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Coronavirus - 23rd November

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 08:42

Summary for Monday, 23rd November

  • A coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford stops 70% of people from developing symptoms, a large scale trial shows
  • It is both a triumph and a disappointment after other vaccines showed 95% protection
  • But the Oxford jab is much cheaper, and easier to store and distribute widely than the other two
  • Boris Johnson praised scientists and volunteers for the trial's "fantastic results"
  • The UK prime minister will later explain the detail of England's return to the "three tier system" when lockdown ends on 2 December
  • Parts of the system will be tougher, but gyms and shops will reopen and a closing time curfew for pubs and restaurants will be eased
  • UK-wide coronavirus rules on gatherings and travel over Christmas are still yet to be confirmed
  • Meanwhile, Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has raised concerns about the world's poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines
  • There have been more than 58.6m virus cases and 1.3m Covid-19 deaths across the globe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a quick update of the main stories from the UK this morning:


Oxford vaccine both a triumph and a disappointment

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
The vaccine developed by the University of Oxford stops 70% of people developing Covid symptoms, a large-scale trial has shown.
It is both a triumph and a disappointment after vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna showed 95% protection.
However, the Oxford jab is far cheaper, and is easier to store and get to every corner of the world than the other two - so it will still play a significant role in tackling the pandemic, if it is approved by regulators.
There is also intriguing data that suggests perfecting the dose could increase protection up to 90%.
Read more from James here .

Key global developments from the last few hours:


  • Global cases approach 60m. The global coronavirus infections total is currently 58,563,451, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker – less than 2.5m cases from 60m.With daily totals averaging at around 600,000, the global infections total is likely to pass 60m this week – just under three weeks after it passed 50m.The global death toll is nearing 1.4m people. It currently stands at 1,386,465.
  • Chaos at Shanghai airport after sudden decision to test thousands - reports. The Global Times reports that Shanghai Pudong airport has started testing thousands of staff and passengers after several cargo handlers tested positive for coronavirus. Hundreds of flights have also been cancelled, and videos posted online appear to show people panicking as they are told they will all be tested for the virus.
  • South Korea reported another daily rise of over 200 new coronavirus cases on Monday, a day before tighter social distancing rules aimed at blunting a third wave of infections take effect. The daily tally of 271 new cases fell from 330 reported on Sunday after hovering above 300 for five straight days, a level not seen since August, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
  • Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble pops. The much-hyped Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble has postponed, one day before the first flights were set to depart. The bubble was postponed after Hong Kong health authorities reported a rise in new cases, including 43 on Saturday alone, 13 of which were untraced local infections.The bubble allows people to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong for leisure, and to take a Covid test in lieu of quarantine or home isolation.
  • US suffers one Covid death every minute. In the US, 1,448 people died on Friday according to Johns Hopkins University – the equivalent of a person every minute, as Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis pointed out on Twitter on Sunday.
  • UK government to ease isolation requirements for Covid contacts. The UK government will announce on Monday that self-isolation will no longer be required for those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19, the Telegraph reported. Contacts of those who test positive will be asked to undergo daily tests for seven days, and will be allowed to go about their business in the meantime, the newspaper said.
  • The first Americans could be vaccinated on 11 December. US Covid-19 vaccine programme head Moncef Slaoui said the first Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine could get it as soon as 11 December, CNN reported on Sunday.“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours from the approval, so I expect maybe on day two after approval on the 11 or the 12 of December,” he said in an interview to CNN.
  • Germany may start Covid-19 vaccine programme in December. Germany could start administering shots of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as next month, health minister Jens Spahn was quoted as saying. “There is reason to be optimistic that there will be approval for a vaccine in Europe this year,” Spahn said in an interview with publishing group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “And then we can start right away.”
  • NHS told to be ready to administer vaccine by 1 December. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine this week, even before the US authorises it, the Telegraph news site reported on Sunday.Citing government sources, it said British regulators were about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and that the National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by 1 December. The US Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that it would meet on 10 December to discuss whether to authorise the vaccine.
  • Spain to begin vaccinations in January. Spain will begin a comprehensive coronavirus vaccination programme in January and expects to have covered a substantial part of the population within three months, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday. He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.
  • Experts have urged Americans against travelling for family gatherings at Thanksgiving this week even though millions were set to defy the advice , as the US crossed the threshold of more than 12m cases of coronavirus.Ominous warnings came as Donald Trump appeared to admit that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the virus would simply “go away” or “disappear” and, more recently, that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 09:02

What to expect when England lockdown ends

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give further details this afternoon about what will happen when England’s lockdown ends on 2 December.
The three-tier system, in place before the lockdown, will be strengthened overall but some individual measures will be relaxed.
Here are some of the announcements we're expecting:

  • Gyms and non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen in all areas
  • The 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants will be relaxed - last orders will remain at 10pm but customers will have an extra hour to drink and eat up
  • A ban on outdoor grassroots sports will be lifted
  • Mass testing will be introduced in all areas in the highest tier
  • Most areas will be put in the higher tiers - high risk or very high risk - with details about which tier each region will be placed in expected on Thursday

The PM had hoped to announce arrangements for the Christmas period on Monday, but this has been delayed until at least Tuesday to allow the Scottish and Welsh cabinets to agree the plans.

UK could start to get 'back to normal' after Easter - Hancock

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is “really pleased” with the news from the Oxford University vaccine trial, suggesting it could help the country to start to get "back to normal" after Easter.
The vaccine stops 70% of people developing Covid symptoms, according to a large-scale trial , but data also suggests perfecting the dose could increase protection up to 90%.
The UK government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine - enough to immunise 50 million people.
Hancock told BBC Breakfast that, subject to regulatory approval, the government hoped to start vaccinating people next month.
“The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March. And we hope that some time after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal,” he said.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 09:18

Latest headlines from around the world

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 10:15

New England tier system 'will have to be stronger' - Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said England's three-tier system of coronavirus rules will "have to be stronger" than it was before the current four-week lockdown.
“The number of cases is now clearly starting to fall across the whole of the UK,” he told BBC Breakfast.
But he said the tiered system replacing the lockdown, when it ends on 2 December, will still have to be strengthened because while the previous top-tier restrictions succeeded in flattening cases, "we need to bring them down".
The health secretary said Liverpool, which was in the top tier before the lockdown, was "a really good example of how we can beat this virus".
He added that the combination of mass testing, which was piloted in the city , and restrictions had brought Liverpool cases down "really quite remarkably".

Analysis: More tests to reduce self-isolation could boost compliance

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Close contacts of people who test positive for coronavirus will be offered the opportunity to be tested every day for a week and they will not need to isolate unless they test positive, the government has said.
The repeat testing scheme will be trialled in Liverpool from next week, and will be extended across the NHS and care homes in December if the results are promising. After that it would be rolled out to everyone from January.
The idea of shortening the isolation period for close contacts in the UK is an interesting development.
Other countries have made this move in the acknowledgement that large numbers of people are not completing their 14-day isolation if they are a close contact.
The 14-day timeframe was introduced as that is the length of time incubation and the development of symptoms can take, in theory.
But the problem when infection rates are high is that people can find themselves having to come in and out of isolation on a regular basis.
What is more, there is little evidence of how many infections the isolation of close contacts is actually preventing.
The result is that compliance is low. NHS Test and Trace estimates half of people asked to isolate follow the rules, although other studies have suggested it is even lower.

Some have called for more pragmatism, arguing a shorter isolation will be more effective in controlling the spread of the virus because of greater compliance.
By linking it to regular testing, the government hopes this will be achieved while minimising the risk.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 10:19

Merkel 'worried' about vaccine for poor countries

As we reported earlier, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is concerned about the world's poorest people securing access to Covid-19 vaccines.
She was speaking during a virtual G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs.
But Merkel warned progress was slow and was worried "nothing has been done" yet - saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance Gavi .
During the conference, the world's richest nations promised to support poor countries whose economies have been badly damaged by the crisis, but gave few details about what spending would involve.
Read more here.

Vaccines: Will any countries be left out?

Alice Cuddy - BBC News
As more and more coronavirus vaccines are being developed, there are concerns that poorer nations could get left behind.
We've spoken to experts about whether efforts to come up with a fair system will actually work.
One research centre in the US estimates that 6.4 billion doses of potential vaccines have already been bought, and another 3.2 billion are either under negotiation or reserved as "optional expansions of existing deals".
The process of advance purchasing, while well established, also means that whoever can pay the most at the earliest stage of production gets to the front of the queue, one expert told us.
Read the full story here.

Oxford vaccine could 'halt virus in its tracks'

Results from the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial suggest it may be able to "halt the virus in its tracks", the trial's lead investigator has said.
Prof Andrew Pollard said he was "really pleased" with the results, which showed the vaccine stopped 70% of people developing Covid symptoms .
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was also significant that no-one who received the vaccine had required hospital treatment for Covid-19.
He added that if people were given a low dose first, followed by a high dose a month later, protection rose to 90%.
Pollard added there was "a hint in the data" that this dose regime "was also able to reduce asymptomatic infection".
“If that is right, we might be able to halt the virus in its tracks and stop transmitting between people," he said.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 10:30

How do the vaccines compare?

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We've been hearing today that the coronavirus vaccine by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford stops 70% of people developing Covid symptoms. But how does this compare with other vaccines being worked on?
The first results from the Pfizer/BioNtech jab showed it stops more than 90% of people developing Covid symptoms. The vaccine is a new type called an RNA, and uses a tiny fragment of the virus's genetic code. Doses must be stored at a temperature of around -70C so have to be transported in a special box , packed in dry ice and installed with GPS trackers.
Moderna uses the same approach as the Pfizer vaccine and protects 94.5% of people, the company says. It is easier to store than Pfizer's, because it stays stable at -20C for up to six months.
The Oxford vaccine may be one of the easiest vaccines to distribute, because it does not need to be stored at very cold temperatures. It is made from a a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees, that has been modified to not grow in humans.
There are several trial results expected from other vaccines over the next few weeks. Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:02

Judge Christmas risk yourself, leading scientist tells families

Coronavirus - 23rd November 6a5b5f10

A leading scientist has said he would encourage people "to make their own judgements of risk" if deciding whether to meet other households over the Christmas period.
Yesterday, the government said all four UK nations had backed plans to allow some household mixing "for a small number of days" over Christmas .
Prof Neil Ferguson, a former member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the "safest thing to do" would be to allow a limited number of around three households to "bubble" together and mix.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live this would lead to "some increase in risk" of transmission, leading to perhaps a 20 to 25% increase in case numbers.
But the impact would be less than having "a free-for-all" where "anybody can meet anybody” for a period of time, he said.
However, he encouraged people to judge the risk of their own situations - highlighting that meeting another household which includes someone who is older or more vulnerable to Covid-19 would pose more risk than meeting others who were young and healthy.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:15

Accidental Thanksgiving pair pull up empty chair after Covid death

Back in 2016, Wanda Dench tried to send a text message to her grandson about plans to celebrate the holiday. But the message was received instead by Jamal Hinton, who was then 17 and in high school. He replied to Wanda and joined her family for dinner.
The pair, both from Arizona, have celebrated Thanksgiving together every year since, CBS reports .
While Thanksgiving isn't until later this week, Wanda and Jamal held a small early gathering on Friday, with an empty seat at the table following the death of Wanda's husband, Lonnie, in April, from coronavirus.
"I didn't want to miss Thanksgiving with Jamal," Wanda told CBS. "This year is definitely different than all the years in the past."

Tweet  Jamal Hinton:

As some of you may have already found out tonight Lonnie did not make it... he passed away Sunday morning
but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!


