Coronavirus news – live: Vaccinations to be offered 24/7 after U-turn and London leaders demand tougher rules – The Independent

Coronavirus rules are ‘tough enough’, says Priti Patel

Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus vaccine programme will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week as soon as possible.

The prime minister told MPs the process of protecting people from coronavirus was already going “exceptionally fast” but “at the moment the limit is on supply” of the vaccine.

“We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can,” he said, adding that health secretary Matt Hancock would set out further details “in due course”.

London Councils and mayor Sadiq Khan have implored Mr Johnson to immediately implement tougher coronavirus measures – including closing places of worship – or risk putting an “unsustainable strain” on the NHS and public services.

After a major incident was declared in the capital last Friday due to rising Covid-19 cases, Mr Khan and London Councils chair Georgia Gould have written to the prime minister, calling for measures similar to those in place last March and April.

Aside from the closure of places of worship, they have called for the prime minister to make mask-wearing mandatory outside the home – including in supermarket queues, on high streets and in other possibly crowded outdoor settings.


Nicola Sturgeon bans all outdoor drinking in mainland Scotland and tightens rules on click-and-collect services

Nicola Sturgeon has tightened Covid restrictions amid rising infections and deaths.

Under the proposed new rules, click and collect services will be limited to essential goods only.

Addressing the Scottish parliament, Ms Sturgeon announced customers will no longer be able to collect takeaway food from inside restaurants.

Everyone living in Tier 4 areas will be banned from driking outdoors, the first minister added.

Ashley Cowburn has more on this story: 

Matt Mathers13 January 2021 13:10


Rapid coronavirus testing scheme ‘may increase rather than decrease’ cases in schools, experts warn

Experts have cast doubt over a new coronavirus testing scheme for schools, warning it “may increase rather than decrease” cases.

Plans were announced last month for a round of mass testing of students and staff at the start of term, as well as weekly Covid-19 rapid tests for staff and daily ones for close contacts of a positive case instead of precautionary self-isolation.

But scientists have warned using lateral flow tests to manage classroom outbreaks without isolating close contacts risks increasing the spread of the virus.

Zoe Tidman has the full report: 

Matt Mathers13 January 2021 12:57


Scotland hits 7,000 Covid-related deaths, new figures show

The number of Covid-related deaths in Scotland has passed the 7,000 mark, new figures show.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) statistics show there were 384 deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate between 4-10 January, an increase of 197 from the previous week.

As of Sunday, 7,074 such deaths had been registered in Scotland, the NRS said in a statement earlier today.

Almost three-quarters of the deaths were people aged 75 and over, while 9 per cent were aged under 65.

There were 428 (34 per cent) more deaths registered between 4-10 January to the five-year average for that week, and 76 per cent of them had Covid-19 as an underlying cause.

Matt Mathers13 January 2021 12:47


Government has ‘no intention’ of closing nurseries

The government has “no intention” of closing nurseries, the education secretary has said, as he described how many families rely on early years services.

Gavin Williamson defended his decision to keep nurseries open amid concerns over the high infection rates of the more transmissible Covid-19 variant.

Speaking to MPs on the Education Select Committee, he said: “I always want to be in a position to ensure that every child can go to school and, as you’ll be aware, transmissibility among those who are youngest is very low compared to all of the settings.

“So, when you’re in a position to keep part of the education system open in the early years, I believe it was the right decision to make because so many families really rely on that nursery provision.

“Those early years are so important.”

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 12:40


Free school meals firm run by Tory donor

The companies at the centre of the outcry over the “disgusting” free meals provided to struggling families while schools remain closed have links to the Conservatives, it has emerged.

Compass Group and its subsidiary Chartwells are under fire after football star and campaigner Marcus Rashford shared photos of Chartwells’ meagre parcels.

Electoral Commission records show Paul Walsh – chairman of Compass Group until he stepped down last month – has given more than £10,000 to the Tory party.

Adam Forrest has more on this story below:

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 12:25


PM says vaccine programme to be 24/7 ‘as soon as we can’

Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus vaccine programme will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week as soon as possible.

The PM said the process of protecting people from coronavirus was already going “exceptionally fast” but “at the moment the limit is on supply” of the vaccine.

“We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can,” he told MPs, adding that health secretary Matt Hancock will set out further details “in due course”.

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 12:15


easyJet cabin crew recruited to administer vaccines

EasyJet has said its cabin crew are being recruited by the NHS to administer coronavirus vaccines.

The airline said: “As easyJet continues to operate a reduced schedule as a result of the pandemic, our furloughed crew has an ideal skill set to be able to assist in the effort to provide much-needed inoculation support to the NHS in rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Crew who apply will be fast-tracked to become trained vaccinators at NHS vaccination centres across the country and will undergo online training and onsite immunisation training to become fully qualified in administering the vaccine.”

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 12:05


PM ‘commits to review’ of free school meal parcels in Marcus Rashford phone call

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has said the prime minister committed to a review of free school meal parcels during a phone conversation.

It comes after a mother shared an image that later went viral of a meagre free school meal food parcel estimated to contain just over £5 of food which was meant to last for five days.

Follow our breaking news story on this below:

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 11:36


No guidance on Covid tests for UK entry with just 24 hours to go

Barely 24 hours before the first passengers required to “test before travel” to the UK are due to check in, there is still no clarity about what tests will be acceptable.

The law takes effect for arrivals from 4am on Friday morning – but the first travellers to be affected will depart on Thursday.

But five days after the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, announced the new rules, the government has still not given details about acceptable tests.

Travel correspondent Simon Calder reports:

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 11:19


Covid vaccine should remain effective against variants for months, says Van-Tam

The current coronavirus vaccines should remain effective against mutations for months, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said his “hunch” is that they will not be “outwitted” by new variants for many months.

But he warned that the coronavirus behind the pandemic is unlikely to be eradicated and updated vaccines may need to be deployed on a regular basis, as happens with flu.

Chiara Giordano13 January 2021 11:03