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Coronavirus - 4th December

Kitkat
Kitkat

Posts : 10085
Join date : 2011-03-19
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 11:48

Summary for Wednesday, 4th December

  • US disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has apologised for remarks that seemed to criticise the UK vaccines regulator
  • The UK medical regulator has defended its speed at approving a vaccine, saying it has not compromised safety
  • The first doses of the vaccine will be administered from Tuesday next week in the UK, officials say
  • Meanwhile, US President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office
  • The French PM has called for the “biggest number possible” to get themselves vaccinated in an “altruistic act” to fight Covid-19
  • In the UK, new restrictions come into force in Wales on Friday evening banning pubs, restaurants and cafes from serving alcohol
  • Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes will also have to shut from 18:00 GMT every day, except for takeaway
  • It comes as the UK became the first country in Europe to pass 60,000 Covid deaths, according to official figures


World roundup:

Thank you for joining our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the biggest developments from around the world:

  • More than 65.2 million cases and 1.5 million coronavirus-related fatalities have been reported worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
  • US President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curb the spread of Covid-19. Constitutional experts say he has no legal authority to do so, but Mr Biden said he and his Vice-President Kamala Harris would set an example by donning face coverings
  • The US's most populous state, California, has announced its strictest virus measures since the spring - with Governor Gavin Newsom calling this "the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic”
  • Meanwhile, South Korean authorities have ordered most establishments in the capital, Seoul, to close by 21:00 local time (12:00 GMT) every day. On Friday the country reported 629 new cases – its highest in nearly nine months
  • The World Health Organization has said it’s considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates. The UN body said this would make it possible to identify and monitor people who’ve had the jab, although it stressed this would not act as an immunity passport
  • US police say a Hawaii couple have been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after they took a flight home from San Francisco, despite knowing they’d tested positive for coronavirus


Europe roundup:

Here are some of the latest Covid-19 developments around Europe today:

  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex has called for the “biggest number possible” to get themselves vaccinated in an “altruistic act” to fight Covid-19. It comes after one survey found only 51% of French people said they would get the vaccine. France's three-step strategy will start with nursing homes and carers in January, followed by the elderly and health workers, and finally everyone else in the spring. The government says a maximum of 6 adults can meet for the Christmas holiday and it has put back the winter sales to 20 January.
  • Austria has started mass testing for everyone over six this morning - in Vienna, and the regions of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Testing in the capital is taking place at 80 test stations and most other regions will do their testing the following weekend. The Canary Islands are also offering free tests in Spain for residents and students who want to come back to the archipelago for Christmas.
  • The Swiss government will decide today whether ski holidays will be allowed over Christmas. Resorts are already open but Germany, France and Italy are pushing the Swiss to keep them shut and Austria has severely limited access to its resorts.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has told Italians that this Christmas will be different from all the others but “no less authentic”– as movement between regions is restricted from 21 December to 6 January . A record 993 deaths were reported on Thursday and officials say one in every 36 Italians has had the virus.
  • Infections are falling in Spain, where the level of cases is now around 250 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, according to the health ministry. Another 254 deaths were reported yesterday.


Here are the key global developments from the last few hours, courtesty of The Guardian:

  • Joe Biden will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office. The US president-elect Joe Biden has told CNN that it was his “inclination” that, on his inauguration, he would ask the public to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration to help drive down the spread of the virus. Biden said he would issue an order for masks to be worn inside federal buildings and in transportation facilities.
  • WHO looks at e-certificates for Covid-19 vaccination. The World Health Organization said it was considering introducing electronic vaccination certificates, as hopes for an end to the pandemic were boosted after Britain became the first country to approve use of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Seoul to shut down most establishments at 9 pm to contain coronavirus. South Korea’s capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9pm each day, after South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months. Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone.
  • Moderna Inc said on Thursday it expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021. The company said 85 million to 100 million of those doses would be available in the United States, with 15 million to 25 million available outside the country.
  • America’s leading infectious diseases scientist, Anthony Fauci, has apologised for implying that he thought Britain’s drug regulator had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval. His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among European neighbours and suggestions of politicisation.
  • Biden joins ex-presidents in pledge to take vaccine. President-elect Joe Biden told CNN during an interview Thursday that he would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit, following Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton’s pledges to do the same.
  • Costa Rica has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE for the manufacture and delivery of 3 million Covid-19 vaccines next year, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said on Thursday.
  • India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours. India’s daily rate has fallen since the south Asian nation reported the world’s highest such tallies through most of August and September, despite a busy festival season last month that experts had warned could trigger a spike in infections.