Tweet  Jamal Hinton:
I am so sad to announce that Wanda and Lonnie both have COVID-19 and that Lonnie is currently in the hospital fighting both COVID and Pneumonia please send words of love and encouragement their way

Coronavirus - 23rd November Eujvup10Coronavirus - 23rd November Eujvup11
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:20

Russia resists national lockdown as daily cases hit record high

Russian authorities have said they will not impose a nationwide lockdown as they did in the earlier stages of the pandemic, as the country reported a daily record of 25,173 new confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The Kremlin said it would be up to regional authorities to decide what measures to impose to slow the spread of the virus.
So far only the Siberian region of Buryatia has imposed major restrictions, making the decision last week to close restaurants, shopping malls and bars for two weeks.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "everything depends on the number of hospital beds" and other medical resources, as well as the recovery rate of patients.
A further 361 deaths reported in the past 24 hours brings the offical death toll in Russia to 36,540.
With more than 2.1 million reported infections, Russia has the fifth largest number of cases in the world after the US, India, Brazil and France.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:29

'Chaotic scenes' at airport in China

The Guardian
We reported earlier that Chinese authorities are testing millions of people and imposing lockdowns after locally transmitted cases were discovered in three cities, with some of the effort focusing on Shanghai’s Pudong International airport.
Videos on social media purportedly from workers show what appear to be chaotic scenes at the airport, as people were given last-minute orders to get tested. In the videos, people are seen standing in large groups pushing back and forth against officials in hazmat suits.
Shanghai has been more selective with mass testing, targeting people associated with a particular place, such as the airport or the hospital where someone who has tested positive had worked, rather than an entire district.
In Tianjin, health workers have collected more than 2.2m samples for testing from residents in the Binhai new district, after five locally transmitted cases were discovered there last week, the Associated Press has reported.
In Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people, local health authorities are testing all residents after two cases were reported on Saturday. They also shut down all schools and public venues and banned public gatherings such as banquets.






China has resorted to its heavy, top-down approach each time new cases of local transmission are found — shutting down schools and hospitals, locking down residential communities and entire neighbourhoods, and testing millions.
Tianjin authorities shut down a kindergarten and moved all the teachers, family and students to a centralised quarantine space. They also sealed the residential compound where the five cases were found.
A worker for UPS at Pudong airport said one of those who tested positive earlier in the month had visited her office. Since then, her company has asked employees to quarantine themselves in the office and were forbidden to leave for four days, unless they signed an agreement to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks, she said, declining to be named out of fear of retaliation.
She said she had been sleeping at the office since Friday, but was able to leave Monday. The company did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment.
China’s approach to controlling the pandemic has been criticised as draconian. It locked down the city of Wuhan, where cases were first reported, for more than two months to contain the virus, with the local government shutting down all traffic and confining residents to their homes. Domestically, however, China has called its strategy “clear to zero” and has boasted of its success.
In a webinar hosted by Chinese media in September, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Zeng Guang said:
In the entire world, only China has the ability to get to zero. Other countries don’t have this ability. It’s not just getting to zero, even for them to control the first wave of the epidemic is hard.
‘Clearing to zero’ is actually the most economically effective way to do epidemic prevention. If you don’t do that, then this problem will get more troublesome. Use a heavier hand, and get to zero, then people will feel reassured.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:38

Still with The Guardian:

The number of infections has risen by 9,751 since Friday, data from Swiss health authorities show .
The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 300,352 and the death toll rose by 213 to 3,788, while 410 new hospitalisations kept pressure on the health care system.




Angela Giuffrida
A further 2 million families in Italy risk being pushed into poverty by the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the hardest hit are young people who were working on precarious job contracts, women juggling work and family commitments, immigrants and those working off the books, especially in the south.
A report by the Confcooperative association and research institute Censis said the Covid-19 restrictions could leave a further 2 million families living below the poverty line.
The Bank of Italy said there had been a 12% increase in the number of families saying they struggled to make ends meet each month.
The figures come despite the Italian government allocating more than €100bn to assist people affected by the restrictions.
The government has adopted a tiered system, which imposes varying levels of restrictions across regions depending on the Covid-19 contagion rate and strength of hospitals, as it seeks to regain control of the pandemic while reducing the impact on the economy.
Italy registered 28,337 new infections on Sunday and 562 Covid-related deaths.




Several female detainees being held in Bahrain because of visa violations have contracted the virus, the country’s government has said. The interior ministry’s Twitter account carries a statement that reads:
Tweet  Ministry of Interior:
NPRA: some female detainees held in pending cases related to residency rules violations tested positive of COVID-19. Medical and treatment procedures twere taken and precautionary measures were intensified at the location.

The small Gulf state has for years come under pressure from rights organisations over prison conditions including overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of medical care, Reuters reports.
Like other countries, it freed some prisoners considered at risk, such as pregnant women, in response to the pandemic.
The country of about 1.5 million people has recorded more than 85,700 COVID-19 cases with 338 deaths.




India plans to put off the winter session of parliament due to the rising number of coronavirus infections, a government official said on Monday, with New Delhi facing a shortage of hospital beds and doctors as the epidemic spreads.
While the daily rise in new cases nationally has slowed, there has been a surge of infections in the capital, which officials said was because of the sprawling city of 20 million had remained fully open, with crowds gathering for religious festivals during recent weeks.
On Sunday, Delhi recorded more than 6,700 new cases, the highest daily rise among major cities. India’s overall caseload stood at 9.14 million after the addition of 44,059 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.
The government has begun making moves to delay the winter session of parliament, which usually begins in late November, to avoid the risk of the virus spreading between the hundreds of lawmakers, their staff, visitors and security personnel.
“The government will hold consultations with all the political parties and club the winter session with next year’s budget session,” a government official aware of the plans told Reuters. Parliament’s budget session usually opens at the end of January.
The city government has asked private hospitals to reserve 80 percent of critical care beds for coronavirus patients, and it has also airlifted doctors from paramilitary forces to help deal with the crisis.
India’s Supreme Court also based in New Delhi weighed in on Monday asking the city authorities and three other states to submit a report on the situation.
“We are hearing of a huge spike in the current month. We want a latest status report from states. Worse things may happen in December if states aren’t well prepared,” the top court said.




