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Coronavirus - 18th December

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 10:07

Summary for Friday, 18th December

  • Boris Johnson says he hopes to avoid a third lockdown in England but warns infection rates have risen "very much" in recent weeks
  • Northern Ireland has announced a new six-week coronavirus lockdown from 26 December
  • Wales has already announced a three-week lockdown from 28 December and Scotland is considering tighter restrictions
  • Ministers have defended plans for many pupils in England and Wales to have a staggered return post-Christmas
  • Teachers say the announcement - designed to allow schools to set up Covid testing schemes - came too late
  • A second vaccine is nearing emergency approval in the US after it was endorsed by a panel of experts
  • The head of the FDA said it would move "rapidly" to authorise the Moderna vaccine, allowing millions of doses to be shipped
  • Some 38 million people in England will be subject to the nation's strictest measures - tier three - from Saturday
  • Officials in Northern Ireland have defended the introduction of a new six-week coronavirus lockdown from 26 December
  • Wales has already announced a three-week lockdown from 28 December and Scotland is considering tighter restrictions
  • Secondary school pupils in England and Wales will have a staggered return post-Christmas
  • Globally there have been 75 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1.66 million deaths with the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University

Welcome to our live page coverage this Friday morning. We’ll be bringing you updates on the coronavirus pandemic from the UK and around the world throughout the day.

What’s happening in the UK this morning?


  • For millions of people in east and south-east England, today is the last day until they move into tier three – the top level of coronavirus rules. Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will move up a tier, as will parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire. By Saturday, more than two thirds of England’s population (or 38 million people) will be living under tier three
  • Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, a new six-week lockdown will be brought in from Boxing Day, the executive has announced. Non-essential shops will shut, along with pubs and restaurants except for takeaway. Close contact services such as hair salons will also shut
  • Doctors are being told to offer patients in hospital with coronavirus a follow-up appointment six weeks later to check for “long Covid” symptoms. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says the long-term effects can be significant
  • The pandemic has exposed big gaps in the UK’s oversight of national security, a report by a committee of MPs has found. The report said that since 2010, a pandemic was categorised as among the highest security risks for the UK – but there was only one major planning exercise for it and it left some critical areas untested

What's making international headlines?

Here is a round-up of some of the top coronavirus stories from around the world on Friday:

  • A second vaccine is nearing emergency approval in the US after it was endorsed by a panel of experts . The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to authorise the use of the Moderna vaccine later today, allowing the company to begin shipping millions of doses. Another vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech was approved nearly a week ago
  • Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has brought forward its decision on approving the Moderna vaccine from 12 January to 6 January. EU countries are awaiting the agency's decision on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, due on Monday, before rolling it out across the bloc
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is isolating at his official residence at La Lanterne in Versailles after testing positive for Covid. His office says he is suffering from a fever, a cough and fatigue. His wife, Brigitte, has tested negative and isn't joining him
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has criticised the country's Supreme Court for ruling that those who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 should be subject to restrictive measures. The court said people would not be physically compelled to receive the vaccination, but could be banned from some public activities and spaces if they refused. Bolsonaro has said that he won't be vaccinated and that no-one else should be forced to
  • An outbreak of cases in the Australian city of Sydney has risen to 28 . The New South Wales government has placed the Northern Beaches region on "high alert" and urged a quarter of a million residents to stay at home for at least the next three days. It comes after months of relative calm and low case numbers in the country

US moves closer to approving second vaccine

More now on the news that a second coronavirus vaccine is nearing emergency approval in the US.
A panel of experts voted 20-0 with one abstention that the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweighed the risks for those aged 18 and over.
The same committee last week backed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was then authorised for emergency use the following day.
Following the panel's endorsement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Moderna that it would work "rapidly" towards issuing emergency use authorisation.
Regulators reported earlier this week that the Moderna vaccine was safe and 94% effective.
You can read more on this story here .

