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Coronavirus - 20th December

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 11:19

Summary for Sunday, 20th December

  • A stringent new Covid lockdown has come into force in London, parts of east and south-east England and Wales
  • Twenty-one million people who entered new restrictions at midnight are being told to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have to close
  • The new tier four was introduced after a new variant of coronavirus caused cases to soar
  • In the rest of England, Scotland and Wales relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day only
  • A Wales-wide lockdown has been brought forward to Sunday with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said tough rules were needed after scientists said the new virus variant was spreading more rapidly
  • Labour has attacked the government's "dither and delay" of the past week and the length of time it took to recognise what "people could see coming"
  • The World Health Organization says it is in "close contact" with UK officials over the emergence of the new variant


Hello and welcome to our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday December 20. Here are the main headlines so far:

  • Twenty-one million people around the UK are waking up to tougher restrictions. A new Tier 4 has been introduced across areas of south and south-east England, including London.
  • Meanwhile Wales has brought forward its own lockdown , and Scotland will only relax its rules on Christmas Day . No changes have been made in Northern Ireland , where a lockdown will start on 26 December
  • The World Health Organisation has said it's in "close contact" with UK officials over the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, which it believes to be behind a rise in cases around the country. The new variant is spreading more rapidly than the original version, but is not believed to be more deadly.
  • Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that clergy and others who are shielding should not feel compelled to attend public worship, even though it is allowed
  • Some 78% of those surveyed in a Savanta ComRes poll after the PM's announcement said they would change their Christmas plans, with 11% saying they will disobey the tighter restrictions


Today's Newspaper headlines


  • The Telegraph, like the majority of today’s papers, leads on the new restrictions. The paper says the PMs last minute announcement “effectively cancelled Christmas for 16 million people”


  • The Daily Star's headline this morning reads ‘Bozo Stuffs Xmas’ and refers to the PM as a ‘Turkey Clown’, visualised with a photo of the PM's head superimposed on the body of a turkey.


  • The Sunday Express says a virulent mutant form of the virus has thrown the country into chaos and has forced a “bitterly disappointed” PM to axe festivities.


  • The Daily Mail poses the question “Will this nightmare ever end?” The paper says despite his efforts to blame the U-turn on the new variant, Mr Johnson is facing fury from Tory MPs, one of whom said "heads must roll" if scientists had not provided enough warning to ministers.


Hancock: Virus 'was out of control'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is appearing on a number of different outlets this morning.
He’ll be on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme shortly but has already been speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge.
He defends Saturday’s announcement of tough new restrictions across London, the South East and East of England.
The government had a “duty to act”when presented with data on Friday showing the rapid spread of the new Covid variant, he says, and had responded “quickly and decisively”.
“The virus was out of control and we have to get it under control.”
He says everyone in Tier 4 areas, who will not be allowed to mix with any other households over Christmas, should “act as if they have the virus to stop spreading it to people”.
While he acknowledges the news has proved a huge disappointment to people, he says the curbs are necessary and points out that people living elsewhere in England will still be able to see one other household on Christmas Day.
He says he has personally been affected, revealing he had called his mum last night to tell her he wouldn’t be able to see her over the festive period.
“This has been an awful end to what has been a difficult year.”

Hancock 'very worried' about state of NHS

The health secretary says the UK will not be closing its borders, saying UK citizens living abroad need to be allowed to come home.
But he repeats the government's advice against international travel except on limited work grounds.
Asked if the UK is inexorably heading to another national lockdown, he replies "not necessarily" and says he hopes the travel restrictions now in place across most of south-east England will limit the spread of the new variant.
He also says he is "very worried" about the health service's capacity to deal with the current crisis, saying there are 18,000 Covid patients in hospital at the moment, just below the peak seen during the first wave in March and April.

Who has the worst number of Covid deaths in Europe?

