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Coronavirus - 18th January 2021

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 12:55

Summary for Monday, 18th January 2021

  • Covid-19 vaccinations begin for people aged 70 and over in England
  • People listed as clinically extremely vulnerable will also start getting the Covid-19 jab
  • The move comes as 10 new mass vaccination hubs open across England
  • Vaccines minister Nadim Zahawi says once the top four priority groups are protected with jabs, restrictions could be eased from March
  • Zahawi says he is confident of meeting target to immunise 15m most vulnerable people by mid-February
  • He says 50% of over-80s have been vaccinated - and in some areas it is 90%
  • UK has shut its travel corridors until at least 15 February - but there are reports of long queues at Heathrow Airport
  • Guatemala's government says 21 people, among a group of thousands of migrants trying to reach the US, have tested positive for Covid-19
  • Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021, a senior health official says


Good morning and welcome to today's live coverage. We'll be bringing you updates on the pandemic all day. Here's a look at some of the main headlines this morning.


Tighter UK quarantine rules and test requirements come into force

New rules on travelling to the UK have come into force this morning , with requirements for all passengers to have a negative test within 72 hours of travel and to quarantine for up to 10 days on arrival.
Travel corridors, which meant some places were exempt from quarantine due to their lower infection rate, were all closed at 04:00 GMT.
The 10-day isolation period can be cut short with a negative test after five days, however.
People who arrive without proof of a negative test taken before departure also face fines of £500.
But airports are seeing fewer travellers due to Covid restrictions anyway, with Gatwick saying it had 20 flights today, compared to 600 on a normal day.

Ten hospital trusts in England have no spare critical care beds

The latest NHS figures show the number of hospital trusts in England consistently at full capacity for critical care has risen from four to 10.
Hospitals had increased capacity to more than 5,500 critical care beds in preparation for the winter surge, 50% above their usual number.
But NHS England said they are under "unprecedented pressure" with 4,632 of those beds in use on 10 January.
Chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that every 30 seconds someone was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and there had been the equivalent of 30 full hospitals in coronavirus patients since Christmas.
In Northern Ireland, hospitals are expected to see intensive care patient numbers peak next weekend , with doctors warning that they "face pressures unlike any other they have faced before".

What's happening in Europe?

Pfizer will temporarily reduce deliveries of its vaccine to Europe while it boosts its production capacity. Deliveries are expected to return to normal by 25 January.
"They want to do more, which is why they're reconfiguring to add volume to the whole world," UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC earlier today.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe:

  • France expanded its vaccination rollout to include those over the age of 75 and those with serious medical conditions. The country has been criticised for the programme's slow start
  • France also tightened its entry restrictions, with all non-EU arrivals now required to show a negative coronavirus test to gain entry
  • Elsewhere, Austria extended its lockdown to 7 February and introduced tougher measures such as increasing social distancing guidelines from 1m (3ft) to 2m
  • It also said full medical face coverings - not just fabric masks - must be worn on public transport from 25 January. Germany's Bavaria region introduced a similar measure
  • And officials in Switzerland quarantined two hotels and closed ski facilities to try and stem a coronavirus outbreak in the resort of St Moritz. The new highly infectious variant is believed to be behind the spike


Australia unlikely to open borders in 2021, official claims

A senior Australian health official says it is unlikely the country will fully open its borders in 2021, even if most of its population is vaccinated this year.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy told ABC News.
Airlines had been hoping that flights would resume this year. Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021”.
Mr Murphy said he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Read more here .
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:09

England's vaccine roll-out extends to five million more people

More than five million people aged over 70 or with conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to the virus are due to receive invitations for a vaccination from today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says opening up vaccine appointments to priority groups three and four is a "significant milestone" in the vaccine roll-out.
The number of people to receive a first dose has reached 3.8 million across the UK - more than have tested positive (3.4 million) since the pandemic began.
The Department of Health and Social Care says people in the top two priority groups - care home residents, those aged 80 and over and front-line healthcare workers - who have not yet had their first dose should still be prioritised, however.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says half of all those aged 80 and over have received at least one vaccine dose so far.

Life in the London Ambulance Service during a pandemic


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"Sometimes I'll come in for a shift and can just hear colleagues counting one, two, three, four, for the compressions, and you just know what kind of shift it is going to be," says Louise Essam - one of the emergency call co-ordinators at the London Ambulance Service's south London headquarters.
The 24-year-old says it "has been tough and quite frustrating" with the service under pressure - "we are just doing the best we can".
The service is currently taking up to 8,500 calls a day, compared with a pre-Covid figure of 5,000 to 6,000, according to its chief executive Garrett Emmerson.
Louise's colleague Lizzie Cooke says: "In the first wave we were getting a lot of calls of [people seeking] reassurance. But now there are more and more who have symptoms, and family members are really frightened."
It's a fear Lizzie knows herself, having been hospitalised in March with Covid, and she says seeing people not wearing masks is a "kick in the teeth".
Read more on life in the London Ambulance Service here .
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:11

When will you be eligible for Covid vaccine?

