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Boris Johnson offers Manchester tens of millions of pounds extra support to go into Tier 3 lockdown

Doctors claim that Manchester is at risk running out of hospital beds for coronavirus patients as talks over whether the city will enter tier three lockdown restictions enter another week with Andy Burnham still refusing to agree to tighter restrictions. 

Boris Johnson is set to offer the region up to £100million to compensate for the financial hit of new restrictions as talks continue with local leaders including Greater Manchester mayor Mr Burnham, who wants more funding before he agrees to the move. 

The row has also split the Tory party with MPs including 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady questioning whether the move is needed as infections in the city center continues to decrease. 

Conservative MPs from northern ‘Red Wall’ seats have also backed Mr Burnham’s stance, and furiously hit back at a letter from 20 Tories from seats with lower infections urging Manchester to accept the restrictions. 

The war of words grew increasingly bitter yesterday as Michael Gove accused Mr Burnham of ‘posturing’ amid talks between the PM’s top adviser Sir Edward Lister, while the Manchester leader called for a Parliamentary vote on the city’s fate to ‘break the impasse’. 

Meanwhile, leacked documents obtained by the Guardian suggested that if coronavius hospitalisations keep rising, the city will run out of beds for coronavirus patients in the weeks ahead. The documents said that 211 of the city’s 257 critical care beds were being used for Covid patients or those with other serious illnesses – and said 12 hospitals in the region already at full capacity, according to a leaked NHS document.

Hospitals in Salford, Stockport and Bolton were already struggling to find beds to put the influx of 110 new patients with covid-19 needing vital treatment on Friday, the document stated. 

With a renewed sense of urgency Boris Johnson last night offered Greater Manchester tens of millions of pounds in extra support if the region agrees to accept the toughest level of lockdown restrictions. 

Adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the Government yesterday criticised Labour mayor Andy Burnham in public while offering him additional financial aid in private.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove savaged the Greater Manchester mayor, warning his ‘posturing’ would cost lives in a city that has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country.

In other developments in the coronavirus crisis: 

  • A further 16,982 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK yesterday – a leap of almost a third compared to last week
  • Health chiefs reported 67 further deaths from Covid-19 – bringing the total number of fatalities to 43,646
  • England’s deputy chief medical officer has called for the nation’s 10pm pub curfew to be brought forward to 6pm 
  • A top government advisor said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as he predicts a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of March 2021

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

Official data shows the rolling seven day average of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester has been falling in recent days

Pubs curfew should be brought forward to 6pm not 10pm says Jonathan Van-Tam

England’s deputy chief medical officer has called for the nation’s 10pm pub curfew to be brought forward to 6pm in an effort to reduce the increasing rates of transmission, according to reports.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam admitted there was little evidence supporting the benefits of a 10pm curfew and said he would prefer a closing time of 6pm instead as he spoke to Greater Manchester MPs during a virtual meeting regarding the city’s refusal to enter Tier 3 restrictions.

When asked if the 10pm curfew reduced the rates of coronavirus transmission, the professor said: ‘Not really. I’d prefer 6pm, or even earlier.’

However the Government advisor also admitted there was no evidence that shutting pubs down completely under a Tier 3 lockdown would control the virus, according to The Daily Telegraph.

His comments come as scores of revellers today braved the winter chill as they enjoyed a night out in the capital’s expanded beer gardens- just a day after London entered Tier Two lockdown.

Pub-goers swapped a night in at home to sit outside the numerous bars in central London’s Soho and get round curbs putting a stop to multiple households sitting inside pubs and restaurants.

 

He told Sky News: ‘I want them to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in and I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.

‘Instead of press conferences and posturing, what we need is action to save people’s lives.’

But hours later the Prime Minister’s senior adviser Sir Edward Lister held talks with Mr Burnham in which he is said to have made a significant new financial offer.

Whitehall sources said the cash could run into ‘tens of millions’ of pounds to help ensure compliance with the swingeing Tier Three restrictions ministers want to introduce. 

The offer is in line with deals struck with Merseyside and Lancashire, which have both been granted an additional £30million in recent days to help support businesses and jobs. 

But it falls short of Mr Burnham’s demand for the furlough scheme to be extended in full to provide 80 per cent of the wages of those unable to work.

Its replacement, the Job Support Scheme, will provide only 66 per cent of wages, although ministers insist the low-paid will also get Universal Credit top-ups.

