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Coronavirus - 30th December

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 10:42

Summary for Wednesday, 30th December

  • The UK approves the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and manufactured by AstraZeneca
  • It is considered a game-changer as it does not have to be stored at very low temperatures
  • The first immunisations of the jab will start on 4 January, says the UK's health secretary
  • It is the second jab to be deemed safe in the UK, following the Pfizer-BioNTech roll-out earlier in December
  • Millions of people in England will hear later if they will move into a higher tier of restrictions
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will make a statement later about the return of schools in England in January
  • A major incident is declared Essex in south-east England amid fears Covid cases could overwhelm its health services
  • The US reports its first known case of highly infectious Covid-19 variant first found in the UK
  • Nearly 500,000 in the Chinese city of Wuhan may have had virus, according to a new study


Breaking News 

Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. The UK is waking up to some good news this morning that it has approved a second coronavirus vaccine.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second jab deemed safe by UK regulators, paving the way for millions of vaccinations.
It is considered a game-changer as it does not have to be stored at very low temperatures like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses and can now start vaccinating millions more people.
Read the full story here.

Round-up of latest headlines

We’ll be bringing you all the latest news about the vaccine and other coronavirus developments on what is expected to be a very busy day. Here are the main headlines:


First doses to be given 'as quickly as possible'

The UK Department of Health and Social Care said it has accepted the recommendation the UK regulator MHRA "to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for use".
A spokesperson said that after "rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data" MHRA has "concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness".
It said that the NHS had a clear vaccine delivery plan and it would now begin putting its extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.
A statement added that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – which advises the government on who to vaccinate first – had said the priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.
Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first, it added.
"From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups."

Breaking News 

Oxford vaccine rollout to begin next week, says health secretary

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hailed the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, calling it "fantastic news".
He confirmed that rollout of the vaccine would begin on 4 January.

Oxford vaccine 'a game changer'

Approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a "game changer" in the’s UK's battle with coronavirus, says Prof Andrew Hayward, a scientist advising the government.
He told BBC Breakfast that it was "exactly what we need right now" as the UK is facing an "extraordinarily difficult situation" following the emergence of a fast-spreading variant of coronavirus.
"This has turned into a race between us and the virus and what we need to do is slow the virus down as much as we can as we get as many people vaccinated as possible."
He said the plan to give as many people as possible a first dose of the vaccine will give a reasonable proportion of protection, "particularly against severe disease".
He added that this would allow the UK to protect more people a lot more quickly.

Vaccine approval 'a landmark moment'

We've got some reaction now from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, who joined up to create this new Covid-19 vaccine.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford trial, said: "The regulator's assessment that this is a safe and effective vaccine is a landmark moment, and an endorsement of the huge effort from a devoted international team of researchers and our dedicated trial participants.
"Though this is just the beginning, we will start to get ahead of the pandemic, protect health and economies when the vulnerable are vaccinated everywhere, as many as possible as soon possible."
AstraZeneca said it aimed to supply millions of doses in the first quarter of next year as part of an agreement with the UK government to supply up to 100 million doses.
Its chief executive Pascal Soriot said: "Today is an important day for millions of people in the UK who will get access to this new vaccine.
"It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit."
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 10:48

Next steps now are critical, says vaccine director

Prof Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, has just been speaking to the BBC’s Today programme about what he described as a "great moment in what has been a difficult year".
Prof Pollard hailed the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab as an “astonishing achievement” in science and clinical research.
"This year with the pandemic has been like being in a blizzard. We’ve been really struggling uphill through snow drifts and with this icy wind in our faces. This morning we do have some respite with this good news and the warmth that that brings, and perhaps some hope from the future," he said.
But he said there is still "more work to do".
"It’s a triumphant moment but it’s not over yet," he told the BBC.
"Our colleagues in hospital are facing some real horrors caused by this virus. The next steps are critical."

Enough vaccine for 'whole population' - Hancock

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast the first person to receive the vaccine will be on 4 January and he says there is "enough vaccine on order to vaccinate the whole population", excluding children.
He said that the 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine ordered by the government, combined with the 30 millions doses of the Pfizer vaccine meant that he could say "with confidence that we can vaccinate everyone except children" with two doses.
He said the government had been advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that the order or priority for the vaccine should be the same as for the Pfizer vaccine.
The highest priority groups are residents in care homes, people over 80 and frontline health and social care workers.
He said they had also been advised that the government should prioritise having as many people as possible getting the first dose as possible which “will allow us to get protection to more people quickly”.
People will get their second dose after 12 weeks, he says, which will mean that over the first three months “we can get this jab into the arm of as many people who are vulnerable to this disease as possible”.

