When did the COVID-19 spread really begin?
The World Health Organization says COVID-19 was unknown before the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, in central China, in December. A few months later, the first official cases were detected in Europe.
However, scientists in Italy say they have found evidence the virus was circulating much sooner by checking blood samples of patients taking part in a cancer study.
COVID-19 rates falling in most areas of Wales
The figures, for the seven days to 12 November, are based on tests carried out in NHS Wales laboratories and those conducted on Welsh residents processed in commercial laboratories.
Rates have dropped in 19 out of the 22 local authorities, rising only in Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Torfaen.
The biggest drops were in Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent.
Merthyr Tydfil has the highest rate in Wales, with 205 new cases recorded in the seven days to November 12 – the equivalent of 339.8 cases per 100,000 people.
This is down from 590.1 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to November 5.
Blaenau Gwent has the second highest rate, which has fallen from 439.4 to 300.6, with 210 new cases.
Neath Port Talbot is in third place, where the rate has increased from 288.9 to 295.2, with 423 new cases.
‘A year or two of this uncertainty’
The mass testing pilot is continuing in Liverpool – over 110,000 tests have been done so far and 527 positive people who didn’t have symptoms identified.
Lorraine Kerwan was having her first test underneath the Kop at Anfield stadium and told Sky News: “We’ll be doing this for a while and I don’t have a big problem with it but it’s not going to sort it out overnight.
“I think we’ve got a year or two of this uncertainty and living with it.
“I’d take a vaccine if it means we can have our lives back.”
Donald Trump hails vaccine created ‘on my watch!’
Sir Keir Starmer on Moderna vaccine
The Labour leader says there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.
IOC chief “very confident” fans will be able to attend the Tokyo Olympics thanks to COVID-19 vaccine.
US President-elect Joe Biden praises Moderna vaccine developers
Cinema chain Everyman hires advisers to help with landlord talks
The Everyman cinema chain has become the latest industry player to bring in financial advisers as it assesses the impact of the coronavirus shutdown on its finances.
Sky News understands that Everyman Media Group, which has 35 sites, has appointed FTI Consulting to assist it in talks with landlords during the coming months.
It joins a list of major cinema operators – including Cineworld, Vue and Odeon – to draft in corporate finance experts to help weather the COVID-19 crisis.
Cancel’ – Sweden brings in tougher restrictions
Public gatherings will be limited to eight people, down from a previous upper limit of 300, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said.
“This is the new norm for the entire society,” Mr Lofven told a news conference. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel.”
Sweden has drawn international attention for its unorthodox response to the pandemic, shunning lockdowns and instead relying on voluntary measures.
Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but somewhat lower than some larger European countries such as Spain.
The latest tally on Tory MPs isolating after coming into contact with Lee Anderson
The politicians all attended a meeting at Number 10 on Thursday.
Lia Nici (Great Grimsby)
Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble)
Andy Carter (Warrington South)
Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw)
Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton)
Two of the prime minister’s political aides were also present and have been told to self-isolate.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman declined to name the aides but suggested they were not Lee Cain or Dominic Cummings.
Social distancing was “observed” at the meeting between MPs and Boris Johnson, Downing Street has insisted, despite all attendees now having to self-isolate.
Maria Miller (Basingstoke) is also self isolating after sitting next to Mr Anderson in Parliament on Wednesday.
Maria Miller is seventh Tory MP to be told to isolate
The MP for Basingstoke was sat next to Lee Anderson – the MP who has tested positive – in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
She said: “On Sunday evening I got a text from NHS Test and Trace to say that I had been in contact with someone who had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, therefore I am self-isolating as instructed by the NHS.
“It is crucial that everyone follows the guidance to play their part in helping to stop the spread of this virus.”
“Both I and my Parliamentary team continue to work remotely to ensure constituents are able to get the support that they need during this pandemic.”
The government is looking again at its ability to put the Moderna vaccine into the UK stockpile
Analysis by Thomas Moore, science correspondent
There are seven billion people across the planet who would need vaccination. That means manufacturers are likely to need huge numbers of factories to churn out the required doses.
In the UK the government has secured six different vaccines, 350 million doses in all – the idea being to spread your bets in the hope of securing at least one successful vaccine.
