Covid LIVE: New asymptomatic variant rips through UK – Christmas lockdown demands grow

Boris Johnson issues warning about ‘blizzard’ of coronavirus

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Traditional symptoms of coronavirus such as loss or change of smell or taste appeared in only a third of AY.4.4 cases but scientists aren’t sure why it may be less symptomatic. It comes as violence continues to erupt across Europe as rioters protest against the return of lockdown measures aimed at curbing rising Covid cases. In Brussels, nearly 40,000 people marched against rules banning the unvaccinated from entering restaurants and bars. The World Health Organisation has warned Europe is the only region in the world where deaths have increased making it the epicentre of the pandemic once again.

FOLLOW BELOW FOR UPDATES…

Additional reporting by Francesca Edwards

KEY EVENTS

  • Good afternoon 15:08
  • Working Brits in favour of Christmas lockdown10:45
  • New Covid strain is more infections but less symptomatic, research suggests09:49
  • Austria enters another lockdown07:44
  • England gives extra vaccine dose to half of over 50s

    England has administered an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than half of everyone aged 50 and over.

    The landmark achievement brings England in line with Scotland, which has also successfully administered additional vaccine doses to more than half of over 50s. 

    A total of 11,093,652 booster and third doses had been given to over-50s as of November 21, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

    This is the equivalent of 52.1 percent of all people in this age group, based on the latest population estimates.

    Not everyone aged 50 or over will yet be eligible for an extra jab because booster doses cannot be delivered until six months after a second dose, while third doses can only be given eight weeks later.

    However, the sharp jump from 44.0 percent a week earlier and 28.8 percent at the start of November demonstrates the pace at which doses continue to be rolled out in England. 

    Good afternoon

    Good afternoon from London. I’m Tara Fair, I’ll be bringing you all the latest Covid developments for the next eight hours. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

    Email: [email protected]

    Twitter: @TaraFair_

    EU considering Johnson & Johnson booster dose

    The European Union’s drug regulator said that it is assessing data on booster doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine. 

    It added that a decision is expected “within weeks”.

    The approval is sought for the use of a booster dose of the single-shot vaccine to be given at least two months after the first dose to people ages 18 years and older, the European Medicines Agency said.

    The European Union has so far given mRNA vaccines from the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance, and Moderna the go-ahead as a third booster dose at least six months after a standard two-shot course.

    It is also considering AstraZeneca’s booster doses.

    No new deaths recorded in Scotland

    Scotland has recorded no new coronavirus deaths and 2,481 new cases in the past 24 hours. 

    The latest figures published by the Scottish Government show the daily test positivity rate was 11.4 percent, up from 9.7 percent the day prior. 

    Officials noted: “Due to a network outage, Public Health Scotland has not received NHS lab data from one site since Saturday, November 20.”

    The total death toll remained at 9,478. 

    There were 750 people in hospital on Sunday with 59 in intensive care. 

    Vaccine booking service extends

    The National Booking Service is now open to people aged 40 to 49 for their booster jab. 

    Teenagers aged 16 and 17 are also now able to book their second jab. 

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting your COVID-19 booster vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter and will help reduce the pressure on the NHS.

    He added that we “have very sadly seen a surge in cases in parts of Europe” and urged people to get their jabs “so we can keep the virus at bay”. 

    So far, 14 million people in the UK have received their booster vaccine so far. 

    Piers Morgan reveals he is still suffering from long Covid

    Piers Morgan has revealed he is “wasting away” after admitting his long Covid symptoms are now disappearing after four and a half months. 

    He tweeted: “Eighteen weeks today since I caught Covid and still got zero smell, little and zombie-like energy levels”.

    In the comments, the controversial presenter revealed he had lost “four kilos” in weight and is “wasting away”. 

    Read more here. 

    Merkel says current measures are ‘insufficient’

    Germany’s acting Chancellor Angela Merkel has said current measures to stop the spread of coronavirus are insufficient. 

    She said: “We are in a highly dramatic situation. What is in place now is not sufficient.”

    Some 79 percent of adults in Germany have had two shots of Covid vaccine, but only 7.5 percent have received booster shots so far, as the total number of coronavirus deaths in Germany approaches 100,000.

