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Coronavirus - 19th February 2021


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Location : Around the bend

Coronavirus - 19th February 2021 Empty Coronavirus - 19th February 2021

Post by Kitkat Fri Feb 19 2021, 22:24

Summary for Friday, 19th February

  • "We've got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic," UK PM Boris Johnson tells a meeting of the G7 nations
  • "Science is finally getting the upper hand on Covid, which is a great, great thing and long overdue," Johnson says to the other G7 leaders
  • Ursula von der Leyen announces the EU is doubling its contribution to the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination programme
  • About 553,000 people in the UK were estimated to be testing positive for coronavirus in the week to 12 February, the ONS says
  • This is roughly 1 in 115 people, down from 790,000 people or 1 in 80 the week before - and rates are falling in all four UK nations
  • The UK's R number is between 0.6 and 0.9, according to latest government estimates
  • First Minister Mark Drakeford says the Welsh government is able to make "modest changes" to lockdown regulations
  • Four people from two different homes will be able to exercise together from Saturday in Wales and weddings can resume next week

Welcome to today’s live page. Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the UK:

Latest around Europe

  • A dramatic day awaits in the Netherlands as the government fights to maintain its overnight Covid curfew. Mark Rutte's caretaker government will appeal this morning against a court’s decision to lift the 21:00-04:30 curfew because ministers used national emergency legislation. In case the appeal fails, a new curfew law will be heard by the upper house of parliament to replace it.
  • Germany has reportedly appointed a special commissioner to help speed up the supply of vaccines. Spiegel website says Christoph Krupp’s job will be to help companies accelerate production and act as their point man with the government. Germany has so far given almost three million people, 3.6% of the population, an initial dose.
  • France has increased isolation periods for people infected with Covid-19 from seven to 10 days. Health minister Olivier Véran says some scientific studies suggest new variants mean you could be infectious for longer. France says one million people have now had both shots of the Covid vaccine.
  • Italy’s new PM Mario Draghi easily won his confidence vote by MPs last night by 535 votes to 56. The former head of the European Central Bank won backing across the political spectrum, from the centre-left to the far right.
  • If you work at the Vatican and refuse to get vaccinated you could lose your job under a new decree. The Vatican says staff will need to provide a medical reason for not having the jab or face the consequences.

What the UK papers say

The suggestion one jab of either the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines can cut Covid infections by two thirds is the main story for the Daily Telegraph . It says early research by Public Health England shows a similar reduction in infection across all age groups.
The paper describes it as "the vaccine data that paves the way back to freedom".
Government advisers will recommend the next phase of the vaccine rollout continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers, according to the lead story in the Daily Mail .
The Mail says the age brackets will be widened and those between 40 and 49 years old could be invited for a jab within a matter of weeks.
The i paper leads with an opinion poll that suggests the public remains cautious about the scale of how quickly we lift the lockdown .
It says a majority of those questioned supported the reopening of schools on 8 March and of non-essential shops by April. But most remained hesitant about pubs and restaurants opening their doors within the next two months.
Read more.

'We are in a race with the virus'

Richer nations have been accused of hoarding vaccines at the expense of poorer ones.
Some high-income nations, such as the UK and Canada, have ordered enough doses to vaccinate their populations more than once.
At Friday's virtual meeting of the G7 - a club of seven leading economic powers - world leaders are expected to acknowledge the vaccine deficit.
Boris Johnson will pledge to donate a majority of the UK's surplus vaccine supply to Covax - a UN initiative intended to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.
Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, says the PM's pledge shows "terrific leadership" - and he hopes other G7 partners would follow his lead.
He tells Radio 4's Today programme: "We know that we are in a race with the virus and the longer the virus circulates and transmission is high, the more likely we are to see the emergence of mutations that may render our vaccines useless.
“If we don’t reduce transmission globally as quickly as possible, we will continue fighting this pandemic for much longer than we need to.”

Wales leader hopes 'stay home' rule can end in March

First minister Mark Drakeford says he hopes this will be the final three weeks of lockdown in Wales.
Drakeford says any change depended on case rates falling.
The First Minister has also confirmed he hopes primary school children aged eight and over may be able to return to school from 15 March, providing Covid cases continue to fall.
Children aged between three and seven - those in the foundation phase - are returning to school from Monday .
While Wales's case rate is at its lowest since September last year, the Welsh Government says the stay-at-home restrictions are currently needed to ensure a safe return to school.
The announcement is the latest three-week review of the coronavirus lockdown, which was imposed in Wales before Christmas .
The government says the next review will "consider the restrictions around non-essential retail and close contact services".
Further down the line, talks are taking place on reopening tourism in time for Easter .
Read more.

