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Queen launches Britain’s jab blitz: Vaccine superhubs get ready to inject four people a minute

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The Queen and Prince Philip received their Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday – and made the fact public to encourage take-up of the injections which could finally turn the tide against the deadly pandemic.

As Boris Johnson announced an ambitious ‘test and jabs’ blitz to combat the virus, Her Majesty, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, received their injections at Windsor Castle from a doctor in the Royal Household.

They had their first jab only when it became available to others in the Berkshire area to avoid any suggestion of special treatment. The same will apply to the second injection, expected in a few weeks.

The Palace declined to specify whether they received the Oxford or the Pfizer vaccine, to avoid giving the impression of favouring one over the other.

But well-placed sources said it was a ‘reasonable assumption’ that they had the one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Both accepted the inoculations on the advice of their doctors and did not suffer any side-effects.

It came as Britain recorded more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths for the fourth day in a row as the new mutation wreaks havoc across the country.

A further 1,035 people have died today in the deadliest Saturday since April 18, as the total Covid death toll since the pandemic began hit a grim 80,000.

The total marked a 132.5 per cent rise on the 445 deaths recorded on Saturday last week and was the highest Saturday figure since April 18.

But in a positive sign the upward curve in cases may be levelling out a further 59,937 people tested positive, up just 3.8 per cent on last Saturday.

It is also more than 8,000 cases fewer than the 68,053 recorded yesterday – a record high. Friday also saw 1,325 more deaths.

Yet Professor Chris Whitty warned hospitals are facing ‘the worst crisis in living memory’, with 46,000 medical workers now off sick.

In other developments:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock uses an exclusive article in today’s Mail on Sunday to announce the rollout of two million fast-result ‘lateral flow’ tests for anyone in England who needs to leave their home for work, in a bid to identify the estimated one in three asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’;
  • The UK’s Covid death toll passed 80,000, after a further 1,035 deaths were recorded yesterday, increasing fears that the total will surpass 100,000 by the end of the month;
  • The number of people who tested positive for coronavirus rose by 59,937 yesterday, 3.8 per cent higher than last Saturday’s figure but down 8,000 on the previous day;
  • Downing Street is expected to delay local elections from May until the autumn because of the disruption caused by the pandemic;
  • An expert study concluded there is no clear evidence that closing schools can reduce the spread of coronavirus, despite the Government’s claim on Tuesday that it had no choice but to shut the education system down;
  • Some state school heads were revealed to be blocking live online lessons on the grounds that it was an invasion of teachers’ privacy, as Tory MPs called on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to emulate Margaret Thatcher’s tough approach to striking miners in the 1980s in dealing with militant teaching unions;
  • Scientists advising the Government claimed that lockdown measures in England need to be more strict – with some calling for ‘Asian-style’ curbs – as current rules were ‘still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus’; 
  • Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called on Derbyshire Police to rescind the £200 fines handed out to friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, who drove five miles to take a walk at a beauty spot;
  • British holidaymakers were warned that they face having to quarantine abroad for up to a fortnight if they fail a Covid test when they prepare to fly home;
  • Experts said travellers from South Africa are taking indirect flights to Britain to dodge the travel ban.
As Boris Johnson announced an ambitious 'test and jabs' blitz to combat the virus, Her Majesty, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured in November), 99, received their injections at Windsor Castle from a doctor in the Royal Household

As Boris Johnson announced an ambitious ‘test and jabs’ blitz to combat the virus, Her Majesty, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured in November), 99, received their injections at Windsor Castle from a doctor in the Royal Household

Vaccination booths are pictured inside Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, which is one of seven mass vaccination centres which will open on Monday

Vaccination booths are pictured inside Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, which is one of seven mass vaccination centres which will open on Monday

Britain recorded more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths for the fourth day in a row as the new mutation wreaks havoc across the country. Pictured: A vaccination booth next to a waiting area inside Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol

Britain recorded more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths for the fourth day in a row as the new mutation wreaks havoc across the country. Pictured: A vaccination booth next to a waiting area inside Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol

The Mail on Sunday revealed last month that the Queen was about to receive the vaccine, and that she was expected to break with protocol to acknowledge the fact to encourage others to follow suit.

