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Despite increasing calls for a U-turn, the relaxation of the Covid rules will be maintained for the festive break


The Christmas meetings were re-approved last night despite warnings that they could "cost many lives".

Government sources say up to three households can still get together under a five-day easing of coronavirus restrictions.

However, there will be “harsh” warnings to think twice before celebrating Christmas with elderly or vulnerable relatives.

Families are also recommended to “stay on site” in view of the fear of huge traffic jams and packed “Covid cars” on trains.

However, the UK's political approach was jeopardized last night when Nicola Sturgeon considered different rules for Scotland.

This could reduce the five-day period – and the number of households – to just two north of the border.

Boris Johnson's decision to move forward with Christmas plans followed an emergency meeting last night that was attended by officials from all four British nations. Among the options they discussed was postponing the festive amnesty until next year.

Two leading medical journals had warned that adhering to the five-day plan was a "serious mistake that will cost many lives."

Ministers ruled, however, that punishing the whole country would be unfair amid concerns about increasing cases in London and the South East.

And there were warnings that an attempt to ban Christmas would be impossible to enforce, as police chiefs who were already warning officials would not participate in “monitoring people's Christmas dinners”.

Michael Gove, who chaired the Cabinet meeting last night, will have further discussions today with Miss Sturgeon and the heads of administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland to agree on a UK approach. But sources said the rules in England would not change.

When ministers were ready to confirm that most parts of the country will remain at their current Covid level through the New Year:

  • Official figures showed that Covid cases are increasing in three-quarters of the local authorities just two weeks after the end of the second lockdown.
  • New documents showed that former Prime Minister's aide Dominic Cummings received a raise of up to £ 50,000 this year.
  • A YouGov poll last night found that 57 percent want to see the Christmas amnesty scrapped. 31 percent think it should be carried out as planned.
  • Treasury sources ruled out providing additional financial aid to hospitality businesses in London, which are entering Stage Three today.
  • Mass secondary school testing starting in January will reduce the number of children and teachers sent home.
  • A report found that 819,000 jobs have been lost since the pandemic began, with hospitality being the hardest hit.
  • Experts said a new strain of the virus that could have spiked in certain cases is likely from the UK.
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock was under pressure to release details of the coronavirus vaccine launch.
  • A report found that NHS England estimates less than half of the population will receive the injections in 2021.
  • The five-day quarantine system for travel was in chaos when two test providers pulled out after being flooded with demand.

The Christmas meetings were re-approved last night despite warnings that they could "cost many lives". According to government information (Image: Boris Johnson in the cabinet today), up to three households can still get together under a five-day relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions

The UK's political approach was jeopardized last night when Nicola Sturgeon (pictured left) considered different rules for Scotland. This could reduce the five-day period - and the number of households - to just two north of the border

Boris Johnson's (pictured right) decision to move ahead with Christmas plans followed a crisis meeting last night attended by officials from all four British nations. Among the options they discussed was postponing the festive amnesty until next year

The UK's political approach was jeopardized last night when Nicola Sturgeon (pictured left) considered different rules for Scotland. This could reduce the five-day period – and the number of households – to just two north of the border. Boris Johnson's (pictured right) decision to move ahead with Christmas plans followed a crisis meeting last night attended by officials from all four British nations. Among the options they discussed was postponing the festive amnesty until next year.

There will be "harsh" warnings to think twice before celebrating Christmas with elderly or vulnerable relatives. Families are also recommended to “stay on site” in view of the fear of huge traffic jams and packed “Covid cars” on trains. Pictured: Professor Chris Whitty briefed Boris Johnson at a weekly cabinet meeting yesterday

There will be "harsh" warnings to think twice before celebrating Christmas with elderly or vulnerable relatives. Families are also recommended to “stay on site” in view of the fear of huge traffic jams and packed “Covid cars” on trains. Pictured: Professor Chris Whitty briefed Boris Johnson at a weekly cabinet meeting yesterday

The government's Christmas shake came under strong warnings from experts.

In an insistent joint editorial yesterday, the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal called for the "hasty" decision to relax social distancing rules to be lifted.

They warned the government about "falling into another major mistake that will cost many lives".

They added: “The public can and should mitigate the effects of the third wave by being as careful as possible over the next several months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions over Christmas as permission to drop their guard. "

The British Medical Association also urged ministers to reconsider the Christmas regulations.