Reality Check
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that - when it comes to coronavirus - the UK has “the worst number of deaths in Europe”.
In fact, the UK is second in Europe behind Italy in the cumulative number of Covid deaths.
You can compare coronavirus figures from across the world in this piece from BBC News.
It’s important to remember, though, that not all governments are recording coronavirus deaths in the same way.
In deaths per 100,000 people, the UK comes ninth in Europe - behind countries such as Belgium, Italy and Spain.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 11:31

What are the latest global developments?

As lockdown measures are ramped up across areas of the UK, here are some of the biggest headlines from across other areas of the world:


Police deployed to enforce travel restrictions

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has just issued a statement saying extra police officers will be deployed to enforce the new travel restrictions in and out of tier 4 areas.
Following images of people leaving London last night, both by rail and road, before the restrictions came into force, he urged people to "follow the guidance and please do not come to a train station unless you are permitted to travel".
"Extra British Transport Police officers are being deployed to ensure only those who need to take essential journeys can travel safely," he said.

WHO in 'close contact' with UK over new virus variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it's in "close contact" with UK officials over the emergence of the new coronavirus variant.
It's believed this new variant is 70% more transmissible than the old one.
But officials say there's no evidence to suggest it causes a higher mortality rate or that it's affected any differently by vaccines and treatments.
In a tweet , the WHO said it would update member states and the public "as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant [and] any implications".
Read more here.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 11:33

Policing Covid in Wales: Officers 'coughed at and spat on'

George Herd - BBC News
Police in Wales are counting the cost to their health and welfare as they tackle crime and enforce Covid rules in the pandemic, say rank and file officers.
Hundreds have caught Covid-19 while carrying out duties or had to self-isolate due to contact with the virus.
It has prompted one Welsh force to issue a plea to the public to stick to the regulations.
But a Police Federation leader says his officers "can't win".
"Front-line police officers in uniforms can't work from home, they can't ignore a 999 call when it comes in," says Mark Jones, general secretary for the Police Federation in north Wales, representing ordinary officers out on the beat.
"By virtue of what police do, you are getting up close and personal with people who don't really care about rules and regulations.
"If they've got coronavirus, they won't think twice - we've had incidents where our officers have been deliberately coughed on and spat at."
Read more here.

People 'could be compensated' for travel cancellations

The government is looking into compensating people who have had to scrap their Christmas travel plans due to the new measures.
Matt Hancock told Times Radio he "understood" the situation that people found themselves in and the financial impact.
On the question of people getting their money back, he said it was "something that the Treasury and Department for Transport are looking at."
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 11:45

Covid-19: 'Our duty' to act over Christmas plans, says Matt Hancock


The government does not want to cancel Christmas but it is "our duty" to take action when the evidence is clear, says Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Millions of people in the UK have seen their festive plans severely restricted or scrapped after a new coronavirus variant caused cases to soar.
A stringent new lockdown has come into force in London, parts of east and south-east England and Wales.
Mr Hancock told the BBC's Andrew Marr the new variant was "out of control".
He also warned that the new tier four rules which have come into force in London, parts of east and south-east England, could last for months.

Some 21 million people in England and Wales who entered new restrictions at midnight are being told to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have to close.
The planned relaxation of rules for Christmas has been scrapped for those under England's new toughest measures - tier four, while in the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day only.
Mr Hancock said it was "important for everybody to act like they might have the virus" because we need to bring the new variant "under control".
He added: "Of course we don't want to cancel Christmas... we don't want to take any of these measures, but it's our duty to take them when the evidence is clear."
The health secretary said he did not know how long the tier four measures would be in place but "it may be for some time, until we can get the vaccine going".
Residents in tier four are being asked to stay at home unless for essential journeys, while people in other tiers are advised not to travel into the new tier four areas.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was very important that people followed the new travel guidance in England and "do not attempt to travel", saying extra British Transport Police officers were being deployed.




