Tesco, Morrisons and Aldi bring back food rationing

Tesco has urged customers not to panic buy warning it “creates a tension in the supply chain”. - AFP
Tesco has urged customers not to panic buy warning it “creates a tension in the supply chain”. – AFP

Tesco, Morrisons and Aldi have reintroduced food rationing as fears of a second wave of coronavirus rise among shoppers. 

Tesco has today placed limits on toilet roll, with some customers saying there is a limit of just one pack per customer.

Morrisons has confirmed it is rationing selected items, and has introduced buying limits on some of its most popular essentials. Purchases will be restricted to three items per customer on a small number of products including toilet toll and disinfectant, as the country records a high number of new coronavirus cases.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said panic buying was “unnecessary” and added that it only “creates a tension in the supply chain”.  

A Morrisons spokesman told ITV news that although there is plenty of stock available, it has already implemented buying limits.

Meanwhile, Aldi has also set buying restrictions on certain things. One customer noticed a sign at a store entrance in south-east London forbidding shoppers from bulk-buying essential items. 

Shoppers at a Waitrose in west London also found that they were limiting the amount of certain items you could buy at any one time.

Follow the latest updates below.

09:30 AM

Japanese researchers trial early warning test for acute Covid-19 cases

Researchers in Japan have developed a blood test they say appears to serve as an early warning system for serious cases of Covid-19, and deployed 500 prototype machines to trial its effectiveness nationwide.

Scientists from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine initially tested for five compounds in the blood of 28 patients, finding that low readings of the serum CCL17 were predictive of serious coronavirus infections.

The results suggested that early tests for the serum could help determine which patients will need hospitalization, they said in a paper published this month.

“If CCL17 is lower than 100 picograms per milliliter, then we ask them to be hospitalized, but if it’s over 400, the patients can stay in a hotel or their house and check in every three days,” lead researcher Masaya Sugiyama told Reuters on Friday.

More data was needed to confirm the results of the small study, Sugiyama said, but since the 28-patient trial the group has worked with a Japanese company to develop a prototype testing machines for the serum.

09:19 AM

Marseille bars protest against coronavirus shutdown

Hundreds of restaurant owners and bar staff protested outside Marseille’s commercial court against a government order to shut from Saturday to curb the surge in new coronavirus cases in France’s second biggest city.

The government ordered bars and restaurants in the city to close for two weeks after placing the city on the maximum alert level for the spread of the virus.

But Marseille residents and local officials say the move is disproportionate to the risks and will devastate the local economy.

Angry restaurant and bar owners demonstrate, one with a placard reading "Save cafes and restaurants" in Marseille, southern Franc - AP
Angry restaurant and bar owners demonstrate, one with a placard reading “Save cafes and restaurants” in Marseille, southern Franc – AP

“We’re in complete despair. When they shut us down, they humiliate us,” said restaurateur Bernard Marty.

“This doesn’t just penalise the restaurateur behind the till. It’s an entire sector plunged into crisis: suppliers, event organisers, discotheques. Do they expect us to die in silence?”

08:50 AM

Covid-19 sniffer dogs screen passengers at airport

A team of Covid-19 sniffer dogs has begun work at Helsinki airport, to screen passengers for infection.

Volunteers are training a team of 15 dogs and 10 instructors for the trial at part of a trial at Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

Trainer Susanna Paavilainen is seen with sniffer dogs Kossi (L) and Miina (R), detecting Covid-19 from the arriving passengers' samples - REUTERS
Trainer Susanna Paavilainen is seen with sniffer dogs Kossi (L) and Miina (R), detecting Covid-19 from the arriving passengers’ samples – REUTERS

The dogs can detect the coronavirus five days before humans develop symptoms, researchers say, and detect close to 100 per cent of cases.

Passengers wipe their neck with a cloth that is then placed before a detector dog. While the trial is still ongoing, passengers are also being given a swab test to confirm any results

08:45 AM

Rio de Janeiro carnival postponed over coronavirus pandemic

Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous carnival parades became the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic as officials announced they were indefinitely postponing the February 2021 edition.

