ENTERTAINMENT

Covid Lockdown UK: Boris Johnson says tougher lockdown is imminent


Boris Johnson will tonight in a speech to the nation unveiling new measures to combat the mutated coronavirus calling for a national lockdown.

The Prime Minister will make a statement on TV on “next steps” in the crisis at 8pm. Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday.

A spokesman for No. 10 announced the dramatic move, saying, “The spread of the new variant of COVID-19 has resulted in a rapid escalation in the number of cases across the country.

It is clear to the Prime Minister that further steps must be taken now to halt this rise, protect the NHS and save lives. He'll get this off the ground tonight. & # 39;

Previously, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had joined calls for an immediate national lockdown with closed schools and borders and a ban on any household mix.

Mr Hunt warned that the mutant Covid had put pressure on the NHS compared to normal winters and the government could not afford to wait another day.

Mr Johnson confirmed this morning that "tougher" measures would come – but hinted that he might stick to the tier system in England rather than a blanket approach.

The Prime Minister said the government would do "whatever it takes" when he warned the British that the situation could drag on for months despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

Mr Hunt is one of a growing group of Conservative MPs, including ex-10 advisor Neil O'Brien, who are calling for urgent action to combat the surge in coronavirus. Labor is also pushing for pressure, with Sadiq Khan saying Mr Hunt is "spot on".

Meanwhile, parents are facing chaos as many elementary schools are contradicting government orders to return after the Christmas break.

SAGE has warned that it is likely impossible to control the new coronavirus variant while it remains open – although experts say a full shutdown may still not be enough to keep the & # 39; R & # 39; reproduction rate below to bring one.

Nicola Sturgeon announced drastic action in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. A home stay will be mandated by law from midnight, and schools north of the border are due to remain closed until February.

But the idea of ​​tightening restrictions has sparked anger among other Tory MPs who insist that the country's experience with the pandemic shows lockdowns are not working and crippling the economy.

Another gloomy day of the coronavirus mayhem:

  • Mr Hancock said he was "incredibly concerned" about a new South African variant of the coronavirus that experts fear will not be caught in the current crop of vaccines.
  • Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old retired maintenance manager from Oxford, is the first to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine outside of studies.
  • The teaching unions launched a concerted offer to close all classrooms, despite Boris Johnson's request to stay open. Millions of parents have had to teach their children at home for at least a fortnight, often with only a few hours' lead time.
  • The latest data shows that the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England rose 33 percent between Christmas and January 2nd.

Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up as he has his temperature checked on a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London today while Oxford University / AstraZeneca vaccine hits the market

Jeremy Hunt warned that the mutated Covid had put pressure on the NHS compared to normal winters and that the government couldn't afford to wait another day

Jeremy Hunt warned that the mutated Covid had put pressure on the NHS compared to normal winters and that the government couldn't afford to wait another day

Three quarters of England are already subject to Tier 4, where only important shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people should stay at home

Three quarters of England are already subject to Tier 4, where only important shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people should stay at home

Official figures yesterday showed an additional 54,990 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, an 80 percent increase from 30,501 last week, while the death toll rose 43 percent to 454 last Sunday

Official figures yesterday showed an additional 54,990 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, an 80 percent increase from 30,501 last week, while the death toll rose 43 percent to 454 last Sunday

How could Boris increase the suspension in England?

Boris Johnson has stated that stricter coronavirus restrictions are coming soon.

So far, however, there has been no clarity on what they might look like, as ministers appear to be arguing behind the scenes.

Here are some of the options:

Go up the stairs

About three-quarters of England are already subject to the highest Tier 4 restrictions – the rest in Tier 3, aside from 2,000 people in the Isles of Scilly.

Matt Hancock suggested this morning that Tier 3 is no longer powerful enough to contain mutated Covid. However, he suggested that Tier 4 controls could be done if people followed the rules more closely.

This opened up the possibility that enforcement could escalate – something a number of Tory MPs would support.