Tier four restrictions:
The tier four restrictions - similar to England's second national lockdown - applies to all areas in the South East which were in tier three, covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.
It also applies in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

  • Residents told to stay at home, with exemptions for those who have to travel for work or education
  • Household mixing indoors is not allowed
  • All non-essential retail to close, including hairdressers, nail bars, indoor gyms and leisure facilities
  • Social mixing cut to meeting one person in an open public space
  • Communal religious worship is still allowed


The changes for England, announced at a Downing Street briefing on Saturday, will last for two weeks with the first review due on 30 December.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford brought forward a lockdown, saying hundreds of people had already contracted the new, "more aggressive" strain of the virus there.
In Scotland, Covid restrictions will only be relaxed on Christmas Day , with mainland Scotland being placed under the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day.
A ban on travel to the rest of the UK will also apply over the festive period.

In Northern Ireland, no changes have been made to Christmas restrictions, with three households allowed to meet from 23 to 27 December. The country is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December .
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 12:29

UK travel bans soar after outbreak

The government's "stop-start" Covid restrictions will cost retailers a further £2bn a week in lost sales, according to an industry group.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says it recognises the government had "difficult decisions to make", but placing large parts of England into tougher tier four restrictions was "hugely regrettable".
"The consequences of this decision will be severe," it adds.
Under tier four restrictions, which came into force at midnight, non-essential shops must close.
Read more here .

France is considering suspending flights and trains from Britain after the new strain was detected , BFM Television reported.
An official decision was expected later on today, BFM said without citing sources, Reuters reported.
Officials at the transport ministry were not immediately available for comment.
The Netherlands has said it will ban flights carrying passengers from the UK from Sunday.
A German government source said Berlin, too, was considering a similar move as “a serious option” for flights from both Britain and South Africa, according to AFP.
AFP reports that Belgium is also suspending flight and train arrivals from Britain from midnight (2300 GMT) Sunday. Prime minister Alexander De Croo told Belgian television channel VRT the ban will be in place for at least 24 hours.

Extra police deployed to enforce new travel rules

The Guardian
Extra police are being deployed in London and in other areas of England’s south east to try to ensure only people who need to make essential journeys are doing so
They are also expected to be involved in the enforcement of new restrictions meaning that people cannot travel outside of London and areas of the south east of England which have been placed in a new ‘Tier 4’ category.
The UK government minister with responsibility for travel, Grant Shapps, said: “If you are in Tier 4, the law means you must stay at home and you cannot stay overnight away from home. Across the rest of the country, you must stay local.
“Follow the guidance and please do not come to a station unless you are permitted to travel. Extra BTP officers are being deployed to ensure only those who need to take essential journeys can travel safely.”
This was the scene last night meanwhile as throngs of travellers congregated at London’s St Pancras train station as they sought to flee the city before it was placed in a new highest tier of restrictions at midnight.
Swaths of south-east England were placed in the new highest tier as Boris Johnson abandoned attempts to relax Covid restrictions over Christmas to counter a highly infectious new strain of the virus. The announcement prompted a rush on London train stations.

Despite people now living under Tier 4 restrictions in the UK being told not to travel unless essential, Eurostar tickets sold out in less than an hour on Sunday morning, amid suggestions France was likely to ban UK travellers, PA Media reports. At 11.50am there were seats available on the three Eurostar trains leaving London for Paris on Sunday, at 12.24pm, 13.31pm and 7.01pm.
Less than an hour later, no tickets were available for purchase on any Eurostar train leaving London on Sunday.

