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Coronavirus - 24th December

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 09:29

Summary for Thursday, 24th December

  • One in 85 people in England and one in 60 in Wales now have Covid, according to the ONS
  • The UK bans arrivals from South Africa, with exceptions for UK and Irish citizens - who must self-isolate
  • New York City orders all arrivals to quarantine for 14 days in response to new variant
  • Anyone arriving from the UK will be visited by authorities to ensure compliance
  • The UK bans arrivals from South Africa, with exceptions for UK and Irish citizens
  • British and Irish travellers from South Africa will have to self-isolate
  • Lorry drivers who test negative are now allowed from the UK into France - but a backlog remains
  • An extra six million people will move into the toughest 'tier four' rules in England on 26 December
  • Globally there have been almost 79m confirmed cases since the outbreak began, with 1.7m deaths


Good morning, welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the latest headlines from around the world.

  • New York City has introduced quarantine rules for international travellers following the emergence of new Covid variants in countries including the UK
  • A New Zealand pilot blamed for causing Taiwan’s first domestic coronavirus transmission in months has been fired by the island’s Eva Air
  • Italy is reintroducing tough new restrictions from today. Until 6 January, bars and restaurants will remain closed as well as most shops. Italians will only be allowed to leave their homes once a day, with travel banned between regions
  • Facebook has removed an Australian celebrity chef’s account after he repeatedly shared misinformation about Covid-19
  • One of the first matches of the US NBA basketball season has been postponed as the Houston Rockets were unable to field enough players. Three members of the team returned either positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests. Another four are in quarantine


This morning's UK headlines

Here are the coronavirus headlines from the UK this morning:

  • The UK bans arrivials from South Africa because of fears about a new Covid-19 variant - British and Irish travellers are exempt, but must self-isolate
  • Lorry drivers who test negative can now enter France from the UK, but there remains a backlog from when the border was closed
  • Another six million people in the east and south-east of England will enter tier four on 26 December, it was announced on Wednesday evening
  • The UK reported another 744 Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday - the highest daily tally since April
  • Another 39,237 cases were also confirmed


A summary of today's developments

The Guardian

  • Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who tested positive for Covid-19, is doing well in the hospital and does not have a fever, the US president said. “Rudy’s doing well,” Trump told reporters. “No temperature, and he actually called me earlier this morning.”
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will get up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech before the end of December.
  • Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, discovered during a cabinet meeting on Monday that she had coronavirus, prompting her to leave the gathering hastily, political sources told Reuters. Citing a source in her office, the news agency reported that Lamorgese was asymptomatic and tested positive after undergoing a routine swab before the meeting.
  • The UK is to administer first vaccine doses on Tuesday. Britain is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to people over the age of 80, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents. The vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge. For that reason it will first be administered in 50 hospitals. About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week.
  • President-elect Joe Biden has picked the California attorney general Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response. If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Biden is expected to nominate Massachusetts general hospital’s chief of infectious diseases, Rochelle Walensky, to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the decision.
  • In Australia, Melbourne has welcomed its first international passenger flight in five months, an arrival that will test the state of Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine system. Australia’s borders have been closed to non-citizens since March, and airports serving Victoria’s capital stopped accepting any arrivals in late June after an outbreak of Covid-19 that began at two hotels where arrivals were quarantining.
  • South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, ordered testing to be expanded, mobilising the military and more people from the public sector, as the country continued to report triple-digit daily new cases. It had 615 new coronavirus cases on Monday.
  • Public support for Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has plummeted over the past month amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic. A poll by the Kyodo news agency put support for his cabinet at 50.3%, down 13 percentage points from a month earlier. Disapproval rose from 19.2% to 32.6%.
  • The Serum Institute of India has sought emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to several reports in Indian media.
  • Japan is preparing to send nurses from the Self-Defence Forces to Osaka and Hokkaido to help tackle a surge in coronavirus infections as soon as the two prefecture governments request it, a government spokesman said on Monday.
  • Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme.The vaccine still needs to be evaluated by the country’s food and drug agency while his administration prepares to distribute it across the archipelago of 270 million people.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 09:36

