Coronavirus latest news: Hospital admissions could plateau next week as cases in London and south east fall –

Hospital admissions could plateau as soon as next week, Prof Neil Ferguson has said, as cases in the original Tier 4 have shown signs of falling. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “much too early” to say exactly when case numbers would come down but said it was his hope that national hospital admissions would plateau “some time in the next week”.

He said: “It looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions in the South East and East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued, though it is hard to tell if they are coming down.

“It has to be said this is not seen everywhere – both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas, but overall at a national level we are seeing the rate of growth slow.”

Of the 315 local areas in England, more than a quarter (27.3%) have seen a drop in cases, suggesting the peak may have been reached.

Those areas originally plunged into Tier 4 in December – including parts of Kent, Essex, Surrey, London and Hampshire – have seen a drop in the number of week-on-week cases.

Follow the latest updates below.

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Snow slows vaccine rollout

Hospital bosses have advised older people not to visit Newcastle’s Centre for Life mass vaccination hub today because of snow in the city, saying they should rebook another appointment.

The Newcastle NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust tweeted: “We’re advising older people who are booked for their Covid-19 vaccine at the Centre for Life today to rebook for another day when the weather is better.

“It’s easy to do by calling 119. No need to risk travelling in the bad weather.”


Superdrug administer first coronavirus vaccinations on the high street

Health and beauty retailer Superdrug began its biggest vaccination programme in history as its pharmacists started administering Covid 19 vaccinations this morning in Guildford, writes India McTaggart.

Nurses and pharmacists at Superdrug will deliver the Oxford vaccine from 8am-8pm seven days a week to patients on the high street on behalf of the NHS, beginning in Guildford.

They will deliver around 1,000 vaccinations per week, which is one every five minutes.

The NHS will allocate patients to Superdrug through their national booking platform.


Poll: Who should get the vaccine next? 

Put yourself in the shoes of the decision-makers. 


‘We would love everyone to be vaccinated right now but we have to be realistic’

Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said the Government would “love” to vaccinate everyone right now but it needed to be realistic.

When asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain why other frontline workers such as teachers and police officers could not be vaccinated she said: “We absolutely understand this but we have the supply of vaccines that we have and we are aiming to get up to two million doses delivered each week.

“We would love everyone to be vaccinated right now but we have to be realistic.”

Ms Atkins also said she could not give a timeframe for when vaccinations will begin to be provided 24/7 and added: “It’s not just the availability of the vaccine, it’s having the people to do it.

“I would not want to give you a timeframe because I am not involved in those discussions.

“It does take time, and we have to do it carefully and we have to do it with safety absolutely paramount in our minds.”


Norwegian axes long-haul flights

Budget airline Norwegian has axed its long-haul network, leading to the loss of 1,100 pilot and cabin crew jobs based at Gatwick Airport.

The carrier said it will operate a “simplified business structure and dedicated short-haul route network” after being badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Norwegian shook up the UK’s long-haul aviation market in recent years by offering transatlantic flights at knockdown prices.

Some of its most popular deals included £99 trips to New York.

But it struggled to contain costs during its rapid expansion, and has come under further strain due to the virus crisis.


Temporary mortuary set up in first wave of pandemic is now in use

A temporary mortuary that was set up in a former aircraft hangar at the start of the pandemic is now in use, reports India McTaggart. 

The facility in the north-east of Norwich, at the former RAF Coltishall base, was not required during the first wave of coronavirus but is now being used by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). The site is now known as Scottow Enterprise Park.

Tom McCabe, chairman of Norfolk’s Covid-19 Strategic Co-ordination Group, said: “It was always anticipated that during challenging periods there would be extra pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria.

“This temporary mortuary provides additional capacity to help make sure the county’s hospitals have enough flexibility of space in their own mortuaries, and to ensure we can provide the most respectful and dignified way to look after both those who have died, and their families, over this difficult period.”

Mr McCabe added: “Anyone whose loved one is moved to the Scottow location will be informed and we can reassure people that we have a dedicated, trained team of staff who care for those who have died and been taken there.”


Humans of Covid-19 Instagram page hailed as ‘therapeutic’

A junior doctor helping to run an Instagram page documenting the lives of frontline workers has said the platform is “therapeutic”.

The page, entitled Humans of Covid-19, shares photos and stories from behind the scenes of the Covid-19 battle in a bid to “tug on heartstrings” of viewers and encourage them to follow coronavirus restrictions.

Here is the most recent post. 


WHO team to investigate ‘where the science leads them’

A World Health Organisation spokesman said the team in Wuhan will follow wherever the science leads them, reports India McTaggart.

Asked on Sky News if the team would investigate whether the virus was produced in a laboratory Tarik Jasarevic said: “We will follow wherever science leads us.

“The majority of scientists believe there is a natural origin of the virus, we know that bats are a natural reservoir of other coronaviruses, we really want to go and see and get the data.

“You mentioned the market [Wuhan wet market] but it is possible there are cases of SARS-CoV-2 before the market and the market was just a spreading event.

