ENTERTAINMENT

Christmas can be saved from Covid, but a New Year lockdown is advisable


Dr. Susan Hopkins, a senior physician at Public Health England, said she was "very interested" in getting the Brits a normal Christmas present

Boris Johnson should cancel Christmas and be branded the "Grinch" instead of risking a spike in Covid-19 deaths that could mark him as a Grim Reaper, a Tory MP warned today when Number 10 announced he was planning to do the Drop blocking rules to reunite families over the festive season.

Dr. Susan Hopkins, a senior physician at Public Health England, announced that Number 10 was "very interested" in having a "normal" Christmas present for the British after a tumultuous year with families kept apart for months.

Ministers are due to consider easing restrictions between December 24th and 28th and allow "bubbles" of up to four households to meet indoors during this time.

At a press conference on Downing Street, Dr. Hopkins today, she think it is possible. However, she warned every day that the measures would be relaxed: "We need two days of tighter restrictions." It could mean spending the New Year in some way.

Dr. Hopkins said, “We are very interested in having a normal Christmas as possible. This will require that we all make every effort during this national embargo and even early December to keep cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of intra-household and inter-family transmission.

"A final decision will, of course, be made by the government, and we look forward to hearing what those plans are."

The graphs released at today's government press conference showed hospital admissions for Covid-19 have declined in the Northwest, Northeast and Midlands. This is another promising sign that the three-tier approach has been able to contain the spread of the virus – especially animal – Three.

Dr. Hopkins signaled their support for the localized approach at the conference, saying that the largest decreases in infection were seen in areas previously subject to these restrictions. This is "good news that some parts of the country have already flattened out".

Tier three is believed to be the best way to fight infection without affecting all areas of the economy, as restaurants, shops, and in some cases, gyms remain open. This means it is far less restrictive than a full national lockdown.

Still there are rumors of a revised four tier system as England's final exit from its national closure on December 2nd, which could result in pubs being forced to remain closed, and a new 9 p.m. alcohol curfew in Covid hotspots .

Boris Johnson has insisted that he would like families to be able to spend the festive season together and his official spokesman said, "I think the Prime Minister has made clear his desire to allow families to have Christmas together."

But a Conservative MP warned today that it would be better for the Prime Minister to be viewed as a "Grinch" rather than a "Grim Reaper" if January deaths increased after family gatherings.

Assistant Scientific Advisor Dame Angela McLean said SAGE was investigating the possible easing of measures over Christmas. She said of today's briefing: “We sent some advice over the weekend. But we really don't know what decisions were made. & # 39;

PFIZER SAID TODAY THAT HIS VACCINE IS 95 PER CENT EFFECTIVE AND WORKS ON THE ELDERLY

Pfizer and BioNTech announced today that they can demonstrate their coronavirus vaccine is safe. Up to 95 percent are effective in preventing Covid-19 and effective in older people who are at greatest risk for severe Covid-19.

Their announcement comes just days after competitor Moderna claimed their own shock was 94.5 percent effective, and is an improvement on Pfizer's earlier estimate that the vaccine was 90 percent effective.

Pfizer made the latest claim about its vaccine in a statement confirming that the third phase of the trial has now been running long enough to provide regulatory authorities with the necessary safety data for two months in the US and UK " within a few days".

The UK has already pre-ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine and is expected to receive 10 million in the next month. The NHS is preparing to launch a major Army-backed operation from Dec. 1 to deliver him.

The UK Medicines Agency MHRA has carried out an "on-going review" of the vaccine and could therefore complete the approval process within days of receiving the company's application.

The final trial results showed that only eight out of more than 20,000 people who received the vaccine contracted coronavirus in the study, compared to 162 people who were given a fake sting. A total of 10 people received severe Covid-19, one of whom had received the real vaccine.

