Hospital deaths up by 11 in England:
A further 11 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.
This brings the total number of confirmed deaths in hospitals to 29,687, NHS England reported this lunchtime.
Patients were aged between 69 and 98 and all had known underlying health conditions.
The dates of the deaths were between September 11 and September 15, with the majority on September 14.
Five other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
The latest figures for Wales are in:
There have been a further 199 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 19,880.
Public Health Wales said no further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remaining at 1,597.
Cases, and hospital admissions, are on the up…
Study hints antibody drug may cut Covid-19 hospitalisations
A drug company says that partial results from a study testing an antibody drug hint that it may help mild to moderately ill coronavirus patients from needing to be hospitalised.
Eli Lilly announced the results in a press release today, but they have not been published or reviewed by independent scientists.
The company said it would talk with regulators about possible next steps but that it was too soon to speculate on whether interim results might lead to any action to allow early use.
“I’m strongly encouraged” by the results, said Dr Myron Cohen, a University of North Carolina virologist.
“This seems to demonstrate what we thought” — that such drugs would give a benefit, he said.
The drugs that Lilly and other companies are testing are concentrated versions of specific antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests, and can be made in large, standardised doses.
They are being tested to treat newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients in hope of preventing serious disease or death, and to try to prevent infection in people at high risk of that such as nursing home residents and health workers.
Lilly has already started manufacturing its antibody drug, hoping to have hundreds of thousands of doses ready by autumn if studies give positive results.
A hospital boss in Bolton has urged people to stay away from its accident and emergency unit unless strictly necessary after nearly 100 turned up to request Covid-19 tests.
The plea came as admissions of patients with coronavirus increased over the weekend and the infection rate across the borough – the highest by far in England – continued to rise sharply.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which is based at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Farnworth, said on Tuesday morning there were three coronavirus patients in critical care and a total of 20 on wards.
It added an increased number of patients under 65 are being admitted, with some in their 40s and 50s.
The trust’s medical director, Dr Francis Andrews, said: “We are seeing more people being admitted with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 as a result of the very high rate of infections in Bolton. This is not a shift we want to see.
“The situation at the hospital is under control and we were well prepared for this.
“However, the rate continuing to rise is of concern and we continue to urge the people of Bolton to consider others when making decisions that could jeopardise their safety.”
He added: “We are extremely busy in our emergency department as a result of this increase.
“Only attend this department if you have experienced a life-threatening accident or illness and need urgent medical attention.”
Teachers and kids to be given testing priority
Robert Halfon MP, Tory chairman of the Commons Education Committee, said he understood schools would be included in the Government’s list of priority groups for who should be first in line for Covid-19 tests.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs on Tuesday that tests would need to be rationed due to the current strain on the system.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, Mr Halfon said: “As I understand it, schools will be on the priority list.
“Also, the Government, the Department for Education need to make a decision – are we going to risk damaging the life chances of our children still further?
“We have got to do everything possible to keep our schools open.”
Mr Halfon has called for schools to have access to coronavirus tests within 48 hours, explaining: “If we don’t do this, we won’t just have over 300 schools partially closed or fully closed as we have at the moment, we could have a lot more.”
This graph shows how hospital admissions have steadily crept up in the UK since July:
More on that lockdown announcement for Wales:
Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for the Rhondda, said the local lockdown was “disappointing but not a surprise”.
“This was something we feared would happen due to the increase in transmission rates,” she said.
“I urge everyone to follow the guidance on social distancing, washing hands and only meeting other households outdoors.
“Wearing face masks inside shops is also essential. I also urge everyone who is contacted by Track and Trace to co-operate fully so we can shut this virus down.
“The sooner we get this under control, the sooner we can ease restrictions and the safer our loved ones will be.”
Here’s Sir Keir Starmer’s reaction to his deputy’s performance at today’s PMQs:
NHS and social care staff are being urged to “do their bit” and have a flu jab as the health service ramps up its preparations for winter.
In a letter to all frontline workers in England, leaders including Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, and NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said it was “now more important than ever that we act to protect ourselves, our teams, our families and patients from getting flu”.
NHS chiefs want staff to have their annual free flu jab as soon as possible, as the first vaccine deliveries start to reach local employers this week.
Social care workers are also eligible to get a free flu vaccination from a GP or pharmacist, with pharmacists also visiting care homes to vaccinate staff.
The letter pointed to the fact seasonal flu and Covid-19 will be circulating at the same time this winter, adding: “We strongly urge you to take up the offer of free vaccination against flu as soon as possible; and to remind your patients to get their vaccine.”
Flu virus spreads from person to person “even amongst those not showing any symptoms”, while also contributing to staff sickness rates, it added.
“As we all know, flu can have serious and even fatal consequences, especially for our most vulnerable patients, such as young children, pregnant women and the elderly.
“Therefore, vaccination of healthcare workers is a critical part of the NHS’s flu prevention strategy.”
Sports update: BREAKING
Ten Football League clubs will be permitted to admit spectators, at a capacity of 1,000, into matches this weekend as part of the ongoing fans pilot programme, the English Football League has announced.
