Boris Johnson covid announcement – Shock as top coronavirus advisor Jonathan Van-Tam QUITS amid garden party scandal

BORIS Johnson apologised to the Commons yesterday over his involvement in the Downing Street lockdown parties – but a number of Tory MPs are calling for him to quit.

Ahead of taking questions, Mr Johnson made a statement saying he wanted to apologise for wrongdoings at Number 10, but tried to claim he thought he was at "a work event" when he attended the booze-fuelled party.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, called for Boris Johnson to quit as PM, saying: "Regretfully I have to say that his position is no longer tenable.

"What we also heard from the prime minister today was an apology. And he said, with hindsight, we would have done things differently, which for me, is an acceptance from the prime minister that it was wrong, and therefore, I don’t want to be in this position, but I am in the position now where I don’t think he can continue as he leader of the Conservatives."

Last night, Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes became the fourth Tory MP to call for Boris Johnson to resign.

She said: "Now regretfully, he looks like a liability, and I think he either goes now, or he goes in three years’ time at a general election, and it’s up to the party to decide which way around that’s going to be. I know my thoughts are is that he’s damaging us now.”

Read our covid live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    Scottish Conservatives leader says PM must go

    Last night the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, said the PM must go, while at least three MPs put in letters demanding a no-confidence vote.

    The Cabinet launched a public show of support, but privately two ministers admitted to The Sun their leader could be “toast”.

  • Louis Allwood

    Boris battling to stay in No10

    The Prime Minister finally confessed to attending the boozy May 2020 bash in the Downing Street garden at the start of a brutal Commons showdown yesterday.

    He said he believed the sunshine knees-up was “a work event” and spent 25 minutes there to thank pandemic-weary staff.

    However Mr Johnson remains in deep peril after his own MPs, lawyers and voters savaged his excuses.

    Senior Tory MPs broke cover to demand he quit, as others claimed the PM’s insistence he had not broken the rules made matters worse and “will not wash” with the public.

  • Louis Allwood

    “Genuinely sincere”

    Christopher Chope, Conservative MP, has described the prime minsters apology as ‘genuinely sincere’.

    Speaking to the BBC he said “I’ve never heard such an abject apology from a government minister in my 30-plus years in this place”

    “I think that the prime minister showed contrition and he realised he had done the wrong thing in not intervening at the time and all the rest of it.

    “I think when somebody makes an apology like that, reasonable people accept the apology – obviously with the caveat that this is continuing because there’s a continuing inquiry.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Bereaved families let rip at Boris Johnson

    Raging campaigners branded him a "walking public health hazard" for trying to defend it as a work gathering – and demanded he quit.

    Meanwhile, exhausted NHS doctors said they felt "insulted" as they tried not to pass out taking care of Covid victims for hours on end in layers of PPE in the heatwave taking place at the time.

    It came after the PM issued a grovelling apology this lunchtime, admitting he did attend the May 20 bash – but thought it was a work event.

    Breaking cover for the first time since the leaked email invite was revealed, he said in hindsight it should not have happened and he should have ordered everyone to go home, rather than thanking staff before heading back to his office.

    Hannah Brady from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, who met the PM in the very same garden the drinks took place in, said MPs had a "moral duty" to boot him out now for attending the gathering.

  • Louis Allwood

    Worst of Omicron is nearly over claims health chiefs

    Infections are down by a third — a drop in a week from 194,747 to 129,587.

    And the number of desperately ill people needing breathing support in intensive care has dipped to 672, the lowest level since mid-October.

    Matthew Taylor, boss of the NHS Confederation, said some areas might still suffer but the country would soon be through the worst.

    He added: “Unless things change unexpectedly, we are close to the national peak of Covid patients in hospital. This is a significant moment.”

    Dr Richard Cree, an intensive care medic in Middlesbrough, said: “Numbers being admitted hasn’t risen as high as I feared.

    “It’s looking increasingly likely that we may be able to ride out the Omicron wave.”
    Office for National Statistics data showed UK infections rose last week to a record 4.3million.

    But the rate of increase slowed and they are falling in London. There are 16,881 Covid patients in hospitals, fewer than half of last January’s peak.