Pilot blamed for Taiwan case fired by employers


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A pilot from New Zealand, blamed for causing Taiwan’s first domestic Covid transmission case in months, has been fired by his employers Eva Air.
A contact of the man tested positive on Tuesday, ending Taiwan’s 253-day streak without a local case.
The pilot is thought to have contacted the virus earlier this month but was asymptomatic.
Pilots returning to Taiwan after a flight must quarantine for three days.
Eva Air said he was fired for violating operational principles, including his failure to wear a mask inside the cockpit.
Read more about the case here

Cross-channel ferries and trains to run over Christmas

Cross-channel ferries and trains will continue running throughout Christmas to clear the backlog of lorries that built up when France shut the border on Sunday.
Lorry drivers must test negative before they're allowed to enter France from the UK.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced the Christmas move on Twitter after speaking to his counterpart, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.
Tweet  Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP:

As testing in Kent continues (latest figures & outcomes soon) I've spoken to my French counterpart @Djebbari_JB & we've agreed the UK/French border at Eurotunnel, Dover & Calais WILL remain open throughout Xmas in order to help hauliers & citizens return home as soon as possible.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 09:46

UK bans arrivals from South Africa

Travellers who have been in South Africa in the past 10 days are now banned from entering the UK.
The ban does not apply to British and Irish nationals - but they must isolate on arrival.
The ban was introduced after a new variant of Covid-19 was found in people who had been to South Africa.
It is different but similar to the new variant previously detected in the UK.
Read more about the ban here .

French firefighters help testing effort in Dover

Twenty-six French firefighters have helped give out 10,000 testing kits to lorry drivers stuck on the UK side of the border.
Lorry drivers must now test negative for Covid-19 before being allowed into France.
The British military were already working in the area to give out kits. The help of the firefighters was announced on Twitter by France's ambassador to the UK, Catherine Colonna.
Tweet  Catherine Colonna:

Neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends!! 26 firemen work together with the  teams in #Dover since this morning. They brought 10.000 #COVID19 tests. #StrongerTogether #thursdayvibes

New York City introduces quarantine for international travellers

New York City has introduced quarantine rules for international travellers following the emergence of new Covid variants in countries such as the UK.
All visitors will be ordered to stay for 14 days at the address they provided on arrival, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.
He said anyone arriving from the UK would be visited by sheriff’s deputies to ensure they abided by the rules.
Those in breach of the rules would be fined $1,000 (£737) a day, Mr de Blasio warned.
Read more about the new rules in New York here
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 10:57

Cases and deaths continue to rise in UK

Yesterday evening the UK announced another 744 deaths of people who'd tested positive for Covid-19 within the previous 28 days.
That's the highest daily tally since April.
The number of cases also remains high - 39,237 were recorded yesterday.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:00

Facebook removes Australian celebrity chef's account


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Facebook has removed the page of Pete Evans, an Australian celebrity chef, after he repeatedly shared misinformation about the virus.
Evans had about 1.5 million follows on Facebook, where he spread conspiracy theories about the virus and vaccines.
He has had individual posts taken down before but now his entire page has been removed.
Facebook said it had removed it for “repeated violations” of its policies.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:03

China bans flights to and from UK

Stephen McDonell - BBC News, China correspondent
Beijing says it will follow other countries in banning flights to and from the UK indefinitely, after the emergence of a new highly-infectious strain of the coronavirus.
The announcement came from foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin who cited the "exceptional nature of the virus mutation" in Britain and its potential impact.
In recent months, there have been eight weekly flights between mainland China and the UK, including two operated by British Airways.
The coronavirus outbreak has been largely brought under control inside China but the authorities have maintained strict quarantine requirements, with passengers arriving from overseas often testing positive for the virus upon arrival.
Wang Wenbin said China would "closely monitor developments" in Britain and adjust its control measures depending on the situation.