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday tried to pressure the government to end the amnesty. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Sir Keir said: “The tiered system has not kept the virus under control and has left us little leeway.

"If you make the wrong decision now, the repercussions for our NHS and our economy in the New Year could be dire."

But Tory-Grandee Sir Desmond Swayne said ministers rightly trusted families to celebrate safely.

He added, “As a conservative, I fundamentally believe that individuals make better decisions on behalf of themselves, their families and communities than government or medical journals. The lobby for health and science needs to be put back in its box. "

Keir Starrmer in London yesterday

Boris Johnson gathered his cabinet today to reflect on the state of the coronavirus battle

Boris Johnson (right) gathered his cabinet today to reflect on the state of the coronavirus battle. Keir Starmer (left) has called for a Cobra meeting to cancel Christmas bubbles

A surge in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be placed under Tier 3 curbs from Monday evening

A surge in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be placed under Tier 3 curbs from Monday evening

According to a government-backed study, the number of coronavirus cases in England fell by a quarter during the second national lockdown. Pictured: a graph showing a decrease in the percentage of positive tests per 10,000 people when the second lockdown began in November

A poll by Ipsos MORI today found that most Britons believe the rules for the Christmas bubble should be stricter

A poll by Ipsos MORI today found that most Britons believe the rules for the Christmas bubble should be stricter

Christmas bubbles are "rashes" and will "cost lives"

The Christmas bubble plan is "hasty" and must be abandoned to prevent it from "costing lives," respected experts warned today.

In a rare joint editorial, the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal have urged the government to stop easing.

They said: “When the government was drafting current plans to allow household shuffling over Christmas, it had assumed that the demand for Covid-19 to the NHS would decline.

"But it's not like that, it's rising, and the emergence of a new strain of the virus has brought more potential dangers with it."

“The public can and should mitigate the effects of the third wave by being as cautious as possible over the next several months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions over Christmas as permission to drop their guard.

& # 39; The government was too slow to put restrictions in place in the spring and again in the fall. She should now reverse her hasty decision to allow household shuffling and instead extend the tiers over the five-day holiday season to lower the numbers ahead of a likely third wave.

"It should also review and strengthen the tiered structure that failed to suppress infection and hospitalization rates."

The article added that "the government is about to fall into another major mistake that will cost many lives". "If our political leaders do not take quick and determined action, they can no longer claim to protect the NHS," it said. It com

The news came when questions about the Christmas bubble plan surfaced in a surge in cases last night as the emergence of the new strain of Covid threw another element into the situation.

Wales has already signaled that it could rethink UK regulations as its infection rate hits alarming levels.

In their blunt editorial today, the BMJ and HSJ said: “When the government was working out the current plans for a budget mix over Christmas, it had assumed that the demand for Covid-19 at the NHS would decline.

"But it's not like that, it's rising, and the emergence of a new strain of the virus has brought more potential dangers with it."

“The public can and should mitigate the effects of the third wave by being as cautious as possible over the next several months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions over Christmas as permission to drop their guard.

& # 39; The government was too slow to put restrictions in place in the spring and again in the fall. She should now reverse her hasty decision to allow household shuffling and instead extend the tiers over the five-day holiday season to lower the numbers ahead of a likely third wave.

"It should also review and strengthen the tiered structure that failed to suppress infection and hospitalization rates."

The article added that "the government is about to fall into another major mistake that will cost many lives". "If our political leaders do not take quick and determined action, they can no longer claim to protect the NHS," it said.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms. Sturgeon said: “Later today there will be a discussion on four nations to take stock of recent developments.

“But right now I want to be extremely careful.

“If you can avoid mingling with other households over Christmas, especially indoors, please do so.

"But if you find it essential – and we have tried pragmatically to see that some people will – please reduce your unnecessary contacts as much as possible until then."

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament, "Regardless of how the UK governments resolve this problem, there will be a very, very balanced series of judgments between different types of damage caused by what is done."

Mr Drakeford said the "virulence" of Covid-19 this winter was not predicted from modeling that was being done in many parts of the world.

Only one of the capital's NHS trusts is busier than last winter

Questions are being raised about No10's decision to put London on Tier 3 lockdown from midnight as official NHS data shows only one trust is busier than last winter and hospitals across the capital are quieter than usual .

