Covid infection levels may have risen at start of UK lockdown

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Infection levels in England may have risen at the start of January, scientists track the spread of the coronavirus have said, with swab tests indicating the highest figures were in London.

Researchers from the Imperial College London found that 1.58 per cent were positive for the virus between 6 and 15 January, while London stood at 2.8 per cent.

They say infection levels may have risen in early January, despite the lockdown beginning on 6 January, due to people’s activity increasing after the holidays ended.

The report’s data is more up to date than the government’s daily case figures, the scientists claim, because it does not rely on those being tested developing symptoms.

The developments comes as the UK reported its highest daily death toll yet on Wednesday, with 1,820 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for the virus. It is the second consecutive day that the daily death toll has been a record figure.

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Covid infections may have risen during first week of lockdown, new study suggests

Covid-19 infections may have risen during the first week of the national lockdown, experts have warned, sparking concern over the effectiveness of the current restrictions.

The prevalence of coronavirus across England increased by 50 per cent between early December and the second week of January, according to the latest React study from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori.

More than 142,900 volunteers were tested between 6 and 15 January, revealing that one in 63 people had Covid-19.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:14

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UK ‘on track’ to vaccinate elderly care home residents by end of month, Hancock says

The UK is “on track” to reach its target of vaccinating elderly care home residents, Matt Hancock has said.

Responding to a request for an update on the progress of the vaccine rollout, Mr Hancock told Commons: “I’m delighted to say that 63 per cent of residents in elderly care homes have now received vaccination. That is a really significant increase over the last week.

“We’re on track to deliver on our goal of vaccinating elderly care home residents by the end of this month, and I hope sooner than that.”

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:07

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Indian vaccine manufacturer’s building catches fire

A building under construction at the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, has caught fire.

The incident has not affected a stockpile of Covid-19 vaccine, officials said.

Photos from the scene showed smoke billowing from buildings as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze in Pune, a city in India’s southern Maharashtra state.

(AP)

The Serum Institute of India is contracted to produce one billion doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for developing nations, including India.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 10:57

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Parents were ‘nearly twice as likely’ to see income fall over pandemic, ONS says

Employed parents were nearly twice as likely to see their income decrease than the general working population throughout the pandemic, the ONS said.

The disparity slowly narrowed as schools reopened as the year went on and schools reopened, it added.

Parents were less able to afford an “unexpected but necessary expense” (or a holiday) than those without children and were also about 50 per cent more likely to have difficulty meeting their usual expenses, it said.

Workers and job seekers were also more likely to have decreased income during the pandemic while others such as retired people out of the labour market were more protected, the ONS said.

Self-employed people were more likely to report reduced working hours and income, even if they had received support from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), it added.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 10:49

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More than 3,000 people waited for over an hour to be admitted to A&E

More than 3,000 patients waited for over 60 minutes to be transferred from ambulance teams to A&E staff at hospitals in England last week, new figures show.

A total of 3,333 delays of over an hour were recorded across all acute trusts in the seven days to 17 January, according to figures published by NHS England.

This compares with 5,513 in the seven days to 10 January – the highest weekly figure so far this winter.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust reported the highest number for an individual trust (237 delays of more than 60 minutes), followed by University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust (158) and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (156).

A handover delay does not always mean a patient has waited in the ambulance. They may have been moved into an A&E department, but staff were not available to complete the handover.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 10:29

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Almost 2,000 Covid-related attacks on emergency services in six months

Almost 2,000 assaults on emergency workers were prosecuted in the six months following the UK’s first national lockdown, new figures show.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the attacks, often seeing police officers coughed and spat on, were the most common coronavirus-related crime between 1 April and 30 September.

The 1,688 offences also include incidents where officers were kicked, bitten and hit with heavy objects after stopping people suspected of breaking restrictions.

Lizzie Dearden has the latest here:

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 10:10

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Almost nine million people borrowed more money because of the pandemic, ONS says

Almost nine million people had to borrow more money than usual due to the pandemic by December 2020, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show, with young and low paid people hit hardest.

Almost half (45 per cent) of borrowers took on a loan of at least £1,000 – an increase from 35 per cent in June 2020.

The ONS said the “labour market shocks” associated with the pandemic had been felt more by young people and the lowest paid, with those aged under 30 and those with household incomes under £10,000 were around 35 per cent and 60 per cent respectively more likely to be furloughed than the general population.

Of those who have not been able to work – either because of being on furlough or for another reason – more than half (52 per cent) of people in the top income quintile continued to be paid in full, compared to 28 per cent of those in the lowest.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 10:02

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Welsh AstraZeneca vaccine factory undisrupted by flooding, manufacturer says

All “necessary precautions” have been taken to avoid disruption to the manufacture of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after “mild flooding” at a Welsh plant where it is produced.

“Last night at approximately 1600 (GMT) hours, Wockhardt UK experienced mild flooding, resulting in excess water surrounding part of the buildings across site,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“All necessary precautions were taken meaning no disruption to manufacturing or inlet of water into buildings. The site is now secure and free from any further flood damage and operating as normal.”

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 09:43

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England’s third lockdown isn’t working, expert warns

England’s national lockdown is not working, an expert has warned, following research suggesting that infection levels increased in early January.

Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, said the interim findings of the college’s React study show that the prevalence of infection increased between 6 and 15 January.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “It’s long enough that, were the lockdown working effectively, we would certainly have hoped to have seen a decline.”

He said data from previous lockdowns did show a decline, adding that current research “certainly doesn’t support the conclusion that lockdown is working”.

Prof Riley added that there was “overwhelming” evidence that restricting social contact lowers infection rates, citing the first lockdown as an example of successful “changes in people’s behaviour”.

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 08:59

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Williamson says he ‘hopes’ schools in England can reopen before Easter

The education secretary has said he hopes schools in England can fully reopen before Easter, adding that any decision will be based on health and scientific advice.

“I would certainly hope that that would be certainly before Easter,” Gavin Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Any decision to open schools to all children is based on the best health advice and the best scientific advice.

“The reason that we were placed in the position to close schools to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children was down to the mounting pressure on the NHS.”

Ashley Cowburn has the details here:

Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 08:45

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