UK coronavirus LIVE: Latest Covid-19 deaths and cases revealed as London faces Tier 3 warning


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oronavirus infections are dropping across the UK as the latest R rate fell to between 0.8 and 1.

The Government’s  Sage advisory group, which publishes the data, suggested the second wave of the pandemic is starting to subside across the country, as it found that the number of new infections is shrinking by between one and three per cent every day.

The positive updates come amid a bleak warning for Londoners, as the capital finds it risk of entering Tier 3 lockdown within weeks. Residents are urged to stick ever-closer to the rules, as new analysis suggests the city’s recent drop in cases appears to be levelling off.

Live updates

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GPs to run Covid vaccination centres by December 14

GP surgeries and primary care networks in England have been told to be ready to start running Covid-19 vaccination centres by December 14.

A letter sent to all surgeries and primary care leads from NHS England and NHS Improvement said the “scale and complexity” of the vaccination programme would make it “one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced”.

“It is crucial we start to activate local vaccination services to allow priority patient cohorts to start accessing the vaccine.”

Each designated vaccination site must be ready to deliver 975 doses of the vaccine in the week beginning December 14 – the number of doses in each of the Pfizer vaccine’s packs.

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WHO officials warn against complacency

World Health Organization officials on Friday warned governments and citizens not to drop their guard over the COVID pandemic now a vaccination was close, saying healthcare systems could still buckle under pressure.

Britain approved Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, raising hopes that the tide could soon turn against a virus that has killed nearly 1.5 million people globally, hammered the world economy and upended normal life for billions.

“Progress on vaccines gives us all a lift and we can now start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, WHO is concerned that there is a growing perception that the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a Geneva news conference.

Tedros said the pandemic still had a long way to run and that decisions made by citizens and governments would determine its course in the short run and when the pandemic would ultimately end.

“We know it’s been a hard year and people are tired, but in hospitals that are running at or over capacity it’s the hardest it can possibly be,” he said.

“The truth is that at present, many places are witnessing very high transmission of the COVID-19 virus, which is putting enormous pressure on hospitals, intensive care units and health workers.”

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Mexicans asked to can end of year plans

Mexicans should cancel year-end travel plans and even avoid exchanging Christmas presents, the president said on Friday, unveiling measures particularly aimed at one of the world’s largest capital cities amid surging coronavirus cases.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also announced increasing capacity for more hospital beds as well as extra medical equipment and staff to help in the fight to curb the pandemic.

“If we don’t have anything truly important to do, let’s not go out on the street,” he told reporters at his daily morning press conference, urging people to restrict their movement.

“This pandemic, this nightmare will pass,” he said, saying there would be no mandatory lockdowns but encouraging people to act responsibly.

The leftist president, outlining a 10-point plan, said the suggested steps to limit the spread of the virus were especially important for residents of the metropolitan area of Mexico City, the densely-packed capital with a population of over 20 million.

The city’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, on Friday asked private businesses in the capital to stop their employees working from offices and resume work-from-home schemes.

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Six more deaths in Ireland

An additional six deaths with Covid-19 have been notified in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.

Another 265 cases of infection were confirmed.

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Biden backs massive economic stimulus following ‘grim’ jobs report

President-elect Joe Biden is pushing ahead with his call for massive economic stimulus as the economic recovery from this spring’s coronavirus lockdowns falters amid a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases.

Biden was to deliver remarks Friday afternoon reacting to November’s national jobs report, which showed a sharp decrease in U.S. hiring even as the nation is about 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

Surging cases of the virus have led states and municipalities to roll back their re-opening plans. And more restrictions may be on the way as colder temperatures and holiday travel lead to new records for confirmed cases and deaths.

“This is a grim jobs report,” Biden said in a statement ahead of his speech. “It shows an economy that is stalling. It confirms we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.”

While Biden has thrown his support behind a bipartisan economic relief bill of about $900 billion, he has said much more will be needed once he takes office next year.

“Congress and President Trump must get a deal done for the American people,” Biden said. “But any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough. It’s just the start.”

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US hiring figures stall as virus surges

With the viral pandemic accelerating across the country, America’s employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month, adding 245,000 jobs, the fewest since April and the fifth straight monthly slowdown.