    Merkel said neither those measures nor a higher uptake of vaccinations would be enough to halt the rapid rise of infections in the short run.

    She called on Germany’s 16 federal states to decide tough measures by Wednesday.

    Pfizer vaccine trial shows long-term efficacy in children

    Pfizer Inc said its Covid vaccine provides strong long-term protection against the virus among children ages 12 to 15 years. 

    Two doses of the vaccine was 100 percent effective against Covid measured seven days through over four months after the second dose, that company said. 

    The long-term data will support planned submissions for full-regulatory approval of the vaccine in the age group in the United States and worldwide.

    Pfizer and BioNTech will seek clearance for a 30 micrograms dose of the vaccine for those aged 12 and above.

    Britain to review Covid travel rules in new year

    Britain will review its Covid travel rules in January, minister Robert Courts has said. 

    He added that the UK is looking to reform its airport slots system as part of a wider new aviation strategy. 

    Britain has lagged other European countries in lifting pandemic travel restrictions with airlines complaining that the need for day-2 coronavirus tests and complicated passenger locator forms have deterred people from travelling to and from the United Kingdom.

    Mr Courts told the Airlines UK conference: “We will be reviewing the policy in January. We’ll be looking to see what we can do at that stage,”

    He added that reforming the system remained a priority for the Government.

    Under normal rules, airlines must use 80 percent of their take-off and landing rights at busy airports or cede slots to competitors but the so-called “use it or lose it” rule was waived early in the pandemic when the crisis grounded most flights.

    Germans will be ‘vaccinated, cured or dead’ from Covid, warns health minister

    Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn has urged citizens to get their covid vaccines warning that Germans will be “vaccinated, cured or dead” from the virus in just a few months.

    Spahn blamed the “very contagious Delta variant” for the rise in cases and said the government “urgently recommends vaccination”. 

    Politicians and health ministers are now debating whether to follow Austria’s example in making vaccinations compulsory, with some admitting that the move is ‘unavoidable’ amid a rise in infections.

    Spahn also warned that the country is dealing with “a very, very difficult situation in many hospitals”.

    Currently, only 68 percent of the population is vaccinated, a level experts say is too low to keep the pandemic under control.

    ‘No need to introduce restrictions’, says Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson has said the Government currently sees no need to introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions despite rising cases across much of Europe.

    Speaking at the CBI conference in South Shields, the Prime Minister said: “Of course we are concerned about the potential from that disease.

    “You have got to be humble in the face of nature but at the moment we see nothing in the data to say that we need to move from plan A to plan B, or any other plan.

    “The best single thing you can all do is get your booster. When you are called forward to get it, please do so.”

    Belgium extends Covid restrictions and measures

    Belgium is tightening its health measures again from today in a bid to curve rising cases. 

    Wearing masks has now been extended and the government announced the obligation to work from home at least four days a week until December 13. 

    Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said “the situation is serious”. 

    The use of face masks is also required from the age of 10, as opposed to 12 previously, in public transport, hospitality venues, and public events. 

    The Belgian health pass, introduced at the start of the month, is now compulsory for access to bars and restaurants and for all events with more than 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. 

    Working Brits in favour of Christmas lockdown

    More than half of working Brits would welcome a Christmas lockdown, a new study revealed. 

    Many workers say they are overwhelmed with their workload since returning to the work in July following lockdown. 

    A total of 900 managers and 1,200 employees took part in the study by Hack Future Lab. 

    Over half of those it questioned said they would be in favour of a two-week festive lockdown to allow them to recuperate after months of uncertainty, stress and anxiety.

    CEO of Hack Future Lab Terence Mauri said there is a “great strain” on employees due to staff absences and expectations. 

    He said: “It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that of the 2,100 individuals we interviewed across the UK, 73 per cent described themselves as being at ‘breaking point’ and that 53 per cent would wholly welcome a winter lockdown to recharge their batteries and protect their mental health.”

    Warning over new Covid variant

    A new mutated strain of the Delta variant has been tipped the “one to watch” as cases soar. 

    Scientists have warned the E484K needs to be closely monitored amid fears it could further mutate to be better suited to infecting humans.

    As of November 8, 152 cases of the variant had been detected across England, Scotland, and Wales – an increase of 59 since the middle of October.

