Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted in a fortnight, while a further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29, with larger groups allowed to gather in parks and gardens.
National Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland says data on vaccines supports JCVI prioritisation
Dr Jim McMenamin said: “I think what we are presenting here is an observation which we were already well describing across Scotland about this being an infection which predominantly has the highest clinical impact in the most vulnerable elderly people in our society and that from what we can see here, that that age stratification and the effect in those age groups is something which we can see a positive benefit from the vaccines that we’re using.
“That’s certainly consistent then with the categorisation, which we’re all becoming experts in from the reporting, of incrementally approaching the people who are at maximal risk first and that that’s in general an age-structured approach, as well as anything like healthcare workers etc who were being targeted too as a second priority. All of what we’re saying then is really encouraging results.
“Nothing that we’re saying is a suggestion of any information that would be important for change, we share all such information with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for their information and with the UK Sage group so they’re aware as will all the investigators across the UK because we’re not doing this in isolation.”
France skipper Charles Ollivon among five new players who have tested positive for Covid-19, says French Rugby Federation (FFR)
Two members of the French management team are also suspected cases ahead of the Guinness Six Nations game with Scotland in Paris on Sunday.
An FFR statement said: “Following RT-PCR tests carried out on Sunday February 21, five new players tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the selection of five new players to prepare for the match against Scotland.
“Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon and Brice Dulin have tested positive for Covid-19.
“Two members of the management are considered to be a suspicious case. With a view to isolation, the return home of the players and members of the management concerned is underway.”
Gaetan Barlot, Thierry Paiva, Cyril Cazeaux, Baptiste Pesenti and Thomas Ramos have been called into the France squad.
Americans could be wearing masks in 2022, Dr Anthony Fauci warns as US death toll nears 500,000
Dr Fauci discussed the use of PPE on CNN’s State of the Union, and was asked whether he thinks Americans will still need to wear masks next year, which he said is “possible”.
Public Health Scotland expert warns results of vaccine study do not have any bearing on the virus’s ability to transmit from person to person
Dr Josie Murray, Public Health Scotland’s public health consultant lead for the EAVE II project, said: “The first thing to say about these results is that the current vaccination programme shows from these data very likely to be preventing severe illness related to Covid-19.
“I think it’s really important to emphasise that these data don’t support any comment about transmission or indeed transmission policy and therefore we wouldn’t be advising on the basis of these results that we should alter anything that we’ve got implemented currently to stop transmission of the virus from person to person within Scotland.
“The brilliant news is that the vaccine delivery programme in its current format is suggesting that it’s working.”
She added: “What I would urge people to continue to do is to follow all the public health guidance to stop transmission because these results don’t have any bearing on the virus’s ability to transmit from person to person.” She said that as a group of scientists, they would recommend policy makers continue following the JCVI guidance.
Dr Murray urged people offered the vaccine to take their first and second doses, and said: “We can see from these data that you can protect yourself and your family and your friends and you can also protect the NHS by taking the vaccine.”
Sir Keir Starmer says it is “frustrating” Government did not use half-term to vaccinate teachers and school staff
Appearing on LBC to take questions from the public, the Labour leader said: “I want all of our schools ideally opened on March 8, that’s what the Prime Minister has said, and we want to see that ideally happen.”
Asked why he had said “ideally”, Sir Keir said: “I feel like a broken record on this, I’m slightly frustrated.
“Back in September I said to the Government, have a plan, if you’re going to get children back you need ventilation, you need proper testing.
“I have always said Nightingale classrooms. If you can put them up for hospitals, if you need more space in your schools, put your Nightingale classrooms up.
“We just had half-term and I said to the Government, use that to vaccinate teachers and school staff before we go back to school. They didn’t do it and it is frustrating.”
Sir Keir Starmer says he will be looking for a cautious approach from PM
“I want the Prime Minister to learn the lessons of the last two lockdowns,” the Labour leader told LBC.
“I think he came out too quickly, without caution, and that caused problems because we went back into lockdown.
“Everybody – and I think the Prime Minister is in this place now – wants this to be the last lockdown. So come out cautiously, carefully – that’s the language he is using, so I’m looking for that this afternoon.
“That will inevitably mean restrictions for a bit longer so businesses desperately need a bit more support – business rate relief, VAT for hospitality – because they are going to struggle for another few months.”
Sir Keir also urged the Government to extend the eligibility criteria for financial support for those told to self-isolate, as he said people on low incomes are faced with a “really difficult choice” because they “want to do the right thing, but they can’t afford it”.
Covid-19 vaccination programme linked to a substantial reduction in hospital admissions
Researchers examined coronavirus hospital admissions in Scotland among people who have had their first jab and compared them with those who had not yet received a dose of the vaccine.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland examined data on people who had received either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab or the one developed by experts at the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca.
By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of hospital admission from Covid-19 by up to 85 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively, they found.
Vaccines minister will “happily” look at what other data can be made available on the vaccine rollout
It comes after statistician Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter called the lack of detailed data “upsetting”.
Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “As of last week, NHS England have published CCG (clinical commissioning group) level data across England, which I think was important.
“We collect ethnicity data and we publish that, and we work with directors of public health and local government to share mid-level data, without obviously in any way jeopardising people’s privacy and personal health data.
“But all that work continues at pace. Data is our ally in this vaccination rollout and we continue to do more.
“I didn’t listen to Professor Spiegelhalter, with your interview, but I’ll happily look at what else we can do.”
All Bar One owner reveals cash burn of £30m to £35m a month
All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers is burning through between £30 million and £35 million every four weeks during the current national lockdowns and restrictions, bosses have said.
They added that the business had a cash balance of just £113 million as of January 16, with all facilities drawn, and needs to make a £51 million interest payment on its debts by March 15.
The dire warning came as the company announced the formal launch of a £351 million fundraising exercise to prop up its balance sheet, calling it “critical for the continued operation of the group and its immediate financial stability”.
The company, which also owns Toby Carvery and Harvester, also revealed it has agreed with pension trustees to delay monthly contributions from January to March. They will resume from April.