The UK has recorded more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since mid-July, as ministers continue to reject calls from health leaders for some restrictions to be introduced.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the current strain facing the NHS was not “unsustainable”, while Boris Johnson said infection numbers were “high” but “within the parameters of what the predictions were”.
Doctors described the government’s decision as “wilful negligence” and said “Plan B” should be activated to protect the NHS. Under this scenario, face masks would be made mandatory and working from home would be advised.
Meanwhile, a record 234,000 people booked to receive their booster jab on Wednesday, Mr Javid said.
The announcement came after Labour criticised the speed of the booster jab rollout, urging the government to complete it by Christmas rather than March.
Which countries could ban UK travellers due to soaring Covid cases?
Half-term holidays were thrown into turmoil yesterday when Morocco made the decision to ban all flights from the UK, effective from midnight on 20 October, writes Simon Calder.
While easyJet brought back two planeloads of passengers from Marrakesh to Gatwick and Manchester overnight, no further departures will take place until December at the earliest.
The Moroccan government has said the suspension is “until further notice”, and the country is also suspending flights from Germany and the Netherlands.
Health secretary Sajid Javid says UK Covid-19 infection levels could double – raising concerns that other countries could impose travel restrictions, writes Simon Calder
Scientific and medical advisers have not formally requested ‘Plan B’, says Downing Street
Neither Chris Whitty nor Sir Patrick Vallance has formally asked the government to activate ‘Plan B’, No 10 has said.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said they did not know whether the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser backed the decision not to trigger the plan, which would involve mandatory face coverings and working from home.
“If you are asking me if they have formally requested that change to move to Plan B, they have not,” the spokesperson said.
They also said it is “not accurate” that ministers were working on a Plan C to ban household mixing this winter.
Tory MPs won’t wear masks because they ‘know each other’, says Rees-Mogg
Conservative MPs will not wear masks in the Commons because they “know each other”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
Hours after Sajid Javid recommended face covering should be worn in parliament, the Leader of the House contradicted him.
“The advice on crowded spaces is crowded spaces with people that you don’t know – we on this side know each other,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.
The prime minister’s spokesperson seconded this position.
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:
No 10 refuses to say whether Boris Johnson will start wearing one – despite Sajid Javid’s recommendation
Watch: Rees-Mogg says he will not wear mask in Commons
Earlier today, Jacob Rees-Mogg defended Tory MP’s refusal to wear face covering in the Commons.
Here’s what he said:
Lack of boosters in care homes ‘really worrying’, says social care leader
The slow rollout of Covid-19 booster jabs in care homes is “really worrying”, a social care leader has warned.
Nadra Ahmed, who leads the National Care Association, said some care homes had not even been contacted about booster vaccines, despite residents and staff being eligible for them.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are hearing every day that providers are saying to us that ‘We have not been contacted yet’ or ‘We were contacted to be ready and it is two weeks since then’.
“There is a concern because obviously the six-month gap is getting bigger and bigger so the efficacy of the vaccine is reducing.”
Ms Ahmed said it was particularly worrying given the rising infection rates.
Sweden extends ‘pause’ of Moderna jab for under 30s
Sweden will pause the use of the Moderna vaccine in under 30s beyond its original 1 December deadline, the public health agency has confirmed.
The country made the decision in October, citing data which indicated that the jab increased the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis among this age group.
Young Swedes who have been given one Moderna dose, will be offered a Pfizer shot as their second jab.
How are other countries responding to surge in Covid infections?
The British government does not intend to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions for the time being, claiming that the pressure on the NHS is not “unsustainable”.
But what are other countries doing to contain a new wave of the virus?
My colleague Thomas Kingsley takes a look:
Other countries are reporting a surge in infection rates, at the same time as the UK is struggling
Cop26 will cause Covid spike and need for restrictions, professor warns
The Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases, causing more stress on the NHS, a scientific adviser to the Scottish government has warned.
Professor Devi Sridhar, of Edinburgh University, said such a spike would trigger the need for more restirctions.
“A mass event (with major movement of people in & out) with an infectious virus will cause an increase in cases. While in the case of COVID will put stress on limited health services. Which triggers need for further restrictions,” she wrote.
Up to 30,000 people are expected to travel to Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November.
Israel to welcome vaccinated tourists from next month
Israel is set to open its borders to vaccinated travellers from the start of November, after being largely shut to foreigners since the start of the pandemic.
Those who have received both Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines will be allowed into the country.
The plan has not yet been given cabinet approval and could change if new variants are discovered, the tourism and health ministries said in a joint statement.
PM blames public for slow booster jab rollout
Boris Johnson has blamed the slow booster jab rollout on people not coming forward for their vaccines.
Speaking from Northern Ireland, the prime minister insisted there was adequate supply. “It’s a demand issue. We really urge people to come and do it,” he said.
His remarks come after Labour claimed two million eligible people are yet to receive an invitation for their booster doses.
Boris Johnson has blamed a failure of people to come forward for booster jabs for the slow rollout of the programme, calling it “a demand issue”.
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