A further 13,864 Covid-19 cases confirmed in the UK
As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 13,864 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 575,679.
The government also said a further 87 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday. This brings the UK total to 42,679.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Figures also show there were 3,090 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England as of Friday, up from 2,088 a week ago, while 367 Covid-19 hospital patients were in ventilation beds, up from 310 a week ago.
A total of 491 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Wednesday, compared with 328 a week earlier.
A widely-circulated open letter criticising strict lockdown measures and advocating for a herd immunity strategy has a number of fake names among its “medical” signatories, leading to accusations it falsely represents scientific support for the controversial position.
Sky News found dozens of fake names on the list of medical signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration. These included Dr I.P. Freely, Dr Person Fakename and Dr Johnny Bananas.
Others included Dr Mike Rotch, an Urology Consultant at Springfield General Hospital in the US - a reference to a gag in The Simpsons.
Another signatory was Dr Harold Shipman, a general practitioner in the UK, while other famous names included Dominic Cummings, who is described as “PhD Durham Univercity”.
Sky News also found 18 self-declared homeopaths listed on the open letter as medical practitioners, despite the fact that homeopathy has no scientific underpinning or clinical evidence to support its use.
Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it reminded him of “the messaging used to undermine public health policies on harmful substances, such as tobacco”.
Leaving aside the powerful arguments against this declaration on grounds of science and feasibility, we have consistent evidence that a clear majority of the British public support necessary measures to reduce the spread of the virus or would go even further.
Yet the campaign behind this declaration promotes a completely different picture.
The letter is titled the Great Barrington Declaration after the US town where it was written, was initiated by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Jay Bhattacharya and Professor Sunetra Gupta.
It calls for younger and less vulnerable people to be allowed catch Covid-19 to build up herd immunity, while “focused protection” is concentrated on the most at risk.
Professor Bhattacharya, professor of medicine of Stanford University, told Sky News:
We do not have the resources to audit each signature, especially given the incredible interest that the Great Barrington Declaration has drawn. It is unfortunate that some people have abused our trust by adding false names, but I suppose it is inevitable.
Still, given the volume of correspondence I have received from medical and public health professionals, as well as scientists and epidemiologists, it is clear that a very large number of experts resonate with the message of the declaration and its call for a focused protection policy.
The first minister of Wales has responded after the US president, Donald Trump, retweeted criticism of plans for rolling lockdowns in the country this winter.
The Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham tweeted “Your future under Biden: ‘Rolling lockdowns’ will become norm in Wales” along with a link to a BBC News article on 7 October.
In the article, Wales’s chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton, was quoted as saying that rolling lockdowns could take place in the country over the winter to control the spread of Covid-19.
The first minister, Mark Drakeford, was asked to comment on Trump’s retweet during the Welsh government’s coronavirus press conference on Friday.
I think the tweet that the president retweeted said that if Joe Biden were to be elected, then the United States could look like Wales.
There are very, very many people in the United States who would be absolutely delighted if they had the levels of coronavirus that we have over there, if they had the sort of health service that we have available here over there, and if they had the sort of government that conducts business on behalf of their population in the orderly and careful way that we do on behalf of the Welsh population.
So I think many people will have read that tweet and be thinking to themselves, ‘If only that could be true.’
Atherton previously told BBC Radio Wales that the country could be “going in and out” of lockdown restrictions over the next few months.
Currently, more than 2.3 million people in Wales are subjected to local lockdown rules.
Under the regulations, they must not enter, leave or remain away from an affected area without a reasonable excuse such as work or education.
Indoor meetings with people from different households are banned, with extended households suspended. People must also work from home where possible.
Government will pay two-thirds of staff wages if businesses forced to shut in lockdown areas
The government will pay two-thirds of the wages of staff in pubs, restaurants and other businesses if they are forced to close under new coronavirus restrictions, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced.
Sunak said the expansion of the jobs support scheme would provide “a safety net” for people and businesses across the UK in advance of potential closures over the winter.
Ministers are expected to outline a three-tier local lockdown system on Monday, which could see hospitality venues in coronavirus hotspots being temporarily closed to combat the spread of the virus.
Firms whose premises are legally required to close because of restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work, with the government paying two-thirds of each employee’s salary (67%) up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages, but will be asked to cover national insurance and pension contributions.
Businesses will be able to claim the grant when they are subject to restrictions and employees are off work for at least seven consecutive days.
The scheme will launch on 1 November and run for six months, with a review in January.
Businesses which are already legally closed, such as nightclubs, will also be eligible.
Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed.
I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.
The expansion of the job support scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.
The government is also increasing cash grants available to businesses in England shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs. These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks.