Leeds news LIVE: City braced for further lockdown restrictions ahead of Boris Johnson 'three tier' announcement

Welcome to the Yorkshire Evening Post live blog.

By Rebecca Marano
Monday, 12th October 2020, 6:25 am
Updated Monday, 12th October 2020, 12:10 pm

Keep following for the latest news across the city.

Pubs, gyms and casinos will be forced to close and all but essential travel to and from coronavirus hotspots banned under new measures aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Leeds news LIVE: Friday, October 16

Last updated: Friday, 16 October, 2020, 08:04

  • Public Health England figures show that 14,732 people had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by 9am on Thursday (October 15) in Leeds
  • Leeds's cases were among the 80,537 recorded across Yorkshire and The Humber, a figure which rose by 2,515 over the period.
  • Tory MPs have stepped up the pressure on Boris Johnson over his handling of the second Covid wave as a bitter row festers between Downing Street and Northern leaders.
  • The ongoing division between Westminster and local leaders is “very damaging to public health”, a leading scientist has said.
  • Millions of older people are facing a potential public health emergency as they struggle alone, physically and mentally deteriorate and cannot properly grieve during the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has warned.
  • The Prime Minister is due to set out whether trade talks with the European Union should continue after his deadline for reaching an agreement passed without a deal in place.

More than 8,500 positive Covid cases recorded across Yorkshire and The Humber

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Leeds increased by 533 over the last 24 hours, official figures show.

Public Health England figures show that 14,732 people had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by 9am on Thursday (October 15) in Leeds, up from 14,199 the same time on Wednesday.

The health body is now including Pillar 2 tests – those carried out by commercial partners – alongside Pillar 1 tests, which are analysed in NHS or PHE laboratories and which made up the first stage of the Government's mass testing programme.

The rate of infection in Leeds now stands at 1,857 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than the England average of 1,017.

Across the UK, the number of recorded cases increased by 18,978 over the period, to 673,622.

Leeds's cases were among the 80,537 recorded across Yorkshire and The Humber, a figure which rose by 2,515 over the period.

Cumulative case counts include patients who are currently unwell, have recovered and those that have died.

Dominic Raab criticises Andy Burnham

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham of trying to “hold the Government over a barrel” by resisting tougher coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: “Ultimately we need to take action – we can’t have a situation as we have seen in Manchester where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and politics when actually we need to take action.

“The cases there are 470 per 100,000 so it is very serious, and we must take action in the interest of the people of Manchester and the wider area, and if we take those targeted actions in those areas most affected… we get through this and we avoid the national level lockdown.”

He urged Mr Burnham to “do the right thing by the people of Manchester”.

‘Circuit-breaker’ not long enough, says professor

On the idea of a “circuit-breaker”, Professor Graham Medley said: “A week isn’t long enough.”

He told the Today programme: “Somebody who’s infected the day before you go into that break would still be infectious when you came out.

“You need at least one generation of infection, so people who were infected before, to stop being infected by the end, so it would need to be at least two weeks.”

Some healthcare areas in same position as end of March, says professor

Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and member of Sage, believes that in terms of healthcare “some areas are going to be back to the same kind of position they were at the end of March”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are struggling at the moment to understand how we’re balancing that imperative of having to prevent healthcare being completely overwhelmed and yet how to mitigate against the damage caused by the intervention which of course is huge.”

Scientist advises “two week lockdown” on universities before Christmas

Imposing a two-week lockdown on universities in England before Christmas may come too late to prevent widespread infections, a scientist who advises the Government suggested.

Dr Ellen Brooks-Pollock, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In our analysis before the start of term we estimated that the R value could be up to 30% higher in a university setting, which could mean in an unmitigated setting it could be around 3.5 or 4.

“Our analysis suggests that reducing face-to-face teaching to essential teaching only does have the impact of slowing down the rate of spread and preventing more disseminated outbreaks.

“However it needs to happen early on in the outbreak because if infection is already widespread then having this quiet period at the end of term is unlikely to prevent outbreaks within halls of residence.

“Two weeks might be enough for students living in smaller households, living with two or three other people, but in these halls of residence where there’s really a lot of people living together it could just lead to an outbreak in those halls of residence.

“And if there’s already disseminated infections, many of which are unobserved, two weeks wouldn’t be long enough at the end of term – it’s too late essentially.”

Tory MP William Wragg describes “frustration” at learning abut Tier 3 restrictions for ward from second-hand sources

William Wragg, Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, was among those complaining at a lack of communication from the Government despite reports on Wednesday night that Tier 3 restrictions had been signed off for the region.

After Labour’s Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan both said they had not been informed of the plans being reported last night, Mr Wragg wrote: “Sadly, I’ve received no email… says it all really.