As countries in the West get hyped for the imminent arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, elsewhere in the world they are getting ready to roll out Russia’s vaccine.
Kazakhstan will this month start producing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, before beginning a mass vaccination campaign next year, president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s office said on Friday, according to Reuters.
The Central Asian nation will start the campaign by vaccinating doctors, teachers and policemen, the prime minister, Askar Mamin, told the president.
Kazakhstan is also about to start phase III clinical trials of its own vaccine, Mamin said, and will produce 2 million doses of it this month.
The former Soviet republic of 19 million has imposed two lockdowns this year. It has reported 134,706 coronavirus infections, with 1,990 deaths from Covid-19.

Russia reports 27,403 new coronavirus infections

Russia has reported 27,403 new coronavirus infections, including 6,868 in Moscow, according to Reuters.
The latest update takes the national total to 2,402,949 since the pandemic began.
Authorities also confirmed 569 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the official national death toll to 42,176.

India records under 40,000 new cases for fifth day in a row

India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by less than 40,000 for the fifth straight day, health ministry data showed on Friday, with 36,595 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.
India’s daily rate has fallen since the south Asian nation reported the world’s highest such tallies through most of August and September, despite a busy festival season last month that experts had warned could trigger a spike in infections.

South Korea reports highest cases in nine months

South Korea reported 629 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in nine months.
Of the new cases, 295 were from capital Seoul alone, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported.
capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9 p.m. each day, acting Seoul mayor Seo Jeong-hyup told a briefing on Friday, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The measure take effect Saturday and comes after Seoul alone reported 295 new coronavirus infections as of midnight Thursday.

Cyprus to waive test requirement for vaccinated visitors

The government in Cyprus has approved a plan that will allow visitors who have proof they have been vaccinated against coronavirus to enter the country without a negative PCR test.
Cyprus’s move is the latest indication that life could become much easier for those who choose to be vaccinated, despite reassurances from governments and experts that vaccinations will not be mandatory.
The measure was included in an amended action plan for a resumption of flights into the country. According to the Cyprus Mail , the Cypriot cabinet approved the plan on Thursday. The paper reported:
According to the plan, presented by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, which will enter into force on March 1, 2021, people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will not have to present negative PCR test certificate upon their arrival.
Kitkat
Kitkat

Posts : 10085
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 12:37

Joe Biden to ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days

As he prepares to take office, US President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in the White House.
As part of efforts to curb infections, he will also order them to be worn in all government buildings.
Speaking with CNN, Mr Biden said he believed there would a "significant reduction" in cases if face masks were implemented.
Constitutional experts say a US president has no legal authority to give such an order. But Mr Biden said he and his Vice-President Kamala Harris plan to set an example by donning face coverings.
Face masks have become a political issue in the US - even though face coverings are recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and even as attitudes to face masks around the world have changed .
Mr Biden's latest remarks come as America continued to grapple with the world's largest outbreak - more than 14.1 million cases and 276,000 deaths.
Read more here.

What's happening in Wales today?

It's a big day for Wales, where new rules are coming in to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Among the new rules is a ban on serving alcohol - but travel from some areas of England into Wales is now allowed. Here's more detail:

  • Licensed pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol. Those with an off-licence can sell alcoholic drinks to take away. They will have to close at 18:00 every day until further notice but can operate a takeaway service for food and drink after 18:00
  • But the rule allowing four people from four different households to meet indoors in pubs and restaurants will stay in place
  • Cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, soft-play areas, casinos, museums, galleries and heritage sites, and other indoor entertainment venues will be forced to shut
  • People from England's tier one and tier two areas will now be able to travel into Wales, after a ban on non-essential travel was put in place following the firebreak lockdown ending on 9 November

Read more here.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 12:40

South Koreans urged to cancel Christmas parties

Authorities in South Korea have urged people to call off any parties for Christmas or New Year, between 7 December and 3 January, as coronavirus cases reach their highest number in nearly nine months.
The new spike in cases is of particular concern in the capital Seoul, where a large proportion of the new cases have been recorded. As a result, most establishments there have been asked to close their doors at 21:00 (12:00) every day for the next two weeks.
The mayor of the capital, Seo Jeong-hyup, said: "Seoul is currently facing a desperately dangerous crisis... We have no room left to retreat."
In the early stages of the pandemic, South Korea was viewed as one of the world's coronavirus success stories for its management of the disease, registering relatively low numbers of infections and deaths. However, like many other early success stories, it has been hit by further waves of infections.
In total, more than 36,000 cases and 530 deaths have been reported in the country.
Read more: The life-changing exam that won't stop for a pandemic