The papers: 'Bleakest midwinter' as Covid tiers extended


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Many of the UK’s newspapers feature the coronavirus pandemic on their front pages – including the news that more areas will join tier three. But the papers also report that restrictions could be tightened further.
The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers will consider implementing a third national coronavirus lockdown after Christmas, if the current surge in cases does not come under control during the festive period. And the Times says the government is considering tightening restrictions further in south-east England.
Read the full paper review here.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 10:23

Northern Ireland to enter six-week lockdown on 26 December

Irish Post
Northern Ireland will re-enter lockdown the day after Christmas, it has been confirmed.
The lockdown will last for six weeks, from 26 December until early February, after Stormont ministers last night agreed the situation as becoming "dire".
From 26 December, all non-essential retail will close, as will contact services such as hairdressers and barbers, no sporting events are permitted, and the hospitality sector will be reduced to serving takeaway food and drink only.
An 8pm curfew will come into effect, which will involve people being unable to visit others after that time, as well as essential retail such as supermarkets also closing, RTÉ News reports.
Minister for Health, Robin Swann, said the strict measures were necessary to "send a signal this is how serious this has to be taken, this is how much we're asking of the people of Northern Ireland."
The overarching message is to stay at home, he added.

Coronavirus - 18th December Stormo10
Ministers in Stormont made the decision yesterday as they agreed the situation was turning dire

Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill, said Northern Ireland was in a dire position, and "the health service would be completely crushed in January if we didn't intervene now".
She told RTÉ News: "Whilst this is draconian in many ways, it's necessary-- and this is about saving lives, this is about saving the health service and this is about taking some pressure off the health care staff."
Northern Ireland's buckling health service was placed under the spotlight earlier this week when it was revealed that some patients were being treated in the car park of the hospital , as up to 17 ambulances queued outside the Emergency Department.
The decision comes after a further 656 cases were confirmed yesterday in the north, bringing the region's total to 60,287.
12 more people have also passed away from the virus, taking the toll to 1,154.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 10:29

'We rule nothing out,' says UK minister on national lockdown


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The government’s schools minister Nick Gibb has been on BBC Breakfast to talk about the latest on coronavirus – and was asked about whether the government is planning for another national lockdown in January.
Both Wales and Northern Ireland have already announced lockdowns to start after Christmas – in NI on 26 December and from 28 December in Wales.
Asked whether the UK should prepare for a national lockdown, Mr Gibb defended England’s current system.
“Well we have a very localised approach because we have the data from the mass testing,” he said. “It means we can identify in particular local areas where infection rates are rising and then we can apply those restrictions on an area by area basis through the tier system.
“And when infection rates are rising we will increase the tier from tier two to tier three, and when they’re falling we will reduce it.”
So, no national lockdown? “Well we think the tier system is a very effective way of course,” he said.
“We rule nothing out, this government is absolutely determined to tackle this virus. We are so close, we have the vaccine… we’re the first country in the world to be rolling out a vaccine, 138,000 people have been vaccinated so far, but we’re not there yet.
“And that’s why we have to all of us be so careful over the Christmas period.”
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 11:12

Supermodel and actress Eva Herzigova tells fans she has Covid

Eva Herzigova has announced on social media that she's tested positive for Covid-19 and that it started with "crazy shivers and physical fatigue".
The supermodel and actress posted a picture of herself resting in bed and said new symptoms were appearing every day.
"Grateful for my body fighting strong," she said.
The Czech model and her partner, the Italian businessman Gregorio Marsiaj, spent lockdown earlier this year in their home in the hills near Turin, the Italian newspaper Corriere reports.


Macron isolates at Versailles: Latest around Europe


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President Macron has been working via video-conferencing since his diagnosis

  • French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tested positive for Covid-19, has gone into isolation at his official state residence at La Lanterne in Versailles, suffering from a cough and fatigue as well as a fever. His wife Brigitte isn’t joining him as she’s tested negative.A study says Covid has been three times as deadly for patients in French hospitals as seasonal flu – 16.9% of Covid patients admitted last spring died, compared with 5.8% of flu patients admitted two winters ago.Here are some of the other main coronavirus updates from around Europe:
  • Germany has reported a record 33,777 infections over the past 24 hours and 813 more deaths. Germans went into lockdown on Wednesday
  • Russia has recorded another 611 deaths in the past 24 hours, almost as high as the record 613 last Friday
  • A Belgian minister, Eva De Bleeker, posted online the prices her government is having to pay for six Covid medicines, before quickly removing the tweet. The prices were set by the European Commission and are supposed to be confidential. The AstraZeneca vaccine (which isn’t yet approved for use) is cheapest at €1.78 (£1.61) and the Moderna vaccine the most pricey at $18. One Flemish TV journalist reproduced the tweet , asking why the minister deleted the table
  • Europe’s EMA medicines agency has brought forward its decision on approving the Moderna vaccine from 12 January to 6 January
  • Czech restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues reopened only two weeks ago after lockdown, but infections have gone up again so they’re having to shut once more. This time shops and services will stay open but a curfew will be imposed from 23:00 to 05:00
  • Swiss federal leaders will decide later whether to go into a semi lockdown. Another 102 deaths were recorded yesterday. The BBC's Imogen Foulkes explains here why in recent months it’s been Switzerland’s cantons - or federal states - making all the public health decisions
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:00