Rio’s carnival, the world’s biggest, is an epidemiologist’s nightmare in a pandemic: an extended festival of tightly packed crowds dancing through the streets and flocking to the city’s iconic “Sambadrome” for massive parades featuring scantily clad dancers, small armies of drummers and all-night partying at close quarters.

A samba performance at the Rio's Carnival parade in February 2020 - AFP
A samba performance at the Rio’s Carnival parade in February 2020 – AFP

Meeting to assess the situation, “we came to the conclusion that the event had to be postponed,” said Jorge Castanheira, the president of the group that organizes the annual parades, the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro (LIESA).

“It’s not a cancellation, it’s a postponement. We are looking for an alternative solution, something we can do when it’s safe to contribute to the city…. But we aren’t certain enough to set a date.”

08:38 AM

USA: New York governor Cuomo demands independent vaccine review

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process.

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York state at the St. Nicolas National Shrine - Reuters
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York state at the St. Nicolas National Shrine – Reuters

Mr Cuomo, a Democrat who has repeatedly criticised President Donald Trump and his Republican administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters at a briefing he was going to form a review committee to advise the state on the safety of a vaccine.

“Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Mr Cuomo said. “New York state will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe.” 

“The way the federal government has handled the vaccine, there are now serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” he added.  

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. On Wednesday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told a U.S. Senate committee that the agency would only approve a vaccine that was safe and effective.

08:32 AM

China’s annual production capacity of Covid-19 vaccine expected to reach 610 mln doses by Christmas

China’s annual production capacity of Covid-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of 2020, the country’s National Health Commission said today.

Production capacity of the vaccines is forecast to reach 1 billion doses per year by 2021, Zheng Zhongwei,Director General of the Development Centre for Medical Science and Technology of the commission, told a news briefing. 

Sinovac Biotech CEO Yin Weidong speaking to journalists at an event where the company is producing their potential Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac - Getty Images
Sinovac Biotech CEO Yin Weidong speaking to journalists at an event where the company is producing their potential Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac – Getty Images

 

Read here: When will a Covid-19 vaccine be ready in the UK? Latest updates from around the world 

08:23 AM

Former prime minister Gordon Brown believes range of measures needed to help job market.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown believes that a range of measures are needed to help the job market.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Unemployment is not inevitable, it is the decisions that we make to do something about it.

“Let’s listen to what people are saying about what jobs could be created, companies that are struggling that perhaps need more loans to keep going – perhaps we should convert that into equity taken by regional growth funds – and at the same time we have to get these young people into work.”

Mr Brown also told the programme: “Of course, if it is a one-in-a-century event, you have got to say: ‘We have got to take action now to prevent worse damage later’.”

08:19 AM

Chief executive of Next says many traditional retail jobs may become unviable after shift to online shopping during pandemic.

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, said a lot of traditional retail jobs may become unviable after a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the job support scheme (JSS) will help – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

It was put to Lord Wolfson that the permanent-looking shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.

In the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

“I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.

08:13 AM

Russia’s new Covid-19 cases hit highest since June 23

Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit its highest level since June 23 on Friday as officials reported 7,212 infections across the country, bringing the national tally to 1,136,048.

In the capital Moscow, the tally of new cases rose almost 50% overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 the previous day.

Authorities said 108 people had died across Russia, pushing the official coronavirus death toll to 20,056. 

07:42 AM

National debt at record high

Some eyewatering figures have been announced this morning.

The UK’s national debt hit a new record at the end of August, the latest figures show as the country’s embattled public sector borrowed another £35.9 billion.

Debt hit £2,023.9 billion, just weeks after passing £2 trillion for the first time ever in July.

It comes as both central and local Government is investing billions of pounds in trying to help people and the economy through the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It means that borrowing is now equivalent to 101.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the combined value of all goods and services produced in the UK each year.

In July borrowing rose higher than GDP for the first time since the early 1960s.

Rishi Sunak - Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS
Rishi Sunak – Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) casts some light on the huge costs involved in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most countries borrow money even in good times, for instance, last year in August the country borrowed £5.4 billion, but the scale of borrowing is different right now.

