Great Britain

Coronavirus UK news – live: Tiers may be eased before Christmas, minister says, amid Tory restrictions revolt

<p>Boris Johnson’s new tier strategy has come under take from some Tory backbenchers.&nbsp;</p>

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has suggested that some areas in England could see their tier level lowered before Christmas, amid a growing rebellion from Tory backbenchers against the country’s new tier system. 

The rebellion comes after it was announced on Thursday that 99 per cent of people in England live in areas to be placed in tiers two or three - the two strictest levels - from 2 December when lockdown lifts.

In response to concerns, Mr Jenrick told the BBC on Friday that “there is every reason to believe" that some areas in England could have restrictions eased in a review of the tier allocations in mid-December. 

Earlier, Steve Baker, the prominent Brexiteer, had described the government’s policies as “truly appalling”, while the influential Graham Brady said they were “far too authoritarian”.

As many as 70 Tory MPs could vote against the new coronavirus legislation next week, the Daily Mail has reported.


Fresh tragedy for city devastated by world’s worst industrial accident

survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster are six times more prone to Covid-19 infections and account for more than half of the total coronavirus deaths in the capital city of Madhya Pradesh in India, reports Stuti Mishra:

Coronavirus has provided fresh tragedy for the city devastated by a gas disaster, reports Stuti Mishra


America facing ‘darkest days’ if virus not controlled, warns top medic

The chief of staff at Houston's United Memorial Center has said a surge of infections over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays may push hospitals to breaking point, warning America could face its "darkest days" in modern medical history. Matt Mathers reports:

‘I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving’, says doctor


New restrictions in Wales announced as lockdown ‘eroded’

Further national restrictions will come into force across Wales to limit the spread of coronavirus, first minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Mr Drakeford said the ground gained during the country's 17-day firebreak lockdown was "being eroded", with the national incidence rate rising to 187 cases per 100,000 people.

He said the hospital system in Wales was under "sustained pressure", with more than 1,700 people with Covid-19 being treated.

"As much headroom as possible" was needed in advance of the Christmas period, when restrictions agreed across the UK will allow three households to meet for five days.

He said Northern Ireland was beginning a new two-week lockdown, and Scotland was extending the highest level of restrictions there.

"We, too now, here in Wales need to use the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus and create more headroom for the Christmas period," Mr Drakeford said.


Arcadia retail group could go into administration

Philip Green’s Arcadia Group could be heading into administration, after the majority of its 500 stores across the UK had to close because of coronavirus restrictions. 

The group is attempting to secure a £30 million loan from lenders to help it through the economic emergency.

If these emergency talks fail, 15,000 jobs at brands including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins could be at risk.

Arcadia could go into administration by as early as Monday, according to Sky News


Thailand secures 26 million doses of Oxford vaccine

Thailand has secured 26 million doses of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for £58.9 million.

Given that this vaccine requires two doses per person, the agreement will cover 13 million out of the country’s 69 million people.

The expected delivery date is in mid-2021. 

At the signing of the non-refundable contract, Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “We have followed the vaccine manufacturers globally but this group has achieved very high progress.”


NHS asks more Covid-19 survivors to donate plasma

The NHS is appealing to coronavirus survivors to donate their plasma, as the high level of antibodies found in their blood could be used to help other patients recover from the disease.

Stephen Craib, who recovered from the virus, said: “If the antibodies are there, why wouldn’t I come back? Until the antibody level dropped to the level that they’re no longer required, I’ll keep coming." 

Five per cent of recovered patients have so far donated plasma, according to the NHS.

NHS plea as only 5% of patients recovered from Covid agree to donate plasma


Russia to give Covid-19 vaccine to almost half a million military personnel

As Covid-19 cases continue to surge in Russia, the country’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu annnounced plans to vaccinate more than 400,000 members of the military against Covid-19.

His announcement came as Russia reported a record 27,543 new infections. 

On Friday, it was revealed that 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine will be produced by the Indian drug company Hetero. 


Tier changes unlikely before Christmas, warns Sage scientist

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has emphasised that regions in England are unlike to change tier before Christmas. 

His warning on Friday was at odds with the optimism of communities secretary Robert Jenrick, who said that “there is every reason to believe" tiers could be lowered before 25 December. 

Referring to the first review of the new tier system scheduled for mid-December, Prof Edmunds told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "For me I think that is quite an early review stage. I can't imagine there will be huge changes at that point just simply because I don't think we will have accumulated much data by then."

Jenrick: Covid guidelines may change over Christmas


Former Sudan PM dies of Covid

Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister, who was ousted from power in a 1989 coup, has died of coronavirus.

Sadiq al-Mahdi’s party confirmed that he had died at the age of 84 on Thursday in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates, following a positive test result for Covid-19 at the end of October. 

Mr al-Mahdi’s successor Omar al-Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed coup, before being toppled last year after ruling the country for 30 years. 


AstraZeneca CEO confirms Oxford vaccine needs extra study

The chief executive of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said that the Covid-19 vaccine it has developed with Oxford University will require “an additional study”. 

Mr Soriot said another study would be necessary to “validate” the better efficacy rate, according to the Bloomberg news agency. 

However, he added that this will probably not delay regulatory approval for the vaccine in the UK and EU. 

Here’s Mayank Aggarwal with more details: 

AstraZeneca’s CEO said clearance from the US regulatory authorities may take longer

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