The next stage of the UK government's coronavirus vaccine plan has started today, with the over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable now being invited to have their jab from this week.
More than 3.8 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.
Broadly, vaccines are being given to the most vulnerable first, as set out in a list of nine high-priority groups , covering about 25 million people in the UK.
They are thought to represent 90-99% of those at risk of dying from Covid-19.
So far the first four of those groups are starting to get vaccinated. They are:

  1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
  2. 80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. 75-year-olds and over
  4. 70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals


And what is the plan from here? This is what the government is aiming to do:

  • vaccinate every care home resident by the end of January
  • everyone over 70, NHS frontline staff, care workers and anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable by mid-February
  • the rest of the priority groups and over-50s after that, possibly by May
  • every adult in the UK by September

Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:18

Hard-hit Brazil starts vaccine roll-out

Brazil, which has the world's second-highest Covid-19 death toll, has started its vaccination roll-out , as infections continue to surge across the country.
On Sunday, regulator Anvisa gave the green light to vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac. Moments later, Monica Calazans, a 54-year-old nurse in São Paulo, became the first person to be inoculated with CoronaVac, developed by Sinovac.
About six million CoronaVac doses have already been produced in Brazil while the government is waiting shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine from a laboratory in India.
The news comes after revelations that a new coronavirus variant has emerged in Brazil, with several cases being traced back to the country's Amazonas state, where a state of emergency is in place. Manaus, the state capital, has been hit especially hard, with beds and life-saving oxygen running low.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for his handling of the pandemic. He has played down the severity of the virus from the beginning, promoted an unproven treatment for the disease and gone against measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
More than 209,000 Covid-related deaths have been recorded in Brazil, a figure only exceeded by the US. Over 8.4 million infections have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic - the third-highest tally in the world.

Queues at Heathrow as UK quarantine rules come in

Passengers arriving in the UK have faced queues of more than an hour as quarantine rules came into force this morning.
The ban on quarantine-free travel to the UK came in at 04:00 GMT in a bid to keep out new variants of coronavirus, with travellers required to self-isolate for 10 days.
People must also provide a negative test taken within 72 hours of their departure to the UK.
Andy Hart from London, who arrived into London Heathrow's Terminal 5 with his partner on Monday morning from Nairobi, said he was "shocked and disappointed" to see the queues at passport control.
He said: "We felt unsafe. We felt that even though everyone was masked they were far too close together. It took an hour and 10 minutes."
Richard Bradley, who also arrived from Nairobi along with his son Joseph after a Christmas break with family, described the queue at passport control as "pretty substantial".
"There were a couple of people in our queue whose tests may have been outside the required 72 hours, so that was causing a lot of grief and discussion," he said.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:23

Covid cases confirmed in US-bound migrant caravan

Guatemala's government has said 21 people, who are part of a group of thousands of migrants trying to reach the US, have tested positive for Covid-19.
The cases were confirmed after they sought medical assistance, following clashes between the group - known as the "caravan" - and Guatemala's security forces at the country's border with Honduras.
The security forces pushed the migrants back with truncheons and tear gas as they tried to enter Guatemala. Several people were injured.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:29

People with medical exemptions fear abuse for not wearing masks

BBC Newsbeat
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Georgina Spray says she is afraid she will face abuse if she uses her mask exemption

As many of the major supermarkets say they are cracking down on people not wearing masks, people who have medical exemptions for mask-wearing are increasingly concerned they have no way to prove it.
Georgina Spray, who is 21 and has an exemption due to the sensory issues she experiences with her autism, says she wears a mask anyway because she is afraid of confrontations .
She told BBC Newsbeat that when she wear a face covering "my heart races, I get really hot and start sweating, I start shaking, all the noise in the shop seems to get louder and the lights seem to get brighter".
"It is stressful enough going into a shop when you have autism - with the background music, beeps of the till, customer announcements, people talking, bright lights, humming of the fridges and freezers. Adding a face covering is too much for many autistic people to bear," she says.
She says she has seen videos online of people being abused for not wearing masks and adds: "I know I wouldn't be able to stand up for myself."
Drew Miller Hyndman, disability reporter for BBC Ouch, says people are calling for the sunflower lanyard - an established way for people with invisible disabilities to signal their impairment - to be recognised for mask exemptions.

