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Coronavirus - 7th January

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:06

Summary for Thursday, 7th January

  • The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out to hundreds of GP-run vaccination centres in England later
  • People are starting to receive vaccinations at the repurposed Derby Arena
  • Seven more mass vaccination hubs in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage are due to open next week
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to give a briefing at 17:00 GMT
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to appear before MPs later
  • Figures yesterday revealed the UK has 30,074 Covid-19 patients in hospital – 39% higher than the April peak
  • A weekly doorstep round of applause returns at 20:00 GMT - under the new name of Clap for Heroes
  • For the first time, Sweden is recommending face masks on public transport during rush hours
  • Japan is to announce a new state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas as infections reach record levels
  • Global virus cases have exceeded 87m and nearly 1.9m have died during the pandemic, according to figures tracked by Johns Hopkins University


Good morning and welcome to today’s live coverage. Here’s a look at the main UK headlines to bring you up to speed:


What's happening around the world today?

Here are some of the latest headlines from around the world:

  • A further 3,865 people have died in the US, a new record. This brings the number of deaths since the pandemic began to 367,279, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has recorded more than 21 million cases
  • Japan is set to announce a state of emergency in the Tokyo area following a surge in cases. On Wednesday, 6,004 cases were confirmed, a new record
  • Authorities in Sweden are asking people to wear face masks while on public transport from today. People should wear face coverings during rush hour if it is not possible to book a seat. It is the first time face coverings have been recommended in the country since the start of the pandemic
  • The Canadian province of Quebec has announced a four week lockdown from Saturday. People will be asked to stay at home unless they have to work or go out for essential reasons. A curfew will also be in place from 8pm to 5am
  • Authorities in the Chinese province of Hebei are tightening restrictions after 51 cases were confirmed there on Thursday. Mass testing has been launched and gatherings have been banned. Cities in Hebei have stopped selling railway tickets to Beijing. It comes after authorities in the northern Chinese province closed schools on Tuesday


Canadian province to go into lockdown

The Canadian province of Quebec is set to go into a four week lockdown on Saturday following a rise in cases there.
A curfew will be in place from 8pm until 5am and people will be asked to remain at home unless they have to work or buy essential goods.
But primary schools are due to open on Monday while secondary schools will open a week later.
According to data from the province’s health ministry, about 1,400 people are in hospital with the virus. On Tuesday more than 70 people were hospitalised.

Russia death toll surpasses 60,000

Russia’s official Covid-19 death toll has now exceeded 60,000, according to authorities there.
A further 506 deaths were reported on Wednesday bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 60,457. More than three million cases have been confirmed in the country.
However there have been claims the death toll could be higher.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, claimed 80% of excess deaths are linked to the virus.
On 28 December, she said excess deaths in the first 11 months had been 13.8% higher than the previous year.
Excess deaths are the difference between the total number of deaths registered and the average over the previous years for the same period.
President Vladimir Putin has hailed the country’s healthcare system as more effective than the rest of the world in tackling the virus, however hospitals in many areas of the country have struggled to cope with the rise in patients.

Sweden recommends mask wearing on public transport for first time

People in Sweden are being asked to wear face masks on public transport from today. It is the first time face coverings are being recommended.
People travelling on public transport in the morning and evening rush hour will be recommended to wear a mask unless they have booked a seat.
However the measure is voluntary and people won’t be fined if they choose not to wear one.
Authorities in the country have previously not recommended the wearing of masks in public, aside from healthcare settings.
Sweden has never imposed a full lockdown and has recorded 469,748 infections and 8,985 deaths - more cases and deaths than its Scandinavian counterparts.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:17

Hundreds of GP centres to begin giving Oxford jab

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is due to be rolled out at hundreds of GP-run vaccination centres in England later.
It's part of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, with the aim of offering jabs to most care home residents by the end of January and to 13 million people in priority groups by mid-February.
The Oxford jab was initially given to patients in selected hospitals, including first recipient 82-year-old Brian Pinker, and will now be made available to thousands more vulnerable people at community-based sites near where they live.
Because it does not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - the first to be approved by the UK - it can be transported and stored more easily, making it simpler to vaccinate housebound people and those in care homes.
More than 700 local vaccination sites will administer the jabs and another 180 GP-led sites, 100 new hospital sites and a pilot scheme involving local pharmacies will open this week.
Next week, seven major vaccination hubs across England are due to start operating, including the Excel Centre in London and Millennium Point in Birmingham.

