Coronavirus UK news – 2.5 million people to get free Vitamin D tablets as new tiers system ‘to last until Easter Monday’

More than 2.5 million at-risk people in England will be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the Government, officials have said.

Care homes in England will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday.

People on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will be offered the chance to opt in for a supply to their homes in a letter.

Meanwhile, tier system geared up to start in December could last until Easter Monday as MPs say 'stealth lockdown' can't be justified.

The news dashes hopes that new vaccines will lead to a swifter end to the crisis — and it will further enrage Tory MPs already threatening mutiny when tough measures are voted on next week.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans…

  • Joseph Gamp

    ALL HOSPITALS IN ENGLAND COULD BE OVERWHELMED WITHOUT NEW TIERS, MINISTER WARNS

    Every hospital in England could be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases if new tier restrictions are not introduced, Michael Gove has warned, as he seeks to quell a Tory backbench rebellion over the measures.

    The Cabinet Office Minister, writing in The Times, urged MPs to “take responsibility for difficult decisions” to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid anger from some Conservatives that much of England will face stringent restrictions.

    Mr Gove said the decision to impose the restrictions was necessary to “pull the handbrake” and avoid the “disaster” of NHS hospitals – and private sector and newly-built Nightingale hospitals – becoming filled to capacity with only Covid patients and emergency cases.

    “Keeping our hospitals open, available and effective was not just crucial to dealing with Covid-19. It was imperative for the health of the whole nation,” Mr Gove wrote.

    “But the only way to ensure we can take care of cancer patients, administer radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and help stroke victims and treat heart attacks is by protecting the NHS,” he wrote, adding this could only be done by reducing the spread of the virus and thus limiting the number of Covid patients in hospitals.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    2.5M AT RISK PEOPLE TO GET FREE VITAMIN D SUPPLY

    More than 2.5 million at-risk people in England will be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the Government, officials have said.

    Care homes in England will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday.

    People on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will be offered the chance to opt in for a supply to their homes in a letter.

    The free deliveries will start in January, providing four months worth of vitamin D to up to 2.7 million people.

    Public Health England (PHE) advises everyone to take 10 microgrammes of vitamin D per day between October and early March, particularly the elderly, people who do not go outside and those with dark skin.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPH: REGIONAL R NUMBERS ACROSS THE UK

  • Joseph Gamp

    NHS CHIEF EXPECTS PFIZER VACCINE TO GET APPROVAL BY 'EARLY TO MID DECEMBER'

    Chris Hopson, the Chief executive of NHS Providers, said he expects the Pfizer vaccine to reach regulatory approval by “early to mid December”.

    Speaking about the Pfizer vaccine on BBC Breakfast, he said: “They are in batches of 975 that you can't break up, you've got to store them at (temperatures of) minus 70 or minus 80 in a very large cold-chain fridge, and then because they only last five days when they come out of the fridge, you've also got to ensure you've got all those 975 people lined up and ready to go.

    “So whereas the other vaccines are probably likely to be done through primary care, through GP surgeries like they do flu vaccination, for the Pfizer one it's going to be our trusts who are going to have to do that…

    “This a huge logistical task that we're doing at real pace, so I can't believe there won't be some bumps in the road…

    “But look how brilliant the NHS is in terms of being innovative and adapting to ensure it can fight this coronavirus, that's exactly what we'll be doing to ensure that we can deliver the vaccine.”

  • Hana Carter

    JAB COULD BE READY AS LITTLE AS 10 DAYS TIME

    The NHS has been told to prepare for the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine in as little as 10 days time.

    Hospital staff are expected to be at the front of the queue for the life saving jab, as well as the elderly and those living in carehomes.

    The vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech could be ready to go as soon as Monday 7 December.

    Sources say NHS England are expecting to get vaccine stocks on 7, 8 or 9 December.

  • Hana Carter

  • Hana Carter

    UNION JACK COULD BE ON VACCINES

    Downing Street wanted doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine labelled with the Union Jack, according to reports.

    The move is said to have been pushed by the newly-formed “Union unit”, which is tasked with countering calls for Scottish independence and other attempts to break up the UK.

    The jab, developed by Oxford University alongside pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is currently awaiting approval for use in the UK from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

    The government has pre-ordered 100million doses.

  • Hana Carter

    MPS URGE TO DIG UP DEAD MINKS

    MPs in Denmark have urged the government to dig up millions of mink buried in pits in Jutland.

    The two mass graves caused controversy over their location, with one near a bathing lake and the other not far from a drinking water source.

    Nearly 17 million mink were culled after a mutated form of virus was detected in them.

    New argriculture minister Rasmus Prehn said today that he supported the dig but would require the environmental protection agency's approval.

  • Hana Carter

    WETHERSPOON'S BOSS SAYS GOVT IMPOSING LOCKDOWN 'BY STEALTH'

    The boss of JD Wetherspoon has accused the Government of extending “a form of lockdown by stealth” as he said new restrictions will keep almost half of its pubs shut.