Analysis: The UK now has clear route out of worst of pandemic

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The NHS will now be able to significantly speed up the vaccination process.
There are already millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine in the country ready to go.
The move to a one-dose strategy will also have a major impact.
Within weeks the UK should have 1,500 local vaccination centres up and running - enabling in theory close to two million people a week to be vaccinated if supply can keep up.
That means by the end of March the majority of the people in nine priority groups could have been offered a jab.
Certainly the over-65s - nine in 10 Covid deaths have been seen in this age group - should have been done.
One dose does not offer as much protection as two doses clearly - but the evidence suggests it is effective at preventing serious illness from infection in the very least.
With rising infection rates and growing pressure on the NHS, the UK now has a clear route out of the worst of the pandemic and back to some form of normality.

Hancock to set out tier changes later

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he will be setting out changes to England’s tier restrictions in the House of Commons later.
Millions more people in England are expected to be placed under tougher coronavirus measures amid escalating case numbers.
"It is clear as we have seen from the data in the last few days that the number of infections is going up – that’s unfortunately not just happening in the London and the South East as it was in the last few weeks but it’s starting to happen elsewhere in the country," he said.
He says the government doesn’t "take these tiering decisions lightly" but the new fast-spreading coronavirus variant meant tougher measures were important.
Asked whether the government was considering a national lockdown, Hancock said "we introduced the tier system for a reason because not everywhere needs the same level of restrictions".
He added that everyone should think about reducing social contact and act as if we have the virus.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:23

Enough vaccine for 'whole population' - Hancock

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast the first person to receive the vaccine will be on 4 January and he says there is "enough vaccine on order to vaccinate the whole population", excluding children.
He said that the 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine ordered by the government, combined with the 30 millions doses of the Pfizer vaccine meant that he could say "with confidence that we can vaccinate everyone except children" with two doses.
He said the government had been advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that the order or priority for the vaccine should be the same as for the Pfizer vaccine.
The highest priority groups are residents in care homes, people over 80 and frontline health and social care workers.
He said they had also been advised that the government should prioritise having as many people as possible getting the first dose as possible which “will allow us to get protection to more people quickly”.
People will get their second dose after 12 weeks, he says, which will mean that over the first three months “we can get this jab into the arm of as many people who are vulnerable to this disease as possible”.

Covid-19 immunisation can now be dramatically speeded up

Fergus Walsh - Medical editor
This is a hugely significant moment in the long battle against Covid-19.
Approval of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine means that immunisation can be dramatically speeded up across the UK.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, it does not need to be transported at minus 70 degrees. This will make it far easier to get the vaccine to every part of the country, especially care homes.
Several million doses are ready to be handed over to the NHS with millions more planned in the coming weeks.
Large scale trials showed it was around 70% effective at protecting against Covid-19 which is better than most flu vaccines.
Crucially, no-one who received at least one dose of the vaccine was hospitalised with Covid.
The vaccine, which costs around £3 a dose, is also far cheaper than Pfizer's, and will play a vital role in global immunisation.
AstraZeneca says it hopes to produce three billion doses in 2021.
Read more here

US reports first known case of UK variant

Away from the breaking news on the vaccine - the US has reported its first case of the highly infectious Covid-19 variant that emerged in the UK.
The case was detected in the state of Colorado. The patient, a man in his 20s with no recent travel history, is currently in isolation.
Health officials said they were working to identify contacts and other potential cases of the new variant.
Experts say the new variant is considerably more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily any more dangerous for those infected.
US health officials said last week that they believed it was already in circulation in the country.
Cases of the new variant have also been reported in several European countries as well as Canada, South Korea and Japan.
Read the full story here
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:26

Vaccine 'not an instant fix' - Wales health minister

The rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine across Wales will begin next week, the Welsh government has said.
First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted that he was "very pleased" the second vaccine had been approved in the UK, adding that more than 25,000 doses of the first vaccine - the Pfizer jab - had already been administered in Wales.
Wales is set to receive its population share of the UK's 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over the next weeks and months.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: "We understand there are high expectations and excitement at the arrival of a second vaccine.
"However, it will take time to reach everyone as this is not an instant fix. We won't receive all the doses at once and we have to be realistic about the scale and pace of delivery when we are vaccinating the entire adult population.
He added that he would be "delighted" if there was population coverage by Easter, but said he did not want to "give out false hope".