Doctor warns of 'catastrophic' impact of virus surge on NHS

The NHS across the whole of the UK faces a "catastrophic" outcome unless the lockdown measures are taken seriously, a professor of intensive care is warning.
Prof Rupert Pearse tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme that normally each intensive care nurse would treat one patient, but now they are treating three. Soon it will be four and he fears for the quality of care, he says.
He says the pressures are worse than the first wave with fewer resources. The issues have spread from London across the UK and affected respiratory wards, geriatric wards and primary care as well as intensive care, Prof Pearse says.
Asked if the NHS could be overwhelmed in two weeks as some have warned, he says: “I never thought in my entire career that I might say something like this but yes, I do.
“Unless we take the lockdown seriously the impact on healthcare for the whole country could be catastrophic. And I don’t say those words lightly.”
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:20

Hospitals say virus surge 'escalating really quickly'

Hospital bosses say they are seeking space in care homes and nursing homes as the healthcare system reaches capacity.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers which represents hospital trusts, tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “This is escalating really quickly.
"We’ve seen 5,000 new patients in hospital beds with Covid-19 over the past week – that’s 10 full hospitals’ worth of Covid patients in hospitals in just seven days, so it’s a really big challenge."
He says in some places hospital beds are full, community beds are full and community at home services are also full, meaning hospitals are in talks with nursing homes and care homes for extra capacity.
“It’s literally leaving no stone unturned to maximise every single piece of capacity we’ve got in those areas under real pressure.”
The Exeter and Manchester Nightingale hospitals are currently being used, he says, but they are a "last resort" as they divert staff and are not purpose-built for health and care.

Mother warns parents of mottled skin symptom


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The mother of a four-month-old baby treated in hospital for Covid-19 is urging parents to be alert to lesser-known symptoms such as mottled skin and sickness.
Myer Rudelhoff's son George spent three nights in Basildon hospital, in Essex.
He had a high temperature but also had patchy skin, swelling on his lips and could not keep fluids down.
Mrs Rudelhoff says: "I thought it was a sickness bug. I had no idea it was caused by coronavirus."
Diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramps in children can be a sign of coronavirus according to some researchers, but the officially recognised symptoms are a fever, cough and loss of smell or taste.
When George was in hospital, nurses told his mum they had treated several other children with the same mottled skin and sickness and asked her to share her story to raise awareness of these symptoms.
He is now making a good recovery at home.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:23

Police council chair warns forces' resources are 'stretched'

BBC Breakfast
Police forces having to step up the enforcement of coronavirus regulations is leaving resources "stretched", the chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council is warning.
Martin Hewitt tells BBC Breakfast: "Of course this has stretched us, there's no two ways (about it), we've been at this for 10 months.
"Alongside this the police are also doing all the normal roles the police do to keep people safe - so there's no doubt this has stretched resources and of course our people are tired in the way that everybody is tired.
"This has been really difficult."
It comes after the Metropolitan Police has said officers will be more "inquisitive" of people's behaviour. Mr Hewitt says other forces around the country will take a similar approach.

Cardiff Central MP out of hospital


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Cardiff Central Labour MP Jo Stevens is out of hospital after being treated for Covid-19.
On New Year's Eve, her Twitter account said she had been "laid low with Covid for a while".
On Wednesday night, Ms Stevens, who is Labour's shadow culture secretary, tweeted to say she had left hospital: "I cannot begin to describe my gratitude to the wonderful people who have cared for me in hospital.
"They are truly exceptional."
She continued: "I feel so fortunate to be back home knowing that for so many families, it has been a very different situation."
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:27


Breaking News

PM to lead Downing Street briefing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to lead a Downing Street coronavirus briefing at 17:00 today.
He will be will be joined by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and Brigadier Phil Prosser, who is involved with vaccine roll-out.