At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to a still-high 6.7%, from 6.9% in October as many people stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed, the Labor Department said. November’s job gain was down drastically from a 610,000 gain in October.

Friday’s report provided the latest evidence that the job market and economy are faltering in the face of a virus that has been shattering daily records for confirmed infections. Economic activity is likely to slow further with health officials warning against all but essential travel and states and cities limiting gatherings, restricting restaurant dining and reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.

Most experts say the economy and job market won’t be able to fully recover until the virus can be controlled with an effective and widely used vaccine. And the picture could worsen before it improves.

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Bahrain becomes second country to approve vaccine

Bahrain says it has become the second nation in the world to grant emergency-use authorisation for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency made the announcement on Friday evening, following an earlier announcement by the UK on Wednesday, making Britain the first in the world.

“The confirmation of approval by the National Health Regulatory Authority of the kingdom of Bahrain followed thorough analysis and review undertaken by the authority of all available data,” the kingdom said through the news agency.

Bahrain did not say how may vaccines it has purchased or when vaccinations will begin.

The immediate challenge will be the conditions in which the vaccine must be kept. It needs to be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70C, but Bahrain regularly sees temperatures in the summer of around 40C with high humidity.

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Only slightly less Americans travelled this Thanksgiving than last year

Americans couldn’t resist the urge to gather for Thanksgiving, driving only slightly less than a year ago and largely ignoring the pleas of public health experts, who begged them to forgo holiday travel to help contain the coronavirus pandemic, data from roadways and airports shows.

The nation’s unwillingness to tamp down on travel offered a warning in advance of Christmas and New Year’s as virus deaths and hospitalizations hit new highs a week after Thanksgiving. U.S. deaths from the outbreak eclipsed 3,100 on Thursday, obliterating the single-day record set last spring.

Vehicle travel in early November was as much as 20% lower than a year earlier, but it surged around the holiday and peaked on Thanksgiving Day at only about 5% less than the pandemic-free period in 2019, according to StreetLight Data, 

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Vaccine rollout in Northern Ireland from Tuesday next week

A Department of Health spokesman confirmed that the rollout of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in Northern Ireland would take place from Tuesday morning next week.

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The Government said a further 504 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 60,617.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 76,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The Government said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 16,298 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,690,432.



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Twitter Applied Warning Label To BJP Tweet


Amit Malviya was fact-checked over a misleading video of police violence in Delhi.

On Wednesday, Twitter put a “manipulated media” label on a video that the head of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s social media department tweeted. Labeling tweets isn’t new — since March, Twitter has been putting them on inaccurate tweets from US politicians, including President Donald Trump.

But it was the first time that the company labeled a tweet from a prominent Indian politician, signaling that it may finally be ready to do what critics have been asking American social media platforms to do for years — apply the same standards to the rest of the world as they do to the US.

The three-second clip was tweeted by Amit Malviya, who is notorious for posting misinformation as part of his party’s propaganda machine. It shows a member of the police in Delhi swinging a baton at a farmer, one of the thousands of people braving tear gas, water cannons, and police barricades to protest new agricultural policies in India.

The police officer in the clip misses. According to the video’s caption, the “police didn’t even touch the farmer.” Malviya’s tweet left the false impression that police had not injured the man.

But other members of the police attacked the man just after the video clip cut off. Fact-checking websites said a longer version of the video shows a second police officer swinging at the farmer, who later showed his injuries to the press.

Twitter also applied the label to other instances of the same video tweeted by other people.

Malviya did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, but a Twitter spokesperson said he had run afoul of the company’s policies against doctored media.

“The referenced tweet was labeled based on our Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. Clicking on the label leads people to a Twitter-authored summary of debunks by fact-checkers and links to those debunks.

The policy, which Twitter announced in February, defines “synthetic and manipulated media” as pictures or videos that have been “significantly altered or created in a way that changes the original meaning/purpose, or makes it seem like certain events took place that didn’t actually happen.” The company first applied the label in March to a deceptively edited video of now-president-elect Joe Biden shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino and retweeted by the US president, and has since applied it to multiple tweets by Trump.