In August, the public sector borrowed more in a single month than at any time since 1993, when monthly records began.

07:32 AM

Government prioritising saving ‘viable’ jobs

Chief secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay has defended the new jobs protection scheme as a “targeted” approach to get people back to work while the unemployed can be retrained.

Asked what a viable job is, he told BBC Breakfast: “One where the employer is able to bring someone back to work.

“That really reflects a change in focus from the initial first phase where through the furlough we protected a peak of 8.9 million jobs … to the next phase where we recognise we will be living with this virus for a longer period of time than initially thought and therefore we need to take more targeted measures rather than for people being home for a very long period of time, to start to bringing people back into the labour market where we can and, where that’s not possible, then focus very much on the skills the training and how we get them into other jobs.”

Mr Barclay denied the new jobs protection scheme would not give enough of an incentive to employers to keep workers on, with suggestions it is cheaper to bring back one furloughed employee than two on half-time.

He said: “What that doesn’t take on board, a spreadsheet interpretation, doesn’t reflect the fact that many employers value the flexibility of being able to tailor how much time employees are working as we go through the uncertainty of the winter months and they want to retain the skills and expertise of their labour market.”

 

07:20 AM

Government and universities must coordinate testing

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, is part of a team which devised a new testing programme for students and said universities are “particularly high risk settings” with potential for rapid spread of the virus.

Prof Ball said the university has had a pilot running with veterinary students who started back towards the end of July being tested weekly and told the Today programme they identified a single positive case in an asymptomatic person and three weeks on there have been no more cases identified.

Prof Ball said they were able to identify the case rapidly and “potentially stop an outbreak before it started”.

Students in Glasgow locked inside - James Chapelard
Students in Glasgow locked inside – James Chapelard

Asked if he thinks there is a case for more co-ordination, he said: “I think for some time most universities have recognised that this is a problem for a long time.

“I know that our university in particular have been trying to reach out to Government, for example, to try and work closely with pillar 2 testing, with track and trace, and to try and get a co-ordinated effort across universities working with health authorities, public health in particular, local NHS – those kinds of collaborations to try and increase our capacity to test and to be able to do community surveillance because that’s something that’s very low on the ground.

“If you think about these people aren’t going to have symptoms and yet potentially can spread, then if you’re missing those out of your testing strategy and regime then you’ve got a potential problem.”

06:51 AM

‘Traditional retail jobs may become unviable’

Lord Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retail giant Next, said a lot of traditional retail jobs may become unviable after a shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the job support scheme (JSS) will help – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

It was put to Lord Wolfson that the permanent-looking shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.

 Simon Wolfson - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Simon Wolfson – Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

In the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

“I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.

“We’re taking on people in our call centre. We’re training new recruits in our call centres, in our warehousing, our distribution networks are taking on new employees.”

06:42 AM

Steve Barclay on the tv and radio shows this mornng

And the Chief secretary to the Treasury is lauding his boss Rishi Sunak, and his post-furlough job plan.

He told Sky News: “We’ve been honest with the public that we will not be able to save, regretfully, every job.

“There’s a whole range of investment going into the economy in those sectors whilst we protect as many of those jobs that are viable, that people have been protected in initially through the furlough and now through the winter package.

“It is right that we also look at the cost to the wider economy, these measures come at a significant fiscal cost, and that’s why it’s right we target those jobs that are viable during what is going to be sadly a difficult winter.”

Steve Barclay - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Steve Barclay – Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 He also denied that Rishi Sunak’s message to “live without fear” was a suggestion people should ignore the coronavirus rules.

“Quite the opposite,” he said. 

“I think what’s very clear from the message the Chancellor said we need to address the health risks in order to protect jobs.

“It’s as a consequence of people following the health guidance, adhering to that, that’s also how we enable the economy to recover and we protect as many jobs as possible.

“This false choice that’s sometimes presented between the health needs and the economic needs is wrong. They both sit side by side and it’s through taking strong measures to address the virus that we can get the business confidence back into the economy.”

