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The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold is 20 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average. Beyond that, the agency says, the risk of Covid-19 is high, with a very high probability of infection, while vulnerable individuals face a “very high impact” from the disease.

And the situation is looking precarious. Only Germany (18.4 cases per 100,000), Finland (15.5), Cyprus (14.6) and Norway (13.9) fall below this case threshold, ECDC data showed on Monday. At the other end of the scale are the Czech Republic (167.6), the Netherlands (140.3) and France (120.3).

  • In Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team has reportedly recommended placing the whole country on the highest level of restrictions
  • Iceland has brought in a range of new rules, including restrictions on gatherings and the closure of some leisure facilities.
  • France’s capital is on the verge of a fresh lockdown, with the greater Paris area classified as a “maximum alert” zone.
  • The Czech Republic has entered a state of emergency.
  • Central districts in Berlin have been classified as risk areas by Germany’s health body.
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is self-isolating after participating in a meeting that was attended by a person who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. She tested negative for the virus for the second time on Monday.

And the health authority in England admitted that thousands of infections had not been included in the UK’s coronavirus case tally due to a “technical issue.”

Paris faces new lockdown

Paris is on the verge of a fresh lockdown as coronavirus cases surge in France.

Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed that the greater Paris area will be classified as a “maximum alert” zone, forcing bars to close, with measures in effect from Tuesday.

A press release from Castex’s office said the region has crossed the three thresholds that would put it in such an alert category: disease incidence rate, incidence rate for the elderly and occupancy rate of resuscitation beds by Covid-19 patients.

As part of measures expected to stay in place until October 16, restaurants will remain open providing they respect new health measures, but gyms will stay closed and the sale and consumption of alcohol in public spaces after 10 p.m. will be forbidden, Paris police chief Didier Lallement said. Organized public gatherings of more than 1,000 and gatherings of more than 10 will be banned, although demonstrations will be allowed, Lallement said.

On Saturday, the country recorded 16,972 new Covid-19 cases over 24 hours, surpassing last week’s previous daily record. According to Aurélien Rousseau, the head of Paris’ health authority, more than 36% of ICU beds in the region are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Ireland mulls highest restrictions

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan will on Monday meet the Covid-19 Oversight Group of top civil servants to discuss the latest National Public Health Emergency Team recommendations, which suggest placing the placing country under Level 5 restrictions — the highest level of measures, RTÉ reports.

If introduced, Level 5 restrictions would see all retailers except those deemed essential closed, while social gatherings would be restricted and people restricted to exercising within 5 kilometers of their homes.

EU leader enters self-isolation

Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is self-isolating after participating in a meeting that was attended by a person who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, she announced on Twitter.

Von der Leyen said on Monday that she tested negative for the virus, and would continue to self isolate until Tuesday evening, having previously announced that she tested negative for the virus last Thursday.

Under Belgian government rules, von der Leyen is required to quarantine for seven days after coming into contact with a Covid-19 positive person.

Eric Mamer, the EU Commission’s chief spokesman, said von der Leyen would not be able to attend Tuesday’s European Parliament plenary session or the EU/Ukraine summit.

Czech Republic in state of emergency

A state of emergency has been introduced in the Czech Republic — which saw some initial success in curbing the spread of the virus — to help to curb the country’s accelerating growth of new Covid-19 cases, and to to relieve pressure on the health care system as a total of 1,841 new cases were recorded on Sunday.

The 30 days of measures — the second state of emergency implemented this year — will enable the authorities to legally declare and enforce various anti-coronavirus measures without government approval, according to the health ministry.

According to the restrictions, which are not as as draconian as they were during the first state of emergency from March to May, primary schools will remain open but secondary schools will close in the most affected areas for two weeks. Singing is banned in all schools, while no more than six people are allowed at tables in bars and restaurants, which can remain open until 10 p.m.

Indoor events are limited to 10 people and outdoor events to 20 people, while operas, musicals and other singing performances are banned for two weeks. Religious services are limited to 100 people and singing is banned during religious services.