Northern Ireland 'returning to sustained lockdown of March'


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Each of the UK nations are in charge of their own coronavirus restrictions, and yesterday Northern Ireland announced a new six-week lockdown beginning the day after Christmas.
We've had some more details about it this morning - with NI's health minister Robin Swann describing it as "in a large part" the "sustained lockdown" of March.
He said the measures were being brought in "with a heavy heart", and people would be urged to remain at home as much as possible.
The reproduction number in NI is currently 1 to 1.2 but there are fears it could rise to between 1.4 and 1.8 over Christmas.
NI's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said there had only been five days since 21 October when hospital occupancy had been below 95%.
Read more on the NI lockdown and what the restrictions are here.

Burundi ex-president dies from Covid aged 71


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Pierre Buyoya, pictured here in 2001, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison

Pierre Buyoya, the former president of Burundi, has died in Paris after contracting coronavirus, his family confirmed. He was 71.
The former soldier governed Burundi, in east-central Africa, between 1987 and 2003, twice coming to power in coups.
His early years in power were ended by the country's first democratic presidential elections in 1993. He lost the election to Melchior Ndadaye who was shot dead four months later leading to a decade-long civil war.
In October, Buyoya was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for involvement in Ndadaye's killing. He denied the allegations and had vowed to clear his name.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:05

Breaking News

Deaths with Covid pass 3,000 in Wales

Thirty-eight more people have died with coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of deaths to 3,011, according to Public Health Wales data.
It also confirmed 2,801 new cases.

Latest headlines from the US

Here is a roundup of coronavirus stories from the US on Friday.

  • US Vice-President Mike Pence, 61, is to receive the coronavirus vaccine live on television later on Friday. He will have the first of two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab at 08:00 local time (13:00 GMT), along with his wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams
  • A second coronavirus vaccine is nearing emergency approval in the US after it was endorsed by a panel of experts. The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorise the use of the Moderna vaccine later today, allowing the company to begin shipping millions of doses
  • The Senate is expected to work through the weekend to try to reach a deal on a fresh coronavirus relief bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said. Unless Congress enacts another relief bill, more than nine million unemployed Americans will be cut off from benefits after Christmas
  • More than 310,000 people have died with coronavirus in the US, which has recorded more infections and fatalities than any other country


Breaking News 

PM doesn't rule out third England lockdown

After Wales and Northern Ireland have both announced post-Christmas lockdowns, the question on many people's minds is whether Boris Johnson will follow suit for England.
During a visit to Greater Manchester, Johnson was asked the question and replied: "We're hoping very much that we will be able to avoid anything like that.
"But the reality is that the rates of infection have increased very much in the last few weeks."

Johnson: Five days of relaxed rules 'not a target people should aim for'

Speaking during his visit to Greater Manchester, UK PM Boris Johnson also encouraged people to “think about our elderly relatives” to “avoid spreading the disease” over Christmas.
"Keep it short, keep it small, have yourselves a very little Christmas as I said the other night - that is, I'm afraid, the way through this year.
"Next year I have no doubt that as we roll out the vaccine and all the other things that we're doing it will be very, very different indeed."
He said the five days when the rules are being relaxed was "very much a maximum - that's not a target people should aim for".
The prime minister was also asked about schools, after head teachers and teachers criticised the government for the timing of its announcement about delaying the return to schools next term.
The plan involves using the first week of term to test all pupils as they return gradually to classrooms in a staggered way.
Mr Johnson said he wanted to use pupils’ return in January “as an opportunity to test them, particularly in the high infection areas, that's where we will be focusing most. It also has the additional advantage of greatly helping us to address the rates of infection in the community as a whole".
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:08