London's St Pancras station packed as travellers flee tier 4 restrictions on Saturday




Throngs of travellers congregated at London's St Pancras train station on Saturday 19 December as they sought to flee the city before it was placed in tier 4 at midnight. Swaths of south-east England were placed in the new highest tier as Boris Johnson abandoned attempts to relax Covid restrictions over Christmas to counter a highly infectious new strain of the virus. The announcement prompted a rush on London train stations
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 13:24

Police Scotland doubles its presence along border with England

Police Scotland will double its presence along the border with England after Scotland's first minister announced a ban on most cross-border travel - but checkpoints will not be put in place.
Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone says "highly visible patrols" on roads will be used to "deter anyone who might be considering breaching the coronavirus travel restrictions".
But he adds: "I remain clear I do not consider it appropriate or proportionate for officers to establish checkpoints or roadblocks to simply enforce travel restrictions".
"Where officers encounter wilful, persistent or flagrant breaches we will act decisively to enforce the law", he says.

Scotland now appears to have the harshest ongoing restrictions of any part of the UK, with near-lockdown level 4 restrictions right across its mainland area for three weeks from Boxing Day and nurseries and schools not set to re-open for the majority of children until January 18.

Breaking News 

Italy announces UK travel ban

Italy joins a growing list of European countries to ban travel to and from the UK.
Earlier today, we reported that Belgium and the Netherlands have introduced a temporary halt on travel to and from Britain, and Germany is considering the same.
Meanwhile, outside the continent, Israel has announced that anyone travelling from the UK, South Africa and Denmark must quarantine for two-weeks in a designated hotel facility.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 14:08

One of the 'Readers' Stories' in the Coronavirus updates from the BBC today:

Readers' stories: Extra Christmas food 'will go to waste'

Martin Dorrell, from Essex, had planned to travel to Lincolnshire to see family for four days with his two children before the Christmas rules changed.
They had "all been looking forward to it", he says.
But now with parts of Essex in tier four, they will no longer be making the journey.
He says their family had bought more food to cater for their visit but "that will go to waste".
"I had to go out and spend over £300 on food and drink to see us through for the Christmas period," he says.

(me): For sure, there will be many, many similar stories throughout the country this Christmas, but as for the extra food already bought that will now "go to waste", this really does not have to be the case... 
There are numerous charities, associations and kindly individuals going out of their way this Christmas to provide food for homeless, hungry and vulnerable people of all ages all over the country. Some of these folk may even be just a stone's throw from our own comfortable homes.  Anyone with access to the internet can google to find out the names and contact numbers of some of these organisations, and so go some way to turn their own 'misfortune' circumstances into helping out others in far more immediate unfortunate situations.

Here is just one such link:  arrow right  Help provide food to those in need this Christmas
As Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, difficult times become even harder for many vulnerable and homeless people across the UK and beyond. And this year it's only been amplified further by the effects of COVID-19.

There are numerous organisations who would appreciate your support and if you're unable to volunteer due to the pandemic, you can always donate money instead.

From a food bank to a project supplying food to refugees, these are just a few of the charities that are looking for help this festive season.

NB:  Most supermarkets also have a 'donation' trolley somewhere within their premises where food and other items can be placed for ongoing distribution to those in need.  This is something that can be done locally, without any recourse to research with Google.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 15:11

£10,000 fine for organiser of anti-lockdown protests in London

The organiser of anti-lockdown protests in which five police officers were injured and 29 people were arrested faces a fine of 10,000, police in London have said.
The woman was identified as the organiser of the demonstrations in which more than 150 people gathered on Saturday and marched through parts of central London - just as heightened ‘Tier 4’ restrictions for the city and much of the south east of England were being announced.
Several clashes occurred between officers and unmasked demonstrators, who chanted “we demand freedom”.
Police said that the protest “endangered the health of Londoners” and that those arrested had been charged with breaching Health Protection Regulations.
The three men had also been charged with assaulting an emergency worker.