Nearly 20,000 second doses of vaccine delivered in England

Nearly 20,000 second doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered between 29 December and 3 January, NHS England said.
Some 19,981 second Pfizer/BioNTech jabs had been given as of Sunday, which was before the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
All vaccinations given before 29 December were of first doses. Both the Pfizer and the Oxford vaccines need two doses for full protection.
Overall, 308,541 people received a jab in the week ending Sunday 3 January, taking the total number vaccinated in England since the rollout began to 1,112,866.
Of those, 661,224 (60%) were given to people aged 80 or over, the health service said.
Across the UK, more than 1.3m people have had at least one jab, the prime minister has said.

New restrictions in Tokyo as cases rise

A one-month state of emergency has been declared in the Japanese capital Tokyo and the surrounding area amid a rise in Covid infections, with new daily cases surging to a record of more than 7,000.
About 30% of the country's population will be covered by the new restrictions for Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures.
While Japan has fewer infections than many other nations, on Thursday there were nearly 2,500 cases in Tokyo alone.
Under the new rules, bars and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol by 19:00. Shops, gyms and entertainment facilities will also have shorter opening hours. But schools will stay open and events can still take place if they have an audience of less than 5,000.
The measures are less strict than those imposed nationwide in April under a national emergency that ran to late May.
"The situation has become increasingly troubling nationwideand we have a strong sense of crisis," Prime Minister YoshihideSuga says.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:33

Pub chain 'burning through £40m a month' in lockdown

The latest lockdown has raised fears about how pubs will survive. Now one of the country's largest pub groups - the owner of the Harvester, Toby Carvery and All Bar One - has said it needs to raise more cash .
With no sites open, Mitchells & Butlers said it is burning through £35m to £40m a month.
Trading in the last quarter of 2020 was down 67% on the previous year said the company, which operates 1,700 pubs across the UK.
"There is a real and pressing need for support for businesses if we are to return to being the vibrant sector and important employers that we were," said chief executive Phil Urban.
All pubs in England are now closed until late-February at the earliest under the latest lockdown and other UK nations have also imposed restrictions on hospitality .

Lebanon begins new lockdown as infections surge

Martin Patience - BBC Middle East correspondent, Beirut
Lebanon is beginning a 25-day lockdown, as a surge in the number of coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.
Schools and restaurants must close, and a night-time curfew will be imposed.
Compared with other countries, Lebanon has until recently coped relatively well with Covid-19. But in recent weeks the number of fatalities has jumped significantly. With the death toll now more than 1,500, the government says drastic measures are required.
The lockdown, however, will hammer an already collapsing economy that has seen a huge number of workers lose their jobs. The local currency has also lost 80% of its value against the US dollar in the past year, which among other things has seriously disrupted the importation of medical supplies.

'There's almost no pattern to it - we just can't say'


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Staff nurses work in the corridor in the Acute Dependency Unit at St George's Hospital in Tooting, south-west London

Staff in one of England's largest hospitals say they are admitting patients in their 20s and 30s to intensive care and it is impossible to predict how any patient will respond to treatment.
St George's Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, has had to vastly expand intensive care capacity and move under-qualified staff to high dependency roles.
Medical registrar Omome Etomi says: "I can't tell you who's going to be unwell and not, who's going to improve and go home and who's going to have a longer stay in ITU,
"I have admitted patients to the intensive care unit in their 20s and 30s, people who have no pre-existing conditions," he tells the PA news agency. "There's almost no pattern to it - we just can't say."
Dr Mark Haden, an emergency department consultant, says the rising numbers of very sick patients is having a huge impact on staff.
"Everyone's stress levels are higher than usual," he says. "Everyone is working to the limit, to the threshold of what they're able to.
"The hospital bed occupancy is very, very high, it has lots of Covid patients as inpatients at the moment. It's very stressful for staff and that is starting to show."
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:38

Why has the UK not been testing travellers on arrival?

Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier that new border measures to prevent cases of coronavirus coming into the UK would be introduced "within days".
Many countries have required tests before or on arrival for months and have recently tightened entry requirements further. So why has it taken the UK so long?
Airport operators and travel companies have campaigned for the UK government to test passengers on arrival.
But the UK government has long said that testing on arrival is not just logistically difficult but risks missing some cases of coronavirus.
In November, the Home Office told an inquiry that it had decided not to bring in testing on arrival "due to the long incubation period of the virus, which means there is a significant risk of false negative results when testing asymptomatic people, without any isolation period."
For this reason, the government claimed self-isolation was a safer option, with the potential to follow up with a test after a set period.
But there are now suggestions of a change of approach, with passengers potentially being required to show evidence of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
This may be followed by a test at the airport, which would increase the chance of an infection showing up.

Breaking News 

Record number test positive for Covid according to Test and Trace figures

A total of 311,372 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 30 December, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.
This is up 24% on the previous week and is the highest weekly total since Test and Trace began in May.
Of the 269,886 people transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to 30 December, 84.9% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.
This is down from 86.4% in the previous week and is the lowest percentage since the week to 28 October.
Some 13.9% of people transferred to Test and Trace in the week to 30 December were not reached, while a further 1.3% did not provide any communication details.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 12:42

Chinese city of 11 million people locked down


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Mass testing has been introduced in Shijiazhuang in a bid to control the outbreak

The city of Shijiazhuang in China's Hebei province, home to 11 million people living a few hundred kilometres from Beijing, is being fully locked down due to a virus outbreak.
The city has reported 51 new cases today and the entire population is being tested.
BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonell says Beijing is already managing an outbreak in the north of the city - reportedly small - and over recent days there has been an increase in health checks and mask requirements indoors.
"People in Beijing are a little nervous that the coronavirus outbreaks in neighbouring Hebei province or the Shunyi district could swamp the Chinese capital if allowed to take hold - but so far that hasn't happened," he says.

Almost 50,000 Pfizer Covid jabs given in Wales

Latest figures show more than 14,000 people had their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab in Wales in the past week , taking the numbers on the priority list to have received the jab to 49,428 since rollout began on 8 December.
The figures include people who work in Wales but live over the border in England, such as some NHS staff.
The numbers do not include the first to receive the Oxford vaccine, which began to be given this week. The Welsh government has said 22,000 doses of the Oxford jab will be available in the first week of it being rolled out.

Figures on vaccine numbers for the other UK nations are expected later today.
We know the latest figure for England, where more than 1.1m people had been given the first dose by 3 January, is around 1.97% of the population. NHS England has said 60% of doses have gone to people aged over 80.
Last week, about 1.7% of people in Scotland had been given the first dose and 1.6% in Northern Ireland.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 13:10

Breaking News 

Scotland reports 78 more Covid deaths

Scotland's first minister says there have been 78 more deaths in the past 24 hours of people who tested positive in the past 28 days. That brings the total number of deaths by that measure to 4,779.
The latest National Records of Scotland figures [url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-55547365?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=5ff6ec21e81bcc02ea0f6f3f%26383 Covid-related deaths recorded in two weeks up to 3]published earlier[/url] show 383 more deaths were recorded in the two-week period from 21 December to 3 January, where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The total number of deaths by that measurement in Scotland is now 6,686.
In her televised briefing Nicola Sturgeon says there are 1,467 people in hospital, an increase of 83, which pretty closely matches numbers in hospital during the first peak of the virus in April.
There are 100 people in intensive care, up five from yesterday, she says. Although that figure is well below the previous peak, the pressure on ICU units is increasing, and total occupancy is now above normal capacity across the country, says Sturgeon.

What's been happening so far today?

Thanks for joining us this Thursday lunchtime.
Here are the main headlines so far today.

