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Coronavirus - 5th January


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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 09:57

Summary for Tuesday, 5th January

  • PM Boris Johnson warned the coming weeks will be the "hardest yet" as he announced another national lockdown for England
  • All schools have been ordered to switch to online learning and this summer's exams will not go ahead
  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive a grant worth up to £9,000, the UK chancellor announces
  • Scotland entered another tough lockdown at midnight, with schools remaining closed to most pupils until at least the start of February
  • Northern Ireland will legally enforce 'stay at home' orders and schools will have an "extended period of remote learning"
  • And in Wales, which is already under lockdown, schools and colleges will shut until 18 January
  • More than 800 consultants, doctors and nurses have called for hospital staff to be given better PPE
  • Globally at least 85 millions cases of Covid have been reported and 1.85 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus live page. Here is a round-up of the main UK stories this morning.

England and Scotland begin new lockdowns

People in all of England and most of Scotland must now stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons, as new lockdowns begin in both nations.
Schools have closed to most pupils in England, Scotland and Wales, while Northern Ireland will have an "extended period of remote learning".
England's rules are due to last until at least mid-February; Scotland's will be reviewed at the end of January.
PM Boris Johnson warned the coming weeks would be the "hardest yet" .
It comes after the UK reported a record 58,784 cases on Monday, as well as a further 407 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Read the full story here

'Much is an echo of March - but a lot is different too'

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor
By 8pm on Monday it felt inevitable.
But it doesn't mean that a national instruction to close the doors was automatic. Or indeed that new lockdowns in England and Scotland aren't still dramatic and painful.
With tightening up in Wales and Northern Ireland too, the spread of coronavirus this winter has been faster than governments' attempts to keep up with it - leaving leaders with little choice but to take more of our choices away.
There is much that's an echo of March. Work, school, life outside the home will be constrained in so many ways, with terrible and expensive side-effects for the economy.
This time, it's already spluttering - restrictions being turned on and off for months have starved so much trade of vital business.
But there's a lot that's different too. After so long, the public is less forgiving of the actions taken, and there is frustration particularly over last-minute changes for schools; fatigue too with having to live under such limits.
Read more here

Updates from around the world

The pandemic continues to disrupt lives around the world, of course. Here are some of the biggest international coronavirus updates:

  • Scientists in South Africa say there is a "reasonable concern" that the new variant of Covid-19 sweeping across the country might prove to be more resistant to current vaccines being rolled out in the UK and elsewhere
  • The governors of the US states of New York and Florida have warned hospitals that they must administer coronavirus vaccines more quickly. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said hospitals must give vaccines within a week of receiving them or face a fine and loss of future supplies
  • The German government and most of the country's 16 states have reportedly agreed to extend lockdown measures until the end of the month. Restrictions which keep shops, schools and services closed were due to end on 10 January
  • Australia’s most populous state New South Wales has called on residents in three cities to isolate and seek a coronavirus test. Concerns are rising after an 18-year-old man tested positive after travelling to Broken Hill, Orange and Nyngan on a camping trip
  • Thailand's top football league has postponed all of this month's scheduled matches as the country grapples with a surge in infections. It is now expected to start in February
  • Japan's top-ranked sumo wrestler Hakuho has tested positive for coronavirus

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 10:08

A closer look at schools

Schools and colleges in England are to be closed to most pupils until at least half term , Boris Johnson has announced.
The prime minister said the new lockdown had to be "tough enough" to stop the variant virus from spreading - and teaching would go online.
A-Levels and GCSEs will be cancelled, a government source confirmed to BBC News - although vocational exams will go ahead.
The National Education Union accused the government of causing "chaos".
Meanwhile, schools in Scotland are to start the new year term on 11 January - but will do so largely via online and remote learning.
The Scottish government hopes to have pupils back in the classroom in February, but this plan is to be kept under review. Ministers are considering whether to give teachers priority access to vaccines, and what extra support can be given to working parents.
Read more about Scotland's rules here

Boris Johnson’s changing words about schools

Reality Check
The prime minister’s position on schools changed very quickly.
On Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “I understand people’s frustrations, I understand people’s anxieties. But there is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe and that education is a priority.”
But he was clear that the situation was being kept under review as he urged parents of primary school children to take them to school if their schools were opening.
In Monday evening’s statement he acknowledged the rapid change of policy, saying: “Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner.”
He stressed that children would still be safe at school, but that they were being closed because they could “act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households”.

Restrictions should start being eased in March, Gove says

March should mark the point at which restrictions can start to be eased, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said it was possible lockdown measures could be eased in mid-February if the top four priority groups were vaccinated by that point.
Gove told Sky News earlier: "We will keep these constantly under review but you are absolutely right, we can't predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing 15-22 February.
"What we will be doing is everything that we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated, so that we can begin to progressively lift restrictions.
"I think it is right to say that as we enter March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions but not necessarily all."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 10:19

Singapore reveals Covid privacy data available to police

Andreas Illmer - Singapore

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Singapore's Covid app is widely used across the country

