Covid UK news LIVE – Brits may wear face masks FOREVER and virus will ‘always be with us’ as Brazil variant fears grow

BRITS may have to wear face masks FOREVER as coronavirus will “always be with us,” warns England’s deputy chief medical officer.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the pandemic has changed how Brits approach hygiene and that some habits that we have adopted still stay with us.

And the new Brazil strain of coronavirus is a “concern,” says the Prime Minister as the variant leaves many questions “still unanswered.”

It is the third new strain of Covid that has been identified, following the more contagious variant was first identified in the UK, followed by another from South Africa.

Meanwhile, First Minister Nicola Stugeon has cracked down on lockdown – with several new rules being introduced in Scotland including a ban on all outdoor boozing, click-and-collect on essential items only and a ban on people collecting takeaways indoors.

The move comes as the UK suffered its worst ever day for coronavirus with 1,564 more people dying within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis.

Positive cases also rose by 47,525 – bringing the total number of infections to 3,164,051 – as ministers debate whether lockdown rules should be tightened in England and Wales as well as Scotland.

With the latest coronavirus wave still surging across the UK, police have threatened to dish out heavy fines to anybody they see breaking the rules – and supermarkets have launched a crackdown on those not wearing masks.

Follow the very latest news, updates and analysis of the coronavirus crisis in our live blog below.

  • NEW NEGATIVE TEST RULE FOR TRAVELLERS DELAYED UNTIL MONDAY

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has delayed the introduction of new rules requiring travellers entering England to have a negative coronavirus test until next week.

    Mr Shapps said the rules would come into force from 4am on Monday to “give international arrivals time to prepare”.

    It means passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to test negative up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.

  • JABS WILL BE GIVEN 24/7

    Brits will be able to get a Covid jab 24/7, Boris Johnson vowed yesterday.

    The PM pledged to set up round-the-clock vaccination centres “as soon as we can” — and hailed The Sun’s Jabs Army drive, urging 450,000 civil servants to join to help the roll-out.

    It came as a daily record of 1,564 UK coronavirus deaths was announced.

    Some 400,000 Brits a day could soon get jabs as Covid vaccines are doled out round-the-clock, Government sources said yesterday.

    The PM vowed doses will be rolled out day and night as a huge stream of vaccines become available.

  • SCOTLAND’S VACCINATION PROCESS REVEALED

    The Scottish Government has released plans on how it intends to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination.

    The 16-page document explains how it hopes to vaccinate 4.5 million Scots as quickly as possible.

    Everyone over the age of 18 will be invited for a vaccination, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds who are frontline health and social care workers, young carers or have underlying health conditions.

    In what it has called “the largest mass vaccination programme”, the government plans to vaccinate 400,000 each week from February 1.

    Vaccinations will take place in care homes, where needed into people’s own homes, through GP surgeries, local vaccination clinics, community pharmacies, mobile vaccination units and mass vaccination centres.

  • WOMAN CELEBRATES 106TH BIRTHDAY BY BEATING COVID

    A woman who survived two world wars and lived through two pandemics celebrated her 106th birthday — by beating Covid.

    Mary Nicholson, who goes by the nickname Polly, tested positive for the virus on New Year’s Eve.

    But, despite her age, she overcame it — and marked turning 106 on Tuesday with nursing home staff in St Helen’s, Merseyside.

    The former cook, who never married or had children, said: “I had a cough but I’m feeling better.

    “I couldn’t tell you how lovely my birthday has been.

    “Lovely sensation to find cards and presents that were given to me.

    “It’s nice to be able to celebrate after being in isolation because of the virus.”

  • MEDICS CALL FOR URGENT REVIEW OF PPE PROVISIONS

    Health leaders should urgently review the guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff caring for Covid patients, leading doctors have said.

    The British Medical Association (BMA) said that inadequate provision of the kit needed to protect doctors and nurses could be placing those on the front line at risk.

    In a letter to Public Health England (PHE), Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, warned of the “significant and growing concerns about the role of aerosol transmission of Covid-19 in healthcare settings” at a time when the NHS is facing “critical” pressure.”

    He added: “Now that we have been assured that supply is no longer an issue, we believe guidance should be updated to take a more precautionary approach to better protect those working on the front line.”

  • AFRICA UNION SECURES 270 MIL VACCINE DOSES

    The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for African countries, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

    “As a result of our own efforts we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson,” Ramaphosa, who is the African Union chair, said in a statement.

    Ramaphosa said all 270 million doses would be made available this year, with at least 50 million available “for the crucial period of April to June 2021.”

  • SPAIN RECORDS 195 MORE DEATHS LINKED TO COVID

    Spain reported 38,869 coronavirus infections and 195 deaths on Wednesday.