  • A total of 311,372 people testing positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 30 December, according to the latest Test and Trace figures. It is the highest weekly total since Test and Trace started in May
  • Scotland's first minister says there have been 78 more deaths in the past 24 hours of people who tested positive in the past 28 days. And figures show 383 more deaths were recorded in the two-week period from 21 December to 3 January, where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate
  • The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is being rolled out to hundreds of GP-run vaccination sites in local communities in England. As part of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, the aim is to offer jabs to most care home residents by the end of January and to the 13 million most vulnerable by mid-February
  • There are concerns some schools in England could be inundated with pupils without laptops during lockdown, after a change to the vulnerable pupil list. Those without suitable devices, or a quiet place to study, are now eligible to attend school - despite them being shut for most pupils
  • Japan has announced a one-month state of emergency for Tokyo and the surrounding areas amid a rise in cases
  • Russia's death toll has now exceeded 60,000, according to authorities in the country
  • The "nation's health" is under "major threat" after England went into a third lockdown because of coronavirus, a fitness industry trade body has warned. UK Active said the government "urgently needs" a plan to keep people fit
  • UK PM Boris Johnson will lead a briefing this evening
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 13:57

National Express to suspend all services


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National Express has announced it is suspending its entire national network of coach services from midnight on Sunday.
The firm says tighter Covid restrictions and falling passenger numbers had prompted the decision - but it hopes to restart services in March.
All customers whose travel has been cancelled will be contacted and offered a free amendment or full refund, the company says.
All journeys before Monday 11 January will be completed to ensure any passengers undertaking essential travel are not stranded.
Managing director Chris Hardy says the company will regularly review when services could restart.
"We plan to be back on the road as soon as the time is right and have put a provisional restart date of Monday 1 March in place," he says.

Scotland's daily deaths 'close to April peak'

Christopher Sleight - BBC Scotland News

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In Scotland, the number of daily deaths following a positive test for Covid-19 is still below the peak in April - but it's close.
A further 78 deaths were reported today, bringing the total by that measure to 4,779.
The peak in the spring was on 15 April when 84 deaths were registered in a day.
Daily deaths did not immediately begin to decline from that point, with 83 registered on 29 April and again on 6 May.
The registration of deaths fluctuates considerably day by day, so it's also helpful to look at a seven day moving average.
In the spring this figure reached 53. It hasn't gone above 35 during the second wave, but the decline in death rates does appear to be slower.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 14:30

'Entire intensive care ward of Covid patients dies' as 'hospital runs out of oxygen'


Harrowing footage inside the El Husseineya Central Hospital has gone viral online, bringing light to the catastrophe even as authorities try to downplay what happened.


An entire intensive care unit full of Covid-19 patients has reportedly died in an Egyptian hospital after the ward's oxygen supply failed.
Harrowing footage of shell-shocked nurses at the El Husseineya Central Hospital in Ash Sharqia province has gone viral online, bringing light to the catastrophe even as authorities try to downplay what happened.
Video clips uploaded to social media show hospital staff desperately trying to perform CPR on dying patients while the sounds of screaming and crying can be heard echoing through the ward.
According to reports, up to seven patients died after the ICU's oxygen levels almost dipped below two percent, meaning there was neither sufficient pressure nor air for them to survive.

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The oxygen levels on the hospital's ICU reportedly dipped to almost two percent  (Image: MEM)

It's the second such disaster to strike a hospital in Egypt after dangerously ill patients in the ICU at Zefta General Hospital suffered the same fate.
Government negligence and corruption are being blamed for the disaster, although officials are denying the allegations.
Egypt's Heath Minister Hala Zayed claimed the unfortunate patients did not die due to lack of oxygen, and accused the Muslim Brotherhood of spreading rumours.
Hospital director Dr Muhammad Sami Al-Najjar has told local media the situation at the facility is "normal" and denied a lack of oxygen.

