Covid UK news LIVE – Face masks needed FOREVER as coronavirus 'will never go away' & fears grow over scary Brazil strain

BRITS may have to wear face masks FOREVER as coronavirus will "always be with us," warns England's deputy chief medical officer.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the pandemic has changed how Brits approach hygiene and that some habits that we have adopted still stay with us.

And the new Brazil strain of coronavirus is a "concern," says the Prime Minister as the variant leaves many questions "still unanswered."

It is the third new strain of Covid that has been identified, following the more contagious variant was first identified in the UK, followed by another from South Africa.

The move comes as the UK suffered its worst ever day for coronavirus with 1,564 more people dying within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis.

Follow the very latest news, updates and analysis of the coronavirus crisis in our live blog below.

  • Chris Bradford

    WHITBREAD SALES MORE THAN HALVED AS COVID FORCES VAST SWATHES OF ESTATE TO CLOSE

    Premier Inn owner Whitbread has revealed third-quarter sales across its hotels and restaurants more than halved as coronavirus restrictions forced swathes of its estate to close.

    The group, which also owns chains including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, said like-for-like UK accommodation sales tumbled 56 per cent in the 13 weeks to November 26.

    Accommodation sales have slumped as much as 66.4 per cent in the five weeks to December 31 as restrictions tightened, with total UK sales down almost three quarters (73.4 per cent).

    Around 1,500 jobs have been axed to cut costs, but it's less than the 6,000 redundancies initially feared as more workers agreed to reduce their hours.

  • Chris Bradford

    RACE TO PROTECT

    The North East and Yorkshire have surged ahead in the vaccination race, official statistics out today are set to show.

    The jabbing divide was also exposed by Boris Johnson yesterday — fuelling fears of a postcode lottery in immunisation.

    The PM told a committee of MPs: “There are parts of the country where they have done incredibly well in vaccinating the over-80s.

    “Well over 50 per cent now in the North East and Yorkshire.

    "It is less good in some other parts of the country.”

    Click HERE to read our exclusive report.

    Credit: PA:Press Association

     

  • Chris Bradford

    TEMPORARY MORTUARY SET UP IN FIRST WAVE OF PANDEMIC NOW IN USE

    A temporary mortuary that was set up in a former aircraft hangar at the start of the pandemic is now in use.

    The facility at the former RAF Coltishall base, north-east of Norwich, was not required during the first wave of coronavirus but is now being used by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

    Tom McCabe, chairman of Norfolk's Covid-19 Strategic Co-ordination Group, said: "It was always anticipated that during challenging periods there would be extra pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria.

    "This temporary mortuary provides additional capacity to help make sure the county's hospitals have enough flexibility of space in their own mortuaries, and to ensure we can provide the most respectful and dignified way to look after both those who have died, and their families, over this difficult period."

    The former air base site is now known as Scottow Enterprise Park.

  • Chris Bradford

    TRAVEL FROM BRAZIL TO UK COULD BE HALTED

    Travel from Brazil to the UK could be banned on Thursday in response to a new strain of coronavirus discovered in the South American country.

    The measure is expected to be considered at an afternoon meeting of the Government's key "Covid-O" committee which oversees restrictions.

    It has been reported that flights from Brazil's 10 neighbouring countries – including Argentina and Peru – could also be halted.

    Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that new rules requiring travellers arriving in England to have a negative coronavirus test have been delayed "to give international arrivals time to prepare".

    The requirement for passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – to test negative for Covid up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure was due to come into force at 4am on Friday.

    It has been pushed back until Monday amid concerns that guidance on which tests would be accepted had not been published early enough.

  • Chris Bradford

    POLICE OFFICERS TRAINED TO DRIVE AMBULANCES

    Police officers are being trained to drive ambulances to help their 999 colleagues as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

    The officers in Dorset are expected to be needed to drive ambulances in the coming weeks to ease pressure on South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST).

    Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan said he had been asked to help as the service was "under such strain".

    He said: "We are all hands to the pump – this is a medical emergency. Driving training is under way and we stand ready to deploy officers."

    Policing duties would be unaffected by the move, the force said.

  • Chris Bradford

    HIGH STREET PHARMACIES TO ROLL OUT JABS

    High street pharmacies are to begin rolling out Covid vaccines, as the virus death toll across the UK climbed above 100,000.

    Boots and Superdrug branches will be among the six stores across England which will be able to administer the jabs from Thursday while the Government aims to hit its target of vaccinating all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.

    Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford, and Appleton Village pharmacy in Widnes will be in the first group to hand out the injections, alongside Boots in Halifax, and Superdrug in Guildford.

    The six pharmacies have been picked because they can deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for social distancing, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is "fantastic" that jabs will be available on the high street.

    Mr Hancock said: "Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab."

  • Chris Bradford

    COVID GROWTH RATE 'SLOWING', SAYS EPIDEMIOLOGIST

    The coronavirus growth rate is slowing and in some NHS regions there is a "sign of plateauing" in cases and hospital admissions, a leading epidemiologist has suggested.

    Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "much too early" to say exactly when case numbers would come down but in some NHS regions they appear to be "plateauing".

    He said: "It looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions in the South East and East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued, though it is hard to tell if they are coming down.

    "It has to be said this is not seen everywhere – both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas, but overall at a national level we are seeing the rate of growth slow."

  • Chris Bradford

    'A DELICATE BALANCING ACT'

    Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said there was a "delicate balancing act" between controlling the spread of coronavirus and putting too much of a burden on the economy.

    When asked on Sky News why people were not being tested for the virus when entering the country 11 months after the UK's first case, she said: "We have had a series of travel restrictions, indeed the quarantine restrictions have been in force for some time.

    "There's a very delicate balancing act between controlling the virus and ensuring we are not putting too much of a burden on the economy."

    She also said the UK had acted "decisively" in the past over new Covid variants found in Denmark and South Africa.

    Credit: Darren Fletcher – The Sun

     

  • Alex Winter

    ‘WE CAN’T FALL AT THE FINAL FENCE’

    The Sun had an exclusive chat with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam – and he’s warned the UK is in a Grand National-style race to beat Covid.

    The expert says we can’t fall at the final fence – meaning we could have to stick to lockdown and social distancing rules until “mid to late spring”.

    He told readers: “That’s the problem right now – disease activity is really high. But people are starting to think, oh well the vaccine is coming along I can relax a bit now.

    “No, no no no. The vaccine effects are going to take three months until we see them properly, and until then no one can relax.

    “We are probably in the last few furlongs of this race – like in the Grand National. We just have a couple more fences, we have just got to stick with it.”

    Here’s the story.

  • Alex Winter

    BEATING COVID ‘AS GOOD AS GETTING VACCINE’

    People who have suffered with Covid and made a recovery have similar levels of protection against the virus as vaccinated patients, a major study has found.

    Public Health England found prior infection slashed the chances of falling unwell again by at least 90 per cent.

    Experts said protection for recovered Brits was “at least as good” as that given by the jab.

    In the largest study of its kind, involving nearly 21,000 NHS workers, researchers found the “vast majority” had immunity against the virus six months after initially catching it.  

  • Claudia Aoraha

    COVID SURVIVORS HAVE 'SIMILAR PROTECTION AS VACCINATED PEOPLE'

    Brits who recover from Covid have similar levels of protection against the virus as vaccinated patients, a major study reveals.

    Public Health England found prior infection slashed the chances of falling unwell again by at least 90 per cent.

    Experts said protection for recovered Brits was “at least as good” as that given by the jab.

    In the largest study of its kind, involving nearly 21,000 NHS workers, researchers found the “vast majority” had immunity against the virus six months after initially catching it.  