Singapore admits data from its Covid contact tracing programme can also be accessed by police, reversing earlier privacy assurances.
Officials previously explicitly ruled out the data would be used for anything other than the virus tracking.
But parliament was told on Monday it could also be used "for the purpose of criminal investigation".
Close to 80% of residents are signed up to the TraceTogether programme, which is used to check in to locations.
The voluntary take up increased after it was announced it would soon be needed to access anything from the supermarket to a place of work.
The TraceTogether programme, which uses either a smartphone app or a bluetooth token, also monitors who users have been in contact with.
If someone tests positive with the virus, the data allows tracers to swiftly contact anyone who might have been infected. This prompted concerns over privacy - fears echoed across the world as other countries rolled out their own tracing apps.
To encourage people to enrol, Singaporean authorities promised the data would never be used for any other purpose, saying "the data will never be accessed, unless the user tests positive for Covid-19 and is contacted by the contact tracing team" .
But Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan told parliament on Monday it can also be used "for the purpose of criminal investigation", adding that "otherwise, TraceTogether data is to be used only for contact tracing and for the purpose of fighting the Covid situation".
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 10:36


The Guardian
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency has told ambulance crews not to transport coronavirus patients who are unlikely to survive – in order to conserve oxygen supplies and ICU beds.
  • England has entered its toughest nationwide lockdown since March , with schools closed and people allowed to leave home once a day for exercise for at least six weeks, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced as the numbers of people in hospital reach new highs.
  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo said his state has found its first case of the more contagious strain of the coronavirus first detected in the UK, raising concerns about threats to hospital capacity should it spread rapidly.
  • Airlines to back approval for global travel testing programme – reports. A group representing major US airlines on Monday backed a proposal by public health officials to implement a global testing programme requiring negative tests before most international air passengers return to the US, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
  • Mexico approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use Monday, hoping to spur a halting vaccination effort that has only given about 44,000 shots since the third week of December, about 82% of the doses the country has received, AP reports.
  • Japan’s top-ranked sumo wrestler Hakuho has tested positive for coronavirus, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) announced on Tuesday. Mongolian-born Hakuho, who is the longest-serving yokozuna – top-ranked sumo wrestler – of all time announced via the JSA website that he took a Covid-19 test after losing his sense of smell.
  • Germany to prolong shutdown as virus deaths surge. German chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders are expected Tuesday to extend a shutdown in Europe’s top economy as coronavirus deaths continue to mount despite tough restrictions in the run-up to the holidays.

Russia reports 518 deaths and 24,246 new cases

Russia has reported 24,246 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, including 4,842 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 3,284,384.
Authorities said 518 people had died, taking Russia’s official death toll to 59,506.
Yesterday, the country reported 23,351 new cases and 482 deaths.

Italy to keep nationwide restrictions in place

Italy has decided to keep nationwide restrictions in place while relaxing curbs on weekdays, Reuters is reporting.
Italians spent much of Christmas and new year at home, with people allowed to leave their houses only for work, health and emergencies, or for brief trips to see a limited number of friends or relatives.
These rules are set to expire on Thursday and ministers agreed at a late Monday night cabinet meeting to return to the old, three-tier system, which allows for different measures to be applied to different regions.
All bars and restaurants across the country will have to close this weekend, with travel between towns and cities kept to a minimum.
The government has also decided to postpone the Thursday reopening of high schools to 50% of their capacity until Monday. Some regions, including northern Veneto, around Venice, have decided to delay the reopening until 31 January.
The number of daily cases has fallen from a high of about 40,000 in mid-November to well under 20,000 at present. But the infection rate has vacillated, with many hundreds dying each day.

Japan considers state of emergency after reaching record 4,670 daily cases

Daily coronavirus cases in Japan reached a record 4,670 on Tuesday, the country’s commercial broadcaster NTV reported. The Japanese government is considering declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo as coronavirus cases climb.

Taiwan has reported two new imported Covid cases after a Taiwanese woman who had received three negative tests for Covid in the US, tested positive upon arrival in Taiwan.
The Taiwan News is reporting that the total number of officially confirmed cases in Taiwan is now 817.
This latest case concerns a Taiwanese woman in a 20s who lives in the US. In early December, she suffered a runny nose and nasal congestion.
She took coronavirus tests on 15, 26 and 29 December but they all came back negative. On 2 January, she “noticed an abnormality with her sense of smell”, according to the newspaper.
She reported the symptom when she arrived in Taiwan with a family member on 3 January and was tested at the airport. On 5 January, she was diagnosed with the virus.
The health department has identified a total of eight contacts in her case, including seven passengers who sat near her and her relative. All eight have been told to undergo home isolation.
Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 128,798 Covid-19 tests, with 126,355 coming back negative. Out of the 817 officially confirmed cases, 722 were imported, 56 were local, 36 came from the navy’s “Goodwill Fleet”, two were from the cargo pilot cluster, one is an unresolved case, and one (case number 530) was removed as a confirmed case.
Up until now, seven people have died of the disease in Taiwan, while 697 have been released from hospital isolation, leaving 113 patients still undergoing treatment in Taiwan.

Public hospitals in Hong Kong could begin testing day patients for Covid-19 as city faces more than 30 new cases, the South China Morning Post is reporting.
The potential tightening of screening measures follows the emergence of a cluster in the medical day ward of Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung. Likely candidates for the new screenings being patients believed at high risk, as well as health care providers working in intensive care units.
To date, the city has recorded 9,017 confirmed infections and 153 related deaths. More than 30 people had tested preliminary-positive for the coronavirus on Monday.
Five people, including three patients, a doctor and a nurse, have been infected. A mandatory testing order was also issued to all visitors to the ward between 28 December and Sunday.

The Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet is reporting that the country is facing tighter coronavirus measures after a government meeting due for 11.30am local time. Sources have told the newspaper that the 10-person limit on gatherings is likely to be lowered – possibly to five people.

France is widening its Covid-19 vaccination rollout to firefighters and aid workers aged over 50 after making a slow start to its inoculation campaign, health minister Olivier Véran said on Tuesday.
“We are going to amplify, accelerate and simplify our vaccination strategy,” Véran told RTL radio, adding that 300 vaccination centres would be operational from next week.
Reuters is reporting that France has accelerated its Covid-19 vaccination of medical staff in hospitals after being criticised for a slow start in one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world.
France delivered only 516 Covid-19 inoculations during the first week of a campaign that focused on nursing home residents.
The sluggish start compared with European neighbours such as Britain and Germany has irritated President Emmanuel Macron, who met with his prime minister and health minister on Monday evening to discuss how to speed up deployment of the vaccine.
Veran also told RTL that by the end of January France would authorise the vaccination of people aged 75 and above who are living at home.
France’s total number of cases stands at 2,659,750, the fifth-highest in the world. The country’s Covid-19 death toll is at 65,415, the seventh-highest in the world.

A political row has erupted in India over the home-grown coronavirus vaccine, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Covaxin vaccine was granted emergency approval before final-stage human trials had been completed. Health experts have widely criticised the move as premature, pointing out that there is no publicly available data on its efficacy.
Squabbles between politicians from the BJP and other parties added to the simmering unrest among the Muslim and Hindu communities over the vaccine’s alleged contents.
The All India Drug Network, a health watchdog, said in a statement that it was “shocked to learn of the recommendation” without phase-3 efficacy data or proof that it worked against mutant strains.
“Anybody would tell you that this is bad vaccine development science,” co-convenor Malini Aisola said.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 10:50

I love you (A rare altruistic news report in these troubled/worrying times for all. Kudos to this Dr Atiq :thumb: ):

US oncologist wipes out patients' debts in goodwill gesture

In the US, there's some good news for the cancer patients of an oncologist in Arkansas who is wiping out nearly $650,000 (£480,000) worth of debts for 200 people after realising many of them were struggling to pay.
Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas in February last year after nearly 30 years in business.
He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but says many families have been hit hard financially by the pandemic.
Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased.
"Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay," he tells the Good Morning America programme . "So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt."
He says he saw erasing the debts as something he could do to help the community.
"Since I started practising, I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their own health and quality of life and their longevity and their families and their jobs but also money," he says. "That’s always tugged at me."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 11:21

Government 'looking at further options' to restrict international travel

The government is expected to announce further restrictions on international travel later today, the BBC understands.
Pre-departure testing for international travel to the UK is believed to be under consideration, although there is no confirmation about which types of test will be used or the time frame, the BBC's Transport correspondent Caroline Davies reports.
It comes after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast earlier: "We are looking at further options to restrict international travel."
He said he had spoken to the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure the nations have a "co-ordinated approach" on the issue.
Gove says there are some "vital" reasons for international travel, including for food and fuel deliveries.
"But we are looking very hard to see how we can make sure that our ports and airports are as safe as possible."

UK morning headlines

It's been a busy morning, with plenty of coronavirus-related developments.Here is a recap of the main stories from the UK:

  • People in all of England and most of Scotland must now stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons, as new lockdowns begin in both nations. England's rules - which include the closure of schools - are due to be reviewed on 15 February; Scotland's will be reviewed at the end of January
  • Schools have also closed to most pupils in Scotland and Wales, while Northern Ireland will have an "extended period of remote learning"
  • Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has confirmed that GCSE and A-level exams will be cancelled following the announcement of the lockdown. He said the decision to close schools had been made with the "heaviest of hearts"
  • Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive new grants to help them keep afloat until spring, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced. The grants will be worth up to £9,000 per property, the Treasury says
  • Supermarkets' online shopping operations have come under strain as customers rushed to book deliveries ahead of the new lockdown beginning. Within a couple of hours of Johnson's speech to the nation on Monday, shoppers reported problems with Sainsbury's and Tesco
  • A thousand health professionals have backed an appeal for hospital staff to be given improved personal protective equipment. The group want general ward staff to be given the type of high-quality masks usually only worn in intensive care

PM to hold press conference at 17:00 GMT

Nick Eardley - Political correspondent
Boris Johnson is to hold a No 10 press conference with the chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, at 17:00 GMT, Downing Street says.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 12:09

Pupils without laptops should be 'priority', children's commissioner says

Pupils without laptops and access to sufficient technology should be treated as a priority by the government, the Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, says.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced all schools and colleges in England will shut for most pupils as part of the national lockdown until at least half term, with teaching moved online.
Anne Longfield told BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier: "There is no doubt that remote learning and a large amount of time out of school has a very negative impact on children.
"Remote learning now needs to be a high priority for the government and we need a plan around that to ensure there is consistency in what schools are able to offer but also that tech issue.
"A lot of pupils still don't have laptops. They are surviving on broken phones - those children now need to be seen as a priority to get into the classroom and deemed to be a vulnerable child.
"There is also the issue of the cost of data, and I think this is something that tech companies and broadband companies really need to step up to now."

