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Live Reporting

Edited by Julian Joyce and Jasmine Taylor-Coleman

All times stated are UK

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  1. Join us tomorrow...

    Thanks for being with us for our coverage today.

    Updates were brought to you by Alice Evans, Becky Morton, Claire Heald, George Bowden, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman, Joseph Lee, Joshua Nevett and Julian Joyce.

  2. What's the latest from the UK?

    Woman wearing face covering in London

    We'll soon be wrapping up our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the main developments in the UK this evening:

    • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says England's four-week national lockdown rules have been “really tough” on everyone – but the “good news is they've been working” and the virus is "back under control" - although caution is still needed
    • The restrictions will be replaced by a three-tiered system of rules when lockdown ends on Wednesday
    • Shops in England will be allowed to stay open for 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas and in January, the housing secretary has said
    • Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 GMT. First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases
    • England and Wales' contact-tracing app is to add a Self-Isolation Payment feature as soon as next week, to help people apply for £500 of support. The money is already being offered to people who are told, by human contact tracers, to stay at home
    • Singer Rita Ora has said she's "deeply sorry" for breaking English lockdown rules to celebrate her 30th birthday at a restaurant in west London on Saturday
    • And health and care workers in Scotland are to be given a £500 payment as a "thank you" for their work during the pandemic, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said
  3. Watch: 'We have this virus back under control'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanks the public for adhering to the lockdown in England.

    Video content

    Video caption: Hancock: 'We have got this virus back under control'
  4. Brazilian city elects mayor - as he lies in a coma with Covid

    Maguito Vilela
    Image caption: Maguito Vilela tested positive for coronavirus at the end of October

    The city of Goiania in central Brazil elected a new mayor on Sunday.

    But the victor, Maguito Vilela, was unaware of the result. That’s because since mid-November, Vilela has been in an induced coma, as he receives treatment for Covid-19 at an intensive-care unit.

    Aged 71, the former senator tested positive for Covid-19 on 20 October. He was admitted to hospital a week later and was intubated on 30 October.

    He came off the ventilator on 8 November, but was back on by 15 November, when he also progressed to a second-round runoff of the mayoral election.

    On Sunday, Vilela was elected with 52.6% of the vote. When the result was announced, he remained unconscious on a ventilator in a stable condition, local media reported.

    A prayer was held for him at a news conference after his victory.

    Brazil has the second-highest number of virus deaths in the world.

  5. White House expert urges Thanksgiving travellers to get tested

    White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on 19 November 2020 in Washington, DC

    Dr Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has urged Americans who travelled for Thanksgiving or celebrated in large groups - against medical advice - to assume they have been infected with Covid-19 and get tested.

    "We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period," Dr Birx said on CBS News on Sunday. "If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you're infected."

    Experts have warned of an uptick in infections following last Thursday's holiday, which rivals Christmas in size and typically heralds the busiest week for travel in the US. Though the number of holiday air travellers dropped by about half this year, more than one million people passed through security at US airports on the day before Thanksgiving alone.

  6. WHO reports drop in global cases

    A pedestrian wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past a closed-down Dorothy Perkins clothes store, operated by Arcadia, in central London

    New cases of Covid-19 dropped worldwide last week for the first time since September, according to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attributed the drop to the "difficult but necessary" measures put in place by European countries in the throes of a second wave.

    But with cases rising in many countries and the festive season fast approaching, the WHO chief cautioned against complacency, urging people to reevaluate their holiday plans and avoid travel, indoor gatherings and shopping.

    "It will be safe to do all these things soon, it's a matter of time," he said. "The pandemic will end."

  7. Italy's Calabria region battles two pandemics

    Mark Lowen

    BBC News, Rome

    An army field hospital in Calabria.
    Image caption: An army field hospital in Calabria, meant to help with Covid-19 patients.

    Calabria is Italy's poorest region. And while its infection rate and intensive care numbers are lower than northern Italy, its fragile health system is buckling. This region in Italy's southern toe was quickly declared a "red zone" in early November.

    And while it battles its Covid-19 case load, it also faces the damage wrought by decades of political mismanagement and plunder by its mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, which infiltrated the healthcare system.

    Criminal gangs seized resources and ran up massive debts, leading to 18 of its public hospitals being closed and savage cuts to beds and staff.

    Read more about Calabria's two pandemics - coronavirus and the mafia.

  8. £500 'thank you' payment for healthcare staff in Scotland

    A man walks past an NHS tribute

    Health and care workers in Scotland are to be given a £500 payment as a "thank you" for their work during the pandemic.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the one-off payment to thank NHS and care staff for their "extraordinary service" in 2020.

    It will be paid to all full-time NHS and adult social care staff, with a proportional share for part-time staff.

    The bonus is expected to be paid out to around 300,000 doctors, nurses, porters, care home and hospice staff and other frontline health workers, at a cost of £180m.

    Read more about the payment here.

  9. What did we learn from today's Downing Street briefing?

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock

    Today's coronavirus briefing by the UK government has just finished. Here are some of the key points from the news conference:

    • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said England's national restrictions have been “really tough” on everyone – but the “good news is they've been working” and the virus is back under control
    • He cited a study from Imperial College London which says coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third during lockdown
    • Testing people in the community to identify asymptomatic infections is the way forward, Hancock added, urging people to take a test if they're offered one as they might “save a life”
    • He said the next stage of the government's mass testing plans will be to offer widespread Covid testing to parts of England in tier three, to give them "a way out of the toughest restrictions"
    • Hancock also urged university students to take a test if they're offered one before they travel home for Christmas, but defended the fact that mass testing of students is not mandatory
    • Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, added that a recent fall in coronavirus cases across the UK is now beginning to have a knock-on impact on reducing the number of people in hospital with Covid-19, and he urged people to remain vigilant to help those numbers to “continue to fall”
    • But Powis warned that the NHS is always at its busiest in January, February and March so it is “crucial” that the virus remains under control into the new year to reduce the pressure Covid adds on the health service
  10. No 10 briefing ends

    Bringing the news conference to a close, Mr Hancock urges leaders of local authorities to come forward with proposals for community testing in their areas.

