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Covid-19: Virus spreading faster than 'worst-case scenario', and Paris streets empty

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We'll have another update for you on Saturday morning.

1. Covid spreading faster than 'worst-case scenario'

Covid-19 is spreading "significantly" faster through England than even the government's predicted "worst-case" scenario, documents from the government's advisory committee, Sage, reveal. Infection levels are around four times higher than the government's worst-case plan which is used by officials and the NHS to prepare for winter. However, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics offer a glimmer of hope, with cases appearing to be levelling off in north-east England. Meanwhile, government ministers are "striving" to avoid a second national lockdown in England.

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe UK's R number is currently estimated at between 1.1 and 1.3

2. 'No more local lockdowns' in Wales

When Wales' national 17-day lockdown comes to an end on 9 November, there will not be a return to local restrictions. Instead, First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would announce on Monday a set of national rules "for the sake of clarity and simplicity". He also said the UK government intends to hold a meeting to discuss a UK-wide approach to Covid rules at Christmas.

image copyrightAFP
image captionWales is in the middle of a 17-day firebreak lockdown

3. Senior Scottish pupils to wear masks in higher-risk areas

Senior pupils and their teachers are being advised by the Scottish government to wear face coverings in classrooms, if they are in the new level three and four restriction areas. The new guidance comes ahead of Scotland's five-level alert system coming into force on Monday. It also advises staff to wear face coverings in all schools where social distancing is not possible, and says parents should wear masks at drop-off and pick-up.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionFace coverings were already required in corridors, communal areas and on buses

4. New lockdown empties Paris streets

France is now in a new national lockdown that will last at least a month as it aims to curb one of Europe's biggest coronavirus surges and ease the pressure on its hospitals. Schools and workplaces remain open, but people need permits to leave home. There were record traffic jams around Paris on Thursday evening, with many people heading for rural accommodation.

media captionEmpty street in Montmartre, Paris

5. Gallery-goers to use robots to view art

A new exhibition at London's Saatchi gallery has opened with a robot-only launch in response to the pandemic. Guests going to Philip Colbert's Lobsteropolis exhibition can control the robots using their mobile phone to move around the space and look at the artwork via a camera. The artist says he created his show as a way of using the pandemic to "open up the possibilities of art and technology".

media captionRobots explore ‘Lobsteropolis’ exhibition

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Wondering whether you can go trick or treating for Halloween this weekend? Find out here.

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