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What is the Oxford vaccine and how does it work?

Following the news that the Oxford University vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, here’s a quick look at how it works:

  • It is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can't cause illness
  • When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection
  • Unlike Pfizer's jab - which has to be kept at an extremely cold temperature (minus 70C) - the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal fridge. This makes it much easier to distribute

Read the full story here
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:33

Care home groups say Oxford vaccine 'gives hope'

Care home groups have welcomed the news that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will begin being rolled out in the UK from next week.
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, which represents more than 200 care providers, said: "After the shocking figures released yesterday of the massive rise in infections, this gives us much hope.
"This should mean that the mass rollout of the vaccinations can now begin in earnest to those residents and all vulnerable people - particularly those in care homes and the staff that care for them - as a priority."
On Tuesday, a record number of cases was reported in the UK for the second day running. There were 53,135 new Covid cases were recorded and 414 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Prof Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: "With community transmission on the increase, it is all the more important that we learn lessons from the first wave and focus on protecting those living and working in care homes."
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in a standard fridge - unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jab which needs ultra cold storage at minus 70C.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed care home residents would be among the first rollout of the second vaccine, starting next week.
He told BBC Breakfast: "Those (temperature) limitations aren't there for this Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine so we can get out and vaccinate people who live in care homes, who of course are some of the most vulnerable to this disease."

When will you be eligible for the Covid vaccine?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine "a triumph" for British science.
"We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible," he added.
But when will you be eligible for the vaccine? Find out here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:36

Northern Ireland welcomes vaccine approval

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann has joined other UK health ministers in welcoming the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said deployment of the vaccine is expected to begin in Northern Ireland next week.
Swann also confirmed that 33,683 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - the first to receive UK approval - have been administered to care home residents and front line health staff in Northern Ireland.
He added that vaccinations have been carried out in 80% of care homes in Northern Ireland, which he said was a "significant achievement" .
Read more here

Is the Covid vaccine safe?

The UK's Covid immunisation programme is set for a massive expansion following the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Here’s a quick look at how vaccines are determined to be safe:

  • Safety trials begin in the lab, with tests and research on cells and animals, before moving on to human studies
  • As long as the safety data from the labs is good, scientists can check that the vaccine or treatment is effective too. That means tests on large numbers of volunteers


  • Approval is only given in the UK if the regulator, the MHRA, is happy that a vaccine is both safe and effective
  • Checks continue after approval to make sure there are no further side effects or long-term risks
  • Independent experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation decide how best to use a vaccine and who should get it

Read more on this from BBC health editor Michelle Roberts
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:51

What do we know about China's vaccines?

As the global race to produce a Covid-19 vaccine continues, China appears to have made huge strides, with vaccines from two front-runners already making their way abroad.
One of those is being produced by the Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac. So how does it compare to those being developed elsewhere?
On paper, one of Sinovac's main advantages is that it can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, like the Oxford vaccine developed in the UK, which is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees.
Two vaccines have been approved for use in the US - Moderna's vaccine needs to be stored at -20C and Pfizer's vaccine at -70C.
It means that both Sinovac and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are a lot more useful to developing countries which might not be able to store large amounts of vaccine at such low temperatures.
Sinovac has been approved for emergency use in high-risk groups in China since July. But it's hard to say how effective it is at this point in time.
According to scientific journal The Lancet, we currently only have information from the first and second phase trials of CoronaVac.
Find out more about China's vaccines here.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:55

Latest headlines

It's been a busy morning so if you're just joining us here's a quick recap of the main stories in the UK and around the world:


China’s Sinopharm says vaccine 79% effective

Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm has announced that a coronavirus vaccine it is developing is 79% effective, and said it has applied for regulatory approval.
The UAE earlier this month said the same vaccine was 86% effective , according to interim results of its phase three trial.
A company spokeswoman declined to explain the discrepancy, and said detailed results would be released later, according to a Reuters report.
Even ahead of the phase three trial results, the vaccine had already been distributed to nearly a million people in China under an emergency programme.
Prof Dale Fisher, of the National University of Singapore, said then that it was "unconventional" to ramp up a vaccine programme without first going through last stage trials.
You can read more about the Chinese vaccines being developed here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 13:58

US Senate wrangles over boosting help for Americans

The US Senate is wrangling over boosting one-off payments for Americans hit by the coronavirus downturn.
Americans are due to begin receiving $600 (£441) each under a $900bn-coronavirus stimulus package signed into law on Sunday.
But President Donald Trump, Democrats and some Republicans say this is not enough, and want the payments boosted to $2,000.
Republicans blocked a Democratic Party proposal for a quick vote on boosting the payment. Most Senate Republicans are opposed, saying they are not the best way of helping those hardest hit by the pandemic.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has instead linked the issue to two other proposals, on legal immunity for tech companies and electoral fraud.
He said the Senate would "begin a process" and bring all issues "into focus".
Read the full story here

Breaking News 

UK PM to lead press conference at 17:00 GMT

We've just had it confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a press conference on coronavirus in the UK from Downing Street at 17:00 GMT.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 14:01

Millions more in England braced for tougher Covid rules


Coronavirus - 30th December Cb7d6610

We're expecting an announcement on changes to England's tier system this afternoon, with millions more people set to be placed under the toughest tier four restrictions .
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out the details of which areas will be affected in a Commons statement at around 15:00 GMT.
Infection rates in lower tier areas of England have risen rapidly in the last seven days, government data shows.
Hartlepool, parts of the East Midlands such as Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, and all areas of the West Midlands metropolitan county are among the areas that could move to tier four.
It is thought a handful of areas in Lancashire - Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley - could also be upgraded from tier three.
And there may be further curbs for areas already in the highest tier amid concerns that the current rules are not enough to stop the fast-spreading new virus variant.
Tier four rules include a "stay at home" order and mean businesses such as non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms must close.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 14:03

Apple removes app promoting parties during pandemic


Coronavirus - 30th December 545e9b10

An American app that promoted private parties during the coronavirus pandemic has been removed from the Apple App Store.
Vybe Together calls itself a "private community to find, join and host parties".
A recent video on its TikTok account claimed it held secret parties every weekend.
Although its account on the platform, as well as its own website, has been taken down, the company vows to return.
"App Store took us down! We will be back! Follow to stay updated!" its Instagram account description now reads.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 14:06

What’s happening in Europe?

Here’s a quick look at some of the latest developments from across Europe:

  • Germany has recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths in a day for the first time. A total of 1,129 deaths were reported by the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. It came as officials warned that lockdown restrictions could be extended beyond 10 January
  • Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa is ending a 14-day period of isolation, following a negative result from a Covid-19 test, his office said in a statement. The politician began isolating after French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for coronavirus, the day after the two men had a meeting in Paris
  • Health authorities in Switzerland have confirmed that an elderly person vaccinated against Covid-19 has subsequently died. A spokesperson for the canton of Lucerne provided no details as to whether the death could be connected to the vaccination, but said the case had been referred to Switzerland’s drugs regulatory body
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he has ruled out making coronavirus vaccines mandatory, but is confident there will be large-scale demand for the jabs, Reuters news agency reports


The UK could have 'a surplus of vaccines'

More from Kate Bingham, the former chair of the UK's Vaccine Taskforce. She says the UK could end up with a surplus of effective vaccines.
She says that when the taskforce was launched in May to get supplies of vaccines for the UK, there was no evidence an effective vaccine could be developed as "there had been no vaccine against any human coronavirus".
The development of vaccines for Covid-19 had "ended up more successful than we thought, and I think than all experts thought", she said, adding that it reflected the "fundamental improvements that have been made” over the last decade in vaccines.
The UK has so far order 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and seven million doses of the Moderna jab - all of which require two doses for full protection.
"It does look that it's possible that we will end up with more vaccines than we need for the UK - and then it will be a matter for the government to decide what and how they want to use those potential surplus vaccines," she said.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 15:26

Tributes paid to US Congressman, 41, who died from Covid


Coronavirus - 30th December 754aee10

A recently elected US lawmaker has died from Covid-19 - the first member of the US Congress to die with the disease.
Republican Luke Letlow, 41, had been elected as Representative for Louisiana's 5th district and was due to be sworn in on Sunday.
People have been paying tribute to Letlow, who announced on 18 December that he had tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to hospital soon afterwards.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on the day of Letlow's funeral.
"Another devastating blow during an already difficult year," tweeted Republican Tim Scott.
Tweet  Tim Scott:

Another devastating blow during an already difficult year. Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow. His wife, Julia, and his two young children are in my prayers.