    The two-week rate of infection per 100,000 inhabitants, which has doubled during the past month, increased to 492 cases on Wednesday. The country has recorded 2.17 million total cases and more than 52,000 confirmed deaths.

    Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has identified some 100 cases of the virus variant that is possibly more contagious, but the current surge is fueled by social gatherings.

    Illa says Spain is improving the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, with 92,000 doses administered in the past 24 hours. Spain has used just over half of the 1.1 million doses delivered to the country.

  • PPE IS NOT UP TO SCRATCH, SAYS JUNIOR DOCTOR

    A junior doctor has said some new PPE is not up to scratch, and the NHS may not be “enough” to cope with rising Covid cases across the UK.

    “I don’t think any of us could have imagined it being worse than the first wave, but it is,” the doctor told the PA news agency. 

    “We are starting to really feel the effect of another wave… as we look at hospitals around us, what we’re noticing is that a lot of the PPE is not quite up to standard.”

  • LEBANON’S HEALTH MINISTER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

    Lebanon’s Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan on Wednesday tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to hospital, a statement from the ministry said.

    “The minister has been admitted to Saint George hospital for treatment,” the statement said.

    Lebanon’s hospitals are running out of capacity to treat critically ill patients as COVID-19 infections surge after the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    Daily infections reached an all-time high of 5,440 cases on Friday. Lebanon had recorded a total of 226,948 cases with 1,705 deaths up to Tuesday.

    Lebanon is currently under a three-week lockdown that ends on February 2.

  • ‘EARLY SIGNS OF PROGRESS WITH COVID,’ SAYS IRISH MEDICAL OFFICER

    There are early signs of hope in the struggle to contain the pandemic, Ireland’s chief medical officer said.

    The relentless rise in the daily number of coronavirus cases and the positivity rate of testing has slackened.

    An additional 63 deaths with Covid-19 in Ireland were recorded on Wednesday.

    Another 3,569 cases were confirmed, the Department of Health said.

    Dr Tony Holohan said: “We are seeing some early signs of progress with daily case numbers and positivity rates.

    “We can take some hope in them, but we have a long, long way to go.”

  • ICUs WILL BE OVERWHELMED, SAYS PM

    Hospital intensive care units, ICUs, face being overwhelmed unless coronavirus rates are brought under control, Boris Johnson admitted.

    The Prime Minister said there was a “very substantial” risk that ICUs would be unable to cope if numbers kept increasing.

    Mr Johnson’s stark warning came as the daily reported death toll reached a new high, with 1,564 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive test.

    The latest figures mean the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.

    The Prime Minister told MPs: “If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that.

    “But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”

  • CARE HOME RESIDENTS TO BE JABBED BY END OF THE WEEK

    Most care home residents in England are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the week, health officials say.

    NHS England has told GPs that it expects residents and staff at homes across England to have had a jab by the end of this week, or by 24 January at the latest.

    A letter sent to the groups of GP surgeries who have signed up to deliver the vaccination programme suggests GPs can do this from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

    Care home residents top the list that sets out nine categories of those most at risk.

  • WE CAN’T SAY HOW LONG VACCINE PROTECTION WILL LAST

    Prof Van-Tam has said that we may have to reformulate vaccines if and when the virus continues to change and mutate.

    He said: “I can’t tell you how long the vaccine protection is going to last for.  We are very hopeful it is going to be in the region of a very high number of months, possibly a small number of years. But we can’t say yet.

    “If the virus is going to continue to change there will come a point where we will have to reformulate the vaccines.”

  • VIRUS WILL BE WITH US ‘FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE’

    Prof Van-Tam told The Sun: “I don’t think we are ever going to take this virus away out of humankind.

    “I think the virus is going to continue to change over time, as the disease has already shown signs of doing.

    “And I think the virus is likely to be with us probably for the foreseeable future – probably in the same way that flu is.”

  • BRITS COULD WEAR FACE MASKS FOREVER

    Brits could be wearing face masks forever as Covid-19 will “always be with us”, England’s deputy chief medical officer told The Sun today.

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the pandemic has changed how Brits approach hygiene and that some habits that we have adopted still stay with us.

    The top medic add that lockdown will probably be with us until “mid to late Spring”.

    The professor also cautioned that the virus will be with us “for the foreseeable future”.

  • WAR VET CALLS SUPERMARKET DURING LOCKDOWN ‘A WAR ZONE’

    A Gulf war veteran says working in a supermarket during lockdown is like being in “a war zone”. 

    Harold, who works at a checkout, claimed Covid-denier customers were even licking banknotes before handing them over to staff.

