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Coronavirus - 11th January 2021


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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 10:35

Summary for Monday, 11th January

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock to lead No 10 briefing at 17:00 GMT, alongside NHS England medical director Stephen Powis
  • UK PM Boris Johnson says 2.4m vaccines have been administered, to around two million people - but warns against complacency
  • The chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, warns the next few weeks will be "the worst" of the pandemic for the NHS
  • He also says following the existing rules is more important than thinking of tightening them
  • Prof Whitty answered questions on the BBC as the UK suffers record numbers of cases and deaths
  • Seven mass vaccination centres open in England, with more sites to open later this week
  • Vaccinations minister Nadhim Zahawi says they could open 24 hours a day, if there is need
  • About two million people have now had the first dose of the Covid vaccine
  • Spain is racing to distribute vaccines to areas cut off by the weekend snowstorm before temperatures drop
  • A record number of small firms in the UK could close if the government doesn't offer help, a business group warns
  • More than 1.9m people have died and 90m have been infected worldwide - Johns Hopkins University

Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus rolling news. Here are the headlines from across the UK this morning.

What’s happening around the world?

As the world marks a year since China reported its first death from Covid-19, here are the top international headlines:

  • A WHO team investigating the origins of the pandemic will arrive in China on Thursday, the country’s national health authority has announced, although details of the itinerary have not been released
  • A new coronavirus variant has been found in four travellers from Brazil, Japan says (Reuters)
  • Spain has said it has taken extra measures, including police-escorted convoys, to ensure its expected shipment of coronavirus vaccines can be distributed as planned following heavy snow

WHO team to arrive in China on Thursday

After days of uncertainty, a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to travel to China on Thursday, the country’s health authority has announced.
Last week the team – which is investigating the origins of the pandemic – was denied entry to China, with the WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying at the time that he was "very disappointed" at the delays.
The long-awaited probe was agreed by Beijing after many months of negotiations with the WHO.
However, details of this week's visit have not been released and it is unclear if the team will be able to visit Wuhan, where the virus was first identified late last year.

Ministers 'reviewing' lockdown restrictions in England

The government is reviewing lockdown restrictions to ensure they are strict enough, minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.
Asked if he was satisfied the current rules were enough to bring the virus under control, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We don’t want to introduce tougher measures. The lockdown is tough, schools are shut.
"But it is important to remember this virus loves social interactions."
Zahawi said he was worried about whether people were wearing masks and following social distancing at supermarkets, as well as pictures of social interactions in parks.
"We want to make sure that people actually stay at home," he added.

Breaking News

Next few weeks will be worst

Prof Chris Whitty is answering your questions on BBC Breakfast.
Asked about the new variant being more transmissible he says: "This new variant is really pushing things in a way in that the old variant, which was already very bad, wasn't able to do."
He says the situation is very serious and warns the next few weeks will be the "worst weeks" - in terms of the pressure on the NHS - of the whole pandemic.
Prof Whitty says we must do what we can to break transmission.

'Anyone not shocked has not understood this'

"Anybody who is not shocked by the number of people in hospital who are seriously ill at the moment - and who are dying over the course of this pandemic - I think have not understood this. This is an appalling situation," Prof Whitty says.
He adds we are now "very close" to the point where we can get on top of this with vaccination but we are not there yet.
Asked about shielding, Prof Whitty says even after people have the vaccine their protection is not complete. He urges people to be cautious, reminding us that "one in 50" have the virus.
He says shielding rules are different because many people felt "completely imprisoned" by the rules the first time round, which was "not the intention".
But he says people who are vulnerable need to be very careful as there is a "very high risk" of the virus currently.

Minimise unnecessary contacts, Whitty urges

After his interview on BBC Breakfast, England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty is now speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme.
He repeats his warning that we are now at the "worst point" of the epidemic in the UK, with the number of Covid patients in hospital now higher than the previous peak.
“Every single unnecessary contact any of us has is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead eventually to a vulnerable person," he say - urging people again to minimise unnecessary interactions.

What are the latest virus numbers in the UK?

Note the official vaccination figure is an underestimate - with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying on Sunday the figure is closer to two million.
The government is planning to update the vacciantion numbers daily in future.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 10:49

Spain races to clear snow to ensure vaccine deliveries

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We've been focusing on Prof Chris Whitty for a while but away from the UK, Spain is in a race against time to clear roads covered by heavy snow, and get coronavirus vaccines and food supplies to areas affected by Storm Filomena.
As much as 50cm (20 inches) of snow fell on Madrid, one of the worst-hit areas, between Friday night and Saturday.
At least four people died and thousands of travellers were left stranded.
The Spanish government said it had taken extra steps - including police-escorted convoys - to ensure its expected shipment of some 300,000 coronavirus vaccines could be distributed to regional health authorities on Monday, amid forecasts of further ice.
"The commitment is to guarantee the supply of health, vaccines and food. Corridors have been opened to deliver the goods," said transport minister José Luis Ábalos.
He also emphasised that vaccines would "arrive tomorrow, Monday, at their destination as planned".
Read more here .