The government's online Covid tracker also shows that the average number of daily deaths in the capital is an eighth of its peak in April and the weekly intake of the disease is a quarter of what it was in the spring.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed last night that London will move into the strictest lockdown level, claiming that action must be taken immediately to prevent the health service from becoming overwhelmed after a surge in infections in recent weeks.

However, MailOnline's analysis of NHS England statistics shows that of the capital's 18 major hospital trusts, only the University College London's NHS Foundation Trust is busier than 2019.

According to the most recent publicly available data, for the week ended December 6, a total of 3,606 of 3,848 available beds, or 93.71 percent, were occupied by the Trust. The trust was 89.23 percent full in the seven days ended December 8, 2019.

However, London's NHS hospitals are on average quieter than in the previous two winters. In the week ending December 6th of this year, 88.79 percent of the beds were occupied. In the capital, around 1,500 beds are currently left unused every day.

By comparison: the capital's 18 trusts were occupied 95.35 percent in the seven days up to December 8th last year and 95.12 percent in the same period in 2018.

"I'm going to discuss with Michael Gove today whether the four-nation agreement we have reached continues to have slightly more advantages than disadvantages or whether there is another balance that we should strive for," he told the Senedd.

& # 39; Damage is being done in both directions. It hurts when people come together over Christmas in a way that is not responsible and doesn't heed all of the advice we have given to people.

"If we are to keep people from meeting over Christmas, people's sense of mental health will be damaged in different ways than people's sense of how to get through this incredibly difficult year together."

He added, “The choice is bleak, isn't it? I've been reading heartbreaking requests from people on my own email account for the past few days not to reverse what we agreed to do for Christmas.

“People who live all alone and have made arrangements to be with people for the first time tell me that this is the only thing they have been looking forward to in the past few weeks.

"Yet we know that if people don't responsibly use the modest amount of additional freedom, we will see an impact on our already pressurized health services."

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Sir Keir said: “In the last few days it has become increasingly clear that the animal system that you introduced two weeks ago could not control the transmission of Covid-19.

"Unfortunately, it now appears that the government has once again lost control of infection, putting our economy and NHS at serious risk in the New Year."

The Labor leader said he "welcomed the fact that the government had sought a four-nation approach to the agreements over the Christmas period".

“I understand that people want to spend time with their families after this terrible year, but the situation has clearly gotten worse since the decision was made over Christmas. It doesn't serve anybody for politicians to ignore this fact, ”he wrote.

“I believe that you should convene Cobra now within the next 24 hours to see whether the current easing is appropriate given the increasing number of cases. If you work with government scientists to conclude that we need to take tougher measures to keep people safe over Christmas, you will have my support. & # 39;

Sir Keir admitted that abandoning the plans would be "deeply disappointing to many across the country."

“Many will have already started planning for Christmas and have held onto the prospect of a happy day with family and loved ones to guide us through these difficult months. But the public doesn't want false endorsement, warm words or hidden challenges from their prime minister. You want guidance, ”he said.

Keir Starmer's letter to Boris Johnson complete

Dear Prime Minister,

In the last few days it has become increasingly clear that the animal system introduced two weeks ago could not control the transmission of Covid-19.

Unfortunately, it now appears that the government has once again lost control of infection, putting our economy and NHS at serious risk in the New Year.

This will be a source of great concern for people across the country who have made so many sacrifices to protect families, loved ones and communities.

The fantastic work done by scientists and others in developing a vaccine has been a tremendous accomplishment for our country and has made it possible for all of us to feel hopeful again.

But we were brought back to earth with a thud as the grim possibility of an increasingly bleak winter loomed in sight.

I welcomed the fact that the government had sought a four-nation approach to the agreements over the Christmas period.

I understand that people want to spend quality time with their families after this terrible year, but the situation has clearly gotten worse since the decision was made over Christmas. It serves no one for politicians to ignore this fact.

I believe that you should convene COBRA now over the next 24 hours to see if the current easing is appropriate given the increasing number of cases.

If you work with government scientists to conclude that we need to take tougher measures to keep people safe over Christmas, you have my support.

Obviously, further tightening of restrictions will be deeply disappointing to many across the country. Many will have already started planning for Christmas and will have held onto the prospect of a happy day with family and loved ones to guide us through these difficult months.

But the public doesn't want false endorsement, warm words or hidden challenges from their prime minister. You want leadership.

This is a critical moment for our country. The tiered system did not keep the virus under control and gave us little leeway.

Put simply, if you make the wrong decision now, the impact on our NHS and economy in the New Year could be dire.