Within the existing structure, more elementary and secondary schools could also be closed by designating more areas as emergency zones with high infection.

However, many scientists don't believe that even then, the curbs would be strong enough to stop the spread.

And there is growing fear that the outbreak will be fueled by people traveling between the planes.

National lockdown

Jeremy Hunt, some scientists and Labor have pushed for a blanket lockdown similar to the one imposed in March.

This could result in all schools being closed immediately and tighter limits on retail stores – such as shopping centers. B. Garden Center – to be considered "essential".

There is an option to limit how often people can exercise on a daily basis – like in March – and a broader crackdown on household shuffling could block one-on-one outdoor shuffling.

Strengthening the legal framework with provisions for even stricter penalties for violating the rules could help compliance, but would encourage more cries of protest from libertarians.

Ban on international travel

There are a variety of other options that can be taken either alongside a national lockdown or within the animal system.

Jeremy Hunt's plan is to close the UK's borders to all major international travel.

There has been some confusion that, unlike other countries, the UK has never insisted on negative coronavirus tests for arrivals. Ministers argue that individual tests are not preferable to quarantine as they do not capture early-stage cases.

Restrictions at the border could help prevent the Kent variant from spreading, but could also provide protection from the South African tribe, who are viewed as an even greater threat.

Curfews

Downing Street has greatly downplayed the idea of ​​curfews that would prevent people from going outside after a certain amount of time in the evening.

Again, there would be a very strong reaction from libertarians, including a large number of Tory MPs.

However, curfews have been used in other countries.

They could make it easier for the police to identify and deal with people who break the rules.

Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: “For those who argue, winter at the NHS is always like this: You're wrong. I faced four major winter crises as Health Sec, and the situation is now worse than any. & # 39;

Mr Hunt said the "main lesson" from the pandemic was that countries "can save lives and return their economies to normal faster" if they "act early and decisively".

"We can't afford to wait: all schools should be closed, international travel stopped, the household mix limited and the animal system checked so that the highest level really lowers the infection rate," said Hunt.

"The good news is that unlike before, these restrictions will be limited to around 12 weeks to get the vaccine to those most susceptible to Covid. So there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Previously, Matt Hancock had suggested that the first step would be to escalate even more parts of the country into Tier 4. Tier 3 appeared unable to hold back the more contagious version of the deadly disease.

He insisted that part of the problem was caused by people who did not obey the rules and urged some MPs to give the police more powers.

However, there are questions about how much more impact an expansion of Tier 4 coverage can have, given that three quarters of England are already under the hardest bracket where only essential stores like supermarkets are allowed to open and people are supposed to stay at home.

During a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London this morning, Mr Johnson warned of "tough, tough" weeks.

He added, "If you look at the numbers there is no question that we need to take stricter measures and we will announce these in due course."

Mr Johnson tried to get a positive rating and promised that vaccination numbers will go up massively.

He added, “A massive ramp-up operation is currently underway.

& # 39; The rate limiting factor now is not the delivery of vaccines, although we want it to be faster, but rather that they are properly tested and sent to the NHS.

“It's not the ability to distribute the vaccine, it's not the lack of staff.

& # 39; It is being tested properly. That will increase in the coming weeks. & # 39;

Asked in a round of interviews about the prospect of a national lockdown, Mr. Hancock said, “We are not ruling anything out and have shown repeatedly that we will look at and follow public health advice on how to what is needed to control the spread of the disease. "

When asked if changes could be announced in the next 24 hours, he replied, "We have shown that we are ready to move incredibly quickly … We look at the data every day."

Mr Hancock said the "old animal system was no longer strong enough" because the new variant was "much easier to catch, much more transferable and we are now seeing the effects in many different parts of the country". .

When asked on Sky News whether Tier 4 restrictions work, Hancock said, “Honestly, it's people's behavior. Of course, what matters are the rules we have put in place, but it's also about how people act.

"And to be honest, I would say this: It is important that everyone in the country do everything possible to reduce the spread of the virus."

