Covid UK news – Christmas DISASTER looms as new coronavirus strain rages and tier 3 London lockdown cripples business

A CHRISTMAS disaster is looming as the UK prepares to relax covid rules just as a new strain of the killer virus begins to rage.

The still largely unknown new strain is feared to be behind the surge in infections in London which has seen the capital plunge into tier 3 lockdown, crippling pubs, restaurants and other businesses.

And with the Christmas five-day relaxation period coming up, experts have warned families to be extra vigilant and avoid taking any risks that could see them spread the killer bug among their loved ones and beyond.

The news comes as the Government confirmed schools WILL remain open after London was plunged into Tier 3 restrictions.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says kids must stay in classes in Greenwich after a rogue Labour council demanded schools shut.

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

  • Catriona Graffius

    WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS NEW STRAIN?

    A new strain of Covid-19 is spreading across the UK, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the vaccine.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday revealed the new variant of coronavirus has caused at least 1,0000 cases so far, mostly in South East England.

    The variant was first spotted in Kent last week during routine surveillance by Public Health England (PHE),  Sky News reported.

    The numbers of cases linked with the latest mutation are growing "rapidly", Mr Hancock said, as he urged everyone to stick to the Covid restrictions.

    Government scientists at PHE's Porton Down lab are analysing the strain – named VUI – 202012/01 – "right now", Mr Hancock added, saying it was "highly unlikely" the new strain would make the vaccine ineffective.

  • Catriona Graffius

    COVID INFECTIONS DROPPED OVER A THIRD IN SECOND LOCKDOWN BEFORE LEVELLING, NEW STUDY CLAIMS

    COVID-19 infections dropped by more than 30% in England's second lockdown before levelling off, a new Ipsos MORI study has claimed.

    The REACT-1 study – conducted by Imperial College London – tested over 160,000 members of the population "at large" in England between 13 November and 3 December to monitor infection levels in the population.

    The percentage of people with coronavirus fell from an average of 1.30% in mid-October to beginning November, fell from 130 to 94 people infected per 10,000.

    But program director Professor Paul Elliot warned infections were now increasing in virus hotspots across the country.

    He warned: "Behaviours and public health measures need to be guided by this fast-changing situation to prevent it from worsening, and everyone has a part to play in keeping this virus at bay, especially as we approach a relaxing of rules over Christmas."

  • Catriona Graffius

    CHRISTMAS WILL BE "VERY DIFFERENT" WARNS SADIQ, AS MAYOR PLEADS BRITS NOT TO PASS VIRUS TO LOVED ONES

    London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Christmas will be "very different" this year and that people should be cautious when visiting relatives.

    Mr Khan told BBC Breakfast: "Many of us could have the virus without realising it.

    "What would be really heart-breaking is if you inadvertently passed on the virus to an older relation that could well lose their lives. How would you feel if you did that?"

    The mayor also pointed to other annual celebrations such as Eid and Chinese New Year which had been adapted or cancelled due to the pandemic.

    "This Christmas will be very, very different. Follow the science," he said.

  • Catriona Graffius

    TREASURY SECRETARY STEPHEN BARCLAY WON'T SEE OWN PARENTS OVER CHRISTMAS AS HE URGES BRITS TO 'DO THE MINIMUM'

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay has said he won't see his own parents over Christmas as he urges Brits to "do the minimum" before seeing family over the festive period.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Barclay said the government didn't want to "criminalise families for seeing each other over the Christmas period".

    He added that the country was not going from "Tier 3 to Tier 0" but that restrictions would be reduced "in a limited sense so that three households can come together for that period".

  • Catriona Graffius

    SADIQ CALLS FOR NO 10 TO 'RETHINK CHRISTMAS RULES' AFTER SOARING CASES

    Sadiq Khan has called for the government to review relaxations of Covid rules at Christmas amid soaring cases in the capital.

    The Mayor of London has urged caution, reportedly telling Brits: "The rules aren’t mandatory, just because you’re allowed to see other households doesn’t mean you have to.”

    According to ITV's correspondent Paul Brand, Mr Khan again called for schools in the capital to close "given children will be hugging and kissing Granny next week".

    The news comes after a clash between councils and government officials yesterday on early school closures.