Vaccine shortage sees Portugal focus on elderly and vulnerable

Alison Roberts - Portugal Correspondent, Lisbon
Portugal has temporarily slowed down the vaccination of key workers such as police, armed forces and firefighters because of a shortage of doses.
Henrique Gouveia e Melo, head of Portugal's vaccination taskforce said the focus must be on "saving lives".
He said 90% of available doses will now be given to just two groups: people aged 80 and over, and people aged between 50 and 79 who have heart, coronary, kidney and severe respiratory diseases.
Only the remaining 10% will be given to the groups of specifiedkey workers.
Mr Gouveia e Melo said the government was "focusing the response on what is, at the moment, more pressing and essential."
However, he stressed the inoculation of front-line health workers and staff and residents in care homes was nearly complete.
Portugal, like other European Union member states, is seeing itsvaccination programme affected by production bottlenecks.
In March, it now expects to receive fewer than half the number of doses initially agreed with manufacturers.

Covid-related deaths in N Ireland fall for third week

Louise Cullen - BBC News NI
The number of Covid-related deaths registered in Northern Ireland has fallen for a third week.
The NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) said the virus was mentioned on the death certificates of 99 people, in the week ending 12 February - 27 fewer than the previous week.
It brings the total number of Covid-related deaths in Northern Ireland to 2,673 by Nisra's calculations.
The Department of Health's total for the same date, based on a positive test result being recorded, was 1,985.
Nisra's figures are higher, because it records mentions of the virus on death certificates, where it may or may not have been confirmed by way of a test.
People aged 75 and over account for more than three-quarters of all Covid-related registered deaths (76.9%) between 19 March 2020 and 12 February 2021.
Read more.

Covid infections continue to fall across UK

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Infections decreased across the UK in the week to 12 February, the latest figures from the ONS infection survey suggest.
About 553,000 people in the UK were estimated to be testing positive for coronavirus in the latest data.
This is roughly 1 in 115 people, down from 790,000 people or 1 in 80 the week before.
Scotland has noticeably lower prevalence than the other nations.
According to the figures:

  • 1 in 115 tested positive in England down from 1 in 80 last week and 1 in 65 the week before
  • 1 in 125 in Wales down from 1 in 85 last week and 1 in 70 the week before
  • 1 in 105 in Northern Ireland down from 1 in 75 last week and 1 in 65 the week
  • And 1 in 180 in Scotland down from 1 in 150 last week and 1 in 115 the week before

'Modest changes' to lockdown rules in Wales

As many as four people from two different homes will be able to exercise together from Saturday in Wales
First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the Welsh government is now able to make "modest changes" to lockdown regulations.
Wales was taking "some first cautious steps to relax some of the strictest lockdown restrictions", Drakeford said.
"From tomorrow, we will change the rules to allow up to four people from two different households to exercise outdoors together, helping people who have been struggling with lockdown.
"But this does not mean you can now drive somewhere to exercise and it does not mean socialising."
Weddings and civil partnerships are to be allowed from next week - with venues such as visitor attractions and hotels allowed to reopen, but only to perform ceremonies
Drakeford said the Welsh government would also look again at guidance for care homes visits "in coming weeks", as residents and those working in the homes were increasingly vaccinated.

England Covid infections down but vary by region

While the latest data shows that the number of coronavirus infections across England has decreased , the North West had the highest proportion of people of any region in the country likely to test positive.
The latest Office for National Statistics figures estimate that around one in 85 people in private households in the North West had Covid-19 in the week to 12 February.
For London, the estimate was one in 100, and in the West Midlands it was one in 110.
Other estimates from the ONS infection survey suggest one in 120 people for the East Midlands and for Yorkshire and the Humber; one in 125 people for eastern England; and one in 135 for north-east England, south-east England and south-west England.

Russia offers Africa 300m vaccine doses

One of the regions most left behind in the global rush to secure vaccines is Africa - just a handful of countries have started mass inoculation programmes as the continent struggled to get hold of doses.
Now Russia has offered the African Union (AU) 300 million doses of its Covid vaccine, Sputnik V, reports Reuters news agency.
The doses will be available for 12 months starting in May, the AU says. It's one of the biggest supply deals of Sputnik to date.
The AU has previously secured 270 million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for delivery this year.
"We are grateful to receive the Sputnik V vaccines from the Russian Federation and tremendously proud to be able to offer them... for our AU Member States," said AU official John Nkengasong.