Beijing vaccinates over one million people

More than one million people in the Chinese capital Beijing have received a coronavirus vaccination since the beginning of the year, according to the state-run Global Times.
China gave emergency authorisation to Sinopharm's jab last year.
The news comes as China announced its highest number of daily infections in five months.
A total of 103 new cases were identified on Monday, most of them in Hebei province, which borders Beijing.
The outbreak has mostly been centred on the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, where authorities have introduced new restrictions and mass testing to curb the spread of the virus.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 11:17

Infections in Brussels up nearly two-thirds

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The Belgian capital has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases since late December, statistics released on Sunday show.
The number of infections in Brussels rose by 62% in the week from 31 December to 6 January, compared with 11% across the country as a whole.
A health official in the city told public broadcaster RTBF the increase was likely to be due at least in part to travellers returning from the Christmas holidays.
Belgium has seen more than 660,000 cases and 20,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Call off Tokyo Olympics, most Japanese people say

Since the 2020 games were postponed by a year due to the pandemic, Japan's government has been adament that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will take place as planned in July this year.
But according to two polls, most of the country's population does not agree.
More than 80% of people questioned by both Japanese news agency Kyodo and the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) said they thought the games should be cancelled or postponed, or that they would not go ahead, the AP news agency reports.
Last September, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto said the games must be held "at any cost" in 2021 - thoughts echoed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who said earlier this month that the "games will be held this summer" and be "safe and secure".
But Japan is facing rising coronavirus cases, with the capital Tokyo declaring a state of emergency last week.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 11:20

Hospital's oxygen supply reaches 'critical' situation

A hospital's oxygen supply has "reached a critical situation" due to rising numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Southend Hospital has had to reduce the amount it uses to treat patients , a document shared with the BBC showed.
It said the target range for oxygen levels that should be in patients' blood had been cut from 92% to a baseline of 88-92%.
The hospital was "working to manage" the situation, said managing director Yvonne Blucher, and the public could play their part by staying at home.
Essex has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in the country, with seven of the 14 council areas in the county in the top 20 most infected areas of England .

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Micronesia - Covid-free until now - reports first infection

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The Pacific island nation of Micronesia has reported its first coronavirus case - one of the last nations on earth to confirm an infection.
In a message published on Friday, the government confirmed a sailor aboard a government-owned ship had tested positive after returning from the Philippines.
The government said the case was being considered an imported case "and does not present any immediate risk of the virus spreading to the broader community".
Most island nations in the Pacific closed their borders in the early days of the pandemic, amid concerns their weak healthcare systems would not be able to cope with an outbreak.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 11:24

Worst 48 hours in Northern Ireland since start of pandemic

The past 48 hours have been the busiest for health trusts in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic , with appeals for off-duty staff to help ease the pressure.
Some trusts were close to declaring a major incident, which was averted after staff responded to Sunday's call.
Health trusts have also said more cancer operations could be cancelled, warning that by the third week of January, hospitals could be dealing with double the number of Covid patients.
Meanwhile, care workers in Northern Ireland who provide services to ill or elderly patients living at home can now book an appointment to get a coronavirus vaccine .

Dubai added to Scotland quarantine list after Celtic trip

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Dubai has been added to Scotland's travel quarantine list, meaning anyone coming from the emirate must self-isolate for 10 days .
Celtic confirmed one of their players tested positive for the virus less than 48 hours after the squad returned from a training trip to Dubai on Friday.
It is not known if he was on the trip.
The Scottish rule, which came into effect at 04:00, will also apply retrospectively for passengers who have made the journey since 3 January.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 11:33

Can India's vaccine makers meet demand?

Reality Check
India produces 60% of the world's vaccines, but it's also one of the countries with the largest number of coronavirus cases globally, second only to the US.
It must not only provide for its own vaccine needs, but also meet its commitments to producing a share of the global supply.
The Indian government has said it will vaccinate 300 million people who are on the priority list by the end of July.
It aims to administer 600 million doses overall within some seven months - around 85 million doses a month.
So can it meet domestic and international demand?
Find out here.