05:59 AM

Partygoers not put off by new rules

Would-be late-night drinkers in England have faced the first evening of new measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

All pubs, bars and restaurants had to shut by 10pm on Thursday evening to comply with new rules that were brought into force earlier this week.

But many people were not put off a midweek tipple or two by the new restrictions, with many pub-goers spotted in Soho, central London, while one video showed hundreds of people spilling out onto the streets after 10pm.

A small police presence was seen on the pedestrianised streets but no problems were reported.

The Metropolitan Police said Commissioner Cressida Dick was out on patrol in Shoreditch, a popular nighttime area, with local officers “who were engaging with members of the public, to remind them of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe to minimise the spread”.

The force said it would be stepping up its enforcement of Covid regulations in response to the changes and rising rates of infection in the capital.

“Londoners should expect to see police officers engaging with members of the public to remind them of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.

“Working with local authorities and other partners, the focus will be on public spaces with high footfall – where people are most likely to come into contact with each other and therefore the risk of transmission is increased.”

Wolverhampton Police posted a video on Twitter thanking the public for complying with the new regulations, saying all venues had shut at 10pm.

The mood was jubilant for some drinkers in Brighton, with revellers at one birthday celebration not put off by the curfew.

Along with the 10pm closing times, all hospitality venues must now offer table service only to try to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

05:28 AM

Pupils lose bursaries and parents fight for refunds as private schools close

Parents left thousands of pounds out of pocket are fighting for refunds as private schools shut their doors during the Covid pandemic.

Historic schools including Minster in York, which can trace its origins back to 627AD, have had to permanently close due to financial difficulties.

Andrew Hennie, 50 from Surrey, paid £1,996 for a summer term of teaching that was never delivered after his daughter’s school, HawleyHurst, went into administration in March. The Hampshire school counted the Duchess of York among its alumni and was co-owned by the millionaire founder of The Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit.

Read the full story

Read more: Students ‘treated like criminals’ after they are banned from Scottish pubs and family homes

04:53 AM

New cases in India stay below 90,000 for 5th day

India has reported another 86,052 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding daily infections this week.

The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.8 million on Friday. The ministry said 1,141 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 92,290.

The ministry said India’s recovery rate has crossed 81.55 per cent. This includes five worst-hit states – Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which account for more than 60 percent of the confirmed cases.

The new daily cases have remained below the 90,000 mark for five straight days after hitting a record number of 97,894 on Sept. 16.

Though there was a 12 per cent dip in testing for five days, it picked up again to 1.1 million on Thursday, the ministry said.

Daily wage laborers wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus carry fruit baskets at a wholesale market in Bengaluru, India - AP
Daily wage laborers wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus carry fruit baskets at a wholesale market in Bengaluru, India – AP

04:34 AM

South Korea to tighten restrictions during holiday weeks

South Korea on Friday said it would impose tighter restrictions during the Chuseok autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families, flagging the risks of new clusters of coronavirus infections.

The new curbs apply to at least 11 high-risk facilities in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, including nightclubs and bars.

Those restrictions are on top of the current so-called phase two social distancing, which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100, and bans spectators from sporting events.

The new measures will be in place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 11. Korea’s Hangul holiday, which memorialises when King Sejong introduced the language’s unique characters, is on Oct. 9.

“We are at an important crossroads that will decide whether we will be able to return to the phase one social distancing policy or revisit another Covid-19 outbreak,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a briefing.

A fumigator truck spray fumigation and disinfect a street in Seoul - KIM HEE-CHUL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A fumigator truck spray fumigation and disinfect a street in Seoul – KIM HEE-CHUL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

03:31 AM

Chinese company says vaccine ready by early 2021

A Chinese pharmaceutical company said on Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.

Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.

“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.”Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the US, EU and others,” Yin said.

Stringent regulations in the US, European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines. But Yin said that could change.

02:22 AM

US cases surpass 7 million

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million on Thursday – more than 20 per cent of the world’s total – as Midwest states reported spikes in infections in September, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, the world’s highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the US from Covid-19.