On a lighter note, Oxford Dictionaries has expanded its usual Word of the Year due to an “unprecedented” 2020, with furlough, moonshot and Covid-19 among the terms on the list.
Superspreader and lockdown are other coronavirus-related words on the list, along with Black Lives Matter, cancel culture and bushfire relating to societal and environmental issues during the past 12 months, PA Media reports.
The report, titled Words of an Unprecedented Year, says usage of the word pandemic increased by 57,000% last year while lexicographers found use of the word “coronavirus” passed one of the most frequently used nouns in April.
Other terms which have seen a surge in use this year include unmute, referring to people making themselves audible during online conferences, and Zoombombing, a variant on photobombing which was first recorded as a word in 2008, and refers to disturbing online calls on Zoom.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:45

Three people, three very different Covid risks

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
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If there's one question about coronavirus that we ask more than any other, it's surely "what is my risk?"
Not only "what's my risk of catching the virus", but, were that to happen, "what's my risk of falling seriously ill? Of being taken to hospital? Of dying?"
Meet, Amy, Merlande and John: three people with very different levels of risk. By understanding more about what they should consider, as they seek answers to these questions, each of us can get a better idea of our own risk - and the risk we pose to others.
Read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:49

Analysis: Careful political path for England's post-lockdown plan

Alex Forsyth - Political correspondent
As this pandemic has progressed, the political disquiet over aspects of the UK government’s response has grown, not least on the Tory backbenches.
The first lockdown back in March was met with relatively little resistance. The second set of national measures resulted in far more pushback.
Now, as the government determines the next steps, it will need to pick a careful political path.
Some Tory backbenchers aren’t yet persuaded by a tougher tier system.
News of gyms and shops staying open might be welcome, but there’s concern about the hospitality sector - and a clear call for the evidence behind continued restrictions.
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Some Tory MPs oppose a return to tiered restrictions, saying they risk harm to the economy and to health

Expect some regional pushback too, with Greater Manchester’s mayor already making the case for hard-hit pubs and restaurants.
How the government approaches this next phase could reveal whether there has been the “reset” promised after the recent departure of key Downing Street aides, including Dominic Cummings.
Will the prime minister reach out and seek to persuade the sceptics in his own party? As ever in this pandemic, public and political messaging will be crucial.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 12:54

'I don’t want to be in limbo for the rest of my life'

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BBC Radio 5 Live 's Nicky Campbell has been hearing people's thoughts on going back into restrictions under different tiers.
This afternoon, Boris Johnson will explain the detail of England's return to the "three-tier system" when lockdown ends on 2 December.
James, in Manchester, is meant to be getting married in 12 days. He says he just wants to know if his wedding can go ahead.
"It seems to me like a lot of headlines are around non-essential activities such as drinking-up time at pubs and having large family Christmas dinners. But I haven’t heard a word about large life events such as weddings," he said.
"I am getting married in 12 days, supposedly, but I don’t know. If Mr Jonhson tells us this afternoon then great, but it’s the not knowing which is the tough bit to deal with.
“I am happy with just a legal number of witnesses, making it the least romantic thing ever, I just want it done. We have had to rearrange several times and I don’t want to be in limbo for the rest of my life.
"We can only have 15 guests for the ceremony and it has to be over in the minimum amount of time and no reception or anything like that, it’s just get it over with. We don’t know if we are going back to that or not at all.
“It means talk of a free pass at Christmas is sort of a kick in the teeth really. You are dealing with the same conditions but incredible restrictions on the biggest day of your life."
Listen to 5 Live on BBC Sounds.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 15:57

'Wilful disregard' of rules blamed as Kent borough tops Covid cases

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The coastal borough, which includes Faversham, has seen a sharp rise in cases

Swale in Kent has overtaken Hull to record England's highest rate of coronavirus infections.
Its infection rate jumped from 425.8 cases per 100,000 people to 631.7 cases per 100,000 for the week up to 18 November.
Announcing an emergency meeting, council leader Roger Truelove said that while most people were wearing face coverings and keeping their distance, others were displaying a "wilful disregard of the rules".
He said it meant the area was likely to be placed under additional restrictions in December, when England's national lockdown comes to an end.

Boris Johnson to hold news conference at 19:00 GMT

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street news conference at about 19:00 GMT to outline his Covid Winter Plan and to respond to today's announcement about the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
He'll also give details of the winter plan - which is expected to involve a tougher version of England's three-tier system of restrictions - in the House of Commons earlier at about 15:30.
Joining the prime minister at the news conference will be England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty, and Prof Andrew Pollard, who led the trials of the Oxford vaccine.
Johnson will host the briefing remotely, as he continues to self-isolate following contact with a Tory MP who later tested positive for coronavirus.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:02

Catalans venture out to eat again

Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region is easing restrictions, with bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms reopening, having been closed for five weeks.
But night life is still banned because of a curfew from 10pm, which also applies throughout Spain.
Catalonia's eating places can only accept 30% of their normal clientele indoors. Cinemas and concert halls are also reopening, but they can only operate half-full.
Spanish airports now require visitors arriving from “high-risk” countries – including the UK – to present a negative test certificate no more than 72 hours old. If they don't have one they can be fined, and must take an antigen test, which delivers results in about one hour.
Elsewhere in Europe:

  • In Serbia, the rules are being tightened because of rising infections. All shops and catering outlets now have to close by 6pm. Face masks must be worn indoors and in crowded outdoor areas
  • Neighbouring Croatia is closing nightclubs and banning the sale of alcohol after 10pm
  • Leaders in the 16 German federal states favour extending the current “lockdown light” until 20 December, because they remain worried about the infection rate. Currently eating places and hotels are shut, and social contacts are severely restricted for households.