UK May elections 'will almost certainly be delayed'

Elections due to take place on 6 May will "almost certainly" be postponed due to the coronavirus, Conservative MP Steve Brine says.
Labour's Meg Hillier also says she could not see "any option but for some delay".
Voters are set to go to the polls in May for council and mayoral elections in England - and parliamentary elections in Scotland and Wales.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said the May date would be kept under review.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour, Brine says: "I've been talking to my local party about it and I've been talking to [Conservative] Central Office about it. I just cannot see how you could do that."
He adds some activists have already been out delivering leaflets to homes, which he describes as "deeply dangerous" in the context of a "highly virulent virus".
Read more .

Indonesia gives green light to China's Sinovac jab

Indonesia has become the latest country to approve a coronavirus vaccine produced by China's Sinovac.
Earlier this month, Bolivia authorised the jab alongside Russia's Sputnik V. Sinovac is also known to have secured other deals with Turkey, Brazil and Chile.
The company's vaccine, called CoronaVac, is the second produced in China and used abroad, with the Sinopharm injection granted emergency use in the UAE and Bahrain last month.
Chinese authorities have also conditionally approved the Sinopharm vaccine.
Both companies have produced an inactivated vaccine - meaning that killed viral particles are used to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.
Read more about the Chinese vaccines here .

'Dangerous' over-reliance on vaccines in Indonesia

Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, said that a dangerous over-reliance on the coming vaccines by some governments meant herd immunity could not be achieved in the near term, telling the conference:
The Indonesian government thinks that vaccine is the best solution for controlling the pandemic, and they forget that surveillance like testing … communications, to educate public to practice low-risk behaviour, is also important because the vaccine itself needs time to cover most of the people who need it.

Indonesia’s food and drug agency has granted emergency use approval to a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, as it becomes the first country outside China to give the regulatory green light to the vaccine.
Interim data from a late-stage human test in Indonesia showed the shot was 65.3% effective, said Penny K Lukito, who heads the country’s food and drugs authority BPOM.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:00

Queues form as mass vaccination centres open in England

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Queues had formed outside the mass vaccination centre in Newcastle by 09:00 GMT

Meanwhile, queues have formed outside mass vaccination centres in England, as the first sites opened this morning.
The seven sites include Epsom racecourse in Surrey and Newcastle's Centre for Life.
Moira Edwards, 88, was the first person to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab at Epsom racecourse at around 08:15 GMT.
She she had "no hesitation" in taking up the vaccine, adding that it meant she was "a step closer to being with my family again and giving them a big hug".
Jimmy Charlton, 80, was among the first patients at the Newcastle centre, where people were queuing by 09:00.
The grandfather said the the way the centre was organised was "spot on" and the experience could not have gone better.

'Almost half' of Ireland's cases involve new variant

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Last week the number of hospitalisations in Ireland surpassed the first wave

The new coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK is spreading rapidly in the Republic of Ireland, where it now accounts for almost half of all new cases, according to the country's prime minister.
Prime Minister Micheál Martin said a sample of recent tests showed that 45% of infections involved the new strain, compared with a quarter the previous week, Reuters news agency reports.
Ireland has seen a steep rise in the number of infections in recent weeks, prompting the government to introduce new measures last week , including closing schools and shutting down all non-essential construction work.
The restrictions came after Ireland recorded its highest number of hospitalisations since the pandemic began.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:02

Investigation launched into 11 deaths at care home

An investigation has been launched into 11 deaths at an Aberdeen care home.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it has received reports in connection with the deaths at the Rubislaw Park care home .
COPFS said in a statement: "The investigation into the deaths is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments."
Rubislaw Park, which is privately run, has been approached for comment.
A total of 27 deaths are already being investigated at two other facilities in the north-east of Scotland .

Further 1,793 cases and 17 deaths recorded in Wales

Public Health Wales has reported 1,793 new coronavirus cases and 17 more deaths.
It takes the total number of coronavirus deaths recorded in the nation to 3,981.
The number of Covid-19 vaccinations in Wales so far has also been revealed in the first daily report.
Public Health Wales said 86,039 people had received their first dose by 22:00 GMT last night, while 79 people had received a two-dose course of a vaccine.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government says all over-50s and everyone who is at greater risk will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by spring .

