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Covid-19 the second wave.

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Chippy_Tea

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Scientists say signs a new coronavirus variant is more deadly than the earlier version should not be a "game changer" in the UK's response to the pandemic.

Boris Johnson has said there is "some evidence" the variant may be associated with "a higher degree of mortality".
But the co-author of the study the PM was referring to said the variant's deadliness remained an "open question".
Another adviser said he was surprised Mr Johnson had shared the findings when the data was "not particularly strong".
A third top medic said it was "too early" to be "absolutely clear".
At a Downing Street coronavirus news conference on Friday, the prime minister said: "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant - the variant that was first identified in London and the South East - may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."
Speaking alongside the PM, the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there was "a lot of uncertainty around these numbers" but that early evidence suggested the variant could be about 30% more deadly.
For example, Sir Patrick said if 1,000 men in their 60s were infected with the old variant, roughly 10 of them would be expected to die - but this rises to about 13 with the new variant.
The announcement followed a briefing by scientists on the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) which concluded there was a "realistic possibility" that the variant was associated with an increased risk of death.
But one of the briefing's co-authors, Prof Graham Medley, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open."
"In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse," added Prof Medley, who is a professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
A further 1,401 deaths in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were reported on Friday, as well as 40,261 new cases.

Full article - Covid: 'More deadly' UK variant claim played down by scientists
 

Chippy_Tea

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The UK has identified 77 cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, the health secretary has said.

Cases are linked to travellers arriving in the UK, rather than community transmission, Matt Hancock added.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr cases were under "very close" observation and enhanced contact tracing was under way.
Meanwhile, Mr Hancock said 75% of over-80s and three quarters of care homes in the UK have received a first Covid jab.
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses, and figures so far reflect those given the first dose.

All viruses, including the one that causes Covid-19, mutate, and variants have been first located in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
The South Africa variant has been found in at least 20 other countries, including the UK.
Mr Hancock said: "At the moment it (cases) is all linked to travel." He added: "That's why we have got such stringent border measures in place against movement from South Africa."
The UK closed all travel corridors last week until at least 15 February, with almost all travellers arriving in the country now required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not ruled out bringing in tougher measures at UK borders, telling a Downing Street news conference on Friday: "We don't want to put that (efforts to control Covid) at risk by having a new variant come back in."
Ministers will discuss on Monday whether to tighten border restrictions further, including the possibility of hotel quarantines for travellers.


Full article - South Africa coronavirus variant: 77 cases found in UK
 

Chippy_Tea

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Staff are scared to work at the UK vehicle licensing agency's contact centre in Swansea where 500 workers have contracted coronavirus since the pandemic began, a union says.

The PCS union has urged ministers to intervene and described the numbers as a "scandal".
A DVLA spokesperson insisted safety was a priority and it followed guidance to "help keep our offices Covid secure".
The Welsh Government said it had been "worried about the DVLA for a while".
Minister Eluned Morgan said the decision to introduce tougher Covid regulations for workplaces in Wales was made, in part, due to the situation at the DVLA.
In December, a coronavirus outbreak was declared at the centre at Swansea Vale in Llansamlet after 352 cases of Covid-19 in the space of four months.

'Scandal'
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It is a scandal that DVLA are not doing more to reduce numbers in the workplace when Covid infections are on the rise.
"Our members are telling us they are scared to enter the workplace for fear of catching Covid 19.
"Minsters must intervene and ensure DVLA are doing their utmost to enable staff to work from home and temporarily cease non-critical services."
Eluned Morgan told Radio Cymru the Welsh Government has been keeping an eye on the situation at the Swansea offices.
The wellbeing minister said: "We've been worried about the DVLA for a while, now. We've been putting pressure on them.
"It comes up time and again from the people who represent Swansea, and we're worried the pressure on people working there hasn't helped.
"The situation is one of the reasons why we've introduced new rules, new legislation, to tighten the restrictions on people at work."