Malawi introduces new restrictions

Malawi is closing schools for at least 15 days in a bid to combat a surge in cases.
In a televised address, President Lazarus Chakwera also announced a night-time curfew from 21:00 local time.
All gatherings will be restricted to no more than 50 people.
The restrictions come into effect on Monday.
The country is currently in a period of national mourning following the deaths of two senior cabinet ministers from Covid-19.
A third of Malawi’s 300 Covid deaths have taken place this month.
“The time has come to enforce these things for the common good,” Mr Chakwera said.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:33

Restrictions could be gradually lifted from March, says vaccine minister

With the UK on course to vaccinate 15 million of the most vulnerable people by mid-February, Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said they would start to receive some protection two or three weeks later.
He told BBC Breakfast that 88% of deaths have been from people in these top four priority groups. Once they were protected, it could allow a gradual easing of restrictions, he said.
But he said there were a "number of caveats" to reopening because scientists do not yet know how effective the vaccines will be at preventing the virus from spreading, as well as stopping serious illness.
Zahawi said that immunising all nine priority groups - the target for the spring - would address 99% of all mortality. "Then we really can begin to have the confidence to reopen," he said.

Man 'too scared to fly' lived in airport for months

A man who was too afraid to fly due to the pandemic lived undetected in a secure area of Chicago’s international airport for three months, according to US prosecutors.
Aditya Singh, 36, arrived at the airport following a flight from Los Angeles International Airport on 19 October.
He allegedly survived on handouts from other passengers.
Singh was arrested on Saturday after showing an identification badge that allegedly belonged to a member of staff who had lost it in October.
He was "scared to go home due to Covid", Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hagerty said.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:35

Nine people linked to Australian Open confirmed infected

At least nine infected people, including a tennis player, are in quarantine in Melbourne after arriving in thecity for the Australian Open tournament .
The staging of the international event has been debated in Australia given the country’s very low virus numbers and strict entry rules.
Players have also expressed frustration about being confined to hotel rooms full-time while many rivals are not.
Victoria state's premier Daniel Andrews says: "I know there's been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules. Well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came."
"That was the condition on which they came. There's no special treatment here," he says
Officials have said the Grand Slam will go ahead despite the disruptions.
Read more here

Barra outbreak 'serious' as cases rise to 39


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The serious outbreak of coronavirus on the Scottish island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides is "escalating", the NHS says.
Covid-19 cases have increased to 39, according to NHS Western Isles.
On Sunday the health board said there had been 12 new positive tests related to the Barra outbreak, which first emerged more than a week ago.
On Barra, those who have tested positive along with more than 100 close contacts are self isolating. The number in isolation represents about a 10th of the island's total population.
Separately, two new cases were also identified in a smaller outbreak on the island of Benbecula.
The total of four Benbecula cases include a member of the US defence services who had arrived on the island for a naval exercise at the Hebrides Range, a military rocket firing facility.
The US Missile Defence Agency said all US and UK Covid protocols were followed.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:37

Israel publishes data-for-vaccines deal with Pfizer

Israel has published details of a deal to trade data with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer in return for a steady supply of its coronavirus vaccine, after concerns were expressed over possible privacy violations.
Under the arrangement, Israel will send weekly updates on the numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalisations, patients in a serious condition and those on a ventilator, as well as the number of vaccinations performed. They will be broken down by age, gender and demographic background, but “no identifiable health information” will be shared .
The BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem says some parts of the published contract have been blacked out, but that it shows how Israel has effectively become a real-time results dashboard for Pfizer. The contract says its goal is to see what proportion of Israel’s population needs to be vaccinated to achieve so-called herd immunity.
Some 2.1 million Israelis have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine - a greater proportion of its population than any other country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that he hoped the Pfizer deal would mean Israel became “the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus”.
In a separate development, Israel’s coronavirus czar has said people will no longer have to self-isolate after being exposed to someone who tests positive if a week has elapsed since they got the second dose of the vaccine.
Other experts have said not enough information is available to determine whether getting a vaccine will prevent someone from spreading the virus that causes Covid-19 to other people.