    The former medic, who served in a field hospital in Saudi Arabia in 1991, told the Daily Mirror that he feared contracting the virus in the store as Covidiots were continuing to flout the rules. 

    He said: “The supermarket is like a warzone.There’s always this fear on checkouts of what the next customer might bring.

    “Most people apologise when I mention (about social distancing) and move back when asked.But there are those who aren’t interested and insist the virus doesn’t exist. They say it’s all a lie.”

  • WOMAN FINED FOR DRIVING 100 MILES FOR MCDONALD’S

    A Covidiot has been fined £200 after driving 100 miles across three counties to get a McDonald’s burger.

    Police issued the motorist, in her 30s, with a fixed penalty notice after they discovered the remarkable distance she had travelled.

    She drove from Lincolnshire for a McDonald’s meal with her sister in Scarborough on Saturday in a clear breach of the third Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

    Chief Inspector Rachel Wood, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Driving through three counties to get a burger is not classed as essential travel.”

  • HOSPITALS OVERWHELMED WITH MOST COVID PATIENTS EVER

    Hospitals have been overwhelmed with 36,489 patients admitted with Covid in a new record high – as critical care units are forced to operate at 152% of capacity to keep up with overwhelming demand.

    Ambulances have again been stuck queueing to admit their patients as an NHS chief revealed hospitals are treating 50 per cent more Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave in April.

    Photographs have revealed the pressure hospitals across the country are facing, with dozens seen waiting outside the Royal London Hospital.

    And eight ambulances were seen parked up outside Barnet General Hospital – many of which have been drafted in from the East of England area to help with London’s surge in Covid cases.

  • PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS TO BE TESTED

    The Government has announced that primary schools will begin receiving rapid Covid test kits for their staff from next week, according to Sky News.

  • ITALY EXTENDS COVID STATE EMERGENCY UNTIL APRIL

    Italy is extending its Covid-19 state of emergency until the end of April as infections spike amid a “worsening of the epidemic” in the past week.

    Travel is banned across the country, while even takeaways from cafes are prohibited under the strict rules that are now in place until April 30.

    The state of emergency has been extended as Covid-19 infections are increasing fast – with current active cases up by more than six times since October, said Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

    “A strong new storm is mounting in Europe. The virus will be curbed with vaccines but it will keep circulating with growing strength and can hit us once again very badly,” said Speranza.

  • TESCO BOSS EXPLAINS 5 RULES SHOPPERS MUST FOLLOW

    Tesco has emailed customers to share five updated rules the supermarket has put in place in stores to toughen up on Covid.

    In an email to shoppers, Tesco’s chief executive outlined the measures to help customers shop safely.

    He said while the measures are “difficult for everyone”, he urged shoppers to be “kind patient and respectful” to staff in Tesco stores. 

    It comes as many supermarkets are tightening up shopping rules in store.

    Stores including Aldi, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are banning people from entering shops if they are not wearing a face mask.

    Read all the rules here.

  • PM ‘CONCERNED’ ABOUT NEW BRAZILIAN VARIANT

    A third new strain of coronavirus has been identified after mutating in Brazil.

    It comes after a more contagious variant was first identified in the UK, followed by another from South Africa.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs today: “We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant.

    “We already have tough measures… to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad.

    “We are taking steps to do that in respect of the Brazilian variant.”

  • ITALY DEATHS PASS 80,000

    The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Italy since the start of the pandemic has passed 80,000.

    Yesterday saw 616 deaths recorded, bringing the overall toll to 80,326.

    The country has seen just over 2.3million cases of the virus so far, with around 17,000 people currently testing positive each day.

  • US STADIUMS TO SERVE AS VACCINE SUPER HUBS

    Stadiums and sports venues across the US are to be repurposed as vaccination super centres, NBC News reports.

    Sites including outdoor NFL football stadiums and Major League Baseball ballparks are to be used.

    The rollout of the vaccine is now being extended from healthcare workers and nursing home residents to groups including elderly people, emergency workers, and key workers.

    Among the venues being used is the New York Mets’ Citi Field ballpark in New York City.

    It comes after seven vaccine super centres opened in cities around the UK.

  • ‘VERY SUBSTANTIAL’ RISK OF ICUS BEING OVERWHELMED, SAYS PM

    Boris Johnson has warned there is a “very substantial” risk of intensive care units being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

    The prime minister was speaking before the Liaison Committee, a panel made up of the chairs of all of parliament’s other select committee’s.

    Discussing the current strain on the NHS, he said: “If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that.

    “But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”

    He added that “the situation is very, very tough indeed in the NHS” and “the strain is colossal” on staff.

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