Austria opens ski resorts

Austria has opened more than 400 of its ski stations just days before the country enters a national lockdown.
The government says that, as skiing is an outdoor sport, it is safe as long as people take precautions.
The ski stations will be open throughout the lockdown, however hotels, bars, and restaurants will remain closed.
The skiing industry accounts for almost 3% of the country’s GDP, according to AFP news agency.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:05

Breaking News

New figures show increased Covid rates in England

Around 1 in 85 people in England have Covid-19, according to new estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
That equates to around 645,000 people, up from 570,000 people last week.
The data covers the week ending on 18 December.
The estimate does not include people in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings.

Six million more people to enter England's tier four

As the map below shows, the entire east and south-east of England will be under tier four rules by 26 December.
The toughest set of rules - similar to the national lockdown introduced in March - were announced on Saturday. They first applied to London and neighbouring parts of the south east, but that has now widened.
In two days' time, the only part of England in tier one - the lowest level - will be the Isles of Scilly, which are off the coast of Cornwall.
Read more about the expansion of tier four here.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:17

Russia records a record spike in daily cases and deaths over last 24 hours


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Russia has recorded a record spike in daily cases and deaths over the past 24 hours.
The country reported 29,935 cases and 635 deaths, Moscow-based coronavirus HQ confirmed on Thursday.
Russia registered its Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use in August, despite having only tested it on a few people.
Doctors, teachers and social workers are being offered the vaccine as part of a mass inoculation campaign ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:21

Virus infects 2% of Londoners, says ONS

As we reported just now, the ONS estimates that one in 85 people had the virus in the week ending on 18 December.
The regional breakdown shows London was the most-affected area, with more than 2% of people infected in the capital.
The south-east and east of England were next, with a figure below 1.5%.
These areas also have the highest rates of the new variant – about two-thirds of people testing positive.
The ONS estimate does not include people in care homes, hospitals, or other institutional settings.
Read more.

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This chart shows how confirmed cases have risen in London, the south-east and east of England in the past 2 months
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:28

President Macron no longer displaying symptoms

French President Emmanuel Macron is no longer showing symptoms of Covid-19 and can end his self-isolation, his office said.
The president has been in isolation at a presidential retreat on the outskirts of Paris where he has continued to work.
He tested positive for the virus last week shortly after attending an EU summit.
Several EU leaders announced they were going into isolation at the time.
The president’s wife Brigitte Macron went into isolation but displayed no symptoms, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.

Is fresh air the 'forgotten weapon' in virus fight?

According to Dr Eilir Hughes, who runs a surgery in north Wales, the government slogan "hands, space, face" doesn't go far enough.
It appears on the lectern used by Boris Johnson in Downing Street briefings, which gives it massive prominence.
But Dr Hughes - who has become known as "Dr Fresh Air" for his campaigning on the issue - believes it should say "hands, space, face, replace".
He says replacing stale air in a room with fresh air from outside can massively reduce the chances of people becoming infected.
Read more from Dr Hughes and other doctors here.

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Should this modified slogan be taken up by the UK government?
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 11:40

One in 60 has Covid in Wales, ONS estimates

A new estimate from the Office for National Statistics says one in 60 people in Wales had Covid-19 in the week ending on 18 December.
That compares to around one in 85 in England - although the figure rises to around one in 50 in London.
The estimated infection rate in Wales is the highest since the ONS began its survey in the summer.
The infection rate in Scotland is around one in 140, and in Northern Ireland around one in 180. The ONS survey does not include those living in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings.
Read more about the latest figures in Wales here.

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The prevalence of the new variant

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics

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As we’ve reported, London now has the highest rate of infections of the regions and nations in the UK.
This is similar to the rates seen in the north of England back in mid-October.
That is when the old tier three restrictions were put in place in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester after negotiations between local mayors and central government.
Since then, rates in the north have come down as restrictions have remained in place.
But in London and the South East, rates started to rise in the first week of December during lockdown and rose sharply while London was in tier two.
And more than two-thirds of those positives look like the they might be the new variant.
That’s the highest figure in the UK – closely followed by the South East and East of England.
The ONS warn against reading too much into the figure for Northern Ireland since their survey has so few positive tests there.
But the high proportion of tests that look like the new variant in the South West (40%) will cause concern there.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 12:55

France approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

France has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use, the country’s medical regulator has announced.
“The vaccine can be used for people aged 16 and over, including elderly,” the regulator said.
The ruling comes days after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine for the EU’s 27 states.
It is thought that distribution in some EU states could begin as early as Sunday.
Fears of a new surge in cases among people gathering for the Christmas and New Year holidays have prompted partial lockdowns in countries including Germany and Italy.
The threat of a new, more infectious variant spreading from the UK has also prompted several EU states to suspend travel from Britain.

