UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures
France is banning the use of rapid Covid-19 tests for non-EU travellers, prompting fears there will be a return to the chaos seen at the borders before Christmas. Travellers will require a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old to enter France, the same system the UK is introducing from Monday.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he believed there would be an exemption for lorry drivers to continue receiving the 30-minute tests – which are less accurate than the PCR test – but admitted that was only “for the time being”.
Modelling suggests the crucial ‘R’ rate is a low as 0.6 in some parts of England, but remains well above 1.0 in others, with strong regional variations.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of small businesses have been handed a lifeline after Supreme Court judges rules that insurers must pay out for coronavirus-related losses, after some insurance companies rejected claims from firms.
The decision was welcomed as payouts could help many small firms survive through the latest lockdown restrictions.
Man charged with administering fake £160 Covid vaccine to elderly woman
A man has been charged with administering a fake Covid vaccine to an elderly woman in her home and charging her £160.
Vincent Wood15 January 2021 16:45
Fake news causing ethnic minorities to reject vaccine, NHS official warns
Fake news is likely to be leading people in ethnic minority communities in the UK to reject the coronavirus vaccine, a leading NHS official has warned.
Vincent Wood15 January 2021 16:26
Boris Johnson to hold No10 press conference at 5pm
Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference alongside England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance at 5pm today.
Kate Ng15 January 2021 16:00
Hertfordshire Police hand woman £10k fine for holding unlicensed music event
Police in Hertfordshire have handed a £10,000 fine to a woman after she organised an unlicensed music event in South Mimms.
The 22-year-old woman from London held the event at a property in Blanche Lane. Officers were called to reports of an unusually large number of vehicles parked near the property and found 150 people inside the property, along with music equipment such as DJ mixing decks and amplifiers.
Police also issued £200 fixed penalty notices to 12 people in attendance and have launched an investigation, adding that “it is likely that further fixed penalty notices will be issued”.
One person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer after an officer was injured while dealing with the incident, and has since been released on bail. The officer sustained minor injuries and is recovering well.
Chief superintendent Richard Liversidge said police believe the organisers were expecting at least 300 people to turn up at the event.
“The key to stopping these kinds of event sin their tracks is early intelligence so please report via 101 if you have reason to believe one is taking place of being planned,” he said.
“Finally, I would like to directly appeal to anyone who is planning on organising or attending an event of this nature. Please know that by breaching the current restrictions, you are disregarding all the sacrifices people have made in our national fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“The majority of people are playing their part, observing the rules, and doing what is necessary to help protect the NHS and save lives. Do not be the person that is making all their hard work redundant. Please do the right thing.”
Kate Ng15 January 2021 15:45
Boris Johnson urges people to ‘think twice’ before leaving home
The prime minister has urged Britons to stay home to protect the NHS, and to “think twice before leaving the house this weekend”.
Boris Johnson tweeted: “Jab by jab we will win this fight. But for now it’s crucial we continue to protect the NHS and save lives by staying home.”
Kate Ng15 January 2021 15:30
No staff joined the NHS to ‘watch people die’, says hospital boss
A hospital chief has said that the grim impact of the coronavirus pandemic on his staff’s mental health and wellbeing has left some of his “long-in-the-tooth” consultants unable to sleep properly.
Professor David Loughton, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust which runs the city’s New Cross hospital, said: “The most difficult thing for staff within the NHS; nobody – but nobody – went to medical school, went into nurse training or came into the health service to watch people die.
“That wasn’t what they trained for.”
Prof Loughton allowed TV cameras into his Covid-19 wards to show the scale of the disease’s impact, adding: “I’ve got some very long-in-the-tooth intensive care consultants who are having trouble sleeping.
“Some of them because they wake up at 4am and they can remember the faces of the people, to whom they said: ‘I am going to put you to sleep now – and you may never wake up’.
“That is not easy for the staff in the NHS to deal with. You come into my organisation or any other, and one in four people will not walk out.
“We’re getting better than that now; the number is coming down to about 21 per cent mortality. But this is real.”
He predicted that the current wave of coronavirus infections will peak around 27 January.
“The NHS is absolutely struggling, there’s no question about that, and if we just keep breaking all the rules, (we will) keep getting more and more people (in hospital),” he said.
“Today’s Covid rate is my waiting list for people waiting to go into intensive care in two weeks’ time.”
Kate Ng15 January 2021 15:15
Majority of Britons believe Covid vaccination programme should run 24/7 – poll
70 per cent of adults in the UK believe the coronavirus vaccination programme should be a 24/7 operation, with almost two-thirds willing to have their vaccination in the middle of the night, a poll has found.
In addition, most adults are finding the current national lockdown harder than previous ones, with only 10 per cent finding it easier.
My colleague Adrian Hearn reports:
Kate Ng15 January 2021 15:01
300,000 Covid vaccine doses delivered to Wales
Around 300,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered to Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.
Mr Drakeford said the figure “in very broad terms” was made up of 50,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and 250,000 of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“We will be using all the Oxford vaccine that we get as we get it, the Pfizer vaccine has to last us until into the first week of February,” Mr Drakeford said.
“So we have to provide it on a week-by-week basis. What you can’t do is to try and stand up a system which uses all the vaccine you’ve got in week one and then have nothing to offer for the next four weeks.
“We won’t get another delivery of the Pfizer vaccine until the very end of January or maybe the beginning of February, so that 250,000 doses has got to last us six weeks.
“That’s why you haven’t seen it all used in week one, because we’ve got to space it out over the weeks that it’s got to cover.
“We are expecting a significant upswing in the Oxford vaccine coming to Wales next week and we will use all of that because it is a much easier vaccine to use, it can be used in GP practices and so on.
“We will continue to use the Pfizer vaccine in a way that will mean that we will use it all before we get the next delivery.”
Matt Mathers15 January 2021 14:45
Stricter lockdown measures and financial support are needed, Sage member says
Stricter lockdown measures and more financial support for those who cannot work remotely are needed to tackle the UK’s coronavirus crisis, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.
Professor Andrew Hayward, director of the University College London (UCL) Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, told Times Radio he worried that the latest lockdown had “split the population in two” between “those who can afford to stay at home and work and those who can’t”.
Clea Skopeliti has more details:
Matt Mathers15 January 2021 14:30
Lockdown rule-breakers could be thrown in police cell, warns Devon and Cornwall force
Devon and Cornwall’s police chief has warned people who break lockdown rules this weekend could “end up in a police cell”.
The southwest counties – particularly Cornwall – have seen soaring rates of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, with an accompanying increase in fines handed out by officers to those flouting the national restrictions.
But Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer suggested rule-breakers could face more severe sanctions in the coming days.
Tom Embury-Dennis has the full report:
Matt Mathers15 January 2021 14:14