UK coronavirus news live: Latest updates as Hancock says second national lockdown possible


The UK’s shortage of diagnostic kits is set to last weeks

A second national coronavirus lockdown is possible, Matt Hancock has warned.

The health secretary said hospital cases were doubling every eight days amid an alarming surge in infections. The government considered country-wide restrictions on movement “the last line of defence”, he said.

Meanwhile, demand for tests in England is outstripping supply by up to four times, NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding has warned.

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90-minute Covid test is accurate, scientists say

A new coronavirus test developed in the UK which produces “highly accurate” results in just 90 minutes has been hailed by scientists as a potential gamechanger in controlling the pandemic.

The high-speed tests, which do not require a laboratory and are performed using cartridges smaller than a mobile phone, were used on NHS staff and patients as part of a study led by scientists from Imperial College London.  

The “CovidNudge” rapid-testing device was shown to have a sensitivity above 94 per cent and specificity of 100 per cent – which means it produces very few false negatives and no false positives.

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:46

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Seoul city government sues Christian church over virus spread

The city government in Seoul plans to seek the equivalent of £3m in damages from a Christian megachurch whose members spread coronavirus and refused to get tested.

A fresh wave of infections erupted at Sarang Jeil Church after congregants attended a large protest in the South Korean capital in mid-August, becoming the country’s largest cluster in that region.

The outbreak has driven triple-digit increases in daily Covid-19 cases for more than a month.

The Seoul city government said it will file a lawsuit against Sarang Jeil Church and its leader, Jun Kwang-hoon, accusing them of disrupting coronavirus tests and providing inaccurate lists of its members which it said aggravated the latest epidemic.

“The city is seeking to hold the church and the pastor responsible for contributing to the nationwide re-spread of Covid-19 by refusing and hindering epidemiological surveys or aiding and abetting such acts, as well as submitting false materials,” it said in a statement.

Calls to the church by Reuters, seeking comment, went unanswered. Rev Jun, a harsh critic of the government, was jailed early this month for attending the 15 August rally.

The National Health Insurance Service has also said it will sue the church for indemnity, worth a further £3.6m.

You can read our original report about the church below:

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:32

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Hancock warns of possible national lockdown

Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley whether England is facing a full, two-week lockdown in October, Matt Hancock said the country needed to “come together to tackle this virus”.

He added: “The virus is clearly accelerating across the country. We’ve got to take the necessary action to keep people safe. The number of people in hospital is doubling every eight days or so. We will do what it takes to keep people safe.

“We’re absolutely prepared to take action if that’s necessary.”

Pressed by Ms Burley, Mr Hancock said: “Well, we’ll do what is necessary to keep people safe, and the first line of defence is that everybody should follow the social distancing.

“The contact-tracing system, which is working very well, that is the second line of defence.

“After that, we have local lockdowns. And the last line of defence is full national action. I don’t want to see that, but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic.”

On that Test and Trace claim, you can read our latest story on the figures below:

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:40

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Global infections pass 30 million

The number of positive coronavirus cases worldwide has now surpassed 30 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Health experts and scientists have been warning that a second wave is knocking at the doors of countries that have relaxed lockdown restrictions to get economies moving once again.

The World Health Organisation’s European chief, Dr Hans Kluge, warned on Thursday that Europe was facing a “very serious situation” as the number of weekly cases topped 300,000 last week, higher than during the first peak in March.

You can read more about the data in our Coronavirus Tracked story below:

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:16

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India cases leap by nearly 100,000 in a day – again

India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down, taking the total to more than 5.21 million.

Some 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, for a total of 84,372.

India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have caught Covid-19, the most in the world.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance on Thursday.

Mr Modi’s government is developing plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:10

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Demand for tests ‘outstripping supply by four times’

Demand for coronavirus tests is three to four times the number available, the director of NHS test and trace has admitted.

Baroness Dido Harding, who told MPs there was capacity to carry out 242,817 tests a day, said the “sizeable” rise in demand had been unexpected.

Boris Johnson has pledged to raise capacity to 500,000 by next month – but Baroness Harding’s estimates suggest that even that figure would not be enough to satisfy demand.

Jon Sharman18 September 2020 07:04