Could lockdown rules be made stricter?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
There is a lot of debate about whether the lockdown restrictions need to be tightened.
There are certainly some anomalies. For example, we are told to only leave the home for essential purposes, but coffee shops remain open for takeaways and retail shops for click-and-collect in England and Wales.
However, even if those elements are tightened up, there is a limit to what the government can do. It is why, in his round of media interviews on Monday, chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty repeatedly talked about individual decision-making.
The mixing of different households continues. Some of it is allowed under the support bubble exemptions, but undoubtedly some of it is taking place outside of this. It is, after all, virtually impossible to police what goes on in people’s homes.
It is why messaging is so important – and so ministers and officials are focusing on stressing the pressure the NHS is under. A further tightening of the restrictions could also help make the point.
But there is also a recognition this is hard. People are fatigued. A further crackdown could also erode goodwill.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:06

Japan celebrates Coming of Age Day amid coronavirus

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Japan's Coming of Age Day is a national holiday in which those who turned 20 during the previous year take part in ceremonies that officially welcome them into adulthood.
But with infections rising this year, many events were cancelled or postponed and there were some key differences in those that went ahead.
At Yokohama Arena, young men and women wore face masks, had their temperature checked and were asked to maintain social distancing during the ceremony.
Japan's capital, Tokyo, and the surrounding areas are under a state of emergency amid record cases. Almost 300,000 people have been infected and 3,880 have died in the country since the pandemic began.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:10

Heathrow passenger numbers plunge in pandemic

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Passenger numbers at London's Heathrow dropped by almost three-quarters in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, the airport says.
A total of 22.1 million people travelled through the airport last year, down 58.8 million on the previous 12 months.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye is calling for business rates to be waived for the industry, saying aviation was the "cornerstone of the UK economy but is fighting for survival".
From this week all travellers to the UK will have to test negative for Covid-19 before they can take a flight to the country.
Read more here.

Covid patients in Scotland's hospitals at highest level since pandemic began

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in Scotland has risen to 1,664 - the highest number since the pandemic began.
At her daily briefing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also says 163,377 people in Scotland had been given a first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The first minister says she expects everyone over 80 will get an injection within the next four weeks, while all over-70s and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable should be vaccinated by the middle of February.
Since the last media briefing on Friday, she said 97 coronavirus deaths had been recorded, with one death registered in the past 24 hours.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:21

Vaccination hub 'a big step forward'

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A conference centre in Hertfordshire has become one of seven vaccination hubs across England.
At least 60 or 70 people formed a queue that snaked around Robertson House in Stevenage, waiting for their jab.

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One of the first to receive her vaccine there was 82-year-old Joy Sheppard.
The former NHS worker said it was going to "make such a difference" to her life, especially as she has got a son who has been "heavily shielding", as has her husband, who is also 82.
She said she thought the set-up at the council-owned site was "excellent".

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Sarah Browne, director of nursing and quality of Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which is running the vaccine centre, said it represented a "big step forward in helping to beat the Covid-19 pandemic".

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:25

Tracking the global coronavirus outbreak

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Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, with more than 90 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and nearly two million deaths.
The virus is surging in many regions, and countries that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks are also seeing infections rise again.
The US remains the country with the highest number of cases and deaths, with no sign of infections abating.

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Several coronavirus vaccines have now been approved for use, either by individual countries, or blocs such the EU and WHO.
But the supply and distribution of the vaccine remains an issue. Some countries have secured more than their populations actually need, while lower-income countries may have to rely on the global vaccine plan known as Covax, which is seeking to ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:30

Scottish lower league and cup matches suspended

BBC Sport
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Dumbarton's League 1 fixtures are among those being rescheduled

Scottish football below Championship level is being suspended for three weeks from midnight due to the rising number of coronavirus cases.
The impacted leagues include SPFL Leagues 1 and 2 and SWPL 1 and 2.
Scottish Cup ties between 12 January and 1 February will be rescheduled.
A statement from the governing body said the decision was taken "in the interests of public health, taking cognisance of the government's wish to reduce travel and possible contact with others whilst safeguarding commercial broadcasting contracts that sustain the professional game".
Find out more here.

Hancock on stricter lockdown: Rules 'constantly under review'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been speaking to reporters at Epsom racecourse in Surrey, one of seven mass vaccination sites to open in England today.
Asked whether the government would soon be introducing stricter lockdown measures, he said they are "constantly keeping things under review".
"What matters is that people follow the rules, that's the most important thing, and stay at home wherever possible," he added.
He also declined to say whether the government would be holding daily press conferences to boost public compliance with the restrictions, saying it was a decision for communications colleagues at No 10.
"What matters in terms of communications is we just try to be as straightforward as we possibly can be about the facts on the ground... the fact that the NHS is under significant pressure and what people have to do to play their part in getting this under control," Hancock said.
The health secretary is leading a Downing Street press conference at 17:00 GMT, where he will be joined by NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:40