Covid set to be leading cause of death in Wales for 2020

Covid-19 was the leading cause of death in Wales in 2020, according to provisional data.
Figures for December show it was the leading cause of death for the second successive month , accounting for 27.4% of all registered deaths, the Office for National Statistics said.
The mortality rate rose "significantly" for a third month, to 374.4 deaths per 100,000 people in Wales.
Figures for December showed it was at the highest rate since the peak in April.
It is also higher than any region of England, where Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest mortality rate (320.5 deaths per 100,000). The English average was 233.6.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:39

Vaccine roll-outs and hospitals under pressure: Lunchtime round-up

If you're just joining us, here's a chance to catch up with today's main stories from the UK:
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 13:42

Schools reopen in Nigeria

Schools have reopened in Nigeria, despite calls for them to remain closed for several months due to the rising number of Covid cases.
Nigeria has recorded more than 10,000 infections in the last week.
It is the first time students are back in school since mid-December, when the country declared a second wave of new infections.
University students are also returning to in-person learning. They have been at home for almost a year due to a strike by lecturers.
Nigeria has recorded more than 110,387 cases and 1,435 deaths.

Health Secretary to lead Downing Street briefing

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to lead a Downing Street briefing later today, No 10 has said.
It comes as the UK is to begin giving the coronavirus vaccine to millions more people - those aged over 70 and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Today marks a significant milestone as we offer vaccinations to millions more people who are most at risk from Covid-19.
"We have a long way to go and there will be challenges ahead - but together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus."

No decision has been made on Universal Credit'

The government has made "no decision" on whether to keep an uplift to Universal Credit, Downing Street says.
"We haven't said whether or not we will continue," says the Prime Minister's press secretary, Allegra Stratton, ahead of Labour's Commons debate on the matter later.
Labour will use the debate and this evening's vote to ramp up the pressure on the government to keep the universal credit uplift, worth £1,000 a year, beyond 31 March.
The government has told its MPs to abstain, but some Conservatives have argued the increase should be extended.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says the £20 Universal Credit increase "has been the difference between making ends meet or not for many, many families".
Stratton says: "We know it runs out at the end of March, we know that households want to know what is coming next and [the Chancellor] is going to come forward with more information shortly.
She declined to state when the Chancellor would make his update, other than saying it would come "ahead of" the end of the uplift and in the "weeks to come".
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 15:44

Breaking News

US Capitol on lockdown due to 'security threat'

The Capitol building in Washington DC is on lockdown owing to a security threat, two days before Joe Biden is inaugurated as US president.
The Capitol, which is home to the US Congress, was attacked by a pro-Trump mob on 6 January, leaving five dead.
Reporters at the scene say an emergency announcement is playing and a rehearsal for Mr Biden's inauguration has been suspended.
Security is tight, with thousands of National Guard members deployed.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 15:53

Germany's foreign minister calls on people not to use term 'English variant'

Germany’s foreign minister has called on people not to refer to the Covid mutation first detected in the UK as “the English variant”.
“Just as we didn’t talk about the ‘Chinese virus’ last year, now we shouldn’t talk about the ‘English variant,’” he said on Monday.
Last month, officials said the new strain of the virus has been in Germany since November. It was found in an elderly man who later died. His wife also caught the virus but later recovered.
His daughter had flown to Frankfurt from London and tested positive for the virus .
After the virus was discovered in China, it was given the official name Covid-19. Researchers had called for an official name to avoid confusion and stigmatisation of any group or country .
At the time, the World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.”

Who is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable?

Among those set to be invited for vaccinations from today in England are people listed as "clinically extremely vulnerable". But what does that mean?
People are classed as "clinically extremely vulnerable" if they have a certain condition, or if their clinician has added them to the shielded patient list because they deem them to be at higher risk of serious illness if they catch Covid.
These are the conditions which automatically place someone in the clinically extremely vulnerable category:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:

- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people receiving immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people receiving other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

  • people with severe respiratory conditions, including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • people with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency, and homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase the risk of infection
  • people with problems with their spleen, for example those who have had their spleen removed
  • adults with Down’s syndrome
  • adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage five)
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 16:17

'I don't wash my own hair' says tennis player's girlfriend

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Novak Djokovic was told players will not receive special treatment

We told you earlier about the tennis players confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks before the Australian Open, having arrived on a flight with infected travellers.
Well world number one Novak Djokovic has made a series of demands for them. But the government in Victoria says players "will not be given any special treatment".
"The virus doesn't treat you specially, so neither do we," says Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.

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Vanessa Sierra

Meanwhile, Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic and his girlfriend Vanessa Sierra have come under fire after she made a video complaining about the hotel food and that she could not get someone to wash her hair.
“This is the worst part of quarantine: I don’t wash my own hair. I've never washed my own hair. It's just not something I do. I normally have hairdressers do it twice a week for me. This is the situation that we're dealing with,” she says.
Tennis player Nick Kyrgios reacted by tweeting: "Djokovic is a tool. I don't mind Bernie but his Mrs obviously has no perspective, ridiculous scenes."
Find out how other players are focussing on the competition ahead and coming up with ways to train in their rooms.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 16:21

London has given fewest vaccines

London has administered the lowest number of vaccinations in England's regions so far, NHS England data shows.
A total of 417,225 jabs were given to people in the capital between 8 December and 17 January, including 367,209 first doses and 50,016 second doses.
This compares to 746,487 total jabs in the Midlands, 681,317 in the North East and Yorkshire, 541,145 in the North West, 652,350 in the South East, 461,792 in the South West and 424,135 in the East of England.

