Is a second lockdown coming?

A visitor arrives at a testing centre offering walk-in appointments in north London - Dominic Lipinski/ PA
A visitor arrives at a testing centre offering walk-in appointments in north London – Dominic Lipinski/ PA

Second lockdown fears as cases surge by 167 per cent

Coronavirus cases are rising. There has been an 167pc increase in the number of new people testing positive for Covid-19 in England, the National Health Service’s test and trace scheme said today. The scheme said positive cases have been rising since the start of July and are now double the number recorded when Test and Trace launched in May. As a result Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced local restrictions for the North East of England, meaning people living there will not be allowed to socialise with other people outside of their household or support bubble from tomorrow. Here is a guide to the restrictions. Over in North Yorkshire, a major incident has been declared by officials following “a surge” in coronavirus cases in the past fortnight. Amid all this, overnight a former WHO director claimed on Twitter that England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, wants a two-week national lockdown, before retracting the statement at 8am this morning. So is the UK heading for a second lockdown? This piece looks at the science. And click here to search the areas at risk of the next local lockdowns.

One thing that does not appear to be helping is the Test and Trace system. The number of people getting results of Covid tests within 24 hours has halved in just one week, with only one in three receiving them in this time. The head of the system, Dido Harding, admitted to the Science and Technology committee that “it’s clear from today that demand is significantly outstripping the capacity we have”. She also said around a quarter of those coming forward for a test did not have symptoms. You can follow a blow-by-blow account of her appearance. Yet despite the worries about testing and cases rising, Ross Clark argues a second lockdown is an overreaction to what is a ripple, not a wave.

Europe will block trade deal if Brexit bill not ‘rectified’

The European Parliament will block a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU if Boris Johnson does not “rectify” the Internal Market Bill further, Guy Verhofstadt has said. Mr Johnson’s compromise with his backbenchers – whereby MPs will be granted a vote before a minister can use powers which override international law if the EU undermines the “fundamental purpose” of the Northern Ireland Protocol – has gone through on a new policy paper published today. But the Prime Minister’s “climbdown” has no bearing on the bill’s breach of international law, the outspoken MEP and chair of the now-defunct Brexit Steering Group said. With less than a month until Mr Johnson’s deadline for trade talks to conclude, read the five stocks that will benefit if there is a no-deal Brexit.

‘Globally significant’ lithium discovery in Cornwall

The beautiful landscape of Cornwall was once known for its mining industry but the last tin mine closed in 1998. Yet the sector may become a large employer in the county once again after a lithium explorer said it has found “globally significant” grades of the metal underground. The discovery by Cornish Lithium raises hopes it could meet a large amount of the UK’s demand for the battery material. It is a key ingredient in electric car batteries but China, Australia and Chile dominate supply, triggering efforts to develop supply chains closer to home. Read why Cornish Lithium bosses “almost couldn’t believe” testing results.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Novichok found on water bottle | The nerve agent used to poison Alexei Navalny was found on a water bottle in his hotel room shortly after the Russian opposition leader fell ill on a plane back to Moscow, his associates have revealed. Mr Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, spent weeks on a ventilator in a medically induced coma after falling suddenly ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow last month. Click here to watch a video showing his team finding the bottle.

Around the world: Trump accused of sexual assault

A former model has accused Donald Trump of sexual assault in an encounter that left her feeling “sick” and “violated” more than two decades ago. Amy Dorris alleges that the US president accosted her during the US Open tournament in New York on 5 September 1997. Ms Dorris, who was 24 at the time, said that Mr Trump assaulted her all over her body and forced his tongue down her throat, a claim he denies. The allegations come as the President slapped down the head of the US’s health protection agency, saying he was “confused” and “wrong” for claiming a coronavirus vaccine was unlikely to be widely available before the middle of next year. Read on for details.

Thursday interview

‘An eye operation totally blinded me for months’


Lynda La Plante - Gemma Day
Lynda La Plante – Gemma Day

Lynda La Plante’s career has been anything but conventional – just like her decision to adopt at the age of 59. The bestselling crime author tells Lina Das about health scares, set dramas – and raising a teenager at 77.

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. The future of the railway | Are we on track for a Beeching part 2?

  2. Meaningful work | ‘I left a seven-figure salary in my 30s to become a cabinet maker’

  3. Tranquil spot | The empty Greek island you should visit right now

Business and money briefing

Staff bonus axed | John Lewis Partnership is to axe its famous staff bonus for the first time in more than 60 years after slumping to a loss for the first half of the year. Dame Sharon White, boss of the employee-owned retailer, warned it was on course to make “a small loss or a small profit for the year” after coronavirus ravaged sales at its department store chain. Online now accounts for almost two thirds of sales. Details here.

Sport briefing

Thiago Alcantara | Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara has removed one of the persistent questions put to Jurgen Klopp over the last 12 months: “How do you evolve a Champions League winning midfield?” Chris Bascombe reveals what the player will add after his move for an initial £20m. Meanwhile, Jason Burt analyses how the one who got away from Man Utd is now facing a new challenge at Liverpool.

Tonight’s TV  

Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, Sky Arts/NOW TV, 9pm | This pleasing 90 minutes with AC/DC’s Brian Johnson celebrates 25 years of the Foo Fighters with the band’s frontman Dave Grohl. Read on for more.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

Hollywood hero or terrorist? | Paul Rusesabinga was once played by Don Cheadle as a big-screen hero. But as MPs and diplomats explain, the truth in Rwanda is murky. Colin Freeman unravels the mysterious manager of Rwanda’s Hotel des Milles Collines.

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