Infection rates in London and East Midlands overtake northern England

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
In England, the East Midlands and London now have the highest proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus (1.4%), according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey .
Rates have increased sharply in London, with other increases in the East of England, the East Midlands, and the South East.
But they have continued to fall in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber – where they are now seeing about 1.2% of people testing positive.
Infection rates are comparable in Great Britain - 1-in-95 in England, 1-in-90 in Wales and 1-in-100 people in Scotland - but the rates are rising in all three nations.
Rates had been falling in Northern Ireland but that is no longer the case, although the rates are still lower in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK at about 1-in-215 people being infected.
These figures equate to about 567,000 people in England, 52,500 in Scotland, 33,500 in Wales and 8,500 in Northern Ireland. Read more here

Italy awaits decision on Christmas lockdown

Italy faces a fresh national lockdown over Christmas and the new year under plans being debated by ministers later today.
Many Italian regions are already in partial lockdown, under a three-tier system - red, orange and yellow zones - and the government has banned any travel between different regions between 21 December and 6 January. A nationwide curfew is in place from 22:00 to 05:00.
Areas in red zones, those with the most infections, have closed all bars, restaurants and most shops, as well as hairdressers and beauticians.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper reports that some ministers want the whole country put into a red zone between 24 December and 6 January. An alternative plan, reportedly favoured by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, would see a nationwide lockdown but with a three-day break between 28-30 December.
An official decision is not expected before Friday evening at the earliest. Italy was the first country outside China to suffer a major coronavirus outbreak and has the highest death toll in Europe at 65,857.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:15

Covid driven demand fuels fears for Christmas deliveries

Nearly a quarter of a million residents in the suburbs of the Australian city of Sydney have been told to remain in their homes for at least the next three days after a cluster of new Covid-19 cases rose to 28.
The source of the outbreak in the Northern Beaches region is still being investigated, but New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard said it was the result of "an avalanche of complacency".
The state has been placed on "high alert" and Western Australia has said that all travellers arriving from NSW must quarantine for 14 days. Other states and territories are also imposing border restrictions.
Before Wednesday, Australia had recorded just one locally transmitted case in the past fortnight.
Read more on this story here .

Sydney on Covid alert as cluster grows


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People from Sydney now face travel restrictions after the fresh outbreak

Nearly a quarter of a million residents in the suburbs of the Australian city of Sydney have been told to remain in their homes for at least the next three days after a cluster of new Covid-19 cases rose to 28.
The source of the outbreak in the Northern Beaches region is still being investigated, but New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard said it was the result of "an avalanche of complacency".
The state has been placed on "high alert" and Western Australia has said that all travellers arriving from NSW must quarantine for 14 days. Other states and territories are also imposing border restrictions.
Before Wednesday, Australia had recorded just one locally transmitted case in the past fortnight.
Read more on this story here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:19

Ferguson: I'm more concerned about January than Christmas

Here is some more from Prof Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London scientist. He told BBC Radio 4's World at One any future lockdowns may need to be more restrictive.
He said: “I’m actually more concerned about what we’re going to be facing in early January than I am over the Christmas period itself.
“There’ll be more general contacts in the population than typically occurs over the Christmas season and we’ll still have a limited amount of vaccine.
“The concern I have right now is that if we talk about the east of England - case numbers were rising during the last lockdown. So there may be a need for additional controls beyond even what were in place then.”
Prof Ferguson said it may be a case of more focused local measures than another national lockdown due to the differences between areas.

Which areas in England are entering tier 3 tomorrow?

From midnight tonight, millions more people in England will join tier three, the toughest Covid rules.
The latest places to move up or down a tier were announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier this week.
Moving to tier three are: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, as well as all of Surrey except Waverley, Hastings and Rother in East Sussex, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire and Gosport, Havant and Portsmouth in Hampshire.
Under tier three rules, pubs, cafes and restaurants will shut except for takeaway service - and people can't mix with other households indoors. People can see other households in groups of up to six outdoors - although not in private gardens.
Read more:


Slovak PM tests positive for Covid-19


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Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic has confirmed that he has tested positive for coronavirus.
It comes a week after he attended an EU summit in Brussels, which is believed to be where French President Emmanuel Macron contracted the virus.
A host of European leaders and French senior officials have gone into isolation following Macron's diagnosis.
Matovic, 47, confirmed he had the virus on his personal Facebook page following reports in the Slovak media.
"Today, I am one of you," he wrote, attaching a screengrab of his test results. "I was to spend the Christmas holidays helping out at a hospital. Now my plans will likely be a little different."
Slovak media reported that all ministers and state secretaries had been told to get tested in response.
Slovakia has recorded more than 146,000 infections and more than 1,400 deaths from the virus.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:23

Eight nuns die of Covid at US convent in one week

Eight nuns living at a retirement home for sisters in the US city of Milwaukee have died from Covid-19 in one week, US media report. Four of the nuns at Notre Dame of Elm Grove died on the same day.
The home had been free of the virus for nine months, CBS News reported , citing Sister Debra Marie Sciano, provincial leader for School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province.
However, one nun tested positive on Thanksgiving Day and - despite precautions - several more confirmed cases followed.
"Even though they're older and most of the sisters that did go to God are in their late 80s, 90s... we didn't expect them to go so, so quickly. So it was just very difficult for us," Sciano said.

What's been happening today?

Here's the main coronavirus news from the UK and around the world today:

  • After Northern Ireland joined Wales in announcing a post-Christmas lockdown, many eyes are on England and Scotland to see if they will follow. When Boris Johnson was asked the question, he said he was "hoping to avoid" a third English lockdown but that Covid cases had increased "very much" in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the Scottish health secretary said all options remained on the table
  • There's bad news about the UK's R number (the number of people one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average). The latest estimate is that the R number is between 1.1 and 1.2, meaning the coronavirus epidemic is growing once again
  • Head teachers and school leaders have criticised the UK government over its announcement that next term will begin with online learning for most secondary school pupils in England. The idea is so schools have time to prepare to roll out mass testing - but staff say that telling them just before the Christmas holidays has left them "broken". Many teachers say they will need to replan lessons, potentially working through Christmas. Similar plans in Wales have also been criticised
  • Elsewhere, US Vice-President Mike Pence has received the coronavirus vaccine live on TV, telling the audience: "I didn't feel a thing." The White House said the aim of the move was to "promote the safety and efficacy of vaccines"
  • And Slovakia's Prime Minister Igor Matovic has tested positive for conavirus. He attended an EU summit in Brussels last week, also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron who has got the virus too
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 16:28

Covax secures 2bn vaccine doses for poorer countries - WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has secured agreements for two billion doses of vaccine for its Covax initiative - a programme that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.
"The light at the end of the tunnel has grown a little bit brighter," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news conference.
The doses secured are from developers AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novovax and Sanofi/GSK, although none have yet been authorised for use.
In a statement, the initiative said all 190 economies that had signed up to Covax would "have access to doses in the first half of 2021, with first deliveries anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2021 - contingent upon regulatory approvals and countries' readiness for delivery".
Earlier this week WHO officials warned that a $28bn (£21bn) shortfall in funding meant poor and low income countries could be left behind in a scramble to purchase vaccines.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which also helped set up the initiative, said the Covax alliance was also in talks with Pfizer and BioNtech over their vaccine, which has been approved in the US and UK, as well as with Moderna, which expects to have its vaccine approved in the US later.
Read more: Rich countries 'hoarding Covid vaccines'

‘I won’t have the vaccine, unless it is shared fairly’

Retired doctor Stewart Britten has said he will not have a coronavirus vaccine unless they are shared equally with other countries.
“Britain is buying, like many rich countries, a lot more of the vaccine than our fair share and a lot more than we need.
"And that is going to leave very little vaccine over for low income countries, even if they could afford it,” he told BBC World News.
Britten said he believed in vaccinations and did not want to persuade other people not to get the vaccine, but he felt he needed to take a stand on the matter.
While an international programme, called Covax, has secured two billion vaccines doses to be distributed between lower-income countries, some organisations are warning there is not enough to go round.