Our country has already experienced one of the worst death rates in Europe and the worst recession of any major economy. It wasn't inevitable, but it was a failure to make the difficult decisions at the right time.

The government was too slow at the start of the pandemic and in September, when it became clear we needed a half-time break, they ignored the scientific advice and postponed the inevitable until November.

I urge you not to repeat this mistake now. Your priority should be a safe Christmas that will make for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Your

Keir Starmer

Labor Party leader

& # 39; This is a critical moment for our country. The tiered system did not keep the virus under control and gave us little leeway. Put simply, if you make the wrong decision now, the impact on our NHS and economy could be dire in the New Year. & # 39;

Downing Street said it was still the government's "intention" to allow up to three households to mingle over the Christmas season.

The prime minister's official spokesman said the dates were "under constant review" but the government wanted to "allow families and friends to meet".

Speaking to a briefing in Westminster, he said, "As we have always done throughout the pandemic, we will be constantly reviewing this, but our intention to allow families and friends to meet during the Christmas season remains."

The spokesman refused to say when families could make arrangements with confidence that plans will not change.

"We set out the Christmas guidelines and made it clear that people must remain cautious and vigilant throughout the holiday season," the spokesman said.

"As we have done throughout the pandemic, all advice is constantly being reviewed."

Asked during a round of interviews this morning if there is any chance of change, Mr Barclay said, "Well, all things are always checked."

However, he continued to make it clear that there is currently no intention to change course. “There is a balance to be found that many families have not seen each other all year round. It is important for people's wellbeing, for their mental health. We don't want to criminalize people for getting together as a family over Christmas, ”he said.

“But it is important that people do the minimum that is possible. So people will make their own judgments. & # 39;

In the House of Commons, Tory MP Mark Harper, who heads a lockdown-skeptical group of MPs, said there would have to be a new vote if the prime minister wants to revise the Christmas schedule.

"There is a lot of discussion outside of the Christmas season regulations and relaxing coronavirus regulations," he said.

"Am I right, Madam Deputy Speaker, given the Christmas provisions that this House has specifically voted on, this decision should not only be made for Ministers if it is proposed to change it, but it should be brought back to this House for." a vote before Christmas? & # 39;

Deputy Spokeswoman Dame Rosie Winterton replied, “As far as I know, Ministers may have the power to change the Christmas rules without going back into the house.

& # 39; You have taken that power. Of course you have taken the view that it would be desirable if you came back, but as I understand it, you have the option to vary it if you think it appropriate. & # 39;

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, said at a press conference on Downing Street last night that the government was not sure whether the new strain was more contagious, but wanted to bring it to the public's attention as new restrictions were put in place.

He said, “The main reason we bring this to people's attention is whether it is spreading faster. It may or may not be "cause and effect".

& # 39; The reason Tier 3 is being introduced is because rates are increasing very rapidly in many areas.

"The variation may or may not help, but the reality is that it is happening across the board and that is the reason for the changes."

That didn't suggest a vaccine wouldn't work against the new strain, and current tests can show that.

As of tomorrow, more than 60 percent of the English population – 34 million people – will live in areas where it is forbidden to eat out and almost all socializing.

Treasury Secretary Steve Barclay said the relaxation plans were under constant scrutiny, despite insisting that the government would not "criminalize" people who want to see their relatives

Treasury Secretary Steve Barclay said the relaxation plans were under constant scrutiny, despite insisting that the government would not "criminalize" people who want to see their relatives

A pub in South West London hoping to do some trading before the new Tier 3 restrictions go into effect at midnight

A pub in South West London hoping to do some trading before the new Tier 3 restrictions go into effect at midnight

Victoria drinkers enjoy one last drink before draconian new restrictions go into effect overnight

Victoria drinkers enjoy one last drink before draconian new restrictions go into effect overnight

Matt Hancock was asked intensely last night whether the five-day Christmas rule should be abolished.

The Minister of Health declined to categorically rule this out and instead suggested a period of self-isolation before visiting elderly relatives.

The majority of Britons believe that Christmas should be canceled and the current Covid lockout rules should be maintained during the holiday season

The majority of Britons believe that Christmas should be canceled this year to ease restrictions during the holiday season. This was the result of a survey.

A YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found that 57 percent believe the current rules should be kept over Christmas – instead of mixing bubbles from up to three households.