PM won't be drawn on universal credit extension

The prime minister has been speaking to the media on a visit to a vaccination centre in Oxford where he has refused to say whether a £20 per week increase to universal credit will be extended beyond March.
Boris Johnson says the government wants to "support people throughout the pandemic" but will not be drawn on whether he would back the measure which parliament is due to take a non-binding vote on later today.
On vaccines, Mr Johnson says "we have done about four million people which is encouraging" and adds the government is getting the vaccine out "as fast as we can".
Asked whether there is a "postcode lottery" for vaccine delivery, the prime minister says the "whole of the UK is going very well and overall the pace of the rollout is encouraging".
He adds that easing of restrictions will be "gradual" and warns "we are not out of the woods yet".
"You can't just open up in a great 'open sesame', a great bang, because I am afraid the situation is still quite precarious," he says.

New variant blamed for rise in child cases on Anglesey

Weeks after parts of southern and eastern England saw a surge in cases attributed to a new, more transmissable variant, it is still spreading across the country.
Now it's being blamed for a rise in infections among children on the island of Anglesey in north Wales.
The number of children testing positive more than doubled between early December and early January, from 14 to 32.
The local authority warned it was vital children did not mix outside their home or support bubble, as 87.5% of cases came from household transmission.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 16:24

Test and Trace boss says system having 'material impact'

The chair of the NHS Test and Trace programme says close to 1,000 people per minute are being tested, as she defends the system to MPs.
Baroness Dido Harding tells the Commons Public Accounts Committee: "In terms of numbers, every minute yesterday 965 people were swabbed or swabbing themselves throughout the day.
"In the first two weeks of the new year, we've tested over 7.5 million people. In the last week of published data - so the first week of January - our contact tracers successfully reached a million people, both people who tested positive and their close contacts."
She says she thinks the NHS Test and Trace service is having a "material impact" on tackling coronavirus and says: "There is no doubt that as we have built and scaled the service, we have learnt more and more and we are now hitting all of the operational contact tracing targets that Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) set us."

Partygoers' lockdown breach excuse: 'We never watch the news'

People attending a party in breach of lockdown regulations told police that they "never watch the news" so they were unaware of the pandemic .
Hampshire Constabulary tweeted about the illegal gathering on Saturday evening in Basingstoke, using the hashtag #ThereAreNoWords.
The force said it was investigating "with a view to reporting the individuals involved for summons following a Covid breach".
Police can issue fines of up to £200 for a first-time breach of coronavirus regulations, with a fine of up to £10,000 for organising an unlawful gathering of more than 30 people.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 16:28

How is the race to vaccinate the world progressing?

Israel continues to have the fastest vaccination rate and has now given out 27.1 vaccine doses for every 100 people.
It's followed by the United Arab Emirates, where the rate is 19 doses per 100 people.
The UK is in fourth place (6.4 doses per 100 people) and the US follows behind with 3.7 per 100 people.

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Here's that data on a map, which shows that much of the world has given between 1 and 10 doses per 100 people, or less. But for a majority of countries there is no data on any vaccination programme yet.

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The vaccination effort comes as global coronavirus cases are accelerating towards 100 million.

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More than two million people have died worldwide from the virus, with 8,528 reported in the most recent daily figure.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 16:33

Breaking News 
update

US Capitol lockdown: Nearby fire sparks security alert

The Capitol complex in Washington DC was briefly locked down after a security alert, two days before Joe Biden is inaugurated as US president.
Police say they acted out of an abundance of caution after witnesses reported smoke rising nearby. The fire was several blocks away.
A rehearsal for Mr Biden's inauguration was suspended.
Five people died on 6 January when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, which is home to the US Congress.
Security is tight, with thousands of National Guard members deployed at the Capitol and around central Washington DC.
An alert circulated earlier to Capitol staff said the complex was on lockdown, with no-one being allowed in or out.
But the Washington DC fire service later said it had responded to a fire nearby, which was now extinguished.
There was no threat to the public, officials said.
All 50 US states and the District of Columbia (DC) are on alert for possible violent protests, ahead of Mr Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.
The FBI has warned of possible armed marches by pro-Trump supporters across state capitols.
Congress is currently in recess and will not reconvene until after the inauguration.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 17:46

.
Breaking News 

A further 37,535 test positive in UK

A further 37,535 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 314,980.
There have been a further 599 deaths, of people who had tested positive within the previous 28 days.
The total number of UK deaths stands at 89,860.
More than four million people in the UK have now been vaccinated, with the latest figures putting the total at 4,062,501.