More shipments to arrive in UK next week

Sean Marett, chief commercial officer for BioNTech - the company that, with Pfizer, makes the vaccine that the UK has approved - says each of the batches coming out of the manufacturing site in Belgium have to be approved for a "quality check".
The doses are then packed and shipped, he says. The first batch arrived by Eurostar into the UK yesterday and was taken to a "safe storage facility".
"In terms of precise numbers of each batch, I can't give you that detail. But what I can tell you is that we made these vaccines in advance and we were waiting for approval," he says.
"This means we release them and they're shipped to the UK."
"Let me be very clear, we check for quality, we ship. It's December, we've committed doses to the UK, they will be shipped every day that we can. And you can expect, next week, more shipments to arrive in the UK."
Marett says the vaccine has been tested in 43,000 people and the typical side effects are fatigue and sometimes a headache.
"In most cases it's no different from when people get a flu injection," he adds.
Read more as the UK expects to start the rollout from Tuesday.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 12:42

Where are England's coronavirus hotspots among older people?

Rob England - BBC News
One of the key criteria the government says it will look at now that England has re-entered the tiered system of lockdown restrictions is coronavirus cases in people over the age of 60.
So, where is the infection most widespread among older people across England?
The BBC has analysed the latest figures for areas with both the highest infection rates in the over-60s population, and areas where the virus is more prevalent in older people than those younger.
In the week to 28 November Boston, in Lincolnshire, had the highest number of coronavirus cases among the over-60s, at about 564 per 100,000 people.
The county seeing the most areas with the highest infection rates in over-60s was Kent.
There's a lot more data we've got our teeth into, though. Read more here .

England and South Africa cricket game cancelled over Covid diagnosis

England's first one-day international (ODI) against South Africa in Cape Town on Friday has been postponed after one of the hosts' players tested positive for coronavirus.
Cricket South Africa said a player tested positive on Thursday after the final Twenty20.
The first ODI of the three-match series was due to begin at 11:00 GMT at Newlands. Rearranged games will now take place on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.
Read more here.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 12:46

Tokyo Olympics delay will cost extra $2.8 billion

Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have said that postponing the games until next year will cost them an additional 294 billion yen ($2.8bn; £2.1bn).
At least $1.5bn will be needed for new operational costs, while $900m will be spent on virus prevention measures, the organisers said.
Prior to the games being delayed, the government had already allocated nearly $12.6 billion to host the Olympics - one of the highest amounts in the tournament's history. The funding has been hotly disputed in Japan, and an audit last year estimate that the government spent nearly 10 times its initial budget between 2013-18.
"Whether it's seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it," said Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Toshiro Muto. "We have done all we can to earn the public's understanding."
Organisers released a 54-page plan this week outlining restrictions to next year's games, including rules on fans cheering and athletes touching one another. Welcome ceremonies have also been scrapped and fewer tickets will be sold.

Breaking News 

One in 105 has Covid in England

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Figures just released estimate that one in every 105 people (about 520,000) in homes in England had coronavirus in the week leading up to 28 November.
That amounts to just under 26,000 new infections a day, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Infection rates are falling across all regions of England - apart from the North East - and among all age groups.

Vaccine will reach Scottish care homes from 14 December

In a little while, John Swinney, Scotland's deputy first minister, will lead the nation's daily coronavirus briefing.
It comes after the Scottish health secretary confirmed that care home residents will be able to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from 14 December.
There had been fears that homes would not be able to receive the first batch of doses due to logistical challenges.
But Jeanne Freeman said confirmation on how the vaccine can be transported and stored meant it would now be possible to deliver them to care homes.
Tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Scotland by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in other Scottish coronavirus news:

For more on the coronavirus figuers in Scotland, head here. Or to check the rules on Christmas, that's here.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 12:49

More on the latest infection rate figures

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
We've just been telling you about the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures from their infection survey.
They say one in 105 people in England had the virus in the most recent figures - down from one in 85 in last week's figures.
Infections have been falling since 14 November, just over a week after the English lockdown started on 5 November.
In Scotland, the figure is one in 130, with the ONS saying there are "early signs" the infection rate has "started to decrease in the most recent week".
Last week the figure was one in 115, the first rise in infections in four weeks.
This week’s figures are too soon for the effect of new tier four restrictions, which started on 27 November, to show.
In Wales, one in 170 people has the virus, compared to one in 185 the previous week. The ONS says the infection rate is "no longer decreasing" there.
Wales' firebreak started on 23 October, but the effect wasn’t seen in figures for a fortnight.
One in 190 people in Northern Ireland has the virus. It had been one in 145 the previous week, with the infection rate falling since 31 October.

