Coronavirus live news: UK records 341 more deaths; Russia reports record new cases and deaths

1 week ago

149 pupils at a boarding school in Cumbria have tested positive for Covid-19 following an outbreak.

Sedbergh School (@SedberghSchool)

Please see the latest announcement made today, Friday 20 November 2020, by Sedbergh School Headmaster, Mr Dan Harrison.

November 20, 2020

The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States was on track to surpass 12 million on Saturday, just days ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday that health experts have warned could fuel the surging spread of infection around the country.

The milestone marks a worsening of the country’s Covid-19 epidemic, which has claimed a quarter of a million lives across America, more than in any other nation.

Reuters data shows the pace of new infections in the United States has quickened, with nearly one million more cases recorded in just the last six days since the country recorded 11 million.

Updated at 12.44pm EST

Turkey on Saturday reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus patients since the outbreak started.

Figures from the health ministry showed that 5,532 people had been diagnosed with Covid-19 symptoms in the previous 24 hours.

Since July, Ankara has only reported symptomatic cases of coronavirus, a move that critics say hides the true scale of the outbreak.

The daily death toll from the coronavirus was 135, bringing the cumulative total to 12,219.

To battle a surge in cases, Turkey this week introduced partial weekend curfews and limited the opening hours of restaurants, cafes and shopping malls.

Updated at 12.40pm EST

Labour has warned the government not to let England return to the “shambles” seen before the current national lockdown.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said there were 11 days until the lockdown was due to lift on 2 December and no word from ministers on what was going to follow.

She called for clarity about what economic support measures will accompany different types of restrictions after the lockdown ends.

Speaking to the Co-operative party’s local government conference, Dodds said:

It’s extraordinary that the lockdown is due to lift in just 11 days, and we still haven’t heard a peep from government as to what comes next. We need clarity about what economic support package will go alongside different types of restrictions. We can’t go back to the shambles we had before this lockdown.

Updated at 12.28pm EST

Policeman wearing protective mask checks outside the Torino Esposizioni Temporary Hospital in Turin, Italy.
Policeman wearing protective mask checks outside the Torino Esposizioni Temporary Hospital in Turin, Italy. Photograph: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Italy registered 34,767 new coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours on Saturday, slightly down from 37,242 the day before.

The health ministry also reported 692 Covid-19-related deaths after 699 on Friday.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy’s financial capital Milan, remained the hardest-hit area, as it registered 8,853 new cases.

Updated at 11.38am EST

341 further Covid-linked deaths registered in the UK

In the UK, 341 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, official figures show. The total official death toll is now 54,626.

There were 19,875 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday – a drop from Friday’s data which showed a daily rise in cases of 20,252 cases and 511 deaths.

See the official release here.

Updated at 12.16pm EST

Police have made 15 arrests following an anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool, which saw crowds gathering in the city centre from about 1pm on Saturday.

Those arrested were held on suspicion of breaches of coronavirus regulations and committing public order offences, said Merseyside police.

Chief Superintendent Ngaire Waine said:

We have seen infection rates driven down in Merseyside thanks to the commitment of so many people, and already more than 140,000 have taken part in a mass testing pilot here in Merseyside to help the national effort to protect life and get back to normality. They are a credit to this county. So it will be incredibly frustrating for all those people to see that a minority of selfish individuals chose to flout laws brought in to protect the lives of people, putting our communities and themselves at risk.

Updated at 12.29pm EST

Hello everyone, my name is Yohannes Lowe. I’ll be running the live blog for the rest of the evening. Please feel free to get in touch on Twitter if you have any news tips or coverage suggestions.

People wear protective face masks as they walk at Alexanderplatz shopping area in Berlin, Germany.
People wear protective face masks as they walk at Alexanderplatz shopping area in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Hundreds of mink farmers and breeders have paraded their tractors through Copenhagen in protest against a decision by Denmark’s government to cull the nation’s entire mink herd to halt the spread of a mutant strain of coronavirus.

More than 500 tractors, many decked out with the Danish flag, drove past the government’s offices and parliament to the port, reports AFP, the French state-backed news agency. Another 400 staged a similar protest in the country’s second city, Aarhus.