Rapid testing trial begins for care home visitors

Coronavirus - 23rd November 174cc310
Many families say relatives in care homes have suffered from loneliness as a result of visits being restricted

Visitors to 15 care homes in Wales will be given a rapid 20-minute Covid test as part of a UK-wide pilot scheme .
If it is successful, it could be extended to further homes from 14 December to make visiting easier and safer.
But Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the tests would not replace existing safety measures, such as hand hygiene and social distancing.
"These tests will give home managers extra confidence and reassurance that visits can go ahead without coronavirus also coming into the care home," he said.
It comes as the Welsh government is also funding the installation of visitor "pods", which allow residents to meet family members safely, with a screen separating them.
Care homes have introduced strict controls on visits during the pandemic - but many families say their relatives are suffering from isolation and loneliness.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:06

Unicef preps 'mammoth operation' to distribute vaccines around the world

World leaders at the G20 have been discussing how to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines around the world.
Nearly two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries next year in a "mammoth operation", the UN children's agency Unicef has said.
Unicef said it was working with over 350 airlines and freight companies to deliver vaccines and one billion syringes to countries such as Burundi, Afghanistan and Yemen as part of Covax, a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization (WHO).
"This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation," said Etleva Kadilli, director of Unicef's supply division, in a statement .

What are we expecting in the PM's Covid Winter Plan?

In a few minutes, we're due to hear from Boris Johnson as he tells the House of Commons his plans for when England's lockdown ends.
It's expected to involve a return to a three-tier system of restrictions after 2 December, with more areas likely to be placed in the higher tiers – "high risk" or "very high risk".
But it is likely to mean several areas of life shut down during lockdown can resume:

  • Gyms and non-essential shops are expected to be allowed to reopen
  • Pubs in tier three are expected to stay closed except for takeaway. In tier two, they can reopen if they serve meals
  • Last orders will remain at 22:00 GMT, but pub and restaurant customers will have an hour or drink up or finish their meals
  • Outdoor grassroots sport will resume in all tiers
  • Mass testing will be introduced in all tier three areas

MPs will cast a vote on these plans before they're confirmed.
Details of which tier each area will be placed in are due to be published on Thursday.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:08


Breaking News

Up to 4,000 fans to be allowed at outdoor sports events in England

A maximum of 4,000 fans are to be allowed at outdoor events in the lowest-risk areas when the national lockdown in England ends on 2 December, BBC Sport understands.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement this afternoon on the return of crowds.
There will be no crowds allowed at sport in the highest-risk areas under the new Covid-19 restrictions for England from 2 December.
Follow our breaking news story here.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:14

Nearly a third of all Irish people living abroad are planning on coming home to Ireland this Christmas, according to a new survey.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are expected to keep Ireland's Covid-19 international travel restrictions in place in the run up to Christmas, despite the country coming out of full lockdown on December 1.
That being said, three out of every 10 Irish people living abroad say they intend to come home for the holidays.
A survey conducted by FRS recruitment found that Irish people living in the UK were most likely to pop home, with 41% saying they expect to spend Christmas in Ireland.
Meanwhile 14% of Irish folk living in the US and Canada say they're planning on coming home for the festive season.
Elsewhere, just 7% of those living in Australia and New Zealand say they're planning a Christmas homecoming, while just 5% of Irish people living Asia are planning the same.
The study surveyed over one thousands Irish people living all around the world and was conducted between November 14 and 20.
Nine out of 10 Irish people who participated in the survey say they have previously travelled back to Ireland for Christmas in the same, and many look unlikely to break that tradition, in spite of the pandemic.
The vast majority (84%) of those who say they're planning trips home this Christmas say they haven't been home to Ireland all year due to the Covid-19 crisis.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:30

Vitamin D: how it can help in the fight against Covid-19

by Iain Martin

How much Vitamin D are you taking? There is increasing evidence that having enough Vitamin D in your system could – could – help reduce susceptibility to Covid-19.

David Davis MP has been campaigning on this for months, seeking to convince ministers and NHS management of the case, having immersed himself in the academic research and papers on the history of Vitamin D use.
I interviewed him on Reaction – watch and subscribe on YouTube.

The NHS currently recommends 400 IU, but now says it is possible to take up to 4,000 IU.  Beyond that it could be dangerous over long periods, it says.  The evidence for that claim is disputed by campaigners, especially when taking extra is only needed for about half the year. Taking 4,000 IU per day (for adults) -especially if you are elderly, obese, or vulnerable – looks on balance like a sensible precaution, particularly when the fear now is of the NHS becoming overloaded.

We get it naturally from sunlight, daylight, during the Summer months, and we get less of it in Winter, obviously, and need to make up the shortfall.

There’s another vital factor to consider. That’s race, and the way a darker skin makes it more difficult to get Vitamin D. Remember that puzzle early in the crisis when almost all the doctors who died on the frontline in British hospitals were BAME? Grief was followed by accusations of racism and claims about the relationship with poverty – and then an awkward silence. Doctors are well-paid – they are not living in poverty. Could inadequate Vitamin D be part of the explanation? Could BAME lives be saved quickly?

There’s a fight raging inside government on all this right now, with some officials and medical officers unconvinced, though in the Spring some of the same officials used to say that masks for the general public were a complete waste of time too.

Ministers are asking officials why this inexpensive additional measure – advising the public to take more Vitamin D plus prescribing it – isn’t worth a go.

Davis does not – repeat, does not – say that all the evidence is entirely conclusive, although it is pretty overwhelming. He points out that doctors are right to be wary of the supplements industry that has made so many wild claims in recent decades.

Instead, he tells the history of Vitamin D and explains why we have lost sight of its importance. There’s no villain in the story – it’s an accident of history, changing medical fashions and circumstance.