"An incredibly sad and untimely ending. My heart aches for Luke Letlow's young kids and family," tweeted trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran.
"41, healthy, & had access to care. We should all learn from this experience along with the other 340K deaths - we are not invincible."
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 15:45

Health secretary giving statement on Covid tiers

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is now beginning his Commons statement on changes to the tier system in England.

Breaking News

Lancashire to move to tier 4, council leaders told

Lancashire’s council leaders have been told the county will move into tier four from midnight tonight.
We're due to hear an update from the health secretary in the Commons shortly about England's Covid tiers.


Tier four restrictions expanded for millions

Matt Hancock says sharply rising cases and the hospitalisations that follow “demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading”.
He says the majority of new cases are believed to be the new variant, which is now spreading across most of England, with cases doubling fast.
The health secretary says it is therefore necessary to apply tier four measures to a wider area including the remaining parts of the South East, as well as large parts of the Midlands, north-east and south-west England.
Tier three restrictions will also be expanded to Liverpool and North Yorkshire.
The changes come into affect at 00:01 GMT on Thursday.


Germany reports more than 1,000 Covid daily deaths for first time

Germany has reported more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said that current restrictions would likely need to be maintained for longer than first thought.
"Those numbers show once again how brutal this virus is. The infections and numbers of deaths also show that we are still very far from the normality that we would wish to live in," he said.
"I don't see how in this situation we can go back to where we were before the lockdown, however difficult it may be."
It comes as health authorities in Germany approved a new rapid coronavirus test that can give results within 40 minutes.
GNA Biosolutions, the biotechnology company that developed the process, says the portable test equipment weighs less than two kilograms and can analyse eight samples simultaneously.
The company says it hopes the European Union will authorise the new procedure within the next three months.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 16:33

Which areas are moving into tier 4?

Millions more people across England will join the toughest tier of Covid restrictions from 00:01 on Thursday.
Here is a breakdown of where:

  • Leicester City
  • Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
  • Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
  • Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
  • Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
  • Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
  • Coventry
  • Solihull
  • Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
  • Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
  • Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
  • Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
  • Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
  • Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees)
  • North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
  • Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
  • Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
  • Swindon
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  • Isle of Wight
  • New Forest


Which areas are moving into tier 3?

Here's a round-up of the local authority areas that will move into tier three at 00:01 on Thursday:

  • Rutland
  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
  • Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
  • Herefordshire
  • Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
  • York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)
  • Cornwall
  • Dorset
  • Wiltshire

Click here for a reminder of what the restrictions in the different tiers are
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 16:45

What are the rules in tiers 3 and 4?

With coronavirus measures increased for millions of people across England, here's a recap of what the restrictions in tier three and four areas are:

Coronavirus - 30th December B93cc410


  • You can't mix indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your household or bubble
  • You can meet in a group of up to six in other outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or countryside
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services (such as hairdressing) can stay open, as can swimming pools
  • Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway
  • Collective worship can take place - with no mixing outside your bubble
  • Small wedding ceremonies can take place, but not receptions
  • Sports fans cannot attend events in stadiums
  • Indoor entertainment venues - such as bowling alleys and cinemas - must stay closed
  • People are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas


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The restrictions are similar to the last national lockdown and include:

  • Residents should stay at home, unless they have a "reasonable excuse" such as work or education
  • All non-essential shops must close
  • Hairdressers and nail bars must close
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close
  • Gyms and indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios must close
  • You cannot meet other people indoors, unless you live with them or they are part of your support bubble
  • People should not leave tier four areas or travel abroad, except for limited reasons (including work and education)
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are only allowed in exceptional circumstances
  • "Clinically extremely vulnerable" people in tier four areas are advised to stay at home "as much as possible". The government says if they can't work from home, they shouldn't go to work.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 16:51

