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Covid-19: Tougher rules for millions and a sewage-based coronavirus warning system

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning. We'll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.

1. Tougher Covid rules kick in for millions

We head into the weekend with millions more people subject to tougher curbs on daily life. In Wales, 3.1 million people will be told to stay at home from 18:00 BST as a 17-day "firebreak" lockdown begins and all but essential shops close. Meanwhile, overnight, Greater Manchester's population of 2.8 million entered England's toughest tier of coronavirus restrictions - forcing bars that don't serve food to shut - and South Yorkshire folk will join them from midnight. Check out the latest rules where you live.

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2. 'One in 10' asked to work while furloughed

Nearly one in 10 workers on furlough have been asked to work by their boss, breaking the rules and costing taxpayers up to £3.9bn, a National Audit Office survey suggests. The government says the scheme has been a "lifeline", without which lives would have been ruined during lockdown.

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3. Sewage sites to test for traces of coronavirus

Could sewage provide an early warning system to detect local coronavirus outbreaks? Ninety wastewater treatment sites in England, Wales and Scotland are to start testing for fragments of the virus's genetic material, which scientists say can be detected even when there are only asymptomatic Covid-19 cases in a community. Results will be shared with test-and-trace systems.

image copyrightThames Water

4. Canary Islands added to UK's safe travel list

There's good news if you're in a position to fly off in search of winter sun. Spain's Canary Islands have been added to the government's safe travel list, along with the Maldives, the Greek island of Mykonos and Denmark. It means from 04:00 BST on Sunday visitors will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days on their return. There's bad news for anyone currently in Liechtenstein, though - it has been taken off the list.

image copyrightGetty Images

5. Safe at home after 61-day Italy quarantine

One man who's just happy to be at home is Rhys James (below left). He had been teaching in northern Italy when he tested positive for coronavirus in August. That led to him being stuck in a Florence Covid facility for 61 days, with friends Quinn Paczesny, 20, (also pictured) and Will Castle, 22. Now, he says, it's "just so lovely" to be back home in Pembrokeshire. "I'm being treated like royalty," he adds. Read their full story.

image copyrightRhys James

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. Here's our summary of how changes to the furlough replacement scheme affect your job or business.

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