Coronavirus cases surged by 39,237 on Wednesday, the highest figure reported on a single day throughout the pandemic. Government figures also showed a further 744 Covid-19 deaths, the highest figure since April 29 during the first peak.

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1608798544Trades Union Congress: Key workers on duty on Christmas Day deserve better pay and conditions

The TUC said its analysis of official figures showed that one in five care workers and one in six nurses will not have a day off on Friday.

Workers such as social care staff are on low pay and insecure contracts, while many others who will be on call, including police officers and firefighters, face a pay freeze in 2021.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Key workers have cared for us during this crisis and continue to care for us. It’s time we cared for them.

“Many working over Christmas are on low pay and insecure contracts, especially in sectors like social care. Many key workers keeping services running, like firefighters and the police, face a wage freeze in 2021.

“That is not right. It’s time to give every key worker the pay rise they have earned. The Prime Minster must make this his New Year’s Resolution, with a plan to improve pay and conditions for all our key workers.”

1608797608New York City Mayor says authorities will work to ensure travellers from the UK are quarantining as concerns rise over new Covid variant

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that authorities would personally visit all travellers from the UK to ensure they are in quarantine.

“We’re going to have sheriff’s deputies go to the home or hotel of every single traveller coming in from the UK,” he told a press conference on Wednesday.

1608796863Sharon Osbourne back home with rockstar husband Ozzy after testing negative for Covid-19

Osbourne said she has had two negative test results and is “so grateful” to be back home.

She posted a picture of a masked Ozzy sitting next to the couple’s dogs.

Osbourne said: “Got the ok to go home after two negative test results and look at the joy waiting for me!

“So grateful to be home for the holidays and thank you all so much for your love and support. Stay safe and wishing you the happiest of holidays.”

Osbourne had said she was briefly in hospital with the virus.

1608796109French firefighters sent to Dover with coronavirus tests for drivers hoping to cross the Channel

France’s ambassador to the UK Catherine Colonna said the two countries were “neighbours, partners, allies and (yes) friends”.

The 26 firefighters brought 10,000 tests to the port, she said.

The French authorities have demanded a negative coronavirus test for drivers seeking to cross to the continent as part of the plan to reopen the border, which was closed earlier this week over fears about the spread of the variant coronavirus.

1608793908Mass coronavirus testing pilot in Liverpool ‘failed to detect 60% of known cases’

A quarter of Liverpool’s 498,000 residents were tested using lateral flow device tests (LFTs) between November 6 and December 9, with 897 positive results.

1608795478Senior medical adviser warns “concerning” variants of the coronavirus are set to emerge in the future

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford and chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, was speaking after a mutant Covid strain was found in the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have to be ready for future variants like this.

“This is clearly a pattern that’s emerging.

“That we are going to see different viruses. Some of them will be of concern.”

1608793871Covid crisis has shown the “very best of Britain”, says Sir Keir Starmer in his Christmas message

The Labour leader thanked key workers for their role in the pandemic and warned that NHS staff and carers “will have to step up again, one more time, this Christmas”.

Sir Keir said the Covid-19 vaccine offers a “light at the end of the tunnel” but acknowledged the difficulties many families face with “an empty space around the Christmas table” this year.

He urged people to capture the spirit shown during the crisis to “rebuild a better future for our country”.

1608794645Brexit trade deal expected as Boris Johnson briefs cabinet on progress of talks

The expected deal comes with just days left before the current trading arrangements expire on December 31.

1608793800Boris Johnson pays tributes to armed forces personnel in Christmas call

In a video call with troops overseas in Mali, Estonia, Somalia and Afghanistan, as well as those deployed in the UK, Mr Johnson thanked them all for being “our number one export”.

In the call, Mr Johnson said: “I want to salute all of you, our fantastic armed services, all our men and women in uniform, for everything that you do.

“You represent in my view the very best of our country, our number one export, the thing people really want to see around the world.

“You do good, you keep the peace, you promote our values around the world and you fly the flag for our country in the way that few other institutions can manage.

“That’s why this Government has just announced the biggest uplift in spending on the armed services since the end of the Cold War – because we believe passionately in you and in what you are doing.”

1608793739Shapps calls for ‘patience’ as thousands of lorry drivers remain stranded

Trucks began entering the Eurotunnel again on Wednesday after the French government agreed to allow drivers through provided they had a negative Covid-19 result, but it is feared it could take days to carry out tests on the hauliers.

Mr Shapps said work continues to “get traffic rolling”, but added drivers needed to “follow instructions” from British officials in order to leave.

It comes after some drivers clashed with police in Dover on Wednesday, while others protested by blocking roads near the lorry holding facility at Manston Airport, where there have been complaints over a lack of food and toilets.

Mr Shapps told the BBC: “The issue is just the logistics of people following the instructions and making sure we can keep the port clear in order that we can get the traffic rolling.

“The more that people follow the clear instructions the faster we can get this resolved.

“It will take a matter of days rather than weeks or anything else but there will be, I’m afraid, some patience required.”

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