On Monday night 55 Conservative MPs – led by former “northern powerhouse” minister Jake Berry – wrote to Boris Johnson to warn him the Covid pandemic “has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities”. They demanded “a clear roadmap” out of lockdown and “a tailored economic recovery plan” for the north. Without this, “northern constituencies like ours will be left behind’, they warned. So how badly has the north been hit by Covid-19? Covid cases and deaths deaths Since lockdown was eased at the start of July, the north of England – defined here as the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and Humber – has certainly suffered much more than the south. On Tuesday, more half of the 207 Covid deaths announced by the NHS in England (121) were in the north. Between 5 July and 25 October there have been a total of 217,074 cases in the north, compared with 181,614 for the rest of England. That is despite the north having less than a third of the whole population. Jonathan Van-Tam, the chief medical officer, has said the reason the north was suffering more in the second wave “almost certainly relates to the fact the disease levels in the north, and certainly in the north-west, never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the south.” Since the pandemic began, the north has also seen disproportionately more deaths. In the north-west there have been 8,503 deaths where Covid-19 was listed as a cause on the death certificate, amounting to 115.8 per 100,000 population. cases The more sparsely populated north-east had 3,047 deaths, 114.1 per 100,000. In London, where 8,693 people have died with Covid, that amounts to 97 per 100,000. By far and away the area least affected is the south-west, which has seen 2,946 deaths - 52.4 per 100,000 people. Overall, although much of the focus in the first wave was on London, the north still comes out worse for cases for the pandemic as a whole, with 2,299 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 1,154.9 in the Midlands and 801.3 in the south. Hospitals Of the 285 mechanical ventilation beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients in England on 1 October, more than half (158) were in northern English hospitals. Fifty-six were in the Midlands, 49 were in London, eight were in the south-east and two were in the south-west. A similar pattern exists for Covid patients not needing ventilators, with 1,190 being treated in the north, out of a total of 2,069 across England. Hospital admissions Hospital waiting times Waiting times in hospitals across England have increased dramatically year on year as a result of the mass cancellation of non urgent surgeries during the first wave. Guardian analysis of NHS figures in August 2019 and August 2020 found that patients in London and the south-east are now waiting the least average time to be treated — 13.3 weeks and 13.1 weeks respectively this year, compared with 7.3 weeks and 8.2 weeks last year. Patients in the Midlands are now waiting longest - 16.1 weeks compared with 7.6 weeks in August 2019. Although the south-west of England has had the lowest number of Covid cases, its waiting times have almost doubled year on year, going from 8.2 weeks to 16.04 weeks. In both the north-west and north-east patients are now waiting on average 13.9 weeks, compared with 6.8 and 7.3 weeks last August. During the second wave it has been hospitals in the north and Midlands which have been cancelling operations and outpatient appointments to cope with their Covid caseload, including hospitals in Leeds, Rotherham, Bradford, Chesterfield and Nottingham. Hospitality and the wide economy Pubs and bars only have to close in tier 3 areas classed as “very high risk” and so far, these have only been in the north of England. According to the Altus Group, 5,060 pubs in tier 3 areas in the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire have been forced to close unless they can operate as restaurants serving substantial meals. On Thursday Nottingham will join them. Pubs can stay open in London for as long as it remains in tier 2, though socialising between households is only allowed outside in beer gardens and terraces. Black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities So far, no research has been published looking at whether BAME people in the north are more likely than their southern counterparts to succumb to Covid-19. In England and Wales as a whole, Black African men have the highest rate of death involving Covid-19, 2.7 times higher their white counterparts, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Anecdotally, BAME communities in the north believe they have been disproportionately affected, being more likely to work in frontline jobs and live in multigenerational, cramped accommodation in deprived areas. At the weekend, the Bradford Council of Mosques announced its 100th member had died from Covid. In Oldham, one of the worst affected areas of Greater Manchester, more than 2,333 cases have been reported among the town’s Asian population, compared with 3,358 for the white community – who