Senior Whitehall officials were keen for her to help rally the nation behind the vaccination programme, despite the traditional reluctance of courtiers to release private medical information.

The Queen has made an exception before, when she let it be known that Prince Charles and Princess Anne had been given polio jabs in 1957 to allay fears about the safety of the injections that, as now, threatened the level of take-up.

The injections at Windsor Castle came as the first of 630,000 letters inviting over-80s to come for vaccinations are being received by those who live within 45 minutes of one of seven new inoculation ‘super-hubs’ being launched tomorrow. The centres aim to inoculate four people every minute.

The Prime Minister said last night that the drive aimed to have offered 12 million people the jab in England by the middle of February.

More than 1.5 million people have been vaccinated so far, but the rate needs to rise closer to two million a week for Mr Johnson to hit his target. He has pledged to bring in the Army to bolster the programme.

After the Queen and Prince Philip received their vaccine, Mr Hancock said he was ‘delighted’, tweeting: ‘We are defeating this vaccine jab by jab.’

While the Royal couple wait for their second dose, the so-called HMS Bubble – the protective shield around them created by staff isolating and being regularly tested – will be maintained.

Hundreds were seen queuing along the pavement for their jab at The Jenner Practice in Forest Hill, south London, on Friday

Hundreds were seen queuing along the pavement for their jab at The Jenner Practice in Forest Hill, south London, on Friday

The 41-second clip, which has garnered 471,900 views, shows hundreds of elderly patients waiting with coats and face masks

The queue was seen winding around several corners leading to the clinic

The 41-second clip, which has garnered 471,900 views, shows hundreds of elderly patients waiting with coats and face masks

The Queen, 94, spoke of the coming of 'light and hope' embodied in the birth of Christ as she gave her annual Christmas message at a time when many of her subjects remain apart from their families due to the pandemic

The Queen, 94, spoke of the coming of ‘light and hope’ embodied in the birth of Christ as she gave her annual Christmas message at a time when many of her subjects remain apart from their families due to the pandemic

A Buckingham Palace source said that the Queen had decided the her vaccine should be made public to prevent ‘further speculation’.

Discussions have also been held about the potential roles Prince Charles and Prince William could play in publicising vaccinations.

Both contracted coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic. Charles was described as having mild symptoms and lost his sense of taste and smell for a period, while it was reported William was hit ‘pretty hard’ by the virus.

Chris Whitty warns hospitals are facing ‘the worst crisis in living memory’ as Covid cases soar

Chris Whitty has warned hospitals are facing ‘the worst crisis in living memory’ as Covid-19 cases continue to soar – with 46,000 medical workers now off sick.   

Britons who don’t take the coronavirus lockdown seriously will cause ‘avoidable deaths’ when critically ill patients are turned away at the hospital door, Professor Chris Whitty warned in a scathing article for the Sunday Times.

And almost 50,000 hospital workers are currently off sick with Covid-19, according to the chair of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, meaning an already stretched workforce is under even more pressure, reported The Guardian.

He said: ‘It is only if the NHS workforce is kept fit and well that we will be able to meet the unprecedented surge in demand that the coming weeks and months will bring as well as delivering the vaccine programme that remains our only hope to end this dreadful pandemic.’

Prof Whitty blasted coronavirus rulebreakers for being the ‘link in a chain’ that will allow the deadly virus to infect a and kill the elderly and vulnerable. 

‘We must stay home except for work, exercise and necessary activities. Every unneccesary interaction you have could be the link in the chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end,’ he wrote.

The country has two weeks before hospitals are likely to be completely overwhelmed, Prof Whitty added, as the nation is plunged into the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living history.

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Both princes have indicated they will be inoculated – although 72-year-old Charles said last month that he was ‘way down the list’ for a jab.

Because the Royals will be offered the vaccine at the same time as others in their age groups, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are unlikely to be vaccinated until later this year.

On Friday, a third vaccine, made by US company Moderna, was approved for use in the UK.

Royal historian Hugo Vickers commended the Queen and Duke’s decision to make yesterday’s inoculations public, saying: ‘They are setting an example, as they have always done. If anyone had any doubts over vaccination, now they will say, ‘Well, if the Queen has had it, I will too’.