Mette Frederiksen’s government has acknowledged that its decision to cull more than 15 million minks had no legal basis for those not contaminated by the Covid-19 variant, infuriating breeders.

Mink farmers drive their tractors through Copenhagen in protest at plans to cull 15m mink,
Mink farmers drive their tractors through Copenhagen in protest at plans to cull 15m mink, Photograph: NiILS MEILVANG/EPA

Denmark, a country of around 5.8 million people, has been the world’s leading exporter of mink fur for several decades. It sells pelts for around 670m euros ($792m) annually, and is the second-biggest producer worldwide, behind China.

The mutated version of the new coronavirus detected in Danish minks that raised concerns about the effectiveness of a future vaccine has likely been eradicated, the health ministry said Thursday.

“It is not fair what has happened to the breeders,” said Daniel, 19, a mink farm worker.

“The entire sector will now have to shut down,” he added.

Updated at 12.29pm EST

A further 316 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 38,112, NHS England said on Saturday.

Patients were aged between 28 and 102. All except five, aged between 64 and 96, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between 3 June and 20 November.

Twenty-two other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Helena Smith

Over in Greece officials are warning that lockdown restrictions are likely to continue beyond 30 November when the measures were initially meant to end, writes Helena Smith, the Guardian’s Athens correspondent.

Although transmissions have gradually begun “to stabilise,” infectious disease experts say the decline in infection rates has been slower than expected.

Speaking to Thema 104.6 FM radio today, leading epidemiologist Alkiviadis Vatopoulos who sits on the scientific committee that advises prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre right government, said: “The curve appears to be flattening, cases don’t seem to be increasing but this has happened very late in the lockdown to be honest. We were expecting it to occur earlier … the feeling is people haven’t taken [it] as seriously as they did [during the first lockdown] in March.”

It was vital that Greeks remained on guard, he added, insisting that infection rates could “get out of control at any moment” again.

Athenians exercising at night beneath the Acropolis.
Athenians exercising at night beneath the Acropolis. Photograph: Helena Smith/The Guardian

Greece has seen a surge in confirmed transmissions especially in and around Thessaloniki, the country’s northern metropolis where hospitals are at breaking point.

On Friday the National Organisation for Public Health announced a record 72 patients had died from Covid-19 raising the total number of fatalities to 1,419.

A further 2,581 people had been diagnosed with the virus bringing the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 87,812.

With the case load not being reduced adequately, government ministers are now saying next week will be critical in determining when, and if, curbs are lifted. Measures include a 9PM to 5 AM curfew, with citizens having to inform authorities of their movements via text before they venture outdoors. Exercise in groups of no more than three is allowed as is dog walking.

“The response to the measures hasn’t produced enough yet in terms of lessening of cases so it’s best to re-evaluate the data again when the time comes,” said minister of state Giorgos Gerapetritis adding the coming days would be critical.

Another minister contacted by the Guardian, echoing Gerapetritis, said the intention remained to open the country’s retail market ahead of Christmas “because commercially and economically December is such an important month” but emphasised that everything would depend on epidemiological data.

The US president, Donald Trump, said on Saturday that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, is doing “very well” in quarantine after being infected with coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.

“My son Donald is doing very well. Thank you!” Trump tweeted, following Friday’s disclosure that the 42-year-old Trump scion had become one of the nearly 12 million Americans infected by the virus.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

My son Donald is doing very well. Thank you!

November 21, 2020

Donald Trump Jr. learned of his positive test result earlier this week, has had no symptoms and was following all medically recommended guidelines for treating the illness, said a spokesperson, who was granted anonymity to discuss private medical information.

Police have imposed a dispersal zone in Liverpool, north west England, until midnight, as they attempt to clear the street of anti lockdown protesters.

According to the Liverpool Echo, about 200 protesters were marching through the streets of the city on Saturday afternoon, chanting “freedom” as they were shepherded by police.

Several arrests have been made, the Echo reports.

Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice)

DISPERSAL ZONE | We've introduced a Dispersal Zone in #Liverpool city centre from 11am-midnight today after a gathering last weekend breached coronavirus legislation. Officers will have a visible presence & deal with any unlawful gatherings. Read more 👇

November 21, 2020

In a statement on the Merseyside police website, chief supt Ngaire Waine said warned that anyone taking part in an unlawful gathering of more than two people could face arrest and prosecution or a fine.

Such gatherings in Liverpool in recent weeks have involved several hundred people showing a lack of social distancing with many not wearing face coverings, and last weekend we brought in a Section 34 dispersal zone to disperse an unlawful gathering that formed at the Bombed Out Church.

We arrested a number of people on suspicion of breaching the dispersal zone after they had returned to the area, and investigations are ongoing. If people continue to gather unlawfully, we will not hesitate to take the same course of action.

Several thousand worshippers and clergy have paid their respects to the head of the Serbian Orthodox church, Patriarch Irinej, in a Belgrade church after he died aged 90 after contracting coronavirus.

Irinej, who was born Miroslav Gavrilović, tested positive for Covid-19 on 4 November and died on Friday, prompting the Serbian government to declare three days of national mourning in the predominantly Orthodox Christian country.

Some maintained tradition by kissing the glass-covered casket containing the patriarch’s body, which was dressed in a gold-embroidered robe and an ornate crown.

Most, however, solemnly walked past it wearing protective masks as they paid their respects to Irinej, who was enthroned as the church’s 45th patriarch and spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs a decade ago, Reuters reported.

Mourners pay their respect over the casket of Serbia’s late Patriarch Irinej during his funeral service on Saturday.
Mourners pay their respect over the casket of Serbia’s late Patriarch Irinej during his funeral service on Saturday. Photograph: Vladimir Zivojinovic/Getty Images

Updated at 8.56am EST

Tens of thousands of people in Pakistan defied a government ban on large gatherings on Saturday to attend the funeral of a hardline cleric in Lahore, according to Reuters.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 54, died of a heart attack on Thursday, just days after leading a violent protest march to the capital, Islamabad, against the publication in France of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

With coronavirus infections rising, the government this month declared the country was experiencing a “second wave” of contagion and banned large events and meetings.

Official data released on Saturday showed 2,843 people had tested positive for the virus and 42 had died in the last 24 hours – both figures the highest for a single day since July.

Despite the coronavirus curbs, tens of thousands turned out to mourn Rizvi, and organisers of the funeral said the government had not told them to limit the gathering.

Government officials did not respond to a request for comment about the funeral, which wreaked havoc in Lahore as mobile phone services were shut down and major roads blocked for security reasons.

A local official, who asked not to be named, said he estimated that close to 200,000 people had attended the event. The gathering was so large that Rizvi’s coffin could not be carried through the crowd to the site set up for the ceremony, and had to be positioned on a nearby bridge for the prayers, said Reuters.

Rizvi, known for his fiery sermons, headed the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan party, which has pressured the government on a number of issues in recent years by denouncing alleged blasphemy and staging protests.

Earlier this month, the cleric led a march of thousands of protesters to Islamabad that blocked a main entry road for hours and saw demonstrators clash with police. (Writing and additional reporting by Gibran Peshimam. Editing by Helen Popper)

A mass coronavirus testing pilot scheme has been launched today in Wales.

Lisa Mytton, the deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil county borough council, said she believed the mass testing pilot was the best way to try to reduce the area’s high levels of coronavirus transmissions.

She told the PA news agency:

I just wonder what other way there would be to do it apart from this way?

I really am hopeful that it will get everybody out there so we can find and see those people who are asymptomatic, walking around unknowingly with coronavirus, so they can then self-isolate and we can reduce our transmission rate.

This will help in the end; people being able to see relatives, to get back to some sort of normality.

Obviously we didn’t want as many people having coronavirus in Merthyr Tydfil as the numbers have shown; that’s saddened us.

But I’m pleased we’ve been chosen to undertake this pilot because if it helps reduce the transmission rate in Merthyr Tydfil then that’s a good thing, definitely.

People use a test swab to take a lateral flow Covid test at Rhydycar leisure centre in Merthyr Tydfil.
People use a test swab to take a lateral-flow Covid test at Rhydycar leisure centre in Merthyr Tydfil. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Updated at 7.17am EST

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