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Officials have denied the patients died due to lack of oxygen  (Image: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

He claimed the ICU patients had died from natural causes, old age or other chronic diseases.
The Governor of Ash Sharqia, Dr Mamdouh Gorab, said only four patients had died rather than the entire ward.
Critics have speculated that life-saving oxygen supplies only reached the hospital after several patients had already died.

Tweet  Ahmed Shalaby:

Another heartbreaking Scene, An Egyptian physician collapsed after all COVID-19 patients in the ICU had died due to lack of Oxygen that the PPE she's wearing aren't enough for the frontline health workers.

Coronavirus - 7th January Click_12

Distressing footage of panic on the ward was uploaded to social media by a man whose 66-year-old aunt Fatima Al-Sayed Mohamed Ibrahim was among the patients being treated there.
One image of a devastated nurse in full scrubs and PPE sitting on the floor in shock proved particularly shocking.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the man who recorded the footage has since been arrested.

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This image of a nurse sitting in shock on the ward floor proved powerful with many


Source
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 15:40

What powers do police have to enforce Covid rules?

Dominic Casciani - Home Affairs Correspondent
The police's role in the coronavirus pandemic is simple: to ensure we follow the lockdown restrictions imposed across the UK since Christmas.
But in practice, that is a huge challenge for officers who are being asked to monitor behaviour that, until March last year, was perfectly legal.
Since March, police chiefs have followed a system called "The Four Es". Before fines are issued to rule-breakers, police will first:

  • Engage with people, to ask why they appear to be breaking the rules
  • Explain the law, stressing the risks to public health and to the NHS
  • Encourage them to change their behaviour

The fourth "E" is Enforce by issuing penalty notices, as a last resort. And it's looking like there will be more of these fines in this critical New Year lockdown if people do not comply with the measures to contain the virus.
Read our full explainer here.

Mass virus testing extended to all of Kent

Testing centres for people with no coronavirus symptoms have opened across Kent in a bid to help curb the continued rise in cases in the county.
Some 14 new sites, all run by the Army, can carry out tests on up to 13,000 members of the public a day, with results of rapid "lateral flow" tests usually available within one or two hours.
Kent has seen some of the highest infection levels in the country, with the number of new cases now at more than 1,000 per 100,000 people in Dartford, Gravesham and Medway.
The local council said the chain of infection could be broken by identifying cases in people who are asymptomatic.
Cases are rising steeply in nearly all parts of the UK, while London, the South East and East have the highest estimated rate of people with coronavirus in England.


Sixty-three more people die with Covid in Wales

A further 63 people have died in Wales after contracting coronavirus, the latest figures show.
It takes the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 3,801, according to figures from Public Health Wales (PHW).
PHW also reported a further 1,718 new Covid infections in Wales - taking the total number of cases to 163,234.
Dr Eleri Davies, Covid incident director at PHW said: "Once again we are sadly reporting a high number of deaths.
"It should be noted that not all of these deaths occurred during the same 24 hour period but it does show the severity of the situation and acts as a reminder to everyone how important it is to stick to the rules to prevent transmission of the virus," she said.
You can a read the full breakdown of the figures here.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 15:54

Meeting due on moving NI religious services online

Stormont's junior ministers are to meet faith leaders later to discuss moving all religious ceremonies online in a bid to curb rising Covid-19 infections.
Currently, religious buildings are among the few public places remaining open despite the six-week lockdown.
First Minister Arlene Foster says she is hoping for a "voluntary agreement".
"The last thing that I want to have to do is to put regulations in against faith and against worship," she says.
The meeting is due to take place at 15:00 GMT.
Several congregations have already taken decisions at local level to suspend public worship, temporarily moving their services online-only ceremonies.
Read more here .

Isle of Man vows to beat coronavirus again

Residents of the Isle of Man say they are determined to beat coronavirus again with the island beginning its second full lockdown.
It had scrapped most virus restrictions after keeping infections under control, with residents not even needing to adhere to social distancing.
But a new cluster of infections, some linked to New Year's Eve celebrations, has prompted a new shutdown.
From midnight, non-essential businesses have closed, gatherings have been banned, people must once again socially distance and border restrictions have been raised to the highest level.
Two new cases on Wednesday brought the total number to 389 since March.
Twenty-five people have died, including 20 who were residents at Abbotswood Nursing Home.
Read more here .