Mr Burnham’s office last night described the talks with Sir Edward as ‘constructive’, with the mayor expected to consult with other local leaders overnight.

Downing Street indicated last week that Greater Manchester would be forced into Tier Three regardless today.

But last night it appeared ministers were ready to take a little longer to try to clinch a deal.

Mr Gove yesterday refused to comment when it was suggested to him that Greater Manchester would be in Tier Three from today. 

Ministers fear compliance with new restrictions would be low if Mr Burnham and other local leaders reject the crackdown, although Greater Manchester Police last night confirmed officers would enforce any new regulations, which are likely to include pub closures.

Mr Gove yesterday contrasted Mr Burnham’s hardline stance with that of leaders in Merseyside and Lancashire, who have reluctantly agreed to enter Tier Three.

‘There is light at the end of the tunnel’: SAGE expert Jeremy Farrar predicts a Covid vaccine WILL be ready within first three months of 2021

A top government advisor has said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as he predicts a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of March 2021.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK faces a ‘very, very difficult’ period over the next three to six months.

But the Wellcome Trust director said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as he believes a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment will be ready in the first quarter of 2021.

It comes as England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said the vaccine being prepared at Oxford University could be ready by December.

Meanwhile, drug giant Pfizer has released a video showing that production of their vaccine is well under way at the manufacturing plant in Belgium. 

 

South Yorkshire is also thought to be close to agreeing on a package of Tier Three restrictions and support. 

But attempts to isolate Mr Burnham politically have been undermined by the support of local Conservative MPs, who also oppose further restrictions in the region.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said politicians across Greater Manchester were ‘pretty united’ against the plans.

He told the BBC’s Broadcasting House show that local MPs and council leaders had ‘not been given the evidence it would be effective’.

He added: ‘We can see no reason for taking that significant economic hit especially if it does not come with full compensation for the economic hit when there is no evidence being advanced as to why it might work.’

And he warned the PM not to impose the restrictions, adding: ‘If you have got a situation where the MPs, the council leaders and the mayor are standing up for the people they represent, it would be unwise to impose it over their heads.’

Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, also questioned the value of further measures in Greater Manchester at this stage.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he said average cases in the city had fallen by 20 per cent in the first week of October, suggesting measures might be working already.

‘If policy keeps intervening at the first sight of rising cases then we will never learn if any given intervention has worked,’ he said. ‘The time has come to follow the data, watch the trends and slow down the thinking.’

Mr Burnham acknowledged the region faced a ‘serious situation’, but accused the Prime Minister of having engaged in an ‘exaggeration’ of the severity of Covid-19 in the region, saying intensive care bed occupancy was still well below its April peak. 

An estimated 82 per cent of critical care beds in the Greater Manchester area are now being filled by patients with covid-19 – 211 beds out of 257, reports Manchester Evening News.  

If trends continue, a projection from Public Health England leaked to MEN, predicted that around 238 new Covid admissions would be made everyday by the end of October. 

Meanwhile, the latest daily figures revealed a further 16,982 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases to 722,409.

The Government also said a further 67 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of Sunday. This brings the UK total to 43,646. 

Images taken within a Liverpool hospital's coronavirus ward last week show a coronavirus patient.  An estimated 82 per cent of critical care beds in the Greater Manchester area are now being filled by patients with covid-19 - 211 beds out of 257. Pictured: Paramedics take Patient into St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster, London

Images taken within a Liverpool hospital’s coronavirus ward last week show a coronavirus patient.  An estimated 82 per cent of critical care beds in the Greater Manchester area are now being filled by patients with covid-19 – 211 beds out of 257. Pictured: Paramedics take Patient into St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster, London

Adopting a 'carrot and stick' approach, the Government yesterday criticised Labour mayor Andy Burnham (pictured) in public while offering him additional financial aid in private

Boris Johnson last night offered Greater Manchester tens of millions of pounds in extra support if the region agrees to accept the toughest level of lockdown restrictions

Adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the Government yesterday criticised Labour mayor Andy Burnham (left) in public while offering him additional financial aid in private. Boris Johnson (right) offered tens of millions of pounds in extra support

 

A group of women in Manchester sing as the 10pm curfew approached yesterday evening. The city has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country

A group of women in Manchester sing as the 10pm curfew approached yesterday evening. The city has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country

Labour would shut down the UK again and again over the winter to control coronavirus, senior figures admit 

Labour’s plans for a temporary lockdown could see the economy and society shut down ‘multiple’ times this winter, senior figures admitted yesterday.