'Several days' to clear Dover backlog says Shapps


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About 4,000 lorries were parked at Manston Airport in Kent overnight

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says it will take "several days" to clear the backlog of lorries in Dover and surrounding areas in Kent.
France closed the border on Sunday after the UK announced surging cases of a new Covid-19 variant in London and the south east.
Although the border is now open, drivers must test negative before they are allowed to enter France.
BBC reporters say there is still "gridlock" in much of Dover town centre. And in the side roads around nearby Manston Airport, "there are lorries pretty much everywhere and all the lay-bys are full of lorries too", reports our correspondent Simon Jones.
"The reality is, many drivers will spend Christmas in their cabs," he adds.
Shapps urged drivers not to arrive in Kent. "It's never going to be a quick operation," he said.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 13:02

Israel orders third national lockdown

Israel has announced a third national lockdown, amid a renewed surge in infections.
It comes weeks after it began easing its second, month-long lockdown following a drop in the number of new cases.
The latest lockdown will begin on Sunday evening and will last for at least two weeks.
Under the new rules, non-family members will be barred from entering other households, movement restricted to 1km (0.7 miles) from one's home, and shops and leisure facilities shut.
The clampdown comes days after Israel began vaccinating the general population against the novel coronavirus. After initial success in containing the disease, the country has struggled to curb the pandemic since a second wave hit in July.

Navy crew isolating after suspected outbreak


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The crew of a Royal Navy warship has been forced to return to shore and isolate over Christmas after a number of suspected Covid cases on board.
HMS Northumberland had been on call to protect UK waters over the festive period but had to return to Devonport Naval Base, near Plymouth, on Wednesday.
The Navy says it will still carry out all of its "operational tasks" over Christmas.
The warship, which has specialist sensors to hunt for foreign submarines, escorted the Russian destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov as she sailed off the west coast of Scotland last month.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 13:13

What are the quarantine rules when arriving in the UK?

From 09:00 today, anyone who has been in, or transited through, South Africa in the previous 10 days will not be allowed into the UK because of a new variant of the coronavirus detected there.
The new rule will not apply to British and Irish nationals, though they will have to self-isolate.
The South Africa variant is not the same as the one currently causing a surge of cases in the UK.
Here's all the info you need about quarantine rules in the UK.

Main UK and global headlines so far today

If you're just joining our rolling coverage, here are the main coronavirus headlines so far:

  • More than 2% of Londoners had Covid-19 in the week ending 18 December, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics
  • Overall, one in 85 people in England had the virus - rising to one in 60 in Wales
  • China has banned all flights to and from the UK in response to the new variant of coronavirus
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says it will take "several days" to clear the backlog of lorries on the UK side of the French border, with "gridlock" reported in Dover
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is no longer showing symptoms and is ending his isolation
  • Russia has reported a record number of daily cases
  • More than half a million people have had their first vaccination jab in England, new figures show
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 13:18

At the scene in Dover on Christmas Eve

Amanda Akass - Reporter, BBC South East Today

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Testing is under way at the port of Dover with traffic slowly moving through this morning.
Many of the drivers have spent two, three or even four nights in their cabs with no toilet or washing facilities.
It’s not just hauliers either - there are hundreds of vans full of groups of workers from across Europe and families in their cars also stuck trying to get home in time for Christmas, including small children.
Some drivers queuing through the town centre told me they’ve still only moved 100m since the port reopened and I saw a few angry arguments breaking out at junctions where drivers were perceived to be pushing in.
The main routes through Dover are still largely blocked although there are definitely more police around today redirecting traffic away from the gridlock - and local volunteers are also out in force delivering much needed food and drink to the waiting travellers.
I even saw one man going round giving out Christmas presents to children who are unlikely to make it back to open their own in time.