Breaking News

Aston Villa reports 'significant' coronavirus outbreak

Premier League club Aston Villa says it has a "significant" coronavirus outbreak ahead of the club's FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool.
A large number of first-team players and staff are in isolation after returning positive tests on Monday, the club says.
Its training ground was closed on Thursday after a second round of testing produced more positive results.
Villa are scheduled to face Liverpool at 19:45 GMT on Friday night.
"Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the club, the Football Association and the Premier League," Villa says in a statement.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 15:59

Half of patients at some hospitals have Covid

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent

Coronavirus - 7th January 42a6cc10

Some hospitals in England are at risk of becoming Covid-only sites, with rising admissions for the virus forcing trusts to cut back on other services.
There are now 26,500 Covid patients in hospital in total, meaning nearly a third of all people in hospital have the virus.
In London, half of all patients being treated in hospital have Covid.
It has prompted many hospitals to cancel routine operations to make more space - and there are now signs this is starting to happen for cancer care too.
Doctors are warning the impact on the NHS could be "catastrophic".
It comes after a surge in patients in recent weeks.
The number of Covid patients has risen by more than 50% since Christmas - and is forecast to continue doing so.
There are now more than 3,000 new admissions a day on average, three times the normal winter rate for all respiratory conditions.
Read more .

Chinese city of 11 million locked off amid outbreak

China has banned all residents from leaving Shijiazhuang - a city of eleven million people - after a coronavirus outbreak.
Flights, trains and long-distance bus services are cancelled and major roads into the northern city blocked off.
More than 100 infections have been reported in Shijiazhuang today.
The authorities are in the process of testing the entire population.
China has largely managed to bring the virus under control with a system of severe lockdowns, travel bans and mass testing.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 16:18

NI hospitals cancel operations over Covid-19 pressures

Most health trusts in Northern Ireland are cancelling operations due to pressures from coronavirus.
The Belfast, Northern and South-Eastern Health Trusts say they will be cancelling planned surgeries.
The BBC understands that the Western Health Trust is also going to cancel some surgeries.
Hospitals say they are facing a surge in coronavirus cases following Christmas. On Wednesday, 592 people were in hospital with Covid-19.
The trusts apologise for the distress caused and say they will be contacting patients to rearrange their surgeries and offer support.
You can read the details in our full story.
Of the 3,359 planned procedures scheduled between 29 December 2020 and 4 January, 3,267 went ahead as planned, according to the Health and Social Care website.
There were 92 cancellations which amounted to about 3% of all surgeries.

South Africa records worst day of pandemic

For the first time, South Africa records more than 20,000 new cases of the coronavirus in a single day.
It is also the worst day for deaths from the virus, with 840 fatalities.
A new variant discovered last month is thought to be driving up the infection rate. The health ministry says it is due to receive a million vaccine doses from India this month and half a million in February.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has met officials to discuss the possible introduction of even tougher lockdown measures in Africa’s worst-hit country.
But legal challenges to prevent this have been filed and South African Breweries is to challenge a new ban of alcohol sales.
The ban was introduced to take pressure off hospitals, which see many cases linked to alcohol consumption.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 16:27

Europe at 'tipping point' - WHO

WHO Europe says more needs to be done to deal with what it calls "a tipping-point in the course of the pandemic".
Regional director Hans Kluge says there needs to be a greater effort in dealing with recently discovered variants of the virus.
"This is an alarming situation, which means that for a short period of time we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures," Kluge says.
He was mostly referring to the new strain of the virus first discovered in the UK, which is believed to be more contagious.
"Without increased control to slow its spread, there will be an increased impact on already stressed and pressurised health facilities," Kluge adds.
Generalised mask wearing, limiting social gatherings, maintaining physical distance and hand washing were all identified as effective forms of slowing the spread of the virus, along with adequate testing, quarantine and isolation, and vaccination rollouts.
Europe has been hard hit by the pandemic, with more than 27.6 million cases and 603,000 deaths, according to the WHO.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 19:03