All Midwest states except Ohio reported more cases in the past four weeks as compared with the prior four weeks, led by South Dakota and North Dakota. South Dakota had the biggest percentage increase at 166 per cent with 8,129 new cases, while North Dakota’s new cases doubled to 8,752 as compared to 4,243 during the same time in August.

Many cases in those two states have been linked to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, that annually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Read more: Donald Trump unveils his ‘America First’ healthcare plan

Read more: South Dakota ‘super-spreader’ biker rally could be linked to 250,000 cases

Motorcycles and people crowd Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7 - Getty
Motorcycles and people crowd Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7 – Getty

01:18 AM

Rio’s Carnival parade plans suspended

Rio de Janeiro on Thursday delayed its annual Carnival parade, saying the global spectacle cannot go ahead in February because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the pandemic.

Jorge Castanheira, president of Rio’s League of Samba Schools, announced that the continued spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood. No new date has been set, he said.

Rio’s City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that take place across the city. But its tourism promotion agency said in a statement on Sept. 17 that without a vaccine, it is uncertain when large public events can resume. 

Read more: Britons face virtual worldwide quarantine as four more countries are added to travel ban list

Carnival parade floats sit unfinished in the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school workshop in Rio de Janeiro - AP
Carnival parade floats sit unfinished in the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school workshop in Rio de Janeiro – AP

12:57 AM

Australia eases lending laws to stimulate economy

Australia on Friday said it would simplify bank lending rules to free up credit in a bid to stimulate the economy, which slid into its first recession in nearly 30 years due to the pandemic.

The changes will ease the regulatory burden and reduce the cost and time faced by consumers and small businesses seeking to access credit, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

“The flow of credit will be absolutely critical to our economic recovery,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.”But our current regulatory framework, with respect to lending, is not fit for the purpose. It has become overly prescriptive, and responsible lending has become restrictive lending.”

Read more: Chancellor seeks to avoid business cash crunch with extended help

Read more: Sunak unveils new wage subsidy to save jobs

11:51 PM

Brazil to join COVAX vaccine facility

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will issue decrees laying the legal groundwork for Brazil to join the global Covid-19 vaccine partnership known as COVAX and earmarking 2.5 billion reais (£360 million) for securing vaccines via the facility, his office said on Thursday.

It said that the decrees will be issued in an extra edition of the official gazette, without specifying when it would be published. 

Brazil plans to use the COVAX facility, which gives access to several vaccine candidates in development globally, to buy enough supplies to immunize 10 per cent of its population by the end of 2021, the press office said in a statement. That should cover Brazil’s “priority populations”, it said.

Cemetery workers place the coffin containing the remains of a man who died from Covid-19 related complications into a niche at the municipal cemetery in Nova Iguacu, Brazil - AP
Cemetery workers place the coffin containing the remains of a man who died from Covid-19 related complications into a niche at the municipal cemetery in Nova Iguacu, Brazil – AP

11:28 PM

Today’s top stories

  • Are Johnson and Sunak pulling in different directions? Never has the PM been more conspicuous by his absence than at Thursday’s crucial statement by the Chancellor.

  • Rishi Sunak killed off the Government’s furlough scheme as he said it would be “fundamentally wrong” to save jobs that were only “viable” through taxpayer support.

  • Four more countries have been removed from Britain’s list of quarantine-free travel options: Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao. 

  • Dozens of Conservative backbenchers have backed a bid by rebels to force Boris Johnson to put all future lockdown measures to a vote of MPs.

  • Covid-19 may have become more contagious as it has mutated, the largest genetic study carried out in the US into the virus has suggested, as scientists warn it could be adapting to interventions such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

  • Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, was unable to explain on Thursday whether couples living apart could have sex, as he was asked to define the Government’s rule that they must be in an “established relationship”.

  • The Italian president has rebuked Johnson’s claims that, unlike Italy, the UK is a freedom-loving country where it is hard to enforce anti-virus measures, as it emerged that the PMs fiancee is holidaying on the shores of Lake Como.

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