An independent safety committee has "reported no serious safety concerns with the vaccine" since the final phase of the trial began in July, Pfizer said. Side effects were limited – the most common were fatigue, which 3.8 percent of people had, and headache (2 percent). The company said side effects were less common in the elderly and insisted that the vaccine worked just as well in those over 65 who are known to be most susceptible to the disease.

When Moderna announced its results on Monday, questions were raised as to whether the UK had tagged its car on the wrong project and ordered 40 million cans of Pfizer's shock – then considered 90 percent effective – but none of Moderna's.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • Pfizer said today its Covid-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective, safe and could even be approved by the end of the week, barely three days after Moderna said its vaccine was 94.5 percent effective.
  • She submitted the request after confirming that she could provide the regulators with the necessary safety data for two months, as the third stage trials had taken long enough.
  • The UK has ordered 40 million cans of Pfizer's batch, the first batch of which is expected to arrive this year, and 5 million cans of Moderna's batch are expected to arrive before spring next year.
  • Testing Tsarina Baroness Dido Harding is instructed to self-isolate from her own contact tracing app after going to number 10 a day after Boris' mask-free meeting with infected MPs.
  • One in eight Covid-19 cases were recorded in the wrong place due to an error with Test & Trace data.
  • The UK recorded 1.7 percent fewer coronavirus cases yesterday with 20,051 infections, but the death toll rose 12.4 percent to 598 in one week;
  • Boris Johnson declined to apologize for placing £ 18 billion in PPE contracts with those in contact with government ministers, insisting that they move "heaven and earth" for vital ones Procure supplies.

Dr. Stressing the importance of clearing infections before Christmas to ease restrictions, Hopkins said the British should be "very careful" with the number of their contacts in order to reduce transmission before the festive season to "our cases as "get low as possible".

When asked what Christmas might be like, she said of the government data, “This is a decision that is being made by the government and I know they are working hard to come up with an overview of what it will be like and how the new levels will look like after December 2nd and what Christmas will look like. & # 39;

She added, "Hopefully the government will make the decision that will allow us to mix something up, but we will wait and see what it is.

"And then I think when we have the Christmas season behind us, we all have to be very responsible and reduce these contacts again if there is a publication and a certain socialization."

It is believed that a new tiered system is being worked on to ease the lockdown and that could be introduced before Christmas.

Dame Angela boosted support for Tier 3 – which could be considered the best of a bad bunch when officials fight Covid-19 infections – and said she was confident in the measure that has been used successfully in coronavirus transmission be.

She told the government briefing, “When I look at the northwest and the northeast, when I look at what happened to the ONS polls there, I see interventions that have worked, I see epidemics that are flattening out. There is good news. & # 39;

Dr. Hopkins also signaled their support for the tiered system – especially the third animal – to halt spiral infections.

Explaining the government graphs, she said, "What you are seeing is that in those parts of the country where the infection rate was already very high, the epidemic had already flattened out – that is North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

"That includes the parts of the country that have Tier 3 restrictions, so that's good news that some parts of the country have already flattened out."

Government data showed that the daily number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 had peaked in three regions of England where Tier Three had come into effect. The measure is less stringent than a gross national lockdown that would require restaurants and, in some cases, gyms to close.

BARONESS HARDING SELF-ISOLATED FROM NHS COVID-19 APP

Testing Tsarina Baroness Harding today revealed that she was instructed by her own coronavirus contact tracing app to self-isolate.

The peer posted a picture of the notification that read "You need to self-isolate" saying she felt "fine" but remorsefully noted that she was "many hours ahead of zoom".

Lady Harding's husband, Tory MP John Penrose, was previously instructed to self-isolate after potentially coming into contact with someone who was infected.

But the timing will spark speculation as to whether there is a link to Boris Johnson's quarantine.

The notification indicates that Lady Harding should be released from restrictions on the morning of November 27 at midnight, hours after the Prime Minister is allowed to exit his lockdown on Downing Street.