Harry Potter actress's baby tests positive for Covid

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Harry Potter star Jessie Cave says her baby son has tested positive for coronavirus.
The actress, best known for her role as Lavender Brown in the film adaptations of the hit books, welcomed baby boy Tenn in October after a "traumatic" delivery that left her son in the neonatal unit.
She writes on Instagram: "I watched the news about lockdown from an isolated room in hospital. Poor baby is covid positive. "He's okay and doing well but they are being vigilant and cautious, thankfully."
Cave and her partner, comedian Alfie Brown, are already parents to Donnie, five, and Margot, three.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 12:51

Lockdown rules: What's happening across the UK?

It's lunchtime here in the UK so let's take a moment to recap on the new restrictions that we're now under:

  • England has entered a new lockdown similar to the one in March, with orders to work from home and schools, pubs and restaurants closed. The PM is expected to lay out more detail at a press conference later and the restrictions will be reviewed on 15 February
  • Scotland's "stay at home" order also came into force at midnight, schools will stay shut for most pupils until the beginning of February with a review of the rules at the end of January
  • A national lockdown has been in place in Wales since 20 December. Now, all schools and colleges will move to online learning until 18 January
  • Meanwhile, Northern Ireland, which entered a six-week lockdown on 26 December, plans to put its message to stay at home into law, restrict travel and will have an "extended period of remote learning", the Stormont Executive said .

Labour leader to make televised address

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will make a televised statement responding to the prime minister's announcement of a new lockdown for England at 19:00 GMT on BBC1, the party says.
In his immediate reaction to Boris Johnson's address on Monday night, Starmer told BBC News:
"Now is the time to support this package, pull together and try do everything we can to try and make this work."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 12:55

Australian PM vows not to 'cut corners... like UK'

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed not to take "unnecessary risks" in rolling out its vaccination programme - and suggested that the UK has.
The Australian government is aiming to give the first vaccine doses by the end of March, despite once boasting Australia would be "at the front of the queue" for any vaccine.
But Morrison is defending the timetable, saying the world's hardest-hit countries, such as the UK, are rushing the process.
"Australia is not in an emergency situation like the United Kingdom. So we don't have to cut corners. We don't have to take unnecessary risks," he told local radio 3AW.
The UK is "in the very early phases" of the vaccine rollout and "they've had quite a few problems, and they're doing it on an emergency basis", he added.
He went on to incorrectly allege that the UK is not testing batches of doses before they are distributed.
Before a batch can be used by the NHS, it has to be checked and certified by the Medicines and Healthcare Products regulatory Agency. It can be several weeks to make sure it meets quality standards before the vaccine can be given to the NHS to put in people's arms.
Australia has been largely successful in eliminating community transmission but is currently battling to contain small clusters of the disease in Sydney and Melbourne.
The BBC has asked the Department of Health for comment.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 12:59

Japan's top sumo wrestler infected with virus

Japan's top-ranked sumo wrestler Hakuho has tested positive for coronavirus.
The Mongolian-born grand champion took a Covid-19 test after losing his sense of smell, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) said.
Hakuho - the longest-serving yokozuna or top-ranked wrestler in Japan - had been preparing for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, due to start in Tokyo on Sunday.
The news comes as Japan considers declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo, where virus cases are surging.
Activities such as sumo wrestling have been continuing despite the pandemic, but cases have emerged in the sport too. In May, a 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler died from organ failure caused by the virus.
Read more here.

Claims of '99.97% survival rate' are not true

Alistair Coleman - BBC Monitoring
Misleading social media posts are questioning the need for a Covid-19 vaccine, claiming that the virus has “a 99.97% survival rate”.
This is not true.
The chance of dying after catching Covid is about 1% in high-income countries, according to research from Imperial College London.
That's more than 30 times as deadly as the false figure being shared by some online.
We debunked similar claims in November , and they resurfaced as the vaccine rollout began last month.
Posts on Facebook and Twitter have been shared hundreds of times over the Christmas and New Year period.
Globally, the virus has been responsible for more than 1.8 million deaths, and many patients who survive the virus now face long-term health problems.
While the 1% death rate for Covid-19 may remain as vaccines become widespread, deaths are expected to fall dramatically as more people are protected from catching the virus in the first place.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 13:22

Supermarket delivery websites under strain after lockdown rush

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Supermarket online shopping sites have hit glitches within hours of the new lockdown announcement as customers rush to book deliveries.
Soon after Boris Johnson's "stay at home" address, Sainsbury's grocery app crashed and 5,311 Ocado shoppers were in a queue. There have been reports of issues checking out shopping on the Tesco app and Morrisons reported longer waiting queues.
The surge in demand echoes consumers' reaction at the start of the pandemic when panic buying and home deliveries surged.
Shoppers were using social media to vent their frustration on Monday, with Twitter user Auld Bryan saying: "Ocado have already introduced their virtual queue process on their app. It's March 2020 all over again."
Another tweet, by Karl Dyson, said of Ocado: "You'd think ~10 months in to this, they'd have worked on scalable infrastructure for the website?"
You can read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 16:19