‘That’s exactly why she had made this decision public – to encourage others and to spike any anti-vaccinations nonsense.’

A senior SAGE official on Friday warned the actual number of Britons currently getting infected every day is closer to 150,000 – claiming that the size of the second wave is now significantly worse than the first.  

As Britain’s death toll continues to climb, experts are calling for an even tougher lockdown to combat the rapidly-spreading new variant while the Government issued a new campaign blitz to scare people into obeying lockdown rules.

England is now in its toughest and longest shutdown since last spring and may not emerge from it until all the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Prof Whitty warned hospitals are facing ‘the worst crisis in living memory’ as Covid-19 cases continue to soar – with 46,000 medical workers now off sick.

Britons who don’t take the coronavirus lockdown seriously will cause ‘avoidable deaths’ when critically ill patients are turned away at the hospital door, Professor Chris Whitty warned in a scathing article for the Sunday Times.

And almost 50,000 hospital workers are currently off sick with Covid-19, according to the chair of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, meaning an already stretched workforce is under even more pressure, reported The Guardian.

He said: ‘It is only if the NHS workforce is kept fit and well that we will be able to meet the unprecedented surge in demand that the coming weeks and months will bring as well as delivering the vaccine programme that remains our only hope to end this dreadful pandemic.’

Prof Whitty blasted coronavirus rulebreakers for being the ‘link in a chain’ that will allow the deadly virus to infect a and kill the elderly and vulnerable. 

‘We must stay home except for work, exercise and necessary activities. Every unneccesary interaction you have could be the link in the chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end,’ he wrote.

The country has two weeks before hospitals are likely to be completely overwhelmed, Prof Whitty added, as the nation is plunged into the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living history.

Prof Whitty has also appeared in adverts urging Britons to ‘act like you’ve got’ coronavirus to ‘protect the NHS and save lives’.

Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and 'act like you've got it' as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting "Stay Home, Save Lives" in central London

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ in central London

Three police officers wearing face masks question a man sitting on a bench in St James's Park in central London this morning

Three police officers wearing face masks question a man sitting on a bench in St James’s Park in central London this morning

Despite around 90 per cent of the population 'overwhelmingly' sticking to regulations, the streets and public transport have remained busy this week, allowing the virus to spread. Pictured: Clapham today

Despite around 90 per cent of the population ‘overwhelmingly’ sticking to regulations, the streets and public transport have remained busy this week, allowing the virus to spread. Pictured: Clapham today

This week’s enormous case figures – which have exceeded 50,000 every day since Monday – have added pressure on the PM to speed up the sluggish vaccination programme designed to start getting Britain out of lockdown by mid-February.

Scientists have warned the current lockdown measures are too ‘lax’ and cannot contain the new Covid variant, so are demanding stricter restrictions as ‘interactions are now riskier’ than in the first wave of the pandemic.

While 90 per cent of the population ‘overwhelmingly’ sticking to regulations, Britain’s streets and public transport have remained busy this week allowing the virus to spread, with one expert describing the new strain as a ‘pandemic within a pandemic’.

As a result, ministers are considering introducing tougher measures as part of the crackdown, including possibly making face masks mandatory in busy outdoor areas.

On Saturday, Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director of Public Health England, said the more coronavirus patients the NHS has to deal with, the more difficult it is to keep other services open as he urged anyone doubting the seriousness of the situation to read and listen to the words of staff and patients.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I would encourage people to read, look at the programmes that you’re running on TV where you’re interviewing doctors, where you’re interviewing patients who’ve had this very severe disease and are suffering from the long-term effects of it.

‘This is the reality and that is the truth. So the advice would be listen, read, but stay at home. Protect yourself, protect your families.’

SAGE scientist Professor Susan Michie this morning warned that the current nation-wide lockdown is ‘too lax’.

She said the virus thrives in cold weather and people spending more time indoors increases the risk of transmission. 

She said a wide scope for what counts as a key worker means classrooms are nearly half full and public transport is crowded at school pick up and drop off – on top of rush hour for key workers. 

