Covid UK news – MILLIONS forced into new tier 3 lockdown in Surrey, Bucks and Beds but Bristol goes DOWN a tier

MILLIONS more Brits will be plunged into Tier 3 from Saturday, Matt Hancock revealed today.

The Health Secretary revealed a string of areas including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Peterborough and Surrey would be forced up into the top level of restrictions.

But Bristol and North Somerset will go DOWN a Tier.

The news comes as 11,000 positive Covid tests vanished from Welsh records due to a computer problem.

The issues – described as "staggering" by opposition MPs – means the number of infections for the week up to 15 December is likely to be double what was first thought as the numbers were never logged.

The problem is made even worse as the incorrect figures are likely to have influenced Wales' decision to support a Christmas relaxation of covid rules.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans…

  • Dan Keane

    DOWNING ST DOESN'T RULE OUT ANOTHER LOCKDOWN

    Downing Street today declined to rule out the possibility of a third national lockdown in England.

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We've been clear of the rationale behind the tiered regional approach and that's what we've set out for the time.

    "That is designed to reduce the rate of transmission and reduce the R rate in areas of high prevalence.

    "As we've said throughout we will obviously keep the latest data and the latest trends under review."

  • Dan Keane

    WUHAN NIGHTCLUBS REOPEN

    Nightclubs in China’s former coronavirus epicentre have been heaving with partying youngsters after venues reopened for the first time.

    Images show nightlife in the once stricken Hubei province city is now back in full swing — while the West scraps Christmas celebration plans. 

    Remarkably it has not reported a new locally transmitted case of the disease since May 10 after lifting one of the strictest lockdowns in the world seven months ago. 

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    WHAT ARE THE RULES IN NORTHERN IRELAND?

    Health Minister Robin Swann is due to bring proposals for further Covid-19 restrictions to the Stormont Executive on Thursday, but it is not thought any new regulations will be brought in before the Christmas break.

    First Minister Arlene Foster said people need to take "all and every precaution" when they come together at Christmas, and she said she could not rule out further restrictions in the days afterwards.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO IN WALES AT CHRISTMAS?

    First Minister Mark Drakeford first changed his advice for the Welsh public so "only two households should come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble" over the five-day period.

    A Welsh Government spokesman later said this change would be put into law.

    The spokesman said: "It makes it easier, so we don't have the position where the law says one thing and the guidance says something else."

    Mr Drakeford said: "The fewer people we mix with in our homes, the less chance we have of catching or spreading the virus.

    "None of us wants to be ill this Christmas. And we don't want to give coronavirus to our close family or friends."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    WHAT ABOUT SCOTLAND?

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this week that her "strong recommendation" is for people not to mix households over the festive period to ensure what is "unequivocally the safest way to spend Christmas".

    Ms Sturgeon urged people to consider postponing their celebrations, or to meet with others only outdoors. She said if it is "essential" that gatherings take place inside, they should be for one day only with no overnight stays.

    "The reality is that this Christmas simply can't be normal. But we have every reason to hope that next year's will be much more normal," she said.

    Scottish First Minister Nicola SturgeonCredit: Getty – Pool
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    WHAT CAN I DO IN ENGLAND?

    The Prime Minister has told people to "have a merry little Christmas – and I'm afraid this year I really do mean little".

    While Mr Johnson said "we don't want to criminalise people's long-made plans", he warned people should be "extremely cautious" when mixing next week and should minimise contacts in the days leading up to Christmas.

    Updated guidance issued on Wednesday asks people to think carefully about whether they need to see elderly friends or family, or people who are "clinically extremely vulnerable".

    But the advice did not go as far as other nations and recommend limiting bubbles to two households.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    WHAT IS THE LAW FOR CHRISTMAS?

    Regulations currently allow for three households to form an exclusive "Christmas bubble" for the five days between December 23 and 27 across the UK.

    However, on Wednesday the Welsh government said it will do things differently and legislate to cap bubbles at two households.