    Shares in the company dipped on Friday morning after Tim Martin, the founder and chairman of the chain, said 366 of its pubs will remain closed in light of new tiered measures.

    This week, the Government confirmed that pubs and restaurants must close for dine-in customers in Tier 3 areas from December 3 and can only operate under takeaway or delivery services.

    Mr Martin told shareholders that 315 Wetherspoon pubs are in Tier 3 areas after the regional system was confirmed on Thursday, while 51 sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland will also remain closed.

    He said that 13 pubs in England will be in Tier 1, with 51 pubs in Wales operating with similar regulations. Meanwhile, 435 of Mr Martin's pubs will be in Tier 2.

  • Hana Carter

  • Hana Carter

    EXCLUSIVE: COVID TIERS WON'T BE LIFTED UNTIL EASTER

    Easter Monday has been pencilled in for the lifting of strict Covid tiers, The Sun can reveal.

    Boris Johnson hopes coronavirus cases will have tailed off by April 5.

    The news dashes hopes that new vaccines will lead to a swifter end to the crisis — and it will further enrage Tory MPs already threatening mutiny when tough measures are voted on next week.

    It will also reignite calls for more financial support for crippled pubs and restaurants.

    A senior government source told The Sun: “Boris will not countenance hospitals overflowing like they did in Italy.

    “Nor can we get to the stage where we have to cancel operations and treatments. In all likelihood, the tiers have to stay.”

  • Hana Carter

    DRINKERS MUST LEAVE PUBS STRAIGHT AFTER MEAL

    Drinkers must leave the pub after their meal and won't be allowed to order another round of beers after dinner, No10 has confirmed this afternoon.

    32 million Brits set to be stuck in Tier 2 restrictions next week are allowed to finish up the bottle – but then they have to leave.

    No10 confirmed today that people are only allowed to booze alongside food in the middle tier of rules – which will come into effect next Wednesday.

    A spokesperson said today: “The length of exposure is one of the main factors in the spread of the virus which is why alcohol may only be served as part of a main table meal, and cannot be served once the meal is finished.

    “There is no prescribed limit for how long a meal is expected to take, however we expect people to act reasonably and exercise good judgement.”

  • Hana Carter

    NO BOARD GAMES THIS CHRISTMAS, SAY SCIENTISTS

    Families should avoid playing board games to minimise the spread of coronavirus over Christmas, the Sage committee has said.

    The latest advice from the government's scientific advisory panel also suggests children should avoid close contact with their grandparents or sleeping in the same room as children from other households.

    SAGE suggest, instead of board games, people could hold quizzes and other forms of entertainment that don't involve physical contact or passing objects between one another.

    Scientists have previously said that wiping hard surfaces like worktops, door handles, and chairs can be effective in stopping the spread of the virus.

  • Hana Carter

    NEW YEAR REPLAY OF SEPTEMBER

    A surge in cases of the coronavirus after the Christmas period could mimic the crisis in September, scientists warned.

    The return of students to university saw infection rates soar, triggering the second wave of the pandemic.

    Cases first rose in young adults, before spilling into the older, more vulnerable age groups and causing a widespread outbreak.

    And Christmas threatens to cause more chaos as family and friends come together to celebrate, scientists fear.

    The prevalence of the virus could 'easily double' due to just a few days of festivities, they warned.

    It means by the New Year, the UK could be in a terrifying position.

  • Hana Carter

  • Hana Carter

    FAT BRITS TO GET JABS BEFORE UNDER 65S

    Fat Brits will get vaccinated against Covid before millions of people in their 60s, new guidelines reveal.

    Official advice states “at-risk” adults should be prioritised for the jab ahead of those under-65.

    The group includes younger Brits who are morbidly obese and type 1 diabetics as well as type 2 diabetics, the majority of whom are overweight.

    Tubby adults are twice as likely to be killed by coronavirus.

    It comes just days after The Sun revealed NHS workers will be first in line to be immunised as part of the “biggest vaccination campaign in history”.

    Overall priority was expected to be given to elderly care home residents who are at greatest risk of dying from Covid.

    But health bosses will now opt to initially jab NHS staff due to logistical problems.

  • Hana Carter

    FURTHER 521 PEOPLE DIE OF COVID

    The Government said a further 521 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 57,551.

    Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 72,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

    The Government said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 16,022 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

    It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,589,301.

  • Hana Carter

    CORNWALL PUB SAYS 'THINK OF OTHERS'

    A pub owner in Cornwall has asked that people thinking of travelling to the county for a pint “think of others” before doing so amid fears the Tier 1 county could become overwhelmed.

