Great Britain

Coronavirus UK news – Boris Johnson optimistic on FALLING Covid cases but states ‘we are not out of the woods yet’

Boris Johnson today warned the country was "not out of the woods" despite the sustained fall in cases. 

The PM believes the rapid fall in infections is "encouraging" but insisted the pandemic "is not over" and Brits must still stay on their guard.

As of July 23 (Friday), 5,238 people were in hospital with Covid across the UK.

Of these, 715 were on ventilators. 

A Downing St spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic we have always said it's encouraging when cases are falling."

But he added: "We should still expect to see a rise in case numbers given the move to Step 4 last week".

"The Prime Minister thinks we're not out of the woods yet."

Health experts are optimistic that the third wave, driven by the Delta variant, may have now peaked.

Read our coronavirus live blog for the very latest updates..


  • STURGEON DENIES VACCINE TARGET MISSED DESPITE HOLYROOD PLEDGE

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the Scottish Government aimed to have offered second doses to people aged 40-49 by Monday, despite pledging in Holyrood more than a month ago they would have been delivered by that deadline.

    Opposition parties have attacked the Scottish Government over its pledge to give second doses to the 40-49 age group by Monday, when only 75.8% of those in that group are fully covered against Covid-19.

    But the First Minister told the PA news agency the target was to offer first doses, not provide them, by July 26.

    However, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in a coronavirus update to parliament that "by July 26, we expect to have given second doses to all 40- to 49-year-olds".

    Speaking at the Police Scotland training college in Tulliallan on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said: "I think it's important we deal in facts and not in childish politics, which at this time is not what we should be doing.

  • 'HUGELY DISCRIMINATORY

    Larissa Kennedy, President of the National Union of Students, exploded: “It’s appalling if these reports are true, imposed with no consultation whatsoever with the sector.

    “All the students I speak with are incredibly eager to get their vaccinations.”
    University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady fumed: “Making vaccinations compulsory as a condition to access their education is wrong and would be hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated, and international students.”

    The PM initially ruled out vaccine passports, but in an astonishing U-turn he has vowed to bring them in for nightclubs at the end of September.

    Unlike with pilot events, Brits would not be allowed to show a negative test result as an alternative to being jabbed.

    He is also considering them for universities, football matches and festivals

  • PLANS TO MAKE VACCINE PASSPORT'S COMPULSORY COULD 'BACKFIRE', GOVERNMENT ADVISOR SAYS

    Professor Robert West, a behavioural scientist who advises the government on Covid policy, warned the plan could spectacularly backfire.

    He said: “Using a sort of stick approach as opposed to a carrot and stick approach, I think is a mistake.

    “By and large, if we want to get people to do things, it's far better to get them on board with the idea of doing it rather than getting them to do it because they feel they have to.

    “When you do that you start to create resentment.”

    Smaller football clubs also came out against vaccine passports for matches.

  • BORIS JOHNSON SPARKS FIRST TORY PARTY SPLIT IN NEARLY 200 YEARS WITH COMPULSORY VACCINE PASSPORTS, SENIOR CONSERVATIVE WARNS

    Boris Johnson could spark the first split in the Tory Party in nearly 200 years if he brings in compulsory vaccine passports, a senior Conservative has warned.

    Former minister Steve Baker made the shocking prediction as football clubs, universities and furious MPs all hammered the plan.

    Mr Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tories, told The Sun: “It is an outrageous proposal, and one that doesn't seem likely to do any good.

    “Who are they now trying to coerce? Whose education are they now trying to deny?

    “I believe the government is in terrible danger of splitting the Tory Party irretrievably - after all we have been through with Brexit.”

  • JABBED BRITS ABROAD WILL BE ABLE TO HEAD HOME ISOLATION FREE AT THE END OF THE MONTH

    Brits jabbed abroad will be able to head home quarantine free at the end of the month as ministers are poised to recognise foreign vaccines.

    Ministers will sign off plans at a Covid-o meeting on Tuesday paving the way for hundreds of thousands of expats to come home without having to isolate for ten days.

    Jabs administered in the EU and USA will be recognised - as long as they are by the same doses handed the green-light in the UK.

    It’s understood that expats will have to contact their GP to get their jab’s batch number processed and recognised before it is added to their NHS file.

  • FACE MASK USAGE AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE HAS SLUMPED SINCE FREEDOM DAY, SUGGESTS NEW POLL

    A new poll by YouGov suggests the use of face masks among young people has slumped since "freedom day" on July 19.

    The survey found 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they wore a face mask in a public place in the last two weeks, compared to 58% on July 16 and 64% on June 2.

