Covid news live: Latest updates as Government ministers reject calls for immediate plan B measures

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Approval of mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine boosters offer convenience

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the government should introduce its so-called Plan B to tackle the rising rates of coronavirus.

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

Ms Reeves said: “I think the first thing is the government have got to do more to make Plan A work … 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.”

PM Boris Johnson has resisted pleas for tighter restrictions despite health secretary Sajid Javid saying new Covid cases could reach 100,000 a day.

He and senior health chiefs are continuing to call on the nation to get vaccinated amid increased concern over rising infection levels ahead of the winter months.

Downing Street insisted that Plan B measures would only be implemented if it came under “significant pressure”.

But medics have told The Independent that the NHS is facing “its worst winter ever”.

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Saturday was ‘biggest day yet’ for booster jabs, says NHS chief

More than 325,000 people in England got a booster jab yesterday.

Chief executive of NHS England said that Saturday was the “biggest day yet” in the third vaccine dose’s roll-out.

Almost a million people in England have had a booster jab in the past three days, she also said in calling for people to get theirs.

But Twitter users spotted that the link she included in her post only allows people to book appointments for their first or second dose.

Booster jabs can be booked for people aged 50 and over, and those who have immuno-compromised systems, at least six months after the second dose using this link to the NHS website.

The government is considering cutting the six-month gap to five.

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 15:20

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Five more people have died of Covid in Northern Ireland

Five further deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland.

The region’s Department of Health has also reported another 1,061 cases of the virus.

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 15:00

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Scotland reports one Covid death, and 20 that were unreported

The Scottish Government recorded 21 Covid deaths this weekend.

The number of deaths includes one recorded in the past 24 hours, and 20 that were not reported yesterday due to data issues.

The total death toll according to the measure used by the Scottish Government stands at 9,031.

Separate figures produced by National Records of Scotland, which record the number of deaths where Covid was mentioned on a death certificate, put the figure at 11,406 as of 17 October.

NRS figures include deaths where “suspected” or “probable” Covid-19 appears on the death certificate.

Scotland has also recorded 2,528 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, the latest figures show.

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 14:40

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Quick round-up of today’s developments in the UK

  • Cheaper lateral flow tests replace PCR tests for travel from today
  • Parents in England are being asked to book their children aged between 12 and 15 for a Covid vaccine during half-term through the National Booking Service
  • Prof Adam Finn, member of JCVI, says that the situation for the NHS is “worsening” and warned people against becoming “complacent” about the virus
  • PM Boris Johnson’s government is continuing to call on the nation to get vaccinated against Covid amid increased concern over rising infection levels
  • NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said getting a booster will “protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned”
  • Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves calls on the government to introduce some “Plan B” measures to prevent the NHS from getting catastrophically overwhelmed
  • Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf vows that the country will “do everything” it can to “mitigate” spread of Covid at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 14:20

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Israel and UAE agree ‘green corridor’ Covid travel deal

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed a “green corridor” agreement allowing passengers vaccinated against Covid to travel freely between the two countries.

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 14:00

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More than three quarters of people in China have been jabbed

About 75.6 per cent of people in China have completed a coronavirus vaccination programme, the country’s health authorities have said today.

This is the equivalent to some 1.07 billion people who have been vaccinated up to 23 October.

In the UK, 67.7 per cent of people are vaccinated and PM Boris Johnson is urging those eligible to have their booster jabs.

China is giving booster jabs to adults whose last dose was at least six months earlier, with priority groups including essential workers, older people and those with weaker immune systems.

Wang Huaqing, chief expert for the immunization program at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China would not keep giving people booster shots indefinitely.

“Even if it needs to be strengthened later, the number of boosters is limited,” Wang told the briefing. “We hope in the future there will be better vaccines and better vaccination procedures to achieve solid protection among the public.”

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 13:40

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China says local outbreaks linked to tour groups likely to spread

China’s latest Covid outbreak is increasingly likely to spread further, a health official said today.

More than 100 locally transmitted cases have been confirmed over the last week across 11 provincial areas, with most linked to 13 different tour groups.

Commission deputy director Wu Liangyou, adding that the new cases likely came from a new source from abroad.

There is increasing risk that the outbreaks might spread further, helped by “seasonal factors”, Mi Feng, spokesman at the National Health Commission, told reporters.

Authorities urged all regions to step up monitoring and called for a reduction in travel across provinces.

China has largely contained the virus but it is determined to stamp out any local outbreaks in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics in February.

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 13:30

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Companies selling lateral flow tests accused of ‘clickbait’ pricing

Travellers are reporting difficulties with buying affordable lateral flow tests from companies listed on the government’s website.

From today, fully vaccinated people arriving in England from a non-red list country can use a lateral flow test rather than the PCR version.

Problems were soon spotted after the government’s website that lists firms selling the lateral flow tests went live on Friday.

Many of the companies with the lowest prices either do not allow customers to book the tests, or the actual prices are much higher.

C-19 Direct is listed as offering the tests for £14.94, but the cheapest available option on its website is £59.95, analysis by the PA news agency found.

Frustrated travellers on Twitter described the listings as “fake advertising” and “clickbait”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable for any private testing company to take advantage of holidaymakers and any private providers showing misleading pricing on gov.uk are being removed.”

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 12:50

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Scotland to ‘do everything’ it can to ‘mitigate’ Covid risk at Cop26

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said that the Scottish Government will take necessary steps to prevent a potential spike in Covid-19 cases caused by the Cop26 climate summit.

Experts, including key government advisers, have raised concerns over a case numbers possibly increasing as a result of so many people from around the world travelling to Glasgow for the conference.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr Yousef said “of course” there will be Covid cases associated with the event, but he was confident these could be contained.

He added: “There is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.”

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 12:20

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Plan A is ‘working’, insists vaccines minister amid calls for Plan B

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said Plan A is “working” and “where we need to be”.

She was asked how the number of Covid cases – which have been between 40,000 and 50,000 for more than a week are going to be brought down.

Ms Throup told LBC: “I think everybody is aware that we’ve got the autumn and winter plan, and part of that is Plan A and part is Plan B, so it would be remiss of us not to have contingencies.

“But the data right now shows that Plan A is where we need to be, and we look at the data day in day out, and that is showing that Plan A is where we need to be with the vaccination programme.”

Asked about where case numbers will have to get to before the public will be asked to work from home, Ms Throup said: “The public has been very patient in doing what we’ve asked them to do.

“And I think Plan A has actually opened up people’s lives and that’s so important because if we do need to take further measures I’m sure they’ll have appreciated exactly the freedoms we’ve been able to offer them at this time.

“Plan A is working, as I said, the data right now shows that Plan A is working.”

Lamiat Sabin24 October 2021 11:50

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