Permitted household contact for certain trades – including non-essential tradespeople or nannies –  also increases the risk of the virus spreading rapidly, the professor said.  

Professor Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: ‘This is quite a lax lockdown because we’ve still got a lot of household contact, people go in and out of other people’s houses if they’re a cleaner, a non-essential trade person or a nanny. 

‘We also have mass gatherings in terms of religious events and nurseries being open, and you have this wide definition of critical workers so we have 30 to 50 per cent of classes full up at the moment and very busy public transport going to and from these things.

‘It’s definitely too lax. If you compare ourselves with March we have the winter season and the virus survives for longer in the cold plus people spend more time indoors and we now know aerosol transmission which happens indoors is a very big source of transmission for this virus.

‘Secondly, we have this new variant which is 50 to 70 per cent more infectious. You put those two things together alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter, rather than a less strict lockdown than we had in March.’

People out and about Clapham, South London today after a major incident has been declared by the London Mayor due to rapid rise in Covid-19 cases England in currently in its 3rd Lockdown due to Covid 19. restrictions mean people can not leave home apart for work, exercise, and shopping for essential items pubs and restaurants have closed, Shops selling non essential Items are also closed, people have been asked to work from home where possible and mixing with other households is not allowed

People out and about Clapham, South London today after a major incident has been declared by the London Mayor due to rapid rise in Covid-19 cases England in currently in its 3rd Lockdown due to Covid 19. restrictions mean people can not leave home apart for work, exercise, and shopping for essential items pubs and restaurants have closed, Shops selling non essential Items are also closed, people have been asked to work from home where possible and mixing with other households is not allowed

However, Prof Susan Michie said to get people to adhere to the rules, a more positive approach needed to be taken rather than stricter enforcement

However, Prof Susan Michie said to get people to adhere to the rules, a more positive approach needed to be taken rather than stricter enforcement

Westminster Bridge was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Westminster Bridge was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Professor Michie’s concerns were echoed by Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said the new variant should be treated as a ‘new pandemic within a pandemic’. 

The Sage member told Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘The early signals we’re seeing are suggesting that there is probably less movement in the population than there was in November but perhaps slightly more than there was in April, and obviously that’s concerning because, with this new variant, essentially each interaction we have has become riskier than it was before.

No more warnings: Police vow to get even tougher with lockdown fines

Police are vowing to get even tougher with lockdown fines amid calls from scientists for even stricter restrictions, while No10 pushes an intimidating new ad campaign to try and arrest the spiralling number of coronavirus cases across the country. 

Derbyshire Police faced criticism yesterday for taking the lockdown crackdown too far after officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot.

As a result, the ‘intimidating’ force is reviewing its Covid operations after getting clarification about the rules, with West Mercia Police also mocked for threatening to fine people £200 for playing in the snow.

Nevertheless, the message from government sources today is that police should be focusing more on enforcing rather than explaining rules, now nearly 10 months since the very first restrictions came into effect.

This was echoed by Wiltshire Police’s chief constable, Kier Pritchard, who wrote in the Gazette and Herald:  ‘Although we will continue to police with consent and in a proportionate way, my officers will move to enforcement much quicker when confronted with people clearly breaching the rules.

‘Up until now, police forces have focused on engagement, reinforcing the messaging within our communities and encouraging the public to comply in the first instance, only reverting to enforcement when we are faced with deliberate or repeated breaches.

‘We will continue to engage with our communities but my officers will quickly move to enforcement against those who are flagrantly breaching the rules.’

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‘Even if we went back to that last spring level of reduction in contacts, we couldn’t be confident we would see the same effects as we saw last year because of the increased transmission.

‘To some extent we can think of this as a new pandemic within a pandemic.

‘From the data coming out, this is a very serious threat and new data from PHE (Public Health England) that came out yesterday suggested that that risk per contact is probably 40-50% higher than it was.

‘So both for the UK, and many other countries as well, we need to get away from this idea that we’re going to see a repeat of what happened last spring with our behaviours and really face the possibility that this is much riskier and we’re going to have to work much harder to reduce the impact.’ 

Police have vowed to get even tougher with lockdown fines, despite officers in Derbyshire being criticised for taking the crackdown too far they swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot.