    Cornwall is the only area of mainland England that has been placed into the lowest level of measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

    “I've been very restrictive on who can come for a drink and ask that they email/message beforehand so I know who they are and where they have come from,” said Helen Nathan, 36, owner of The Kings Arms in Mevagissey.

    “As someone who travels a lot for work outside the pub, I've been very responsible and not left Cornwall unless it's been completely necessary since beginning March. I hoped that others may do the same but Mevagissey has never been so busy during September and October.

    “Please think of others as well as your own safety before travelling anywhere outside your region.”

  • Hana Carter

    CHINA TRIES TO SHIFT THE BLAME

    Scientists in China have claimed that coronavirus may have originated in India or Bangladesh as they try to shift the blame from Wuhan. 

    A paper by researchers at the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences suggests the virus existed on the Indian subcontinent before the Wuhan outbreak in December last year – but the theory is disputed.

    The research, entitled ‘The Early Cryptic Transmission and Evolution of Sars-Cov-2 in Human Hosts’, challenges general orthodoxy among scientists that the virus originated in the wet markets of Wuhan. 

    It was posted on SSRN.Com, the preprint platform of respected medical journal The Lancet, on November 17 and bases its findings on research into strains of the virus provided by 17 different countries. 

  • Hana Carter

    PARENTAL LONELINESS 'ROCKETED' DURING PANDEMIC

    Parental loneliness has “rocketed” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study led by the Duchess

    of Cambridge.

    The proportion of parents of children aged five and under experiencing loneliness “increased dramatically” from 38% before the Covid-19 crisis to 63%, the early years study found.

    Parents in the most deprived areas were more than twice as likely to say they feel lonely “often or always” (13%) as those in the least deprived parts of the country (5%).

    The research, commissioned by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and carried out by Ipsos MORI, also suggests that parents are now twice as likely to feel uncomfortable asking for help.

    A third (34%) of parents said they felt uncomfortable seeking help and support for how they were feeling, compared with 18% who said this before the outbreak.

    Researchers interviewed 3,733 UK adults between December 2019 and January 2020, and 1,000 parents of children aged 0-5 online in October, to identify any impacts of the pandemic.

  • Jon Rogers

    POLICE WARN PROTESTERS TO AVOID CENTRAL LONDON DEMO

    Police have urged people not to attend a protest in central London this weekend during the coronavirus lockdown.

    The Metropolitan Police said it is aware a protest has been planned for Saturday and organisers have been looking to hire coaches to help people travel to it from other parts of the country.

    A police spokesman could not say what the protest is for, but said officers will be monitoring coaches travelling into the capital.

    A protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under current coronavirus regulations in England and those who attend risk enforcement action by officers, the spokesman warned.

    The grassroots group Save Our Rights UK, which says it is working for democracy, is planning a protest on Saturday called Unite For Freedom – Time For Action, according to its website.

  • Jon Rogers

    WORLD'S OLDEST SURVIVING PROVINCIAL ZOO TO RELOCATE DUE TO COVID-19

    The world's oldest surviving provincial zoo is to relocate to safeguard its organisation's future in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Bristol Zoological Society announced on Friday that the site of Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton, which has been open to the public since 1836, will be sold.

    It will close in late 2022 and move to the society's Wild Place Project in south Gloucestershire.

    The move was announced after the second national lockdown in England forced Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Wild Place Project to shut, following months of closure during the peak spring and summer months.

    There have also been declining visitor numbers to Bristol Zoo Gardens recently, with the organisation having made an operating loss in four of the past six years.

  • Jon Rogers

    EAT OUT THEN GET OUT

    Drinkers visiting pubs in England's Tier 2 regions will have to leave the premises once they have finished their food.

    Under the new post-lockdown guidance, pubs in Tier 2 areas can only stay open if they can function as a restaurant and alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman, asked how long drinkers can stay in the pub after purchasing a substantial meal, said: “We've been clear that, in Tier 2 I believe, that you need to have a substantial meal if ordering any alcohol and it remains the case that the guidance says that once the meal is finished, it is at that point.”

  • Jon Rogers

    UK'S R NUMBER DOWN TO BETWEEN 0.9 AND 1

    The R number in the UK has fallen to between 0.9 and 1, the latest figures show.

    Sage scientists have estimated the reproduction number, known as the R number, is now edging below one.

    The figure represents the average number of people each Covid positive person goes on to infect.

    Last week the figure was between 1 and 1.1.

  • Claudia Aoraha

    'NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS' BEHIND NOT HUGGING AT XMAS, SAYS NHS DOC

    There's no “scientific basis” for not hugging your family at Christmas, according to an NHS doctor.

    Dr Amir Khan said that allowing families to bubble up for five days over the festive period is a “political decision” that's not backed by the science.

    Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, presenter Ben Shephard told the medic he didn't understand why hugs were banned.

    The host said: “Surely the chances of transferring anything virus wise has happened because you've been in the room for five hours.

    “Why would be giving someone a hug such a big issue?”

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