Mr Johnson was isolated in his # 11 apartment after a mask-free meeting last Thursday with Tory Rep. Lee Anderson, who later tested positive. A number of other Tories are also in quarantine due to the gathering.

Lady Harding went to Downing Street on Friday morning.

In the northwest – which had been at the center of the England outbreak – hospital admissions peaked on October 26, when the average number of admissions reached 308.4 per day for the past seven days. In the seven days leading up to November 12, the last date for which data is available, that number has since declined 13 percent to 267.1 per day.

In the Midlands – where swaths were placed under Tier 3 restrictions – hospital admissions peaked on November 11 when their seven-day average hit 382 admissions per day. It had fallen to 377.4 the following day.

Although the average has not been calculated for the other days, each has fewer admissions than the day before, suggesting the number will continue to decrease.

And the North East and Yorkshire saw the highest number of hospitalizations on November 10, when 464 people were admitted with Covid-19. That had fallen to 376 on November 15.

The welcome news came when Downing Street announced yesterday evening that Boris Johnson wanted to "make sure people could spend time with close families" over Christmas. However, no decision has yet been made on the plans.

His official spokesman said at a press conference today: “I think the Prime Minister has made clear his desire to allow families to celebrate Christmas together. We accept that it will not be a normal Christmas, but as I said, the Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants families to see each other.

"I think the point I want to make is that we are now taking the tougher measures to lower the transmission level, the number of patients being hospitalized, and ultimately those who end up in intensive care and unfortunately to die.

"We are now taking these tougher measures so that, as I said earlier, the Prime Minister has made clear his intention to allow families to spend Christmas together."

Ministers and experts reportedly want to review the direction of Covid-19 deaths and infections across the UK before proposals for a family gathering over Christmas are released.

However, hopes for a family-oriented Christmas were further bolstered last night after the number of cases in the UK continued to decline, up two percent from last Tuesday to 20,051.

According to the proposals reported in the sun, households are allowed to mingle for up to five days from Christmas Eve. The five-day period has reportedly been chosen as Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday this year.

This means that many, but not all, workers will then have Christmas and Boxing Day off, followed by Sunday December 27th and a scheduled public holiday on Monday December 28th.

Ministers reportedly want to make Christmas rules the standard in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – all of which have had different Covid restrictions recently.

The five-day period has reportedly been chosen as Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday this year. This means that many, but not all, workers will then have Christmas and Boxing Day off, followed by Sunday December 27th and a scheduled public holiday on Monday December 28th

The five-day period has reportedly been chosen as Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday this year. This means that many, but not all, workers will then have Christmas and Boxing Day off, followed by Sunday December 27th and a scheduled public holiday on Monday December 28th

Millions of Britons today have received a huge boost that their number one Christmas wish - to be with their family during the holiday season - could be fulfilled. Pictured: pedestrians in Oxford Circus, London, yesterday

Millions of Britons today have received a huge boost that their number one Christmas wish – to be with their family during the holiday season – could be fulfilled. Pictured: pedestrians in Oxford Circus, London, yesterday

Ministers and experts will review the Covid-19 deaths and case numbers before giving the green light to the proposals. Above are the death tolls, which continue to rise. You are expected to gain weight for another two weeks

Ministers and experts will review the Covid-19 deaths and case numbers before giving the green light to the proposals. Above are the death tolls, which continue to rise. You are expected to gain weight for another two weeks

Hopes for a family Christmas were further bolstered last night after the number of cases continued to flatten (see above).

Hopes for a family Christmas were further bolstered last night after the number of cases continued to flatten (see above).

BORIS JOHNSON refuses to apologize for £ 18 billion cash scandal

Boris Johnson refused to apologize today after a devastating report exposed the government's £ 18 billion rush to procure PPE during the coronavirus crisis, alleging conservative cronies had been given VIP access to lucrative contracts.