'Don't take risks this Christmas' amid pandemic

While many of us will be worrying about catching coronavirus over Christmas people have been warned to be especially careful to avoid a trip to hospital for "avoidable non-Covid-related reasons".
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, urged people to be "incredibly careful" to avoid seasonal hazards such as burns from fires sparked by candles or turkey-related injuries.
"Just don't make anything more risky than it needs to be," she said.
With hospitals already facing rising numbers of patients with coronavirus, and trying to balance their non-Covid work with staff sickness and a lack of beds, Dr Henderson said people needed to try not to add to that pressure.
She said: "Watch that turkey-baster, be careful with your oven, don't set fire to your curtains with candles.
"All the things that are usual common sense, but just be aware that everything's got an extra Covid flavour, sprinkling of Covid."
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Coronavirus - 18th December Empty Ireland's New Year's Eve celebrations to be cancelled amid rise in Covid-19 cases

Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 17:06

New Year's Eve celebrations in Ireland are set to be scrapped following a recent surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Irish Post

On Thursday, the Government revealed that they had been advised by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to bring restrictions back quickly after Christmas to deal with the worrying situation.

Gastropubs and restaurants are now expected to close on December 28, immediately after Ireland's 'relaxation period', which starts today.

Household visits will also be limited to just one other household.
All public New Year's Eve celebrations are also expected to be cancelled, with the Government unwilling to risk any sort of large gatherings at this point.
As of today, domestic travel restrictions have been lifted, and up to three households are allowed to mix as families meet up to spend Christmas with one another, but these rules will only run until December 27 - the end of the relaxation period.

While no move into tighter restrictions has been formally agreed yet, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was taking NPHET's latest recommendations "very seriously".
NPHET chiefs warned that the country faces an "explosion" of cases in January if we don't take adequate measures to combat the spread if the virus immediately.

Speaking on RTE's Six One News, on Thursday evening, the Taoiseach said: "NPHET will be recommending to Government that we would bring in restrictions before the end of the year.
"In other words, the anticipated [Level 3] period of going from [Friday] to January 6 would be shortened.
"NPHET will be recommending restrictions in relation to hospitality before the end of the year ... and also restricting household visits to one before the end of the year," Martin added.
"I haven't seen the full correspondence from NPHET but the CMO was anxious to give me a heads-up given his concern."
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 17:10

NHS pressure at 'really dangerous' point

Nearly 90% of hospital beds in England are full as hospitals try to cope with the demands of the Covid pandemic in addition to normal winter pressures .
Ambulances queuing to offload patients, staff sickness and a lack of beds mean hospitals are "at a really dangerous point", say emergency doctors.
The percentage of NHS hospital beds which are occupied is increasing and has reached almost 89% in England for the week ending 13 December - the highest figure this year but lower than the same point in 2019.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC: "We are at a really dangerous point which could tip into finding it incredibly difficult to manage."
She added that it would be difficult to keep other work going, with pressure "so tight" on intensive care beds.

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Hospital virus patients to get 'long Covid' follow-ups

Doctors in the UK are being told to offer coronavirus patients in hospital follow-up appointments six weeks later, to check if they have symptoms of "long Covid".
The new guidance comes from health officials at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
There is no single medical definition for long Covid - but symptoms can include breathlessness, a cough that won't go away, joint pain, muscle aches, dizziness and mental health problems. (Read more about it here.)
The new guidance from NICE recommends that anyone discharged from hospital after Covid should be offered a video or phone call six weeks later. And it says anyone who was not hospitalised, but is still concerned about their health eight weeks after infection, should also be offered a consultation and referred to rehabilitation or specialist services if needed.
There's more on this story here.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 17:16

Madrid monument honours medics who died of Covid


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Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have unveiled a monument in the capital Madrid to more than 60 healthcare workers who have died with Covid-19 in Spain.
The sculpture by Jaume Plensa stands in the northern district of Chamartín.
Health Minister Salvador Illa and top Madrid officials also attended the ceremony. TeleMadrid news reports that some locals booed and jeered the health minister.
Spain is among the European countries hit hardest by the pandemic, with a death toll of 48,777, according to official data.
In September, Amnesty International reported that more than 7,000 healthcare workers had died with Covid-19 worldwide. The biggest death tolls were in Mexico (1,320) and the US (1,077), the report said.