He explains, calmly, that ensuring vulnerable groups in particular, but the rest of us too, have sufficient Vitamin D from September to March is a cheap measure very much worth trying in addition to existing measures. Existing anti-Covid policy costs tens of billions per month. This could be done for a couple of hundred million and may save a lot of lives, lessening pressure on the health service and costing a tiny fraction of the government’s £43bn testing moonshot. Vitamin D looks worth a shot.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 16:53

PM sets out 'tougher' tiers of restrictions

Boris Johnson has outlined the plans for England after this current lockdown ends on 2 December, involving a return to the three-tier regional system, but with stronger measures.
The prime minister said he was "very sorry for the unavoidable hardship to business owners who have already endured so much destruction this year" as he announced business closures in some tiers.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:05

Week-long hiatus for Lithuania's parliament

Lithuania’s parliament goes into a week-long hiatus from Tuesday to help contain the spread of Covid-19 among its members.
The Baltic country’s government is considering extending and tightening its Covid-19 lockdown by closing shopping centres as the current level of restrictions had done little to curb a second wave of the disease among the population, Reuters reports.
The number of new Covid-19 infections in Lithuania more than doubled over the the past two weeks despite the lockdown that took effect on 3 November, when 316 cases per 100,000 people were registered over the preceding two weeks.
Authorities reported 788 cases per 100,000 on Sunday, a rise attributable due in part to delays in confirming pre-lockdown infections, making Lithuania the eighth worst-hit country in the 27-nation European Union, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
“Due to the worsening situation, we decided that after Tuesday’s sitting, parliament will take a pause for a week,” speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen told reporters by videoconference on Monday.
She is among three lawmakers diagnosed with Covid-19, with at least 14 more members self-isolating after contact with an infected person since the newly elected, 141-member parliament first convened on 13 November.

Germany set to ban New Year's Eve fireworks to protect hospitals

Kate Connolly - The Guardian
Germans are being told to brace themselves for a ban on fireworks in their traditional new year celebrations, the only time of the year when private individuals are legally allowed to buy them.
Political leaders are expected to announce on Wednesday that the sale of fireworks, which are usually sold in the three days before New Year’s Eve – before millions are let off across the country during the festivities – is to be banned for the first time over fears of overwhelming hospitals battling the coronavirus pandemic.
About €200m (£178m) is usually spent on pyrotechnics, which are detonated everywhere from private balconies to public parks between 6pm on 31 December until 7am on 1 January, but the tradition also leads to a large number of injuries and a significant number of people needing surgery.
With hospitals already stretched due to the high number of coronavirus cases, including an increasing number of patients needing intensive care, lawmakers and doctors have said it would be irresponsible to allow the normal celebrations to go ahead.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:16

Hungary limits retail store visit times to accommodate vulnerable elderly shoppers

Hungary’s government announced today it is limiting retail store visits in an effort to separate elderly shoppers and contain the pandemic in the most vulnerable over-65 age group.
On weekdays, only people over the age of 65 may enter shops between 9am and 11am and 8-10am at weekends. The elderly may go shopping at any time.
“This government decree serves the protection of the elderly,” the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said in a Facebook video.
Hungary has tried for months to avoid a second lockdown and prevent further harm to the economy but was forced to close secondary schools and impose an 8pm-5am curfew.
Infection numbers and daily deaths from the coronavirus continued to set record highs, however, affecting the elderly in particular and prompting further restrictions, Orbàn said.
As of Monday, 3,891 Hungarians have died of Covid-19, and 177,952 people have been infected since the start of the pandemic in the country of 10 million people.

Saudi Arabia to make vaccines free for all people living in the kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said on Monday that Covid-19 vaccines will be free for all people living in the kingdom, state TV reported.
The ministry said it hopes to have enough vaccines to cover 70% of the country’s population by the end of 2021, state TV channel Ekhbariya said on Twitter.

Luxembourg's bars, cafés, restaurants, cinemas and gyms to close until 15 December

Luxembourg is to close bars, cafés, restaurants, cinemas and gyms until 15 December to curb surging Covid-19 infections, AFP reports.
The prime minister, Xavier Bettel, announced the restrictions, which would bring Luxembourg into line with measures already imposed in neighbouring countries.
Parliament will vote on the restrictions on Wednesday, Bettel said. If adopted, the measures would take effect from Thursday.
Shops would remain open, with customers required to maintain social distancing and wear face masks.
Luxembourg has the highest per capita rate of Covid-19 infections in the European Union, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). A significant number of its cases are cross-border workers that sustain the wealthy nation’s economy.
Bettel said:
The situation isn’t catastrophic but we want to obtain a margin for manoeuvre, notably to ensure medium-term hospital care stays normal.
His government has already imposed an 11pm-to-6am curfew and a four-guest limit for households.
The health minister, Paulette Lenert, said the infection rate, which the ECDC put at 1,279 cases per 100,000 inhabitants cumulatively over 14 days, had stabilised but was “at a too-high level”.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:28

Surge in virus cases in Thessaloniki, Greece

Athens hospitals are monitoring a surge in virus cases in Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, and preparing “for the worst” as they expect an overflow of cases, the director of a top Athens hospital has told AFP.
In Thessaloniki, only 4% of beds remain vacant in intensive care units and that figure is just over 20% in Athens, according to the Greek ministry of health on Friday.
Greece has 588 ICU beds for patients with Covid-19 in total and on Sunday severe cases requiring emergency intubation had reached 540 patients.
“We have not reached the peak of the pandemic in Greece yet, the situation can become worse and the pressure will be worse, too,” said Andreas Plemmenos, head of Voula hospital, one of the biggest in Athens.
The government on Friday requisitioned two private clinics in Thessaloniki, the city worst hit in Greece. The army is also setting up a mobile emergency medical unit in the parking area of the main military hospital in the northern city.
But the government has not excluded transferring patients from northern Greece to Athens. In such a case, “things will be much more difficult”, Plemmenos said.
An increase of the number of patients requiring intubation has already alarmed health authorities.
There is a geometric growth. Unfortunately between 30-40% of people in intensive care will die, that’s why we are concerned.
Greece weathered the first wave of the pandemic well in comparison to other European countries, but it is facing a resurgence of cases since late September.
One month ago, Greece had only 87 patients with coronavirus in its intensive care units but new cases have risen from 667 in late October to 2,500 and 3,000 daily.
The death toll was about eight daily but is now surpassing 100 on some days.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in February in Greece, around 1,630 people have died with more than 91,600 infected.
Plemmenos said for the numbers of cases to fall, “at least 20 days should pass” after the start of the second lockdown imposed in early November.
The second wave was expected but arrived earlier than expected. The success of the country during the first wave had reassured people who since then haven’t observed the measures they should like keeping distances and wearing masks.
Since the spring, Plemmenos’ hospital of 402 beds was reinforced with around a hundred more staff. A separate coronavirus unit of 24 beds was created in August.
Initially, we only had three or four cases. Now it’s full.
Last week, 10 more beds were added to the unit, he said.
We are preparing for the worst.