But even though the Twitter spokesperson said the policy was being “enforced around the world,” the company declined to cite other instances of that label being applied to accounts in non-Western markets. (In the past, Twitter has deleted or hidden tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazilian politician Osmar Terra for breaking its policy against coronavirus misinformation.)

Digital rights activists have long said that American tech companies haven’t done enough to prevent harm caused by their platforms outside the US and Europe. Platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube have been accused of not only polarizing political discourse, but also fueling ethnic massacres in South Sudan, lynchings in India, and genocide in Myanmar.

“When it comes to labeling misinformation and manipulated content, companies are starting to take more action, but they still need to do better outside the United States,” said Dia Kayyali, associate director of advocacy at Mnemonic, a human rights organization. “We saw them pour huge resources into the US and action more content than anyone could have imagined. Unfortunately, until now, they haven’t devoted as many resources outside of the US.”

In India, experts say that Twitter was forced to label Malviya’s tweet after being consistently called out by the press, fact-checkers, and people on social media. “It’s the result of sustained criticism of years,” Pratik Sinha, the editor of Alt News, an Indian fact-checking website, told BuzzFeed News. But, he said, “this is a first step. It’s too early to be happy.”

It’s also too early to see what results the label could have. Labeling a tweet from a prominent member of India’s ruling party could invite backlash in a country Twitter considers a key growth market.

Politicians from the BJP have accused Twitter of having “bias” against conservatives. Last year, Colin Cromwell, Twitter’s vice president of global public policy, published a blog post titled “Setting the record straight on Twitter India and impartiality.” Three days later, an Indian parliamentary committee grilled the company’s Indian executives about the company’s alleged bias.

The label is also significant because the video that Malviya tweeted was a response to a tweet by Rahul Gandhi, an opposition leader belonging to the Indian National Congress, the country’s oldest political party and a BJP rival — meaning that Twitter is saying that one party’s facts are wrong.

Twitter declined to provide details about why it decided to label Malviya’s tweet in particular. “In order to determine if media have been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated, we may use our own technology or receive reports through partnerships with third parties,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

“BJP members,” said Kayyali, “can’t say whatever they want just because they are politicians.”





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CDC director’s warning; US hospitalizations top 100K






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‘You need to assume you became infected’ at Thanksgiving: White House task force warning


The federal COVID task force says older Americans should avoid public spaces.

Americans who celebrated Thanksgiving with other people outside their household should assume they are infectious and a “dangerous to others,” the White House Coronavirus Task Force is warning in a startling new report obtained by ABC News.

The task force advises older Americans should be warned to stay away from indoor public spaces and to have groceries and medications delivered.

“It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health.”

It tells young people to assume they are spreading the virus and putting other people at risk.

“If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household,” the task force wrote in a sweeping 413-page assessment of the pandemic.

“Most likely, you will not have symptoms; however, you are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately,” the group added.

The dire warnings come as cases continue to top 180,000 per day and COVID-19 patients crowd local hospitals. The numbers have alarmed public health experts who compare case numbers in early summer to 25,000 new cases per day.

While Americans have been urged to stay home for the holidays and cancel in-person gatherings, it’s likely many didn’t listen. While air travel was down about half of what it was in previous years, authorities reported checking millions of Americans through airports Thanksgiving weekend.

The White House itself has shirked public health warnings in favor of hosting its own indoor holiday gatherings.

“We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall,” the White House task force stated.

The task force, which includes Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, was convened by Trump earlier this year but is no longer in the public eye and has not briefed the public on the pandemic in months.

The group, however, issues weekly lengthy reports to the nation’s governors that tailor recommendations by state and analyzes local trends. The idea is that local leaders review these reports and make recommendations on testing and other public health measures like mask mandates.

In the Nov. 29 update, the report notably tells every state: “The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high.”

It also takes a swipe at governors and other local leaders who have played down the seriousness of the epidemic.

“If state and local policies to not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly,” it states.

The report also calls for more widespread testing of people without symptoms but says that has to be combined with changing behavior.

Among the recommendations for states: “Ensure every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household indoors without masks.”



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AstraZeneca trial; US deaths, cases; Fauci warning; Germany






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Jones issues special warning to Wales


Eddie Jones has packed his midfield with ringmasters but England’s head coach has warned Wales they will not be arriving at Parc y Scarlets in dinner suits.

