Hospitals told to clear beds

Bob cartoon – Bob Hospitals warned of coronavirus spike in two weeks The health service is preparing for a new coronavirus storm. Hospitals and councils have been told to find extra beds for Covid patients within two weeks as the NHS braces for a second spike in cases. With a steep rise […]

Bob cartoon - Bob
Bob cartoon – Bob

Hospitals warned of coronavirus spike in two weeks

The health service is preparing for a new coronavirus storm. Hospitals and councils have been told to find extra beds for Covid patients within two weeks as the NHS braces for a second spike in cases. With a steep rise in infections, isolation units are being set up where sufferers can recover and ward space freed up for those who need more care. The expected influx comes as more than 10 million people will soon be living in local lockdown areas. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is planning to adopt a national traffic-light system for putting regions into lockdown when infection rates reach a set level. Read everything we know about impending restrictions. And Matt imagines the chaos inside Number 10.

Meanwhile, secret plans have revealed the country’s failing coronavirus test and trace system is to be outsourced to a giant delivery firm, such as Amazon. The logistics giant is likely to be in the running for the lucrative contract as part of efforts to deliver 500,000 tests a day. Baroness Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, prompted incredulity after she told MPs that no one was expecting to see the “really sizeable increase in demand”. Jessica Carpani reports from south-east London, where a newly-opened test centre led to chaos, confusion and anger yesterday. If you are trying to book a test, these are your best chances.

Dominic Raab calls for US help to avoid Irish border

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged US politicians to pressure Brussels into publicly ruling out a hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK’s own position was criticised by Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. On the third day of a visit to Washington DC that risked being overshadowed by the very public warnings from Democrats over Brexit talks, Mr Raab used a CNN interview to try to turn the spotlight on to the EU. US Editor Ben Riley-Smith says it shows how prominent the backlash against Boris Johnson’s proposed rewriting of the Withdrawal Agreement has been among senior Democrats.

Post-Brexit fur ban may kill off bearskin hats

Bearskin hats worn by the Queen’s Guard are under threat after ministers bowed to animal rights campaigners on a proposed fur sales ban. In a victory for activists, Environment Secretary George Eustice confirmed the Government plans to launch a consultation next year into banning the sale of fur in post-Brexit Britain. It follows pressure from Tory campaigners including Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancée. Associate Editor Camilla Tominey explains how the Royal Family, House of Lords and military may all be affected by the plans.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Remote energy switch-off | Smart meters could allow energy networks to switch off central heating systems, under proposals being considered by the watchdog. The plans would allow distributors to ask the permission of consumers to turn off appliances with high usage, including heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers. Consumer Affairs Editor Sam Meadows explains how appliances could be switched off.  

Around the world: Tyre pressure in Gaza

Palestinian recruits participate in a training session to reinforce police forces and help fight the spread of coronavirus in the cramped conditions of Gaza City and the Gaza Strip. The region is struggling to control the spread of Covid-19 in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. View more striking images in our daily world gallery.

Members of the Palestinian security forces during a training session - REUTERS
Members of the Palestinian security forces during a training session – REUTERS

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice: Features and arts

  1. Secrets of happiness | How the experts feel up in down times

  2. Not in my backyard! | The 16 house rules we should all live by

  3. Island escape | Six UK destinations for a perfect autumn getaway

Business and money briefing

Next move? | The Bank of England has taken another step towards negative rates amid rising Covid infections and a looming unemployment crisis. The Monetary Policy Committee unanimously voted to hold interest rates at the record low of 0.1 per cent but minutes of its meeting said it had been briefed on the Bank’s plans “to explore how a negative Bank Rate could be implemented effectively”.  

Sport briefing

Spurs return | Gareth Bale will fly into London today to complete his return to Tottenham Hotspur, in a move that his agent says will “hopefully get some happiness back in his life”. The terms of Bale’s season-long loan move from Real Madrid have been agreed in principle, with routine paperwork left to complete before a transfer is finalised. Chief Football Writer Sam Wallace explains how his wages will be paid.  

Tonight’s dinner

Corn and bacon risotto with chive oil | Cooking this risotto by Eleanor Steafel could bring a moment of calm to your Friday night. Read on for the recipe.

And finally… for this morning’s downtime

Why does the BBC pay Alan Shearer more than Mary Berry? | ITV scrapped “golden handcuffs” deals for its stars years ago. Then why does the Corporation keep throwing money at its endless parade of pundits? Blame Richard Dimbleby, writes Ed Power

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Las Vegas bars, breweries to reopen Sunday; Texas eases business restrictions; India reports 96K more cases in 24 hours

Fri Sep 18 , 2020
With the U.S. approaching 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and worldwide infections topping 30 million, Texas and Nevada are set to ease restrictions for some businesses beginning this weekend. In Texas, which is close to becoming just the second state with 700,000 cases, Gov. Greg Abbott is authorizing some businesses — including restaurants, retail […]