Dublin hospital gives staff relatives leftover vaccines


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The Irish health minister will be seeking a "full account" after leftover vaccines were given to some relatives of staff at a Dublin hospital.
Stephen Donnelly said the incident, on 8 January at Coombe Maternity Hospital, "should not have happened".
The hospital said that by 21:00 local time that day there were 16 vaccine doses left after 1,100 staff, GPs and health workers were vaccinated.
As first reported by the Irish Times , the hospital Master, Prof Michael O'Connell said that the decision had been taken to "ensure that not a single reconstituted vaccine was wasted."
But he says: "in hindsight, as master I deeply regret that family members of employees were vaccinated and for that I wholeheartedly apologise."
Meanwhile, a respiratory consultant and clinical director for the Department of Medicine and Covid Lead in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda has said he had "sympathy" for the Coombe Hospital in these circumstances.
Dr Ian Counihan told Irish broadcaster RTÉ that once the vaccine is thawed and drawn-up, it must be administered within a certain period of time or the vaccine doses would be lost.
You can read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 18:27

Key lines from the Downing Street press conference

Health Secretary Matt Hancock led this afternoon's Downing Street press conference.
Here are some of the key points from the briefing.

  • The coronavirus outbreak is being brought under control, Hancock said, but he urged the public: "Don't blow it now. We are on the route out."
  • More than four million people have now been vaccinated against coronavirus
  • Hancock says weekly averages for vaccines are "going up, and up fast"
  • He says vaccine supply is the "rate-limiting factor", adding that in the NHS, people were saying: "Give us more supply and we will jab it into more arms."
  • It will be "some time" before the Covid-19 vaccination programme begins to reduce pressures on hospitals however, NHS England's national medical director Prof Stephen Powis says
  • There are now more people in hospital than at any time during the pandemic, with a new patient being admitted every 30 seconds
  • Prof Powis says there is increasing pressure on the NHS, with 15,000 admitted since Christmas Eve
  • It's not yet known when schools will reopen, with Dr Susan Hopkins of NHS Test and Trace, saying it would depend on what happens in the coming weeks
  • Asked if people can plan their holidays yet, Hancock says he will go to Cornwall for a summer break and spoke of the promise of a "great British summer" - but admitted "we have got a lot of work to do by then"
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 18:32

Universal credit: All options on the table for PM and Sunak

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor

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Remember at the start of the pandemic the prime minister and the chancellor said they would "put their arms around" everyone at a time of genuine emergency.
Even then it was a political promise that seemed unlikely to be kept.
But as the health nightmare of Covid-19 unfolded, the country's doors closed and the economy took a thumping, ministers presided over a massive and very expensive expansion of the state.
That included raising the amount of universal credit, the benefit that's paid to about six million people on low incomes or out of work, by £20 a week.
With the basic level of the benefit starting at about £340 a month for single people under 25, that money has made a real difference.
As one recipient, Carl Hackshaw from Croydon, told me on Monday, that increase meant that he's gone from "having to go without to having barely enough" .
The looming political problem for the government is that the £20 top-up is due to stop at the end of March.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 18:49

UK records worlds highest death toll in past week

Pamela Duncan - The Guardian
The UK had the highest Covid death toll in the world in the week to 17 January with 16.5 deaths per 1 million people on average, according to Our World in Data .
The average weekly Covid death toll puts the UK a whisker ahead of Czechia which recorded 16.3 deaths per 1 million population in the same timeframe.
When instead measured by Covid total deaths per 1 million people the UK is currently listed among the worst seven countries worldwide.
At 1,317 cumulative Covid deaths per population the UK death count is lower than San Marino (1,915), Belgium (1,763), Slovenia (1,530), Italy (1,359), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1,344) and Czechia (1,339) according to the Our World in Data figures.
There are differences in the way countries count coronavirus deaths which makes international comparisons difficult.
The figures used by Our World in Data uses the number of deaths as reported by the UK government each day, however those figures do not necessarily reflect the actual death toll as per date of death.
The gold standard for international comparisons is to compare excess deaths, but these take longer for the international statistics bodies to collect, check and report.