First vaccination phase 'to be completed by spring' in Scotland

At today's Scottish daily briefing, the nation's Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirms that the first vaccinations in Scotland will start on Tuesday.
He says there are some conditions with the vaccine which might make things more difficult - for example, the fact it needs to be stored at around -70C - but says "we’re in the process of planning how that can be done safely and effectively".
The first vaccinations in care homes will take place by 14 December, he says.
He adds: "We aim to have the first phase of the vaccination programme completed by spring."
Mr Swinney says that is subject to delays with supply - but the Scottish government will move as quickly as they allow.
"For the moment, the fact that vaccination is a real prospect should encourage all of us to do everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe," he says.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 13:19

Another 41 people die with Covid in Scotland

Also at the Scottish daily briefing, we were given an update on today's coronavirus stats.
A further 966 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, taking the total number of positive cases in Scotland to 98,686.
965 patients are in hospital with a confirmed case.
There have been a further 41 deaths registered in the preceding 24 hours of a person who had the virus, taking the total to 3,889.

'Incredibly difficult decisions' had to be made in Wales

As we've reported, new restrictions in Wales come into place at 18:00 GMT - they include a ban on pubs, restaurants and cafes serving alcohol on the premises.
First Minister Mark Drakeford, giving his daily briefing, says if Wales were in another part of the UK, it would be subject to tier three restrictions in England, and would be in Scotland's level three.
So as difficult as the new restrictions are, they "simply bring Wales in line" with the same measures in Scotland - and are less restrictive than the equivalent ones in England.
Drakeford says they were "incredibly difficult decisions" to make, especially when they affect business and livelihoods, but they were necessary to look after people's health and wellbeing.
He says it is his responsibility "to do whatever is needed to save the lives of people here in Wales" and that the government will "never shirk our duty" to discharge the responsibility in their hands, "however difficult and challenging those decisions may be".
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 13:22

Vaccine plans announced across Europe

Coronavirus - 4th December 7ea57310

As we have been hearing, this week has seen some significant steps towards coronavirus vaccination.
On Wednesday, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. And today, several European countries have announced their own plans for getting residents inoculated.

  • In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the government intends to vaccinate between 15 million and 20 million people by May or June next year - under half the country's population.
  • Norway has said it plans to vaccinate nearly a quarter of its population by Easter next year. In the first three months of 2021, pending approval from EU regulators, it expects to receive 2.5 million doses of jabs developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech.
  • Meanwhile in neighbouring Sweden, the government said it would prioritise vaccines for around 600,000 nursing home residents, as well as their staff and relatives. The Scandinavian nation will receive five variants of the vaccine through the EU's procurement system - the first, by Pfizer and BioNTech, could be approved this month.
  • Bulgaria has taken a different approach, saying it will prioritise vaccines for doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists. The government said it intends to make all inoculations free of charge once they are acquired.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 13:24

'Our hospital beds are full' in hard-hit Navajo Nation


Coronavirus - 4th December 07d90d10

US officials have urged residents of the Navajo Nation to stay at home as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the Native American reservation, testing the limits of local healthcare resources.
“It’s gotten to the point where our facilities are deeply challenged and getting to the point of being overwhelmed,” said Dr Jonathan Iralu, a consultant for the government's Indian Health Service.
“Our hospital beds are full, and when we try to send persons to other hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona... they are essentially 100% full," he added, according to public broadcaster PBS.
Authorities have reported 17,310 cases and 663 coronavirus-related deaths on the reservation, which spans across the states of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Since Covid-19 was first reported on the Navajo Nation in March, infection rates per capita have become some of the highest in the country compared with any individual state.
A reservation-wide lockdown - originally due to end on Sunday - has been extended for another three weeks. Officials are also lobbying the federal government for a disaster declaration, which would allow them to exercise emergency powers to preserve public health.
Navajo activists argue that Nation's outbreak has been made worse by economic and social inequalities , such as poor access to food, high unemployment, and a lack of access to water and electricity.
Earlier this year, a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that members of Native American and Alaska Native communities are nearly four times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Hispanic White people.
This week, President-elect Joe Biden named the Navajo Nation's health director, Dr Jill Jim, to his coronavirus advisory board.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:16