    After three London boroughs issued advice to close their schools, Education Secretary Gavin Williams issued orders to Greenwich borough council to keep their schools open.

  • Patrick Joseph DUGGAN

    SHARON OSBOURNE'S COVID HOSPITALISATION

    SHARON Osbourne revealed that she was briefly hospitalized after The Talk co-host recently tested positive for coronavirus. 

    The 68-year-old British TV personality said that she is now recovering in self-isolation away from her husband, Ozzy Osbourne, as her daytime series is on a scheduled hiatus. 

    Sharon shared the news with fans on Twitter Monday night: “I wanted to share I’ve tested positive for Covid 19."

  • Patrick Joseph DUGGAN

    NASAL SPRAY

    THE first Covid vaccine nasal spray will be trialled on 48 British volunteers next month, it's been announced.

    The spray, which uses a weakened form of the virus, is to be tested out on case studies in London in the first week of January.

    The drug, COVI-VAC, is manufactured by New York-based company Codagenix.

  • Patrick Joseph DUGGAN

    NEW STRAIN

    A NEW Covid strain which may spread even quicker is ripping through the South – as Matt Hancock last night plunged 11million more Brits into Tier 3.

    The Health Secretary told MPs more than 1,000 cases of the new "variant" has been discovered in up to 60 places across the UK – and the World Health Organisation has been informed.

    London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will move into Tier 3 from midnight tonight.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    DOCS' FURY OVER JAB DELAYS

    Doctors offered Covid jabs for the first time yesterday – but hundreds of Brits had appointments postponed because of delivery delays.

    Around 280 practices in England will receive their first batch of 975 doses by the end of this week. But some had to cancel appointments booked for yesterday and today after learning they will not arrive in time.

    One Kent GP wrote on Twitter: “Having spent weeks organising these Covid vaccines and getting 975 patients booked in, we have been told they won’t be arriving on Mon as planned but Tues sometime. I have 80 patients booked in for Tues am.”

     

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    RITA ORA JETS OFF AFTER COVID EMBARRASSMENT 

    Rita Ora has jetted out of the country for the rest of the year following her Covid-19 embarrassment.

    Simon Boyle says he has learned the Hot Right Now singer has flown to ­Bulgaria to shoot a music video, ahead of her return with a new single in the ­coming months.

    She was blasted last month for breaking lockdown rules by throwing a 30th birthday party, and it was later revealed she was also meant to be quarantining, having recently returned from a trip to Egypt.

    But now she is hoping to lay low until the New Year, ­meaning she won’t return home to London for Christmas and will instead go on holiday as soon as her shoot in ­Bulgaria ends this week.

    A source close to the singer said: “Rita has beaten herself up about her mistakes but has thrown herself back into work to take her mind off things.

    “She spent most of this year working on her music and is now hoping to return with new tracks in early 2021, with the video to one single being filmed at the moment in ­Bulgaria.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    COUNCIL THREATENED WITH COURT INJUNCTION OVER SCHOOL CLOSURE

    Gavin Williamson has threatened a council with a High Court injunction if they fail to back-track on closing schools.

    He wrote to Labour-run Greenwich in South East London giving them until 10am today to withdraw their letter telling headteachers to dismiss classes a week early.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    WHICH AREAS ARE GOING INTO TIER 3?

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    COVID VACCINE NASAL SPRAY TO BE TRIALLED NEXT MONTH

    The first Covid vaccine nasal spray will be trialled on 48 British volunteers next month.

    The spray, which uses a weakened form of the virus, is to be tested out on case studies in London in the first week of January.

    The drug, COVI-VAC, is manufactured by New York-based company Codagenix.

    It's been given the green light for trials by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which recently approved the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.

    Brits who trial the medicine will be given a genetically-modified version of Covid that's far weaker than the real thing – but still infectious.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    ‘COVID HAS ALLOWED TERRORISTS TO REGROUP’

    ISIS remains a “potent threat” to the UK after coronavirus slowed efforts to put a stop to their operations, says a government report.

    Iraqi forces trained by the West have been hammered by the virus as they try to rid the region of the jihadi terrorists.