Spain's new Covid cases hit weekend record of 84,287

Spain has reported a record jump in Covid infections over the weekend, with the number of new cases measured over the past 14 days spiking at 689 per 100,000 people on Monday from 575 on Friday, according to health ministry data.
Nearly 84,300 new cases were reported since Friday, bringing the total to 2,336,451. Deaths rose by 455 over the same period to 53,769.
The health ministry has ruled out a return to nationwide confinement despite calls from regional administrations for tougher measures amid rising infections.
See earlier posts for the latest on Spain’s second round of vaccinations.

Czech Republic confirms detection of UK Covid variant

The Czech Republic has confirmed the detection of the new, more transmissible variant of coronavirus first found in Britain, news agency CTK quoted the National Institute of Public Health as saying on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the institute was not immediately available for comment.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 18:55

New evidence that South African variant is more infectious - scientist

Scientists have new biological evidence that a South African variant of Covid-19 binds more readily to human cells, making it more infectious, according to one of the world’s leading infectious disease experts.
Prof Abdool Karim, the epidemiologist who led South Africa’s fight against HIV/Aids, has been taking part in a live discussion (listen here ) on South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
He was speaking at the presentation of research into the variant, known as 501Y.V2, by a team of scientists, including researchers who looked at cases in the Western Cape and other areas.. The variant was identified by South African genomics experts late last year.
At this point there is no evidence of increased mortality, although that may change as more pressure is put on the health care system in South Africa .

Portugal's Covid daily deaths hit new record

Portugal’s daily death toll from the coronavirus reached a record high of 167 on Monday, bringing the total to 9,028 deaths since the start of the pandemic, health authority DGS said.
The country of 10 million people , which is under lockdown to halt the spread of the virus, also reported a record 664 Covid patients in intensive care units at a time when hospitals are struggling to cope with a surge in infections.
“The impact is huge because the number of beds doesn’t increase, the walls are not expandable and health workers are not multiplying,” Antonio Pais de Lacerda, a doctor at Lisbon’s biggest hospital, Santa Maria, told Reuters.

Greece presses case for Covid vaccine passports but other EU states wary

Shops in Greece reopened for the first time in two months on Monday as the government took its first cautious steps towards easing Covid curbs, in an effort to re-vitalise the beleaguered retail sector.
Retailers selling non-essential items were allowed to serve customers under heavy restrictions, with shoppers required to register by instant message and book appointments with hair salons.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 19:04

Germany to impose compulsory wearing of full protective masks

Philip Oltermann - The Guardian
Germany is weighing up following Austria and Bavaria’s lead in making it compulsory to wear full protective filter masks on public transport and in shops, as the country remains on high alert about the impact of possible coronavirus mutations.
The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced on Sunday that wearing single-use filtering facepiece respirator, or FFP2, masks would become mandatory on public transport and in shops from 25 January, as the Alpine state moves to extend its national lockdown until 7 February.
In Germany’s largest and southernmost state Bavaria, a similar requirement for trains, trams, buses and supermarkets came into force on Monday, though the new rule will not be policed until 24 January and allows for exemptions for bus drivers, ticket inspectors and children under the age of 15.

Quarantine for employees and guests of two luxury hotels in St Moritz

Officials in the Swiss mountain resort of St Moritz have quarantined employees and guests of two luxury hotels, closed ski schools and kept schoolchildren home from class after a dozen positive tests for a highly infectious Covid variant.
About 300 employees and 95 guests at the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski St Moritz and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel were quarantined.
Those under quarantine will be tested and those receiving positive tests isolated, while people testing negative may be able to leave (but must follow quarantine rules once they arrive home), a spokesman for the region’s coronavirus task force said.
The nationalities of those affected were not revealed.

WHO raises concerns about unequal distribution of vaccines in Israel

The World Health Organization has raised “concerns” about the unequal distribution of Covid vaccines in Israel , which has given shots to more than a fifth of its population, and the occupied territories, where Palestinians have yet to receive any, an official said Monday.
Rights groups say Israel has a duty as an occupying power to provide vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza .
Israel claims it has no such obligation, arguing that its own population — including Arab citizens — is the priority, but that at some stage it may consider sharing its supplies.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 19:14

Stricter lockdown rules to be imposed in Portugal

Stricter lockdown rules are being enacted in Portugal to try and contain the spread of Covid-19 which is pushing hospitals to their full capacities.
António Costa, the prime minister, said too many people had taken advantage of exceptions included in the lockdown that began last Friday, with authorities reporting 70% of normal movement over the weekend.
“We are going through the most serious phase of the pandemic” so far, Costa said, adding: “This is no time for finding loopholes in the law.”
Under the new rules, January sales at stores are to be banned, as are gatherings of any number of people in public areas, while more police will be deployed outside schools, which remain open, to prevent students forming groups.
Travelling between districts is to be prohibited at weekends, with supermarkets and stores having to operate within shorter opening times.

