Covid news live: Javid insists Christmas will be ‘normal’ as cases surge

Covid news live: Javid insists Christmas will be ‘normal’ as cases surge

Related video: Sajid Javid ‘leaning towards’ compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS staff

Sajid Javid has said Christmas will be “normal” this year despite surging Covid case rates which one virus expert described as “unacceptable” and “astonishingly high”.

Fears of another disrupted festive season have grown off the back of a high number of infections in recent weeks, but the health secretary told BBC Breakfast that this winter was likely to be different to last, if people continued to come forward for vaccines and made use of regular testing.

“For all those people like me that are hoping and planning for a normal Christmas – which I do by the way, I think that’s where we’ll be, we’ll have a normal Christmas – if we want let’s just keep playing our part,” Mr Javid said.

Earlier on Monday, Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), warned about the level of infection in the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that : “What we’re facing at the moment is unacceptable, we’ve got roughly one in 55 people infected, which is an astonishingly high rate compared to most other west European countries.”

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World leaders urge Pope to help share Covid vaccines

Global political leaders have written to the Pope seeking his help for a “miracle of life-saving vaccines” for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

More than 150 world leaders – including former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, UN general secretary Ban Ki-Moon, former Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso, ex-New Zealand premier Helen Clark, and former prime minister of Japan Yasuo Fukado – have come together to press the need for urgent global co-operation.

They are calling on the Pope to intercede this week ahead of the G20 summit which begins in Rome on Friday under the chairmanship of Italian premier Mario Draghi.

The group says the summit could be the last chance for world leaders to agree a detailed plan to send unused vaccines from the global north to the global south and keep vaccination targets on track.

Only 5 per cent of Africa is fully vaccinated.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 12:22

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China implements strict testing regime for Winter Olympics

Competitors in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be subject to daily tests for Covid and will be required to remain in a closed loop that includes transport between the various games venues, organisers said in guidelines released on Monday.

China, where measures to tackle Covid are among the world’s strictest, has already said international spectators will not be allowed to enter the country for the Games which will run from 4-20 February.

China has all-but shut its borders to international travellers, with the number of international flights drastically reduced from pre-Covid levels, and games organisers said on Monday that domestic and foreign airlines will be encouraged to operate temporary flights available only to participants.

Games participants will need to be tested for Covid before arrival, and athletes and team officials must be vaccinated to avoid 21 days in quarantine, with some exceptions for medical reasons granted on a case-by-case basis.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 12:08

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ICYMI: Inside the NHS’s looming crisis

The NHS faces its hardest winter yet as soaring coronavirus cases combine with a surge in A&E demand and a health service brought to its knees by 18 months of unrelenting pandemic pressure.

While ministers including health secretary Sajid Javid have claimed the Covid resurgence has not put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, doctors, nurses and health officials from across the country have told The Independent the mounting crises on several fronts mean the health service is facing a very real catastrophe.

Here is the special weekend report from our health correspondent, Shaun Lintern:

Breaking point: Inside the NHS’s looming crisis

Special Report: Ministers say the NHS still isn’t facing unsustainable pressure. But with Covid cases rising unchecked and demand on hospitals surging, doctors, nurses and officials tell Shaun Lintern the health service is facing its worst winter ever

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 11:55

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Russia reports highest case rates since start of pandemic as lockdown looms

Russia reported its highest single-day Covid-19 case tally since the start of the pandemic on Monday as some regions shut workplaces to combat a surge in infections and deaths.

Faced with worsening infection rates and frustrated by the slow take-up of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by its own population, authorities are introducing stricter measures this week to try to slow the spread of the pandemic.

President Vladimir Putin last week declared that 30 October to 7 November would be paid non-working days but said every region could extend that period or start it earlier depending on the situation.

From this Thursday, Moscow will introduce its tightest lockdown measures since June 2020, with only essential shops like supermarkets and pharmacies remaining open.

Unvaccinated over-60s in the capital have been ordered to lock down for four months starting Monday, and Moscow schools are also closed.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 11:39

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New Zealand reports second-worst day of daily infections since pandemic began

New Zealand reported 109 new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Monday, the bulk of them in its largest city, Auckland, as the country saw its second-worst day of daily infections since the pandemic began.

Once the poster child for stamping out Covid, New Zealand has been unable to beat an outbreak of Delta variant of Covid centred in Auckland, despite the city remaining under a strict lockdown for more than two months.

The country over the weekend also reported the first community case of the virus in its South Island in nearly a year, a cause for further headache, though health officials said the risks of a further spread from the case remained low.

The spike in cases has forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to abandon her elimination strategy and switch to living with the virus, and health officials have warned of an uptick in cases until vaccinations ramp up.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 11:23

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How do travel tests work?

Confused about the new international travel rules? For most vaccinated people, a single, lateral flow test is now required on or before the second day of your return to the UK.

Here is our guide to the process:

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 11:09

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Covid cases may slump this winter – report

Covid cases could drop next month even if ministers do not implement plan B restrictions, a report claims.

According to The Daily Telegraph, modelling seen by the government suggests infections may start declining rapidly within a matter of weeks.

The paper said said a projection from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested that cases will soon peak before dropping off.

Other unpublished models were said to show similar falls, and the Telegraph claimed that experts had suggested cases could settle at around 5,000 a day by Christmas.

Most virus experts who have spoken publicly on the issue say there is no imminent sign of cases slowly rapidly and that ministers should consider implementing Covid restrictions in one form or another.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 10:55

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Poland considers tightening Covid curbs as cases rise

Poland will need to consider tighter Covid restrictions if average daily cases exceed 7,000, the country’s health minister was quoted as saying on Monday, as the government warned that infections were almost doubling each week.

For comparison, on Sunday the UK government announced a further 39,962 daily Covid cases and 72 deaths.

“If, at the end of October, we are at an average level of over 7,000 cases per day, we will have to consider taking some more restrictive steps,” Adam Niedzielski was quoted as saying by state-run news agency PAP. “Decisions will be made at the beginning of November.”

However, Mr Niedzielski stressed that the government was not considering a lockdown.

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 10:43

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China to start vaccinating children as young as 3

Children as young as three are to start receiving Covid vaccines in China, where 76 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks. 

Local city and provincial level governments in at least five provinces issued notices in recent days announcing that children aged three to 11 will be required to get their vaccinations. 

The expansion of the vaccination campaign comes as parts of China take new clampdown measures to try to stamp out small outbreaks.

Gansu, a northwestern province heavily dependent on tourism, closed all tourist sites on Monday after finding new Covid cases.

Residents in parts of Inner Mongolia have also been ordered to stay indoors due to an outbreak there. 

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 10:35

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Frontline NHS staff must be vaccinated, says virus expert

The JCVI’s Jeremy Brown has told Sky News health workers should get vaccinated as a “matter of professional pride”.

He said: “If you’re frontline NHS staff dealing with patients and meeting the general public you should be vaccinated – it’s a professional thing, it’s a safety thing.”

He said he would not answer a question about whether staff should lose their jobs if they were not vaccinated, but added: “I think they should change their role, perhaps, not lose their job,

“I’m sure there are exceptions where there is a reasonable reason why somebody hasn’t been vaccinated or doesn’t need to change their role, but in general if you’re dealing with a patient on a regular basis, you should be vaccinated as a matter of professional pride and role.”

Tom Batchelor25 October 2021 10:27

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