As a result, the ‘intimidating’ force is reviewing its Covid operations after getting clarification about the rules, with West Mercia Police also mocked for threatening to fine people £200 for playing in the snow.

Even so, the message from Government sources today is that police should be focusing more on enforcing rather than explaining rules, now nearly 10 months since the very first restrictions came into effect.

However, Proffesor Michie said to get people to comply, a more positive approach is needed to be taken rather than stricter enforcement.

‘What we know from this pandemic is what really motivates people is knowing there’s a really serious threat, knowing that what they do can make a difference and also knowing what they do can protect other people and their communities.

‘The behavioural committee of SAGE says consistently what we need is more support and enablement for people to adhere, not punishment. For example one area where there’s really poor adherence, and has been throughout, is having to isolate at home for what is now 10 days.

‘Our own data shows only 30 per cent of people with symptoms are staying at home. The reasons given are they may have caring responsibilities outside the house, they may need to get provisions, or importantly, they have to go out to work to get income.

‘What you need to be effective is have people who people trust and identify with. Yes, experts and scientists are trusted a lot more than politicians but we should also think about people from people’s own communities that are respected, particularly young men who find adherence most challenging, and think about who they identify with and respect, and that’s often sports personalities, singers, people from film and television.

‘We should be much more creative and imaginative about the kind of people who are speaking out.’ 

Coventry Street was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Coventry Street was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Victoria embankment was quiet this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Victoria embankment was quiet this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

China Town was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

China Town was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Piccadilly Circus was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Piccadilly Circus was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Leicester Square was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Leicester Square was empty this morning after Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in London during the third Covid lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Shoppers out at the Costco superstore this morning in Bushey, Herts, stocking up on food and toilet roll amid the lockdown

Last night, Mr Johnson said that infections were rising at an alarming rate, despite the new national lockdown imposed at the start of the week.

And he warned the only way to prevent thousands more deaths was to follow the rules. The Prime Minister said: ‘I know the last year has taken its toll.

‘But your compliance is now more vital than ever. Once again, I must urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Professor Robert West, a participant in the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), said that, due to the more infectious variant, the lockdown should be more strict than it is, in order to try to get the same result as the first shutdown achieved.

Hospital doctors ‘have to choose who gets intensive care and prioritise young people with highest survival chances’ 

Doctors in overwhelmed London hospitals have to begun ‘triaging’ coronavirus patients to choose who gets critical care as medics warn the NHS is reaching the point where it ‘simply won’t be able to cope’. 

Doctors in the capital said a critical shortage of beds meant some hospitals were implementing emergency guidelines to prioritise treatment for patients with the best survival chances.

This means younger patients will be offered critical care over the elderly, who are less likely to survive.

And intensive care medics on Britain’s Covid frontline are ‘extremely worried’ that case totals will keep increasing until the NHS ‘simply won’t be able to cope with it’ as Britons keep flouting lockdown.

Data shows just 30 per cent of people exhibiting Covid symptoms are actually staying at home, claiming work, caring responsibilities or the need to buy supplies force them out the house.  

Intensive care consultant Professor Rupert Pearse – who works at the Royal London Hospital in the hard-hit capital – said Britons are not following the rules like they were ‘in the first wave’ putting enormous pressure on the already-overwhelmed health service. 

Dr Katharina Hauck, from the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London, said: ‘Hospitals in London are overwhelmed, which is a dangerous situation for all patients requiring urgent care … Sadly, some hospitals are now forced to follow … emergency triage of all patients requiring critical care.

‘Applying this guidance effectively means that patients under the age of 65 who are not frail will be prioritised over elderly and frailer patients for critical care. Frail patients would be cared for in general wards with less intensive care.’

And deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee said the latest wave of Covid infections is only ‘going to get worse’. 

He said critical health services are spread ‘more and more thinly’ as many as three patients per intensive care nurse, rather than the usual standard of one-to-one care. 

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He said the current lockdown rules are ‘still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus’.

Asked if he thinks they should change, he told BBC News: ‘Yes, I do. Not just me. I think probably most of the people I talk to, epidemiologists, and medical scientists and virologists.’