    Meanwhile, the survey of 1,742 British adults between July 21 and 22 found other age groups were still wearing face coverings at around the same rate as 69% of all Britons say they wore a face mask in the last two weeks, compared to 71% on July 16 and 73% on June 2.

    YouGov also said young people were less likely to be fully vaccinated and more likely to have disabled their NHS Covid-19 app. Meanwhile, the proportion of Britons thinking the Government is handling Covid-19 well fell from 41% just before "freedom day" to 34% afterwards.

    Attitudes among Conservative voters tumbled 17pts this week. Prior to July 19, about three-quarters (73%) of Conservative voters thought the Government was doing a good job of managing the pandemic response. According to YouGov, now only 56% do, the lowest to date among Tory voters.

  • RUSSIA REPORTS 23,239 NEW COVID-19 CASES, 727 RELATED DEATHS

    Russia reported 23,239 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, including 2,629 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 6,149,780.

    The government coronavirus task force said 727 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 154,601.

  • 'FATIGUED' TRAIN DRIVER WITH HISTORY OF SAFETY ERRORS NARROWLY AVOIDED CRASH

    A fatigued train driver with a history of safety blunders passed a stop signal and narrowly avoided a head-on crash with another train, an investigation has found.

    The man was operating a Chiltern Railways service when the near-miss happened in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, on June 21 last year, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said.

    He was travelling south to London Marylebone when he passed a red stop signal at around 60mph, resulting in his train being automatically halted.

    As he did not recall passing the signal, he believed the activation of the safety system was "spurious" so he decided to restart the train without the necessary permission, the RAIB said.

    This led to him driving towards a northbound London Underground train at Chalfont & Latimer station, which is shared by Chiltern Railways and Tube services. He finally stopped about 75ft (23m) ahead of the Metropolitan line train, which was stationary.

  • EXTRA ICU BEDS PLANNED FOR BELFAST AMID COVID-19 SURGE

    Extra ICU beds are being made available in Belfast as hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in Covid-19 admissions.

    Northern Ireland's chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle said beds for Belfast health trust patients are being made available at Belfast City Hospital due to capacity issues at the Royal Victoria and Mater hospitals.

    Ms McArdle said the numbers in ICU had increased significantly in Northern Ireland over the weekend, with 27 Covid-19 patients in intensive care as of Sunday.

    Ms McArdle said there was currently no plan to reopen the region-wide Nightingale facility at Belfast City Hospital but she warned that would become a "very real possibility" if the surge continues.

    The senior nurse's comments came after both the Belfast Trust and the South Eastern Trust issued emergency appeals to off-duty staff on Sunday to come in to work to help colleagues deal with the escalating situation.

  • DOWNING STREET REFUSES TO DENY IF STUDENTS WILL NEED JABS FOR LECTURES

    Downing Street did not deny reports that students would need to be fully vaccinated to attend university lectures.

    "You have heard what the PM has said before, specifically that the pandemic is not over," a No 10 spokesman said.

    "We are still looking at the scope for vaccination certifications."

    Asked if there was concern about take-up of the vaccines in younger age groups, the spokesman said: "I think you continue to see more and more young people coming forward to receive the vaccine, both in terms of first doses and now second doses.

    "Of course, we want to see more people come forward to receive it. We would like to see everybody who is invited to come forward and receive the vaccination to do so. That's the message we continue to try and give to young people."

  • PM BELIEVES 'WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET' SAYS DOWNING STREET SPOKESMAN

    Downing Street said the fall in coronavirus cases was "encouraging" but numbers were still expected to rise and Boris Johnson believes "we're not out of the woods yet".

    "Throughout the pandemic we have always said it's encouraging when cases are falling," the Prime Minister's deputy official spokesman said.

    But the pandemic "is not over" and "we should still expect to see a rise in case numbers given the move to Step 4 last week".

    "The Prime Minister thinks we're not out of the woods yet," the spokesman told reporters in Westminster.

  • NORTHERN IRELAND HAS HIGHEST RATE OF NEW COVID-19 CASES AMONG UK NATIONS

    Northern Ireland has overtaken England to become the UK nation with the highest rate of new coronavirus cases.

    It is also the only one of the four nations that is recording a steady rise in rates.

    A total of 9,832 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Northern Ireland in the seven days to July 21 - the equivalent of 519.2 cases per 100,000 people.