Sir Keir Starmer last week called on Boris Johnson to impose an immediate circuit breaker lasting for two to three weeks.

But Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green yesterday admitted that the lockdown, which would include the closure of shops, pubs and restaurants, might have to last longer than three weeks to be effective. 

And the shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the exercise might have to be repeated several times in the coming months.

Asked whether Labour accepted that the measure might be required ‘multiple’ times through the winter and spring, Miss Reeves told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘If that is what is needed then that is the approach that has to be taken, because we’ve got to get a grip on this virus.’

She added: ‘The tiered approach isn’t working. Tier Two is just a holding ground before you go into Tier Three.’

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove yesterday said he was ‘concerned’ by the admission from Miss Reeves.

Asked if some form of national clampdown was inevitable, he replied: ‘No.’

Mr Gove insisted that it made sense to take tough action in the areas of ‘highest incidence’ rather than imposing blanket national restrictions, which he said would damage the economy while providing little health benefit.

 

A top government advisor has also said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as he predicts a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of March 2021.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK faces a ‘very, very difficult’ period over the next three to six months.

But the Wellcome Trust director said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as he believes a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment will be ready in the first quarter of 2021.

It comes as England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said the vaccine being prepared at Oxford University could be ready by December.

Meanwhile, drug giant Pfizer has released a video showing that production of their vaccine is well under way at the manufacturing plant in Belgium. 

Prof Farrar told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed, claiming there could currently be 50,000 coronavirus cases per day across the UK.

He said: ‘The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.

‘Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.

‘It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.’

Asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said he does not believe a vaccine will be ready in time for the festive period.

He added: ‘Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.

‘I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.

‘The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.

‘It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.’

Prof Farrar said a short national lockdown known as a circuit-breaker is needed to reduce transmission rates, as previously recommended by Sage last month.

He said the ‘best time’ to have introduced the temporary lockdown would have been around September 20, but added ‘it was never too late’.

He said: ‘The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.

‘So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.’

In regard to a potential vaccine and effective treatments, Prof Farrar said he believes they are ‘three to six months away’.

Meanwhile, new footage has emerged which shows the vaccine that could end the Covid misery engulfing the planet.

Drug giant Pfizer has already manufactured ‘several hundred thousand doses’ of the jab at its plant in Puurs, Belgium. They are being stockpiled ready to be rolled out worldwide if clinical trials are a success, and regulators deem it safe and effective.

The US giant hopes to make 100 million doses available this year, of which 40 million are destined for the UK – a figure that will be dwarfed by the 1.3 billion jabs the company aims to manufacture in 2021. 

Every patient who receives the vaccine will need two doses.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday today, Pfizer UK boss Ben Osborn says: ‘It was great to see the first vial coming off the manufacturing line. 

‘It just brought a tremendous smile to my face to see all of this work actually result in a product.’ 

Pfizer, which is working with Germany’s BioNTech, is currently running a trial on 44,000 people, and last week said it plans to apply for emergency US approval of its vaccine in November.  

That puts Pfizer in pole position in the race to launch a Covid vaccine.

Separately, Osborn said Pfizer’s laboratory in Sandwich, Kent, has unearthed drugs that could provide a potential cure for Covid-19. 

It comes as it was today reported that the NHS is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine soon after Christmas.

The row over local lockdowns came as the Mayor of Greater Manchester (pictured: People enjoy a night out in Manchester), Andy Burnham, blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for being 'the problem' in the standoff over moving the region into Tier Three

The row over local lockdowns came as the Mayor of Greater Manchester (pictured: People enjoy a night out in Manchester), Andy Burnham, blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for being ‘the problem’ in the standoff over moving the region into Tier Three

Meanwhile, in Leeds, people were also out on the town last night despite the area being on the brink of a Tier Three lockdown

Meanwhile, in Leeds, people were also out on the town last night despite the area being on the brink of a Tier Three lockdown

The UK’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, reportedly told MPs last week that stage three trials of the vaccine created at Oxford University, which is being produced by Astra Zeneca, could be rolled-out in December, reports the Sunday Times.  

According to the paper, he said: ‘We aren’t light years away from it. It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas. 

‘That would have a significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths.’ 

Thousands of NHS staff are to undergo training to administer a vaccine before the end of the year, the paper adds.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is under growing pressure from furious Tory grandees to set out a ‘clear end date’ for local lockdowns.