266 more covid-positive deaths in hospital in England

A further 266 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 46,388, Britain’s National Health Service has said.
Patients were aged between 42 and 101. All except seven, aged between 53 and 90, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between November 8 and December 19.
Thirteen other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

Thailand begins testing for coronavirus and extends restrictions on movement

has started testing tens of thousands of people for coronavirus and extended curbs on movement, a day after locking down a province following the country’s worst outbreak yet.
The outbreak began at a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon, a province southwest of Bangkok and a centre of the seafood industry that is home to thousands of migrant workers, Reuters reported.
Four cases were reported there on Friday and that number had jumped to 689 by Sunday, the public health ministry said. Thailand had previously kept the epidemic in check, recording little more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases.
“Today is just the first stage,” Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, told a news conference. “Further results will show a lot more infections.”
He said up to 40,000 people would be tested in Samut Sakhon and nearby provinces, with over 10,000 tests to be conducted by Wednesday.
Migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar, lined up for testing on Sunday, along with some Thais. Most cases identified so far have been asymptomatic, health officials said.
Sutharee Wannasiri, a human rights specialist, tweets:
Tweet  Sutharee Wannasiri:

#Thai authorities set up razor barb wire at seafood markets & migrants dormitories in Samut Sakhon claiming to contain the movement of workers to prevent the spread of #COVID19 after 500+ new cases were found today

Coronavirus - 20th December EpqfHxpVEAIZseR?format=jpg&name=240x240 Coronavirus - 20th December EpqfHxqUcAIPN7S?format=jpg&name=240x240 Coronavirus - 20th December EpqfHytU0AAAubr?format=jpg&name=240x240
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 15:22

Tui halts all flights from Luton Airport


Coronavirus - 20th December 6b8cdb10

Travel firm Tui says it's cancelled flights out of Luton because the airport falls under the new tier 4 Covid restrictions.
Tui flights from the London airport will be on hold until 30 December, and customers affected will be able to get refunds or amend their bookings.
But the company will continue to operate out of Gatwick and Stansted - both of which are located in tier 2 areas.
Meanwhile Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands have all announced temporary bans on all travel from the UK.

Railway industry 'upset at predictable' travel rush

BBC News Channel
You may have seen videos on social media of many people rushing to get out of London last night hours before tier four restrictions kicked in.
The Independent's travel editor Simon Calder says people he spoke to in the railway industry were "very, very upset" at the scenes, saying it was "an absolutely predictable response" to the short notice given by the government.
Standing outside Waterloo station - Britain's largest and usually busiest station - he says things look far quieter today.
Earlier, the health secretary branded those who crowded on to trains last night as "totally irresponsible" .
Under tier four rules, which came into force at midnight, people must stay at home (apart from a few key exemptions such as shopping and compassionate reasons).
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 15:32

Third US vaccine 'may be approved next month'

A senior US health official has told ABC news that a third vaccine could get approval as early as January.
But Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the US health department, said data was yet to be released on the coronavirus jab, which is being developed jointly by Johnson & Johnson and Janssen.
He added the Trump administration was confident that, by June 2021, anyone who wants a vaccine in America will have the opportunity to get one.
Two other vaccines, made by Pfizer and Moderna, have already been given the green light by US regulators, and Moderna began shipping to over 3,700 healthcare facilities today.
America is currently grappling with the world's highest amount of coronavirus cases and deaths. More than 17.6 million infections and 316,000 Covid-related fatalities have been reported nationwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Virus variant grew exponentially during lockdown - scientists

A group of scientists advising the government on coronavirus has released the minutes of a meeting about the new virus variant on Friday.
Nervtag, which looks at emerging respiratory threats, concluded with "moderate confidence" that the new virus variant demonstrates "a substantial increase in transmissibility" compared to other variants.
Let's look at what else they concluded about this new variant, snappily named VUI-202012/01 (the first Virus Under Investigation in December 2021):

  • The variant demonstrated exponential growth during a period when national lockdown measures were in place
  • The new variant can be "challenging" to sequence, so estimates of frequency of this variant may be underestimates
  • There's not enough data yet to know why the variant transmits more readily than others
  • Few cases of this variant have been reported internationally but one confirmed export from the UK to Australia has been reported
  • Better data on reinfection, the age distribution of infections, and case fatality rates will be available next week
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 16:06