NI school transfer tests cancelled

Transfer tests - used as entrance exams by many grammar schools in Northern Ireland - have been cancelled amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The decision has been made just four days before thousands of P7 pupils were due to sit the first of a series of exams.
The exams are operated by two test providers - AQE and the PPTC - and they were due to take place from this Saturday until the first week of February.
AQE said it would now consult with the 34 schools that use its test on a way forward.
Read more here

Schools back 'as soon as we can' - Sturgeon

Guy Lambert - BBC News
Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has asked the Scottish people to, despite the new restrictions in Scotland, hold on to the fact that there is now "a clear route out of this pandemic".
Her comments follow the new 'stay at home' order and lockdowns in Scotland and England after a continuous rise in the coronavirus cases.
Speaking during the Scottish government coronavirus daily briefing, Sturgeon said the new variant of the virus was now responsible for "around 50% of cases in Scotland".
With schools also closing under these new restrictions, she said: "Decisions on schools will be reviewed fortnightly", but insisted the Scottish government wanted "to get schools back as soon as we can".
In the meantime, the first minister said people must hold on to the fact that there was now "a clear route out of this pandemic" thanks to the rollout of two vaccines in UK, something that was not in place during the first national lockdown in 2020.

Scottish travel rules also apply to Trump - Sturgeon

James Shaw - BBC Scotland reporter

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Trump visited his Aberdeenshire golf resort in 2016

More from Scotland's first minister.
Commenting on reports that Donald Trump might come to Scotland within the next few weeks, she said non-essential travel was not allowed.
That rule applied to the president as much as anyone else, she added.
Sturgeon said she didn’t have any knowledge of his travel plans but she didn’t view playing golf as an essential reason to travel.
Trump owns golf courses in Scotland and a second course at his Aberdeenshire resort was approved in October.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 17:53

Tui and Thomas Cook cancel bookings as lockdowns begin

Travel firms Tui and Thomas Cook have cancelled holidays after new coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed.
Tui said it was "cancelling all holidays in line with international travel restrictions".
It added that customers due to depart from England, Scotland and Wales would be contacted to discuss options.
Thomas Cook said it would call customers to offer refunds or rebooking.
Tui said that customers due to travel from an English airport before mid-February, or from a Scottish or Welsh airport up to 31 January, would not be able to do so.
Those customers will be contacted "in departure date order to discuss their options", Tui said, which include rebooking "with an incentive", getting a credit note, or a full refund.
"Customers currently overseas can continue to enjoy their holidays as planned and we will update them directly if there are any changes to their holidays," Tui added.
Read more

Can I go for a walk with friends and other questions answered

New lockdowns are now in force in England and most of Scotland, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland.
So what is allowed under the new rules?
Can you still go for a walk with a friend or form of a support bubble if you are a single parent?
We answer some of the questions readers have submitted to us here .

India to export Covid vaccines 'within weeks'

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
India will begin exporting locally-made coronavirus vaccines within a fortnight of their launch, a foreign ministry official has told the BBC.
The official dismissed reports that India would ban exports of vaccines it is producing to meet local demand.
India makes about 60% of vaccines globally and many countries are eagerly waiting for it to begin shipping doses.
It has formally approved the emergency use of two vaccines as it prepares to begin giving jabs in January.
India plans one of the world's biggest inoculation, seeking to immunise about 300 million people by July.
The foreign ministry official confirmed that India's plan to help other countries was on track.
"Within a fortnight of the rollout of the vaccines we will allow exports to some of our South Asian neighbours. Some of these exports will be paid by us as gifts, and the others will be supplied at roughly the same price the government will be buying the vaccines at," the foreign ministry official, who preferred to remain unnamed, told me.
"India is completely conscious of its commitments to neighbours and the rest of the world as the world's biggest vaccine maker."
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 17:57

PM cancels trip to India to focus on tackling virus

Boris Johnson has cancelled a trip to India later this month to focus on the coronavirus response, No 10 says.
The PM called his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, earlier to "express his regret" that he will be unable to visit as planned.
Instead, he hopes to visit India "in the first half" of the year, before Modi is a guest at the G7 summit hosted by the UK.
The visit had been billed as an effort to boost trade and promote Johnson's Global Britain agenda after Brexit.

Europe's slow vaccinations - who to blame?

Laurence Peter - BBC News
A blame game has erupted in Europe over the pace of coronavirus vaccinations, with some of the blame directed at the EU.
The UK and US are far ahead of EU member states in terms of people vaccinated. But the world leader by far is Israel, which has vaccinated more than 10% of its 9 million-strong population.
The reasons for Europe’s roll-out delays are complicated – and there are pros and cons to the EU role in this. Here is what you need to know:

  • The EU Commission – acting for all 27 member states – has secured orders for two billion doses of vaccine, which is four times the EU population
  • The orders are with six vaccine producers: months ago, when the orders went in, nobody knew which vaccine would be authorised first
  • By clubbing together, EU member states accepted that the Commission would have more financial clout to get cheaper and fairer vaccine deals for all 27
  • The Commission ordered 200 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech one, the first to be rolled out, and will get at least 100 million more this year
  • The Commission is co-ordinating the strategy – vaccinations began on 27 December - but each country decides exactly how much it needs, who to vaccinate and when
  • The EU’s European Medicines Agency uses conditional market authorisation – slower than the emergency drug approvals in the UK and US, but less risky because it makes the manufacturer liable if there is a problem
  • The EMA has only approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine so far: it’s more expensive than some rivals and has to be stored at -70C, posing logistical problems
  • BioNTech admits it needs to expand capacity urgently to meet the huge demand – both it and the Commission regret the current supply bottlenecks

