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.
Key PointsShow latest update
1610722874Majority 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
1610721902300,000 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
1610721002Stricter 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
1610720091Lockdown 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
1610719199UK infection R rate sticks between 1.2 and 1.3 and new variant ‘growing much faster’, says Sage
The R value of coronavirus transmission in the UK is currently between 1.2 and 1.3, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.
This figure, which is based on estimates up to the 11 January, is in line with 1 to 1.4 R rate that was estimated last week.
Sage has cautioned that the number of new Covid-19 infections is still rising by up to 5 per cent each day.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops:
Matt Mathers15 January 2021 13:59
1610718051‘Marginal easements’ of coronavirus rules possible if infections rates continue to fall in Wales
The Welsh first minister has said there may be “marginal easements” to coronavirus rules in Wales if rates continue to fall.
Mark Drakeford said the incidence rate was “well above 400 cases per 100,00 people a week ago, but it has now dropped to 365 cases per 100,000.
“We are definitely seeing progress being made but some of those figures will not move as quickly,” Mr Drakeford said.
“We certainly won’t see reductions in hospital occupation moving as fast as the community falls because we know there’s always a delay.
“The other thing I think it’s important to remember is that even within levels, it is possible to make some adjustments.
“So even if you’re not able to go from Level 4 to Level 3, within Level 4 it may be possible – and it’s a may, I really want to stress that it’s a may – to have some marginal easements and that would demonstrate to people that the efforts they are making are making a difference.”
Kate Ng15 January 2021 13:40
1610716997Hospital oxygen supply problems to be investigated by safety watchdog
Failures in piped oxygen supplies to NHS hospital wards during the coronavirus surge are to be investigated by a national safety watchdog, The Independent has learned.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) said it decided to launch a probe into the provision of oxygen gas to wards after one nHS trust was forced to declare a major incident.
Read the exclusive story by our Health Correspondent, Shaun Lintern:
Kate Ng15 January 2021 13:23
1610714751Up to 1.3m immigrants have left UK in ‘largest population fall since the Second World War’
Up to 1.3 million immigrants have left the UK – the largest population fall since the Second World War – with coronavirus the likely cause, a study said.
Almost 700,000 foreign-born residents are believed to have moved out of London alone, leading to a potential eight per cent shrinking of the size of the capital, says the study by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE).
Our Deputy Political Editor Rob Merrick reports:
Kate Ng15 January 2021 12:45
The study comes as official ONS data on infection rates is delayed because of problems with lab testing.
Alastair Jamieson15 January 2021 12:40
1610713851Europe’s medicine regulator chief ‘hopeful’ that Oxford vaccine will be approved by end of January
Emer Cooke, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, has said she is “hopeful” that the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be given approval for use in Europe at the end of the month.
But she warned it was “challenging” and “things can go wrong”.
The makers of the jab applied to the EU on Tuesday for approval of its vaccine candidate.
Ms Cooke said the EMA had a “tentative” plan in place to make a decision on the jab on 29 January, but added that the regulator was receiving new information all the time.
“There are two big trials ongoing,” she said. “We know with one of them we won’t have all the information by the end of January. But we do hope we’ll have sufficient [data] to be able to come to a scientific conclusion by then.
“At the same time things can go wrong. These dates depend on everything going right.
“It’s challenging but I’m hopeful.”
Ms Cooke also said she hopes Johnson & Johnson will seek EU approval for its coronavirus vaccine next month.
Kate Ng15 January 2021 12:30