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Live Reporting

Claire Heald

All times stated are UK

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  1. Join us again tomorrow

    That's all for our live coverage today. Thanks for joining us. Here's a recap of the main stories from the UK and around the world related to the pandemic:

    • Policy on which visited countries returning travellers to the UK have to quarantine from has diverged. Scotland and Wales have put Portugal, and other areas, on their quarantine list. England and Northern Ireland have made no changes today. Read the lowdown here
    • The US Centers for Disease Control is asking states to prepare for a potential vaccine being rolled out by 1 November. Democrats and health experts have raised concerns that President Trump is rushing to begin distributing a vaccine before the 3 November election
    • The head of England's testing system has apologised after some people were asked to travel hundreds of miles for a test. Some labs are struggling to keep up with demand
    • Police in Scotland are investigating after more than 300 people attended a house party. The party was run as a commercial event in a rented property in Midlothian
    • India has come closer to surpassing Brazil's total number of infections after another 83,883 were reported. India has confirmed 3.85 million cases, just 100,000 behind Brazil, the world's second most affected nation
    • At least 7,000 health workers around the world have died from coronavirus, with the highest country toll in Mexico, according to a report by Amnesty International
    • Spain's furlough scheme will be extended for "as long as is necessary", employment minister Yolanda Diaz has said. Spain has been experiencing a second wave of the virus in recent weeks

    Today's coverage has been brought to you by Claire Heald, Flora Drury, Penny Spiller, Paul Kirby, Alex Therrien, Georgina Rannard, Vanessa Buschschluter, Krutika Pathi, Max Matza, David Walker and Doug Faulkner.

  2. Why has England not changed rules on Portugal travel?

    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    Ministerial decisions around adding or removing countries from the list take into account a range of factors, including virus incidence rates, information on a country's testing capacity, an assessment of the quality of data available, the effectiveness of the measures being deployed by a country to tackle the virus, and an estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country.

    The Department for Transport says the reason for not putting Portugal on the list of countries from which returning travellers to England must quarantine is that: "Portugal has drastically increased its testing capacity, as well as taking measures to control the spread of the virus.

    "We will closely monitor this situation, and as the Secretary of State for Transport has made clear, we are prepared to act at pace to remove a country from our Travel Corridor list in order to protect public health."

    So from that you could read that Portugal increasing testing and taking strong steps to tackle coronavirus cancels out the case rate being slightly above 20.

  3. Quarantine: What changes have the UK nations made?

    If you are just joining us, you might be confused about which countries you can travel from without having to quarantine in your home UK country on your return.

    Here is what has changed today:

    • In Scotland, it has been confirmed that from Saturday at 04:00 BST travellers from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to quarantine; those coming from Greece already have to do so
    • Wales has added Portugal, Gibraltar, French Polynesia and six Greek islands to the list of places from which arrivals must self-isolate for two weeks. The islands are Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete and the changes come in at 04:00 tomorrow
    • In England, there has been no change to the list today despite speculation that Greece and Portugal may be added
    • Northern Ireland has also made no changes today
  4. BreakingScotland confirms Portugal quarantine

    The Scottish government has confirmed that travellers from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 04:00 BST on Saturday.

    Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also said Gibraltar is "high up on our watch list" and would be monitored closely.

  5. Questions will continue to be asked on UK testing

    Hugh Pym

    BBC News Health Editor

    We've been hearing about the long journeys people have been asked to take to access a coronavirus test in the UK.

    After BBC revelations that some people have been required to drive long distances, there has been renewed debate about whether there is sufficient capacity.

    There has apparently been an increase of more than 60% in demand for tests since June and it appears that laboratories have struggled to keep up in some parts of the country.

    There has been an apology to those who were told to go a hundred miles or more for a test.

    Officials acknowledge that resources are stretched and have to be targeted at areas with local outbreaks.

    But they point out that a new mega lab is set to come on stream in the East Midlands soon.

    They argue that trials of new rapid testing techniques will be expanded, which could prove to be game-changers.

    For now though, the system is stretched, even though the official numbers suggest capacity is running ahead of demand.

    Questions will continue to be asked about whether the system can cope with the challenges ahead as schools return and winter approaches.

  6. Banned Nepalese festival ends in police clash

    Clashes in Lalitpur as police try to break up the banned chariot procession of Rato Macchindranath on 3 September 2020

    The cancellation of much-loved festivals and events have been frustrating for many around the world during the pandemic. But in one Nepalese city it resulted in clashes with the police and tear gas.