The professor of health psychology at University College London said more children are going to school than in the first lockdown and that schools are ‘a very important seed of community infection’.

He added: ‘Because we have the more infectious variant, which is somewhere around 50% more infectious than last time round in March, that means that if we were to achieve the same result as we got in March we would have to have a stricter lockdown, and it’s not stricter. It’s actually less strict.’

It comes as doctors in overwhelmed London hospitals have begun ‘triaging’ coronavirus patients to choose who gets critical care, with medics warning the NHS is reaching the point where it ‘simply won’t be able to cope’. 

Doctors in the capital said a critical shortage of beds meant some hospitals were implementing emergency guidelines to prioritise treatment for patients with the best survival chances.

This means younger patients will be offered critical care over the elderly, who are less likely to survive.

And intensive care medics on Britain’s Covid frontline are ‘extremely worried’ that case totals will keep increasing until the NHS ‘simply won’t be able to cope with it’ as Britons keep flouting lockdown.

Data shows just 30 per cent of people exhibiting Covid symptoms are actually staying at home, claiming work, caring responsibilities or the need to buy supplies force them out the house.  

Intensive care consultant Professor Rupert Pearse – who works at the Royal London Hospital in the hard-hit capital – said Britons are not following the rules like they were ‘in the first wave’ putting enormous pressure on the already-overwhelmed health service. 

Dr Katharina Hauck, from the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London, said: ‘Hospitals in London are overwhelmed, which is a dangerous situation for all patients requiring urgent care … Sadly, some hospitals are now forced to follow … emergency triage of all patients requiring critical care.

‘Applying this guidance effectively means that patients under the age of 65 who are not frail will be prioritised over elderly and frailer patients for critical care. Frail patients would be cared for in general wards with less intensive care.’

And deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee said the latest wave of Covid infections is only ‘going to get worse’. 

He said critical health services are spread ‘more and more thinly’ as many as three patients per intensive care nurse, rather than the usual standard of one-to-one care. 

Elsewhere, Greater Manchester Police has asked people to report non-emergencies online as a number of communications staff are self-isolating.

The force said a number of staff in the Operational Communications Branch (OCB), which receives 101 calls, were having to self-isolate for Covid-19 reasons and staff from the Transport Unit were assisting the department with calls.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said: ‘All of our staff in OCB have worked extremely hard throughout this pandemic to help keep the communities in Greater Manchester safe and our technology has enabled many to work from home.

‘However, inevitably, some of our officers and staff will be affected by the ongoing pandemic and may need to self-isolate for the safety of themselves, their colleagues and the public and we are supporting them in doing so.

‘We have therefore had to redeploy some of our resources from the Transport Unit to assist colleagues in OCB on a temporary basis.

‘Answering calls from members of the public is vital and moving officers into the department can help us to deliver our normal service. This is why we’re continuing to ask the public to report any non-emergencies online where possible.’ 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

The Government’s hard-hitting ad campaign was launched on TV last night, fronted by Chief Medical Officer Professor Whitty. He said that while vaccines provided ‘clear hope for the future… for now we must all stay at home’.

Professor Whitty, who is the most trusted government figure on Covid, said the rapid spread of the virus was putting ‘many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS’.

Dramatic images will carry the stark message: ‘Coronavirus. If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Prof Whitty says: ‘Covid-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.

‘Once more, we must all stay home. If it’s essential to go out, remember: wash your hands, cover your face indoors and keep your distance from others.

‘Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.’ The campaign also urges people to ‘act like you’ve got it’ adding that ‘anyone can spread it’. 

The Prime Minister has called in the Army to ramp up Britain’s vaccination roll out, which offers the only glimmer of hope for ending lockdowns. The sluggish programme has been dogged by staffing and supply issues and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled it in the early stages.

It comes as police were accused of cracking the lockdown whip too hard after a force threatened to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – while elsewhere officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot. 

And No 10 fears that Mr Johnson’s stay-at-home order is being flouted – a suspicion backed up by figures from Transport for London.

Passenger levels on the Underground were running at 18 per cent yesterday, compared with just 5 per cent last April. Bus use is at 30 per cent of capacity, compared with around 18 per cent in the first lockdown.