No more than six people are allowed at tables in bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic, which has implemented a second state of emergency.

Thousands of cases were missed off UK figures

The number of reported coronavirus infections in the UK jumped on Sunday to a new daily record of 22,961 on Sunday, nearly double the previous record for a single day, as it emerged that thousands of infections were not included in previously published daily figures, according to Public Health England (PHE).

The agency admitted that they failed to report a further 15,841 positive cases between September 25 and October 2 because of a “technical issue,” it said in a statement. The majority of these cases occurred in recent days, PHE said.

The UK’s opposition Labour Party criticized the government’s failure to report the infections at a time when a second wave of positive cases are being seen across the country, calling the mistake “shambolic.”

Sunday’s significant increase in reported cases means the UK’s total has now surpassed more than half a million infections since the start of the pandemic.

Sections of central Berlin at risk

Large parts of central Berlin have been classified as risk areas after the areas surpassed the country’s crucial incidence rate of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The districts — Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte, Tempelhof-Schoeneberg and Neukoelln — have been labeled red on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German agency for disease control and prevention. As of Monday morning, Germany has more than 300,000 coronavirus cases, according to the RKI. The death toll has climbed to 9,534.

On Friday, Germany reported 2,673 new coronavirus infections — its highest number of daily infections since April 18.

New rules in Iceland

New restrictions came into effect in Iceland on midnight on October 5, as virus cases have continued to rise since mid-September. According to the restrictions, in force until October 19, gyms, pubs, clubs and casinos are to be closed, and no more than 20 people can gather, with some exceptions including for parliament and funerals.

Primary and secondary schools will remain open as usual, but colleges and universities will not permit more than 25 people in the same space.

CNN’s James Frater reported from Brussels. Amy Woodyatt wrote from London. Inga Thordar, Sharon Braithwaite, Frederik Pleitgen, Stephanie Halasz ,Tomas Etzler, Pierre Bairin, Jonny Hallam and Livia Borghese contributed reporting.

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Egypt adds restaurant at ancient pyramid site

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Egypt has unveiled new visitor facilities on the plateau outside Cairo where the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx are situated, the country’s most visited heritage site and the sole remaining wonder of the ancient world.

Developers late on Tuesday night opened a new restaurant, “9 Pyramids Lounge”, which covers an area of 1,341 square meters and overlooks the Giza pyramids. There will also be a fleet of new environmentally-friendly buses to guide tourists around the plateau.

“One of the problems always faced is that people say there are no special services for tourists, that there is no cafeteria, no restaurant, nothing that can be offered to visitors,” said Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The new facilities are all easily taken part and reassembled so as to protect the antiquities and Waziri said the open-air restaurant offered “a panorama view that cannot be matched anywhere in the world.”

Tourism accounts for up to 15% of Egypt’s national output. However, officials have said previously the sector is losing around $1 billion each month after largely shutting down for several months from March due to the spread of coronavirus.

The changes at the plateau are part of wider efforts to develop key tourist sites in the country. Next year the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to be the world’s largest archaeological museum, is due to open just beyond the Giza Pyramids.

Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, the plateau’s main developer, said the 301 million Egyptian pound ($19.23 million)project is part of a greater plan to develop the UNESCO world heritage site and streamline tourists’ experience.

“We will organise the salespeople,” said Sawiris. “We will not deprive them of their income but we will put them into suitable, nice places.”

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Pelosi suggests coronavirus relief deal could slip past November elections

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Talks between the speaker and White House over a coronavirus relief package have remained at an impasse for months, though Pelosi said Tuesday that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are “on a path” to a deal. But a larger relief agreement has met resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate, where some Republicans have blanched at a multi-trillion dollar price tag.

The California Democrat said she has been buoyed by recent progress made between House Democrats and the White House, but several issues remain outstanding with less than two weeks until Election Day.

“We’re in a better place than we have been,” she said. “None of it is insurmountable if you want to make a decision.”