Mr Johnson has denied that his ministers wasted "mind-boggling" amounts of taxpayers' money, claiming he was "very proud" of the scramble to buy life-saving clothing for the NHS at the start of the pandemic and during the first wave.

He told the Commons in the Prime Minister's first virtual questions today, “We have moved heaven and earth to bring 32 billion PPE to this country. I am very proud of what I have achieved. & # 39;

A review of 8,600 contracts by the UK's National Audit Office spending watchdog found that officials had signed agreements on hundreds of thousands of face masks that were found to be unusable and wasted hundreds of millions of pounds.

When the coronavirus spread across the UK, any business able to provide protective equipment to the NHS was left with a £ 12.3 billion chance in the "Wild West" as hospitals and nursing homes became scarce. Many companies with zero experience in supplying PPE won tens of millions of pounds in government business, while suppliers with political contacts were ten times more likely to do business.

The NAO announced today that it will open an urgent investigation into an extraordinary surgical gloves and gown deal with a Florida-based jewelry designer that has brokered a staggering £ 21 million in UK taxpayer cash to a Spanish businessman who acted as intermediary were paid.

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Mr Johnson in the House of Commons: "Does the Prime Minister think £ 21 million for a middleman was an acceptable use of taxpayers' money?"

The Tory leader, who has been self-isolating on Downing Street for 14 days, said Sir Keir initially urged "clearing blocks" in the procurement process to secure personal protective equipment (PPE), calling him "Captain Hindsight" . & # 39; We were faced with a very difficult situation in which there was insufficient supply of PPE worldwide. Nobody had enough PPE.

According to the Times, the deadline for easing restrictions could be much shorter – anywhere from two to three days.

The paper also reports that the number of households that can mix into "bubbles" may be limited to just two or three households.

Scientific advisors have reportedly urged the government to loosen the rules too much, with some warning case numbers likely to double or quadruple over the Christmas season.

The talks between the four nations are to take place at a later date. Ministers in the decentralized nations should wait to wait for more dates before making a decision.

At her coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh today, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “We are all desperate for a Christmas normal and I am referring to that absolutely.

& # 39; The Scottish Government is currently working very closely and well with the other British nations to try to find a way to do this. We want to be in the same position given the existing family patterns across the UK.

"But we know that people who come together when a virus is floating around increases the risk of it spreading."

The First Minister said again that at a Christmas meeting, the spread of the virus must decrease in the coming weeks.

At today's Downing Street press conference, Dr. Hopkins also that each local subordinate agency will have a local contact trace by the end of November.

"NHS Test and Trace has increased its testing capacity. This was a very important measure we were able to try to reduce lead times for the people tested," she told the data meeting on Downing Street on Covid-19.

“We're also working very hard with the local authorities to improve the contact tracing system. By the end of this month almost every local subordinate authority will have a local contact tracing in place so we can really step up.

“This is an amazing achievement – in the summer when we had 1,000 cases a day, we contacted an average of 2,000 to 3,000 people a day.

"We are currently able to contact over 100,000 people a day across the UK with nearly 30,000 cases a day."

England's assistant scientific advisor, Dame Angela McLean, said she didn't expect hospital admissions to halve every three weeks, as they did with the first lockdown in March.

She told the Downing Street data briefing, “During the March lockdown – the number of hospitalizations, which at the time was really all we could track – halved every three weeks.

"I don't think we'll get there – I don't think we'll cut ourselves in half before December 2nd."

It comes amid a split among cabinet members over plans for a "strengthened" Covid tier system that could see indoor socializing banned for months in much of the country.

Ministers are preparing for a fierce battle over the details of a tightened system of "regional" restrictions to be released next week.

A Whitehall source said Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove are trying to "contain everything" and allow only a modest relaxation of restrictions if the current lockdown rules expire on December 2nd.

Other senior ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Economy Minister Alok Sharma, Trade Minister Liz Truss, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden and Interior Minister Priti Patel, are said to be bracing themselves for a wider reopening so that companies can save some of their Christmas sales.