    The Ministry of Defence espionage unit warns that Russia and Iran have all but given up the counter-ISIS fight in Eastern Syria giving the berserkers a chance to regroup.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    SCHOOLS IN NEW YEAR COVID TESTING BLITZ

    Schools will undergo a New Year coronavirus testing blitz in a bid to stop the third wave.

    Hundreds of thousands of swabs are expected to be sent around the country for use in a campaign to pinpoint teenagers unknowingly carrying coronavirus.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    FIVE-WEEK LOCKDOWN ANNOUNCED IN THE NETHERLANDS

    A new five-week lockdown has been announced in The Netherlands. 

    Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the measures tonight in a televised address. 

    It follows a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country. 

    All non-essential businesses will be closed for at least a month, the PM said.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    UK COVID-19 DEATHS & CASES

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    SADIQ KHAN ON LONDON’S TIER 3 MOVE

    London Mayor Sadiq Khan said today: "This is incredibly disappointing for our businesses who have suffered so much already this year. But it’s clear that the virus is accelerating in the wrong direction once again across London and the lives of Londoners are at risk."

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    CORONAVIRUS LATEST: LONDON

    • London Mayor Sadiq Khan today revealed there has been a 75 per cent rise in Covid cases
    • Schools in Greenwich and Islington are set to close early – but No10 has said they should stay open
    • Health officials have warned the Tiers will need to be toughened as they have failed to work
    • Covid cases are rising in only two areas in the North, as a fresh surge hits the South
    • Mass testing in 67 areas will be rolled out from this week onwards
    • Mr Hancock also warned people against travelling in and out of Tier 3 areas – even for Christmas shopping

    LONDON SCHOOLS WILL STAY OPEN

    The Government has ordered all London schools to remain open – 24 hours after two councils announced early Christmas closures.

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says kids must stay in classes in Greenwich after a rogue Labour council demanded schools shut.

    Officials from the Department for Education say Mr Williamson has issued a temporary continuity direction to Greenwich council.

    If the council ignores the letter, the direction will be enforced through a High Court injunction.

    Islington council, which made a similar request to schools today, has not received a letter from the Department from Education yet.

    WETHERSPOON LAUNCHES DEAL WITH 99P REAL ALES

    Wetherspoon has tonight launched a 99p real ale firesale for pubs in areas being slammed into Tier 3 this week.

    The pub chain is selling pints for less than a pound in London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire from now until 10pm tomorrow.

    A spokesperson for the pubs said: "From now until final orders tomorrow, Tuesday, all Wetherspoon pubs that will be going into Tier 3 – London, Essex, Hertfordshire – will be serving all real ales at 99p a pint."

    More on the story here

    • Chiara Fiorillo

      BE CAREFUL NOW IF YOU WANT TO VISIT ELDERLY AT CHRISTMAS, SAYS HANCOCK

      People should be "extremely careful" about who they mix with in the run-up to Christmas if they are planning to see elderly relatives over the festive period, the Health Secretary has warned.

      Matt Hancock said people should take "personal responsibility" around what they choose to do before and within the five-day period during which restrictions are relaxed.

      He said: "I think that if you want to see elderly relatives at Christmas, we all know that the best thing to do is to make sure that you don't have coronavirus, and the best thing you can do if you want to see elderly relatives at Christmas is to be extremely careful now about who you see."

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      LONDON'S CASES 'OFF THE CHARTS'

      Health bosses delivered a grim briefing to London MPs this morning warning that Covid is once again surging through the capital.

      Infection rates have rocketed “exponentially” in all boroughs apart from Kensington and Chelsea, and cases are now "off the charts", politicians were told.

      London’s hospital occupancy now stands at 93 per cent, too, with MPs worried about the impact in January, one of the busiest times of the year.

       

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      COVID PATIENTS IN NHS HOSPITALS

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      Full list of places going into Tier 3 from Wednesday

      S &  W Essex:

      • Basildon
      • Brentwood
      • Harlow
      • Epping Forest
      • Castle Point
      • Rochford
      • Braintree & Chelmsford
      • Thurrock and South End on Sea Borough councils 
      • Maldon

      Hertfordshire:

      • Broxbourne
      • Heartsmere
      • Watford and the three river local authority

      All of London

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