Iran reports lowest cases in nearly two months

Iran has reported 6,312 new coronavirus infections - its lowest in nearly two months - but officials are urging people against too much social contact during Yalda festivities tomorrow.
The country's health ministry says 177 people had died during the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally 53,625.
Iran is currently grappling with the biggest and deadliest outbreak in the Middle East.
Ahead of the Yalda holiday, shops were ordered to close this weekend at 18:00 local time (14:30 GMT), and a traffic curfew was brought forward an hour, from 20:00 to 04:00 local time.
Earlier today the country's leader Ayatollah Khomeini gave a televised address, his second since Wednesday. Before this week, Mr Khomeini had not been seen in public for weeks, sparking rumours that his health was deteriorating.

Ireland to introduce travel restrictions on arrivals from Britain

Louise Cullen - BBC News NI
The Republic of Ireland will introduce travel restrictions on flights and ferries arriving from Britain from midnight tonight, following concern over the new coronavirus variant emerging in the south of England.
The restrictions will be officially announced later this afternoon, after Ireland's three party coalition leaders held discussions this afternoon.
Once announced, the restrictions will remain in place for an initial period of 48 hours, before being subject to review.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 16:11

Which countries have banned UK travel?

So, Ireland has become the latest country to impose travel restrictions on the UK. Who else has brought in bans? Here's a quick recap:

  • The Netherlands has banned all passenger flights from the UK from 06:00 (05:00 GMT) on Sunday until 1 January
  • In neighbouring Belgium, flights and train arrivals from Britain will be halted from midnight (23:00 GMT), for at least 24 hours
  • Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has said on Facebook that the government is about to sign a measure to suspend flights from the UK
  • Germany's health ministry told AFP news agency that the government was also considering banning flights from the UK
  • In France, news channel BFMTV reported that the government was "seriously" considering suspending flights and trains from the UK , and the government was "looking for European co-ordination"
  • Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González said Spain also wants a co-ordinated EU decision on the matter
  • Austria is also planning a ban on flights from the UK, with details currently being worked out, Austrian media reported
  • Outside of Europe, Israel has announced that anyone travelling from the UK must quarantine for two-weeks in a designated hotel facility.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 16:57

UK records another 326 virus deaths

A further 326 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, the latest government figures show.
It brings the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 67,401.
Remember, these figures tend to be lower on the weekend due to reporting delays.
Another 35,928 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,040,147.

NI executive to meet over virus variant and Christmas rules

Jayne McCormack - BBC News NI political reporter
The Northern Ireland executive will meet at 21:00 GMT tonight to discuss the coronavirus variant and Christmas rules.
It comes after four of the five main Stormont parties had asked for an urgent executive meeting.
A six-week lockdown is due to come into force in Northern Ireland on Boxing Day, but so far Stormont hasn't followed the other UK nations in tightening up Christmas Covid rules.
Sunday's figures show a further 13 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland.
Read more here .

Israel to bar entry from non-citizens from Britain, Denmark and South Africa

Oliver Holmes - The Guardian
Israel has imposed new measures barring entry to non-citizens arriving from the UK, Denmark and South Africa to avoid importing mutated coronavirus strains.
Citizens of Israel arriving from those countries need to enter isolation at state-run quarantine hotels for up to 14 days.
The decision, hastily put through following the discovery of a fast-spreading strain of Covid-19 in England, led to confusing scenes at Israel’s international airport on Sunday.
According to domestic media, around 130 passengers of two flights from London that landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday afternoon were informed of the new quarantine requirements on arrival.
Police were called to the scene after several refused, Channel 12 news reported, adding that 12 people decided to return to the UK.
Ellen Steel, a British-Israeli citizen on one of the flights, said she was ordered to board a crowded bus without being told where she was going.
“At Luton [airport], check-in was normal, but then they called boarding 1.5 hours early. At the gate, they turned everyone away [all non-Israelis] who had a British passport with permission to enter,” she told the Times of Israel .
“When we landed someone from the Health Ministry came on [the plane] and announced we’d all have to go to hotels — if we wanted to have a fight about it we could but only at the hotel and not before,” she said. She adding that the buses were escorted by police.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 17:10