In a stark message about the length of the struggle Britain is facing, Hancock said the problem is "how we as a society collectively keep this under control for the next few months … until the vaccines can keep us safe".

Cabinet sources said they expected the government's "Covid-O" committee, which takes decisions on lockdown restrictions, to meet today to decide next steps.

Mr Johnson said he was also considering further school closings with possible changes by the end of the week.

But Mr Hancock said this morning people should keep sticking to the rules – which means most primaries should be back this week.

He told Times Radio that people understood why the government was changing its position.

He said: “One of the big challenges in the middle of a pandemic is that the data is changing and therefore the health advice is rightly changing and we have to change our position.

“One of the interesting things I've noticed as Minister of Health last year is that people understand, right?

“People understand that the virus is moving – we've seen this new twist make things much, much harder because it's so much easier to spread, and then we need to update our position based on updated public health recommendations .

"In schools, we should follow this public health advice."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the British that despite the optimism sparked by the administration of the first Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine doses, months of tighter restrictions would be needed

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the British that despite the optimism sparked by the administration of the first Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine doses, months of tighter restrictions would be needed

The 82-year-old dialysis patient is the first Briton to have an Oxford stitch outside of the studies

Britain today began handing out Oxford's groundbreaking Covid vaccine at what has been called a "crucial moment" in the fight against the pandemic. An 82-year-old dialysis patient was the first to receive the sting.

Brian Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who describes himself as being born and raised in Oxford, said he was "so pleased" to receive the vaccine and "really proud" that it was developed in his city.

Mr Pinker, who is now looking forward to his 48th wedding anniversary with Ms. Shirley next month, received the coronavirus vaccine at 7:30 a.m. at Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

In the largest vaccination drive in British history, half a million doses of the Oxford University / AstraZeneca Jab will be made available this week to people in need of protection. "Tens of millions" are promised by April.

AstraZeneca bosses had previously suggested finishing up to 2 million cans a week by mid-January, and officials have promised to deliver the puffs as soon as possible.

That ambitious target may be further away than hoped, however, with fears the UK won't get enough supplies until February. Matt Hancock announced today that increasing the country's manufacturing capacity is "a major medium-term project".

And he said the "bureaucracy" associated with signing up as a voluntary vaccine will be cut after it was revealed last week that thousands of retired medics trying to hand out the bumps were tied to red tape.

In a joint statement, however, the education unions said workers are at "serious risk of infection".

The declaration signed by GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, Unison and Unite states: “The government’s chaotic handling of the opening of schools has created confusion among teachers, school staff and parents alike.

“If all students are brought back to the classroom when the infection rate is so high, those in the education sector are at serious health risk and could trigger the pandemic.

“Unions have called for a break in reopening schools to other than vulnerable children and children of key workers and a transition to distance learning for all while Covid-backed work regulations are reviewed. All school staff who continue to work in schools should be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccinations.

"Rather than casually claiming schools are safe, the Prime Minister should sit down with trade unions to discuss a common approach to ensuring safe working practices in all schools and prioritizing so that all students have the equipment and access they need need to maintain a high standard. " Distance learning until the safety of you and the staff at your school is ensured. & # 39;

The Labor leader of Birmingham City Council has joined calls for a new lockdown amid rising case rates.

Speaking to BBC Radio WM, Cllr Ian Ward said the city's 7-day case rate had risen 36 percent over the past week.

He added: “The NHS here in town is under a lot of pressure. Birmingham University Hospital occupied 98 percent of its critical care beds and Sandwell and City (Hospital Trust) occupied 100 percent of its critical care beds.

"We need decisive action now, and the government must act early and be one step ahead of the curve."

Britain today began handing out Oxford's groundbreaking Covid vaccine at what has been called a "crucial moment" in the fight against the pandemic. An 82-year-old dialysis patient was the first to receive the sting.

Brian Pinker, a retired maintenance manager who describes himself as being born and raised in Oxford, said he was "so pleased" to receive the vaccine and "really proud" that it was developed in his city.