Princess Michael recovering from fever and fatigue after positive test for Coronavirus

Britain’s Princess Michael, the wife of Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, is recovering from severe fevers and fatigue after testing positive for Covid-19, her spokesman said on Monday.
The princess, the wife of Prince Michael of Kent, tested positive for the coronavirus three weeks ago, her spokesman Simon Astaire said. She was the latest of several British royals to contract the disease.
“Since then she and her husband Prince Michael have remained in isolation at Kensington Palace. Prince Michael did not test positive,” Astaire told Reuters.
He said the princess was better now but had endured a difficult time with the illness. “She suffered from fatigue and during the height of it, had severe fevers,” he said.
Princess Michael joins heir-to-the throne Prince Charles and his eldest son Prince William – who also lives at Kensington Palace – on the list of royals who have tested positive for the virus.
Charles said he suffered only mild symptoms after contracting the disease in March while William tested positive in April, and according to media reports was “hit pretty hard by the virus”.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:32

Breaking News

UK reports 15,450 new cases of coronavirus

Another 15,450 new cases have been recorded in the UK, according to the government data. It is the lowest daily figure since 12 October. Figures can be lower on a Monday, due to a lag in reporting.
It brings the total number of cases to 1,527,495.
There have been a further 206 deaths, of people who had tested positive within the previous 28 days. It means 55,230 people have died, using that measure.

What did we learn from the prime minister's statement?

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The prime minister has been setting out new measures for England when the lockdown ends on 2 December.

  • Toughened tiered restrictions will come back into existence and last until the end of March - with an announcement on the rules for specific areas to be made later this week by the health secretary
  • Hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen - but with only takeaways in tier three areas
  • Retail and personal care services will return - with indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys and casinos also permitted in the two lower tiers
  • Places of worship will reopen but in the highest two tiers people must not interact with anyone outside their household or support bubbles
  • Mr Johnson said Christmas would not be "normal" - but confirmed plans enabling families to meet up will be finalised later this week

Read more: Gyms and all shops to open after England lockdown more
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:37

England's new tiers at a glance

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finished setting out his winter plan, with a new set of tiered restrictions planned across England from 2 December.
Here's a graphical summary of what the rules will be at each the three tiers: medium, high and very high.
But bear in mind, we're only likely to find out which tier each area will be in on Thursday.
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Analysis: 'Complex equation' before deciding tiers

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
For the third week running we have had some positive vaccine news, but the announcement about the new toughened tiers is a reminder, if we needed any, that the next few months will be tough.
Ministers and advisers have been hinting for the past week that the tiers will be toughened – and that is exactly what has happened.
Attention will now naturally turn to which areas will be in which tiers.
Deciding that is a complex equation that will take into account whether the cases are going up or down, the percentage of tests that are positive, hospital pressures and infection rates among older age groups.
To give a flavour of how complex this is, places in the North West and Yorkshire have some of the highest rates - but they are falling the fastest.
London and the South East have lower rates and more hospital capacity but cases are going up.
Fine judgements will have to be made. We will find out on Thursday.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:42

'Have you pressed the button, prime minister?'

There was a lighter moment in the House of Commons earlier, when the prime minister's audio failed as he was responding to MPs' questions.
Boris Johnson was appearing via video link as he is in self-isolation.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked: "Have you pressed the button prime minister?"
He added: "We're just checking the sound prime minister, we lost your answer. Have you pressed the button by mistake prime minister? It's not our end, prime minister, it could well be yours."
The Prime Minister could then be seen moving out of shot on-screen. Sir Lindsay suspended the Commons for three minutes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, seated on the front bench, then took the next questions on behalf of the PM.
Johnson later returned to the Commons, saying: "The problem does not appear to be our end, so I hope viewers will not think I'm in any way trying to avoid scrutiny by honourable members."

As if ....  giggle  shtum
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 17:47

Seven die in Russia after drinking hand sanitiser

Coronavirus - 23rd November D593f510
Hand sanitiser is apparently tempting for some Russian drinkers

Seven people have died in eastern Siberia after drinking hand sanitiser which was 69% methanol.
A woman in the group died at home in the village of Tomtor, and the others died in hospital, Russian media report. Two more are still on ventilators in intensive care.
A five-litre canister which contained the antiseptic was found at the scene. The product has now been withdrawn from sale in Yakutia, a vast region where the temperature drops below -20C in winter.
Reports say its methanol content had not been clearly labelled.
Every year in Russia there are deaths among heavy drinkers who struggle to afford vodka and turn to dangerous domestic liquids instead.
The worst such case in recent years was in Irkutsk, Siberia, where 62 people died in 2016 after drinking bath lotion which contained methanol.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 18:13

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that Ireland will drop down to Level Three of the Living With Covid plan once lockdown ends on December 1.

Level Five restrictions have been implemented in Ireland for five weeks now, and while a move to Level Three is imminent, the easing of restrictions won't simply happen all of a sudden.
It's understood that restrictions will be lifted in two stages, with an initial 'cautious' easing of the rules starting next week, followed by another in the run up to Christmas.
Under Level Three restrictions, pubs and restaurants may only open for outdoor dining and takeaway and delivery services, though it's thought the Government could rethink this.
Cabinet is reportedly undecided over whether or not to fully open the hospitality sector in the run up to the festive season in order to give the industry a much-needed boost, despite Level Three restrictions prohibiting them from opening fully.
Martin stressed that the Government would be "flexible" with regards to advice given to families and businesses, particularly in relation to Christmas.
He added that "individual behaviour" as well as "our own collective behaviour" was going to be critical in the fight against Covid-19 throughout the festive period.
"What our own data is showing us really is looking back over the summer to the September, October period is that congregation, large crowds gathering, alcohol, events, all of those things coming together proved the cause of a lot of spikes in different parts of the country, we have to try to avoid that again in the future, people need to be aware of that," Martin said.
Cabinet is expected to meet with representatives of NPHET on Tuesday to finalise details of the decision to move to Level Three.

