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Coronavirus news – live: Lockdown ‘could get tougher’ as UK to face ‘worst weeks of pandemic’, Whitty warns

NHS to face ‘worst weeks of pandemic’, Whitty warns

Ministers are said to be discussing tighter lockdown rules to stop people meeting outdoors and to make mask-wearing in shops a legal requirement.

According to reports, the current lockdown restrictions in England could be brought closer to those applied during the first national shutdown in March.

The proposals for tougher measures include removing the exception that allows two people from different households to exercise together outdoors, while mask-wearing could be enforced more widely, including in offices and queues.

England’s chief medical officer has warned the coming weeks are going “to be the worst weeks” of the coronavirus pandemic for the NHS.

Professor Chris Whitty said that while 18,000 people were in hospital with Covid-19 during the April peak last year, on Sunday there were more than 30,000 beds occupied by patients with the disease.

He said the pandemic was now “everybody’s problem” as he urged people to “double down” and stop any “unnecessary contacts”.

It comes as seven mass vaccination sites open across England on Monday, capable of delivering thousands of Covid-19 jabs each week.  


‘You must have it’, says 80-year-old vaccine recipient

An 80-year-old man receiving a coronavirus vaccine this morning encouraged others to also get the jab.

Keith Garwood, a retired insurance claims manager from Ampthill in Befordshire, was injected with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab at the mass vaccination centre in Stevenage.

He said: “My own view is, it’s the first time in my life, I’m 80 years of age, where we’ve had something which has had so much impact on your life.

“You must have it, you must have it. If you don’t have it, your own life will be more restricted.”

After receiving the vaccine, he said he felt “fine”.

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 12:15

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 12:08

Country is ‘at most serious stage’ of pandemic, says Labour leader

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the country is “at the most serious stage” of the pandemic “and that calls for the most serious restrictions”.

Answering questions following a speech setting out his approach to the crisis, Sir Keir said: “There probably is more that we could do.

“An example is the question of whether nurseries should be open.”

He said Boris Johnson should hold daily press conferences “ramming home” the message to “stay at home”.

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 11:55

Pope’s personal doctor dies of Covid-19 complications

Pope Francis’ personal doctor has died of complications related to Covid-19, the Vatican has announced.

Fabrizio Soccorsi, 78, was being treated in Gemelli Hospital for cancer at the time of his death, which was announced in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, on Saturday.

Read more on this story:

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 11:40

UK has not hit peak of current Covid wave, says Whitty

England’s chief medical officer has warned the UK has not yet hit the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 infection, with the next few weeks being “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS.

During a BBC phone-in on the current high case rates, he said: “I don’t think we’re yet at the peak, I’m afraid.

“I think we will be at the peak if everybody can double down and absolutely minimise their contacts.

“The point of the lockdown is to bring that forward, but it only works if everyone really thinks about every individual interaction they have and try and minimise them.”

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 11:30

First patients receive vaccines at Stevenage centre

Patients have begun receiving their coronavirus jabs at the new mass vaccination centre at Robertson House in Stevenage.

Margaret Austin, 86, from Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, was the first member of the public to receive an injection this morning.

She said: “It’s really strange being out for the first time in six months. A funny feeling but I’m really, really pleased and relieved to be getting my vaccine.”

After receiving a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, she said: “I feel fine.”

The great-grandmother added: “I didn’t even feel it. It was so easy.”

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 11:20

Police ‘may get it wrong when enforcing coronavirus regulations’

Police bosses have acknowledged some officers “may get it wrong” when enforcing England’s coronavirus regulations and that people are becoming “fed up” with ongoing national lockdown restrictions.

Hardyal Dhindsa, police and crime commissioner of Derbyshire Police, said officers had a “very difficult job in really trying circumstances” due to the “ever-changing” Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes after the force handed out £200 fines to two women who drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes.

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 10:54

NHS hospital’s oxygen supply reaches ‘critical situation’

An NHS hospital’s oxygen supply has reached a “critical situation” as staff treat a rising number of Covid-19 patients.

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said in a letter to staff that the amount of oxygen used to treat patients at Southend Hospital should be reduced.

The document, shown to the BBC, said: “We have reached a critical situation with oxygen supply. It is imperative we use oxygen safely and efficiently.

“All patients should have a target saturation of 88-92%. Patients with a saturation above 92% which are on oxygen should have their oxygen weaned within the target range.

“I can assure all that maintaining saturations within this target range is safe and no patient will come to harm as a result.

“It is imperative that this is acted on immediately.”

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 10:41

Ocado warns product availability being impacted

Online supermarket Ocado has become the first major food retailer to warn the availability of some products is being impacted by pandemic-related staff absences in its supply chain.

With more staff off sick or forced to isolate, some grocery suppliers are having to consolidate their lines.

“Staff absences across the supply chain may lead to an increase in product substitutions for a small number of customers as some suppliers consolidate their offering to maintain output,” an Ocado spokeswoman said.

Ocado has seen sales soar since March as the pandemic has generated huge demand for home delivery of groceries.

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 10:19

Rishi Sunak to give economic update

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will give an economic update in an oral statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, according to the Labour whips’ office.

Chiara Giordano11 January 2021 09:58