Mr Pinker, who is now looking forward to his 48th wedding anniversary with Ms. Shirley next month, received the coronavirus vaccine at 7:30 a.m. at Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

Teaching unions are trying to close classrooms

Today's unions have come together to try to close all classrooms when school principals enraged Boris Johnson's plea to stay open en masse. Millions of parents have had to teach their children at home for at least fourteen days, often just a few hours in advance.

Many school principals who have been ordered to stay open have decided to close their gates anyway this morning despite the Prime Minister's insistence that "schools are safe" as all UK teaching unions have been demanding that classroom lessons be "interrupted" until employees are vaccinated.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the unions GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite have stated that they want "an immediate nationwide transition to distance learning for all students in elementary, secondary and special schools and colleges". According to the NEW, 6,000 primary schools have learned from employees that it is “unsafe” to come to work.

School closings will send millions of children to "inferior" online learning experts who say they can "reset" childhood years, especially those from working-class families, while Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has warned schools not to re-open children Close to "take leave".

Parents checked out on social media this morning, describing their fear of caring for their children at home for the eleventh hour while trying to keep a full-time job, with many calling the schools unilateral decision to close "Staggering" criticized.

Northfield St. Nicholas Primary Academy in Lowestoft, Suffolk announced that it is closing on Facebook, with parents Rebecca Kane venting: “Nice to have a friend find out about this at 8:30 pm. No email or text to let us know. I can't say I'm surprised. & # 39;

Other parents around the country said they were afraid for their children because for many homeschooling in the first lockdown last year meant "here do your schedules" and "no actual classes".

All schools in London are closed today, along with most Covid-19 hotspots in Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire after a dictation from the Department of Education took place last week. But principals who are supposed to stay open in areas like Surrey, Gloucestershire, Newcastle, Norfolk, Liverpool, County Durham, West Sussex, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Lancashire have closed anyway.

In the largest vaccination drive in British history, half a million doses of the Oxford University / AstraZeneca Jab will be made available this week to people in need of protection. "Tens of millions" are promised by April.

AstraZeneca bosses had previously suggested finishing up to 2 million cans a week by mid-January, and officials have promised to deliver the puffs as soon as possible.

That ambitious target may be further away than hoped, however, with fears the UK won't get enough supplies until February. Matt Hancock announced today that increasing the country's manufacturing capacity is "a major medium-term project".

And he said the "bureaucracy" associated with signing up as a voluntary vaccine will be cut after it was revealed last week that thousands of retired medics trying to hand out the bumps were tied to red tape.

Mr. Hancock insisted that the manufacturing process will be the determining factor in how quickly vaccines can be deployed, not the NHS operation.

He told BBC Breakfast: “If the NHS has to go faster, it will go faster. If two million doses were dispensed a week, the NHS would be dispensing at that rate.

"That is the crucial question, but this offer does not yet exist and we are working very closely with the manufacturers."

Last night, Sir Keir Starmer called for an immediate nationwide lockdown when he warned the virus was clearly out of control. The Labor leader added: "Don't let the Prime Minister say," I will, but not yet. "

“That's the problem he's had so many times. Nationwide lockdown – The prime minister has hinted this will happen but is again delaying. and we cannot afford that again. & # 39;

While appearing on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One yesterday, Mr Johnson said he was "completely reconciled to doing what it takes to fight the virus" and warned of a "difficult time".

He said vaccinating more people would provide a way out of restrictions and he hoped that "tens of millions" would be vaccinated over the next three months.

The Prime Minister maintained his prediction that the situation would improve by spring, but added: “We may have to do things over the next few weeks that will be more difficult in many parts of the country.

"I totally agree – and I bet the people of this country are okay with it, because until the vaccine gets really massively up and running, we're going to fight this virus with the same tools."

Mr Johnson said the government is looking to see if Tier 4 restrictions are tight enough to control the spread of the virus or if more steps are needed, adding, "We need to keep things under review."

When asked whether people could be restricted to an hour of exercise a day or a total ban on household mixing could be introduced, he replied, “There are obviously a number of tougher measures we would need to consider. I'm not going to speculate now about what they would be.