    This is up sharply from 253.4 one week earlier and is the highest rate for Northern Ireland since January 9, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

    By contrast, England now has the second highest rate of the four UK nations and is sitting just behind Northern Ireland on 499.1 cases per 100,000 people

  • FAILURE TO HIT VACCINE TARGET FOR SCOTS AGED 40-49 'HUMILIATING', LABOUR SAYS

    Almost a quarter of Scots aged 40 to 49 have still not had two doses despite Nicola Sturgeon expecting them all to be fully vaccinated by Monday.

    The First Minister told Parliament last month that all those in that age group should have received both vaccine doses by July 26.

    But the latest figures on the Public Health Scotland show that just 75.8% had been given two shots ahead of the target date while 90.1% had received one dose.

    Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie branded the situation "humiliating" as she warned that the "stalling" vaccine rollout was the biggest threat to the planned route out of lockdown.

    In her statement at Holyrood on June 22, Ms Sturgeon also said all 30 to 39-year-olds are expected to have their second dose by August 20

  • LABOUR VOWS TO TRANSFORM ECONOMY WITH 'NEW DEAL FOR WORKING PEOPLE'

    Labour will launch a "new deal for working people" that promises to "fundamentally change" the economy as the party seeks to win back traditional voters who have switched to the Tories.

    Deputy leader Angela Rayner will on Monday set out the party's vision for a post-pandemic Britain where quality jobs pay a "proper wage" and are a "source of pride, security and dignity".

    Sir Keir Starmer was due to join his deputy at the launch at a social enterprise in London in a display of solidarity after a period of turbulence but has instead been forced into self-isolation.

    Ahead of the launch, the Labour leader pledged to make the nation "the best place to work" and said the pandemic has "exposed the fact that millions of workers don't have the dignity and security they deserve".

    Having taken on the role of shadow future of work secretary during Sir Keir's botched reshuffle in the wake of the Hartlepool by-election defeat, Ms Rayner portrayed the nation as being at a "fork in the road".

  • LABOUR SAYS GOVERNMENT'S VACCINE PASSPORTS PLAN 'IS UNWORKABLE'

    Labour's deputy leader has said the Government's plans for vaccine passports are "unworkable".

    Speaking on a visit to co-working space Impact Hub, in central London, Angela Rayner said: "We think it is unworkable actually and we should be encouraging people to get the vaccine as soon as they possibly can, and also encouraging people to take regular tests as well. Because that is how we keep control of the virus.

    "Of course, even with the two vaccines you can still get Covid, so therefore testing has got to be an important part of that scheme."

    She had earlier said of vaccine passports: "The bureaucracy shouldn't fall on businesses. Many businesses, the practicalities, whether it is in hospitality or in other organisations, they have absolutely struggled during this pandemic and there is absolutely no way that these businesses can go around vetting and checking these vaccine passports are legit."

  • VETERANS AFFAIRS DEMAND 115,000 HEALTH CARE WORKERS GET COVID JAB OR FACE GETTING FIRED

    The US Department of Veterans Affairs is making 115,000 health care workers get vaccinated or face getting fired.

    The department became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines, as the aggressive delta variant spreads and some communities report troubling increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people.

    Employees will have eight weeks to get vaccinated.

    "It's the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country," McDonough said in a statement. 

    "Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19."

  • INDOOR DINING IN PUBS AND RESTAURANTS REOPENS ACROSS IRELAND

    Indoor dining in pubs and restaurants have reopened across Ireland, marking a significant step for the hospitality sector.

    The guidelines for reopening were signed off by Government late on Sunday night.

    Indoor dining is open for the fully vaccinated and those who have had Covid-19 in the last six months.

    A maximum of six people over the age of 13 are allowed at each table, however the limit does not include children aged 12 or younger.

    The total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15.

  • NI EXECUTIVE TO MEET TO DISCUSS COVID-19 RELAXATIONS AND WAITING LIST CRISIS

    Stormont ministers will meet later to consider further Covid-19 relaxations for Northern Ireland and discuss ways to tackle the region's spiralling health waiting lists.

    The virtual executive meeting will re-examine a number of decisions that were postponed last week amid concerns about rising infection numbers.

    These "moderate" risk moves include allowing theatres and concert halls to welcome back audiences and increasing the limit on gatherings in indoor domestic settings from six to 10, from no more than three households.

    Ministers will also consider whether to lift current restrictions on MoT test centres.

    An easing of the requirement for face coverings in places of worship is also set to be discussed, with the potential this will be relaxed so people will only have to wear them entering and exiting the buildings.

  • RAIL TRAVEL IS HIT BY 'PINGEDEMIC' AS REDUCED TIMETABLES COME IN TO SERVICE

    Workers in the sector are among the vast number of people being pinged by the NHS coronavirus app.