And traffic levels on main roads in the capital were at 76 per cent of normal compared with 30-40 per cent nine months ago.

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London 

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pupils swab themselves while a nurse watches on

Pupils have been swabbing themselves as school nurses watch on despite proof rapid tests only work if they are administered properly. Students at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, were sent the kits on Monday and given instructions by nurses on how to carry out the tests themselves.

Only vulnerable children or those whose parents are key workers are allowed to attend lessons in person during the latest national lockdown. It comes as figures suggest schools could still be attended by up to 20 per cent of pupils. But children are now being supervised by nurses, similar to how some walk-in testing centres are run, rather than having a nurse carry out the tests themselves.

The idea is that fewer medical experts or volunteers are needed allowing a larger number of people to be test more quickly. But multiple studies show lateral flow tests – when self-administered – could miss cases, due to the force and depth needed to collect a sample. It comes as calls to limit the number of children in school is growing, with attendance levels surging to more than 50 per cent in some areas.

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The major incident declared by Mr Khan yesterday is a procedure previously invoked following the Grenfell Tower disaster and major terrorist attacks.

The mayor called for the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside the home. Downing Street sources said there were ‘no more new lockdown measures on the way’.

But the Mail understands that Health Secretary Matt Hancock and other ministers have been examining the case to extend the use of masks.

Mr Khan said the situation in the capital was dire, with an estimated one in every 50 Londoners infected. ‘It’s like being in a theatre of war,’ he said. ‘Unless we reduce the spread, the NHS will run out of beds.’

City Hall said Covid cases in the capital had exceeded 1,000 per 100,000 and there were 35 per cent more hospital admissions with the virus than last April.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said: ‘This is the biggest threat our city has faced in this pandemic to date.

‘The emergence of the new variant means we are setting record case rates at almost double the national average, with at least one in 30 people (in London) now thought to be carrying the virus.

‘Our NHS services are under immense pressure and currently another 800 people are being admitted to our hospitals every day.’

The London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day and at one east London hospital patients were apparently waiting 24 hours for a bed after arriving at A&E.

NHS London said a record 977 patients were admitted to hospitals over 24 hours.

Cases per day in London

Cases per day in London

People being hospitalised in London

People being hospitalised in London 

Coronavirus deaths in London

Coronavirus deaths in London

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

Nurse catches Covid three weeks AFTER getting vaccine as expert warns it takes time for immunity to build up

A nurse in Wales caught coronavirus three weeks after getting the vaccine, prompting experts to warn that it takes time for immunity to the virus to build up.

The nurse, who has been working for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, said that she contracted Covid-19 while waiting for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech developed vaccine.

While the vaccine ‘reduces your chance of suffering,’ the health board said, ‘no vaccine is 100 percent effective.’

Experts have warned that vaccines can take weeks to build immunity, and that people must still be careful to follow coronavirus rules after having the jab.

Speaking to the BBC, the nurse – who chose not to be identified – said she was ‘angry and heartbroken’ to have caught Covid at this stage.

She said that she was initially relieved to be offered the chance to be given the vaccine, and while she struggled to get an appointment, she was given her first dose of the Pzizer-BioNtech vaccine in December last year.

‘It gave me peace of mind. It made me feel safer and that I was doing the right thing for my family… but it gives a false sense of security,’ she told the broadcaster.

The nurse said that it was explained to her that it would take 10 days for the vaccine to offer some protection against Covic-19, and reduce the risk of transmission.

But three weeks after being given the jab, she said she began to feel unwell, suffering from ‘quite severe symptoms’ of a bad cough, high temperature and breathlessness, and was ‘shocked’ when she tested positive for the coronavirus – followed by her partner and one of her children.

Vaccinations have been shown to prevent severe infection, so even if people do become infected, they would be protected from becoming seriously unwell. 

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The virus is also spreading rapidly outside the capital. Six out of ten hospitals in England are now reporting more Covid patients than in the first wave – a situation doctors say is ‘cataclysmic’.

Fewer than 500 were in hospital at the start of September but yesterday the figure stood at 28,246. That is an increase of more than 11,000 in a fortnight.

