Wednesday briefing: Daily UK Covid deaths worst since May

Warren Murray
·9-min read
<span>Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Top story: Calls grow for national lockdown

Hello, Warren Murray putting Wednesday’s news at your fingertips.

A further 367 people have died of Covid-19 in the UK in the last day, the highest daily increase in five months, and 50% higher than the daily increase last week. The government said that as of 9am Tuesday there had been a further 22,885 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 917,575.

The figures come amid growing calls for a national lockdown after the number of people killed by coronavirus in the UK passed 60,000. Political fear has seized the Conservatives, though, with MPs suggesting a “north-south divide” could be the “undoing” of the party and Boris Johnson. Some 55 MPs representing northern regions of Britain signed a letter calling for a roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions, warning that they have the numbers to inflict a government defeat.

One in five ethnic minority workers and a similar proportion of young people furloughed during the first coronavirus lockdown have since lost their jobs, according to a report from the Resolution Foundation. The findings come as the scheme is due to close this week. Read further coronavirus developments at our global live blog.

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Midweek catch-up

> The government of Qatar has said it “regrets any distress or infringement” after officials made women from 10 flights have intimate medical examinations while seeking to find the mother of a newborn abandoned in Doha airport.

> The oil tanker boarded by British commandos in the Channel after an alleged hijacking by stowaways had earlier been denied entry to Spanish and French ports, it has emerged.

> The NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app does not work for hundreds of thousands of people in England and Wales whose phones are set to languages including French, Spanish and Portuguese, the Guardian has established. Instead of defaulting to English, it shows completely blank screens.

> Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the departing head of the CBI, the UK’s leading employers’ organisation, says the government must conclude trade talks with the EU and end four years of “suspended animation”. She urged a tariff-free deal, stressing: “The automotive sector is 40 times larger than fishing.”

> Fish that eat the microplastics polluting the oceans are more likely to take risks and die younger because the lack of any nutrition from the particles makes them desperate to find food, scientists believe.

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‘Covid Covid Covid’ – Barack Obama has ridiculed Donald Trump at a Florida rally over the president’s complaints about the media closely covering the national coronavirus crisis. “He said this at one of his rallies, ‘Covid Covid Covid’ – he is complaining. He is jealous of Covid’s media coverage,” Obama said with mock incredulity as the crowd laughed.

Donald Trump’s campaign website was hacked on Tuesday evening with screenshots showing a bogus law enforcement announcement, which said it had been seized because “the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded [sic] daily by president donald j trump”.

Our Guardian US colleagues have bravely taken a stab at divining what the first 100 days of a Joe Biden administration might look like. If the Democratic candidate succeeds in defeating Trump, he will have to urgently tackle the coronavirus pandemic as well as rebuild global relationships. Biden overnight has boosted the Belarus opposition by backing their efforts to get rid of the despotic President Alexander Lukashenko. Here is the latest iteration of our round-the-clock blogging effort running up to the election.

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Global heating’s ‘sleeping giants’ – Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal. High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The international team still on board the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere. Their observations are expected to be analysed, peer-reviewed and published on their return.

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No more ‘white saviours’ – Comic Relief will stop sending celebrities such as Ed Sheeran or Stacey Dooley to make promotional films in African countries after deciding the approach reinforces outdated stereotypes about “white saviours”. The anti-poverty charity best known for its Red Nose Day fundraising events has also said it will no longer portray the continent using images of starving people or critically ill children. Instead it will highlight its work in African nations by promoting stories of ordinary life in the continent captured by local filmmakers and photographers.

Today in Focus podcast: The fight to ‘EndSars’ in Nigeria

The Guardian’s West Africa correspondent Emmanuel Akinwotu reports from the protests against the special anti-robbery squad (Sars), which have swept Nigeria and gained international support. For years the police unit has been plagued with allegations of extrajudicial killings and abuse.