“What is really important is to be open and to follow the leads from a scientific perspective.”


Trains to be slashed due to lockdown

People who need to travel by train during lockdown are being urged to check journey planners as timetables are slashed, as exclusively revealed by The Telegraph last week.

Services are being cut from around 87% of normal levels to 72% due to the latest coronavirus lockdown in England.

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said this reflects the lower number of people travelling and provides better value for money for taxpayers, who are subsiding franchised train operators to keep trains running.

Morning and evening peak services are being prioritised to support key workers.

Some timetables have already been amended, while others will be changed over the coming weeks.

The RDG said alterations are being made in a way that will allow services to be restored “as quickly as possible when restrictions are eased”.


Negative test on arrival in Scotland ‘in force’

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that rules requiring travellers arriving in the country to have a negative coronavirus test are in force in Scotland.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast he was asked what the Scottish position was following the news that rules requiring travellers arriving in England to have a negative coronavirus test have been delayed.

He said: “The position in Scotland is that those restrictions are in place and we want to see people following those restrictions to make sure that we minimise the risk.”

Asked, “So you have to have a test before you travel to Scotland?”, he replied “Yes” and agreed that the restrictions apply now.


First pharmacy-delivered vaccine at Boots in Halifax

Brenda Clegg has become the first person in the UK to be vaccinated in a pharmacy. 

She got the Oxford jab at a Boots in her hometown of Halifax.

Brenda Clegg  Credit: Will Johnston Photography


Why are people still allowed to enter UK without negative test?

Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said that the Government was keeping coronavirus restrictions under “constant review”.

When asked on BBC Breakfast on Thursday if restrictions needed to be tightened she said: “Well we keep this under constant review, but we keep coming back to this point – this is incredibly serious.

“We know from the pressures on the NHS that hospitals in particular are very, very overstretched at the moment.”

When asked why people were still allowed into the UK without a test despite the new Brazilian variant she added: “From Friday the regulations come into force that people will be required to show a negative test before departing.”


WHO arrive in Wuhan, in pictures

A worker in protective coverings directs members of the World Health Organization (WHO) Credit: Ng Han Guan/AP

Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic board a bus Credit: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP 

Peter Ben Embarek of the WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Wuhan Credit: Thomas Peter/Reuters


Having Covid not a guarantee against re-infection

Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director of the national infection service of Public Health England (PHE) said having had a Covid-19 infection was not 100% protective against being re-infected.

But she told BBC Breakfast that prior infection “looks like it’s acting similarly to the vaccine, and it may be that the vaccine will boost this immune response and allow people to have an even better immune activation in future.”

She said infected people in PHE’s Siren study “had rapid high levels of antibodies that fell quickly and then got to a baseline.

“And the vast majority of people have remained to that baseline level, and only a very small percentage, a couple of percent, have lost their antibody overall.”


Travel restrictions a ‘delicate balancing act’

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said that there was a “delicate balancing act” between controlling coronavirus and putting too much of a burden on the economy.

When asked on Sky News why people were not being tested for the virus when entering the country 11 months after the UK’s first case, she said: “We have had a series of travel restrictions, indeed the quarantine restrictions have been in force for some time.

“There’s a very delicate balancing act between controlling the virus and ensuring we are not putting too much of a burden on the economy.”


Self-isolation could be relaxed for Covid contact

Prof Ferguson suggested that the requirement to isolate after coming into contact with a person with coronavirus could be relaxed for people who have recently had the virus to ease pressure on the health service.

He told Today: “Those people who have had the virus before are at less risk of getting infected and cumulatively slow the spread.

“What it means for individuals is harder to say. We have a real problem at the moment, for instance with healthcare workers – a lot of healthcare workers getting infected and off work.

“Whether we can relax restrictions temporarily on requirements for isolation for people who have had a positive PCR test in the last few months is a question for policy makers but it could ease pressures on, for instance, the health service.”

His comments came after the first report from Public Health England’s Siren study found that antibodies from past infection provide 83% protection against reinfection for at least five months.


Minister pressed on South American travel corridor

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said the UK had acted “decisively” in the past over new variants of coronavirus found in Denmark and South Africa.

When asked on Sky News why the air corridor between Brazil and parts of South America to the UK had not been closed off, she said: “Of course, people flying into the UK, whether from South America or elsewhere are required to have a 10-day quarantine period when they land in the UK. That is mandatory.

“In terms of the decision on travel measures, it takes a little bit of time.

“What we need to ensure is that when we make these very, very important decisions that have a huge impact on people’s personal lives, but also businesses, we have got to have a little bit of time to let that bed in.

“The Prime Minister was clear that measure will be taken, we have acted decisively in the past with both the Denmark and South African variants, so I wouldn’t want to speculate further at this stage.”


Covid recoverers protected better than those who received Oxford vaccine

Millions of people who have already recovered from coronavirus are likely to have protection greater than the Oxford vaccine, raising questions as to whether people should be antibody tested to avoid wasting jabs.

New research from Public Health England (PHE) shows that antibodies from a previous infection provide at least 83 per cent protection from picking up the virus again, and possibly up to 99 per cent, for at least five months and probably far longer.