The DVLA said some staff have been able to work from home "in line with government advice", though others were required to be in the office due to their roles
"In view of the essential nature of the public services we provide, some operational staff are required to be in the office where their role means they cannot work from home," said a spokesman.
The DVLA said it has worked closely with Public Health Wales, Swansea council's environmental health staff and union officials to try to make its buildings Covid safe, including opening an additional site in Swansea.
However there were currently four Covid cases across its estate, with none at its contact centre.
"Before Christmas, when transmission infection rates were extremely high in the local community where most of our staff live, we saw a rise in staff testing positive for Covid," he said.
Swansea MP Carolyn Harris said, during the first lockdown, she was in "constant contact" with the DVLA due to concerns raised by workers.
"Since Christmas, I've not been able to get hold of anyone from the DVLA," she told BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement.
"Last night I spent a long time trying to hold of the chief executive."Some of the stuff that I am now readin

BBC News.
 

Chippy_Tea

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government "would like to have more information on the new variants" of Covid-19 seen abroad, adding: "We're working on those."

Mr Hancock said that, as of Sunday morning, three quarters of all people over 80 in the UK have been vaccinated.

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "We've been learning about the virus all along haven't we and one of the critical questions for instance right now is, after you've been vaccinated how much impact does that have on how much you might transmit the virus, as well as the impact on you in terms of serious disease and that's one of the key questions that will impact on how quickly we can lift measures.

"We would like to have more information on the new variants that we've seen abroad, especially the two particular variants of concern that have emanated from South Africa and Brazil and we're working on those, but we find out more all the time."

Mr Hancock urged people to stay at home and follow the rules and said: "We should be worried enough, all of us, about this pandemic to follow

"This morning I've come out of my formal self-isolation, I haven't actually left the house yet because I haven't needed to."

He added: "Whatever the exact nature of the UK new variant, and the scientists do think that it may be more deadly and they've put various estimates on that from about 10 per cent more deadly to a bit more than that, we are not exactly certain about how much more deadly.

"But in a way, for all of us, that doesn't matter. What matters is we've got to get this virus under control."


 

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The government will tell teachers and parents when schools in England can reopen "as soon as we can", the prime minister has said.

MPs have called on the government to set out a "route map" for reopening amid concerns for children's education.
Boris Johnson said he understood why people wanted a timetable but he did not want to lift restrictions while the infection rate was "still very high".
But he could not give a guarantee that schools would reopen before Easter.
Mr Johnson said: "We've now got the R [reproduction rate] down below 1 across the whole of the country, that's a great achievement, we don't want to see a huge surge of infection just when we've got the vaccination programme going so well and people working so hard.
"I understand why people want to get a timetable from me today, what I can tell you is we'll tell you, tell parents, tell teachers as much as we can as soon as we can."
He said the government would be "looking at the potential of relaxing some measures" before mid-February, but it is understood no changes would be made before that date.
There will be a Downing Street press conference later, led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, No 10 has confirmed.
Robert Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, said he had asked to table an urgent question in on the matter, but the Labour whips' office tweeted that this had been denied.
The Conservative MP for for Harlow told BBC Breakfast there was "enormous uncertainty" and called for the government to set out what the conditions needed to be for pupils to return to schools.
Mr Halfon suggested the government could consider tighter restrictions in other parts of society and the economy, in order to enable schools to open.

Full article - Covid: Schools will be told of reopening plans 'as soon as we can'
 

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How many teachers are there in the UK, do we think? Half a million perhaps? A million? Shouldn't take long to give them all the jab now we are hitting more than 400k a day.
 

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How many teachers are there in the UK, do we think? Half a million perhaps? A million? Shouldn't take long to give them all the jab now we are hitting more than 400k a day.
I may be wrong but i was under the impression the jab doesn't guarantee those having it cannot carry it and pass it on.
 

Chippy_Tea

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Breaking BBC News -

Moderna's Covid vaccine appears to work against new, more infectious variants of the pandemic virus found in the UK and South Africa, say scientists from the pharmaceutical company.


Early laboratory tests suggest antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognise and fight the new variants.
More studies are needed to confirm this is true for people that have been vaccinated.
The new variants have been spreading fast in a number of nations.
They have undergone changes or mutations that mean they can infect human cells more easily than the original version of coronavirus that started the pandemic.
Experts think the UK strain, which emerged in September, may be up to 70% more transmissible.
Current vaccines were designed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well.
For this study, researchers looked at blood samples taken from eight people who had received the recommended two doses of the Moderna vaccine.
 