He then posted this morning: “Email now received. However, it is frustrating to keep learning of these developments from second-hand sources, alongside the speculation and hearsay.”

Greater Manchester braced for tough new coronavirus controls

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is to hold talks with No 10 amid mounting expectation the region will be the next to face the toughest coronavirus controls.

Mr Burnham has been resisting pressure to follow the Liverpool City Region into the Tier 3 restrictions – which would see bars, gyms and betting shops forced to close – despite soaring infection rates.

However following a briefing with the deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries on Wednesday, he said he expected to have a further meeting with Boris Johnson’s team on Thursday.

The move came amid reports the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre had recommended most of the North West and North East of England, as well as parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands, should be moved into Tier 3.

With Greater Manchester and Lancashire looking set to be the first to be affected, Manchester MPs said they had been invited to a meeting on Thursday morning.

Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester Central said it had “all the hallmarks of a decision having been made”.

Mr Burnham reacted angrily to the reports, tweeting: “At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed.”

In contrast, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said he would back tighter restrictions in the capital – which is currently under the lowest Tier 1 controls – but called for a package of financial support for the city.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, he said that with the infection rate approaching approaching 100 cases per 100,000 head of population, new measures would be needed “very soon” – possibly as early as this week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs on the latest measures in a Commons statement later on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is braced for the toughest controls in the UK so far with pubs and restaurants set to close for four weeks from Friday and schools facing a two week shutdown.

And the UK Government described a decision by the Welsh Government to ban travel to the country from other parts of the UK with high levels of coronavirus infection as “disappointing”.

Mr Johnson remains desperate to avoid any form of national lockdown – despite demands from Labour for a temporary “circuit-breaker” to break the train of transmission and stem the spread of the disease.

In the Commons on Wednesday, he urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to use his influence with Labour authorities in the North to agree to “stringent measures” to get the rates down.

But in an online press conference, Mr Burnham said that if Greater Manchester was placed into Tier 3 it would be “by imposition, not consent”.

He warned that he could take legal actions to ensure residents were protected from the economic fallout of tougher restrictions.

“We are law abiding people, we would respect the law of the land,” he said.

“But we would consider other routes, legal routes, where we could protect our many thousands of residents who are going to be left in severe hardship in the run up to Christmas.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the Government “has not discussed” whether his area will be moved into Tier 3

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the Government “has not discussed” whether his area will be moved into Tier 3 status later today.

He tweeted: “Since one meeting on Friday, the Government has not discussed these matters with us.

“Instead, the pressure is being piled on via media briefings.

“Later today I will set out why the current Tier 3 proposal is fundamentally flawed and why we won’t accept it.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said it was a “mistake” not to have a short national lockdown

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster, said it was a “mistake” by the Government not to follow Sage’s recommendation last month for a short national lockdown.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “We’ve always tried… to be a constructive Opposition but we think the Government have got it wrong this time.

“The mantra used to be that they were following the science – that no longer seems to be the strategy of the Government and that is a mistake.

“We believe the Government should be following the recommendations of Sage and getting control of the virus and protecting the NHS and using a circuit-break to reset the failed outsourced model of Test and Trace, which just isn’t working, which is contributing to the problems we are in now.

“It is absolutely the case that there is no silver bullet in all of this, you need a whole range of measures.

“A circuit-break is one of the tools in the arsenal that can be used to get control of this virus.”

Ms Reeves, addressing the criticism levelled at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer by a Government source on Tuesday, that he was “playing games” with his support for a circuit-breaker, said: “Keir Starmer is showing real leadership and following the science.

“It is a shame the Government is not doing that.

“It is not too late for them to change course, it is not too late for them to do that.

“We urge them, plead with them, to do that because we need to get control of the virus, protect the NHS and get a grip of our failed Test and Trace system.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that financial support should be “put in place so businesses will not be ruined” during any circuit-break lockdown, which the shadow cabinet member argued could help get the R rate back below one.

Liverpool’s crtitical care beds “filling up very fast"

Councillor Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, said intensive care in the city was now at 90% capacity as hospitals looked to deal with the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Mr Brant told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Our intensive, critical care beds are filling up very fast.

“The most recent figures I’ve seen suggest they are over 90% full and our acute hospital trusts have occupancy levels of Covid-positive patients of over 250.

“At the current rate of increase, we would expect Liverpool to surpass the peak of the first wave probably within the next seven to 10 days.”

Addressing the intensive care situation, he added: “They are not all Covid patients, I should say, but they are running very full and they are running with an increasing number of people who are Covid-positive.”

He added: “It has become clear that the intensity of the demand on hospital services here in Liverpool is crowding out anything other than dealing with Covid.”

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