Covid UK news – live: Nationwide R rate ‘drops below 1’, as death toll rises by 521 – The Independent

Boris Johnson’s new tier strategy has come under fire from some Tory backbenchers 

Government scientists have announced that the UK’s R rate is now thought be below 1, after three weeks of national lockdown in England. 

A further 521 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, statistics showed, bringing the official UK total to 57,551. The daily toll is higher than the latest seven-day average of 423.

But separate figures suggest the real number of deaths is nearer 72,000.

The news comes amid a Tory rebellion against the prime minister’s new tier system, which will replace the countrywide shutdown on 2 December. 

Under this policy, 99 per cent of people in England will be subject to tier two or three measures, with some people complaining these are tougher restrictions than they faced before the lockdown. 

In response to concerns, communities secretary Robert Jenrick Jenrick told the BBC on Friday that “there is every reason to believe” that some areas in England could have restrictions eased in a review of the tier allocations in mid-December. 

However, Sage scientist Professor John Edmunds said tier levels were unlikely to change at that time

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Tier system ‘won’t be lifted until Easter’

England’s coronavirus tier restrictions are reportedly expected to remain in place until Easter Monday.

Boris Johnson is expected to prioritise the NHS and believes he will have to wait until after a winter peak of Covid-19 in February and March before he eases the restrictions, The Sun reports.

Samuel Osborne27 November 2020 23:17

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Hospitals will be overwhelmed without tier system, Gove warns

Every hospital in England could be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases if new tier restrictions are not introduced, Michael Gove has warned, as he seeks to quell a Tory backbench rebellion over the measures.

The Cabinet Office Minister, writing in The Times, urged MPs to “take responsibility for difficult decisions” to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid anger from some Conservatives that much of England will face stringent restrictions.

Samuel Osborne27 November 2020 22:56

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Updated vaccine priority list guidance ‘extremely good news’

Updated guidance published by Public Health England on the vaccine priority list has been welcomed as “extremely good news” by one charity.

People aged 18 or older who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable will now be considered the same priority as those aged 70 and over, with conditions such as diabetes, chronic heart disease and morbid obesity.

Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, said: “This is extremely good news. Putting people with blood cancer at the same priority level as those aged over 70 better reflects the fact that they are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“We are also pleased that adults who live with people with blood cancer will also get priority. Any vaccine might not work as well in people with blood cancer, so vaccinating the people around them is a vital part of protecting them. We are very grateful to the government for having listened to the voices of people with blood cancer and other health conditions on this.

“It is also important to remember that this is not definitely the final priority list. No vaccines have been approved yet, and we’re waiting for confirmation that any vaccine will be safe and effective for people with blood cancer.”

Samuel Osborne27 November 2020 21:47

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English hospitals ‘told to prepare for vaccine rollout within 10 days’

Hospitals in England have been told to prepare for the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine in as soon as 10 days, it has been reported.

According to The Guardian, hospitals could receive the first deliveries of a vaccine created by Pfizer/BioNTech between 7 and 9 December.

This vaccine, which reported early results suggesting the jab is 95 per cent effective, needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures.

The newspaper said one senior hospital executive had been told to expect the vaccine on 7 December to give to staff during the following week.

But this timeframe will depend on if and when the jab is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Samuel Osborne27 November 2020 21:20

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Lockdown ‘forcing people into temporary housing’

Andy Burnham says he believes the pandemic has had a massive impact on the number of people being forced into temporary accommodation.

The mayor of Greater Manchester said 3,600 people were in temporary accommodation across the area.

Lockdown forcing people into temporary housing, says Andy Burnham

Jane Dalton27 November 2020 20:53

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Police issue 33 fines for breaching Scottish travel ban

Police have issued at least 33 fines to people breaching the travel ban in Scotland since the restrictions came into force last week, writes Peter Stubley:

Jane Dalton27 November 2020 20:44

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The government says a further 521 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the official UK total to 57,551.

But separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 72,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The government said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 16,022 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,589,301.

Jane Dalton27 November 2020 20:31

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Teaching union tells vulnerable staff to remain at home

Teachers and school staff who are most at risk from coronavirus should not return to the classroom next week when England’s national lockdown ends, a leading union has said.

The National Education Union (NEU) said it is not safe for clinically extremely vulnerable staff (CEV) to go to school and has urged headteachers to allow them to continue working from home.

The Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan states that as the national restrictions end on December 2, so too will the guidance to the most vulnerable not to go to work or school.

But the NEU said it does not agree it is safe for them to do so and has written to the schools minister Nick Gibb asking for data on how many teachers and support staff have caught coronavirus, been hospitalised or died.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We know that case counts are rising in schools, especially among secondary-age pupils. We know that schools cannot fully socially distance.

“In such an environment, which is sadly commonplace to the vast majority of schools, clinically extremely vulnerable staff are at risk.”

Vincent Wood27 November 2020 19:36

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Police urge protesters to stay home

Police have urged people not to attend a protest in central London this weekend during the coronavirus lockdown following a number of anti-lockdown events in the capital

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, the policing commander for this weekend, said: “Our city is in a critical fight against Covid-19 and we cannot allow gatherings to jeopardise the progress and sacrifices our communities have made in fighting this virus.

“That is why we will be taking action in relation to prohibited gatherings on the streets of London, including those related to protest across the capital this weekend.

“Our top priority is public safety and that is why we cannot allow individuals to break the law and put their health, and the health of their friends, family and the wider community, at risk. If you are planning on attending a gathering, I would urge you to reconsider and stay at home.”

Jane Dalton27 November 2020 18:48

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More than 1,000 wrongly told they were infected

More than 1,300 people were wrongly told they had coronavirus due to a lab error with NHS Test and Trace.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 1,311 people who took a test on November 19-23 across the UK were incorrectly told they received a positive result.

It said there was an issue with a batch of testing chemicals which meant their results were void.

A DHSC spokesman said: “Swift action is being taken to notify those affected and they are being asked to take another test, and to continue to self-isolate if they have symptoms.

“This laboratory error was an isolated incident and is being fully investigated to ensure this does not happen again.”

Jane Dalton27 November 2020 18:29