The new restrictions are expected to last for months, just the short break over Christmas to allow more contact with family and friends.

Downing Street yesterday insisted that Boris Johnson, who has self-isolated and had contact with another Tory MP who tested positive for Covid, remains determined to end current restrictions on December 2nd.

The proposals could result in the UK celebrating a more normal Christmas season before restrictions come back into effect

The proposals could result in the UK celebrating a more normal Christmas season before restrictions come back into effect

Downing Street said yesterday that Boris Johnson wanted to "make sure people have time with close families" over Christmas.

Downing Street said yesterday that Boris Johnson wanted to "make sure people have time with close families" over Christmas.

A Whitehall source said Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove were trying to "contain everything" and allow only a modest relaxation of restrictions if the current lockdown rules expire on December 2nd

However, other high-ranking ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured), are said to be bracing themselves for a wider reopening so companies can save part of their Christmas sales.

A Whitehall source said Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured left) and Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove were trying to "contain everything" and allow only a modest easing of restrictions after December 2. Other high-ranking ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured right)) are said to be preparing for a wider reopening

The UK has 1.7% fewer coronavirus cases than last Tuesday, with 20,051 new infections

The UK recorded 1.7 percent fewer coronavirus cases yesterday evening than last week. This is further evidence that the UK's second wave is slowing, new figures show.

The government today announced 20,051 new laboratory-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, compared to 20,412 infections confirmed last Tuesday.

The number is also a decrease from the 21,363 cases confirmed on Monday. The total number of infections in the UK since the pandemic started is 1,410,732.

The Ministry of Health announced that an additional 598 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday – up 12.4 percent from the same point last week when 532 deaths were recorded.

Today's death toll is the UK's highest since May 12, when 614 deaths were confirmed. The latest death toll brings Britain to 52,745.

However, according to the Daily Telegraph, households could be banned from mingling if the lockdown ends to "save Christmas".

The newspaper says the ban could last until "just before Christmas" to allow for a festive "bladder system".

However, no decisions have been made as to which tiered restriction structure will replace it.

Plans for an "end of lockdown" package, including more details on the country's vaccination program, are expected to be announced next week.

On Monday, Susan Hopkins, director of Public Health England, warned that the animal system needed to be "strengthened" to prevent the virus from recurring once the lockdown ended.

She said Tier One – the only level that allowed indoor socializing – had "very little effect".

Documents released last week by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling, which reports to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Emergencies (Sage), stated that while there was a "marked effect" on infection rates from rigorous Tier 3 interventions, but "much less of it" levels one and two & # 39 ;.

The SPI-M group anticipates infections will increase at the same rate as before if the same three-tier system is reintroduced on December 2nd.

However, many ministers fear that the economy would suffer another major blow if large numbers of companies were to close before Christmas.

Tory MPs are also preparing to fight the issue, with a warning that up to 100 could rebel next week if the new restrictions are pulled too tight.

A Whitehall source admitted that the government would face "political trouble" if the hospitality sector fails to reopen before Christmas.

Oxford professor accuses No10 of being "institutionally racist" for sacrificing Diwali for Christmas

The government has been accused of pursuing an "institutionally racist" lockdown policy in England that Diwali sacrificed for Christmas.

Oxford University Professor of Medicine, Dr. Soham Bandyopadhyay, argued it was unfair that people celebrating Diwali are now banned from seeing families.

The five-day Festival of Lights, which began on November 14th, is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, of whom there are an estimated 1.6 million in Britain.

This year's holiday takes place in the middle of the second coronavirus lockdown in England, which means people cannot meet inside or outside in groups of more than two people.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay said the UK government "banned" families from reuniting – university students, for example, cannot return home – during a time that was based on a "celebration of family and friends relationships".

