Coronavirus live: UK A&Es in ‘terrible place’ as chancellor rejects calls for immediate ‘plan B’

1 month ago

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the UK government should introduce its ”plan B” to tackle the rising rates of coronavirus now.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Reeves was asked what Labour’s position was on reintroducing restrictions such as the wearing of face coverings and working from home.

She said: “Labour as a responsible opposition have always said that we would follow the science, and we’ve seen today that Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) are saying that some aspects of plan B, like wearing masks on public transports and in shops, and also working from home more flexibly should be introduced.

“I think the first thing is the government have got to do more to make plan A work. If the scientists are saying work from home and masks, we should do that. So get A working better because the vaccination programme has been stalling, introduce those parts of plan B.

“But there are also things not in A or B that need to be done, like paying statutory sick pay from day one and also better ventilation in public spaces.”

Asked directly whether plan B should be introduced now, she said: “Yes, but let’s not let the government off the hook with plan A either.”

Updated at 6.30am EDT

UK A&E in 'terrible place' already says emergency medicine chief

Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said emergency departments in the UK are in a “terrible place”.

Asked if she thinks emergency departments are going to be able to cope this winter, she told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday:

We’re already struggling to cope. This is not something that’s coming in the next couple of months. We’re already in a terrible place where we have got large queues of ambulances with vulnerable people waiting in those ambulances to be offloaded into departments and other patients at home waiting to be picked up by the ambulance.

That’s the thing that really worries me; that these are patients who have not yet received treatment that we don’t necessarily know what’s wrong with them that we’re really struggling to get into our healthcare facilities to then work out what we need to do.

Crowding was harmful to patients, she said, adding that there was already crowding in emergency departments before the pandemic.

“We didn’t go into the pandemic in a great place in emergency care. We didn’t have enough beds then. The problem is that things are worse at the moment so we need everybody to be as careful with the healthcare resources as they possibly can be, and try and minimise the need for healthcare resources.

So if we’ve got 8,000 patients in hospital who are suffering Covid, if we didn’t have those patients that would be another 8,000 beds in the system.

So every bed that gets filled by a patient with Covid in a sense is in a hospital bed with a potentially avoidable disease, and that’s what we need people to focus on if we want to get through the elective backlog.

Updated at 6.30am EDT

China has given complete doses of Covid-19 vaccines to about 75.6% of its population as of 23 October, Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Sunday.

Some 1.068 billion people have been inoculated with the required dosages, out of a population of 1.412 billion, Mi told a news briefing.

The country has administered a total of 2.245bn doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of 23 October, official data showed.

China is giving people whose last dose was given at least six months ago a booster shot, with priority groups including essential workers, older people and those with weaker immune systems.

Updated at 6.33am EDT

UK chancellor says not time to move to Covid plan B 'immediately'

The UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said data did not suggest it was time to move to plan B.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: “The prime minister has just said we are looking at the data all the time, as you would expect us to. We’re monitoring everything, But at the moment the data does not suggest that we should immediately be moving to plan B.

“But, of course, we’ll keep an eye on that.”

The best protection was vaccine and the booster rollout, he said.

Asked if he might reintroduce furlough if restrictions were reimposed, he said: “Of course, we should always be humble in the face of this virus. That’s obvious given what we have experienced.

“But we have confidence in the vaccine, have modelled all the scenarios, and we have said the winter will be challenging. The ‘plan B’ that we have set out does not involve the same type of very significant economic restriction that we saw previously, so that won’t be necessary.”

“I think we are in a very different place, because of the vaccine rollout.”

He added: “There is a fallback, There is a plan B. The data suggests it isn’t needed today. But if that changes then of course the government will be read to act. That’s why those plans are there”.

On encouraging people to work from home, Sunak said “depending on the circumstances, if we have to move forward on that, that’s what we will do. But again, I would reiterate so people are reassured, the data at the moment doesn’t suggest that that is immediately necessary, and our emphasis should be on making sure that everyone get their booster jab”.

On the possibility of vaccine passports, he said: ‘There’s a range of things we have set out in plan B.`And then there’s degrees of vaccine certification. Those debates have been had in parliament about where’s the appropriate boundary or place to introduce vaccine certification.

He added: “But right now, data does not suggest we need to move to plan B”.

Asked if MPs should lead by example and wear masks in the House of Commons, he said “every work place is slightly different” and he did wear a mask depending on the circumstances.

Updated at 6.32am EDT

Which protects you most against Covid – vaccination or prior infection? Here, the data is examined by David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge, and Anthony Masters, statistical ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society.

Updated at 6.32am EDT

Hillary Clinton, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, said it was “imperative” that Boris Johnson “do what he can to stop the rise in Covid in the UK”.