PM still working on 'roadmap' to ease lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to spend the weekend finalising his "roadmap" for easing Covid restrictions in England and opening up the economy.
The government is "crunching the numbers" ahead of Monday's announcement, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly says.
New data is expected to suggest vaccines have cut transmission rates.
But Downing Street has refused to comment on the likely contents of the unlocking plan amid press speculation.
The prime minister has said his top priority will be the reopening of schools.
The government has long planned to get all pupils in England back to the classroom on 8 March - but teachers' unions say the return may need to be "staggered" to allow for Covid testing .
Ministers are also under pressure to reopen pubs, restaurants, shops and the tourism industry - but scientists are warning against a swift return to relative "normality".

Posts : 11343
Location : Around the bend

Coronavirus - 19th February 2021 Empty Re: Coronavirus - 19th February 2021

Post by Kitkat Fri Feb 19 2021, 22:57

Republic of Ireland faces nine more weeks of restrictions

The Republic of Ireland could be facing another nine weeks of strict restrictions, Taoiseach (prime minister) Micheál Martin has suggested.
The government is due to update its plan to manage Covid-19 next week, but it's expected the only change will be a phased return to school and construction sites will be allowed to operate.
Currently the country is in tier 5 restrictions, which is effectively a national lockdown.
On Thursday night, public health officials said the current R number - the rate at which the virus reproduces - is between 0.65 and 0.85.
Read more here.

UK's R number remains below 1

The R number across the UK is between 0.6 and 0.9, according to the latest government figures.
Last week, it was between 0.7 and 0.9.
The R value - the coronavirus reproduction number - represents the average number of people each person with Covid-19 goes on to infect.
A figure below 1 implies the epidemic is shrinking.
An R number between 0.6 and 0.9 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between six and nine further people.

'Scotland has lowest Covid rates in UK', says Swinney

Earlier, Scotland's deputy first minister, John Swinney, held the country's daily coronavirus briefing. He said Scotland has the "lowest estimated level" of infection of any nation in the UK.
He highlighted the latest figures from the ONS infection survey, which showed a decline in the week beginning 6 February, with an estimate that one in 180 people in the country had Covid.
Mr Swinney said 1,386,152 people had now received their first Covid jab, with "exceptionally high" take-up rates among care home residents and the clinically vulnerable.
Scotland is "on course" to offer all over-65s the vaccine by the end of March, he added.
With children set to return to nursery and P1 - P3 on Monday, the deputy first minister thanked everyone involved in the partial return to education, calling it a "milestone".

Tanzania president calls for prayer to 'end Covid'

Tanzania's president, John Magufuli, has called for three days of prayer and fasting to overcome Covid-19 in the country. He's been criticised previously for downplaying the impact of the pandemic.
In two days the country has buried two senior political figures who died from Covid-19. Speaking at the funeral of his chief secretary on Thursday, Magufuli called the virus a "test from God" and refused to introduce a lockdown.
Tanzania has not updated its Covid figures since April, but international health authorities say the country's infection rate is likely to be very high.
The government currently has no plans to start vaccinating as it has insisted the country is Covid-free. The president's latest comments appear to suggest the government may be admitting the virus is circulating.

'Almost all of Spain's care home residents vaccinated'

Almost all of Spain's elderly care home residents have been given two doses of Covid vaccines, the FED care-home association has said, reports Reuters news agency.
Some 43,000 people living in nursing homes died from coronavirus in March-May last year - an investigation into the high death rate was ordered by the Supreme Court in December. Lawyers are investigating more than 200 cases of potential criminal negligence.
Now, more than 97% of residents have been vaccinated.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said the country has administered 2.8 million doses and fully inoculated 1.14 million people.

NHS worker dies with Covid ahead of 'dream nurse job'

Coronavirus - 19th February 2021 B687c910
Oronsaye Okhomina's family received his exam results while he was in a coma

NHS worker Oronsaye Okhomina has died with Covid-19 before he was able to achieve his dream of working as a registered mental health nurse.
Known as Jeff or Orons and described as "bubbly" by his friends, the 56-year-old from Manchester died on 11 February .
His final exam results were released in January while he was in a coma so he was never able to use his qualification.
The father of four had originally worked in IT but decided what he really wanted to do was help mental health patients.
He worked as a student nurse and mental health support worker for almost 10 years before getting his final qualifications to become a registered mental health nurse in December.
His wife Esther said "he had worked so hard" but his life was "snatched away".

Another 533 Covid deaths reported in UK

Another 533 people in the UK have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and another 12,027 cases have been reported, according to the latest figures .
On Friday last week there were 758 deaths and 15,144 positive cases reported.