Nursery workers 'want to feel safe'

Doug Faulkner - BBC News Online
While primary and secondary schools are to remain shut in England until February, nurseries are to remain open, raising fears in the sector about how safe they are.
Natasha Green, principal of Tiggers Nursery in Putney, south-west London, said there had been "no acknowledgement" of the sector "other than to say we are open".
"Our sector loves what we do, you have to love it to do it. We don't want to shut our schools but we want to feel safe, and acknowledged and cared for as a sector," she said.
"The very nature of our sector is that we are surrounded by children who are gorgeous but might need cuddles, or for you to hold their hand, we cannot socially distance, we cannot protect ourselves from anything they are bringing in."
She said there needed to be more support to provide personal protective equipment, for testing and, if nurseries to stay open, to get the vaccine to staff.
Trade body Early Years Alliance has called for providers to be prioritised for vaccinations and testing , while Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said the sector had been treated "really appallingly" throughout the pandemic and called for the government to publish the science behind the decision to keep them open.
Nurseries are closed in Scotland but currently remain open in Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 18:01

Train services expected to be reduced during lockdown

Caroline Davies - BBC transport correspondent
Train services are expected to be reduced during the national lockdown.
The extent of the cuts is not yet confirmed, but some in the industry are anticipating reductions of between 50-60% of normal service .
Since the start of the pandemic in March, the government has spent billions of pounds covering the fall in ticket revenue from low passenger numbers during the pandemic.
In that first lockdown, services were dramatically reduced to almost half.
Some in the industry anticipate a similar Sunday-plus service will run for the next few months, not least because the supply of trains will outstrip demand.
There may also be difficulties staffing trains, given the prevalence of the virus and staff members being asked to isolate.
One senior industry source says the changes could take between 10 days and two weeks to implement, while others anticipate it could take longer.

Analysis: Could government have acted earlier?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It was clear before Christmas the new variant was pushing up UK infection rates - and that in turn would mean more hospital admissions.
The delay looks costly. Since Christmas Day, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has risen by 50% alone - enough to fill 18 hospitals.
While the government did introduce tier four the weekend before Christmas in parts of the south-east of England, which banned mixing over the festive period and led to the closure of non-essential shops and gyms, most of the country was allowed to meet up on Christmas Day.
Infections from Christmas Day are now being felt - the numbers have been rising sharply ever since.
Some of these are next week's hospital admissions - and this is why the chief medical officers warned of the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, prompting the government to act on Monday.
If lockdown had come earlier, it may well have been shorter.

Polish hospital faces fine for letting celebs jump vaccine queue

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
A Polish hospital that allowed a group of actors, media executives and a former prime minister to jump ahead of the queue and receive a coronavirus vaccination broke the rules and is liable for a fine of at least 250,000 zloty ($67,000, £50,000), Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has said.
There has been considerable public anger following the news the hospital invited the 18 cultural figures to have the jab, when only medical staff are supposed to have it.
The government plans to expand the rollout to senior citizens, teachers and member of the uniformed services at the end of the month.
Warsaw’s Medical University Hospital has fired its chief executive following the scandal.
It has admitted “irregularities”, which it said happened in a rush to administer the jabs before they expired. It said the cultural figures were invited to promote the government’s programme as many Poles are worried the vaccine may have potential side effects.
What you need to know about vaccine safety

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 18:04

SA variant and Zimbabwe lockdown: The latest from Africa

Scientists in South Africa say there is a "reasonable concern" that the new variant of Covid-19 sweeping across the country might prove to be more resistant to current vaccines being rolled out in the UK and elsewhere . Meanwhile, morgues in the country are running out of space as bodies of coronavirus victims continue piling up, the head of the National Funeral Practitioners Association has told public broadcaster SABC .
Elsewhere in Africa, Seychelles has recorded its first death from Covid-19. The patient was a 57-year-old man who was hospitalised on New Year's Eve. The Indian Ocean archipelago confirmed 16 new cases on Sunday.
In other news from the region:

  • Zimbabwe has entered a second lockdown. The restrictions will be in place for the next 30 days and include a stay-at-home order, excluding movement to access food and medicine
  • Rwanda has banned transport in and out of the capital Kigali and between districts, following a surge in infections. A night-time curfew has been extended and businesses ordered to close from 18:00
  • In Kenya, millions of mask-wearing pupils returned to school on Monda y, nine months after they were closed

Bishops in Scotland criticise closure of churches

Church leaders are criticising the Scottish government's decision to close places of worship as "unfair".
Scotland's Catholic Bishops say public worship is a human right and provides an "essential contribution" to people's spiritual welfare.
The organisation highlights the UK government has chosen not to take similar measures.
In England and Wales communal worship and funerals can continue, subject to limits on attendance, while the Northern Ireland executive is meeting to discuss further coronavirus rules.
Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says the decision in Scotland was taken to reduce the places people are coming together.
Church services have been taking place in Scotland since July, after an initial closure last March.
They will now shut again, with the exception of funeral services (up to a maximum of 20 people) and weddings (maximum of five).
Read more

Can my boss force me to go to work?