Breaking News

R number - showing infection rate - now between 0.8 and 1 in the UK

The reproduction number - or R value - of coronavirus transmission across the UK is now between 0.8 and 1, the latest government figures show.
R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.
An R number between 0.8 and 1 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people.
Last week, the R number was between 0.9 and 1, according to the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

'No corners have been cut on UK jab approval'

Downing Street has defended the UK's medicines regulator (the MHRA) after it faced apparent criticism from America's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci.
Dr Fauci had warned the speed at which the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved could undermine confidence in the jab, and that the UK had not reviewed the vaccine "as carefully" as US health regulators.
A spokesman for the prime minister told reporters: "You will have seen that he [Dr Fauci] has now withdrawn those comments and apologised.
"I would just point to the fact the MHRA is a world leader in its field and has followed rigorous international standards in terms of its assessment of the vaccine to ensure it meets the standards of safety and effectiveness and quality.
"The CEO of the MHRA has been quite clear that no corners have been cut at all."
Dr Fauci has now said: "I have a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint."

Fauci will serve as Biden's chief medical officer


Coronavirus - 4th December F42da110

Top US virologist Dr Anthony Fauci says he has accepted president-elect Joe Biden’s offer to serve as chief medical offer.
Speaking with NBC News on Friday, Fauci said he said yes on the spot.
Fauci has emerged as the face of America’s fight against coronavirus, but has also battled the spread of misinformation, sometimes from within his own government. He has revealed that he has hired security to protect his family following death threats.
Separately, as we reportedly earlier, Fauci raised eyebrows in the UK when he said the UK had "rushed" approving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
He has since apologised and told the BBC he has "a great deal of confidence" in the UK's regulatory processes.
On Friday Fauci said he had been reacting to gloating from a British television interviewer when he criticised the vaccine’s approval.
“It was just one of those things where I sat down in front of the TV, with a British TV station and the first thing they said was, ‘Ah, we beat you guys. We beat the Americans to the punch’.
"I kind of reacted back at him when I probably should not have done,” he told NBC News.
You can read more about Fauci here
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:20

Analysis: A shrinking epidemic

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Across the UK, the epidemic is falling by between 1% and 3% a day, according to the latest estimates from Sage.
The R values in England, Scotland and Wales are all believed to be between 0.8 and 1.0.
It’s the first time since September that Sage believe that there’s a good chance that infections are falling in every region in England . While official estimates of R in Northern Ireland are around 1, the good news is that infections have been falling since the start of the month, and are lower than the rest of the UK.
Scientists say that these are the two numbers to keep an eye on.
The infection rates from surveys like the one led by the ONS tell us how good or bad things are – how many people have the virus.
And R tells us whether the epidemic is growing (above 1) or shrinking (below 1) – and where we can expect the infection rates to go next.
Falling infections in England, Scotland and Wales are good news – they mean fewer deaths in weeks to come – but infection levels in the three nations are still roughly where they were in the middle weeks of October.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:24

Care homes 'will get vaccines in two weeks' - NHS chief

Vaccines will be delivered to care homes within two weeks, the head of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and health trusts in England, has said.
Chris Hopson said the supply to care homes wouldn't be a problem "over time" - but the NHS was in the process of setting up the plan to deliver the vaccines to care homes.
"Obvious question, how long will that take? I think the current estimate is probably something like within the next 10 to 14 days, but we're going as fast as we can," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme.
"Once we've got that process in place, we can then do it at scale."
He said the he would not describe the logistical challenge as "an operational problem" but "a perfectly legitimate piece of set up."
Elderly people in care homes have been designated top priority for the vaccine, according to the list drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
But there have been warnings that logistical issues, including the need to store the vaccine at ultra-cold temperatures, could affect transportation outside hospitals.
Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, said elderly residents in care home might not be first people to be immunised because of "operational reasons".

Support grows in US for coronavirus immunisation

As more vaccines come under review by US regulators, a survey by the Pew Research Centre has found growing support in America for inoculations.
According to the study , the number of respondents who said they plan to be immunised has grown to 60%, up from 51% in September.
By comparison, polls in the UK, conducted in November before the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use, found that about two-thirds of Britons said they would get vaccinated for Covid-19.
Read more: Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe?