  • Louis Allwood

    The Sun’s Jab Army needs YOU

    Although Omicron is markedly milder than previous variants, the sheer number of cases have left up to a million people self-isolating and threatening widespread disruption to schools and the economy.

    Ministers also say the combination of boosters and Plan B measures are “working” and are not expected to announce fresh measures.

    A third jab also significantly slashes the risk of falling seriously ill – and The Sun’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping get vital boosters in people’s arms.

  • Louis Allwood

    What's wrong with doing a test too early or late?

    In some instances, the PCR test may not pick up the virus because it’s too early in the infection.

    It could take several days, or even more than a week, before the virus levels in the cells of your nose and throat are high enough before the test can detect it.

    This is unlikely if you have symptoms, however.

    If the test is performed too late, for example when someone has had symptoms for more than a week, the virus may not be present in detectable quantities. 

    It is unlikely they are contagious, however.

    On the other hand, it is possible that fragments of the virus could still be present in the throat for several weeks after the infection, in which case the person would not be infectious.

  • Louis Allwood

    Keir Starmer's response

    Sir Keir was having none of it and blasted the "pathetic spectacle of a man who's run out of road."

    The Labour boss railed: "His defence that he didn't realise he was at a party is so ridiculous that is actually offensive to the British people.

    "Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?"

    The PM swatted away deeper questions of the saga by urging MPs to wait for the findings of a probe being led by Whitehall enforcer Sue Gray.

  • Louis Allwood

    Major developments

    • Mr Johnson said the No10 garden was used often to reduce the spread of Covid
    • The PM told MPs to wait for the official Whitehall probe into the party
    • He said it did not detract from his achievements during the pandemic
    • It emerged No10 staff joked about being spied on by drones as they drank gin
    • More than 16 Tory MPs broke ranks to publicly skewer the PM
    • Other backbenchers talked privately about removing their leader
    • Sir Keir Starmer left isolation just in time for the crunch PMQs duel
    • Chancellor Rishi Sunak escaped the showdown with a trip to Devon
    • Louis Allwood

      Boris Johnson's opening statement

      Boris Johnson told MP's: "I certainly wish that things would have happened differently on the evening of May the 20th and I apologise for all the misjudgements that have been made, for which I take full responsibility."

      And he claimed he thought it was a "work event" and he had thanked groups of staff "before going back into my office 25 minutes later".

      He said that "with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside… I should have recognised that even if it did fall within the guidance, there would be millions of people who would simply not see it that way."

    • Louis Allwood

      They ‘joked about being caught by DRONES and downed gin’

      Senior staff stocked up on booze from the local Tesco by Westminster tube station before drinking in the sunshine throughout the evening.

      But 18 months after the May 20, 2020 booze-up the PM is now suffering the hangover from hell as bombshell details of the event emerge.

      In a now notorious email to more than 100 Downing St staff Mr Reynolds invited them to "socially distanced drinks" at 6pm and encouraged them to "bring your own booze".

      Just an hour earlier Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden was at the No10 podium telling Brits to stick to the rules by only meeting one other person outdoors.

      Shortly after sending the email Mr Reynolds got cold feet but thought pulling the plug would draw more attention to claims of rule-breaking, The Times reports.

    • Louis Allwood

      Omicron IS milder than other Covid strains, studies show

      A string of positive studies show Omicron is milder than other strains, with data revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

      Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

      The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions and protect the NHS.

    • Louis Allwood

      Top 20 Omicron symptoms

      Unlike other variants of Covid, symptoms for Omicron have been a lot more diverse with scientists now saying people can have “a wide range of symptoms”.

      • Headache
      • Runny nose
      • Fatigue
      • Sneezing
      • Sore throat
      • Persistent cough
      • Hoarse voice
      • Other
      • Chills or shivers
      • Fever
      • Dizzy
      • Brain fog
      • Altered smell
      • Eye soreness
      • Unusual muscle pains
      • Skipped meals
      • Loss of smell
      • Chest pain
      • Swollen glands
      • Feeling down

      Diarrhoea could be an unusual Omicron symptom

      With previous coronavirus strains like Delta, the symptoms were generally easier to identity such as a continuous cough, fever and a loss of taste and smell.