People in England and Scotland must now stay at home under new national lockdowns, which will remain in place for a number of weeks.
On Monday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people in England must stay indoors other than for limited exceptions - such as food shopping, exercise or work that cannot be done at home.
But under the new restrictions, can bosses force employees to go in?
Read our explainer here on who's allowed to go into work, how workplaces should be kept safe, and other questions.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 18:07

Breaking News

Further 830 Covid UK deaths, more than 60,000 cases

The number of new daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has topped 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic started.
According to government figures on Tuesday, the number of people who have tested positive reached 60,916.
A further 830 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test in the UK, the latest figures show .
It takes the total by this measure to 76,305.

Analysis: 'It will take a week for impact of lockdown to be felt'

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
After seven consecutive days of more than 50,000 cases being confirmed, the fact that more than 60,000 have been recorded today should not come as a surprise.
It will take a week, if not more, for the impact of this lockdown to be felt.
And all the evidence suggests the new variant of coronavirus, which is more transmissible than previous ones, means its impact is likely to be more limited than it was in previous ones.
The figures are also a warning about what the NHS is facing.
Some of this week’s infections are next week’s hospital admissions.
Around three in 10 beds are now occupied by Covid patients. In some hospitals more than six in 10 are.
Hospitals are now busy making more spaces on their wards – that means cancelling planned work, including in some places cancer treatment.

Critical incident declared at Lincoln hospital

A critical incident was declared at Lincoln County Hospital on Monday night "due to the large number of patients requiring admission".
The hospitals deputy chief executive Mark Brassington said the trust currently had 198 Covid patients.
He said: "The number of inpatients who have been confirmed as having Covid-19 across our sites remains higher than in wave one and we remain extremely busy across our wards and intensive care units.
"Our position is compounded by challenges with staffing due to a lack of availability of colleagues due to a number of factors."
He added that the public could help by following government guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 18:10

More than 1.3 million vaccinated across UK

The prime minister says he knows people want the government to use the lockdown to "put that invisible shield around the elderly and the vulnerable" in the form of vaccination - to bring the crisis to an end.
Boris Johnson says 1.1 million people have now been vaccinated in England, and 1.3 million across the UK.
"That includes more than 650,000 people over 80 which is 23% of all the over 80s in England," he says.
That means nearly one-in-four of the most vulnerable will have significant protection in two to three weeks' time, he says.
The prime minister says by next week there should be almost 1,000 vaccination sites across the country.

PM: Tier four couldn't get the virus under control

Boris Johnson is asked by the BBC's Vicki Young whether he waited too long to introduce tougher restrictions and announce the closure of schools.
The prime minister says the government had been looking at the new variant "very hard" ever since it first became aware of its rapid spread.
Over the course of the days leading up to Sunday he says the government was hoping that we would start to see some impact from tier four measures and would be able to keep schools open, which he describes as “an absolute priority for this country”.
However he says: "It was clear that we got to a situation where tier four on its own couldn't be relied upon to get the virus under control.
“That’s why we took the step that we did."
The scientists are also asked when they first advised the government to go into lockdown.
Prof Chris Whitty says the UK's chief medical officers met yesterday morning and reviewed data, before then advising the country should move to alert level five.
Sir Patrick Vallance adds that the view from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) was that it was "likely" that more measures would be needed due to the increased transmissibility of the new variant.

PM: Real prospect of relaxing measures in February

ITV's Robert Peston asks when it might be possible to exit lockdown measures, with the case figures continuing to rise.
Boris Johnson says, with certain provisions, the middle of February.
He says: "Provided we don't learn anything new about the virus, that we don't currently understand, such as some new mutation that we haven't currently bargained for. Provided vaccine rollout goes to plan; provided the vaccine rollout is as efficacious as we think it is; but above all as long as everyone follows the guidance now... then we think by the middle of February when a very considerable portion of the most vulnerable groups would have been vaccinated... then there really is the prospect of beginning the relaxation of some of these measures."
Asked about the risk of mutations to the virus if patients are only given the first dose of a vaccine, Prof Chris Whitty says that by only giving one jab, the vaccine will reach more people "so as long as it provides 50% protection you will have won".
He adds that scientists believe it will grant more protection than that.
He adds there is a risk of an "escaped mutant" - "that is a real worry but quite a small real worry".

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 18:13

How many are in the top four priority vaccine groups?

Reality Check
Prime Minister Boris Johnson talked about the government’s plan to vaccinate all people in the top four priority groups by the middle of February.
Combined, this group is estimated to represent millions of people in the UK, including:

  • Group one: 1.1m care home residents and care home workers
  • Group two: 3.4m people over 80 and 1.6m frontline care workers
  • Group three: 5.6m people over 70 years old
  • Group four: 2.2m clinically extremely vulnerable people

However, it’s important to add that some of these groups overlap considerably; for example, some of the 2.2m clinically vulnerable people will also be over 80 and living in a care home.
So far, the UK has vaccinated around 1.3m people, according to the prime minister.
The government estimates that in total, 25m people fit within its nine priority groups for vaccinations.
The BBC’s Visual Journalism team has looked at the vaccine in numbers.

What did we learn from today's briefing?