Ireland now has worst coronavirus infection rate in Europe

Ireland's health system is under severe pressure after more than 45,000 new cases of coronavirus over the last week. 
The steep increase in case numbers has seen Ireland emerge as the country with the worst coronavirus infection rate in Europe. 
According to figures published by John Hopkins University and the Oxford University scientific publication Our World Data and first reported by Breaking News , the virus is spreading at a faster rate in Ireland than in any other European nation. 
More alarmingly still, the disease is spreading at a faster rate in Ireland than in the US. 
The data was compiled based on the rate of infection per million people in order to provide a clearer idea of how quickly the virus is spreading. 
Based on the rolling average of new cases reported, Ireland is recording 1,267 cases per million. This stands in stark contrast to the figures recorded in Ireland when Ireland boasted one of the lowest coronavirus rates in Europe with 50 cases per million. 
The Czech Republic has the second highest seven-day rolling average with 1,164 cases per million while the United Kingdom, which had been hit by a more contagious strain of the virus, has a rate of 881.3. 
The US, meanwhile, reported 734.9 cases per million over the past week.
Tweet  Chris Tanner:

The situation in Ireland is dire. Infection rate is skyrocketing. Hospitals WILL be overrun. What this also shows: hard #Shutdowns work. And they must be maintained. I hope Swiss Government is paying close attention. No relaxing of measures before Q3
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Ireland’s health system is already under severe pressure and could yet face increased caseloads, with any potential fallout from the influx of people travelling back to Ireland for Christmas likely to be felt in the coming days and weeks. 
Over 54,000 people flew into Ireland over Christmas, despite government warnings urging people to refrain from returning home unless entirely necessary. 
Ireland’s Health Service Executive has now moved to access the surge capacity made available as part of an agreement with private hospitals. 
These hospitals are now being used to provide non-Covid urgent care. 
Over the past 24 hours 6,888 new cases of Covid were recorded in Ireland along with eight further deaths.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 13:49

Irish hospital apologises as large queues lead to patients being treated in ambulances on hospital grounds

Irish Post
A Donegal hospital has apologised after severe overcrowding led to patients being treated in ambulances in the grounds of the hospital.
Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) is under severe pressure due to spikes in Covid-19 in Donegal and the surrounding areas, and over the weekend were unable to admit patients to the emergency room.
Instead, doctors and nurses treated patients inside ambulances which were queuing up outside, in harrowing scenes which echoed those in Northern Ireland last month when cases were at their highest.
Letterkenny University Hospital has now released a statement via the Saolta Group where they have apologised to those affected, acknowledging that "it has been an extremely busy weekend at Letterkenny University Hospital.
"Throughout the weekend there has been a large number of patients presenting with suspect or confirmed COVID 19, many of whom required admission to the hospital."
A spokesperson went on to explain that "as a result of the sustained level of these presentations", the hospital had few beds available and delays were inevitable, particularly for patients waiting to be admitted to the dedicated Covid-19 zone.
"As part of the hospital’s response to this serious situation, clinical teams assessed patients who were delayed being admitted from the ambulance," the hospital stated, adding "This was to ensure that patients were treated in clinical priority."
To help ensure there will not be a repeat of the harrowing scenes over the weekend, LUH has secured additional staff which will open up 11 new beds for patients in need.
The queue of ambulances have begun to be released, a spokesperson confirmed.
"The hospital would like to apologise to patients for the distress that these delays cause and would like to acknowledge the huge effort of its staff," LUH added.
Ireland is currently in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic, with a spike in cases in every county; border counties such as Louth, Monaghan and Donegal are some of the most affected, however.
Not long ago, Ireland was being praised for having the lowest incidence rate in all of Europe; now, it has the worst infection rate, with the virus spreading at a faster rate in Ireland that any other European nation.
Vaccinations have begun for the most vulnerable, and it is expected that Level 5 restrictions will remain in place until a large portion of the population have been vaccinated.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 14:12

BioNTech aiming to produce 2bn vaccines in 2021

German company BioNTech - which together with US drug firm Pfizer created the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved by the UK, the US and the EU - has said it expects to produce two billion doses this year.
"We now believe that we can potentially deliver approximately two billion doses in total by the end of 2021," the company said in a presentation on Monday.
The new figure includes updated guidance that six doses can be extracted from each vial of the coronavirus vaccine, rather than the five doses originally stated on the labelling.
Today's projection marks a significant increase from the 1.3 billion doses that were previously announced.

