Boris Johnson will decide tomorrow whether to put in place stricter coronavirus restrictions as Labor urges him to instigate a national lockdown.
The Prime Minister has warned the curbs are "likely to get tougher" as government sources said more areas of England could be plunged into Tier 4 in days.
According to the strict measures already in place in three quarters of the country, only important shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people are supposed to stay at home.
Mr Johnson said he is also considering further school closings.
Cabinet sources said they expected the government's "Covid-O" committee, which takes decisions on lockdown restrictions, to meet on Monday to decide on next steps.
Tonight, Sir Keir Starmer called for an immediate nationwide lockdown when he warned that 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;
As he appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One today, Mr Johnson said he was "completely reconciled to doing what it takes to fight the virus" and warned of a "difficult time".
The Prime Minister has warned the curbs are "likely to get tougher" as government sources said more areas of England could be plunged into Tier 4 in days
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. "
This map shows how the coronavirus variants have been tracked on their worldwide distribution
Official figures show there has been an additional 54,990 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, an 80 percent increase from 30,501 a year earlier, while the death toll rose 43 percent to 454 last Sunday
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.
PM refuses to rule out the possibility of exams being canceled
Boris Johnson today refused to rule out the cancellation of GCSE and A-Level exams this year.
When asked about the possibility, the Prime Minister said: “We have to be realistic, we have to be realistic about how quickly this new variant has spread …
"We have to be realistic about the impact this will have on our NHS … and we have to be humble in the face of this virus."
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.
“School closings – which we had to do in March – are clearly one of those things. We don't necessarily want to do that. & # 39;
According to a government source, the ministers wanted to include more areas of England in the fourth stage.
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.
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
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 today vowed that "tens of millions" of coronavirus vaccine doses will be administered by March – as he admitted ministers need to cut the "absurd" red tape that is preventing retired doctors 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)
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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