    Experts said the “strongly encouraging” results suggest protection likely lasts much longer.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    DISNEYLAND TURNS INTO COVID VACCINE CENTRE

    California's Disneyland opened a giant coronavirus vaccination centre Wednesday, some 10 months after the pandemic's appearance forced the closure of the world-famous theme park.

    The first few hundred patients lucky enough to bag online appointments drove up to the Anaheim resort's parking lot Wednesday morning, where those over 65 and health care workers are being inoculated in white tents.

    "Today for many people getting vaccinated, it is truly the happiest place on Earth," said Orange County supervisor Lisa Bartlett, referencing the famous Disney descriptor.

    The county near Los Angeles announced Disneyland would host its first vaccination "super POD" (point-of-dispensing) site late Monday, and received 10,000 registrations within the first two hours on Tuesday.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    NEW NEGATIVE TEST RULE FOR TRAVELLERS DELAYED UNTIL MONDAY

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has delayed the introduction of new rules requiring travellers entering England to have a negative coronavirus test until next week.

    Mr Shapps said the rules would come into force from 4am on Monday to "give international arrivals time to prepare".

    It means passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to test negative up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    JABS WILL BE GIVEN 24/7

    Brits will be able to get a Covid jab 24/7, Boris Johnson vowed yesterday.

    The PM pledged to set up round-the-clock vaccination centres “as soon as we can” — and hailed The Sun’s Jabs Army drive, urging 450,000 civil servants to join to help the roll-out.

    It came as a daily record of 1,564 UK coronavirus deaths was announced.

    Some 400,000 Brits a day could soon get jabs as Covid vaccines are doled out round-the-clock, Government sources said yesterday.

    The PM vowed doses will be rolled out day and night as a huge stream of vaccines become available.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    SCOTLAND'S VACCINATION PROCESS REVEALED

    The Scottish Government has released plans on how it intends to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination.

    The 16-page document explains how it hopes to vaccinate 4.5 million Scots as quickly as possible.

    Everyone over the age of 18 will be invited for a vaccination, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds who are frontline health and social care workers, young carers or have underlying health conditions.

    In what it has called "the largest mass vaccination programme", the government plans to vaccinate 400,000 each week from February 1.

    Vaccinations will take place in care homes, where needed into people's own homes, through GP surgeries, local vaccination clinics, community pharmacies, mobile vaccination units and mass vaccination centres.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    WOMAN CELEBRATES 106TH BIRTHDAY BY BEATING COVID

    A woman who survived two world wars and lived through two pandemics celebrated her 106th birthday — by beating Covid.

    Mary Nicholson, who goes by the nickname Polly, tested positive for the virus on New Year’s Eve.

    But, despite her age, she overcame it — and marked turning 106 on Tuesday with nursing home staff in St Helen’s, Merseyside.

    The former cook, who never married or had children, said: “I had a cough but I’m feeling better.

    “I couldn't tell you how lovely my birthday has been.

    “Lovely sensation to find cards and presents that were given to me.

    “It's nice to be able to celebrate after being in isolation because of the virus."

  • Dan Keane

    MEDICS CALL FOR URGENT REVIEW OF PPE PROVISIONS

    Health leaders should urgently review the guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff caring for Covid patients, leading doctors have said.

    The British Medical Association (BMA) said that inadequate provision of the kit needed to protect doctors and nurses could be placing those on the front line at risk.

    In a letter to Public Health England (PHE), Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, warned of the "significant and growing concerns about the role of aerosol transmission of Covid-19 in healthcare settings" at a time when the NHS is facing "critical" pressure."

    He added: "Now that we have been assured that supply is no longer an issue, we believe guidance should be updated to take a more precautionary approach to better protect those working on the front line."

  • Claudia Aoraha

    AFRICA UNION SECURES 270 MIL VACCINE DOSES

    The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for African countries, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

    "As a result of our own efforts we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson," Ramaphosa, who is the African Union chair, said in a statement.