Premier League match called off hours before kick-off


Coronavirus - 30th December 31980f10
Fulham boss Scott Parker has been self-isolating after a household member tested positive

Fulham's Premier League match at Tottenham this evening has been called off because of new coronavirus cases at the west London club.
The game was due to start at 18:00 GMT at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Fulham requested for the fixture to be postponed and the decision was confirmed three hours before kick-off.
On Tuesday, the latest round of Premier League Covid-19 testing found 18 people had the virus - the highest figure recorded in the testing programme.
That led to calls from West Brom boss Sam Allardyce for football to have a "circuit break" as he was worried about his health.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 16:55

How will vaccines be given to those who cannot travel?

Labour MP Rupa Huq asks the health secretary how the vaccine will be administered to over-80s in care homes or those at home who are too immobile to travel.
Mr Hancock says: "We'll have a combination of a community rollout where we take the vaccine to the people and also of vaccination hubs where people come to get vaccinated."
"The ability of the Oxford vaccine to be easily transported does make a huge difference, because it means... we can take the vaccine to the people," he says.
"For people who find it easy to travel, it's much more efficient to do it the other way round."

When might restrictions be loosened?

In the Commons, SNP MP Martyn Day asks if the government plans to loosen restrictions only when the most vulnerable have been vaccinated or when a significant proportion of the whole population has.
Matt Hancock says the government has not set this out yet - but its general approach is to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible, as soon as possible.
He says the exact timing of restrictions being lifted depends on the rollout of the vaccine and the impact it has on bringing down the rate of transmission.

UK records 981 deaths and another 50,023 cases

We'll bring you more from the Commons shortly. But first, we have the daily coronavirus figures.
They show a further 981 people have died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive.
It brings the total number of deaths by this measure to 72,548.
There has also been a further 50,023 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,432,888.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 16:57

Breaking News

'Major incident' declared in Buckinghamshire

Buckinghamshire Council has declared a "major incident" over concerns a rapid rise in Covid cases could overwhelm the county's health and social care services.
Council leader Martin Tett said the latest figures going up to 24 December show cases stand at 514 per 100,000 - but current projections expect this to increase to closer to 800 per 100,000 next week.
He added: "Whilst today’s announcement about the approval of the Oxford vaccine is excellent news, we still need to deal with the deteriorating situation we face immediately."
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 17:01

Analysis: Upset and resignation as Birmingham enters Tier 4

Phil Mackie - Midlands correspondent, BBC News
It was the news nobody wanted but everybody expected.
Britain’s second city and most of the rest of the Midlands will wake up tomorrow morning facing the strictest restrictions in tier four.
Infection rates are not as high as they are in London and the South East but they have continued their inexorable rise.
Lisa McNally, the director of public health for neighbouring Sandwell, tweeted that positive cases had gone up 21% in seven days in Birmingham and the Black Country.
The University Hospitals Birmingham Trust has more than 500 Covid patients in its four hospitals, nearly 100 more than a week ago. At the peak of the first wave it was treating more than 700, but Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, told me that now was the time to act, because tier three was “no longer working”.
The city centre was busier today than it has been for some time as people took their last chance for some retail therapy in non-essential shops.
There was an air of resignation as everything began to close. One teenager told me she was sad.
“I’ve just turned 18, and I haven’t been able to do any of things you’re supposed to be able to do at 18,” she said.

Map: Which areas are moving tiers?


Coronavirus - 30th December 116cd210
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 17:05

Analysis: A bittersweet day

Nick Triggle -Health Correspondent
It is a bittersweet day.
News of approval for a second Covid vaccine has been followed by the announcement that more of England is to enter tier four.
That means, with the exception of a few pockets, the whole of the UK is pretty much in lockdown.
The fear now is that this will become the status quo for weeks.
Hospitals are clearly struggling with close to 24,000 patients in hospital with Covid – that’s around one in five beds.
Until those numbers start coming down, the restrictions are likely to stay in place.
The jury is still out on how significant the impact of these restrictions will be on the new faster-spreading variant.
If the effect is limited, it is likely to be late February before we can expect the rollout of the vaccines to have a significant impact on the numbers falling seriously ill.