Eleven cases of new Covid-19 strain reported outside UK - WHO

The World Health Organization has called on its members in Europe to strengthen measures against coronavirus in response to the new variant circulating in the UK, its European branch told AFP.
Nine cases of the new strain have been reported in Denmark, one in the Netherlands and another in Australia, according to the WHO.
“Across Europe, where transmission is intense and widespread, countries need to redouble their control and prevention approaches,” a spokeswoman for WHO Europe said.

Breaking News 

Germany to suspend air links to UK from midnight tonight

Germany is planning to suspend air links with the UK from midnight, a government source has said.
It comes after a number of European countries have banned, or are planning to ban, travel from the UK to prevent the spread of a more infectious coronavirus variant.

UK Coronavirus: 326 people die in latest figures

A further 326 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK, as of Sunday.
This now brings the country’s total to 67,501. As of this morning, there had been a further 35, 928 lab-confirmed positive cases bringing the total number in the UK to 2,040,147.

Italy reports a further 352 coronavirus-related deaths

Italy has reported 352 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, down from yesterdays 553, the health ministry has said. The daily tally of new infections has also decreased to 15,104 from 16,308.
Patients in hospital stood at 25,158 on Sunday, down by 206 compared to Saturday’s figures and hospital admissions to intensive care units were recorded at 121, down from 160 yesterday.
As the first Western country to be hit by the virus in February, Italy has recorded more than 1.95 million cases to date.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Coronavirus - 20th December Empty Re: Coronavirus - 20th December

Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 17:24

Summary from The Guardian:


• Several European countries including Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands have reacted to the emergence of a fast-spreading strain of Covid-19 in England by announcing bans on flights carrying passengers from the UK. France and Germany are reported considering similar plans. The moves came as millions of people in London and south-east England began their first day of a new lockdown and the UK health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the newly identified strain of the virus was “out of control”.

• Police will be asked to prevent families from driving out of England’s tier 4 areas. Extra officers will be also deployed at railway stations to clamp down on non-essential journeys. Following crowded scenes at transport hubs in London on Saturday, the new measures prohibit non-essential travel out of the area as well as household mixing, including throughout the festive period.

• New coronavirus cases in the US dipped from record highs on Saturday, and hospital admissions were down for a second day. But as workers began packaging shipments of the second Covid-19 vaccine authorised in the US, the situation remained severe. Asked if the US could soon see “up to 5,000 deaths a day”, the Trump administration’s vaccine adviser, Dr Moncef Slaoui, told CNN’s State of the Union: “I think, unfortunately, it will get worse, because we still are experiencing the outcome of the Thanksgiving holidays and the gatherings and unfortunately there may be more over the Christmas holidays, there will be a continuing surge.

• Most Australian states and territories announced new quarantine measures or entry bans for anyone seeking to travel from Greater Sydney, as the outbreak centred in the region’s Northern Beaches continued to grow and the New South Wales government introduced new restrictions.

• Thailand has started testing tens of thousands of people for coronavirus and extended curbs on movement, a day after locking down a province following the country’s worst outbreak yet. South Korea also recorded its highest ever daily tally, with 1,097 diagnoses including 185 from an outbreak in a Seoul prison.

Ireland brings in restrictions on fights and ferries from UK

Restrictions on flights and ferries arriving into the Republic of Ireland from Britain are to come into effect from midnight tonight, RTE News reports.
The Irish Times also reports two senior sources as saying an initial, temporary ban is one option that has been under consideration.