make up 77.5% of the local population. Unemployment Unenployment The pandemic has pummelled businesses across much of the north and pushed claimant count rates to levels not seen since the recession that followed the 2008 financial crash. Five “red wall” constituencies that turned from Labour to Tory in the 2019 election – Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Don Valley, Heywood and Middleton and Leigh – have claimant rates average 7.2% as a percentage of 16-64 population. This compares with a 4.1% claimant count in Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath constituency and the same in nearby Esher & Walton, Dominic Raab’s constituency. However the increases in the north have been largely the same as in the south – around three percentage points - showing that the pandemic has hit the service industries of the south as much as they have the north. Schools Data from the Department for Education for 15 October showed that school attendance was worst in pockets of the north with the highest Covid rates. In Knowsley in Merseyside, just 61% of secondary pupils turned up for class. In nearby Liverpool it was just 67%. On the same day, 87% of high school students in London came to school, 89% in the south-east and 90% in the south-west. Analysis from the North West Association of the Directors of Children’s Services, reported by the BBC, found that there were 710 teachers with a positive test for coronavirus in the north-west on 16 October – 35% of the total of confirmed cases among teachers across England on that day. Universities When students returned to universities in September, it was the northern English cities which suffered most as a result. Two weeks into term, 1,041 University of Manchester students had tested positive. A smaller outbreak at nearby Manchester Metropolitan University in late September was deemed serious enough to force 1,700 students into a two-week quarantine. Northumbria and Newcastle universities also had large outbreaks; as did Sheffield and Leeds. There were also large problems in Glasgow and Dundee, as well as further south in Nottingham. Work Jobs based in workplaces in London and the south-east are much more likely to be possible to do from home compared with the rest of the UK, according to the ONS. It says this is probably because of a higher proportion of people working in professional occupations in the region. Data from Google Mobility, which tracks the locations people are visiting, suggests London has seen fewer people returning to workplaces than the rest of the country.
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Latest updates: South Yorkshire third region in England to get strictest measures after local leaders agreed a deal with government South Yorkshire agrees to go under tier 3 Covid restrictions Andy Burnham hits out at Tory MPs over negotiations criticism Gyms allowed to reopen in Merseyside after tier 3 Covid row Tier 3 lockdowns in England: latest Covid restrictions explained Global coronavirus updates – live LIVE Updated
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Cabinet office minister makes statement to Commons after Boris Johnson warned firms to prepare for no deal Global coronavirus updates - live Wales to go into national ‘firebreak’ lockdown Manchester tier 3 talks deadlocked as other areas face stricter rules Operation Moonshot: pilot of rapid tests under way in NHS hospitals A third more deaths occurring at home in England than pre-Covid LIVE Updated Play Video Matt Hancock gives statement on coronavirus – watch live Key events Show 11.00am EDT11:00 Barnier offers concession to UK on trade talks process, saying EU willing to negotiate on basis of legal texts 10.33am EDT10:33 Michael Gove gives statement to MPs on Brexit 9.15am EDT09:15 No 10 claims intensive care capacity in Greater Manchester less than month away from being completely overwhelmed 8.24am EDT08:24 Covid rates starting to fall in some of England's big cities, latest figures suggest 7.58am EDT07:58 Welsh Tories claim firebreak likely to be followed by 'regular lockdowns' 7.54am EDT07:54 Welsh government publishes Q&A with details of its firebreak lockdown 7.32am EDT07:32 Drakeford's Q&A Live feed Show 11.06am EDT11:06 In the Commons, responding to a question from the Tory Brexiter Iain Duncan Smith, Gove said he had just heard about the latest statement from the EU. (See 4pm.) He said it was constructive, and he said he welcomed that. Updated at 11.09am EDT 11.05am EDT11:05 In the Commons Theresa May, the former prime minister, challenged Michael Gove over security. She said that leaving without a deal would put UK security at risk because it would no longer have access to EU criminal justice databases. Gove said that in some cases having access to them would require the UK to be bound by the European court of justice. He claimed that the UK would be able to cooperate more effectively with the EU to protect its boundaries as a non-member. And, quoting May’s own slogan back at her, he said he agreed that no deal was better than a bad deal. 11.00am EDT11:00 Barnier offers concession to UK on trade talks process, saying EU willing to negotiate on basis of legal texts Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has just posted this on Twitter. Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) 🇪🇺🇬🇧 I just spoke to @DavidGHFrost. As stated by President @vonderleyen on Friday, I confirmed that the EU remains available to intensify talks in London this week, on all subjects, and based on legal texts.We now wait for the UK’s reaction. October 19, 2020 This sounds like a technicality, but agreeing to intensified talks, on the basis of legal text, may be enough of a concession to allow the talks to restart. On Friday last week No 10 said: There is only any point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week if he’s prepared to discuss all of the issues on the basis of legal text in an accelerated way without the UK being required to make all of the moves. The Barnier tweet does not concede the third point - “without the UK being required to make all of the moves” - and No 10 is still angry about the EU summit communique last week saying it was calling on “the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible”. But last week Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU would have to compromise. Updated at 11.08am EDT 10.49am EDT10:49 Rachel Reeves, Gove’s shadow, is responding for Labour. She says the deadline last week for a deal was the third set by the PM - and the third he has missed. 10.46am EDT10:46 Gove says the PM spoke on Friday about 2021 being a year of renewal. He says the government is doing that. On the negotiations, he says the door remains ajar. He hopes the EU will return to talks. But the UK will take back control in January. Updated at 10.51am EDT 10.44am EDT10:44 Gove is now speaking about the latest meeting of the joint committee, which has the job of overseeing the implementation of the withdrawal agreement. He says, in this forum, the EU has been very cooperative. At its meeting today the UK and the EU agreed to publish a joint statement on citizens’ rights. “Substantial progress” has been made on implementation, he says. Updated at 10.50am EDT 10.41am EDT10:41 Gove is now turning to the preparations for leaving without a deal. He says he is not blasé about this. But the UK is increasingly well prepared, he says. 10.40am EDT10:40 Gove says the proposals from the EU presented as compromises do not recognise the UK’s sovereignty. They want the UK to operate state aid rules essentially the same as the EU’s, with the EU free to retaliate if the UK does not comply. He says the UK is not asking for any special favours. With just 10 weeks left, this is not his preferred option, he says. Nor the prime minister’s. But, having come so far, it is important not to falter now, he says. 10.38am EDT10:38 Michael Gove is speaking to MPs now. He says the government had hoped to agree a trade deal with the EU before the end of the year. But he says, for that to happen, there will have to be a fundamental change from the EU, he says. He says the EU refused to accelerate negotiation. And they would not discuss legal text. At the EU summit EU leaders dropped a line from their communique saying the talks would have to be intensified. And they said all moves would have to come from the UK side - even though some EU leaders said the EU would have to compromise too. Gove says the UK will have to prepare to trade with the EU from January on WTO terms. Updated at 10.48am EDT 10.33am EDT10:33 Michael Gove gives statement to MPs on Brexit Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is about to make a statement to MPs about the UK-EU trade talks. On Friday Downing Street claimed the talks were over. However, as Daniel Boffey and Peter Walker explain here, they are expected to resume very soon. Updated at 10.35am EDT 10.29am EDT10:29 In Northern Ireland another 820 people have tested positive, and a further six people have died, according to the daily update from the Department of Health. The number of positive cases is down slightly from this time last week (877), but the number of deaths is double what it was last Monday (three). 10.24am EDT10:24 Workers from the hospitality industry staged a demonstration this morning in Parliament Square in London, outside the House of Commons. They were protesting in particular about the lack of sector-specific support for their industry, and about the 10pm compulsory closing time.
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Share This Story Greater Manchester mayor says he will not let region’s people be ‘canaries in coalmine’ Downing Street’s flagship policy for tackling the coronavirus in England has descended into chaos after mayors and MPs from the north-west of the country emphatically rejected being moved into the highest lockdown level and accused ministers of treating the region with contempt. Talks designed to broker an agreement ended with bitter and angry exchanges, deepening a north-south rift that has left the government’s strategy of tiered restrictions in turmoil. Continue reading…