Tory MPs are increasingly nervous about the proposals in the UK after the BMJ and HSJ warned, according to respected medical journals, that the "rash" "costs lives" and needs to be removed.

Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the health committee, said the government should listen "very, very carefully" to concerns.

And the UK public seems to agree – only 31 percent said they wanted the "bubbles" plan to go ahead. Separate Ipsos MORI research found that 49 percent believed the rules were not strict enough.

He warned that shopping trips to Tier 3 areas like London could also break the rules.

Health experts point out that European countries have imposed strict Christmas restrictions. However, a lawsuit would cause massive disruption to families who have already made plans.

Mr Hancock announced that more than 1,000 cases of the new tribe have been identified, mostly in the south.

“We understand why people want to see loved ones, especially at this time of year, especially after this year. But it has to be done in a way that is careful and responsible.

"Now, two weeks in advance, being careful and making sure you minimize the chances of both getting and passing the disease on is the thing to do."

When asked about the easing of restrictions over Christmas, Prof. Whitty said, “This is limited relaxation in a sense that will have some impact on the upward pressure on the coronavirus.

“But the most important thing is that people just have to be sensible. The extent of the impact this will have depends entirely on how many people do it in responsible, minimalist ways. & # 39;

However, according to a new poll, the majority of Britons believe that Christmas should be canceled this year.

The YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found that 57 percent think the current rules should be kept over Christmas – instead of mixing bubbles from up to three households.

Separate Ipsos MORI research found that 49 percent believed the rules were not strict enough.

It is because Sussex could be the next area of ​​England to be drawn into Stage Three. Official numbers suggest the count of Covid-19 cases is high. However, ministers have raised the prospect of segregating low-infection rural areas from urban hotspots.

The fastest surge in Covid-19 infections across England was recorded in Hastings, East Sussex, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. The cases there have more than tripled from 114.4 per 100,000 in the week ending December 2 to 372.3 in the seven days ending December 9.

Two other counties in West Sussex, Crawley and Worthing, were among the five largest agencies in the country to record the largest drops in that period. Infections have more than doubled in both areas, rising from 41.8 per 100,000 to 102.3 in Crawley and from 25.3 per 100,000 to 58.8 in Worthing.

The YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found that 57 percent think the current rules should be kept over Christmas - instead of mixing bubbles from up to three households

The YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found that 57 percent think the current rules should be kept over Christmas – instead of mixing bubbles from up to three households

Covid cases in Hastings, Crawley and Worthing – fastest – but ministers will "segregate rural areas with low infection from urban hotspots"

Sussex could be the next area of ​​England to be drawn into Stage Three. Official numbers suggest that the count of Covid-19 cases has increased. However, ministers have raised the prospect of segregating low-infection rural areas from urban hotspots.

The fastest surge in Covid-19 infections across England was recorded in Hastings, East Sussex, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. The cases there have more than tripled from 114.4 per 100,000 in the week ending December 2 to 372.3 in the seven days ending December 9.

Two other counties in West Sussex, Crawley and Worthing, were among the five largest agencies in the country to record the largest drops in that period. Infections have more than doubled in both areas, rising from 41.8 per 100,000 to 102.3 in Crawley and from 25.3 per 100,000 to 58.8 in Worthing.

However, data shows that the Sussex epidemic is triggered by a few selected hotspot areas. More than a dozen rural villages and towns have fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people. The government will review its first formal review of the tier system tomorrow.

With a Tier 3 upgrade, pubs and restaurants across Sussex would not have to switch to take-out again before Christmas. According to the rules in force, people are not allowed to meet people they do not live with indoors, but hospitality can remain open. Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

However, ministers reportedly are considering separating rural areas with low infection from urban hotspots in an attempt to quell a riot by the conservative backbench brewery. The decision to introduce tiers at the county or township level sparked Tory anger as villages with only a few cases were ranked Tier 3 due to their proximity to a city with a high infection rate. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has signaled MPs that the review will address "areas of decoupling".

However, data shows that the Sussex epidemic is triggered by a few selected hotspot areas. More than a dozen rural villages and towns have fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people.

The government will review its first formal review of the tier system tomorrow.

With a Tier 3 upgrade, pubs and restaurants across Sussex would not have to switch to take-out again before Christmas.

According to the rules in force, people are not allowed to meet people they do not live with indoors, but hospitality can remain open.

Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

However, ministers reportedly are considering separating rural areas with low infection from urban hotspots in an attempt to quell a riot by the conservative backbench brewery.

The decision to introduce tiers at the county or township level sparked Tory anger as villages with only a few cases were ranked Tier 3 due to their proximity to a city with a high infection rate.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has signaled MPs that the review will address "areas of decoupling".

Meanwhile, scientists have tried to reassure the public after ministers announced yesterday that the new strain of coronavirus had been identified.

Although the virologist Dr. Chris Smith spreads faster, the new variant of the coronavirus may not be "badass".

"Once it infects you, when it gets inside you, it doesn't really make you sick," he told BBC Breakfast.

"That seems to be the pattern right now, and the other big question right now is," Is this change enough to bypass what the vaccine is doing to protect us?

"At the moment the answer seems to be no, but we have to watch that."

Dr. Smith added that the discovery of the new variant reassured him as "it shows that the system is working".

Alan McNally, Professor of Microbial Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Birmingham, stressed that the British should "stay calm and rational".

He said, “It's important to have a calm and rational perspective on the strain as this is normal virus development and we expect new variants to come and go and emerge over time.

"It is too early to worry or not about this new variant, but I am impressed with the surveillance efforts in the UK which have made it possible for this to be picked up so quickly."

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, questioned whether gatherings were worth the risk if the most at risk were to be vaccinated soon.

Shoppers were out on Regents Street in central London on Monday evening when news of the Tier 3 move broke

Shoppers were out on Regents Street in central London on Monday evening when news of the Tier 3 move broke

Greenwich Council Chairman Danny Thorpe has told all schools in south east London to close on Monday evening as he warned that the situation in Covid-19 is "escalating extremely quickly". The infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants of the capital was 191.8 on December 6, compared to 158.1 in the previous week. Pictured: Infection rates in London by county week through December 6th

Greenwich Council Chairman Danny Thorpe has told all schools in south east London to close on Monday evening as he warned that the situation in Covid-19 is "escalating extremely quickly". The infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants of the capital was 191.8 on December 6, compared to 158.1 in the previous week. Pictured: Infection rates in London by county week through December 6th

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, said at the press conference on Downing Street last night that there was nothing to suggest that a vaccine would not work against the new strain and that current tests could prove it

Matt Hancock (pictured during Monday's Covid press conference) was asked intensely on Monday whether the five-day Christmas rule should be abolished

Matt Hancock (pictured at right during yesterday's press conference # 10) was faced with intense questions about whether the five-day Christmas rule should be abolished. Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (left) said people need to be careful

Mutant virus or project stage? Scientists say mutated strain of coronavirus could make the disease LESS fatal

Matt Hancock was accused today of terrifying the public after dramatically announcing that a mutant strain of coronavirus is spreading in London and the South East.

The Minister of Health dispelled the bombing claim yesterday when he made plans to move 11 million people in the capital Essex and Hertfordshire to the third stage from midnight to warn that the mutated strain could spread faster than older versions of the virus .

However, experts have resorted to his claim, claiming he used "exaggerated rhetoric" to scare people, revealing that development was normal, with this exposure likely not to affect how vaccines work or make people sick.

According to experts, the coronavirus has mutated thousands of times in a completely natural process, and many actually get weaker as it evolves.

Scientists said it was definitely important to study new strains to see if they would change the behavior of the virus and to keep an eye on global outbreaks, but questioned Mr. Hancock's timing.

There are some concerns that the mutated strain could be a form that the immune system isn't as well recognized and that vaccines may not be as effective. The British Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium said it is investigating this and is also checking whether any of these mutations contribute to increased transmission or not.

Logs of where the mutation was found indicate that the first record of the VUI – 202012/01 strain was from the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab on September 20th.

Since then, the mutated version of the virus has been recorded more than 1,000 times, mainly in England, but also in Wales, Scotland and Denmark.

The reason it's interesting, scientists say, is because it's the virus' spike protein. The spike is used to attach to the body to cause disease and is the part that is most often attacked by the immune system, so it can potentially affect one of these processes.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, she told ITV's Good Morning Britain, “This is the Christmas worry because once you walk into someone's house you are likely to get the virus if someone else has it.

“Look what happened to Thanksgiving in the United States. You just have to read the stories and look at the numbers to see what happens when people are not careful around the holiday season. & # 39;

Gabriel Scally, Professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol, suggested families consider whether it would be useful to meet indoors.