He did not need to “shut society down”, said the former US secretary of state, who is in the UK to promote her novel.

But Johnson does need to mandate vaccines – introduce vaccine passports for clubs restaurants and employers, she said.

Part of what we’ve done in New York is all of the big health systems, hospitals and the like, they have mandated vaccines. For example, one very large one, 77,000 employees, 1,000 refused to get vaccinated. They were fired.

And I think you have got to make it clear, we’re not going to go back to lockdown, that is not going to happen. But, if you don’t get vaccinated and if you don’t have proof of vaccination when you go into a club or restaurant, and employers don’t enforce vaccines, we may see some problems here in the UK as the weather gets colder and people are forced back inside again.

Updated at 6.32am EDT

India reported 15,906 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to government data on Sunday.
The nationwide tally of infections has reached 34.17 million since the start of the pandemic, according to the health ministry.
The country reported 561 deaths overnight, taking the overall tally to 454,269 fatalities, Reuters reports.

Parents in England are now able to book Covid vaccinations online for children aged between 12 and 15.

Just over 2.5 million letters will arrive with parents and guardians from Monday inviting them to book a jab online through the Booking Service.

There are almost 100 sites offering jabs to this age group with hundreds more expected to join them in the coming weeks.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccine programme, said she would urge families to “book in to give children and their loved ones crucial protection ahead of winter”.

The NHS said parents and guardians are asked to attend vaccination sites with their children if they want them to be vaccinated outside school hours and consent will be sought on the day.

Dr Kanani said: “Millions of parents will be receiving letters from tomorrow inviting their children to get a Covid vaccine through the Booking Service - this provides an additional way for 12 to 15-year-olds to get their vaccine following the rollout in schools that has seen more than a half million vaccinated already.”

Coronavirus cases in eastern Europe will soon surpass 20 million, according to a Reuters tally on Sunday, as the region grapples with its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and inoculation efforts lag.

Countries in the region have the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than half of the population having received a single dose, the agency reports.

Hungary tops the region’s vaccination rates with 62% of its population having had at least one shot, whereas Ukraine has given just 19% of its residents a single dose, according to Reuter’s Our World in Data.

New infections in the region have steadily risen and now average over 83,700 new cases per day, the highest level since November last year, Reuters data through Friday showed. Although it has just 4% of the world’s population, eastern Europe accounts for roughly 20% of all new cases reported globally.

According to a Reuters analysis, three of the top five countries reporting the most deaths in the world are in eastern Europe - Russia, Ukraine and Romania.

The Observer is reporting today new evidence has emerged that the government is paving the way to implement “plan B” measures in England to combat the spread of Covid-19, amid warnings from health chiefs that a “vortex of pressures” is encircling the NHS.

It reports

“In the clearest sign to date that Whitehall is actively considering additional measures, the Observer has learnt that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B”.

“The disclosure comes as senior doctors warn that operations are already being cancelled due to NHS staffing shortages and scientists warn of “a triple whammy” of respiratory illnesses this winter, with Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes cold-like symptoms but can be serious for children and older adults.

You can read the full report here:

Also in the UK, the prime minister and senior health chiefs are calling on the nation to get vaccinated against Covid-19 amid mounting concern over rising infection levels ahead of Christmas.

Boris Johnson said vaccines will get the country through the winter and out of the pandemic, while NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said getting a booster will “protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned”.

The repeated calls for people to get jabbed comes as Johnson resists pleas from health leaders for tighter restrictions despite the rising number of cases.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street insisted there was still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B would only be activated if it came under “significant pressure”.

Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.

Johnson, who has said there are no plans for another lockdown, said:

Vaccines are our way through this winter.

We’ve made phenomenal progress but our job isn’t finished yet, and we know that vaccine protection can drop after six months.

To keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone around you safe, please get your booster when you get the call.

We can and will beat this virus but only if we listen to the science and look out for each other.

This is a call to everyone, whether you’re eligible for a booster, haven’t got round to your second dose yet, or your child is eligible for a dose - vaccines are safe, they save lives, and they are our way out of this pandemic.”

Hi. Caroline Davies here in London. In the UK, as from 4am today, the coronavirus rules have been relaxed for travellers returning to England who are fully vaccinated in what has been hailed by the government as a “huge boost” for the travel industry.

Just in time for half-term, fully vaccinated people arriving in England from a non-red list country can use a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version on or before day two.

Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS test and trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel.

Bookings for lateral flow tests opened on Friday and can be purchased through the private providers listed on GOV.UK.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were 25 providers on the government website and prices ranged from £19 to £39.

You can get in touch on [email protected]

Updated at 3.36am EDT

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