Analysis: Another Downing Street news conference is imminent

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
Once upon a time, the period between Christmas and New Year was a little lean on the news front.
Not so 2020. But then again, 2020 has consistently gone its own way.
A mere hours before the prime minister took centre stage in the Commons on a big day for Brexit, he's back again on our screens and speakers with a Coronavirus-related news conference - alongside Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, one of England's deputy chief medical officers, and Stephen Powis, the NHS's medical director for England.

Breaking News 

Downing Street press conference begins

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now beginning today's Downing Street press conference. We'll bring you all the latest here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 19:30

Sheer pace of virus spread requires tougher action - PM

The prime minister says the "sheer pace" of the spread of the new variant "requires us now to take even tougher action in some areas."
In most of England, primary schools will still reassemble next week, as planned, he says.
But in some areas with higher infections, the start of the new term will be delayed until at least 18 January, when latest data will be reviewed.
In secondary schools, all vulnerable children and children of critical workers will go back next week as originally planned. But exam year pupils in secondary schools will learn remotely during the first week of term. The remaining secondary school pupils will go back a week later.

Every secondary school pupil will be tested 'regularly' - PM

To minimise disruption in schools the government is "massively expanding" its testing operation, the prime minister says.
Every secondary school pupil will be tested as they return "and regularly thereafter".

See in 2021 safely at home, PM urges public

"I must ask you to follow the rules where you live tomorrow night and see in the new year safely at home," the prime minister tells the public.
"That means not meeting up with friends or family indoors, unless they're in the same household or support bubble, and avoiding large gatherings of any kind."
He adds: "We are still in the tunnel of this pandemic."

UK at 'critical moment' with 'prospect of freedom within reach' - PM

Referring to the new tier measures announced a little earlier by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the prime minister says: "At this critical moment, with the prospect of freedom within reach, we've got to redouble our efforts to contain the virus.
"No-one regrets these measures more bitterly than I do, but we must take firm action now."

Analysis: The bleak truth

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
While many of us will be heartily glad to wave good riddance to 2020, as we've long known - and the prime minister has just spelt out - 2021, or at the very least the early months of it, are going to be fraught with anxiety, disruption and the disease.
Parents have been desperately waiting for news about schools in England - just days before the start of the Spring term - a list of affected local authority areas is about to appear on the government's website.
Social distancing, the cancellation of so much of what we normally take for granted, including New Year's Eve celebrations, rolls on into January.
"Covid loves a crowd, so please leave the parties for later in the year," Professor Powis of the NHS has just told us.

The situation is precarious'

Prof Van-Tam says it is "a pretty grim and depressing picture at the moment”, with the majority of the population living under the toughest restrictions.
The situation in the UK is “precarious” in many parts of the country, particularly in the South East and London, he says.
And he adds that the NHS has almost certainly not yet seen the impact of infections from people mixing over Christmas.
Coronavirus - 30th December 30d94810

We considered another national lockdown 'intensively' - PM

For the last question, Charlie Cooper from Politico asked the prime minister what the rationale was behind sticking with the tier system - rather than going for a full national lockdown until the vaccines are rolled out to the vulnerable.
In response, Mr Johnson said: "Look, I'm not going to hide it from you, that obviously was an option we considered intensively.
"But on the whole we thought, given the uncertainties that we still face, the impact of the tier four which is still a bit of an open question it would be fair to say... we thought it right to continue with the tiering, particularly since you still have quite a regional differentiation."
He says it also seemed to be the "fairest" way to continue, but adds "we're going to keep reviewing this".

A round-up from today's Downing Street press conference

The press conference has finished. Here's a round-up of the key points:

  • PM Boris Johnson said the UK is at a “critical moment” in its battle with the virus, but the prospect of freedom is “within reach”
  • The PM said: “We've got to redouble our efforts to contain the virus.”


  • The "sheer pace" of the spread of the new variant "requires us now to take even tougher action in some areas" as more areas of England are placed under tier four restrictions from midnight, he said


  • But the PM said he was “confident” the country’s situation would be better by 5 April - Easter Monday. “Obviously we will try and bring that date forward as fast as we can, and that’s why the vaccine roll-out programme is so important,” he said.