      Omicron though has been harder to identify as it has been found to blend in with other symptoms of seasonal illnesses such as flu or the common cold.

      The variant has also caused other concerns due to its high transmission rate.

      The Center for Disease Control (CDC), based in the US, has now said people with Covid can have “a wide range of symptoms”.

      This can range from a slightly blocked nose to breathing difficulties, with the latter needing urgent medical attention.

      Although having diarrhoea has also been highlighted as a condition with other coronavirus strains.

      People with compromised immune systems are the most likely to experience diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, reports NBC Chicago.

      Soldiers called in

      Soldiers have been called in to support paramedics in the East Midlands amid Covid staffing shortages.

      Hospitals and ambulance teams have been crippled by record-high infection rates that have forced thousands off work to self-isolate.

      In latest developments, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) announced it would be joined by 60 military personnel for support.

      The soldiers will help with responding to non-urgent patients in the coming weeks and helping with tasks such as basic care. 

      Ben Holdaway, EMAS director of operations, said it would ensure paramedics “can focus on attending the life-threatening and serious emergencies”.

      • Louis Allwood

        What could the results be of 5 day isolation?

        Only two per cent more people would be infectious if Covid isolation ended on day five, analysis shows.

        Eight per cent of infected people would be able to spread the disease on the fifth day after two negative lateral flow tests.

        It compares with 6.2 per cent on the seventh, the UK Health Security Agency found.

        Separate data showed 31.4 per cent of people were still infectious after five days.

        But two negative tests more than halved the risk of being released while infectious.

        Ministers are under pressure to reduce the self-isolation period.

        Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “If it is possible to go further then we will do so.”

      • Louis Allwood

        Spain suggest DOWNGRADING Covid to ‘like the flu’

        Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez pushed his EU counterparts to debate the possibility of treating Covid like the flu.

        The European leader told a local radio channel the situation in Spain “is not what we faced a year ago” and that it was time “to evaluate the evolution of COVID to an endemic illness”.

        The move would see lockdowns and daily infection counts scrapped in favour of a system that would track Covid cases like the regular flu.

        The measure is set to meet stiff resistance from Germany and France where vaccinations rates remain low and where French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to make engaging in public life as tough as possible for the unvaccinated.

        Sánchez cited Spain’s “exemplary” vaccine uptake which has seen more than 90 per cent of the population over 11 years old become fully vaccinated and 85 per cent of over 60s get a booster as a case for the radical change.

      • Louis Allwood

        Brits could be the first out of the pandemic, says professor

        Britain may be the first country “out of the pandemic”, a public health expert has said.

        Four in five adults in England have had a booster.

        Public health expert Prof David Heymann said that antibodies from the vaccines, and in those previously infected, means 95 per cent of Brits now having some Covid immunity.

        He said the high levels of protection mean it is increasingly becoming a disease Brits can live with.

        The ex-World Health Organisation boss said: “The UK is the closest to any country of being out of the pandemic — if it isn’t already — and having the disease as endemic as the other four coronaviruses (which cause common colds).”

      • Louis Allwood

        Djokovic’s dad calls on the QUEEN to intervene

        The World Number One’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, slammed Australia as a “fake democracy” and claimed his son was being treated as a “political prisoner”.

        Officials told him his exemption from strict Covid clamps Down Under was flawed.

        But a judge overturned the decision on Monday, ordering the player’s immediate release from the quarantine hotel and telling the government to pay his legal costs.

        Djokovic’s father Srdjan then sparked hysteria by claiming his son had been arrested and taken back into custody.

        Government officials have insisted Djokovic was never arrested and said he was free to move into his rented accommodation.

        During a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Srdjan urged the Queen to get involved in the fiasco and “protect the human rights” of his son, the New Zealand Herald reports.

        According to a translation, he said: “I call on Queen Elizabeth, the leader of the Commonwealth, to intervene and protect the human rights of my son and to stop the political prosecution carried out against him since he came to Australia.”

      • Louis Allwood

        MP in tears revealing mum-in-law died alone as No10 aides partied

        In highly charged scenes, veteran DUP MP Jim Shannon broke down in tears as he told Parliament of his family’s heartbreak after it was revealed Downing Street was breaking the rules it had set.

