Here are the key updates from the last 24 hours.

  • A meeting is expected to take place today between North-East leaders and the Government about the possibility of Tier 3 restrictions in the region. The region’s public health directors held discussions on Friday lunchtime with England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam.
  • More than 2,500 new cases of Covid-19 were reported across the North-East and North Yorkshire over the weekend. On Sunday, no deaths were reported in the region’s hospitals.
  • Across Europe, a second wave of infections is taking hold. In Italy, a month of new restrictions have been imposed, with cinemas, gyms and pools have closed and a curfew set for bars, cafes and restaurants. People must also wear masks outside. The Spanish government has declared a state of national emergency and has imposed an overnight curfew between 11pm and 6am.  It could be in place for six months.
  • The Government is resisting pressure to sack the head of NHS Test and Trace amid deepening concern among ministers and MPs that the system is failing to stem the spread of coronavirus. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis insisted that Baroness Harding was doing “a very good job” after one senior Conservative MP called for her to be replaced by a senior military commander. However, Labour warned her position was “untenable.
  • Boris Johnson is struggling to contain a growing Tory backbench rebellion as ministers continue to resist demands for a U-turn on free school meals. A series of senior Conservatives have warned they could vote against the Government if there is fresh Commons division on extending free meals in England during the school holidays. Sir Keir Starmer confirmed Labour would force another vote on the issue if ministers did not relent in time for the Christmas holidays.
  • This weekend has seen a wave of community efforts to make sure struggling families have food this half term. In Darlington, hundreds of bags were handed out at the Town Hall in an effort spearheaded by That Bread and Butter Thing and Darlington Cares. Elsewhere, nine-year-old Daisy Simpson helped raise £1,000 in a few days to buy money for food to be distributed.
  • It will be known before the end of the year whether or not there is a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, the US’s top infectious disease specialist has said. Dr Anthony Fauci predicted such knowledge could arrive by the end of November or beginning of December, but warned there would not be enough doses to vaccinate everyone before 2021. His comments come amid reports plans are being made for frontline NHS staff to receive a Covid-19 vaccine within weeks.