PM continues to be tested on testing…
Labour MP for Cardiff South, Stephen Doughty, quizzed Boris Johnson on testing “rationing”.
He told the Commons: “It is clear the problems originate, not in Wales, but with the UK testing and online system which has led to rationing, chaos and confusion, and all the while the virus spreads further.”
“This should have been seen coming months ago,” he added.
“The Prime Minister is incompetent and he hasn’t got control of this. When is he going to get a grip?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Once again the opposition is at risk of undermining the colossal work of NHS test and trace.”
He added that the Government is “continuing to improve the system the whole time”.
Another set of job casualties here:
Meanwhile… Middlesborough steps up Covid fight
Every household in Middlesbrough will be given free masks with information leaflets as the elected mayor steps up its fight against coronavirus.
The town is on the Government register as an area of concern and the independent mayor Andy Preston is in the process of updating residents with 65,000 leaflets.
Re-usable face coverings will be handed out alongside the leaflets to help people follow the latest guidance.
People have been repeatedly warned that lockdown measures could return to some or all of the borough if the local infection rate is not halted.
Mr Preston said: “We always knew there was a risk of new infections with the easing of lockdown, but it’s what we do next that really matters.
“New cases are rising at worrying levels in Middlesbrough and the Government is now watching our situation closely – but we can turn the tide if we work together.
“Any new lockdown will seriously damage jobs and mental health, so we need to act now.
“The information in this leaflet – and the face coverings we’re giving out for free – couldn’t be more important, so I’m urging everyone to play their part.”
What about weddings?
Tory MP Gagan Mohindra asked the PM if he was open to changing the current 30-person limit on weddings in favour of a “fairer system”.
Mr Mohindra suggested that if venues were allowed to operate at a proportion of their normal capacity – say 50 per cent – they would be able to “bounce back” and keep staff.
In reply, Mr Johnson said he understood and appreciated the concerns raised by businesses facing restrictions, adding: “The trouble is that in all these things there is an increase in the risk involved, an increase in the risk of contagion and we simply have to balance that risk with what we’re seeing now in the spread of the virus.
“So I must reluctantly say to (Mr Mohindra) that we will work as fast as possible to get our whole economy open, to take all these restrictions off.”
Mr Johnson said the best way to achieve this is for the country to work together to enforce social distancing, obey the rules, and take a test if they have symptoms.
What about support for ailing air travel?
Boris Johnson said he would “certainly look at” air passenger duty reforms but added it would be wrong of him to “make any fiscal commitment at this stage”.
His remarks came after Conservative Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) warned smaller airports face closure unless they receive support.
Mr Double asked: “Could (Mr Johnson) please ensure our regional airports get all the help that they need, whether that’s through grants, the Government backing more public service obligation routes and would he carefully look at reducing air passenger duty – particularly on domestic flights?”
The Prime Minister replied: “Yes, I can tell (Mr Double)… we will continue to consider applications for public service obligations on routes such as into Newquay and elsewhere, and we will certainly look at air passenger duty though it’d be wrong of me to make any fiscal commitment at this stage.”
Government will ‘creatively’ continue to ‘put arms around’ UK workforce – PM
Boris Johnson insisted the Government would act with “maximum creativity” to support jobs when pressed by Labour MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) to extend the furlough scheme in a reformed and targeted way to help thousands of workers.
The Prime Minister replied in the Commons: “We need to get people off furlough and into work and that is what this Government is doing.”
He listed schemes to help keep people in work, adding: “We will continue to apply the maximum creativity as we have in putting our arms around the workforce of the UK.”
More on today’s lockdown announcement for Wales:
The Welsh Government said the new restrictions would apply to everyone living in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
They follow a “rapid increase” in the number of Covid-19 cases, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from holidays abroad, it said.
Further measures will be considered by the Welsh Government, working with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Public Health Wales, if cases do not fall.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said: “We have seen a rapid rise in cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf in a very short space of time, linked to people socialising indoors and not following social distancing guidelines.
“We now have evidence of wider community transmission in the borough, which means we need to take urgent action to control and, ultimately, reduce the spread of the virus and protect people’s health.”
Don’t leave disabled behind – Lib Dem leader
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) called on the Government to “protect the rights to care of disabled people and act lawfully” during the pandemic.
He said: “Research by the Disabled Children’s Partnership shows that three quarters of families with disabled children had their care support stopped during lockdown. The Coronavirus Act is partly to blame as it relaxed the duties to assess and meet the needs of disabled people.
“As the father of a disabled child and the patron of the Disability Law Service, I’ve seen legal advice that suggests that his Government broke international law in how the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights of disabled people. So before this House is asked to renew the Coronavirus Act, will he meet with me to discuss how we protect the rights to care of disabled people and act lawfully?”
Mr Johnson responded: “I must say to him I’m not aware of that particular allegation about the legal effects of the Coronavirus Act and would be only too happy to write to him very shortly to clarify the matter.”