Senior Conservative Party figures have warned the Prime Minister he must announce a ‘strategy for returning life to normal’ as they said an indefinite cycle of localised shutdowns is not acceptable and would wreck the economy. 

 The lockdown ghost towns: More than a MILLION hospitality and retail jobs may vanish by end of the year as venue owners in northern cities brand coronavirus restrictions a ‘death sentence’ for business

The Covid-19 catastrophe is creating ‘ghost towns’ across Britain and threatens to wipe out more than a million jobs, experts warned last night.

A record 11,120 household-name retail outlets and around 125,000 store jobs were lost after the first lockdown supercharged a move away from high streets.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, with fears the job loss total at shops, pubs and restaurants could soar as new lockdowns are rolled out this winter.

London, Essex and York were placed into Tier Two at the weekend, joining areas including Birmingham and Manchester, while Liverpool and Lancashire are already in the most stringent Tier Three.

The Covid-19 catastrophe is creating ‘ghost towns’ across Britain and threatens to wipe out more than a million jobs, experts warned, Pictured: Janet Watson, landlady at the Tillotsons Arms in Chipping, Preston, says she is at 'breaking point' financially, and warns new restrictions imposed on the area will 'push us over the edge'

The Covid-19 catastrophe is creating ‘ghost towns’ across Britain and threatens to wipe out more than a million jobs, experts warned, Pictured: Janet Watson, landlady at the Tillotsons Arms in Chipping, Preston, says she is at ‘breaking point’ financially, and warns new restrictions imposed on the area will ‘push us over the edge’

Hospitality industry leaders say that as many as 750,000 jobs could go in their sector alone by early next year – and a total of 255,000 retail jobs could be lost by the end of 2020.

Kay Neufeld, of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said it was ‘plausible’ that there could be more than one million job losses in the retail and hospitality sectors alone.

The Social Market Foundation, an independent think-tank, said: ‘Reduced demand for office space, and a seemingly inevitable decline of traditional retail, risk creating ghost town and city centres.’

The British Chambers of Commerce is warning of ‘hundreds of thousands of job losses’ amid the closure of the furlough scheme, which currently supports more than two million workers, this month.

More than one in four of the UK’s 39,700 pubs may not survive the pandemic, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

Greene King plans to close 79 pubs, putting 800 jobs at risk, while Young’s, Wetherspoons, Fuller’s and City Pub Company have all said they will cut several hundred staff.

Nick Mackenzie, of Greene King, said: ‘Pubs are becoming increasingly unviable.’ He added: ‘This means extending furlough to cover all hospitality venues hit by restrictions, not just those forced to close, extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday and cutting beer duty.’

Pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, which owns Harvester and All Bar One, said that the industry was facing ‘exceptionally challenging and uncertain circumstances’.

They added: ‘We strongly urge the Government to step up the level of support it is offering to an industry which has been repeatedly singled out and taken the full brunt of restrictions.’

The Government said it had already provided £200billion worth of support to help companies get through the crisis.

A spokesman said: ‘We know this continues to be a very difficult period for businesses. That’s why we have put in place a substantial package of support.’

‘These restrictions are a death sentence’: Hospitality business owners earning as little as £20 a night say new restrictions will ‘devastate’ their livelihoods

New rules have killed us

The move to Tier Two has been a ‘death sentence’ for one Northern bar after it took just £20 on Saturday night.

Mark and Amy Hanson, owners of Edge Venue, said they had just two customers all evening – and Saturday is the only day they say is worth opening anyway.

Mrs Hanson posted a video of the deserted venue in Stockton-On-Tees, County Durham, saying: ‘Two very kind customers have turned up a little while ago and are trying desperately to drink so we can pay bills… For all those people who think Tier Two is a great thing or a wonderful idea, I know I’m not the only one who thinks actually it’s a death sentence.’

The couple were operating as an events venue until March but reopened as a bar last month to try to survive the pandemic. Mr Hanson said the first three weeks ‘were doing the job’ and keeping them afloat, but after the new rules were introduced this week ‘it’s just killed us again’.