    Politicians in England and Scotland have said while the rules will remain the same, they have changed their advice to recommend limiting social contacts as much as possible.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    TORY MP ATTENDS 'XMAS PARTY' WITH 27 GUESTS

    A Tory MP attended a "Christmas party" with 27 guests at a London club – but has claimed it was a business meeting.

    Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence committee, gave a speech at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, after saying Christmas gatherings would spark a third wage of coronavirus.

    Mr Ellwood stressed that it was a "business meeting", allowed in the hours before London was plunged into Tier 3.

    He said: "I would not be attending a Christmas party, it was a business meeting.

    "I went there to meet business people and that is what it was. The club went to extreme lengths so that as a business function it was absolutely Covid-compliant."

    More on the story here

    Tobias Ellwood gave a speech at the event with 27 guestsCredit: IBBC
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    ZOOM LIFTS 40-MINUTE VIDEO CALL LIMIT FOR CHRISTMAS PERIOD

    Families kept apart at Christmas will be able to have extended video chats after Zoom confirmed it is lifting its 40-minute call limit on free accounts over the festive period.

    The video conferencing app said it will scrap the limit at times including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    The limit will be lifted on Thursday 17 for the last day of Hanukkah, from 3pm in the UK until 11am on Saturday 19.

    It will then be lifted again between 3pm on Wednesday 23 and 11am on Saturday 26 to allow family and friends to have extended chats over Christmas.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    DISCUSSIONS ONGOING ABOUT SCHOOLS REOPENING IN JANUARY

    Discussions are under way about how pupils will return to school at the start of January, a top official at the Department for Education has said.

    Susan Acland-Hood, permanent secretary at the Department for Education, has suggested a written statement on Thursday could announce how children will go back to class after the Christmas holidays.

    Speaking to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, Ms Acland-Hood said: "There are conversations going on about exactly how parents and pupils will go back at the beginning of January, but I'm afraid I can't speak to the committee about that this morning."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    NHS IN WALES 'UNDER PRESSURE'

    First Minister Mark Drakeford addressed the "pressure" on Wales's NHS and people being forced to wait for long periods of time in ambulances.

    He told BBC Breakfast: "Wales is prepared, but what you are seeing in those very difficult pictures is the impact that coronavirus is having on the ability of the health service to do all the other things we wanted to do."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    CARE HOME LOCKED PPE AWAY FROM STAFF

    Carers said vital PPE was kept ‘locked away’ at a residential home with managers questioning them when supplies ran out.

    One staff member told Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors on a recent visit to Stonesby House, Leicester, that they were given just one mask for a 12 hour shift.

    Others said they had been buying their own PPE in a bid to keep themselves and residents safe during the Covid pandemic.

    The report includes carers’ comments, with one telling the CQC: "The manager keeps questioning us why soap, gloves and masks are finished. They [meaning management] don't care about us [staff] or the residents; only using up PPE and the cost to replace it."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    BORIS JOHNSON WISHES MACRON A SPEEDY RECOVERY

    Boris Johnson has wished Emmanuel Macron a speedy recovery after the French president tested positive for Covid-19.

    Posting on Twitter, the British Prime Minister wished Macron to recover from the virus soon.

    He wrote a tweet in English and one in French.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    JET2 TELLS BRITS TENERIFE IS OPEN

    Tenerife holidays are going ahead, according to Jet2, despite claims that the borders are being closed to tourists.

    The news that the island would shut the borders for 15 days from Friday was announced yesterday by the president of the Canary government, Angel Victor Torres.

    However, the tour operator has said they will continue flying.

    They said in a statement: "We are aware of news reports regarding Tenerife closing its borders to holidaymakers. We can assure customers that we have received confirmation from the Canaries Government that this is not the case. 

    "Holidaymakers can still travel to Tenerife to enjoy Christmas and their well-deserved holidays in the sunshine."

    Click here to read more

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    KATE GARRAWAY THANKS STAFF AT WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL

    Kate Garraway told staff at the Whittington Hospital: "It's so great to talk to you because I hadn't realised that you'd actually cared for Derek when he was at the Whittington, which is when he first got sick and his life was saved by you, by all of you.

