Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday morning. We’ll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.
1. Virus spread may be slowing
The growth in coronavirus cases may be slowing, an Imperial College London study of 84,000 people across England suggests. Researchers say the average number of people to whom each infected person passes on the virus has fallen from 1.7 to about 1.1 since early September but warn it remains “a very critical period”.
2. Job loss fears as furlough lifeline winds down
Employers face increased costs from today, as the government’s contribution to furloughed workers’ wages falls. It is also the deadline for some companies to issue redundancy notices before the furlough scheme ends on 31 October. And Labour is warning almost three million employees of small businesses are at risk of losing their jobs.
3. Bank warned ministers Covid loans were fraud risk
A state-owned bank supervising the Bounce Back Loan Scheme – designed to help small firms affected by Covid – warned in May the process was at “very high risk of fraud” from organised crime, it has emerged. The scheme has already paid out more than £38bn but BBC News has revealed how criminals were setting up fake firms to get loans worth tens of thousands of pounds. The government says the loans have been vital for many businesses and that fraudsters would be pursued.
4. ‘I was forced to terminate my baby alone’
Coronavirus restrictions mean partners are still not able to attend terminations at most hospitals. And Emma Kemsley, who was told her baby boy was unlikely to survive outside the womb, tells us no-one should have to repeat her “devastating” experience of having an abortion while husband James waited in the car park.
5. Beach flag tribute to those killed by coronavirus
A touring artwork paying tribute to those lost in the coronavirus pandemic and thanking NHS workers is on display at a beach in Dorset. In Memoriam uses 120 bedsheets as flags to create a red cross when viewed from above.
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