  • In most of England, primary school pupils will still return next week, as planned


  • To minimise disruption in schools the government is "massively expanding" its testing operation, the prime minister said. Every secondary school pupil will be tested as they return "and regularly thereafter"


  • The approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a "fantastic achievement for British science" which will allow the UK to vaccinate more people more quickly, Johnson said


  • He also called on people to stay at home for the new year. Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England's national medical director, reiterated the point: “Covid loves a crowd, so please leave the parties for later in the year."
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 19:34

Russia to roll out vaccine passports

Alexey Ilin -BBC Russian, Moscow
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has announced that from January 2021 all Russians who have been vaccinated will receive a so-called “vaccine passport”.
The document will be available through the government’s official portal and might in time be used to carry information about other vaccinations.
Moscow city authorities say owners of “vaccine passports” will see real benefits. For example, those eligible for free travel on city’s public transport (students, under 18s and OAPs) who have been vaccinated will have their free travel cards unblocked.
So far, Russians can be vaccinated against Covid-19 only with the country’s own Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Centre.
Alexander Ginzburg, the director of Gamaleya, said that introducing this type of document was the right thing to do.
“Covid passports need to be introduced at the start of the vaccination campaign, so that every person had proof of having had the jab.”
Kirill Dmitriev who heads Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, a state finance body behind Gamaleya, believes in the new year vaccine passports will become common not only in Russia but all over the world.
Russia started a mass vaccination campaign in early December.
Some scientists have expressed scepticism towards Sputnik V. There has been no rush among Russians to get the jab.
Russia’s official death toll from Covid-19 is currently 56,426, with many believing the figure is significantly underestimated.

UK internet use doubles in 2020

UK internet use more than doubled in 2020, as people stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boxing Day was the busiest day for broadband users, according to data from Openreach, which runs much of the UK's broadband network.
A mix of video calls to get in touch with family and friends, as well as TV streaming and gaming downloads were contributing factors to the 26 December record, it said, when large parts of the country were under tight coronavirus restrictions.
The year's second-busiest day was 14 November, as Amazon Prime broadcast two live rugby matches. Openreach said usage surged just before kick-off.
Online gaming also had a big impact on the UK's broadband consumption , with many of the major data spikes focused around updates to popular PlayStation, PC and Xbox games - including Call of Duty and Fortnite.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 19:37

Travellers from UK to Sweden must show negative Covid test

People travelling from Britain to Sweden will need to show a negative coronavirus test result before entering the country, the Swedish government has said.
The measure will come into force on 1 January and will not apply to Swedish citizens, Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg told a press conference.
The test must have been completed a maximum of 72 hours before arrival in Sweden.
It comes as the UK grapples with a new, more contagious coronavirus strain.

A round up from around the globe

If you're just catching up on today's news, here's a round-up of some of the latest developments from across the world.

  • Germany has reported more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time


  • Nearly 500,000 in the Chinese city of Wuhan - almost 5% of its population - may have been infected with Covid-19, according to a new study
  • Travellers from the UK to Sweden must produce a negative Covid test from 1 January

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Post by Kitkat Wed Dec 30 2020, 19:39

The latest headlines from the UK

It's been another very busy day again today, with the coming weeks set to look very different for millions of people across the UK.
Let's take a look at the headlines.

  • Three quarters of England will be in the toughest tier of Covid restrictions from tomorrow , as the Midlands, North East, parts of the North West and parts of the South West are escalated to tier four
  • Secondary schools across most of England are to remain closed for an extra two weeks for most pupils. Primary schools will remain temporarily closed in a small number of areas with the highest infection rates. Find all the details here
  • The UK reported the deaths of another 981 people, who died within 28 days of a positive test and recorded a further 50,023 lab-confirmed cases of the virus
  • The prime minister called on the public to "redouble" its efforts at this "critical moment", adding he was confident things will be "very much better" by 5 April
  • The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK , with the first doses to be given on Monday, while the scientists are looking at whether the vaccine is as effective against the new strains
  • Covid cases in Scotland rose by 2,045 - the highest single-day figure since mass testing began, as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said even tougher restrictions cannot be ruled out


That's all from us today

We're going to leave our live coverage here for today.
You can read all the details from today's announcements in our main story here , find out which tier you're in here and find out how many cases are in your area here .

Today's live page was brought to you by Lauren Turner, Sarah Collerton, Dulcie Lee, Becky Morton, Alex Kleiderman, George Wright, Katie Wright, Emma Lynch and Alice Cuddy.


Thanks for joining us.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:54