    Hundreds of residents in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, defied a ban on mass gatherings to hold their time-honoured tradition of a chariot procession to the rain god Rato Machhindranath.

    As more and more people gathered in the streets, police said they were unable to control the numbers. "We charged (with) water cannon and tear gas to stop the rally," police official Tek Prasad Rai told Reuters news agency. Rocks were thrown in retaliation and a police motorcycle was set on fire.

    It is not known how many people were injured but at least one wounded person was carried away by police, witnesses told Reuters.

    Packed streets of Lalitput, Nepal, for the banned chariot procession of Rato Machhindranath on 3 September 2020
  7. 'It's a shameful and uncaring situation'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Video content

    Video caption: Lynn hasn't seen her husband for five weeks because of local coronavirus lockdowns.

    BBC Radio 5 Live has been focusing today on the restrictions around visiting family in care homes, after a woman whose husband has dementia said she'd not seen him for five weeks, because of local lockdown changes.

    Lynn lives in Trafford which was subject to extra lockdown rules at the end of July. Yesterday those restrictions were due to lift, but the decision was reversed after a rise in cases.

    Dementia charity John's Campaign is seeking a judicial review of the government guidance on care home visits. A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families."

    Click here to listen to a special 5 Live Your Call about care homes on BBC Sounds.

  8. French cases top 7,000 for second day in row

    Police at the Eiffel Tower

    France has registered more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row.

    The health ministry said on Thursday there were 7,157 new infections, a slight increase on the previous day's figure of 7,017 but shy of the 7,578 record set on 31 March.

    The ministry said the cumulative number of confirmed cases was now 300,181. There were 20 more virus-linked deaths, taking the total to 30,706.

    France is one of several European countries battling a resurgence of infections. The head of the European Union's public health agency says numbers of cases are back to levels seen in March, when the virus first gripped the continent.

  9. Isle of Man to allow seven-day self-isolation

    Airport sign about self-isolation
    Image caption: Residents will be asked to pay £50 to be tested after seven days

    In contrast to Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, residents returning to the Isle of Man - a crown dependency - can now self-isolate for seven days if they pay for a Covid-19 test and the result is negative, the chief minister there has said.

    Currently, anyone arriving on the Isle of Man must self-isolate for 14 days.

    From Monday, returning residents can pay £50 to be tested for coronavirus after a week and will be allowed to leave their home, under certain restrictions, if it is negative.

    Isle of Man to allow seven-day self-isolation

    Airport sign about self-isolation

    Residents who pay for a Covid-19 test, which comes back negative, will be allowed to leave isolation early.

    Read more
  10. Travel industry can't go on like this much longer

    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    Earlier, surprisingly, the UK government said it was not adding Portugal to the list of countries requiring returning travellers to quarantine for 14 days.

    It’s surprising because Portugal is above the benchmark the UK government has set and said publicly it is following - of 20 cases per 100,000 people, at 23.

    So it is a bit confusing why the UK government hasn’t, but the Welsh and possibly the Scottish government have, made the change.

    And then there is Greece.

    The Scottish government said earlier in the week all of Greece would be added to its quarantine list whereas Wales has listed six Greek islands including Zakynthos.

    Some British holiday makers returning from there recently have come back with the virus.

    So the Welsh government is going for a regional approach in terms of Greece.

    From a public health perspective all the nations' governments are saying this is necessary right now.

    If you look at it from the travel industry perspective it can’t go on like this much longer.

  11. BreakingPortugal to be added to Scottish quarantine list, sources say

    Portugal will be added to Scotland's quarantine list from this weekend, senior Scottish government sources have told BBC Scotland.

    Read more here.

  12. Azores and Madeira exempt from Welsh rule change

    A bit more now on the Welsh government's move to put Portugal and six Greek islands on its list of places that come under quarantine regulations from early Friday morning.

    Although travellers returning from Portugal face self-isolation if they come back after 0400 BST on Friday, the Azores and Madeira will remain exempt, Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said.

    The Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete have also been added to the quarantine list, along with Gibraltar and French Polynesia.

  13. Ebbsfleet and Ashford Eurostar stations to be mothballed

    Ebbsfleet International

    Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations, in Kent, are to be mothballed after an "unprecedented fall in demand".

    It means passengers in Kent will need to start their journeys at St Pancras, in London.

    In a statement Eurostar said: "Covid-19 has had a severe impact on the travel industry and on our business and we continue to operate in very challenging conditions.