Another 63 Covid deaths reported in Wales

As we reported earlier, Wales had the highest infection rate of the four UK nations in the week ending on 18 December, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
And the country has just announced another 63 Covid deaths, taking the total to 3,263.
There were also another 2,161 cases, taking the total to 133,263.
This video shows how the picture changed in Wales from October to December.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 13:21

Schools 'may have to close' to control new variant

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Schools and universities may have to close, in addition to current tier four restrictions, to bring the new variant of coronavirus under control in the UK.
That's the verdict of preliminary rapid analysis work. It calculates the variant is spreading 56% faster than other forms of the virus.
The researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say whether schools can stay open is the key question for the new year.
Keeping children in school has been a political priority up until now, with the pandemic having disrupted the education of millions of children.
The variant is thought to have emerged in Kent in September and now accounts for around two-thirds of cases in London, the South East and the East of England.
Read more here .

Huge queues remain in Kent despite border opening

The border between the UK and France is now open - but as this video shows, the queues of lorries and vans remain.
France shut the border on Sunday, in response to surging cases of the new virus variant in London and the South East.
Drivers now have to test negative before being allowed into France. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this morning it would take "several days" to clear the backlog.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 13:33

Mapping the virus in charts and graphs


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Global cases have reached 78 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There are concerns that cases could continue to rise rapidly due to gatherings over Christmas and new year.
Europe and North America are seeing the largest increase in cases.

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The UK has seen levels of the virus continuing to rise with one in 85 people in England infected, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A number of European nations, including Italy, have ordered new lockdowns in order to curb the spread.

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The US has been hit hard by the pandemic. It has the highest case load and number of deaths in the world.
California's governor has warned that thousands of people in the state could be hospitalised next month.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 17:32

Relief but no celebration in England's last tier one area

From 26 December, the Isles of Scilly will be the only part of England in tier one - the lowest level of virus restrictions.
Cornwall, Herefordshire and the Isle of Wight have been moved to tier two, leaving the islands - 28 miles off the Cornish coast - as the only place with a "medium" alert.
"It's a very strange early Christmas present," local councillor Steve Sims told the PA news agency.
"Whilst it is a relief, it's a very sobering situation and I remain apprehensive as I'm sure most of my fellow islanders will be."
The islands, which have a population of around 2,000, have had only two recorded cases, he added.
Mr Sims's wife, Beth Hilton, edits local magazine Scilly Now & Then and said: "I don't think we're jumping up and down celebrating the fact that we are still tier one - although it is very welcome news and means we can still go out socially at Christmas if we wish to do so."

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An aerial shot of Tresco Abbey Garden in the Isles of Scilly
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 17:39

Brazil announces flight suspension

Brazil has announced it is suspending flights arriving in the country from the UK and banning anyone who has visited the UK over the past two weeks.
Flights passing through the UK will also be banned, a note in the official gazette on Wednesday confirmed.
A number of countries have suspended flights from the UK after a new strain was identified in the UK.
Earlier this week, Britain’s Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to Brazil due to its latest assessment of Covid-19 risks.
Brazil has recorded more than 189,000 deaths and 7.3 million cases since the pandemic began.