In a letter titled "An Institutionally Racist Lockdown Policy" he said this could have been avoided if number 10 had followed SAGE's advice to do a "breaker" halfway through the October semester, causing scholars to do this Demanded time.

The government said it was "working closely with religious leaders" and keeping places of worship open to help religious people cope with the second lockdown.

Community Secretary Robert Jenrick said yesterday that he hopes most hotel businesses are allowed to reopen.

However, he acknowledged that restrictions would likely just be "a little easier" after the current lockdown ended.

In a round of radio interviews, Jenrick said any extension of the lockdown would require a parliamentary vote.

"We hope and expect that this is not the case and that the people of England can go back to the tiered system," he said.

Sir John Bell, a member of the government's vaccines task force, said the government will not be able to "take our foot off the brakes completely" when the lockdown ends.

However, he said developments in mass testing could help ease restrictions. "I'm optimistic that we don't have to go into Christmas time," he said.

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modeling resulted in the original lockdown in March, said reopening pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas would likely lead to an increase in infection rates.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM broadcast: “The big question is whether we can reopen pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas and still avoid the infection rates rising.

"I suspect we can't, but the decision can still be made as any climb will be slow and may be counteracted later."

The British Medical Association last night called for the "six rule", which allowed mixing up to six households, to be replaced by a "two-house rule".

It is because the UK had 1.7 percent fewer coronavirus cases last night than last week. This is another indication that the UK's second wave is slowing.

The government today announced 20,051 new laboratory-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, compared to 20,412 infections confirmed last Tuesday.

The number is also a decrease from the 21,363 cases confirmed on Monday. The total number of infections in the UK since the pandemic started is 1,410,732.

Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured), whose modeling resulted in the original lockdown in March, said reopening pubs and restaurants in the run up to Christmas is likely to spike infection rates

Professor Neil Ferguson (pictured), whose modeling resulted in the original lockdown in March, said reopening pubs and restaurants in the run up to Christmas is likely to spike infection rates

What could the new levels look like?

Ministers insist that no final decisions have been made on the Tier system after December 2, but there have been indications of the types of measures that may be included.

It also seems clear that the rules will in future be applied on a broader regional basis rather than specific cities.

ANIMAL 1

The rule of six is ​​expected to continue and the 10 p.m. pubs and restaurants curfew would still apply.

However, there is speculation that households could be prevented from meeting at home after health chiefs said base levels had been shown to be ineffective.

RANK 2

Tier 2 previously included all first-level curbs and a ban on mixing with other indoor households – including pubs and restaurants.

ANIMAL 3

Tier 3 is the highest number of restrictions currently available in the system

It is forbidden to socialize indoors and in private gardens. Pubs and bars must be closed unless they can be operated as restaurants.

There are restrictions on staying overnight in other parts of the country unless it is essential work.

LEVEL 4?

Ministers have drawn attention to another set of restrictions, above the current highest level – as is already the case in Scotland.

There are suggestions how some of the bolt-ons could be nested within the Tier 3 restrictions that are already in place in some areas.

For example, Nottinghamshire has banned alcohol sales after 9 p.m. while other areas have closed gyms and leisure centers.

The Ministry of Health announced that an additional 598 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday – up 12.4 percent from the same point last week when 532 deaths were recorded.

Yesterday's death toll is the UK's highest since May 12, when 614 deaths were confirmed. The latest death toll brings Britain to 52,745.

However, separate data from the UK statistical authorities suggests that there have been more than 68,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the UK.

This includes deaths where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate, as well as additional data on deaths that have occurred in the past few days.

Figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics showed that the number of people dying from Covid-19 rose 40 percent in the first week of November – when the virus was responsible for one in six deaths in England and Wales.

It was not explained last night why deaths rose sharply, although it could be a delayed surge after a surge in Covid cases last week.

The numbers come when Nicola Sturgeon announced last night that parts of Scotland, home to millions of people, will be brought to the harshest coronavirus levels by the end of the week as she warned that infection rates would remain "stubbornly high".