This map shows how the coronavirus variants have been tracked on their worldwide distribution

This map shows how the coronavirus variants have been tracked on their worldwide distribution

Social distancing signs displayed at Coldfall Primary School in Muswell Hill, London, on Jan. 2 as Covid cases across the capital put increasing pressure on the NHS

Social distancing signs displayed at Coldfall Primary School in Muswell Hill, London, on Jan. 2 as Covid cases across the capital put increasing pressure on the NHS

“School closings – which we had to do in March – are clearly one of those things. We don't necessarily want to do that. & # 39;

Government sources have confirmed that ministers wanted to add even more areas of England to Stage Four – although curfews are not currently seen as imminent.

But Tory's former minister, Sir Desmond Swayne, was one of those who condemned the idea of ​​tightening the curbs. “What pain do you want to cause us? What are they going to stop us now? & # 39; he told the telegraph.

»Close important shops and takeaways? The whole thing is insane – it goes beyond the ridiculous. & # 39;

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the government's scientific advisory group on emergencies (Sage), said it was difficult to keep the new, faster-spreading strain of the virus under control without "much stricter" social distancing measures.

On the Andrew Marr Show, the former scientific advisor said, “It is clear that this variant transmits more easily – it transmits more easily in younger age groups too.

'It's important to note that it doesn't appear to be causing any worse disease or that it will be more resistant to the effects of the vaccine, but it will be very, very difficult to keep under control without much closer social relationships. Distancing measures. & # 39;

Sir Keir insisted that there could be "no more tremors, no more delay," adding, "The longer you delay the tough decisions, the worse it is in health, the worse it is in economic."

In response to his remarks, a # 10 source said: “The Prime Minister has consistently understood that we are driven by the need to protect the NHS and save lives, unlike Labor, who has been partisan for ten months.

& # 39; We moved more areas into Tier 4 to take advantage of the new variant and escalated other areas into Tier Three. This targeted approach is the right one. & # 39;

Increase in station cases "could fill 12 hospitals"

By Glen Keogh and Colin Fernandez for the Daily Mail

PM swears tens of millions of shocks and bureaucracy by March

Boris Johnson has vowed that "tens of millions" of coronavirus vaccine doses will be administered by March – admitting ministers need to cut the "absurd" red tape to prevent retired medical professionals from joining the effort.

The prime minister refused to give precise figures on how many people will be vaccinated, apart from the government's plan to use two million shocks a week.

But he said, "What I can tell you is that … we hope we can make tens of millions in the next three months."

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine is due to be administered from tomorrow. The British process is one of the fastest in the world so far.

Experts have warned that the UK's exit from the crippling lockdown depends on having at least 25 million vulnerable people vaccinated by spring.

The gap between the first and second vaccine dose is widened to reach more people.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns that tens of thousands of recently retired general practitioners, surgeons, and nurses are no longer able to help because of the bureaucracy involved.

In the criticism, more and more “ridiculous” demands were made, for example the requirement to be certified in fire protection or to be trained in the prevention of radicalization.

When asked about the complaints, Mr Johnson said, "I find it absurd and I know the Secretary of Health is taking steps to get rid of this pointless red tape."

The number of beds occupied by Covid patients rose in the eight days from Christmas by the equivalent of "12 full hospitals," according to NHS figures.

Between December 25 and January 2, the total number of inpatients with coronavirus in England rose from 17,701 to 23,557 – an increase of 33 percent.

Chris Hopson, executive director of NHS Providers, described the increase as the equivalent of "12 additional full hospitals full of Covid patients". The east of England, London and the south-east saw the largest percentage increases in hospital admissions for those with the virus as the new, more infectious strain continues to move in.

Mr Hopson said, "You can imagine why people in the NHS are concerned about how quickly this virus is spreading."

Meanwhile, contingency plans are being put in place to move critically ill patients hundreds of miles as part of a “pairing” program to relieve pressure on areas where the NHS is struggling to cope.

