Millions of people across the UK wake up on Saturday with tighter coronavirus restrictions as health officials fight to stem the spread of the disease.
From midnight South Yorkshire joined the Liverpool area, Greater Manchester and Lancashire on the highest alert level of Level 3, banning mixing between households indoors and forcing many pubs and bars to close.
In a letter to residents, Sheffield City City area mayor Dan Jarvis acknowledged that many people would find the stricter return rules “deeply frustrating” and fear for their future and livelihoods.
But he added: “The scientific advice is that they can help. We still have a hard way to go, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, ”he said.
It came as Wales began a two-week nationwide ‘firewall’ at 6 p.m. Friday night, with a return to the ‘stay at home’ message from the first lockdown in March.
The UK’s seven-day moving average daily coronavirus case count eclipsed 20,000 for the first time on Friday, with 20,530 new infections.
But scientists have suggested that the virus’s rate of spread could slow, with the UK’s reproduction number, or R-value, falling to between 1.2 and 1.4.
Follow our live updates here …
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the resulting social fallout will ultimately be “more dangerous and destabilizing” than the virus itself.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post with Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, and David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, he called for greater collaboration between politicians to protect the most vulnerable.
It comes as more than a million people in South Yorkshire are now living under the tightest coronavirus restrictions after the county moved to level 3 at midnight.
The county has joined the region of Liverpool City, Greater Manchester and Lancashire on the highest alert level for England.
The bishops’ letter highlighted the “terrible double whammy” of being poor: being more likely to contract Covid-19 and to be affected by the newly imposed restrictions.
“If we are to achieve real equality and leveling across the country, then people living in poverty must be paid enough wages that allow them to feel safe and secure while staying at home,” they said.
Reported infections remain low in Thailand
Thailand reported another case of the locally transmitted coronavirus on Saturday, after confirming five domestic infections last week.
The new patient is a 57-year-old Frenchwoman from the southern province of Surat Thani who tested positive for the virus days after completing a 14-day quarantine, the country’s coronavirus task force said.
The patient’s husband and child have tested negative, health officials said.
Ahead of the six cases, Thailand reported its first confirmed local transmission in more than 100 days on September 3. In total, Thailand has reported 3,731 cases of the virus and 59 deaths.
Polish president tests positive for Covid
Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus but is feeling well, Presidential Minister Blazej Spychalski announced on Saturday.
“The president was tested yesterday for the presence of coronavirus. The result was positive. The president is fine. We are in constant contact with the relevant medical services, ”Spychalski said on Twitter.
Duda’s infection comes as the country faces an increase in the COVID-19 outbreak, with new infections reaching a daily high of more than 13,600 on Friday.
Duda, 48, has a primarily ceremonial role, but has the power to veto legislation. He is an ally of the ruling Nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.
From Saturday, other restrictions to curb the spread of the virus are expected to come into force in Poland, including a two-week closure of restaurants and bars.
The Department of Health reported 153 coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the total toll to 4,172.
Sheffield City area mayor Dan Jarvis spoke to the Today program
He said he would not hesitate to seek further government support for South Yorkshire after the region entered the most stringent level 3 coronavirus controls.
Mr Jarvis said a £ 41million funding package was secured after a “difficult” negotiating process and he had secured an agreement from ministers to keep the situation under review.
“The scale of the challenge is very large,” he told the program.
“We are keenly aware of the pressures our NHS is under, not least because the winter has yet to bite, so we are looking very carefully at what we need to do.
“But if there is a need for more resources – be it economic support or other government assistance measures – I will not hesitate to go back and ask for them.
Hello and welcome to the Evening Standard UK Coronavirus live blog for Saturday, October 24.