’’

Another joked: ‘Finally, I can legitimately contribute towards Zoe Ball’s lavish lifestyle without resorting to posting cheques to her manager.’

Zoe Ball Zoe shared a picture of her moving crew on the day she moved in — and at the front of the picture was her boyfriend, Michael Reed

Zoe Ball Zoe shared a picture of her moving crew on the day she moved in — and at the front of the picture was her boyfriend, Michael Reed

 At the time she was appointed — but before the salary was disclosed — she said that she was ‘really pleased with what the BBC are going to pay me for this job . . . I hope my female peers will be happy that I got the deal that I did. I do think, of course, that men and women should be paid the same.’

You can see how she could argue that she has only been paid fairly compared with her predecessor, Chris Evans.

But what does it mean to her? As you might expect, all that lovely licence-fee payers’ money has changed her life.  

 Her delightful country cottage in Ditchling, East Sussex —which she moved into after splitting from husband Norman Cook — has been sold for £1.25 million, and on August 24 she moved into a grand country mansion in the county.

The six-bedroom house was built by a Russian aristocrat, Baron Vladimir de Wolff in the 1920s. It has a swimming pool, tennis court and acres of gardens and was on the market for £1.5 million. It will offer more privacy, perhaps no surprise given that her star, and her salary, are so firmly in the ascendant.

You might think it’s a big place for a single woman with a son away at university and a daughter whose care she shares with her ex.

The BBC star has a £1m pay rise and beautiful new home

The BBC star has a £1m pay rise and beautiful new home

The new home of the BBC star in Leeds, Sussex

The new home of the BBC star in Leeds, Sussex

 However, there is a new man on the scene to keep her company. Zoe shared a picture of her moving crew on the day she moved in — and at the front of the picture was her boyfriend, Michael Reed. In another snap shared in July, she wrote: ‘My man in a van. Patience of a saint, strength of an ox. On the hottest day of the year. Happy weekend x @michaelreed99’

Handsome Reed, 50, has been dating her for more than two years and she is clearly smitten. They were first spotted enjoying a night out in Soho in December 2017 and  have since holidayed together in Jamaica. They have also been spotted enjoying family time with her children Woody, 19 and Nelly, ten, by Norman Cook, also known as DJ Fatboy Slim.

In the early days of the romance, they spent a weekend at a juicing retreat in Portugal. He has posted a picture of her on social media with the caption: ‘To this one — you make me so happy.’

They are reported to have moved in together in April. Reed did not respond to requests for comment, and neither did Ms Ball’s agent.

Last night one of her well-heeled new neighbours said: ‘We’ve seen Zoe here on a couple of days this week and at the weekend — she’s only moved some of her stuff in so far. Michael’s been helping her.’ Neighbours at the house he is renting in Chislehurst, South-East London, said this week that they typically see him once every few days, often with his young child, who lives nearby.  

However, some worry that she might be looking for happiness in the wrong place. For while Zoe has an undeniable talent for making money, Reed seems to have a knack for losing it.

It can also be revealed that he has been in legal dispute with three former lovers — all of them blonde and gorgeous.

The most recent court fight was ongoing yesterday with Lorraine Ashdown, the mother of his young child. She says: ‘I am not in a position to talk to you whilst there are active legal proceedings in the Family Court.’ Earlier this month she accused him of signing on for benefits to avoid paying £20,000 in child maintenance arrears that he allegedly owes.

She says: ‘He’s such a ducker and a diver and a chancer, and I think he has done this on purpose to avoid paying.

The six-bedroom property was built by a Russian aristocrat, Baron Vladimir de Wolff in the 1920s

The six-bedroom property was built by a Russian aristocrat, Baron Vladimir de Wolff in the 1920s

 In child maintenance agreements, if the ‘paying parent’ is on benefits including Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit, then they only have to pay a ‘flat rate’ of £7 a week. Reed has called the claims about signing on ‘incorrect’. ‘I don’t know if Zoe is aware of this, but she should tell him to sort it out,’ says Lorraine. ‘It is a disgrace that he is living the high life with her while avoiding his responsibilities.’