In contrast, the Oxford vaccine has a short-term efficacy of 73 per cent after one dose, and longer-term protection of around 70 per cent after two doses.

In a sample of more than 6,600 healthcare staff who tested positive for an infection, just 44 people were reinfected within five months, and only two of those cases were deemed “probable”, with the rest being classed as only “possible”.


Hospital admissions showing ‘sign of plateauing’

The coronavirus growth rate is slowing and in some NHS regions there is a “sign of plateauing” in cases and hospital admissions, a leading epidemiologist has suggested.

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “much too early” to say exactly when case numbers would come down but in some NHS regions they appear to be “plateauing”.

He said: “It looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions in the South East and East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued, though it is hard to tell if they are coming down.

“It has to be said this is not seen everywhere – both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas, but overall at a national level we are seeing the rate of growth slow.”


Brazilian strain being monitored ‘very carefully’

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said the UK was monitoring the new Brazilian coronavirus variant “very carefully” and that “practical measures” were being worked on.

Speaking on Sky News, she added: “This variant has been spotted and it is not unusual for viruses to develop variations in their strains.

“But in terms of the UK, we are monitoring it very, very carefully, we have a world-leading team of scientists working on the different forms of the virus.

“And as the Prime Minister said yesterday, in terms of practical measures, they are being worked on at the moment and no doubt we will hear more in due course as to measures to help deal with that.”


Covid around the world

China reported its biggest daily jump in new cases in more than 10 months its first Covid-19 related death in 242 days, as the World Health Organization’s team of scientists arrived in the country’s central city of Wuhan to investigate the pandemic’s origins.
Spain reported a record number of new infections on Wednesday in the wake of the Christmas holidays.
 The state premier of Queensland in Australia said she was considering using remote mining camps to quarantine international arrivals.
As the United States recorded its highest single-day death toll, New York’s mayor said the city would fall short of its inoculation goals unless it gets more vaccines.
The Cuban government is once more shutting down schools, public transport and cultural activities


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Here is your Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Jan 14.


Pharmacies to begin rolling out vaccine

High street pharmacies will begin rolling out Covid vaccines today.

Boots and Superdrug branches will be among the six stores across England which will be able to administer the jabs from today while the Government aims to hit its target of vaccinating all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.

The NHS Covid-19 Vaccination centre at Boots, Halifax  Credit: PA

Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford and Appleton Village pharmacy in Widnes will be in the first group to hand out the injections, alongside Boots in Halifax, and Superdrug in Guildford.

The six pharmacies have been picked because they can deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for social distancing, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “fantastic” that jabs would be available on the high street.


NHS battling against transplant centre closures

The NHS says it is striving to ensure as many organ transplants as possible can go ahead despite the forced closure of several transplant centres amid the Covid crisis.

A report in The Independent says patients are missing out on potentially life-saving transplants because hospital intensive care beds are currently taken up by coronavirus patients.

According to a list provided to the PA news agency by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), 13 out of 68 facilities where various organ transplants are usually carried out are currently fully closed.

A small number of others are either paused for up to 14 days, open for selected patients only, open for “super urgent and urgent cases only”, or partially closed – meaning closed to either deceased or to living donations.

Facilities affected include Guy’s Hospital, the West London Renal & Transplant Centre, and the Royal Free Hospital in the capital, as well as Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and Belfast City Hospital.

The Independent reported there had been a 21% year-to-year drop in the number of transplants carried out within the NHS in 2020 due to first two waves of the pandemic.

Read more: ‘My life was on hold’: how patients awaiting transplants were hit by the closure of units 


Famous circus owner dies from coronavirus

Gerry Cottle, the former circus owner, has died aged 75 after contracting coronavirus, his agent has said.

He found fame during the Seventies with the touring Gerry Cottle Circus, while he also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus in Britain.

Gerry Cottle Credit: Heathcliff O’Malley,

Cottle, who was born in 1945, died in hospital in Bath. Mark Borkowski said in a statement: “Gerry was a loving family man who is survived by his wife Betty and three daughters and a son, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”

He added on Twitter: “RIP Gerry Cottle the last of the great circus showmen.”

“In a fraction of a second the bastard virus ripped your life away. I shall never forget all the mad adventures we shared.”

Read more: Gerry Cottle, circus showman, dies of coronavirus at 75


WHO team arrives in Wuhan

A team of WHO experts landed in Wuhan on Thursday for a long-delayed mission to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.

Chinese state broadcaster CGTN showed the arrival of their plane from Singapore for a visit that is expected to last several weeks.

On Wednesday it was reported that British diplomats are bracing for the United States to make grave allegations against China, linked to “dangerous” coronavirus research in Wuhan.

Donald Trump is thought to be intent on firing a final salvo against Beijing over the Covid crisis in one of his last acts before he departs the Oval Office next week.

Read more: US report expected to say Chinese army grew ‘dangerous coronaviruses’ in Wuhan

China has been blamed for failing to contain the spread of Covid-19 which has become a global pandemic Credit: REUTERS


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