Here's a reminder of the key points from today's briefing, as daily case figures in the UK rise above 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic began:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said more than one million people are currently infected in England, with the numbers of patients in hospitals 40% higher than in the first peak
  • He said that over 1.3 million people have been vaccinated in the UK so far, including 1.1 million in England and more than 650,000 people aged 80 and over
  • Almost 1,000 vaccination sites will be operational by the end of the week, including 595 GP-led sites
  • The prime minister said there would be daily updates on vaccinations from Monday to ensure "maximum transparency"
  • Prof Chris Whitty said that the UK case rate increased by 70% in the last two weeks of 2020, with the Office for National Statistics estimating that around one in 50 people are currently testing positive for the virus
  • Prof Whitty added that the new variant of the virus is taking off in "all" areas of the UK
  • He said more people are in hospital than ever, noting that this increase means "we will inevitably see a rise in deaths" in the coming weeks
  • Boris Johnson said, with certain provisions, it could be possible to end lockdown measures in mid-February

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 20:39

LA ambulances told not to take some patients to hospital

Coronavirus - 5th January F082dd10

Ambulance workers in Los Angeles County, California, have been told not to transport hospital patients who have extremely low chances of survival.
The directive comes as officials say the region could soon hit more than 1,000 Covid-related deaths per day, and hospitals are overrun with patients.
Emergency workers have also been told to ration oxygen, which is in short supply due to the pandemic.
Hospital beds in LA are running low and officials fear a post-holiday spike.
New York City issued a similar directive to ambulance workers last April at the height of the city's Covid outbreak, instructing them not to bring in patients who could not be resuscitated at the scene.
The LA County Department of Public Health reported 9,142 new Covid cases on Monday, and an additional 77 deaths. The county, which is the worst hit in the US, has recorded 818,000 coronavirus cases and more than 10,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Read more here .

Germany extends its lockdown

As the UK battles its rise in cases, Germany has announced its lockdown will continue until 31 January.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that new restrictions to reduce contact will be introduced in order to curb rising infections.
Nationwide measures, including closing schools and non-essential businesses were introduced in mid-December and were due to continue until 10 January.
Germany has recorded more than 1.8 million coronavirus cases and 36,000 deaths since the pandemic began, figures from Johns Hopkins University show.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 20:49

Almost 60 UK travellers denied entry to Sweden

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
There are continuing problems for people travelling from the UK to Sweden - Swedish border police have confirmed to the BBC that 58 people making the journey have been turned away since the New Year, including 28 British citizens.
The release of the figures follows days of travel confusion for Britons who are resident in Sweden. They face extra hurdles returning to their Swedish base, due to a new requirement to provide a negative coronavirus test result from 1 January, alongside post-Brexit paperwork required to prove their right of residence in Sweden.
On Sunday it emerged that some British passengers arriving with negative coronavirus tests had nevertheless been told to return to the UK, while others refused and spent the night on the floor or on plastic chairs at Gothenburg’s Landvetter Airport.
The UK’s Ambassador to Sweden Judith Gough raised concerns that there was a need for “greater clarity and consistency” over which types of Covid-19 tests were valid, and dispatched embassy staff to the airport on Monday. The travellers were allowed to enter Sweden shortly afterwards.
Swedish border police have told the BBC that of the 28 British citizens turned away since 1 January, 13 were registered residents of Sweden who did not have a valid negative coronavirus test and five were not registered as living in Sweden. Police were unable to provide firm information on the reason for the denial of the other ten travellers.

Nigerian police arrest dozens in nightclub Covid crackdown

Police in Nigeria’s Lagos state have raided several nightclubs, arresting 71 people for allegedly violating Covid-19 protocols.
The police say the raids happened in the Lekki and Surulere areas of Lagos city and the suspects will be prosecuted for allegedly violating guidelines put in place in an attempt to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Lagos state police spokesperson Olumuyiwa Adejobi told the BBC that the club-goers had allegedly violated a ban on large gatherings and the reopening of clubs and had broken a midnight to 04:00 curfew in the state.
The authorities say they will intensify such raids to ensure ‘’total compliance’’ with Covid-19 protocols.
The arrests come as Nigeria continues to record a surge in coronavirus infections amid fears of a second wave of the pandemic.
On Monday, Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control announced 1,204 new infections - the country’s highest confirmed daily cases so far.
Nigeria has recorded 91,351 cases, with 75,699 recoveries and 1,318 deaths from the virus. Lagos state is the country’s epicentre of the disease.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Jan 05 2021, 20:54

Shielding: 'You have to be on red alert'

People who were advised to shield during the first lockdown last year are being advised to do the same again.
Those who are categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter from the government with new information about the next few weeks.
Jayne Duggan, from Somerset, has asthma and a heart condition. She shielded during the first lockdown and only started going out again in August. In November, she decided to stay at home again.
Jayne wishes masks were mandatory everywhere, including outside.
She told 5 Live's Rachel Burden:“You might be taking precautions but not everybody else is, and you're put at risk.
"You have to be on red alert. It's quite nerve-wracking," she added.

What happened today around the world?

It has been another busy day for coronavirus news around the world.
Here are some of the headlines:

And that's all from our coverage today, thank you for joining us and we will be back again tomorrow.
Today's live page has been edited by James Clarke, Sarah Collerton, Claire Heald and Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and written by Alex Therrien, Alexandra Fouché, George Wright, Jen Meierhans, Doug Faulkner, Becky Morton, Victoria Bisset and Gavin Stamp.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:48