    "I'm going to get emotional now, so thank you so much."

    Garraway added: "I have never spoken to you because of course we weren't allowed to visit.

    "Thank you so much, and for all you're doing for so many people."

    Derek Draper and Kate GarrawayCredit: Rex Features
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    KATE GARRAWAY THANKS NURSES WHO SAVED HUSBAND DEREK

    Kate Garraway has thanked the nurses who saved her husband after he was admitted to hospital with coronavirus. 

    Derek Draper, 53, has been in hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma, since March.

    Good Morning Britain presenter Garraway was emotional as she talked to intensive care unit nurses on the ITV show.

    "You are absolute heroes, you're saviours of Derek and so many others," she told them.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    BREAKING: EMMANUEL MACRON TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS

    French president Emmanuel Macron has entered self-isolation for seven days after testing positive for the coronavirus.

    A statement said he had taken a test after showing the initial symptoms of the virus.

    You can read more here

    Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19Credit: AFP or licensors
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    'NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE' THAT VITAMIN D PREVENTS OR TREATS COVID-19

    There is "not enough evidence" at the moment to support taking vitamin D to prevent or treat Covid-19, leading organisations have said.

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Public Health England, and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition were asked by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to carry out a rapid review of current evidence after some studies suggested vitamin D may be effective against coronavirus.

    But Nice, which led the rapid review, said more research is needed, particularly of high-quality randomised controlled trials.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    CHRISTMAS ADVICE

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    IT WOULD BE 'INHUMANE' TO CANCEL CHRISTMAS

    Boris Johnson insisted it would be “inhumane” to cancel Christmas — but urged people to use “personal responsibility” to protect elderly and vulnerable loved ones.

    He added: “A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.

    “So, have yourselves a merry little Christmas and I’m afraid this year, I do mean little.”

    Boris Johnson urged people to use 'personal responsibility'Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    BRITS TOLD TO EAT TURKEY OUTSIDE AT CHRISTMAS

    Brits have been urged by boffins to cut back on Christmas plans – and celebrate outside if granny is joining.

    The crackers advice could see families eating turkey dinners out in the cold of their gardens.

    The advice says: "If you do form a Christmas bubble, then be especially careful to observe the guidance – meet outdoors where possible, wash your hands regularly, keep a distance from those you don’t live with, and, if you meet indoors, ensure good ventilation by letting in fresh air."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    LATEST FIGURES

     

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    ONE IN FIVE PEOPLE TESTING POSITIVE LEFT WITH LONG-TERM SYMPTOMS

    One in five people testing positive for Covid are left with devastating long-term symptoms, official figures reveal.

    A fifth still report issues after five weeks and one in ten after 12 weeks – more than twice previous estimates.

    Around 186,000 people in England were living with problems lasting this long in the week starting November 22.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    11,000 POSITIVE TESTS 'MISSED' IN WALES LAST WEEK

    The 11,000 positive Covid tests being missed in Wales from the past week "raises questions" and "rocks trust", Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.

    He told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "I think we're heading into a period that is about as tight as it can get starting from Christmas Eve.

    "I must say when the First Minister announced yesterday that from the 28th there would be a tightening of restrictions, and I could see the figures as they were, one wondered why not do things now in terms of stepping up support for areas most heavily affected, but this does put a new slant on it again."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    PRITI PATEL: 'NOTHING HAS CHANGED' FOR POLICING OVER CHRISTMAS

    Home Secretary Priti Patel said "nothing has changed" with how coronavirus laws will be policed over Christmas.

    Asked if the Prime Minister should have implemented stricter laws rather than the guidance for the festive period, Ms Patel told BBC Breakfast: "We're not here to criminalise people around Christmas, which is why we have clear guidance around three households over that Christmas period of five days.

    "I look back throughout this year … and look at how the British public have been incredible and the way in which they follow guidance, follow laws as well, but also adopted the practices of social distancing."

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