Concerns over mass start of half marathon


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Concerns have been raised over safety at a half marathon in Cornwall, where 250 runners crossed the line in a mass start.
The Indian Queens Half Marathon, held on Sunday, did not feature a staggered start as recommended by Covid-19 safety advice.
One runner in the event, John Barnes, said he was "surprised" to see so many people congregating at the start.
The race director said she believed she had followed guidance and any breach was unintentional.
Current advice from UK Athletics and Run Britain states "mass starts are not permitted", suggesting staggered starts instead.
Cornwall Council confirmed it had allowed the event to go ahead after being told a staggered start would be in operation.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 17:47

Happy Birthday, Dr Fauci


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In a bit of happier news - there's a birthday to celebrate.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US's chief infectious disease researcher who has become the face of the country's pandemic response, turns 80 today.
Well wishes for his birthday have poured in on social media. The Mayor of Washington DC declared the day Dr Anthony S Fauci Day.
But how is the doctor - who has worked non-stop since January - spending this Christmas Eve?
Typically, he'd have an Italian dinner with his family, he told the Washington Post , even making the intensive, cheese-egg-meat-filled baked pasta dish timpano.
But this year, as he advises all Americans to do, he'll be staying at home with his wife in DC, celebrating with his daughters via Zoom.

Hospitals in parts of South Africa over capacity

Nomsa Maseko - BBC Southern Africa correspondent
Hospitals in South Africa’s Western Cape province are under severe pressure from rising Covid-19 infections and trauma cases, as the country experiences a second wave of the virus.
Yesterday the country recorded more than 14,000 new infections, the highest number of cases in a single day, as well as 411 deaths.
The Western Cape government says the second coronavirus wave is proving to be significantly bigger than the first one in terms of hospital admissions.
Scientists in South Africa announced the discovery of a new coronavirus variant last week. It’s thought the new variant is transmitted more easily than previous versions, and this could be driving the second wave.
Some hospitals in the Western Cape are now at full capacity, with some at 140% capacity.
Trauma cases related to alcohol, car crashes and crime are also putting pressure on the system.
The health department is in the process of adding extra beds in the province and might also have to bring in the military for assistance.
Following the discovery of South Africa’s new coronavirus variant, the UK government has suspended all flights between South Africa and the UK.
Two cases of the South African variant have been found in the UK.
The South Africa mutation is different to the new variant recently discovered in the UK, but both are thought to be more easily transmitted.
Scientists say more research is needed to establish whether the new variants are more severe than previous ones.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 18:26

Ferries with capacity for 4,000 lorries take just 144 since Tuesday


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Ferry operator DFDS says it has been able to transport only a fraction of the lorries it had capacity for across the Channel in the last two days because of congestion in Dover.
It said: "The borders were reopened for freight drivers with a negative test as at midnight on Tuesday and since then DFDS has had capacity to ship up to 4,000 trucks; due to the logistical issues that have prevented freight getting to the port we have unfortunately only been able to transport 144 trucks out of Dover."
It says it is "ready to transport freight drivers and their vehicles and any passengers who have valid essential reasons to travel", if they have a negative Covid test and in line with French government guidelines.
"The company shares the frustration and disappointment that our freight customers have felt in not being able to travel, and we fully understand the issues that this has created for local residents in Dover and the wider East Kent area," they said.
Extra sailings have been added to today's sailing schedule and the Port of Dover is remaining open over Christmas. Customers cannot enter the port without a negative Covid test result, however.
The latest figures from Wednesday showed 6,000 drivers were still stranded in Kent as a repercussion of the travel ban.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 18:30

Model predicts over half a million US deaths by April

The University of Washington's latest Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects the US could see more than 567,000 deaths by 1 April.
It's an increase from its previous estimate of 562,000.
The model, updated on Wednesday, shows that if 95% of the country started wearing masks the death toll would be diminished by almost 50,000. A rapid vaccine roll-out would also save an estimated 45,000 lives.
On the other hand, if states stop following virus restrictions, IHME predicts the US death toll will pass 731,000 by April.
As it stands, the US has seen 326,242 deaths due to the virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Cases rise fastest in working age adults - London health chief

One of the worst-affected London boroughs says the most significant rise in cases of coronavirus is in those of working age.
London now has the highest percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. It's now estimated 2.1% of people in private households have the virus.
Jason Strelitz, director of public health in Newham, one of the worst-affected boroughs of the city, said: "The most significant age group in terms of our local epidemic is people of working age.
"The vast majority of cases are amongst people aged 20-50 and that group has seen also the fastest acceleration.
"There's also been growth in children of secondary school age and slow growth amongst older people but it really is right across the population."
It comes as the weekly surveillance report from Public Health England shows London's rate of new cases of Covid-19 has trebled in just two weeks.
The rate stood at 602.2 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to December 20, up from 200.3 in the seven days to December 6.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 18:33