    "We have experienced an unprecedented fall in demand, with bookings down by 90% compared to last year.

    "The environment remains very unpredictable and has been exacerbated by quarantine restrictions which are now across all of our markets."

    The rail operator said it had not taken the decision not to reopen Ebbsfleet and Ashford before 2022 lightly, but said because of the "severity of the situation" it had to take action.

  14. Ex-UK PM Blair: Quarantine 'killing' international travel

    Tony Blair

    Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said quarantine restrictions are "killing" international travel and would not be necessary with a better thought-through testing regime.

    Speaking to the BBC's Newscast podcast, the ex-Labour leader welcomed new testing trials announced by the government but said they could have come several months ago - as he predicted we could be dealing with restrictions for another two years.

    Mr Blair said: "I don’t think it’s necessary to do 14 day quarantine when you come back into the country. That is if you want literally zero risk."

    He added "for international travel, [the quarantine is] killing it".

    Newscast is on BBC One at 23.45 BST and on BBC Sounds..

  15. How does it feel going back to school?

    Composite image of parents and children

    BBC reporters have been at two primary schools in England today, asking pupils and parents how it feels to be back after the unprecedented break caused by the pandemic lockdown.

    Eight-year-old Aarizuddin Halim said he was excited about meeting his friends again while Alicja Golinczak said she wondered what her new teacher was going to be like.

    Mickel Baptiste, who was back on the school run with his seven-year-old daughter, Alyssa, said it was good to return to some sense of normality.

    Read our full report here.

  16. BreakingTravellers to Wales from Portugal and Greek islands face quarantine

    Travellers to Wales from Portugal and six Greek islands will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 04:00 BST on Friday, the Welsh government has announced.

    Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete are among the islands affected.

    Gibraltar and French Polynesia will also be removed from the list of countries exempt from the quarantine restrictions.

    It is the first time that Wales has applied its own quarantine rules.

  17. Apology after UK testing system struggles to meet demand

    A drive-through test

    The head of England's NHS Test and Trace system has apologised after it emerged UK labs were struggling to keep up with demand - with some being asked to travel hundreds of miles for a test.

    UK labs were described as "maxed out" after a rise in demand - 170,000 tests a day are being processed, up from 100,000 in mid June.

    Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace in England, said she was "very sorry" for the situation.

    But she also insisted that the "vast majority" of people could still secure appointments nearby.

    The booking website is now prioritising high risk areas, including towns and cities with high infection rates and care homes, for testing.

    It means there are restricted home testing kits and few booking slots at local testing centres for people in low-risk areas, the government said.

    Officials said by Friday no-one should be asked to travel more than 75 miles to get a test.

  18. BreakingNo countries added to England quarantine list today

    There will be no changes to England's quarantine list on Thursday, the transport secretary has said, amid speculation Portugal and Greece were about to be added.

    Grant Shapps tweeted that the list was always under review and the government wouldn't hesitate to make changes if needed.

    The decision covers England and other parts of the UK may make individual decisions.

    People arriving from Greece to Scotland have to quarantine for 14 days as of 04:00 BST on Thursday, while arrivals into Wales from the Greek island of Zakynthos were asked to self-isolate after a cluster of cases.

    View more on twitter
  19. French professor faces ethics complaint over hydroxychloroquine claims

    Prof Didier Raoult

    A controversial French professor, who had defended the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus, faces an ethics complaint that could see him sanctioned or barred from practising.

    Didier Raoult, head of the infectious diseases department of La Timone hospital in Marseille, is accused by medical peers of spreading false information about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.

    The drug has been promoted by some, including US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, but there is currently no proof it works against coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against misuse of the drug because of serious side-effects.

    In March, Prof Raoult said his study of 80 patients showed "favourable" outcomes for four in five of those who received hydroxychloroquine. But in the complaint, seen by French newspaper Le Figaro, his critics say he promoted the drug "without any real scientific evidence on the subject, and against the health authorities' recommendations".

    According to Le Figaro, a group representing 500 specialists of France's Infectious Diseases Society filed the complaint against Prof Raoult. They accuse him of breaking nine rules of the doctors' code of ethics.

    Read more about hydroxychloroquine:

  20. UK records another 1,735 cases

    The latest figures from the UK government show there were 1,735 Covid-19 infections recorded over the past 24 hours - up from 1,508 a day earlier.

    There were 13 additional deaths, the government said on Thursday.

    The number of new cases is the highest since 4 June.