Ireland's 'wet pubs' won't be allowed to open for Christmas this year, sources indicate.

They are reportedly being sacrificed in order to allow restaurants to open.
According to the Irish Mirror, pubs that cannot serve food have "no hope" of opening for the festive season.
Ireland is set to move to Level Three restrictions once lockdown ends on December 1, and there's a slim hope that a further drop to Level Two might be possible before Christmas.
Until then, Ireland's hospitality industry, which has been shackled for nine months by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be able to open on an outdoor dining, takeaway and delivery basis, as per Level Three guidelines.
But the Government is reportedly considering allowing the sector to open up even further before Christmas, to give the industry a much-needed boost.
According to sources, restaurants will be allowed to open as normal from next week so long as daily Covid cases drop below 300.
In order to ensure this, 'wet pubs' are on the Christmas chopping block, and will likely have to remain shut.
Gastropubs will be given the green-light to open up, but there will likely be a rule in place to ensure customers are buying food, akin to the "substantial meal" rule during the summer which only allowed pubs to open if they could serve customers a meal worth €9 or over.
The Cabinet, as well as representatives from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are due to meet on Tuesday to finalise details of the country's move to Level Three, but hope is quickly fading for the already-ravaged pub industry in Ireland.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 18:16

Italy passes 50,000 deaths

Italy has become the sixth country in the world to surpass 50,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, as the second wave of the pandemic continues to ravage the country.
A further 630 deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 50,453 since the pandemic began.
The US, Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK are the only other countries to reach the grim milestone.
Earlier this year Italy became the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe but brought its outbreak under control with a tough national lockdown. Restrictions were gradually lifted but, faced with a second wave of infections, Italy introduced a new three-tier system of measures in November.
Another 22,930 infections were recorded in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total to more than 1.4 million. But new infections are declining as restrictions curb transmission.
Last week Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Italians to expect a "more sober Christmas” without “gatherings, hugs and kisses”.
"Otherwise, we'll pay for it in January with more deaths,” he said.
Coronavirus - 23rd November 25c3aa10


US sees another day of record hospital admissions

On Sunday, the US reported a record of 83,782 hospital admissions due to the virus, according to the Covid Tracking Project .
It marks the 13th consecutive day the nation has set a new high of admissions. They have broken records every day since 10 November.
Since the start of November, cases have been surging across the country. When the month began, the US reported just over 9m cases - that number is now topping 12m with over 256,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University totals.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 18:19

UK deaths 'stabilising'

As the PM announces coming changes to people's movements in England, the latest government figures show the number of people across the UK dying with 28 days of testing positive for tests has been stabilising.
A further 206 deaths were reported on Monday - down from 398 deaths on Sunday and 341 on Saturday.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 21:05

Downing Street press conference: Key points

Here are the main points made by the PM and scientific experts during this evening's press conference:

  • Most vulnerable people are expected to be vaccinated by Easter
  • Test-and-trace is still vital to fighting Covid
  • While rules are set to change for Christmas, people shouldn't "go wild" in their celebrations
  • Vaccines will not be compulsory and won't start to be administered until they've been thoroughly tested for safety
  • There are no plans to shut schools in England a week early to allow families to visit elderly or vulnerable relatives more safely at Christmas


Analysis: A gradual and slow return to normal

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It is clear Easter is being seen as a key date on the horizon when it comes to a return to normal.
If vaccine production goes smoothly – and that is not a given – the hope is that the vast majority at greatest risk will have been immunised.
Over 90% of deaths have been among the over 65s, so vaccinating the 12m people in the UK in this age group over the next few months would have a significant impact.
The other factor – noted by England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Witty – is that the season will have changed by that stage.
All the evidence on coronavirus points to much less spread in the spring and summer months.
That would then provide a window to vaccinate others while restrictions are eased.
But do not expect a return to normal overnight. It will be gradual and slow, but certainly a lot easier than it is now.

Will deprived areas face the toughest restrictions?

Reality Check
A member of the public - David from London - asked at the Downing Street briefing whether under the new tier system, disadvantaged areas would end up “suffering the most”.
Poorer areas have had higher case and death rates in recent months, so could face tougher restrictions.
In the period to 31 July, coronavirus death rates in the most deprived areas in England were twice as high as in the wealthiest, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This was driven by high death rates in urban areas of London, the north west and the north east of England.
The virus can thrive in urban areas, and people living there can face major risk factors including inter-generational housing, public-facing jobs and health problems, including obesity.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Nov 23 2020, 21:09

Concern over access to vaccines, and other global headlines

If you’re catching up with today’s news, here’s a summary of the headlines from around the world.

  • Italy said its Covid-19 death toll had passed 50,000, joining the US, Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK as the only countries to reach that grim milestone
  • Luxembourg’s government ordered bars, restaurants and gyms to be closed as part of tougher restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus
  • Russian authorities said they would not impose a nationwide lockdown, as the country reported a daily record of 25,173 new confirmed Covid-19 cases



Tougher tiers and vulnerable vaccinated by Easter - UK summary

We're wrapping up today's coverage shortly, but here are the main headlines from the UK:

  • Boris Johnson has set out a "tougher" regional tier system for the end of England's national lockdown, which will allow gyms and non-essential shops to reopen across the nation
  • Spectators will be allowed to return to some sporting events , and weddings and collective worship will resume - but regions will not find out which tier they are in until Thursday
  • The British Medical Association said the new tiers plan was "full of risks" and threatens to undo the progress made under lockdown
  • Johnson said that he expected all vulnerable people in the UK to be vaccinated by Easter, if all goes well



Many thanks for joining us today.

Our coverage was brought to you by Alex Kleiderman, Alexandra Fouche, Alice Evans, Becky Morton, Claire Heald, Joseph Lee, Joshua Nevett, Justin Parkinson, Lauren Turner and Laurence Peter.


Join us again tomorrow.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:04