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How many teachers are there in the UK, do we think? Half a million perhaps? A million? Shouldn't take long to give them all the jab now we are hitting more than 400k a day.
It's not just the teachers.
Without the support staff, the schools could not operate.
 

simon12

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Just thought i'd share a quick comparison with other countries. I think the data speaks for itself but it is strange how we seem now able to test so much more than anyone and why did France's testing peak really high then drop of for Christmas but then never go up again.


 

Chippy_Tea

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Supplies of vaccines are "tight" but the UK believes it will receive enough doses to meet its targets, the vaccine minister has said.

Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast manufacturers were "confident" they would deliver for the UK amid warnings of production delays.

It comes as the EU said it might tighten vaccine export controls.

Countries should avoid "vaccine nationalism" and ensure a fair global supply, Mr Zahawi said.

The minister said the vaccination programme was still on track to deliver a first dose to 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February and to offer all adults their first dose by autumn.

He said the UK had supplies of the Oxford vaccine manufactured domestically by AstraZeneca as well as the Pfizer one, which is made in Belgium.

The government is also planning to publish figures on the take-up of the vaccine by ethnicity from Thursday, following concerns that some black, Asian and ethnic minority communities were more hesitant to get the jab.

"I'm confident we will meet our mid-February target and continue beyond that," Mr Zahawi told the BBC.

"Supplies are tight, they continue to be, these are new manufacturing processes," he added. "It's lumpy and bumpy, it gets better and stabilises and improves going forward."

But he declined to say that he had received guarantees about the number of doses the UK would receive from Pfizer or other manufacturers and refused to confirm how many doses had already arrived.

"The thing to do now is not to go down the dead end of vaccine nationalism. It's to work together to protect our people," Mr Zahawi said.

"No one is safe until the whole world is safe."

Meanwhile, the UK has offered to carry out genomic sequencing for other countries around the world to help identify further new variants.

Public Health England said it would give "crucial early warning" of any mutations that might cause the virus to spread faster, make people more ill or possibly reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.


Full article - Covid-19: Vaccine minister 'confident' of supplies amid production delays

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Chippy_Tea

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Schools in England will not be able to open after the half-term break next month but could begin to return from 8 March, the prime minister has said.

Boris Johnson said a final decision would depend on meeting vaccination targets and schools would get two weeks' notice.
He acknowledged the delay would be "frustrating" for pupils, teachers and parents.
There was not enough data yet to decide when to end the lockdown, he added.
The PM said the UK remains in a "perilous situation, with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid - almost double the peak of the first wave".
And he announced that UK nationals and residents arriving from high-risk countries would soon be ordered to quarantine in accommodation such as hotels.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons he hoped other lockdown restrictions could begin to be gradually eased at some point after schools reopen, but pupils returning to class would be the "first sign of normality".
In the week of 22 February, the government would have more information on whether vaccines block transmission and how the vaccine will reduce hospitalisations and deaths, he said, allowing them to plan for the "gradual and phased" reopening.
That would also depend on continuing to hit vaccination targets, the capacity of the NHS and on deaths falling at the expected pace, he said.
But Mr Johnson said schools also needed a fortnight's notice to reopen after the government makes its decision.
Schools in England have only been open to those deemed vulnerable or to children of key workers since January, with primary and secondary schools offering remote learning for other pupils since then.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she hoped schools will be able to at least begin a phased return to the classroom in the middle of February.
In Wales, measures including school and college closures will be reviewed on Friday. In Northern Ireland, most school pupils are being taught remotely until at least mid-February.

 

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A couple of days ago (on news that the UK had passed the 100,000 dead from Covid-19 milestone), Mr Starmer (Leader of the Opposition) asked the question of the PM "Our schools are closed but our borders are open. Why?"

The PM failed to answer the question, but my understanding of today's situation (which may be wildly wrong) is that we now have compulsory quarantine in hotels for any non-UK resident arriving in the UK and a date on which schools will be open (7th March).

I think the American saying of "A day late and a dollar short." just about sums up the whole of the UK Government's attitude to the crisis; including their vaccination programme!
 

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