    He says: "We want to work hand in glove with local NHS, with local authorities... to make sure we can use this community testing programme as effectively as possible to root out this virus."

  11. Mass testing and vaccination must 'run alongside each other'

    Hancock is asked about concerns that the resources required for mass testing could detract from the Covid vaccination programme.

    In response he stresses that testing and vaccination "need to run alongside each other", and this has already happened in vaccine trials to find out if people who are vaccinated have caught Covid-19.

    He is also asked if the expansion of mass testing is an admission that NHS Test and Trace has not worked as well as the government would have liked.

    Hancock denies this and says it is only because of the hard work of NHS Test and Trace that testing capability has improved, enabling the expansion of mass testing.

  12. I urge all MPs to back new tier system for England - Hancock

    PA Media's David Hughes asks whether Conservative backbenchers considering voting against the government's proposed new tier system for England are being irresponsible.

    Mr Hancock says he urges all MPs to vote for the tier system as it has fewer restrictions than a national lockdown and is more targeted.

    It has a "less detrimental impact on the economy", he says, but tier three is needed to keep the virus down across the country.

    "That is the best way to avoid a third lockdown," he adds. "I hope we get a very significant proportion of MPs voting for the proposals."

  13. Analysis: How effective is community testing?

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    Stock image of someone having a Covid test

    Community testing is being seen as a crucial development to get the UK through winter until the vaccines arrive.

    This refers to the use of rapid testing to spot asymptomatic cases – people who do not have symptoms.

    It is what the government was referring to as the "moonshot" programme a few months ago.

    Local authorities are being given access to these tests to try to root out the virus among people who do not know they have it.

    It was one of the tools that Liverpool has used over the past month or so, during which infection levels have been reduced three-fold.

    Councils across the country are likely to offer it to people in neighbourhoods with high infection rates and to target high-risk workplaces like food factories.

    Nationally it is being used to test care home visitors and help university students return home for Christmas.

    But despite the optimism among ministers, there are words of caution.

    These tests were never intended for community use like this. When used by untrained people they may only spot half of positive cases.

    The government is pushing the boundaries. The effectiveness of this programme is far from certain.

  14. Most patients with Covid are in hospital due to virus - Powis

    The Financial Times's Jim Pickard asks how many of those hospitalised in England are inpatients with Covid, or with other illnesses.

    Prof Powis says that the vast majority of those recorded as being in hospital with Covid will be there due to the infection.

    But he adds there will be a proportion who come into hospital without Covid and then subsequently test positive.

    "We are very careful to ensure we are testing people on a regular basis in their first week in hospital," he says.

  15. 'Crucial' to get infection rates down ahead of January - Powis

    Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, is asked how worried he is about a new wave of infections putting pressure on the NHS in January, after restrictions are eased over Christmas.

    He says it is "crucial" to get infection rates down ahead of January when the NHS is at its busiest.

    He adds that he is "confident people will act sensibly over Christmas” and the country will go into the New Year with infections staying down and falling.

  16. Voluntary mass testing is best approach - Hancock

    Hancock is asked by the BBC's Hugh Pym how effective mass testing of students can be if this is voluntary and not available to all students.

    The health secretary says the government's goal is to make testing available to as many students as possible but this is "best done on a voluntary basis".

    However, he adds that he thinks the programme will "still make a difference".

    Anyone who has a concerns about the need to access testing should speak to their university, he says.

  17. Areas may move down a tier before Christmas - Hancock

    Channel 5 News's Andy Bell asks if there is any chance of an area in England moving down a tier before Christmas.

    Mr Hancock says that there will be a review on 16 December and confirms it will be possible for an area to move into a lower tier with fewer restrictions.

    He warns there are some areas "I am worried about" and there are still areas with rising infections. "We do still have to be cautious," he says.

  18. Military won't deliver mass testing everywhere, says screening chief

    General Sir Gordon Messenger

    ITV's Emily Morgan asks Mr Hancock how he expects to have the same success seen in Liverpool in the new tier three areas from Wednesday.

    The health secretary says there will be extra funding for local authorities to get mass testing done - of up to £14 per test done - reflecting the Liverpool model.

    General Sir Gordon Messenger, the head of operations for the community testing programme, says that tailoring testing to the needs of local areas is crucial to success.

    He says that there will be a "great deal of support... a great deal of signposting" for what is available for councils - from extremely targeted testing - to widespread community screening like that in Merseyside.

    He rules out the military support being used across all areas, as they were in Liverpool - the assumption is that testing will be delivered locally with support from central government.

  19. What testing is in place for university students before they return for Christmas?

    Adrian asks about the provision for Covid-19 testing at all universities before the Christmas holiday.

    Mr Hancock says a programme across all UK universities will ensure as many as possible can get a test before they travel home.

    He says this is a useful example of how the mass testing capability "can have a real-world impact" on managing the pandemic - students should contact their university for specific advice on testing.

    "I hope students will engage with this enthusiastically," he adds.

  20. Can those in long-term relationships meet in tier two?

    Ella in Southampton

    Ella in Southampton asks what the rules are for those in long-term relationships, but living apart, in tier two areas.

    Mr Hancock says rules about what is exactly permitted are on the government's website and promoted through advertising.

    He adds that he understands the dilemma facing those in relationships but maintains that the general rule is that - in tier two - the rule of six applies outdoors but, indoors, people should only mix with their household.