Mexico begins vaccinations

Mexico has started its mass vaccination programme, just a day after the first doses arrived in the country.
About 3,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived on Wednesday.
A 59-year-old nurse in Mexico City had her injection televised.
Doses of the vaccine are being guarded by the military to stop them from falling into the hands of criminals, AFP reports.
More than 120,000 people have died and 1.3 million infections have been recorded in Mexico since the pandemic began.

Fall in number of people with Covid in Scotland


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The number of people estimated to have Covid in Scotland has fallen over the last week, according to official figures.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated the new, more easily transmittable strain of the virus was responsible for 38% of the positive cases in Scotland.
It found about 37,100 (one in 140) people in Scotland had the virus in the seven days to 18 December. That figure has fallen from 52,500 (one in 100) in the week up to 11 December.
The ONS said data on the new variant should be treated with caution due to the small numbers involved. It found that 7% of positive tests showed the new variant in the week beginning 7 December, and that rose to 14% the following week.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 18:35

What's happened around the world today?

Thanks for tuning into our live page today. Here's a round-up of the major headlines from around the world:

  • A pilot blamed for causing Taiwan’s first domestic coronavirus transmission in months has been fired by the island’s Eva Air. The airline said he was fired for violating operational principles, including his failure to wear a mask in the cockpit
  • A 37-year-old man who allegedly used an oxygen tank to beat to death a fellow Covid patient in his California hospital bed last week has been charged with murder and hate crime. The suspect became upset when the 82-year-old man sharing his hospital room started praying
  • Israel has announced a third national lockdown, amid a renewed surge in infections. It comes weeks after it began easing its second, month-long lockdown following a drop in the number of new cases. The latest lockdown will begin on Sunday evening and will last for at least two weeks
  • Austria has opened more than 400 ski stations just days before the country enters a national lockdown. The government says that skiing is safe so long as people take precautions
  • China has said it will follow other countries in banning flights to and from the UK indefinitely after the emergence of a new highly-infectious strain of the virus
  • New York City has introduced quarantine rules for international travellers following the emergence of new Covid variants in countries such as the UK. All visitors will be ordered to stay for 14 days at the address they provided on arrival. Anyone arriving from the UK will be visited by sheriff’s deputies to ensure they abide by the rules
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Dec 24 2020, 18:36

UK Covid headlines on Christmas Eve

Thanks for joining us on this Christmas Eve as we've brought you all the latest coronavirus news.
Here's a recap of the top stories from the UK today.

  • Levels of coronavirus are continuing to rise with one in 85 people in England infected, according to the Office for National Statistics
  • Figures for the week to 18 December estimate nearly 650,000 people have the virus, up from 570,000 the week before, with London having the highest percentage of people with the virus - more than 2%
  • In Wales, the virus is infecting one in 60 people - a sharp increase. Infection levels are also up in Northern Ireland.
  • In Scotland, the percentage of people with the virus has decreased, equating to one in 140 people, the ONS suggests
  • More than 520,000 people have been vaccinated against coronavirus in England since the roll-out started two weeks ago, with thousands more across the UK nations
  • People aged 80 and over received 70% of the doses, with the rest going to frontline health workers
  • Travel by visitors to the UK from South Africa has been banned amid concern over a variant of Covid-19 linked to the country
  • Schools and universities may need to close, on top of tier four restrictions, to bring the new UK coronavirus variant under control, a rapid analysis says
  • Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says it could take days to clear the backlog of lorries waiting to cross to France, in the aftermath of the travel ban between France and the UK, with drivers being warned they may have to spend Christmas in their cabs

If you're having a break from the news for a few days now, then have a very Happy Christmas.

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Today’s live page was brought to you by writers Sophie Williams, Lauren Turner, Owen Amos and Ritu Prasad. Martha Buckley was today’s editor.

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