24.11.2020

UK prepares for largest ever flu immunisation this winter

Prime minister Boris Johnson led the applause from Downing Street and will later meet NHS workers in the Number 10 garden, while public buildings including the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower and the Shard have been lit up blue.

The NHS was honoured on its 72nd anniversary with a nationwide clap on Sunday evening, as politicians, medical professionals and the general public paid tribute to the service.

Earlier in the day, John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, warned that it is “crystal clear” drunk people can’t – or won’t – socially distance, after scenes showed huge crowds packed into Soho in central London on Saturday evening.

Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog – we’ll be bringing you all the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic around the globe.

‘Crystal clear’ drunk people can’t socially distance, warns police chief

A police chief has warned it is “crystal clear” drunk people are unable to properly socially distance after scenes from across England showed huge crowds ignoring the one metre plus rule as pubs reopened on Saturday.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said the pandemic “is a long way from gone” as he urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as pubs and restaurants reopened.

But images from London’s Soho showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, said he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks” while on shift in Southampton yesterday.

He added in a tweet: What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

Concerns raised over reopening of pubs as huge crowds pack into Soho

Concern has been raised over the reopening of pubs in London after scenes from Soho appeared to show people failing to observe social distancing rules.

Numerous pictures and videos have been shared online of packed, crowded streets in the famous London district.

One Twitter user wrote: “Just seen the scenes in Soho. It’s as if the health care workers who risked their lives trying to deal with the pandemic were just wasting their time.”

‘I can imagine it getting out of hand’

Pubs in south London have reopened with more of an initial whimper than a bang, as the thirstiest punters were given a taste of the post-coronavirus reality facing one of the nation’s favourite habitats, writes Andy Gregory.

Despite pubs being granted permission to start serving at 6am, there appeared little sign of the New Year’s Eve-esque “Super Saturday” hype forecast by many, with some establishments remaining shuttered after midday and others, on the face of it, appearing relatively empty.

In Tooting, the queues outside hairdressers by far outstripped those outside favoured locals – an outcome that had been hinted at by Redfield & Wilton polling for the BBC, which indicated just seven per cent of adults in England intended to visit a pub this weekend.

‘Vast majority have acted responsibly’, says health secretary after Soho scenes

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the vast majority of people who went out on “Super Saturday” were “doing the right thing” and following social distancing.

Speaking on Sky’s Ridge On Sunday, Mr Hancock said: “Well I think that from what I’ve seen, although there’s some pictures to the contrary, very, very largely people have acted responsibly.”

He added: “So overall I’m pleased with what happened yesterday. It was really good to see people out and about and largely, very largely, social distancing.”
The health secretary said “the large proportion of people, the vast majority of people are, I think, doing the right thing”.
He added: “But of course we’ll take action when we need to when…if the minority break the rules.”

On those who did not social distance, Mr Hancock said: “Well we’ll of course keep this very closely under review, and you’ve seen for instance in Leicester but also in other places that we don’t shirk from bringing in more drastic measures if that is what’s needed to control the virus.”

‘Enjoy the new freedoms – but do so safely’

Matt Hancock has said the government’s message to the public is “enjoy the new freedoms, but do so safely”.

Asked when the government should begin learning lessons from its response to the pandemic, the health secretary told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday programme: “Well we are learning all of that all of the time, looking at what works and what needs improvement.”

He added: “And my overriding message to people is yes, enjoy the new freedoms, but do so safely following social distancing. It is so important, and even the basics like washing you hands.

“We have got this virus getting right under control, the number of new infections is under 600 on the last data, so it is really coming down in terms of the number of positive cases that we’re finding and that is good news, but we’ve just got to have the resilience and resolve to stick at it and to be very careful in how we enjoy those new freedoms.
“Yes, go out there and enjoy summer and get out and enjoy the things that we love, that we’ve been able to lift the restrictions on, but do so safely.
“And there are two parts to that – enjoy summer safely. And it’s a really important message and I think it’s one that the vast majority of people understand.”

Could virus sample in Wuhan lab have caused Covid-19?

Scientists have raised fresh questions over whether a coronavirus sample held for years in a Wuhan laboratory could have mutated naturally or via genetic experimentation to become the virus which causes Covid-19.

Since the Sars pandemic in 2003, China-based researchers have been scouring bat-inhabited caves in the hope of tracking and analysing potential new coronaviruses, notably at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Among the most revered of these scientists is Dr Shi Zhengli, nicknamed “Bat Woman” by her colleagues – who in February co-authored the most extensive academic paper on the novel coronavirus up to that point.

In addition to giving a full genetic description of the virus, Dr Shi’s paper – published in Nature – revealed that the WIV housed a sample of virus collected from bats named RaTG13, which it said was a 96.2 per cent match with the Covid-19 virus – the closest yet discovered.

Stanley Johnson defends Greece trip

Boris Johnson’s father has defended his decision to fly to Greece via Bulgaria in order to “Covid-proof” his property there before he potentially rents it out.