Boris Johnson visits vaccination centre

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The UK prime minister has been visiting a vaccination centre at Ashton Gate football ground in Bristol.
Boris Johnson said about two million people have been vaccinated across the UK - with the second booster jab meaning about 2.4m jabs have been administered in total.
Johnson told reporters: "As I speak to you today we've done about two million people, maybe a bit more.
"We're at about 2.4m jabs all in across the whole of the UK."
Ashton Gate is among seven centres that opened in England on Monday - each capable of delivering thousands of jabs each week.
The UK plans to vaccinate nearly 15 million people by the middle of February, and millions more in the months after that.
Find out more about the UK's plans here.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 16:59

Nigeria's Covid-19 cases pass 100,000 mark

Chris Ewokor - BBC News, Abuja
Nigeria has crossed the 100,000 mark of total infections since the pandemic began, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
This is after 1,024 new cases were confirmed on Sunday. The commercial hub of Lagos reported 653 new cases, the highest in the country.
The west African country has over the last eight weeks seen an increase in new cases.
Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the state government has opened a new oxygen plant to generate oxygen for patients. The plant can produce about 300 cylinders of oxygen per day, he said in a tweet.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, with 200 million people.
It has the eighth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the continent, behind South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya and Algeria.
The NCDC said 1,358 people have so far died of Covid-19 related complications in Nigeria.
Read more about the coronavirus situation across Africa here .

Criminal trials put on hold in Scotland

The majority of criminal trials are to be put on hold while Scotland is in lockdown, the courts service has said.
Until the end of February only the "most serious" trials will proceed, to reduce the number of people needed to attend court.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was "acutely aware" of the impact of delays on victims, witnesses and the accused, but said "all parts of society must step up our efforts to help safeguard health".
The overall number of criminal trials taking place in lockdown will fall by 75% - but civil and family cases will continue via video links and virtual hearings.

Plans to vaccinate 2,600 people per day at Birmingham centre

Kathryn Stanczyszyn - Political Reporter, BBC Radio WM
About 600 people are expected to receive a Covid-19 vaccination at a centre in Birmingham today.

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Eventually, the Millennium Point facility will be able to deal with about 2,600 patients a day.
Dr Peter Ingham, recently retired chairman of the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group said today's appointments were for a mix of the over-80s and healthcare staff.
"Hopefully by next week it will be well over 2,500 people a day - but we want to increase that," he said.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:06

MPs asked to wear masks in the Commons chamber

There has been some discussion of masks today, and whether people should be told to wear them in the workplace.
Now MPs have been asked to wear face coverings in the Commons chamber whenever possible by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
He has asked members to wear masks "all the time apart from, obviously, when we're speaking".

Portugal records highest daily deaths

Portugal has seen a record 122 deaths within the past 24 hours, according to its health authority.
The previous record of 118 deaths was set last week.
The news comes as the country prepares for a new lockdown later this week, the details of which are yet to be announced.
Portugal has so far not been as badly hit by the pandemic as neighbouring Spain, where the number of fatalities has passed 50,000.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control from late December show that Portugal's infection rate over the previous two weeks was 517 per 100,000 people , compared to Spain's figure of 297.
In total, Portugal has recorded almost 490,000 cases and 7,925 deaths since the pandemic began.

Wear a mask or leave, Morrisons shoppers to be told

Morrisons has confirmed that customers who refuse to wear a mask without a medical exemption will be told to leave stores from today.
Chief executive David Potts said: "Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won't be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt. Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."
This morning, minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was concerned about whether people were wearing masks and following social distancing measures at supermarkets.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:13

Is football on its final warning after lockdown breaches?

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Fans lined the streets to welcome the players for Sunday's FA Cup match between Marine and Spurs

Images of players celebrating inside tightly packed dressing rooms in the FA Cup dominated the sporting agenda and social media this weekend - while crowds of fans gathering outside Cup ties drew criticism and caught the attention of government ministers.
On the back of players from all levels of the game apologising for various coronavirus rule breaches, the case for football to continue while the rest of society is locked down is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Elite sport has been able to continue under strict protocols established in the summer
BBC sports editor Dan Roan says while elite sport is not yet in the "last-chance saloon", there are "no guarantees", with "patience wearing thin".
You can read more here .

Irish infection rate rockets to be worst in the world

Archie Bland - The Guardian
The Republic of Ireland had the most confirmed cases of coronavirus per million people in the world last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins and the WHO set out in a Bloomberg report .
There were 10,100 cases per million over the seven days to Sunday, after a rapid acceleration in the number of cases detected in Ireland . Until the end of December it had largely avoided the sharp rises seen in the UK and other parts of Europe.
My colleague Rory Carroll, who will be covering this development more fully, reported earlier that hospitals were under severe strain, with one estimate suggesting the number of deaths could exceed 100 per day, far higher than during the first wave.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:23

New lockdown unavoidable, says Portuguese PM

Portugal has suffered record numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections, making a new lockdown unavoidable, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Monday.
At a cabinet meeting Wednesday, the government will decide restrictions similar to those imposed during the first lockdown last March, AFP reported Costa saying.
He was speaking after health officials reported a record 122 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing Portugal’s overall toll to 7,965 (see earlier post ).
On Friday, officials logged a record 10,176 new cases over a 24-hour period.
A total of 3,983 Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital - a new high - including 567 in intensive care.
“We are certainly facing a third wave” of the virus, Costa told journalists Monday.
Health Minister Marta Temido, blaming the recent surge in cases on the Christmas period and the cold snap, said the only solution is to bring down infection levels.
The government will consult public health experts on Tuesday before discussing how best to strengthen the restrictions already in place since early November.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Saturday that “there’s no alternative but a general lockdown.” The remark came during a debate ahead of January 24 polls in which Rebelo de Sousa is seeking re-election.