Lunchtime read: Anger at Macron in Muslim world

On the front page of a hardline Iranian newspaper he was the “Demon of Paris”. Outside Baghdad’s French embassy a likeness of Emmanuel Macron was burned along with France’s flag. There has been rage across the Muslim world at the French president, fuelled by his speech announcing his intention to fight “Islamist separatism”, and describing Islam as being “in crisis all over the world today”.

A protest in Karachi, Pakistan, targeting the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
A protest in Karachi, Pakistan, targeting the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

After the French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his school for showing his class Muhammad cartoons from Charlie Hebdo – 12 of whose staff were murdered in an Islamist attack – several French cities responded by projecting caricatures of the Islamic prophet on the walls of buildings as a gesture of defiance and defence of secularism. Macron told a vigil in Paris that his country “would not give up cartoons”. At a rally in Bangladesh, Ahmad Abdul Quaiyum, an Islamist party leader, told the Guardian: “It’s prohibited to draw Muhammad. And what did they do? Not only drew him, but depicted him in a disgraceful way and Macron projected it on a multi-storey building with police protection. That is very insulting, hurtful and unacceptable.”


The Los Angeles Dodgers have won their first major league baseball championship since 1988, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6. Liverpool have reached the top of their Champions League group and joint-top of the Premier League in three games without the cornerstone of their defence, but a 2-0 victory over Midtjylland came at a price for Jürgen Klopp. At the Stade Vélodrome, Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gündogan and Raheem Sterling scored as Manchester City beat Marseille 3-0. Josep María Bartomeu’s last act as the president of Barcelona was to announce the club’s participation in a European Super League. The Wales manager, Jayne Ludlow, said the dressing room was solemn and quiet after a 1-0 defeat against Norway at Rodney Parade took Euro 2022 qualification out of their hands.

Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest man, will miss the Olympic Games next year after being told his explanation for one of three missed drug tests was “simply impossible” as he was handed a two-year doping ban. The Premier League chairman and chief executive held a meeting with the big six clubs to discuss the fallout from the publication of the Project Big Picture proposals without informing all 14 other clubs. Richard Freeman has been accused of agitating for the removal of a fellow doctor who raised concerns in 2010 that Team Sky’s new medical policy might breach World Anti-Doping Agency rules, a medical tribunal has been told. The Canadian rider Michael Woods claimed a second career win at the Vuelta a España when he prevailed in the seventh stage, a 159.7km hilly ride between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Villanueva de Valdegovia.


The outgoing head of the CBI has stepped up pressure on the government to conclude trade talks with the EU and move on from the “suspended animation” of the past four years. After five years leading the biggest employers’ organisation, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said her biggest regret was that the issue had not been resolved earlier and warned that businesses were unprepared for a hard Brexit. The FTSE 100 is expected to shed 0.6% of its value at the opening while the pound is at $1.309 and €1.107.

The papers

Several papers recount on their front pages the terrible news of the deaths of four people including two children in the Channel. “Tragedy in the Channel” says the Mail – a fifth person is missing and the paper says it will “intensify the pressure on the government to broker a deal with the French to finally stop the crossings”. Our Guardian print edition also covers that story on its front while leading with “Calls for national lockdown grow as UK death toll exceeds 60,000”. The i covers the pressure on the PM to “Show us the coronavirus exit strategy”.

The Telegraph has “Second wave forecast to be more deadly than first” while the Times has “Food tsar serves up £1bn meal plan to PM” – the tsar being Henry Dimbleby, author of the National Food Strategy report into food poverty and hunger created by the pandemic. The Metro portrays as callous a Conservative council leader’s comments about hungry children, which it sums up as “Let them eat M&S”.

The Mirror has “This is why he should never be freed” – a story about the James Bulger killer Jon Venables being a sex offending risk if let out again. The Express leads with “Millions face the end of free banking” – it reports how HSBC may start charging a monthly fee on current accounts. The FT takeaway from banks’ announcements yesterday seems rather in character: “HSBC and Santander see brighter prospects as bad loan risks recede”.

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