Those in the east of England could be taken to hospitals in the Midlands while the health foundations in the southeast prepare to send patients to the southwest.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in the history of the NHS. Mr Hopson said only a small number of patients would be moved from London when space in neighboring hospitals ran out.

"When things get tougher we will find other ways to treat people in the area, but we know there are some patients who can be taken where the pressures are a little less, such as the Southwest and in the Midlands, "he said on Sunday Times.

On New Year's Eve, three intensive care units in London were reportedly full and seriously ill patients were waiting to be transferred to other facilities. North Middlesex University Hospital, Barnet Hospital and Whittington Hospital in the north and northwest of the capital described various issues in an email to Sky News, including patients receiving oxygen in A&E.

Dr. Alison Pittard, the dean of the intensive care faculty, said the NHS is trying to continue its other services and treat patients while it deals with the second wave of coronavirus.

She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, "One of the things I want to share with the public is that if you have any concerns about whether it is Covid or not, you need to seek advice and help." She said there were "logistical issues" with the Nightingale temporary hospitals, some of which were used to support diagnostic services.

Yesterday, NHS chiefs denied reports that cancer surgeries had to be delayed to ensure there were enough beds in London.

"Don't let that be you" Covid patient, 49, recounts how she saw her mother, 76, die in hospital while they both battled viruses in intensive care after the disease "devastated" her family

  • Anabel Sharma, 49, was taken to hospital with Covid along with mother Maria, 76
  • Pair snapped a photo together in hospital beds while they were receiving breathing assistance
  • Maria died 24 hours after being admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary
  • Anabel, a mother of three, has now warned others of the dangers of Covid-19

By James Robinson for MailOnline

A woman who was lying side by side with her mother in intensive care when she died of Covid has warned others, "Don't let this be you."

Anabel Sharma (49) and her mother Maria Rico (76) were lying next to each other in the hospital when they both battled Covid-19 after the virus "devastated" their family.

The couple was pictured one last time holding hands while both were given assistance with their breathing. Less than 24 hours later, Maria died.

In a sharp warning of the dangers of the virus, Leicestershire mother of three Anabel has urged others to lose family members if they fail to follow the rules.

In an interview with Der Spiegel: “I never thought that Covid would beat us – but it did. The speed at which Covid was destroying our family has been terrifying.

49-year-old Anabel and her family fell ill from Covid late last year

"If anyone is thinking about breaking the rules, I would urge them to put themselves in my shoes and think about what it might be like to see your mother die or learn that you may not be alive."

49-year-old Anabel and her family fell ill from Covid late last year.

Her 12-year-old son, Isaac, first signed Covid after returning to school in September, according to Mirror.

Anabel, her husband Bharat (47) and their other sons Jacob (22) and Noah (10) later contracted the virus.

Her mother Maria was the last to test positive for Covid.

The other Anabel and Maria were taken to the Royal Infirmary in Leicester in mid-October and placed on oxygen beds apart from each other.

After Maria signed a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) order, Maria was rolled in a bed next to Anabel.

Maria died on November 1st and 24th after the couple took a picture together showing her on a breathing apparatus and Anabel in an oxygen mask.

Anabel said she took off the oxygen mask to say goodbye to her mother.

In an emotional post on the "Humans of Covid-19" Facebook page, Anabel said the ordeal was the "darkest time of my life".

She said, “When my mother and I were taken to A&E, we both needed ITU, but they were full.

"We only got our beds because four patients died that day and made room."

She described the type of treatment she received for Covid – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – as "terrible and relentless".

“I had to wear a plastic hood around the clock for four weeks that pushed oxygen into my lungs.

"It felt like poking your head out of a car that was traveling at 30 mph. It was loud, I couldn't see, hear, and they were feeding me through an opening on the side of the hood," she added added.