Analysis: 'Conspiracy theories are an insult to staff'

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Strong words from NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens about conspiracy theories that hospitals are not busy. He calls it an insult to staff.
One figure that is often used is the fact that around one in 10 beds are available – that is actually more than last year.
But that does not tell you the full story
Hospitals have only been able to achieve this by cancelling planned care – that includes routine treatments like hip and knee operations but also, in some places, urgent cancer care.
More intensive care beds have been opened – there are a fifth more than there were at the start of November.
But there is not a space or the specialist staff to run these.
So staff are being redeployed and wards turned into emergency intensive care areas.
One in three patients in UK hospitals now has Covid – in some areas it is as high as one in two.
This is stretching the health service to the limit.

What did we learn from today's Downing Street briefing?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just led a Downing Street news conference, alongside NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and Brigadier Phil Prosser.
Here’s a quick recap of the key points:

  • Nearly 1.5m people in the UK have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Mr Johnson said. These people will have some degree of immunity within the next two to three weeks
  • The PM said that if all goes to plan with the opening of more than 1,000 vaccination centres across the UK, there will be “hundreds of thousands” of jabs available per day by 15 January, and nobody will have to travel more than 10 miles for a vaccine appointment. Mr Johnson said he hoped every elderly care home resident will have been offered a jab by the end of the month
  • Two life-saving drugs that a trial has found can cut deaths by a quarter in patients
  • who are the sickest with Covid-19 , will be available on the NHS “with immediate effect”, the PM said. As well as saving more lives, the drugs - tocilizumab and sarilumab - speed up patients' recovery and reduce the length of time that critically-ill patients need to spend in intensive care by about a week
  • There are now 50% more Covid patients in hospital than during the peak of the first wave, with an increase of 10,000 patients since Christmas Day, NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens said
  • Sir Simon said there needs to be a "huge acceleration" in the UK's vaccine rollout to reach the target of having the over-70s, the most clinically vulnerable and front-line health and care workers offered a jab by mid-February . He said this would involve expanding vaccine supplies, getting more places to give the jabs, and increasing the number of people and partnerships helping to "get the job done"
  • Members of the Armed Forces will use their logistical skills to help with the vaccine rollout. Brigadier Phil Prosser, Commander of Military Support to the Vaccine Delivery Programme, said the operation would be "unparalleled in its scale and complexity", adding that the army planned to distribute the vaccine as soon as it receives each dose
  • Sir Simon also hit out at people who falsely claim that coronavirus is "fake news" and that hospitals are empty , saying it is an "insult" to NHS workers on the frontline, with the PM telling people making these claims to "grow up"
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Post by Kitkat Thu Jan 07 2021, 19:11

Analysis: What are 'hot homes' and how would they work?

Alison Holt - Social affairs correspondent
Hospital managers in areas with high numbers of Covid cases say they are talking to residential and nursing homes about taking patients to ease pressures. So how will this work?
In England, each area should now have designated places with high levels of infection control to take Covid positive patients who no longer need hospital care.
These beds might be in a separate care home – so called “hot homes”- or in the wing of an existing home, which operates with different staff from the rest of the building.
Many care providers have been reluctant to even consider such a role after the high number of care home deaths in the first wave.
One care homeowner, who is taking Covid patients, says he has some empty beds but with the new variant of the virus spreading so easily, he wants his staff vaccinated as a priority.
In addition, concerns over whether homes are insured if they take Covid patients still haven’t been addressed.

Latest headlines from the UK and around the world

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Today's updates were the work of Alice Evans, Joseph Lee, Lauren Turner, Emma Owen, Mary O'Connor, Richard Morris, George Wright and Jennifer Meierhans. This page was edited by James Clarke.


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    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:43