Mark and Amy Hanson, owners of Edge Venue, said they had just two customers all evening – and Saturday is the only day they say is worth opening anyway

Mark and Amy Hanson, owners of Edge Venue, said they had just two customers all evening – and Saturday is the only day they say is worth opening anyway

We’re at breaking point

Andy Jones, owner of Jones and Sons in Dalston, north London, said 540 people who had been booked in on Saturday had cancelled

Andy Jones, owner of Jones and Sons in Dalston, north London, said 540 people who had been booked in on Saturday had cancelled

It had been the centre of village life for generations – but with Lancashire being thrust into the highest level of lockdown restrictions, the future looks bleak for the Tillotsons Arms in Chipping, Preston. ‘I’m absolutely devastated,’ landlady Janet Watson said. ‘It’s a total shock – I didn’t expect we’d be placed in Tier Three so soon.’

While the pub does serve food, its remote location in a community of just 1,000 people means it may no longer be viable. ‘We’re a little village in the middle of nowhere,’ Mrs Watson said.

In addition to backing greater support for hospitality staff who lose their jobs, Mrs Watson believes more should be done to help businesses like hers. She added: ‘We’re already at breaking point with the restrictions as they are, but this is going to push us over the edge… If we have to close, it tears the heart out of the village.’

Ludicrous and frustrating

The owner of a restaurant said his sales were down 40 per cent on Saturday due to new lockdown rules in the capital.

Andy Jones, owner of Jones and Sons in Dalston, north London, said 540 people who had been booked in on that day had cancelled.

The restaurant normally seats 400 in two sittings, but the vast majority of the tables are indoors meaning only household groups are allowed.

Mr Jones said the lost bookings, which across the day included brunch and dinner, amount to around £25,000 in revenue. ‘It’s ludicrous… this is the worst outcome for hospitality possible,’ he said.

‘Couples who don’t live together aren’t allowed to go out on dates, colleagues aren’t allowed to go out after work for a drink together. That economy in London is huge.’ Mr Jones said this year he has lost more than £600,000 in revenue due to Covid restrictions, but still has a £110,000 annual rent bill to pay.

He added: ‘It’s very, very frustrating to see eight years of my life potentially go down the drain because no one is standing up [for] the industry.’

Bars and pubs were also busy in London, which has recently been moved into Tier 2 of the new alert system

Bars and pubs were also busy in London, which has recently been moved into Tier 2 of the new alert system

Labour: We’d shut down UK again and again 

Labour’s plans for a temporary lockdown could see the economy and society shut down ‘multiple’ times this winter, senior figures admitted yesterday.

Sir Keir Starmer last week called on Boris Johnson to impose an immediate circuit breaker lasting for two to three weeks.

But Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green yesterday admitted that the lockdown, which would include the closure of shops, pubs and restaurants, might have to last longer than three weeks to be effective. 

And the shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the exercise might have to be repeated several times in the coming months.

Asked whether Labour accepted that the measure might be required ‘multiple’ times through the winter and spring, Miss Reeves told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘If that is what is needed then that is the approach that has to be taken, because we’ve got to get a grip on this virus.’

She added: ‘The tiered approach isn’t working. Tier Two is just a holding ground before you go into Tier Three.’

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove yesterday said he was ‘concerned’ by the admission from Miss Reeves.

Asked if some form of national clampdown was inevitable, he replied: ‘No.’

Mr Gove insisted that it made sense to take tough action in the areas of ‘highest incidence’ rather than imposing blanket national restrictions, which he said would damage the economy while providing little health benefit.

Pictured: Student, 19, who died in halls at Manchester University after suffering ‘severe anxiety’ during campus lockdown – as his Cambridge academic father criticises the lack of support given to his son

Finn Kitson, 19, was found dead at halls of residence at the University of Manchester

Finn Kitson, 19, was found dead at halls of residence at the University of Manchester

A teenage university student, who is the son of a leading Cambridge academic, died in his halls of residence after suffering with ‘severe anxiety’ during a campus ‘lockdown’, his family say.

The 19-year-old student, named by his family as Finn Kitson, was found dead at halls of residence at the University of Manchester. 

His death, ten days ago, came after a spike in Covid-19 in cases in Manchester.

The surge in cases resulted in hundreds of students self-isolating and others at neighbouring university Manchester Metropolitan forced into lockdown.

Officials say the death of Mr Kitson, who was staying at the University of Manchester’s Fallowfield campus, was not Covid-19 related. Police also said they were not treating it as suspicious.

A video shared by Cambridge Celts manager Nic Mitham today showed the joyous moment Finn, No.10, was surrounded by his team mates as they celebrated a goal he’d scored. 