The First Minister said 11 council areas, which include the city of Glasgow, will be subject to level 4 restrictions from 6pm on Friday. The areas have a total population of approximately 2.3 million people.

Individuals living in fourth-level areas are not allowed to meet with other households indoors while all non-essential businesses are closed.

In an announcement to the Scottish Parliament, Ms. Sturgeon told people in those areas that they "shouldn't be on the move" while the action takes place for the three weeks ending December 11th.

The SNP chairman also announced that she would make entering or leaving areas of levels three and four illegal "except for certain essential purposes".

There are already guidelines in place telling people not to take such trips, but Ms. Sturgeon said the council would become law from Friday.

This means that rule violations have the prospect of enforcement action by the police.

Nicola Sturgeon announced today that eleven local authorities will be brought to the toughest coronavirus level from Friday

Nicola Sturgeon announced today that eleven local authorities will be brought to the toughest coronavirus level from Friday

The municipal areas in Scotland moving to level four starting Friday are the city of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

Ms. Sturgeon said there were "grounds for continued and significant concern" in all areas moving to Stage Four.

In addition to the 11 areas being raised to the top level, two areas will be moved from level three to level two, while 19 will not experience any changes.

Pound 18 Billion Coronavirus PPE Fiasco: Devastating Report Reveals Chronic Bungling and "Jobs For Friends" In A Rush To Get Safety Gear During The Pandemic

By Daniel Martin and Emine Sinmaz for the Daily Mail

A devastating report today breaks the guise of cronyism and ineptitude that marked the government's £ 18 billion rush to procure PPE and other equipment during the coronavirus crisis.

Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings were both dragged into the debacle after the spending watchdog said officials ignored potential conflicts of interest from their affiliates.

The National Audit Office announced that officials had signed contracts for hundreds of thousands of face masks that were found to be unusable and wasted hundreds of millions of pounds.

According to the National Audit Office's report, the government has placed over 1,300 contracts worth £ 10.5 billion without any competition

According to the National Audit Office's report, the government has placed over 1,300 contracts worth £ 10.5 billion without any competition

The bomb report found:

  • Two of the companies named in the report have ties to the Prime Minister's former chief advisor.
  • More than 1,300 contracts worth £ 10.5 billion have been awarded by the government with no competition whatsoever – which increases the likelihood of wasting money;
  • Ministers set up a separate VIP procurement route, which allowed some companies to make decisions quickly – provided they had the right connections.
  • Every tenth supplier processed via this high priority lane (47 out of 493) received contracts, compared to fewer than one in 100 suppliers who came via the normal lane (104 out of 14,892).

Rachel Reeves, spokeswoman for the Labor Cabinet Office, said, "The country deserves the confidence that its money is being effectively spent by the government – and knowing, without a doubt, that Conservative Party friends and donors are not benefiting from this pandemic."

The NAO report looked at 8,600 contracts awarded by the government between January and July.

These were valued at £ 18bn, of which £ 17.3bn were new contracts rather than contract renewals. Most of the money, £ 12.3 billion, went to PSA, the rest to other equipment and virus testing.

Ministers, MPs and officials were able to direct companies to a “high priority” lane, and companies granted this VIP access were more than ten times more likely to win an order than companies in the normal lane.

The leads came in a special mailbox, but officials only recorded the sources half of the time, although many came from ministerial offices after MPs gave clues about companies in their constituencies.

The NAO highlighted a £ 840,000 contract with Public First for focus groups and communications.

Dominic Cummings became embroiled in a debacle after the watch dog said officials failed to consider conflicts of interest

Dominic Cummings became embroiled in a debacle after the watch dog said officials failed to consider conflicts of interest

The policy and research firm is owned by James Frayne and his wife Rachel Wolf, who both previously worked for Michael Gove, Secretary of the Cabinet Office. Miss Wolf co-wrote Boris Johnson's 2019 manifesto.