With a towel draped over his shoulder, Stanley Johnson told reporters on a dirt track outside his villa on Mount Pelion that he wasn’t “100 per cent up to speed” on the British public’s reaction since he went to Greece for “a quiet time, to organise the house”.

The trip has met with criticism for having violated Greece’s coronavirus restrictions as well as the current travel guidance in the UK.

Clap for Carers returns

Clap for Carers will return today for a one-off event after the weekly lockdown clap was ended on 28 May.

The clap began at the start of lockdown with members of the public applauding from their doorsteps and windows every Thursday at 8pm to honour NHS staff, supermarket workers, teachers and other frontline employees who were instrumental in the fight against Covid-19.

Annemarie Plas, the founder of Clap for Carers, eventually called for the event to come to a close after its 10th consecutive week – Plas said it should end while “at its peak”.

‘Likely’ Britain could see further 27,000 excess deaths by April

A further 27,000 excess deaths are “likely” between now and next April under the current approach to coronavirus, a former government chief scientific adviser has claimed.

Sir David King told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that it looked as though the current government policy was to “maintain” the current level of about 3,000 new infections per day across England.

He said: “What we are saying is 27,000 excess deaths are likely between now and next April if the expectation by the chief medical officer is that he would be surprised and delighted if the UK is in the same place next spring.
“If he’s correct we would still have about 2,000 to 3,000 new infections in England per day and that is the number of deaths that would follow from that.”
He added: “It looks as if the policy is to maintain the current level of about 3,000 new infections per day across England, while Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland are heading towards net zero.”

Russia coronavirus cases surpass 680,000

Russia on Sunday reported 6,736 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the nationwide tally to 681,251.

The authorities said that 134 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 10,161.

Indonesia reports highest daily rise in Covid-19 deaths

Indonesia has reported 82 new coronavirus deaths in its highest daily tally, taking the toll to 3,171.

Infections rose 1,607, for a total of 63,749 cases, Health Ministry official AchmaId Yurianto said.

Nigel Farage reported to police for pub visit

Nigel Farage has been reported to police after apparently visiting a pub less than a fortnight after a trip to a Donald Trump rally in the United States.

Anyone returning from overseas is required to self-isolate for 14 days under current quarantine laws, with few exceptions.

On Friday, ministers announced the restrictions would be lifted for some countries, but only from 10 July.

NHS to launch online coronavirus rehab service

The NHS is to launch a new online Covid-19 rehabilitation service as thousands warn they continue to suffer debilitating symptoms months after contracting the disease.

The treatments will help those who have survived the virus but still have problems with their breathing, mental health or other complications.

New rehabilitation centres to help those most seriously affected by the virus are also expected to open across the country.

Britain must solve its social care crisis if “any good” is to come from the coronavirus pandemic, the boss of NHS England has warned.

UK will need ‘largest flu immunisation in history this winter’

The largest flu immunisation programme Britain has ever seen will have to be carried out this winter, the boss of NHS England has warned.

As the health service prepares for a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors’ leaders have warned the health service will struggle if high numbers of Covid-19 cases coincide with a bad flu season.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Simon Stevens said the NHS was preparing for the virus to rebound this winter.

‘We went to a restaurant for the first time since February’

Going out to eat should feel like a luxury, but it was hard to fully relax after months of lockdown, Sophie Gallagher writes.

‘Perfect storm’ led to PPE shortages, says health boss

A “perfect storm” of disrupted supply chains and a huge spike in demand led to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), the NHS’s chief executive has said.

Sir Simon Stephens told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I think it’s undoubtedly the case that there was a perfect storm in respect of PPE, not just in this country but across Europe.

“We had a combination of a huge increase in the need for it at exactly the same time as the Chinese economy was in lockdown, and a very a significant dependence, not just here, but across Europe on Chinese supplies.
“So putting those two things together it clearly created a very difficult situation.”

Prince Charles praises ‘remarkably selfless’ NHS workers

Prince Charles has paid tribute to the ”remarkably selfless” healthcare workers who have been taking care of others throughout the coronavirus pandemic to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

On 5 July 1948, the national health service was launched by then-minister for health Aneurin Bevan.

More than seven decades later, the NHS is facing “the most testing time” in its history, the Prince of Wales said.

On the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, the royal released a video message in support of the health service, stating that it’s “founding principle” is particularly apt at this period of time.

Bali holds mass prayers for reopening from coronavirus lockdown

Bali has conducted mass prayers as the Indonesian resort island prepares to reopen to tourists.

More than a thousand people attended a prayer at Besakih Hindu temple in the town of Karangasem today, expressing gratitude for the handling of the new coronavirus on the island and seeking blessings for the start of a “new normal”.

Bali has reported 1,849 coronavirus infections and 20 deaths so far, while Indonesia as a whole has recorded 63,749 cases and 3,171 deaths since early March.

The Southeast Asian island will gradually reopen this month for domestic tourists, while maintaining a “strict health protocol” to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Bali provincial secretary Dewa Made Indra told reporters.

The local government expects to reopen Bali to foreign arrivals in September.

Tourism is Bali’s main source of income and travel restrictions due to the pandemic have hammered the local economy.

http://www.independent.co.uk/

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