A doctor from Merseyside said her hospital is ‘almost at the limit’ with patients having to wait in corridors or ambulances.

Scientists advising the Government believe the current lockdown may lead to a plateau of cases across the UK rather than the dramatic cut seen in the March and April lockdown.

They estimate there are currently more than 100,000 new infections per day and possibly higher than 150,000.

They believe this estimate puts the current number of daily cases at a higher level than during the first wave of the pandemic. Hospitals are now seeing far more younger people than during the first wave.

There are also mounting fears about the knock-on effects on wider public health.

Experts expect there to be thousands of deaths as a result of disruption to cancer surgery in this wave, with some patients having vital operations cancelled even while they were heading to hospital.

Campaign group Catch up with Cancer: ‘If you have got Covid you can have a bed, but if you’ve got cancer you can’t have an operation. These cancer patients are dying at home and will be for the next five years.’

But there was an extra glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as a third vaccine in the fight against coronavirus was approved for use in the UK on Friday.

The jab, from US biotech firm Moderna, has been given the green light by the MHRA – joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

The approval of the Moderna vaccine means the UK should have three vaccines to use when it comes on stream in spring.

The Government has increased its order of the vaccine to 17 million doses – enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people – with batches expected to be released in phases.

It has been shown to be 94 per cent effective against Covid-19 in clinical trials. Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Excellent news the @MHRAgovuk has approved the use of the @moderna-tx vaccine.

‘Our national vaccine effort is accelerating to vaccinate priority groups with our existing two vaccines, and the Moderna doses will add to that when they become available in spring.’

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions - particularly in London and the South - but lower in others

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions – particularly in London and the South – but lower in others

 

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week's ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week’s ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK's other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK’s other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England's second lockdown wore off in early December

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England’s second lockdown wore off in early December

Prince William thanks frontline NHS workers during a video call with staff at Homerton University Hospital

Prince William has paid tribute to NHS staff working on the Covid frontline and thanked them for their continued efforts during a particularly challenging time.

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, spoke to staff from Homerton University Hospital via video call on January 7 to hear more about their experiences responding to the pandemic in recent weeks.

In the past week, Homerton University Hospital has seen their highest number of admissions since the pandemic began, with over 200 Covid patients currently being cared for and staff being moved to new roles within the hospital to cope with the ongoing pressure on frontline staff.

During the call, William heard from staff about the significant challenges that they are currently facing, and how this time compares to their experiences during previous spikes in transmission rates.

He told staff: ‘You’re all in my thoughts and Catherine and I, and all of the children, talk about all of you guys every day.

‘We’re making sure the children understand the sacrifices that all of you are making.’

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.’

Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, with the Government aiming to jab 15 million of those most at risk by mid-February.

With the current lockdown and vaccine rollout, deaths from coronavirus are expected to start dropping in February, while hospital admissions should drop.

Coronavirus cases are expected to drop in the spring due to vaccination plus the fact people spend more time outdoors, making it harder for the virus to spread.

Elsewhere, research published on Friday suggests the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against a mutation in two coronavirus variants.

The pharmaceutical giant and researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch carried out lab tests on the strains -from the UK and South Africa.

Both variants contain mutations including N501Y, an alteration in the spike protein of the virus, which is a target for vaccines.

In the study, not yet peer-reviewed, people given the Pfzier jab had neutralising levels of antibodies which appeared to work against N501Y in the new strains.

But one of the mutations in the South Africa variant, named E484K, has not yet been studied and is still causing concern for experts.

While scientists at the top of Government increasingly believe the UK variant can be tacked with existing vaccines, there is concern that the South African variant has the potential to make them less effective, though studies are ongoing.

In future years, it is thought that Covid-19 vaccines will need to be tweaked annually much in the same way the winter flu jab is.

Meanwhile, papers released by the Government from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises ministers, suggests communication campaigns will be needed to ensure those who are vaccinated continue to adhere to lockdown rules.

It said there was some evidence that, ‘in the absence of any mitigation policies, some of those who have been vaccinated will show a reduction in personal protective behaviours’ such as mask-wearing and social distancingIt is not yet known whether vaccination can prevent people passing the virus onto other people.

DailyMail Online


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