As the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives across the UK, the government in its efforts of arranging enough vaccine shots has secured five million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, hours after it emerged it may offer very high levels of protection against Covid-19.
© Provided by The Independent
However, the number of death toll has risen by 213 across a 24-hour period, as cases continue to soar.
After PM Boris Johnson, seven Conservative MPs and two Downing Street aides are now self-isolating as test and trace team finds out about their exposure to a Covid-19 positive MP.
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Coronavirus cases rise, 213 deaths in 24 hours
The UK has reported another 213 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths so far in the pandemic to 52,147.
The figure accounts for the number of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday. 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 67,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The number of new infections has also gone up by 21,363, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 1,390,681.
Health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday told a Downing Street press briefing the average number of new daily Covid-19 cases in the UK is now 25,329, up from 22,443 last week.
UK secures 5 million doses of new vaccine
Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the UK had bought five million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by US-led biotech firm Moderna, hours after the company reported promising results in its ongoing trial. Mr Hancock said preliminary results for the vaccine were “excellent news”.
“Amid much uncertainty, we can see the candle of hope and we must do all that we can to nurture its flame”, he said.
The firm has claimed that so far results suggest the vaccine has a 94.5 per cent effectiveness against the disease.
The UK government has pre-ordered millions of doses of a number of potential vaccines still undergoing testing, including the Pfizer candidate that showed positive results recently.
Hancock refuses to promise pay rise for NHS staff
Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to guarantee a post-Covid pay rise for NHS staff.
The health secretary was challenged to promise NHS staff exhausted from the long months of fighting coronavirus that they will receive a “meaningful” above-inflation pay rise, to bolster morale, boost recruitment and help keep patients safe.
But in response to a question from The Independent at a 10 Downing Street press conference on the coronavirus crisis, Mr Hancock said: ““As you know we have an independent pay review process. We’ve concluded a three-year agreement with nurses and in fact we’ve just concluded a long-term agreement with junior doctors as well.
“So, though you tempt me, I’m not going to prejudge the outcomes of the independent pay review process,” he added.
Video: Boris Johnson self-isolating (PA Media)
Afrer Boris Johnson, seven MPs in self-isolation
At least seven Conservative MPs, including Boris Johnson, and two Downing Street aides are now self-isolating following a meeting in No 10 last week.
Mr Johnson has been accused of failing to observe his own coronavirus guidelines, as questions were raised over whether it was really essential to hold the talks with backbench MPs face to face last Thursday.
The development came amid growing opposition anger over Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg’s refusal to go back to the system of remote debates and voting used during the first lockdown in the spring.
The prime minister announced on Sunday that he was going into self-isolation after coming into close contact with Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who developed symptoms on Friday and tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.
‘Too early to say if lockdown can be lifted’
Current lockdown measures in England could continue beyond their planned end date of 2 December, health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested.
Mr Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the restrictions, including the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops, can be lifted on the planned date.
His comments were far more pessimistic than projections made by Boris Johnson, who has previously told MPs that he has “no doubt” that the restrictions will be eased after the planned four-week second lockdown.
The prime minister has made clear that he wants England to return to a system of regional tiers after 2 December, with different areas following rules of varying stringency depending on the local prevalence of the virus.
‘Four-day week could help solve Covid economic crisis’
Politicians from the UK, Germany and Spain have written a letter to Boris Johnson, calling for a four-day week to be implemented “now” so countries can begin the process of combatting the economic consequences of Covid-19.
The letter, which was also sent to German chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and other leaders, said that reducing working hours would improve people’s mental health. It also highlighted the “opportunity” leaders had to rethink working patterns and help to reduce energy usage in a bid to tackle the climate crisis.
“Throughout history, shorter working hours have been used during times of crisis and economic recession as a way of sharing work more equally across the economy between the unemployed and the overemployed,” the group wrote.
“For the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay.”
Calls for the UK to rollout a four-day working week have intensified over the past year, particularly in recent months after the coronavirus pandemic saw people’s typical working routines replaced with new working-from-home measures, among others.
Call for investigation after lobbyist given access to confidential briefings
Opposition parties have called for an official investigation after it emerged an influential lobbyist was given access to confidential briefings on the fight against Covid-19.
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has written to the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, urging him to investigate.
The Scottish National Party has also written to Mr Case and Boris Johnson, demanding a full inquiry.
The calls centre on the roles of George Pascoe-Watson, director of the PR consultancy Portland Communications and a former political editor of The Sun newspaper, and his colleague James O’Shaughnessy, during the coronavirus crisis.
2 in 10 women giving birth in pandemic felt forced into undergoing vaginal examination
Two in 10 women giving birth during the coronavirus crisis have felt forced into undergoing a vaginal examination while in labour, a major study has found.
Campaigners warn vaginal examinations infringe human rights and attribute their rising usage to pregnant women being routinely blocked from having their birthing partner present until they are in proper labour in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions.
Expectant mothers report feeling coerced into such examinations as they are eager to work out if they are in labour so they can be reunited with their partner.
The report, conducted by leading campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, discovered nine in 10 pregnant women say rules which block their partner coming to scans and labour are detrimentally affecting their mental health.