A friend says: ‘He’s been a nightmare over child maintenance. Lorraine has had to work since his child was weeks old and it’s been nothing but a struggle while he’s apparently put two fingers up at the system. I imagine he will have talked it around and made Zoe feel sorry for him.’

His weekly payments were set at just £11.82 in 2017 — but Ms Ashdown appealed, insisting he had misrepresented his earnings.

A tribunal this year then ruled Reed should have been paying ten times that sum, making him liable for £19,290.94.

The sum was to be paid in three instalments in April, May and June. But Ms Ashdown, 46, said last month that he had not paid up. In addition to his chequered romantic history, he has been the director of a number of failed businesses, with one going bust only in November last year, owing £26,500 to HM Revenue & Customs.

Incorporated in 2016, it was set up for the ‘development of building projects’. In its first year of filing accounts, to September 2017, it reported net assets of £46,000, but last November went into voluntary liquidation with ‘nil’ to offer preferential creditors and £3,555 owed to trade creditors. At this point, Zoe was well into her first bonanza year. Nobody could begrudge her a slice of happiness after the tragedy of previous boyfriend Billy Yates’ suicide in May 2017.

After her 2016 split from Norman Cook, she started to date Billy, a cameraman. She felt he was the ‘love of her life’. However, he suffered from depression and, despite therapy and attempts by her to help him, he took his own life in his London flat.

Seven months after the death, while she was deep in grief, she started dating Michael Reed.

At that time, his child with former flame Lorraine Ashdown was only one year old. He had met Lorraine, formerly a TV and radio presenter, three years previously. Within a few months of their dating, she fell pregnant and they split before their child was born.

Before that, he had romanced model-turned-massage-therapist Carrelyn Gardner. They lived together in Chislehurst, and have daughters aged 20 and 15. It is reported that the couple had a legal dispute after splitting in 2012.

Land registry records show Reed has a charge registered against the property which Carrleyn now lives in, dated February 2015. This states it cannot be sold without his permission. She said this week: ‘At this present time, I’m not going to be saying anything.

‘My girls are older, so obviously I want to have respect for them and their father.’

The third woman in his past is Hannah Maynard, who lives near him in Chislehurst.

It has been reported that she and Reed had ‘issues’ which again led to some legal exchanges. A source said: ‘She got solicitors involved when it all went wrong — it was over texts and she wanted to stop Reed contacting her.’

Certainly, it seems that there are some money issues in play for him.

He is the director of one company, Zero Zero Five, which is in voluntary liquidation, and has seven former company directorships. One of these, Fab 10, was incorporated in October 2012 and put into voluntary liquidation in November 2016. Its statement of affairs reported an estimated deficit of £41,722 — including £4,837 due to HMRC and £24,500 to Reed.

Other former companies include Fabric Tensile, Fabric Ten, Sail Shade, Smart Shade, Bizykidz and Deck-It.

All of these companies are dormant apart from Sail Shade which traded as Fabric Ten — a roof firm — and went into voluntary liquidation in October 2011. At that time it owed £31,770, including £7,343 to HMRC.

There are some signs that Zoe’s romance with Reed has had its bumps — they reportedly split in November last year amid claims she was ‘growing uncomfortable’ with his taste for fame and the high life.

‘Zoe knew deep down the relationship wasn’t going anywhere,’ a friend told The Sun at the time. ‘She enjoyed her time with Michael but came to the conclusion he wasn’t a keeper, despite him believing they were getting serious.

‘There were certain things she grew uncomfortable with, such as him wanting to become a model and act. Her close circle feared he was using her to enhance his own career.’

Another suggested: ‘With all Zoe’s had going on with Billy, work and Norman, she’s had so much to deal with and, sadly, a new relationship was too much.

‘It wasn’t possible. They remain friends but she’s happily single and focusing on her kids and work.’

However, by March this year they were together again, shopping at a garden centre, and the following month they were said to be living under the same roof.

His former loves may have their doubts about him but it seems for the moment, at least, that the BBC’s golden girl thinks he is bang on the money.

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