George Ford has been reinstated at fly-half after making his comeback from an Achilles injury as a replacement in a 18-7 victory over Ireland last Saturday that has placed the Autumn Nations Cup final within touching distance.

To accommodate his return, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade join forces in the centres for the first time since the 2018 tour to South Africa.

Ollie Lawrence had brought ball-carrying prowess to the number 13 jersey until he was ruled out against Wales by a hip problem and in rejigging his midfield, Jones has deviated from comments made only a month ago.

As England were preparing for their Six Nations-clinching match against Italy, their head coach declared rush defences had transformed centres into NFL-style running backs with the objective of punching holes in the defence.

Yet against Wales he has filled the 10-12-13 axis with players of vision and finesse rather than raw power.

“There’s a better man than me who said contradiction is normal. It is. We keep changing. We keep evolving. We keep looking to see how we can get better,” Jones said.

“Our big running centre at the moment, Ollie Lawrence, is not available for this game.

“The three guys who are playing, none of them will be playing in dinner suits. They all run, carry and tackle. Playmakers play in dinner suits. They are not playmakers.

“None of Ford, Farrell, Slade play in dinner suits. They all run and get tackled. The whole word playmaker suggests they make plays. They have got to run, they have to kick, they have to tackle.”

Creating headlines in Wales’ team is the selection of flanker James Botham, the 22-year-old grandson of England cricket great Sir Ian Botham who will be winning his second cap as a flanker.

“It’s a great sporting family, isn’t it? His grandson playing for Wales, I’m sure he will bring a lot of pride to the family and I just hope he’s not as good an all-rounder as his grandfather is,” said Jones, a keen cricket fan.

“Certainly the boy playing on Saturday has got good genes.”

Jones believes Wales will be galvanised by the troubles facing their head coach Wayne Pivac, who until Georgia were beaten last weekend was under pressure having presided over a run of six Test defeats.

“Wayne Pivac is a good young man and he deserves some time to be a good coach for Wales and he will be.

“But at the moment, when he sees a board member, they turn the other way and it becomes difficult.

“You start looking for shadows in the corners and start seeing meetings between people. It’s a tough time. Hopefully he gets some time.”





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US politics live news: Donald Trump ramps up baseless fraud claims as Joe Biden delivers Thanksgiving coronavirus warning


Joe Biden gave a Thanksgiving address begging Americans to ‘hang on’

AP

The president-elect gave a short address today before Thanksgiving. In it, he begged Americans not to fall victim to COVID-19 fatigue an stick it out a little bit longer to try and contain a pandemic that is raging out of control.

“I’m hoping the news of a vaccine will serve as an incentive to every American to take these simple steps to get control of this virus,” Biden said.

“There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue.”

He also gave a stark accounting of where the United States was at in this moment in time.

“Now, we find ourselves again facing a long, hard winter. We have fought a nearly year-long battle with a virus in this nation. It’s brought us pain and loss and frustration, and it has cost so many lives. 260,000 Americans — and counting. It has divided us. Angered us. And set us against one another. I know the country has grown weary of the fight,” he said.

But as he has for almost the entire campaign, Biden made appeals to national unity and asked Americans to think of others.

“We have to try to slow the growth of the virus. We owe that to the doctors, the nurses, and the other front-line health care workers who have risked so much and heroically battled this virus for so long. We owe that to our fellow citizens who will need access to hospital beds and the care to fight this disease,” Biden said.

“And we owe it to one another — it’s our patriotic duty as Americans.”



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Crunch time: don’t ignore insolvency warning signs


Can your business survive without government support?

If your response to this question is “no” or “not sure”, I encourage you
to perform a business health check as soon as possible to identify any red
flags, because in a matter of weeks, on 31 December, many of the federal
governments COVID-19 relief measures come to an end. These include:

  • The insolvent trading moratorium.
  • The temporary statutory demand threshold.
  • The first tranche of JobKeeper 2.0.
  • The commercial eviction moratorium in some states/territories*.

On top of this, loan repayment deferrals began to end in September, with
banks starting to contact customers about restarting their payments, and the
ATO has recommenced small business audits and “soft” debt collection in most
parts of the country.