Indian cricketer mocked for vaccine comments

Upasana Bhat - BBC Monitoring
Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh has been massively trolled for a tweet in which he asked if the country really needed a vaccine given its high recovery rate from Covid-19.
Besides being reported by top news outlets, Singh, who has 10.8 million followers on Twitter, was mocked by many for his remarks.
One user called it the "perfect example of how whatsapp propaganda penetrates Indian smartphones ", referring to the fake news that often spreads via WhatsApp.
Many Twitter users lamented the lack of science and logic in the tweet, saying there is no vaccine yet for "stupidity".
Online news portal The Quint posted a fact-check article, saying that "the goal of a vaccine is to prevent infections and it that has nothing to do with the recovery rate".
India has not developed a vaccine for Covid-19 yet but several trials are ongoing in the country.
As of 4 December, India has reported 416,082 active cases of Covid-19, according to Health Ministry data. So far, 139,188 people have died from the disease. But there's a recovery rate of 94.2%, according to the ministry .
Read more: The human cost of fake news in India
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:28

Rapid care home testing paused in Greater Manchester over safety concerns

Greater Manchester councils have paused rapid testing for care home visitors over concerns they fail to detect enough infections.
Data suggests the rapid kits miss about a third of the most infectious cases picked up by conventional lab tests.
Lateral flow tests are being used in England so residents can see family indoors for the first time since March. The government has described this form of rapid testing as way of reducing, rather than eliminating, risk.
The rapid lateral flow tests take about half an hour to show a result.
Their speed, and the fact they don't need to be taken to a lab, mean these tests - in theory - can be used to make on-the-spot decisions such as deciding if someone can go into premises like a care home or event venue.

'Covid killed my wife - so I'm taking part in a vaccine trial'


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Pauline Demaline was fit and healthy and only 56 years old when she fell ill with Covid-19 in March. But within days of going into hospital she had died.
She worked as a parish administrator at the Holy Trinity parish church in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and it may be here that she caught the virus, in the early days of the pandemic.
She and her husband, Nigel, were very careful. They didn't go out much and Nigel would do the shopping early in the day, when the shops were quiet. But Pauline had to go into work and would sometimes meet other parishioners - couples about to get married, for example, and their parents.
Now, Nigel has spoken about how the personal tragedy prompted him to volunteer for one of the many Covid vaccines in trials.
Read the full article here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:32

What's the R number in your region?

Earlier, we brought you the news that the R number for the UK had fallen slightly to between 0.8 and 1 - the second week running it's been below 1.
We've got more details here on what the R number is in different regions of the UK here:
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Meanwhile, the growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between -3% and -1% for the UK as a whole.
That means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1% and 3% every day.
There's more on the latest stats here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:37

Partial lockdown to come into effect in Gaza

A partial lockdown is set to come into effect in Gaza on Saturday, with mosques, schools, universities and kindergartens set to close, amid a surge in cases.
High schools and nurseries will remain open, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Under the new measures, a night time curfew will also be in place. From Saturday, people will have to remain in their home from 18:30 until 08:00.
Shops will remain open, however they must close by 18:00.
On weekends, a full lockdown will be in place.
The territory's healthcare system is severely strained and ill-equipped as a result of conflict, blockade and a political rift with the rival West-Bank based Palestinian Authority.
Around 88% of hospital beds with ventilators for Covid-19 patients in critical condition are already occupied, the Gaza health ministry said on Wednesday night .

US travel spiked over Thanksgiving despite warnings

As coronavirus spread across the US last month, health officials urged people to refrain from travel to see friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday. But data shows that millions of Americans ignored these calls.
While air travel was much lower than in previous years, airports still reported some of their busiest days since the start of the pandemic. The US Transportation Security Administration said it had screened over one million passengers on several days during the holiday period.
Experts have warned the US could see "surge upon surge" of Covid-19 cases as a result, while the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned that even a small number of infected travellers could lead to hundreds of thousands of new infections.

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Meanwhile vehicle travel surged around Thanksgiving, peaking at only around 5% less than last year, according to transport analytics firm Streetlight Data.
The company's founder, Laura Schewel, told the Associated Press that this showed "people were less willing to change their behaviour than any other day during the pandemic”.

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Officials have made similar calls for people to avoid travel over Christmas and New Year period, as hospitalisation numbers soar to record highs.
Read more: Millions travel for Thanksgiving despite warnings
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:41

How do you focus when you're learning online?