    There are no signs it has become the more dominant strain in the UK but scientists say it is “definitely one to watch”. 

    Read more here.

    People queue for vaccines in Budapest

    People are lining up for Covid vaccines outside Budapest’s main hospital as Hungary is offering vaccines for the first time without prior registration. 

    Hungary reported a record high tally of 11,289 new cases on Friday and on Monday reported 27,209 new cases for Friday to Sunday and 392 deaths.

    Despite the queues, the country’s vaccination rate lags the EU average, with about 5.8 million people being fully vaccinated. 

    The government imposed mandatory mask-wearing in closed spaces last week and said it would make Covid shots mandatory for all healthcare workers.

    New Covid strain is more infections but less symptomatic, research suggests

    A new variant now accounts for around 12 percent of cases in the UK, according to the latest data. 

    The AY.4.2 is thought to be around 15 percent more infections than other strains but early research suggests it may be less likely to cause symptomatic cases. 

    Symptoms such as loss or change of smell or taste, a fever, or a new persistent cough appeared in a third of AY.4.2 cases, while the number stands at 46.3 percent of AY.4 original Delta strain cases.

    Professor Paul Elliott of Imperial told The i: “We’re not sure why AY.4.2 might be associated with less symptomatic infection, but that might give it a transmission advantage as people carrying AY.4.2. are less likely to know that (as more of them will be asymptomatic).”

    French presidential hopeful Zemmour says Covid fears are overblown

    A French political commentator said fears about coronavirus are being overblown.

    Hard-right Eric Zemmour told France Info radio “we have gone too far, and we’ve been going too far since the beginning”. 

    His comments come after government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the fifth wave is starting “in a dazzling way”. 

    Zemmour, who is known for his hardline position on issues including immigration, Islam, and national identity, said he ould aim to scrap the Covid health pass currently being used in France. 

    He is expected to confirm his presidential candidacy on December 5.

    ‘The virus has got so many surprises in store for us’

    Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, told Sky News he can understand the protests in Europe.

    But he added that he is “very anxious” about what is happening across the continent and the speed that cases are rising. 

    He said: “I’m also not surprised that people are protesting because, actually, the public in so many countries are really fed up with what’s going on.

    “However, me, as a public health person, I’ve got to share with UK and with your viewers that we’re going to have to go on, we’re going have to go on resisting this virus and we do it through making it hard for the virus to get from one person to another with face masks and also with avoiding breathing in the air breathed out by others.”

    He also urged everyone to “take it really seriously” and the virus “has got so many surprises in store for us”. 

    France records big jump in cases

    France is also reporting a surge in cases with 19,749 new Covid infections on Sunday- a jump from 12,496 cases a week ago. 

    French government spokesman Gabriel Attal declared that “the fifth wave is starting at lightning speed.”

    He added: “There is a very strong increase in infections, but we also know that in France we have a very large vaccination cover.

    “We seem to be ahead of our neighbours concerning booster shots.”

    Protests across Europe

    Police said 35,000 protestors marches through Brussels in a demonstration called ‘Together for Freedom’.

    Some clashed with police near the capital’s EU and government district as they set fires in the middle of roads and threw bricks through the windows of buildings. 

    Police were forced to respond with tear gas and a water cannon.

    In Croatia, thousands marched through the capital Zagreb, holding flags and anti-vaccinated banners.

    Thousands also marked through Zurich against the idea that a Covid certificate will become compulsory to enter some public spaces.

    Where is vaccine hesitancy high in the UK?

    Unvaccinated people are being targeted with tougher lockdown restrictions across Europe as cases rise. 

    So far now restrictions have been introduced in the UK but the Government continues to urge everyone to get jabbed.

    London remained the most vaccine-hesitant among all Great Britain regions, according to the ONS.

    But where else in the UK is vaccine hesitancy high?

    Read more here.

    Austria enters another lockdown

    Austria is entering a further Covid lockdown on Monday as only 65 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. 

    Most non-essential venues will close including restaurants, bars, theatres, shops and hairdressers, and hotels. 

    They will initially close for ten days, but this could be extended to 20 days, the government said.

    People are allowed to leave their homes for a small number of reasons such as work or buying essentials or meeting one person from another household.

    Source: Read Full Article