    Ramaphosa said all 270 million doses would be made available this year, with at least 50 million available "for the crucial period of April to June 2021."

  • Claudia Aoraha

    SPAIN RECORDS 195 MORE DEATHS LINKED TO COVID

    Spain reported 38,869 coronavirus infections and 195 deaths on Wednesday.

    The two-week rate of infection per 100,000 inhabitants, which has doubled during the past month, increased to 492 cases on Wednesday. The country has recorded 2.17 million total cases and more than 52,000 confirmed deaths.

    Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has identified some 100 cases of the virus variant that is possibly more contagious, but the current surge is fueled by social gatherings.

    Illa says Spain is improving the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, with 92,000 doses administered in the past 24 hours. Spain has used just over half of the 1.1 million doses delivered to the country.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    PPE IS NOT UP TO SCRATCH, SAYS JUNIOR DOCTOR

    A junior doctor has said some new PPE is not up to scratch, and the NHS may not be "enough" to cope with rising Covid cases across the UK.

    “I don't think any of us could have imagined it being worse than the first wave, but it is,” the doctor told the PA news agency. 

    "We are starting to really feel the effect of another wave… as we look at hospitals around us, what we're noticing is that a lot of the PPE is not quite up to standard."

  • Claudia Aoraha

    LEBANON'S HEALTH MINISTER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

    Lebanon's Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan on Wednesday tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to hospital, a statement from the ministry said.

    "The minister has been admitted to Saint George hospital for treatment," the statement said.

    Lebanon's hospitals are running out of capacity to treat critically ill patients as COVID-19 infections surge after the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    Daily infections reached an all-time high of 5,440 cases on Friday. Lebanon had recorded a total of 226,948 cases with 1,705 deaths up to Tuesday.

    Lebanon is currently under a three-week lockdown that ends on February 2.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    'EARLY SIGNS OF PROGRESS WITH COVID,' SAYS IRISH MEDICAL OFFICER

    There are early signs of hope in the struggle to contain the pandemic, Ireland's chief medical officer said.

    The relentless rise in the daily number of coronavirus cases and the positivity rate of testing has slackened.

    An additional 63 deaths with Covid-19 in Ireland were recorded on Wednesday.

    Another 3,569 cases were confirmed, the Department of Health said.

    Dr Tony Holohan said: "We are seeing some early signs of progress with daily case numbers and positivity rates.

    "We can take some hope in them, but we have a long, long way to go."

  • Claudia Aoraha

    ICUs WILL BE OVERWHELMED, SAYS PM

    Hospital intensive care units, ICUs, face being overwhelmed unless coronavirus rates are brought under control, Boris Johnson admitted.

    The Prime Minister said there was a "very substantial" risk that ICUs would be unable to cope if numbers kept increasing.

    Mr Johnson's stark warning came as the daily reported death toll reached a new high, with 1,564 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive test.

    The latest figures mean the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.

    The Prime Minister told MPs: "If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can't give you a prediction for that.

    "But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown."

  • Claudia Aoraha

    CARE HOME RESIDENTS TO BE JABBED BY END OF THE WEEK

    Most care home residents in England are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the week, health officials say.

    NHS England has told GPs that it expects residents and staff at homes across England to have had a jab by the end of this week, or by 24 January at the latest.

    A letter sent to the groups of GP surgeries who have signed up to deliver the vaccination programme suggests GPs can do this from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

    Care home residents top the list that sets out nine categories of those most at risk.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    WE CAN'T SAY HOW LONG VACCINE PROTECTION WILL LAST

    Prof Van-Tam has said that we may have to reformulate vaccines if and when the virus continues to change and mutate.

    He said: “I can’t tell you how long the vaccine protection is going to last for.  We are very hopeful it is going to be in the region of a very high number of months, possibly a small number of years. But we can’t say yet.

    “If the virus is going to continue to change there will come a point where we will have to reformulate the vaccines.”

Source: Read Full Article