Hazel Shearing - BBC News

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When Bethany Wakenshaw started her nursing course this year, she could ask for practical advice from her teachers in person as she practised CPR and other life support skills. But after coronavirus cases began to rise again across the UK, her classes moved online last month.
Despite the teaching staff's best efforts, she finds online learning frustrating.
"It's so hard to concentrate when you're in your own room because they can't see you," she says. "Even quickly checking your phone for five seconds can turn into being on your phone for 10 minutes."
Bethany is one of dozens of students who have taken to social media to vent their concerns ahead of all teaching having to move online by 9 December in England, ahead of the Christmas holidays. For students in Wales, all lectures went online yesterday.
For those who are struggling - whether at uni or elsewhere - we've put together five tips to get better at learning online, from sorting out your room to learning with mates. Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:44

First doses of vaccine arrive in NI

We know that the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived in the UK by Eurostar yesterday, and now Northern Ireland reports that it has received its first allocation.
Nearly 25,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were delivered to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on Friday morning.
Health Minister Robin Swann said confirmation of which groups will get the Covid-19 vaccine first is expected next week.
It is thought the seven vaccination centres that have been earmarked, including leisure centres and hospitals, will be used as satellite centres in order to roll out the vaccine to those care homes which are located nearby.
Meanwhile, the NI business community has welcomed comments from the first minister that there will be no further Covid restrictions this side of Christmas.
Lockdown restrictions are currently under way in NI - but It has now been announced that they will be loosened from 00.01 GMT on Friday 11 December.
Non-essential retail and some parts of the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland can reopen.

Madrid cancels New Year's Eve grape eating festivities

Madrid has cancelled its New Year’s Eve celebrations including the traditional event in Puerta del Sol Square where people eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight.
The event is incredibly popular and watched around the world.
The regional government announced the cancellation on Friday, where it also revealed the measures that will be in place during Christmas and New Year.
Christmas markets will have their capacity cut, while spectators at Christmas parades, usually held on 5 January, will have to be seated.
Earlier this week, Spain's government announced that travel between regions will only be allowed for those visiting family. Gatherings on December 24, 25 and January 1 are limited to 10 people.
Spain is one of the worst affected countries in Europe. More than 46,000 people have died and more than 1.6 million cases since the pandemic began.
Other European countries also have Christmas restrictions in place. Italy, for example, is banning travel between its regions from 21 December to 6 January.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:49

Breaking News

UK records 16,298 new cases and 504 deaths

Another 16,298 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total to 1,690,432, according to new government figures.
There have been another 504 deaths, of people who had a positive test result within the previous 28 days. There have now been 60,617 deaths, under that measure.

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'Massive community effort' to protect vaccine from hackers

Yesterday, we covered reports that cyber spies had targeted international organisations involved in the supply chain of coronavirus vaccines.
The American technology firm, IBM, said hackers had been trying to access the so-called "cold chain" - the delivery chain used to ensure vaccines are kept at the right temperature while being transported.
Dr Ian Levy, from the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, says his organisation is working to ensure vaccine delivery is as "protected as can be" from cyber attacks.
"In April we pivoted our work to better protect the health sector and so there is a massive community effort in protecting the health sector and the vaccine supply chain, all the way from research through to delivery and distribution," he tells the BBC.
He declined to say which states had been targeting vaccine efforts.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:53

Millions unable to look for work amid pandemic

Andrew Walker - World Service economics correspondent
The recovery in employment continued last month, after the heavy job losses in the first wave of the pandemic in the US.
According to new official data, the number of people with jobs rose by 245,000 last month and the unemployment rate declined to 6.7%.
But the job creation figure was less than expected and less than the previous month and is seen by economists as disappointing.

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Almost 15m people said they were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business as a result of the pandemic.
Nearly four million others said they couldn’t even look for work due to the pandemic.
The outlook for jobs in the near future is clouded by rising infections and official restrictions. But recent vaccine developments mean longer term labour market prospects are more upbeat.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 17:58

'If you don't think Covid's real, you are an idiot'

And here are some of the other key developments in the US and Canada today:

  • More than 170 staff members across three New Jersey hospitals have been infected with Covid-19, leaving gaps in an already strained healthcare system. The state has seen an increase in hospital admissions for four consecutive days.
  • A top government official in Idaho who wrote an editorial criticising those who accept "handouts" is under scrutiny, after it emerged she accepted more than $300,000 (£222,600) in federal coronavirus relief .
  • Canada is nearing 400,000 total infections, as federal and local governments prep for a January vaccine rollout
  • In Quebec, holiday shoppers can expect to see a visible police presence in stores, as inspectors ensure that businesses are complying with social distancing guidelines. The province has already cancelled plans to allow Christmas gatherings
  • And Brian Pallister, premier of Manitoba province, made a blunt plea last night, asking residents stay home over the holidays amid record-breaking daily death tolls. "Right now we need to save lives," he said, appearing to fight back tears. "If you don't think that Covid's real, right now, you're an idiot." He added: "I'm the guy who has to tell you to stay apart at Christmas... I'm the guy who's stealing Christmas to keep you safe."