        Mr Shannon said: “In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week. Including my mother-in-law, who died alone.”

        Meanwhile, the usually rowdy chamber fell silent as Labour MP Afzal Khan said his mum died alone of coronavirus. He told how he sat in his car outside the hospital so he could be “close to her”.

        PM Boris Johnson is battling to cling on to his job after a bombshell email revealed No 10 staff were invited to a boozy Downing St garden party on May 20, 2020 — the height of the first lockdown.

        The email was sent by the PM’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds. It invited 100 staff to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden”.

        It encouraged guests to “bring your own booze” and “make the most of the lovely weather”.

      • Louis Allwood

        Highest number of kids of school due to Covid since September

        Some 315,000 children — one in 25 — are absent already this term.

        And 44,000 staff — more than one in 12 are off. It is more than in the run-up to Christmas and is having a “significant impact”, say unions.

        Some schools have had to create classes of 100-plus children taught in sports halls.

        The crisis is fuelling calls for Covid self- isolation periods to be slashed from seven to five days, with a decision likely this week.

        A total of 585 former teachers are returning in supply roles.

        Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I can’t sing the praises of all staff highly enough."

      • Louis Allwood

        Boris Johnson issues apology

        BORIS Johnson faced a brutal grilling over Downing Street lockdown parties at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday.

        Ahead of taking questions, Mr Johnson made a statement saying he wanted to apologise for wrongdoings at Number 10, but tried to claim he thought he thought he was at "a work event" when he attended the booze-fuelled party.

        Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded the apology "ridiculous" and "insulting", accused the Prime Minister of "lying through his teeth", and urged him to resign.

        He added that Mr Johnson is "a man without shame" and gave examples of cases where the public were separated from their loved ones during family crises at the height of lockdown while alcohol-fuelled parties were secretly held in Number 10.

        Earlier the PM was warned his future was at stake by senior members of his own party, many of whom are furious at his chaotic leadership and his refusal to properly address the scandal.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Boris Johnson faces calls from senior Tories to quit

        Boris Johnson faced calls to quit from senior Tories after he apologised for attending a "bring your own booze" gathering in the garden of No 10 during England's first lockdown.

        The Prime Minister insisted he believed it had been a "work event" and Downing Street said he had never been sent an email encouraging staff to bring a bottle and "make the most of the lovely weather".

        But in a sign of mounting Tory anger, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called for him to quit while another MP branded the Prime Minister a "dead man walking".

        In the Commons, Mr Johnson said that he attended the May 20 2020 gathering for around 25 minutes to "thank groups of staff" but "with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside".

        The Prime Minister acknowledged public anger, saying: "I know the rage they feel with me and with the Government I lead when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules."

        He said an inquiry was examining the situation but accepted "there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility".

      • Joseph Gamp

        Caroline Noakes becomes 4th Tory MP to call for PM to resign

        Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes has become the fourth Tory MP to call for Boris Johnson to resign.

        She told ITV's Peston the PM had "put himself in an impossible position", and added: "The message I've had from my constituents is they feel let down they feel disappointed, and I know how hard they worked through the pandemic to abide by the rules."

        She said: "They now see that the Prime Minister wasn't in it together with them, that the rules were being broken in Downing Street, and that's very serious."

        Ms Nokes said she recognised Mr Johnson "did a fantastic job" at the 2019 election, but she said: "Now regretfully, he looks like a liability, and I think he either goes now, or he goes in three years' time at a general election, and it's up to the party to decide which way around that's going to be. I know my thoughts are is that he's damaging us now."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Other developments you may have missed

        • Mr Johnson said the No10 garden was used often to reduce the spread of Covid
        • The PM told MPs to wait for the official Whitehall probe into the party
        • He said it did not detract from his achievements during the pandemic
        • It emerged No10 staff joked about being spied on by drones as they drank gin
        • More than 16 Tory MPs broke ranks to publicly skewer the PM
        • Other backbenchers talked privately about removing their leader
        • Sir Keir Starmer left isolation just in time for the crunch PMQs duel
        • Chancellor Rishi Sunak escaped the showdown with a trip to Devon

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