The NAO said there was no evidence that Mr. Gove was involved in the award, but "we did not find any documentation to consider any conflict of interest".

Mr Cummings' association with Mr Frayne dates back to at least 2000 when they worked together on a campaign against Britain's entry into the euro. You were also a co-founder of a right-wing think tank.

Another potential conflict of interest was discussed in the report with regard to Lord Agnew, a Minister in the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

He owned an interest in Faculty, an artificial intelligence company that had three coronavirus contracts worth £ 3 million for data analysis.

The faculty is also associated with Mr. Cummings. It worked with him on the 2016 election campaign, and The Guardian reported that he donated £ 260,000 to the company from his company Dynamic Maps in 2018 and 2019.

A faculty spokesman said: “The NAO found no evidence that Lord Agnew was involved in these procurements, which were made under delegated authority in various departments, none of which was his own.

The National Audit Office said there was no evidence that Mr Gove (pictured) was involved in the award of the contract

The National Audit Office said there was no evidence that Mr Gove (pictured) was involved in the award of the contract

It also turned out that the minister had disclosed his interests. Lord Agnew maintains ownership of his shares by blind trust. & # 39;

The report made no mention of Mr. Cummings' connection with Public First or the Faculty. Public First's Mr Frayne said, "We have a pay-as-you-go deal that we can terminate at any time if they are not satisfied with our work."

A government source said Mr. Gove was not involved in the Public First contract.

Cabinet Minister Julia Lopez said: "We have robust processes in place to ensure critical equipment gets to where it is needed as quickly as possible while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer . "

Mr. Cummings did not respond to a request for comment.

Dominic Cummings has ties to two of the four companies singled out in the damn National Audit Office report.

The former chief advisor to the 48-year-old Prime Minister has ties to the artificial intelligence company, faculty and research firm Public First, which have signed contracts valued at more than £ 3.8 million.

Mr Cummings was omitted from the public watchdog's devastating report that found bidders with "VIP access" to ministers ten times more likely to win Covid contracts than those who did not.

Mr Cummings worked with the faculty in 2016, which won three contracts worth £ 3 million for data analysis.

Dominic Cummings has ties to the artificial intelligence company, faculty, and research firm Public First

Dominic Cummings has ties to the artificial intelligence company, faculty, and research firm Public First

He also has longstanding ties with Public First, led by James Frayne and his wife Rachel Wolf, who co-wrote the Conservative Party's 2019 manifesto.

His association with Mr Frayne dates back to at least 2000 when they were working on a campaign against Britain's accession to the euro.

The NAO report criticized the fact that the £ 840,000 Public First contract was retrospectively awarded. The report states that Public First billed a total of £ 550,000 for the works covered by the contract.

It was found that the company's founders also worked for the Cabinet Minister Michael Gove. The report said there was no evidence that Mr Gove was involved in the award of the contract, but added that "no documents were found to address conflicts of interest".

There is no evidence that Mr Cummings played a role in securing the contracts.

Another company audited in the report is Ayanda Capital, which has won a £ 253 million contract to supply PSA.

The deal was brokered by Andrew Mills, who was one of 12 advisors to the Board of Trade, chaired by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. Mr. Mills is also a Senior Board Adviser to Ayanda Capital.

Approximately 50 million pound sterling worth of masks supplied by the company were of the wrong specification and cannot be used.

Ayanda said last night, "Suggestions that the masks are unsuitable for the purpose or unsafe for NHS frontline workers are simply wrong and we are being classified as defamatory."

In addition to the three companies identified in the NAO report, the mail can display 12 other companies included in the graphic above. This includes Meller Designs, which has signed PPE contracts worth £ 163 million. It is operated by Tory donor David Meller.

P14 Medical Limited won three orders valued at £ 272 million to supply PPE. Its director is former Tory Councilor Steve Dechan.

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