Health USA World News

Coronavirus news – live: Latest updates as 400 deaths in England and over 1,000 new cases in Scotland

New coronavirus strain up to 70% more transmissible, government says

1,100 army personnel are spending Christmas Day with the 5000 lorry drivers stuck in Dover, in an effort to try and move the blockage. 

Covid tests are now being delivered to the drivers, with Secretary of State for Transport Grant Schapps saying that than 10,000 tests had been carried out today, of which 24 came back positive for the virus.

Police have warned that people tempted to break Covid-19 restriction will face being fined for doing so. 

Officers have stated they are out on watch for anyone mixing households or travelling unnecessarily. 

Latest updates below:


President Trump delivers Christmas message thanking country for pandemic response, before starting a Twitter rant

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump deliver a Christmas message, referencing the “terrible pandemic” that has challenged the world. 

They speak of being “inspired” by the “kindness and courage” of “citizens across the country”, and thank students, teachers, and communities for their efforts. 

He also lashed out at Twitter itself for “going wild with their flags, trying to suppress even the truth” and “stifling free speech”.

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania deliver pandemic Christmas address
Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 15:18

English mutant strain of Covid found in Japan

Five new cases of the UK-based coronavirus strain have been detected in Japan, the country’s health officials have announced.

The people have been quarantined, according to local media, with officials working to confirm the routes of infection and check whether there are close contacts who could be at risk of infection.

The highly infectious variant, known officially as B.1.1., has already been linked to cases in a number of countries across the world, including Denmark, Singapore, Australia, Italy and Iceland.

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said this week that the variant is “almost certainly” in a “great majority” of European countries.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 15:12

Scotland records 1,165 new Covid cases in 24 hours

An update on December 29 will reveal the number of deaths, hospitalisations, and cases in intensive care. 

The total number of cases recorded in Scotland now stands at 118,035.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 14:30

London ambulances can ‘no longer guarantee’ response to homebirth emergencies

People planning homebirths in London will no longer be guaranteed an ambulance response in the case of emergency due to “current pressures” from Covid-19, a local health authority has warned.

In an email circulated on Christmas Eve, and seen by The Independent, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) warned it was “no longer in a position” to ensure a response is provided to those women choosing to have their birth at home or within one of the capital’s three birthing centres.

The trust said it was “critical that this information is communicated to [pregnant] women, to inform their planning and future choices”.

After the city was named as the leading coronavirus hotspot in the UK – government data showed cases have trebled in just two weeks – the LAS has moved to tailor its emergency response services.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 14:20

READ ALSO:   Tim Robards is overlooked as girlfriend Anna Heinrich gets a cuddle from Santa

Care home residents in Leeds recieve Christmas hug

Dozens of residents at a Leeds care home were able to finally embrace their loved ones on Christmas Day after a rapid results test scheme allowed visits from family members and friends.

Aspen Hill Village in Hunslet, south Leeds, hosted 50 close contact family visits on Christmas morning after running successful trials of lateral flow testing for coronavirus, which produce results within 30 minutes.

Family members clad in personal protective equipment (PPE) – including gowns, gloves and masks – prepared with masses of presents, hugs, and flowers were able to sit with elderly loved ones during a two-hour visiting window.

To bring festive joy for the occasion, activities co-ordinator Claire Paver welcomed visitors while dressed in a Santa Claus outfit and hat, and one care home resident awaited the arrival of her family in a reindeer headband.

A hug proves to be an incredible special Christmas present at the end of a trying year. 

On 23 December, the Department of Health and Social Care announced care home staff in England will receive two rapid result tests a week in addition to regular testing to help keep the new coronavirus variant at bay.

Care home residents are finally able to hold the hands of the ones they love
Care home residents are finally able to hold the hands of the ones they love
Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 14:00

‘All you can do is survive’: A bleak midwinter for Christians in the Middle East

In addition to a global pandemic and continued conflict, 2020 saw Beirut experience the largest non-nuclear blast in modern history.  

The Saydet El Najet church, just a few hundred meters from the site of the August blast, is a beacon of light for parishioners who gathered for mass on Christmas Eve.  

The church itself was ripped open from the overbearing force of the explosion, but thanks to a local charity, dozens of volunteers and specialist architects the 100-year old church, allegedly a historical quarantine point for Maronite nuns en route to Rome, was restored in time for Christmas Eve. Some may say that it saved Christmas.

In the Lebanese capital city, the explosion rampaged through some of the city’s most iconic Christian neighbourhoods, killing 200 people, with thousands more injured and immediately leaving over 250,000 people homeless.

Now, the ruins have been transformed into nativity scenes, and local residents are coming together to host a restorative Christmas after an execptionally challenging year.

In Bethlehem, the heart of Christmas, residents told The Independent they are also limping through the end of a miserable year.  

Lebanese Christians celebrate Christmas Eve mass in a recently rebuilt church that was destroyed in the Beirut blast
Lebanese Christians celebrate Christmas Eve mass in a recently rebuilt church that was destroyed in the Beirut blast
Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 13:40

Christmas dinner with the army – 5000 lorry drivers stuck at Channel border

Now alongside 1,100 army personnel, 5000 lorry drivers remain stuck at the Channel border.

Their Christmas lunch is coming in the form of food parcels from the Salvation Army. Catering services are also being provided by Kent County Council and volunteer groups – although hauliers had earlier criticised the efforts after many drivers were given a single ceral bar.

A Port of Dover spokesman confirmed ferry services had run throughout Christmas Eve night and would continue on Christmas Day to help ease congestion.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 13:20

Police warn that festive rule breaches will incur fines

Police forces across the country are warning that anyone found breaking coronavirus restrictions on Christmas Day could be hit with a fine.

Police chiefs have said patrols will be looking for anyone breaching guidance – and dishing out penalties.

In North Wales, which is currently under tier 4 restrictions – meaning people must stay at home and not mix households on 25 December – there will be road patrol with officers stopping vehicles and asking reasons for travel.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 12:22

Mayor of London urges people to meet virtually this Christmas

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has tweeted asking families to meet virtually this Christmas, in an attempt to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

London has the highest rate of Covid-19 in the country.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 11:35

800 troops sent to clear Kent lorry backlog

800 military personnel have been sent to Kent to help move the backlog of thousands of lorry drivers waiting to cross the Channel over to France. 

Now, a total of  1,100 troops have now been deployed as part of the operation at the English Channel border after French Covid-19 restrictions caused severe disruption at the Port of Dover.

Army personnel will be testing drivers for coronavirus and distributing food and water, the Ministry of Defence said.

Despite continued efforts to clear the backlog, some 5000 drivers will be spending Christmas day in their vehicles. 

“We are deploying a further 800 personnel to Kent today to support an increase in the testing capabilities to help clear the backlog of vehicles and ensure traffic can begin to move at a closer to normal pace through Dover,” the MoD tweeted.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said all but three of the 2,367 coronavirus tests issued to hauliers so far had been negative.

Bethany Dawson25 December 2020 11:18