Switzerland gears up for 'lockdown light'

Imogen Foulkes - BBC News, Geneva
Switzerland will enter a "lockdown light" on Tuesday, during which all bars and restaurants will be closed for one month.
Cinemas, theatres, and museums must close as well, though these were already closed in large parts of the country.
The population is advised to stay at home and not to travel during the Christmas and new year period. Shops must close by 19:00.
The ski slopes will stay open, but only if local authorities are satisfied with the safety measures, this is likely to include an assessment of whether local hospitals have capacity for possible ski injuries.
The new restrictions come as Switzerland’s Covid-19 cases stagnate at about 5,000 a day, after reaching a peak of about 10,000 a day in November.
Deaths are now averaging between 80 and 100 a day, and Swiss intensive care beds are said to be close to capacity.
Kitkat
Kitkat

Posts : 10085
Join date : 2011-03-19
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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 18:02

Further 489 Covid deaths in UK as cases rise by 28,507

A further 489 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test across the UK, according to the latest government figures .
This takes the total by that measure to 66,541.
A further 28,507 people have tested positive for the virus, the Department of Health reported.

There would be 'many deaths' without latest NI lockdown

Northern Ireland's chief scientific adviser has warned that without the planned six-week post-Christmas lockdown, the number of deaths and hospital admissions would have been "severe" .
The new measures will begin on Boxing Day, 26 December, with non-essential shops closing after Christmas Eve.
Prof Ian Young said if an "epidemic" was allowed to proceed in "an uncontrolled way", then inevitably there would be "many deaths."
"While there will be huge pressures on the hospital system in January it should allow our colleagues to cope," he said.
Northern Ireland's new six-week Covid-19 lockdown is essentially a return to March's sustained restrictions, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.
Hair salons and close-contact services will close. Pubs and restaurants will be restricted to takeaway services.
Even tighter measures will be in place for a week from 26 December with no gatherings allowed between 20:00 GMT and 06:00.

Can I meet both my sons for Christmas? And other questions

With the UK government relaxing rules for Christmas here are the answers to some of the questions you might have:

  • Can I meet with my son's family on Christmas Day, then my other son's family on Boxing Day? Up to three households in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and up to two in Wales, can form a Christmas bubble from 23 to 27 December. As long as neither of your sons' families are in another bubble you can meet them.
  • If you are with your family all day on Christmas Day, what is the additional risk of staying overnight? Coronavirus is transmitted by personal contact, so the longer you meet with others the greater the risk that an infected person could pass on the virus to someone else . While different households can meet the advice is that this should be for as short a time as possible and ideally you should not stay overnight unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
  • I live with my partner, can we form separate bubbles with our families over Christmas? In England, Wales and Northern Ireland people who normally live together as one household can choose to split off to join separate bubbles
  • . In Scotland households cannot form separate bubbles.

For more answers to your questions click here .
Kitkat
Kitkat

Posts : 10085
Join date : 2011-03-19
Location : Around the bend

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Post by Kitkat Fri Dec 18 2020, 18:06

What's been making the international headlines?

As we come close to ending today's live coverage, here is a roundup of the main stories from around the world.

  • US Vice-President Mike Pence received the coronavirus vaccine live on TV, telling the audience and doctors: "I didn't feel a thing." He said he wanted to make clear to the American people that the Pfizer-BioNTech jab was safe and effective
  • Also in the US, a second vaccine is nearing emergency approval after being endorsed by a panel of experts. The head of the Food and Drug Administration said it would move "rapidly" to authorise the Moderna vaccine
  • Switzerland will enter a "lockdown light" on Tuesday, during which all bars and restaurants will be closed for one month. The population is advised to stay at home and not to travel during the Christmas and new year period
  • Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have unveiled a monument in the capital Madrid to more than 60 healthcare workers who have died with Covid-19 in Spain
  • The World Health Organization says it has secured agreements for two billion doses of vaccine for its Covax initiative - a programme that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide
  • Slovakia's Prime Minister Igor Matovic has tested positive for coronavirus. He attended an EU summit in Brussels last week, also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron who has the virus too
  • Nearly a quarter of a million residents in the suburbs of the Australian city of Sydney have been told to remain in their homes for at least the next three days after a cluster of new Covid-19 cases rose to 28
  • Pierre Buyoya, the former president of Burundi, has died in Paris after contracting coronavirus, his family confirmed. He was 71


UK round up: Nations consider post-Christmas response


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If you are just joining us here are some of the headlines from across the UK today.

That's all from our live coronavirus coverage for today.

It has been edited by Chris Clayton and Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and written by Francesca Gillett, David Walker, Paul Kirby and Doug Faulkner.

Thanks for joining us.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:52