FEWER than one in three people are getting their coronavirus test results back with 24 hours throwing track and trace efforts into chaos.
On the day the new NHS Covid-19 app was launched, the latest official NHS Test and Trace data suggest the percentage of people receiving results within the 24 hour target had actually fallen from 66% at the start of the month to just 28.2% this week.
This has an inevitable knock-on impact on the speed with which those in contact with coronavirus cases are ordered to isolate themselves.
The news came just hours after Chancellor Rishi Sunak addressed the nation this afternoon announcing a new Job Support Scheme to help our coronavirus-ravaged economy.
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HALF OF KEY WORKERS WITH SELF-REPORTED COVID-19 SYMPTOMS 'DID NOT HAVE DISEASE'
Around half of nearly 3,000 key workers who self-reported symptoms of Covid-19 did not test positive for antibodies to the disease, according to research.
The study, from Public Health England (PHE), includes police, fire and healthcare workers and was conducted in June. The researchers say their findings, which are yet to be peer-reviewed, suggest the symptoms were due to other conditions.
Ranya Mulchandani, a field epidemiology training programme fellow at Public Health England and the study's lead author, said: “Although these findings are still subject to peer review, it is possible that a large number of people in the general population incorrectly believe that they have already had Covid-19.
“It is crucial that people do not get complacent and continue to observe government health advice, including social distancing and good hand hygiene, even if they think they have been infected in the past.”
COVID-19 NUMBERS IN WALES
There have been a further 348 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 21,896.
Public Health Wales said one further death had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic increasing to 1,606.
COVID CASES ACROSS THE WORLD
ON THE BORDER
Greece and Italy are feared to be the next to be placed on the UK quarantine list as their daily coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Countries above 20 new cases per day, per 100,000 people over seven days, are at risk of facing quarantine restrictions enforced by the UK government.
The government usually announces the new restrictions on Thursday evenings, which are then in place by Saturday at 4am.
Here is everything you need to know about the two countries and the risk they are for tonight's announcement.
More on the story here.
EU VIRUS RECOVERY PLAN
The European Union today presented plans to help reboot companies hit by the coronavirus and reduce the bloc's reliance on the City of London after Brexit.
Companies need to refund themselves as they emerge from recession caused by pandemic lockdowns, with Brussels wanting them to use stock and bond markets to reduce reliance on loans.
The plans would help give the EU market “strategic autonomy” when Britain exits the bloc's single market on Dec. 31, the EU launch documents said.
“The strength of our economic recovery will depend crucially on how well our capital markets function and whether people and businesses can access the investment opportunities and market financing they need,” said the EU's financial services chief Valdis Dombrovskis.
FEWER THAN ONE IN THREE 'IN-PERSON' COVID TEST RESULTS COME BACK IN 24 HOURS
Fewer than one in three people who have an “in-person” Covid-19 test get their result within 24 hours, new data shows.
Some 28.2% of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending September 16 at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – received their result within this time frame.
This is down from 33.3% in the previous week and 66.5% in the week ending September 2, according to official NHS Test and Trace data.
The median turnaround time for regional drive-through test sites rose from 27 hours the previous week to 30 hours in the week ending September 16, while mobile testing sites saw a rise from 26 to 31 hours.
FRENCH VIRUS NUMBERS
The French health ministry reported on Thursday that number of people in intensive care due to the coronavirus jumped over 1,000 for the first time since June 8.
The ministry also said that the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital was up by 136 to 5,932.
DENMARK AND SLOVAKIA AMONG COUNTRIES AT RISK OF ENGLAND QUARANTINE MEASURES
Several countries are likely to be removed from the Government's quarantine exemption list on Thursday, figures suggest.
Denmark is currently recording a seven-day rate of 65.2 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 33.8 a week ago.
A rate of 20 is the threshold above which officials consider triggering quarantine conditions.
Iceland and Slovakia are also at risk of having quarantine measures introduced, with rates of 80.4 and 25.9 respectively.
SCOTLAND – TWO MORE CORONAVIRUS DEATHS
Two more confirmed coronavirus patients have died in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said.
It brings the total number of Covid-19 fatalities to 2,510.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said 25,960 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, up by 465 from 25,495 the day before.
This is 7.9% of newly-tested individuals, up from 7.8% yesterday.
SCHEME CAPPED AT £697 A MONTH
The Job Support Scheme will be capped at £697.92 per month – according to official documents.
Sky's Tom Boadle revealed the news in a tweet containing the government regulations.
Transport for London said 771,000 passengers used the London Underground network on Thursday from the start of service until 10am.
This was a 2.3% decrease on the same period last week and just 32% of normal demand.
There were 989,000 bus journeys made. This was down 0.6% on last week and was 56% of pre-pandemic levels.
PLAN IS 'LESS GENEROUS'
The head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies says the new support package won’t prevent many furloughed workers from losing their jobs.
Paul Johnson fears many jobs will now be lost once the furlough scheme ends next month.
He also tweeted that the Chancellor's new scheme is less generous than the furlough scheme.
CBI WELCOMES HELP
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn says the Chancellor's plan should save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“These bold steps from the Treasury will save hundreds of thousands of viable jobs this Winter,” she said.
“It is right to target help on jobs with a future, but can only be part-time while demand remains flat.”
POLICIES WILL CONTINUE TO EVOLVE'
Mr Sunak says his policies “continue to evolve as the circumstances demand”.
He notes aviation has been “very hard hit” but hopes the measures announced today will make a “significant difference”.
CHANCELLOR'S KEY POINTS
- A VAT holiday for the hospitality and tourism industry will continue March next year – meaning cheaper meals out will continue
- The coronavirus emergency loans for businesses would be extended until the end of the year – and loans can be repaid over ten years in a new 'Pay as you Grow' scheme
- Businesses who are struggling to pay back their loans can make interest-only payments
- Self-employment grants will be extended
- Firms can spread their VAT bill over 11 smaller payments to make it easier for them to cough up the cash owed – and no interest
- People making self-assessment claims can extend their tax bills for another year
'LEVELLING UP EVERY PART OF OUR COUNTRY'
Mr Sunak says there is support for areas under greater restrictions through the NHS, and brings up the lump sum of £500 for people who need to isolate who are on benefits and cannot work from home.
“This government remains committed to levelling up in every part of our country.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced he is extending the self-employed grant scheme as part of his Winter Economy Plan.
Under the previous rules of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) workers could claim up to £7,500 to help cover costs if they were unable to work because of coronavirus.
VAT CUTS WILL PROTECT MILLIONS
The Treasury says the extension to VAT cuts will help protect millions of jobs in the hospitality industry.
“To continue supporting over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs, the Government has extended the 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March next year,” it said.
VAT was slashed from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for the hospitality industry as part of the mini-Budget on July 8.
SCHEME WILL START IN NOVEMBER
The scheme will start in November and last for six months.
VAT PAYBACK DEFERRAL
Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year, it was revealed today.
They will have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest free payments over the course of 11 months – benefitting up to half a million businesses.
SAVING VIABLE JOBS
“Our new scheme will ensure we protect as many viable jobs as possible,” says Sunak.
ON EXTENDING FURLOUGH SCHEME
“Fundamentally I do not believe that would be the right thing to do,” says Sunak.
61,00 SCOTTISH JOBS AT RISK
At the end of the furlough scheme 61,000 Scottish jobs are at risk.
SUPPORTING THE SELF-EMPLOYED
“With regard to self-employed this is something no other country has done,” says Sunak.
“My number one economic priority is to protect people's jobs.”
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