Anabel also announced that she was unable to attend her mother's funeral due to Covid, adding, “I saw it live streamed. I was alone, just like my family, we couldn't comfort each other, it broke my already fragile heart. & # 39;

In a warning to others about Covid, she said, “What you read about NHS bed pressure is true, it's not like the flu and people are dying or if you're a survivor like me, maybe they'll never be the same again . & # 39;

Tents in playgrounds while operations begin testing 3.4 million students

By Max Aitchison and Julie Henry

Final preparations are under way to begin mass testing of 3.4 million secondary school students in England on January 11th.

School halls are hastily rebuilt and, in some cases, tents are erected in playgrounds.

It is hoped that the program will provide regular testing for all 11 to 18 year olds at 3,456 state schools as well as colleges and private schools. The aim is to detect asymptomatic coronavirus cases and prevent large numbers of students from being sent home for self-isolation.

Final preparations for the mass test of 3.4 million secondary school students in England from January 11th are underway (archive image)

Final preparations for the mass test of 3.4 million secondary school students in England from January 11th are underway (archive image)

Starting tomorrow, schools will receive deliveries of up to 1,000 test kits and PPE for side-flow devices. The kits, which require either a nasal swab or a throat swab, can produce results in less than 30 minutes.

The Harris Federation, which has 28 secondary schools, will use gyms and tents to conduct the tests. CEO Sir Daniel Moynihan said, “There is a huge gap between those on low incomes and those who do not.

& # 39; The pandemic made that worse. If we want a fairer society and want to improve, we need children in school. & # 39; Most secondary school students will return on January 18, but 760,000 in Exam Years 11 and 13 will return on January 11. You will be given a test before your first lesson and a follow-up exam three days later. The staff is tested once a week.

Anyone who tests positive will then do a more detailed PCR test before leaving the premises to self-isolate. They are not allowed to take public transport home and their close contacts are offered daily tests for seven days so they can stay in school or college instead of having to isolate themselves at home. Ministers are also considering extending guidelines on wearing masks in communal areas to include classrooms in secondary schools.

According to the Office for National Statistics, just under 1.5 percent of students and teachers at English secondary schools tested positive for coronavirus in the week leading up to November 19. Since then, however, the new Covid-19 variant has spread rapidly.

The testing scheme was originally optional, but was made mandatory by the government last Thursday. Children under the age of 16 require the signed consent of their parents for tests. Older students have to agree to this themselves.

A design at Painsley Catholic College in Cheadle, Staffordshire had an acceptance rate of 80 percent. CEO Steve Bell said, "It's a lot to get your head around and the amount of documentation and requirements can fuel anxiety, but that will soon go away when everyone realizes it's very easy."

Three schools from the nationwide Star Academies Trust also took part in a pilot project, recruiting certified exam directors and cleaners.

The CEO, Hamid Patel, said: “School principals and teachers are understandably tired after many months of dealing with the crisis. The tight schedule added to the challenges, but is manageable with creative thinking, planning and determination. & # 39;

Each school has to have a team that covers seven different roles: team leaders, test assistants, processors, a Covid-19 coordinator, registration assistants, result recorders and cleaning staff. None of the roles require clinical experience as most students do the swabs themselves. However, experts criticized the reliability of self-administered tests, claiming they missed up to half of the cases. To counteract this, some schools are getting medical help.

Chris Ramsey, principal at Whitgift School in Croydon, south London, said: "It is not fair to expect volunteers, teachers or boys to take responsibility."

The government has allocated £ 78 million for the program, but there are warnings that will run out within weeks. Private schools have to finance the project themselves.

Approximately 45,000 people are needed to help with the tests, and some schools require paid staff to help. Some advertise "Covid test assistants" who pay between £ 10 and £ 17 an hour. Chris Parkinson, director of Bosworth Academy in Leicester, said, "The biggest challenge is getting the workforce in place."

The only government guidance is a 30-page manual in addition to online sessions. Around 1,500 military personnel will offer support, but only online or by phone.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and University Directors, criticized the program, saying: "Ministers must remember that schools and colleges are educational institutions, not medical institutions, and must properly support this testing program."

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