Mr Mitham tweeted a tribute along with the video reading: ‘It was an honour to manage Finn Kitson at Cambridge Celts and I’ll always remember him for playing the game that he loved. Rest in peace Finn.’

But today Mr Kitson’s father, Michael Kitson, hit out at the ‘little support’ students have been receiving while locked down in a tribute tweet to his son.

Finn Kitson, left, joins his Cambridge Celts team mates to celebrate him scoring a goal, in a video shared by the team's manager Nic Mitham

Finn Kitson, left, joins his Cambridge Celts team mates to celebrate him scoring a goal, in a video shared by the team’s manager Nic Mitham

Mr Kitson, who is an economist at Cambridge University’s business school, Cambridge Judge, said on Twitter: ‘If you lockdown young people because of Covid-19 with little support, then you should expect that they suffer severe anxiety.

‘The student referred to below is our son – and we love and miss him so much.’

Mr Kitson was responding on Twitter to a now-deleted post by a local radio news source, which had tweeted that the student’s death was not Covid-19 related and not being treated as suspicious, he said: ‘This is untrue.’

Other members of the family have also paid tribute, including sister Beth Kitson.

Responding to a post by her father on Twitter, she said: ‘My wonderful kind and darling brother. He is and will always be so loved.’

She urged those reading the tweet to donate to charities Mind and Samaritans. 

Since Mr Kitson’s tweet, there has been outpouring of sympathy, with scores of people paying tribute to him on Twitter and offering sympathy to his shattered parents and siblings Beth and Harry.

Mr Kitson, a former Cambridge City FC youth player, was discovered at the university’s Fallowfield Halls residential centre on October 8.

In an initial tweet, his father said: ‘Our beautiful brilliant son and brother has passed away. We are all devastated. Please give anything you can towards mental health charities.’

Players at his former team, Cambridge City FC, also stood for a minute’s silence in tribute at their ground.

Dr Simon Merrywest – director for the student experience at the University of Manchester – said: ‘We can confirm that very sadly one of our students was found deceased in their hall of residence at around 5pm on Thursday, October 8.

‘We are providing all possible support to their family and friends and our utmost sympathies go out to them.

‘The family have asked us to make it clear that this incident is not Covid-19-related and that they would wish to see their privacy respected at this difficult time.

‘The university is working closely with the Manchester’s Coroner’s Office, so we will not be able to comment any further.’

Mr Kitson’s death came just days after two 18-year-old freshers died in a Newcastle University student accommodation block after they were thought to have taken class-B drug ketamine.

In separate incidents, an 18-year-old man from nearby Washington, died on Saturday and a 21-year-old Northumbria University student died the same weekend as Finn after allegedly taking drugs.

Mr Kitson, a former Cambridge City FC youth player, was discovered at the university's Fallowfield Halls residential centre

Mr Kitson, a former Cambridge City FC youth player, was discovered at the university’s Fallowfield Halls residential centre

MailOnline contacted the University of Manchester for a response, but a spokesperson declined to comment.   

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said: ‘At around 5pm on Thursday, October 8, police received a report of concern for the welfare of a man at a property off Moseley Road, Manchester.

‘Emergency services attended and a 19-year-old man was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

‘His next of kin has been informed. There are believed to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.’

At the time of Mr Kiton’s death, Fallowfield was one of the worst-hit student areas for coronavirus outbreaks in Britain with five per cent of people tested positive for the disease in the week ending October 2.

The University of Manchester, where there have been more than 1,000 cases since September 21, shifted to online learning earlier this month.

However, students were not put into lockdown, unlike students at neighbouring Manchester Metropolitan University, where more than 1,000 students were told to remain in their halls of residence after a Covid-19 outbreak.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details

Wales’ 17-day circuit break

Wales could be put into a full lockdown lasting 17 days by Labour leaders.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make an announcement today.

The circuit-breaker would run from 6pm on Friday until the evening of November 8.

A leaked letter from the Welsh Confederation of Passenger Transport suggested it had already been given the green light.

It said the restrictions ‘will take us back to the situation in March’. Primary schools would reopen after half-term but secondaries could remain shut for the lockdown.

Cases in Wales reached 950 today with the Health Minister saying local lockdowns across the nation were not effective and so could be replaced by a full 'circuit-breaker' lockdown

Cases in Wales reached 950 today with the Health Minister saying local lockdowns across the nation were not effective and so could be replaced by a full ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown

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