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Covid UK news: Country faces tens of thousands of deaths in second wave, Sage expert warns

See how we covered Tuesday’s events live

Conrad Duncan,Jon Sharman
Wednesday 21 October 2020 20:58
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Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 restrictions, Boris Johnson announces

The UK faces “tens of thousands” more coronavirus deaths in the epidemic’s second wave, Sage expert Professor John Edmunds has warned. The outlook was “gloomy”, the infectious disease specialist told MPs.

He said: "We're already in Liverpool... elective operations are already being cancelled, so we're already at the stage where that's under strain. Elsewhere in the northwest in particular but also in the North and Yorkshire, it's not very far behind.

"So we are already at the point or getting close to the point where the health service in much of the North will be under strain in the next few weeks.

"Even if we stopped things now, cases and hospitalisations would continue to go up. I think if you look at where we are, there's no way we come out of this wave now without counting our deaths in the tens of thousands."

In northern England, Sheffield mayor Dan Jarvis warned that “inaction was not an option” as he announced the move to Tier 3 measures from Saturday and called on local people to follow the new restrictions to prevent further fatalities.

And Boris Johnson was accused of trying to “pick off” Greater Manchester councils one-by-one to bypass the mayor, Andy Burnham.

Meanwhile, Labour warned that tier 3 restrictions were a “gateway to months of agony” for businesses and communities.  Sir Keir Starmer voiced fears that tier 3 status offered regions “the worst of all worlds”, inflicting significant harm on their economies without freeing them from the virus.

Read more: What restrictions are there in tier 3 areas?

It came as Nicola Sturgeon announced that hospitality restrictions in Scotland would be extended for one week and as Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner accused Boris Johnson of trying to play a “spiteful little game” with local leaders in Greater Manchester.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today.

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 07:52
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Fury as Johnson announces just £22m support for Greater Manchester

Boris Johnson has sparked fury in Greater Manchester after announcing just £22m in financial support – £8 for each of the city’s 2.8 million residents – as he imposed the strictest coronavirus restrictions on the area without the support of local leaders.

Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central, described the funding offer as a “disgrace” and accused the prime minister of acting out of “utter spite”.

Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:

Fury over Boris Johnson’s £22m offer as Manchester faces ‘punishing’ winter of Covid restrictions

City’s leaders say £75m in business support needed to prevent poverty

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:02
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Minister denies Andy Burnham found out about funding offer on TV

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has denied that Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham found out about the Tier 3 funding offer for his area on TV.

Mr Jenrick told Sky News’ Kay Burley that he phoned the mayor to explain the situation earlier in the day.

“We had several conversations over the course of the morning, including with the prime minister, and I told him the final news at 2 o’clock,” the minister said.

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:07
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Burnham rejects Conservative MP’s call to negotiate funding settlement

Andy Burnham has rejected a Conservative MP’s request for the mayor to allow local MPs and council leaders in Greater Manchester to attempt to get their own funding settlement.

Chris Clarkson claimed the government offered to give Manchester “92 per cent of what you asked for, with a settlement of an additional £60m funding, you decided the best option was to walk away having secured absolutely nothing

Mr Burnham responded: “You haven't got this quite right Chris.

“We asked for £90m - which is the cost of an 80 per cent furlough and self-employed scheme.

“We were offered £60m - 66 per cent of our ask, the same that pub staff in Heywood and Middleton are deemed to be worth. You can vote to change that today. Will you?”

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:17
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Government ‘on cusp of agreement with South Yorkshire’, minister says

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said he hopes the government is “on the cusp of an agreement with South Yorkshire” ahead of an expected move towards tougher restrictions for the area.

When asked if this meant Sheffield and South Yorkshire were about to go into Tier 3 restrictions, Mr Jenrick said: “It's not right for me to pre-empt a full statement that the prime minister and Dan Jarvis will make later today.

“But we have had very successful conversations with him and with the leaders of South Yorkshire.”

He told Sky News that there was a “serious situation” in the area and an announcement would be made shortly.

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:25
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Extend free school meals during holidays, senior Tory MP urges government

A senior Conservative MP has called on the government to extend free school meals during term holidays while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing.

Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Committee, said he could support a Labour motion calling for their extension to next Easter in parliament on Wednesday.

“I will either vote for the motion or abstain depending on what the government says,” Mr Halfon told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“What the government needs to do is to have a long-term plan, sit down with the taskforce set up by Marcus Rashford and actually come up with a serious plan and a budget to deal with this problem.”

He added: “All the statistics show that families are struggling. We know that 10 per cent of families are affected by food insecurity.

“I am not arguing this should happen for ever but the free school meals should at least go on until we are out of the coronavirus, god willing, by next spring.”

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:30
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New tool predicts person’s risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19

UK researchers have developed a prediction tool that estimates a person’s risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19.

The algorithm, which uses data from more than eight million people across England, attempts to identify individuals at risk of developing severe illness by analysing key factors such as age, ethnicity and body mass index.

Our reporter, Samuel Lovett, has the full story below:

New tool predicts person’s risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19

Model uses key factors such as age, ethnicity and body mass index to identify individuals at risk of developing severe illness

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:37
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Ministers are ‘weirdly obsessed’ with Andy Burnham, Labour’s Nandy says

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary has said the government is “weirdly obsessed” with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following accusations of local leaders playing politics over funding for Tier 3 restrictions in the area.

“From day one, there has been an attack on the Labour Party and particularly on Andy Burnham, who ministers seem weirdly obsessed by in all of this,” Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, told Sky News.

“On the call last night, Matt Hancock spent the first five minutes of a 25 minute call having a go at Andy Burnham which, to be honest, did not go down well at all with his Conservative colleagues.”

She added: “What they fail to recognise is the anger is real here. It’s across the board now and you’ve got Conservative MPs who are far more critical of the government than I’ve been...”

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 08:53
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Cummings’ lockdown breach ‘clearly undermined fight against coronavirus’

Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules “clearly undermined” efforts to win public support for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the former head of the civil service has said.

Mark Sedwill also admitted in an interview following his exit from the civil service in June that the government did not have the “exact measures” in place to confront the pandemic earlier this year.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Dominic Cummings’ flouting of lockdown rules ‘clearly undermined’ fight against coronavirus, ex-civil service chief admits

Mark Sedwill also acknowledges government did not have ‘exact measures’ in place to confront Covid-19

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 09:06
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BREAKING: South Yorkshire to move into highest level of restrictions, Sheffield mayor says

South Yorkshire will move into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions on Saturday in the hope of curbing the area’s recent increase in Covid-19 cases, the mayor of the Sheffield City Region has said.

Dan Jarvis said in a statement that “inaction was not an option” for the area, which includes Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Conrad Duncan21 October 2020 09:15

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