There was no guarantee that any of the vaccines were actually going to produce a good response. That’s the reason the government went with AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
There was a good result with Pfizer last week and we are expecting AstraZeneca to come back any day now with their results.
All the vaccines that have reported so far are in the same ballpark around 90% to 94% effectiveness, so things are already much better than scientists had hoped for.
The Moderna vaccine is much easier to distribute than the Pfizer jab which has huge problems.
Not only does the Pfizer jab have to be kept very cold, but it has to be mixed with another liquid before it can be given.
It’s not a simple pull out of the package and inject it into the arm that GPs would be used to, so there are considerable advantages for going with another vaccine.
The problem is Moderna is not a part of the UK stockpile. My understanding is there were concerns about the European supply chain.
That is now being addressed and that is why the government is looking again at its ability to put this vaccine into the UK stockpile.
Stock market reaction to the Moderna news
Stock markets – already buoyed by last week’s Pfizer vaccine announcement – raced higher again on the update from Moderna.
The FTSE 100 rose by nearly 2%, or more than 100 points, while there were similar gains for France’s Cac 40 and Italy’s MIB.
Markets have been recovering in recent weeks from an October dip caused by fears over the impact of a second wave of coronavirus infections and further lockdowns.
Another Tory MP told to isolate
Jacob Young, MP for Redcar and Cleveland, posted this on his Facebook page.
It is not clear if this is related to the Lee Anderson case.
Will the UK get doses of the Moderna vaccine?
A government spokesman said: “The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective COVID19 vaccine.
“As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
“Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.
“To date, the UK government has secured early access to 350 million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers. This includes 40m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which is based on the same platform as Moderna’s vaccine and if approved by the medicines regulator, is expected to begin delivery as early as December 2020.”
Why being stuck in quarantine has come at the worst possible time for Boris Johnson
Analysis by Joe Pike, political correspondent
In the week the Prime Minister was planning to take charge of the news agenda, announce his policy vision for a post-pandemic, post-Brexit and post-Cummings Britain, he’s been locked down.
All of this comes at the high-pressure point in Brexit trade negotiations when – according to Ireland’s foreign minister – a ‘major breakthrough’ is needed.
Policy-launches and face-to-face meetings with EU officials are now out of bounds for the next 10 days. The PM is stuck in the flat above Number 11 Downing Street that he shares with his fiancé Carrie Symonds and youngest son Wilfred.
In a video message recorded last night and tweeted this morning, the PM appears energetic and positive, perhaps the most upbeat we have seen him in weeks.
His core message seems that the rules apply to everybody: in clear contrast to the individual interpretations of Dominic Cummings.
Just because he is the Prime Minister, just because he has already had COVID-19 and just because he claims to be ‘as fit as a butcher’s dog’, does not mean he is exempt. He is setting an example at a time government officials are privately concerned about compliance.
Boris Johnson claims he was social-distancing in the 35-minute meeting with backbench MPs last Thursday, but photos of the event appear to show attendees far closer than 2m. If he had kept his distance, surely he wouldn’t be forced into quarantine.
No 10 claim theirs is a COVID-secure workplace, but some who work there insist it isn’t. The fact the most powerful man in the country isn’t better protected from these eventualities suggests a review may be necessary.
Nicola Sturgeon’s COVID-19 update
The First Minister says there were 717 positive cases in last 24 hours.
There are 1,227 people in hospital – 98 in ICU.
Six deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.
She is also giving an update on care home visits and says plans are being finalised on how routine visits by regular visitors can be made safe.
The government is funding iPads so residents can stay in touch with family and friends and also receive medical advice virtually.
Three more testing hubs are being opened to increase the capacity to 22,000 a day.
Ms Sturgeon says they are looking at why some areas (Lanarkshire and Glasgow) have a “stubbornly high” number of cases and whether an easing of restrictions can happen.
A decision will be made tomorrow on whether it should be raised to Level 4.
US vaccine trial shown to be 94.5% effective
The Moderna trial involved more than 30,000 participants and is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
It was shown to be safe and well tolerated.