The federal government’s raft of support measures has enabled many
businesses to go into “hibernation mode” and to put off making tough decisions
about their businesses. But eight months have flown past – and crunch time is
now.

It’s time to “awaken from hibernation” and take action if you’re currently experiencing, or are likely to experience, cashflow or other financial challenges. And while some vulnerable businesses might currently have cash in the bank, once the stimulus measures end, this cash may begin to gradually deplete, particularly as businesses are required to meet their deferred payment obligations, which includes tax and rent. Additionally, with the removal of JobKeeper at the end of March, businesses will need to fund their full payroll themselves.

As a company director, it’s also important to understand your
responsibilities and liabilities and ensure you don’t allow a company to trade
while insolvent. You need to be fully aware of your legal duties and take
action to mitigate personal risk. You could be left exposed once the support
measures end if you don’t take action now.

Red flags

The below infographic lists 12 key warning signs your business could be heading towards insolvency. If you identify any red flags, talk to your accountant or a business recovery / insolvency practitioner as soon as possible. In my experience, the sooner you take action generally, the more options and a better chance of saving your business or winding it up before you incur further losses, in addition to minimising personal exposure and risks to your own assets. And if you have been trading while insolvent, an insolvency practitioner can also help mitigate risk and prevent against subsequent action once the insolvent trading moratorium ends.

In addition to assessing your business, it’s also important to assess your mental health, as a period of financial difficulty can be a demanding and stressful time.

Bradd Morelli, National Managing Partner, Jirsch Sutherland

*Commercial eviction moratorium deadlines at the time of writing: NSW, December 31; VIC, December 31; QLD, December 31; WA, March 31; SA, March 31; ACT, January 31, 2021.





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Udupi CMC issues warning against plastic use or sale


The Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) has warned that stringent action, including cancellation of trade licence, will be taken if traders are found using or selling banned plastic items in the municipal limits.

Municipal Commissioner Anand C. Kallolikar in a statement said that no one, including shop owners, traders and hoteliers, could use or sell plastic bags of any thickness, non-woven bags, plastic banners and buntings, flexes, flags, plates, cups, spoons and plastic sheets. Manufacturing, supplying, storage, transportation, distribution and sale of all these items are banned across the State. If people are found using or selling the banned items, a fine of ₹ 2,000 would be imposed in the first instance followed by ₹ 3,000 fine the second time and cancellation of trade licence on the third occasion. Banned material would be confiscated on all occasions, Mr. Kallolikar warned.

The Commissioner said that the use and sale of banned plastic was found to be rampant at Visvesvaraya Daily Market, Santhekatte Market, Parkala Market, Adi Upupi APMC Market and among street vendors. If this continues, fine would directly be collected from contractors empanelled for fee collection, he said.



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Severe thunderstorm warning for Southern Tablelands area | Goulburn Post


news, local-news, thunderstorm, Bureau of Meteorology, bowral, goulburn, southern tablelands

The Southern Tableland area will be on high alert this week with a severe thunder storm warning and temperatures set to rise throughout the week. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) have suggested that Southern Tableland residents prepare by ensuring the safety of themselves and their surrounding neighbours. Read: Restrictions to ease in NSW, putting Christmas carols back on the agenda Read More: Hurricane Fall has a chance of taking out the Golden Guitar Awards Read Further: Shirley Roberts celebrates 50 years as a nurse in Crookwell and Goulburn “There is a severe thunderstorm warning for the Southern Tablelands and parts of the Illawarra region also,” the BOM spokesperson said. “Damaging winds will be the main concern with large hail possible. “We would advise for people to move their cars under shelter and away from trees. “If they have any loose items around the house, balcony or in the backyard to secure them down or pack them away. “Also ensure things are at least eight metres away from power lines.” As the week progresses the Southern Tablelands area may experience higher heat levels that appear likely to reach official Heatwave levels. A fire warning will be in place for parts of northern New South Wales as hot and windy conditions impact the region, and there are active fires in the area. “By the end of this week it could be very hot,” BOM spokesperson said. “We advise to follow all fire warnings and be safe in the hot, dry conditions.” Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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