    Reduced timetables have been introduced on railways across England in an attempt to improve reliability after a recent spate of last-minute cancellations due to staff shortages.

    Passengers are being advised to check their train is running before they leave home.

    Thameslink and Southern has cut its weekday timetables on five routes "until further notice", and warned that further changes could be required.

    Avanti West Coast has reduced the frequency of its services between London Euston and Manchester, Birmingham and North Wales to "manage staff shortages and ensure a reliable service". A revised timetable with fewer services was also launched by London Northwestern Railway on Saturday.

  • SCHOOLS CLOSING 'COULD BE BEHIND DROP IN COVID-19 CASES ACROSS UK'

    Schools closing for the summer break is likely to be one of the reasons why coronavirus cases are falling across the UK, a leading expert has said.

    Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) advising ministers, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about dropping cases but only time will tell if the third Covid wave is "turning round".

    The expert in infectious diseases, from the University of Warwick, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "any situation where cases are falling clearly is good news. I think what we need to think about, though, is that there has been a change recently and I think the big one is that, in a lot of parts of the country, schools have now closed for the summer.

    "Now, of course, because of that, what that means is... secondary school children have been doing lateral flow tests twice a week for quite a long period of time and we know at the moment cases are slightly higher in younger people, (and) because schools have now broken up, it may be that part of the reason cases have dropped somewhat is that we're not detecting as many cases in younger people now.

    "The other thing we do need to look at before we really draw confidence in whether we are seeing everything turning round is what's happening with hospital admissions and, of course, what's happening with deaths."

  • FRANCE PASSES 40 MILLION MARK FOR FIRST DOSES OF COVID-19 JAB

    Around 40 million people in France have now received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a tweet today.

    Macron said that amounted to nearly 60% of the population, and that 4 million of the vaccinations had been administered in the past two weeks

  • UK COVID CASES FALL FOR SIXTH DAY IN A ROW WITH 24,950 INFECTIONS AND 14 DEATHS

    Coronavirus cases have dropped for the sixth day in a row today, with a further 24,950 infections reported in the past 24 hours. 

    The figures mark a 46 per cent decrease in a week amid growing hopes that the third wave may have peaked.

    Today’s daily case toll is 46 per cent down on the 46,792 infections reported last Monday, and a significant decrease on the 43,599 recorded a fortnight ago. 

    The figure is down on last Monday's rise (19) but higher than the Monday before that, when six people lost their lives to the bug.

    A Downing St spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic we have always said it's encouraging when cases are falling."

  • INDOOR DINING IN PUBS AND RESTAURANTS REOPENS ACROSS IRELAND

    Indoor dining in pubs and restaurants have reopened across Ireland, marking a significant step for the hospitality sector.

    The guidelines for reopening were signed off by Government late on Sunday night.

    Indoor dining is open for the fully vaccinated and those who have had Covid-19 in the last six months.

    A maximum of six people over the age of 13 are allowed at each table, however the limit does not include children aged 12 or younger.

    The total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15.

  • SIR KEIR STARMER WANTS TO BE 'PRAGMATIC' OVER USE OF COVID VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants to be "pragmatic" over proposals on the use of Covid passports.

    The Labour leader was asked on LBC about the use of certification at mass events such as the Euros final at Wembley.

    He said: "I think tests are actually more useful than double vaccinations, as the Health Secretary has shown. He, of course, got Covid just about 10 days ago now, I know he's through it now, but he had been double vaccinated. So, I actually think tests are much more useful. I think that the idea that we can go back to mass sporting events or other events without any checks is not one I would subscribe to."

    Asked whether he would support the Government in a vote, he said Labour would "look carefully" at proposals and added: "What I don't want to see, just to be very clear about this, is I don't want to see vaccine passports used on an everyday basis for access to critical things like health, dentistry, food, etc.

    "So, for sporting events, I'll look at what the Government puts on the table. I want to be pragmatic because we all want all business sectors and sporting sectors to return as quickly as possible. But not for everyday use."

  • KARREN BRADY SAYS: ‘I BEGGED MY KIDS TO GET THE COVID JAB AND THEY BOTH SAID NO’

    Karen Brady has admitted that her kids do not want to have the vaccine, joining many of the younger generation that currently refuse the jab. She said, “With three million under-30s still unjabbed, it is pretty clear that young people are hesitant about getting the vaccine. And that includes my own kids.

    “I have begged them both to get the jab, but neither of them will. 

    “They flatly refuse and cannot be persuaded.

    “They believe that the risks of taking it are greater than the benefits.”

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