The speaker said that “it’s up to” President Donald Trump — who has said he wants a relief package with a higher price tag than the $2.2 trillion proposal Democrats are pushing — to cajole members of his party and get the eventual agreement over the finish line.

“I wouldn’t even be having these discussions if we didn’t think the president had some sway as to whether the Senate would take this legislation up,” she said. Senate Democrats on Wednesday also blocked a narrow, $500 billion GOP-pushed Covid-19 relief package from moving forward in the upper chamber, essentially dismissing it as a political stunt.

Pelosi’s comments echoed those she made earlier in the day on Sirius XM, in which she said “the president needs this legislation.”

“We obviously want to have a deal by November 3rd,” she said. “That really is going to be up to whether the president can convince Mitch McConnell to do so.”

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US election 2020: A really simple guide

Click or tap on an underlined word for a short definition or explanation

The US president has a huge influence on people’s lives both at home and abroad, so when the next election is held on 3 November, the outcome will matter to everyone.

The US political system is dominated by just two parties, so the president always belongs to one of them.

The Republicans are the conservative political party in the US and their candidate in this year’s election is President Donald Trump, who is hoping to secure another four years in power.

The Democrats are the liberal political party in the US and their candidate is Joe Biden, an experienced politician best-known for serving as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years.

Both men are in their 70s – Mr Trump would be 74 years old at the start of his second term, while at 78, Mr Biden would be the oldest first-term president in history.

How is the winner decided?

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Both candidates compete to win electoral college votes.

Each state gets a certain number of electoral college votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 up for grabs, so the winner is the candidate that wins 270 or more.

This means voters decide state-level contests rather than the national one, which is why it’s possible for a candidate to win the most votes nationally – like Hillary Clinton did in 2016 – but still be defeated by the electoral college.

Graphic: A map of the US showing how many electoral college votes are allocated to each state

All but two states have a winner-takes-all rule, so whichever candidate wins the highest number of votes is awarded all of the state’s electoral college votes.

Most states lean heavily towards one party or the other, so the focus is usually on a dozen or so states where either of them could win. These are known as the battleground states.

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Who can vote and how do they do it?

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If you’re a US citizen and you’re 18 or over, you should be eligible to vote in the presidential election, which takes place every four years.

However, lots of states have passed laws requiring voters to show identification documents to prove who they are before they can vote.

These laws are often put into place by Republicans who say they’re needed to guard against voter fraud. But Democrats accuse them of using this as a form of voter suppression as it is often poorer, minority voters who are unable to provide ID like a driving licence.

How people vote is a contentious issue this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some politicians are calling for wider use of postal ballots, but President Trump has said – with very little evidence – that this could result in more voter fraud.

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Is the election just about who is president?

Section image showing the Capitol Hill building

No. All of the attention will be on Trump v Biden, but voters will also be choosing new members of Congress when they fill in their ballots.

Democrats already have control of the House so they will be looking to keep hold of that while also gaining control of the Senate.

If they had a majority in both chambers they would be able to block or delay President Trump’s plans if he were to be re-elected.

All 435 seats in the House are up for election this year, while 33 Senate seats are also up for grabs.

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When will we find out the result?

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It can take several days for every vote to be counted, but it’s usually pretty clear who the winner is by the early hours of the following morning.

In 2016, Donald Trump took to the stage in New York at about 3am to give his victory speech in front of a crowd of jubilant supporters.

But don’t set your alarm clocks just yet. Officials are already warning that we may have to wait longer – possibly days, even weeks – for the result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots.

The last time the result wasn’t clear within a few hours was in 2000, when the winner wasn’t confirmed until a Supreme Court ruling was made a month later.

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When does the winner take office?

Section image showing the White House

If Joe Biden wins the election, he wouldn’t immediately replace President Trump as there is a set transition period to give the new leader time to appoint cabinet ministers and make plans.

The new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January in a ceremony known as the inauguration, which is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC.

After the ceremony, the new president makes their way to the White House to begin their four-year term in office.

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