'Think again' about cutting aid budget during pandemic, says MP

Coronavirus - 19th February 2021 Bc60b810
The number of people living in poverty in Indonesia has grown by more than 10% since the pandemic began in 2020, statistics show

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell has urged the government to think again about cutting the aid budget, saying he was "far from sure" the House of Commons would back the move in the middle of the pandemic.
The Tory MP told BBC Radio 4's World at One: “A very large number of colleagues on all sides of the House of Commons think this is not the time to cut aid and development."
If the cut went ahead, Mr Mitchell said the UK "would have to stop making a lot of the planned vaccinations, cut the number of girls going to school, the number of people getting access to clean water".
"A cut like that would lead to hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths mainly amongst children,” he added.
He pointed out that where all other G7 countries were increasing aid, the UK - which is currently hosting a G7 meeting, was the only country proposing a cut.
"I‘m sure that the government will want to think again about this and I think the House of Commons is likely to insist that the government does."

South African coronavirus variant present in Poland

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
The South African variant of coronavirus has been detected in Poland as the health minister Adam Niedzielski confirmed a third wave has arrived in the country.
The first case of the variant was discovered near the city of Suwalki in north-eastern Poland, Niedzielski says. About 10% of Covid-19 cases in Poland are now the UK variant.
Niedzielski says there has been a very dynamic increase in new infections in the past two weeks.
"Looking at the results it must be said that the third wave of the pandemic is already in Poland," he tells a news conference.
The seven-day average this week exceeded 6,500 cases, he says, 1,000 more than in previous weeks. He also says the number of patients requiring hospital treatment, which had been decreasing, has reversed in the past week.
The trend reversal comes just a week after Poland allowed ski slopes to reopen, as well as hotels, cinemas and theatres reopening at half capacity. Officials have said restrictions would be reinstated if cases rise significantly.
On Friday, Poland reported 8,777 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 241 virus-related deaths. The number of new daily cases this week has been the highest in more than a month.
Poland has vaccinated 2.56 million people, equivalent to 6.8% of the population, including 865,884 people who has received both doses, or 2.3% of the population.

Wales restrictions to begin easing tomorrow

Here's a reminder of a few changes to lockdown restrictions in Wales announced in a press conference earlier by First Minister Mark Drakeford:

  • Four people from a maximum of two households in Wales will be able to meet outdoors for exercise from tomorrow
  • Home travel rules remain in place but could be eased in three weeks' time if case rates - currently the lowest since September - continue to improve
  • The aim is for all primary school children to return to face-to-face learning from 15 March
  • Weddings and civil partnerships are to be allowed from next week - with venues such as visitor attractions and hotels allowed to reopen, but only to perform ceremonies
  • Guidance for care homes visits will be reviewed "in coming weeks", as residents and those working in the homes were increasingly vaccinated

Here's all you need to know about how Wales' rules are being loosened.

US Secretary of State criticises China's 'lack of transparency'

In his interview with the BBC, the US Secretary of State has also criticised China for its lack of transparency in uncovering how coronavirus emerged.
Anthony Blinken accused China of failing to share information that might shed light on the origins of Covid-19.
A team of investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) spent four weeks in China on a fact-finding mission at the beginning of 2021.
However, two experts from the WHO team said afterwards that China refused to grant full access to the data they sought .
Blinken said a better health security system was needed to spot pandemics before they fully emerged.
"It requires countries to be transparent. It requires them to share information. It requires them to give access to international experts at the beginning of an outbreak - things that unfortunately we haven't seen from China," he said.

Councillor suspended over 'rule-breach wedding trip'

A Manchester councillor accused of breaching Covid restrictions by flying to Pakistan and attending a wedding has been suspended by the local Labour Party.
Photos were shared on Facebook last weekend allegedly showing Manchester City Councillor Aftab Razaq at the celebration in the city of Kharian.
Under the current Covid-19 rules in the UK, it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.
Mr Razaq, 52, has yet to respond to the BBC's request for a comment.
He was seen in the photos apparently ignoring social distancing and not wearing a mask, despite virus rules in Pakistan making this mandatory.

NI Assembly to go virtual from Monday

Northern Ireland Assembly members will be able to take part remotely in assembly proceedings for the first time from Monday , according to a letter from the Speaker Alex Maskey sent today.
Maskey asked assembly members (MLAs) to be patient as there could be "teething problems" in adapting to the new system.
He also said MLAs should ensure they participate remotely from a location with "good connectivity".
Some assembly members had called for remote proceedings, due to the pandemic.
A virtual system was set up at Westminster last year.

What happened today?

Here’s a reminder of today’s main coronavirus headlines from the UK and around the world:

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:37