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1608725665Major London hospitals cancel operations as Covid crisis escalates

They include St George’s Hospital, in Tooting, south west London, the Royal Free in Camden, and Barts Health which runs several hospitals in the east of the city.

1608725543Irish Government says a member of the Cabinet has tested positive for Covid-19

All other ministers will now restrict their movements pending coronavirus tests and results.

“A member of Cabinet has tested positive for Covid-19,” said a Government statement.

“In line with public health advice, all ministers are restricting their movements while awaiting a Covid test and result.”

1608725500A total of 6,298 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland

The figures show 203 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between December 14 and 20, down 23 from the previous week.

Of these, the majority were in hospital at 124 (61%), with 71 in care homes and eight at home or in a non-institutional setting.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

1608724954Wales cases up by more than 3,000 overnight

Here are the latest figures from Public Health Wales showing Covid infections have risen by 3,013, with deaths up by 51 overnight:

1608724558Is the UK being punished for its thoroughness?

Nervtag chairman Professor Peter Hornby was asked by Science and Technology Committee chairman Greg Clark whether the UK was being “penalised” for having the expertise to detect the new strain of coronavirus, which resulted in dozens of countries closing routes with the UK.

Prof Horby replied: “I think it’s fair to say countries that have more extensive and rigorous science and are more transparent do expose themselves to important information being made available to others.

“But it’s a global public good.

“It’s in our interest that we know about these viruses so we can control the spread.”

1608723574Protests at the port

Lorry drivers at the entrance of the Port of Dover’s Eastern Docks have been honking their horns and shouting in protest at being stuck at the border.

Drivers standing in small groups shouted “we want to go home” as they tried to shelter from bursts of heavy rain and blustery conditions.

Shortly after 11am, police officers told drivers to move their vehicles away from the roundabout at the port’s entrance to enable testing facilities to be set up.

( PA )1608722809The wheels are finally in motion for clearing Kent’s lorry backlog

The coronavirus testing of lorry drivers wanting to cross the English Channel into France has begun, the Department for Transport said.

More than 5,000 lorries are being held in three traffic management operations in Kent.

A DfT statement said: “As of 9.30am this morning there were 632 HGVs in Operation Stack, 610 HGVs in Operation Brock, and 3,800 vehicles at Manston. As remaining capacity at Manston is being reserved for testing facilities, any new lorries that are arriving are being directed to Operation Brock.

“We continue to urge hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice as we work to alleviate congestion at ports.

“Testing has started.”

1608722136Lorry driver arrested for ‘obstructing Dover highway’

A man has been arrested after disturbances in Dover and the nearby Manston lorry park.

The man is being held for obstructing a highway in Dover, Kent Police said.

A spokesman added: “Officers on the ground at both locations are working with partner agencies to make sure those hoping to travel to the continent adhere to the latest Government travel requirements regarding Covid testing.”

Some lorry drivers clashed with police early this morning as they continued to be held up because of the impact of the now-lifted French travel ban.

1608721860New Covid strain is not Kent’s fault – Ferguson

Asked if a lax attitude towards lockdown measures could have caused the mutant strain to spread, Nervtag member Professor Neil Ferguson said corroboration of other data suggested otherwise.

He said: “There was nothing special about what was going on in Kent and the south of England during lockdown compared with other areas of the country.

“We saw the non-variant decline in a particular week and place, whilst the variant increased in the same week and place in the same population.”

Professor Peter Horby also denied any suggestion that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had overstated the transmission rates of the mutant strain in order to cancel Christmas.

He said: “I don’t think there’s been any ‘egging up’, as far as I can tell. This is a new variant which is of concern.”

1608721513There are a number of theories as to why the new virus strain is spreading so quickly

Prof Horby said there were a number of possible reasons why the mutant strain of the virus appeared to be spreading faster than others.

He told the Commons Science and Technology Committee: “The underlying mechanism is not fully clear – it could be because the virus replicates faster, which means you get higher viral loads which means you are more infectious.

“It could be that it takes a shorter time between being exposed and being infectious – if that timeframe shortens you get quicker transmission.

“Or it could mean the duration of infectiousness is longer.”

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