Summary from The Guardian:

Here is a quick re-cap of the main recent Covid news from around the world:
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 20:38

Care homes in hard-hit Chinese city show how elderly are being protected

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst

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Although it has been common to hear and see the impact on care homes internationally throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, one country where such insight has been rare is China.
Private care homes have been growing in popularity in China in recent years, but there are some stigmas associated with the industry.
In China, many view nursing homes as going against the cultural concept of “filial piety”. This is the belief that the young should respect for and care for their elders, and so many believe the elderly should live with their children, and not live in care homes.
However, as cases of the virus grow in the northeast of the country, the official broadcaster CCTV has offered viewers a rare insight into how China’s elderly in these facilities are being protected.
A journalist today has visited the Shijiazhuang Nursing Home. Shijiazhuang is the Chinese city that has been hardest hit by the virus in recent weeks .
In a 30-minute livestream in which he is clad in hazmat suit and visor, journalist Gu Junling introduces viewers to how the facilities are kept safe, and shows viewers inside the care home’s stockrooms, packed with ample provisions for its residents.
Many of the residents seem happy to speak to the journalist and talk about how they are healthy, and happy. Masks are mandatory for both residents and staff, even in the areas outside on-site. However, far from being kept under house arrest, residents are shown to have sufficient space to go outside, use computers and games rooms.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 20:43

EasyJet Holidays sees summer bookings surge 250%

Tougher lockdown rules across Europe, the closure of air corridors, and uncertainty about travel now the UK has left the EU, have piled more pressure on the airline industry at the start of 2021.
But EasyJet says bookings for this summer with its holidays arm are up 250% on last season, fuelling the airline industry's hopes of pent up demand for when lockdown restrictions ease.
Its chief executive Johan Lundgren tells the BBC it offers confidence for the travel market post-coronavirus.
"We know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can," he says, adding that May is currently the most popular month for holiday bookings.
Earlier Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked if people can plan their holidays yet. He replied that he will go to Cornwall for a summer break, saying "we have got a lot of work to do by then".
Read more here

MPs back non-binding motion to extend universal credit

MPs have voted to extend the temporary £20 a week increase to universal credit introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and due to stop at the start of April.
The Labour motion backing an extension passed by 278 votes to none, but it is not binding.
The government - which dismissed the vote as a stunt - ordered its MPs to abstain. Labour says ministers have missed an opportunity to give families certainty and help the economy.
Read more here

'Vaccines arrive with only a few hours notice to find patients'

Doctors giving Covid vaccinations say it has been "challenging" when deliveries of the jab arrived with only a few hours' notice.
The centre has been set up at the JCB factory in Rocester, near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire by several GP practices in Cheadle.
The medics say they can get through about 900 jabs a day but Dr David Yates told the BBC they often get about 12 hours' notice of new stocks arriving.
"Yesterday we suddenly got told we had 900 vaccines, which is a whole other batch of the Pfizer ones," he said.
"I think by last night we had 170 people booked in ready with people frantically on the phones all day."
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Post by Kitkat Mon Jan 18 2021, 20:45

What's happened in the UK and around the world?

We are pausing our coronavirus live page for now, but we’ll be back on Tuesday morning. Here’s a recap of today’s main stories:

  • With the highest number of hospital admissions since the pandemic began, the BBC's Clive Myrie has been to the Royal London Hospital where he has spent time with staff struggling to cope , as well as one family experiencing the loss of a loved one
  • More than four million people in the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to government figures
  • The Commons has backed a non-binding Labour motion calling for the £20 increase in Universal Credit to be continued beyond March.
  • The vote was non-binding because the government - which dismissed the vote as a stunt - ordered its MPs to abstain.
  • Wales' first minister has been accused of a "go-slow" vaccination strategy after he defended the speed of the Covid jab roll-out
  • Tennis payers living under strict quarantine rules after arriving for the Australian Open will get "no special treatment", says Victorian premier Daniel Andrews
  • EasyJet says bookings for this summer with its holidays arm are up 250% on last season , fuelling the airline industry's hopes of pent up demand for when lockdown restrictions ease
  • A nurse has received Brazil's first Covid-19 vaccine dose after regulators gave emergency approval to two jabs


Thank you and good evening

That's all for today - thanks for following.
Updates were brought to you by Doug Faulkner, Emma Harrison, Gavin Stamp, James Clarke, Joseph Lee, Julian Joyce, Jennifer Meierhans, Lauren Turner and Sophie Williams.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:47