Italy reports 448 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday

Italy reported 448 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, up from 361 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 12,532 from 18,627.
However, Reuters reported that the number of swab tests also fell, as often happens over the weekend, amounting to just 91,656 against a previous 139,758.
Italy has registered 79,203 COVID-19 deaths since its outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has also reported 2.289 million cases to date, the health ministry said.
Patients in hospital with COVID-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 23,603 on Monday, up 176 from a day earlier.
There were 168 new admissions to intensive care units, against 181 the day before.
The total number of intensive care patients rose by 27 to 2,642.
When Italy’s second wave of the epidemic accelerated quickly in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by about 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by about 100 per day.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:27

Lebanon enters 'very critical zone'

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister has said the country has entered a “very critical zone” in the battle against the coronavirus as his government mulls tightening a nationwide lockdown announced last week.
Following a new post-holiday surge in infections, the Lebanese government imposed a nationwide lockdown and a nighttime curfew. But many were critical of the measures, calling them lax for exempting many sectors such as factories, plant nurseries and exchange bureaus.
An AP report notes that Lebanon’s handling of the virus surge amid a deepening economic crisis has been under scrutiny, with many saying hesitant policies have failed to contain it.
Doctors and experts say the extent of the spread has yet to be felt, predicting numbers will skyrocket in the coming days, overwhelming health facilities in the country of nearly 6 million. Daily infection rates have hovered above 3,000 and hit a record high of more than 5,000 last week.
On Monday, panic buyers swarmed supermarkets after reports the government planned to order them shut in the tightened lockdown. Long queues formed outside chain supermarkets, sparking fear the crowds could further spread the virus.
Before a ministerial meeting to consider new measures, the caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, blamed careless behaviour for the spread, saying many Lebanese still considered the virus a hoax and were not taking it seriously.
“We have entered a very critical zone in terms of the coronavirus spread or at a minimum, we are at the gates of that zone,” Diab said.
The World Health Organization said 81.7% of Lebanon’s hospital beds were occupied on Sunday and bed occupancy in intensive care units had reached 91.4%, with the highest in Beirut. Some 2,295 healthcare workers had been infected by 10 January, up from 2,015 last week.

Third lockdown not ruled out for France

Kim Willsher - The Guardian
France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, has reportedly said a third Covid lockdown should not be ruled out, according to French television.
He reportedly made the statement at a parliamentary committee on Monday. Others present at the meeting told BFMTV that Castex said: “We must not exclude a third lockdown as a last resort. For the moment, the latest figures lead us to believe a curfew is enough.”
Two cases of what the French are calling the “British variant” or “English variant” have been discovered in Lille, in northern France. Eight cases of the highly contagious form of Covid were discovered in the southern city of Marseille at the weekend.
President Emmanuel Macron will host a special meeting on France’s vaccine programme this evening at the Elysée. The health ministry says at least 100,000 people have been inoculated in France as the vaccine rollout enters its third week.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:33

South Africa struggling to cope

South Africa is struggling to cope with a surge in Covid cases that has already overwhelmed some hospitals, as people returning from widespread holiday travel along the coast spread the more infectious coronavirus variant.
AP reports that of particular concern is Gauteng province, the country’s most populous, which includes the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Authorities say it is already seeing a rise in new infections after people travelled to coastal areas, where the variant is dominant.
“We expect that Gauteng is going to be hit very soon and very hard,” said Prof Willem Hanekom, the director of the Africa Health Research Institute. “It is anticipated Gauteng will have a steep curve of increased cases and hospitalisations.”
The Steve Biko hospital in the Pretoria area has already reached capacity and is putting Covid patients into a field hospital outside the main building.
South Africa has reimposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including banning alcohol sales, closing bars, enforcing a night curfew and limiting attendance at public gatherings including church services and funerals.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has met with his national coronavirus command council and cabinet over the renewed public health crisis, is expected to address the nation on Monday night.
South Africa, with a population of 60 million, has reported 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, representing more than 30% of all the cases in Africa, which this week exceeded 3 million. It has reported more than 33,000 virus-related deaths. Experts say all numbers worldwide understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.