Outbreak reported at Royal Navy base


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A number of Royal Navy personnel have tested positive for coronavirus at its HMNB Clyde base, also known as Faslane, and are under medical supervision.
The Royal Navy said that those identified as close contacts are now isolating.
HMNB Clyde, on Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, is the navy's base for nuclear submarines and hunter-killer submarines.
A spike of 96 positive cases were confirmed in the Argyll and Bute council area, where the base is located, today. This is much higher than the area's recent weekly number of positive cases.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 18:03

Bahrain approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine


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Bahrain has recorded 87,000 cases since the pandemic began

Bahrain has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use authorisation, becoming the second country to approve it after the UK, state media report .
The country’s National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) announced the move on Friday, saying it had followed “thorough analysis and review” of all available data.
Earlier this month Bahrain approved the use of the Sinopharm vaccine for frontline workers.
Dr Mariam Al Jalahma, CEO of NHRA said: “The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will add a further important layer to the Kingdom’s national Covid-19 response, which has strongly prioritised protecting the health of all citizens and residents during the pandemic.”
Bahrain has recorded 341 deaths and 87,432 cases since the pandemic began.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 18:06

US WW2 veteran beats Covid-19 in time for 104th birthday


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Major Lee Wooten, a World War II veteran from Alabama, has recovered from Covid-19 and made it back home from the hospital just in time to celebrate his 104th birthday.
Madison Hospital in Madison, Alabama posted a video of Wooten - known as "Pop Pop" - being discharged from the hospital, his wheelchair decorated with balloons, as staff cheer and wave him on.
His granddaughter, Holly Wooten McDonald told the Associated Press that her grandfather, "their family's treasure", appears to be feeling better.
Wooten was drafted into the US Army in 1943 and served as a railroad carpenter stationed in Paris in WWII.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 18:08

WHO concerned by 'growing perception pandemic is over'

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he is pleased that progress on vaccines means "we can now start to see the light at the end of the tunnel".
However, Tedros Adhanom adds the "WHO is concerned there is a growing perception that the Covid-19 pandemic is over".
"The truth is that at present, many places are witnessing very high transmission of the Covid-19 virus, which is putting enormous pressure on hospitals, intensive care units and health workers."
In other developments around the world today:

  • Top US virologist Dr Anthony Fauci says he has accepted Biden's offer to serve as chief medical officer. On Friday he also apologised for saying the UK had "rushed" approving the Pfizer vaccine
  • Bahrain has become the second country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use
  • President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curb the spread of the virus
  • Madrid has cancelled its New Year’s Eve celebrations including the traditional event in Puerta del Sol Square where people eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight
  • Several European countries have revealed their vaccine rollout plans
  • Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics say that postponing the Games until next year will cost them an additional 294 billion yen ($2.8bn; £2.1bn)
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 04 2020, 18:11

What's been happening in the UK today?

Thanks for joining us as we've brought you the latest coronavirus news. Here's a reminder of some of the main headlines of the day from the UK.

  • Virus levels are falling across most of England, according to the Office for National Statistics' latest figures. In the week to 28 November, one in 105 people in England had the virus compared with one in 85 a week before
  • Meanwhile, the R number for the UK has fallen to between 0.8 and 1 - the second week running it's been below 1. The R number measures virus reproduction rate, suggesting the epidemic is shrinking
  • New national coronavirus restrictions in Wales will be in place from 18:00 GMT. The rules include a ban on pubs, restaurants and cafes serving alcohol on the premises
  • Greater Manchester councils have become the latest to pause rapid testing for care home visitors over concerns they fail to detect enough infections. Data suggests the rapid kits miss about a third of the most infectious cases picked up by conventional lab tests
  • The government is "absolutely confident" the UK will have 800,000 coronavirus vaccine doses by next week, when the vaccination programme starts, business secretary Alok Sharma has said. Some of the Pfizer/BioNTech doses have already arrived, with more expected by the end of the year
  • Lidl will join other supermarkets to repay more than £100m of business rates relief it received during the pandemic. The firm's UK boss said the company felt it was "the right thing to do"
  • More than 500 sixth-form pupils at Methodist College in Belfast are to be sent home and taught online for the rest of the school term. The school took the decision after 35 positive cases of coronavirus among sixth-form pupils this week


Goodbye - and thanks for joining us

That's it for our live coverage today. It was brought to you by our teams from the UK and US.
The writers were Joshua Cheetham, Francesca Gillett, Lauren Turner, Sophie Williams and Holly Honderich, and the editors were Helier Cheung and Holly Wallis.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:24