23 October 2020


News summary

Daily COVID-19 figures update

The number of global cases and mortalities can be followed here, and the number of UK cases can be followed here. Live news updates can be found on the BBC website.

England and Wales begin tougher rules for millions

Stricter coronavirus rules are coming into force for nearly six million Britons today (Friday). Greater Manchester's population of 2.8 million joined Liverpool City Region and Lancashire in England's highest tier of restrictions at midnight. And from 18:00 BST, the 3.1 million people in Wales will have to stay at home as a 17-day national "firebreak" lockdown begins. The UK recorded another 189 deaths and 21,242 new confirmed cases on Thursday. It comes as UK Government Minister Stephen Barclay said there was a "common purpose to get the virus down" so people could have a normal Christmas. "I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally," he said, but "the ability of families to spend Christmas together" was "something we all hope to be in a position to do".

Nicola Sturgeon to set out five-tier alert system

The Scottish Government is to publish details later today (Friday) of a new five-tier alert system of Covid-19 restrictions. The new system - which adds two levels to the three tiers used in England - will come into force from 2 November. It will set out different levels of measures that can be applied either nationally or regionally, depending on the rate of infection across Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this would provide clarity about rules and flexibility for different areas. The new "strategic framework" will also include details of support for businesses hit by restrictions and a new testing strategy. Temporary restrictions targeting the hospitality industry in the central belt of Scotland in particular have been extended to cover the gap until the new system comes into force.

US gives full approval for antiviral remdesivir drug

US regulators have given full approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Veklury, the drug's brand name, cut the recovery time on average by five days during clinical trials. "Veklury is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive FDA approval," the FDA said in a statement. The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week remdesivir had little to no effect on patients' survival. The WHO said this was based on its own study - but the drug's manufacturer Gilead rejected the findings of the trial. Remdesivir had been authorised for emergency use only in the US since May. It was recently given to President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19. He has since recovered.

News in brief