The vaccine has also been shown to last for up to 30 days in household fridges and at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
It also remains stable at -20C, equal to most household or medical freezers, for up to six months.
Moderna intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks.
This vaccine is similar to Pfizer’s as it’s also an mRNA vaccine but it isn’t one the UK has bought in its stockpile.
But scientists said the news bodes well for other Covid-19 vaccines, with the one for Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca due to report in the coming days or weeks.
Defence secretary on PM and Liverpool testing pilot
Ben Wallace said he did not think the Prime Minister would be “in any way hampered” by his isolation.
On a visit to a coronavirus testing site in Liverpool, Mr Wallace was asked whether MPs needed to think more about social distancing following the news Mr Johnson would have to isolate following a meeting with Ashfield MP Lee Anderson.
He told the PA news agency: “Of course we’ve all got to be minded about proximity to each other and what it means and then we’ve got to follow the rules like everyone else.
“The Prime Minister is self-isolating. I’m sure he’s incredibly frustrated, I’m sure lots of other people are, but that’s the rules.”
He said the Army will continue assisting with a mass coronavirus testing pilot in Liverpool “as long as it is needed”.
He said the roll out had been a success but that more communities still needed to be reached.
Mr Wallace said the Army could be involved in transporting the vaccine when it is ready but that it will be NHS workers administering it.
“If necessary the armed forces and RAF will be involved in bringing vaccines to the country,” he said.
Cocker spaniel Ralph saved after eating a face mask
One-year-old Ralph underwent emergency surgery at Huyton PDSA in Liverpool to remove the fabric which had blocked his intestines.
Owner Julie Veidman said: “We think he must’ve stolen it from my daughter’s bag in the night. He always had a liking for socks and sometimes knickers too, so we always keep things like that well away from him. We never thought he’d actually eat a facemask.
“PDSA were amazing, they were so quick to respond and so caring – they have literally saved his life.”
Julie first began to notice something was wrong when her dog couldn’t keep water down and refused his favourite treat.
Julie turned to PDSA as she had to stop her work as a sale assistant earlier this year, after struggling with abuse from customers during lockdown.
Pandemic hero-turned cover star!
Captain Sir Tom Moore has notched up a new accolade – becoming the oldest cover star for British GQ magazine.
The 100-year-old appears on the front of the title usually graced by Hollywood A-Listers and music stars.
The Second World War veteran responded to being on the cover: “Well, that’s something special, isn’t it?” before quipping: “And maybe next year, I’ll be the oldest again!”
And he said of his attitude to life: “Negative thoughts don’t seem to be part of me. I always think of the beneficial things.”
He also spoke about raising more than £32 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.
The walking “was something I brought on myself”, he said, but “that blossomed into something absolutely outstanding.
“When I started walking, I never envisioned that sort of money would appear.
“But I thank the whole family, and my daughter Hannah in particular, as without her this would never have blossomed as it did,” he told the magazine.
More Number 10 meeting attendees told to self isolate
Katherine Fletcher, MP for South Ribble, confirms on Facebook that she has also been told to isolate.
The tally so far is:
Four Tory MPs – Lia Nici, Andy Carter, Brendan Clarke-Smith and Katherine Fletcher
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Lee Anderson – the MP who tested positive
Care home visits for Christmas
All care homes will be able to allow visits before Christmas, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged, amid criticism of delays in introducing visitor testing.
Mr Hancock said rapid tests for visitors – currently being trialled in Devon and Cornwall – should allow rollout across England within weeks.
In a round of morning broadcast interviews, Mr Hancock stressed the final decision whether to allow visits rested with individual care homes and local councils, but said: “I hope to have that in place for all care homes by Christmas.”
Mr Hancock, who is due to host a Downing Street press conference later, said it was “too early” to determine whether the lockdown measures in England would end after 2 December.
Asked whether the lockdown would simply be “rebadged” after the deadline, he said: “You tempt me, but it is too early to say I’m afraid.
“We’ve seen in the last week that there is still a very high number of cases but we do absolutely want to come out of this national lockdown.
“That is our goal, everybody has a part to play in making that happen of course, following the social distancing rules and isolating when you need to, which is the critical thing.”