When asked if there should be any meetings at all, TV doctor Dr. Hilary Jones: “My gut feeling is that this shouldn't be the case. It asks for trouble.

& # 39; It will delay the vaccination program as we will almost inevitably see an increased R-rate (reproductive rate) in January and February. That means there will be sick people who would give the vaccinations, people who cannot come to the vaccination centers because they are already sick. This means that hospitals will be busier.

"And it will delay all of the good things we are looking forward to now when vaccinations come in the pipeline."

However, Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said gatherings were "a tolerable risk," especially when offset by closings of schools and workplaces.

"While it carries a risk, on the flip side, January is generally a very bad month for people's mental health," he added.

The Netherlands is entering a difficult second lockdown today with the closure of all schools and shops for at least five weeks and a mandate to stay at home.

"The Netherlands are closing," said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a national address to the sound of demonstrators beating pots and pans outside his office in The Hague. "We realize the severity of our decisions just before Christmas."

Italy is aiming to close the “red zone” on Christmas Eve, with a ban on citizens leaving their cities on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day. There is also a 10 p.m. curfew.

In Germany, the heads of state and government are being asked to ban all but unimportant travel and to close shops from December 21st. A special Christmas window, in which ten people can meet between December 23 and January 1, instead of the current five, is threatened.

Starting today, general practitioners will be delivering the Pfizer vaccine to elderly patients with teams scheduled to go to nursing homes by the end of the week.

Doctors warn that the rollout could be threatened if health workers fall ill with coronavirus or patients can't attend appointments because they have the virus.

More tears for the levels: Increasing cases will destroy hopes for areas one level lower

By Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Hope that some regions could be removed from the highest levels of coronavirus before Christmas is being dashed today.

It is expected that the vast majority of sites will remain at their current level of restriction when the results of the initial review are announced.

Despite hopes that some places like Leeds and Greater Manchester could be downgraded, the numbers suggest that the overall rate of coronavirus is rising across England.

Boris Johnson had raised hopes in some MPs that their areas would move down a notch at the first review date, when he initially set out the plans for the controversial system.

However, cases have continued to increase as London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire have been moved up one notch.

The news is likely to be received with anger by Tory MPs. Many are concerned about the economic damage of severe restrictions, particularly in Tier Three where the hospitality industry is being forced to close.

Meanwhile, hardly anywhere in the country is Tier 1 – the only level below which indoor mixing is allowed.

Many MPs and business leaders were also disappointed in the lack of an official assessment of the economic costs of the tier system and called for a radical rethink of the overall strategy.

The animal review will take place today and all movements will most likely be confirmed tomorrow.

Yesterday's numbers show Covid-19 cases have increased in more than three-quarters (78 percent) of all local areas in England over the past week.

According to Public Health England, 246 out of 315 local governments saw an increase from week to week in the seven days leading up to December 11th.

This includes every borough of London, 42 of the 45 local areas in the east of England and 66 of the 67 local areas in the south east of England.

In the north west of England, where rates had previously fallen across most of the region, recent figures show that they have increased in almost two thirds of the areas.

When introducing the current tier system in late November, the Prime Minister said, “By using these tougher levels, and by using rapid turnaround tests on an ever larger scale … the areas should be able to move downward ) scale to lower limits. "

However, Tory MP Steve Baker, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Lockdown Skeptics, said, "The current strategy to fight Covid is clearly not working. If it did, we would be talking about areas moving down the levels today .

"We need to end the devastating cycle of repeated restrictions and bans, regain public support and trust, and live sustainably again."

It was hoped Leeds could be downgraded to Tier 2 after Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted at it on Monday.

Hilary Benn, the Leeds Central Labor MP, said cases had dropped from more than 400 per 100,000 to less than 140.

Greater Manchester also hoped to be moved down a notch. Mayor Andy Burnham said the region has a "strong argument" for getting out of tier three.

However, government sources said the review would look at local authorities and regions rather than individual cities and towns.

Mr Hancock also wrote to Tory MPs to tell them that a larger division of the territories was difficult, ruining the hopes of tens of thousands of residents in towns and villages with low infection who had hoped they could get away from the surrounding coronavirus – "Decouple" hotspots.

A government source said: “As the Prime Minister pointed out in November, we will be reviewing each local authority area and region against the five indicators we published in our Covid Winter Plan.

"We will also consider local views to get the most accurate picture possible of what is happening on site."

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