Zimbabwe bans families from transporting their dead relatives between cities

Zimbabwe has banned families from transporting their dead relatives between cities, as part of new measures stop traditional funeral rites that are believed to be increasing the spread of coronavirus.
The announcement, reported by AP, stops the custom where families take the dead to their areas of birth for ceremonies and burial. Police have also banned public viewing of bodies and the tradition of having a corpse stay overnight in the family’s home before burial.
“Police will only clear body movements for burial straight from a funeral parlour/hospital mortuary to the burial site,” a police spokesman, Paul Nyathi, said in the state-run Herald newspaper.
Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, initially recorded low numbers of Covid-19 but has recently experienced a rise in cases. There are fears that a new, more infectious variant of the virus arrived from South Africa when some of the thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa returned home for the festive season.
Zimbabwe recorded 21,477 cases and 507 deaths on 10 January, up from the slightly more than 10,000 cases and 277 deaths at the beginning of December, according to government figures.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 17:39

New variant of coronavirus discovered in Japan

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had been notified by Japan of a new variant of the coronavirus discovered there.
Japan’s health ministry said on Sunday it had detected a new coronavirus variant in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state. The variant featured 12 mutations, including one also found in highly infectious variants discovered in England and South Africa.

Bangladesh to begin inoculating in early February

Bangladesh will begin inoculating people against Covid-19 in the first week of February as it hopes to get the vaccine by end of this month, a senior health ministry official said on Monday in remarks reported by Reuters.
The South Asian country of more than 160 million in November signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to buy 30m doses of the vaccine developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca.
The vaccine will arrive in the country by 25 January, Abul Bashar Mohammed Khurshid Alam, head of the Directorate General of Health Services, told a news conference.
“The vaccine will be first applied on the health workers and it will be monitored for the next seven days. After that, we’ll begin the vaccination across the country in the first week of February,” he said.
Frontline workers such as health service providers and police will be given priority, health ministry officials said.
Bangladesh has 523,302 confirmed cases, including 7,803 deaths.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 18:56

Another 529 deaths recorded in UK

A further 529 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test have been reported in the UK, bringing the total to 81,960.
There have been another 46,169 positive cases reported, bringing the total cases to 3,118,518.

Spain sees record weekend rise in infections

Spain reported a record rise in coronavirus infections over the weekend and the number of new cases measured over the past 14 days spiked to 436 per 100,000 people on Monday, from 350 on Friday, health ministry data showed.
More than 61,000 new cases were reported since Friday - the largest weekend increase since the pandemic began - bringing the cumulative total to 2,111,782, the data showed. Deaths rose by 401 over the same period to 52,275.
Health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon blamed the surge on lax restrictions over the Christmas holidays and said he expected the increase to continue for some time, Reuters reported.
“We had a better Christmas than expected and perhaps better than we should have had, and now we are looking at the result,” he told a news conference. “It’s a problem of people’s behaviour over Christmas.”
He played down the effect of the so-called British strain of the virus, which is more contagious and which has been detected across Spain, and said a return to confinement was not necessary just now, reiterating what ministry officials have said since cases began surging since the end of the festive period.
Regions have been toughening up measures, but they lack the power to enforce home confinement. Health ministry officials have repeatedly affirmed in the past week that a return to full lockdown should not be necessary.

What did we learn from today's No 10 briefing?

Today's UK government press conference has ended. Here's what happened:

  • Matt Hancock said he didn't rule out taking "further action" over lockdown rules in England, but said “stronger enforcement" of current rules was necessary and police had stepped up their approach
  • He added the government would have to "look at" rules allowing exercise with one other person outside a household if too many people use it for "socialising"
  • But he ruled out getting rid of childcare and support bubbles, adding they were an “important part of the system we’ve got to support people”
  • He said he was "confident" a target to vaccinate people in the top four priority groups by mid-February would be reached, although it is "not going to be easy"
  • The health secretary pledged all older adults in care homes would get a first Covid vaccine by the end of the month, by which point everyone in England would live within 10 miles of a centre
  • But NHS Medical Director Stephen Powis warned the impact of vaccination would not be felt in hospital admission figures until February.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 11 2021, 19:03

Today's Covid headlines

Thanks for joining us today. Here are some of the main stories from the day:

We'll be back again tomorrow

Today's live coverage was brought to you by Owen Amos, Victoria Bisset, Martha Buckley, James Clarke, Doug Faulkner, Alex Kleiderman, Alix Kroeger, Becky Morton, Paul Seddon and Lauren Turner.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 22:21