MP for Bassetlaw Brendan Clarke-Smith saw some humour in his situation
MP for Great Grimsby also isolating
Lia Nici follows Andy Carter and Boris Johnson in being told by NHS Test and Trace to self isolate.
Another MP self isolates
Conservative MP for Warrington South Andy Carter was also in contact with Lee Anderson last week.
Gaming has been something many people have turned to during the pandemic.
Now a team at Oxford University has found that playing video games could make people feel more positive.
Cluster of cases in Adelaide in Australia
Adelaide recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and today, prompting the closure of two schools and a fast-food restaurant and other states and territories to impose new travel restrictions.
Health authorities say they believe a worker at a hotel where people arriving from abroad are being quarantined caught the virus and then infected other family members. Australia’s cricket series against India has now been cast into uncertainty.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will host a No 10 press conference on the coronavirus outbreak, Downing Street has said.
Boris Johnson had been expected to lead the event before he was required to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Conservative MP who tested positive for the disease.
Belgium authorities accused of abandoning nursing home residents
Amnesty International has said authorities in Belgium “abandoned” thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic following an investigation that described the situation as involving “human rights violations”.
One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium has reported more than 531,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 14,400 deaths linked to the outbreak.
During the first wave of the pandemic in spring, the nation of 11.5 million people recorded a majority of its virus-related deaths in nursing homes.
Between March and October, Amnesty International said “a staggering” 61.3% of all Covid-19 deaths in Belgium took place in nursing homes. The group said authorities were not quick enough in implementing measures to protect nursing home residents and staff during this period, failing to protect their human rights.
Amnesty International said one of the reasons so many people died in homes is because infected residents were not transferred to hospitals to receive treatment.
Help for nightclubs
Nightclubs have been closed for eight months and nightcub owner Asher Grant tells Kay Burley the industry feels it has been completely forgotten with no aid or packages.
Mr Grant said the industry is “on its knees” and on the “brink of collapse”.
He said there is a huge disconnect between what MPs think nightclubs are and the reality. He says many views are outdated.
“The sad truth 80-90% of nightclubs, if we don’t get some sort of financial package, won’t come back in 2021.”
He says many clubs can’t wait for the vaccine – it’s not realistic to think businesses can close for a year and come back or adapt without help.
No masks and not 2m apart
Baptism service at church halted for breaking lockdown
About 30 people had gathered at The Angel Church in Clerkenwell, north London, on Sunday in defiance of the national coronavirus restrictions.
Officers stood at the entrance of the evangelical church to stop people from entering, while two police vans and a police car were parked outside.
Lead pastor Regan King, 28, said he believed he “served a greater good” by holding the service.
“We were told not to have a baptism and police began to block people from entering the church, so we decided to make other arrangements,” he said.
US cases rise by one million in just six days
Michigan has joined Washington and several other states in announcing renewed efforts to combat the coronavirus as more than 11 million cases of Covid-19 have now been reported in the United States.
As of Sunday, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker has reached 11 million after topping 10 million cases on November 9 – with the most recent million coming in just six days.
It took 300 days for the US to hit the 11 million mark since the first case was diagnosed in Washington state on January 20.
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organised sports – including the football playoffs – in an attempt to curb the state’s spiking case numbers.
How is the Liverpool testing pilot going?
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson says three weeks ago the rate was 680/100,000 and it’s now around 284/100,000.
He says the mass testing pilot does seem to be working after the first two weeks. He says 400 people have been found with the virus.
He says the testing is giving them an opportunity to “break the chain” but is not a panacea by any means.
He says they wanted to participate because they’d like Liverpool to be into Tier 2 by Christmas. The city was in Tier 3 before the 5 November lockdown began.
Mr Anderson is critical of the people demonstrating about the lockdown at the weekend.
Janssen vaccine trial
Pharmaceutical company Janssen is beginning clinical trials in the UK of a potential vaccine, with 6,000 people taking part.
Dr Katrina Cathie, principle investigator for the Janssen trial, tells Sky News it is likely we will need a “suite” of vaccines to help beat the virus.
She said she has no idea when life may return to normal but encouraged people to volunteer for the trials.