US monitoring the new COVID-19 mutation in the UK

The United States is said to be monitoring the new COVID-19 mutation in the UK. Reuters reports that multiple U.S. officials have added that it’s currently unclear if the mutation had made its way to America.
U.S. COVID-19 vaccine program head Dr Moncef Slaoui told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, “We don’t know yet. We are, of course... looking very carefully into this.”
The new variant is said to be 70% more transmissible, leaving neighbouring European countries to impose travel restrictions from all UK passengers.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said that while mutating viruses were not unusual, the new strain means that Americans must be more vigilant about safety precautions.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 17:43

A European Council crisis meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow morning about the UK Covid mutation

Tweet  Sebastian Fischer:

The German @EUCouncil Presidency has invited #EU member states to an urgent meeting of the #IPCR crisis mechanism tomorrow morning at 11.00 hours.

On the agenda: EU coordination on the response to the newly identified #COVID19 variant in the #UK.


Long queues for Eurostar as some EU nations ban UK flights


Coronavirus - 20th December 034d1310

Some travellers booked last-minute Eurostar tickets out of the UK, amid flight cancellations and a tightening of coronavirus restrictions.
A long line of passengers formed inside London's St Pancras train station on Sunday for one of the afternoon's sold-out Eurostar trains.
One 23-year-old Frenchman, who only gave his name as Francois, said he booked his ticket to Paris that morning, after changing it from next week.
"I know that it's not really good to leave and go back to France," he said.
"I haven't seen my family for four months and a half. I tried to isolate myself as much as possible."
It comes as Ireland, Italy, Belgium and Netherlands ban flights from UK over the new coronavirus variant, with a source saying Germany will do the same later.

Coronavirus - 20th December E6d98d10
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 17:47

Bulgaria to suspend all flights to and from the UK

Bulgaria will suspend flights to and from the UK from midnight tonight to January 31 over fears of the new strain of coronavirus, reports Reuters.
The Bulgarian government had initially decided on a 10-day quarantine for all passengers arriving from the UK. But, following a meeting the government have opted to temporarily suspend all flights.

48-hour restriction on flights and ferries from UK to Ireland to come into effect from midnight

Ireland is set to introduce a 48-hour restriction on all flight and ferries coming into the country from the United Kingdom.
The travel ban is due to come into effect from midnight tonight, according to RTE.
The new restrictions will remain in place for two days before undergoing a review that could see them extended further into the Christmas holidays.
It comes in the wake of the emergence of a new strain of Covid-19 in the south of England.
VUI202012/01 is thought to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain of Covid-19.
The decision to ban travel from the UK to Ireland comes after Belgium, Holland and Italy implemented similar restrictions on flights from the UK in response to the virus mutation.
Speaking on RTE's This Week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly described the emergence of new strain as "very worrying".
He added that the Government was taking the threat posed to Ireland "very seriously".
"I've been talking to the Taoiseach and Minister Ryan and the Chief Medical Officer over the weekend. We're looking at the situation," he said.
"We're cognisant that other countries have put travel restrictions in place.
"We are looking at exactly that same question and I expect that the Irish Government will make an announcement later on today on potential travel restrictions.
"Our main priority is to protect life and protect health and that we need to do everything that is required to keep the hospitals open, protect education, protect jobs."
Donnelly also confirmed that a ban on all UK flights was one of several options being discussed.
"We're looking at flights, we're looking at ferries, we're looking at travel to and from the island of Britain and Ireland,"” he said.
"I'd say in a number of hours, we'll be in a position to make an announcement."
The new restrictions are due to be announced later today.
Despite the introduction of the travel ban, there is no plan to implement similar restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
"We certainly are not considering sealing the border physically,” he said.
"What we could well be doing is looking at issuing very strong advice in terms of travel north and south."
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 20 2020, 18:11

That's all for now...

As we bring our live page to a close this evening, here are your main coronavirus headlines:

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:58