CORONAVIRUS cases and deaths are continuing to plunge in every English region ahead of lockdown rules easing, data reveals.
In its latest figures, the Office of National Statistic said during the week ending 12 February, every area of the country recorded a week-on-week fall in the number of registered covid deaths.
There were more signs of recovery this afternoon with cases falling to their lowest levels since October with 8,489 testing positive yesterday.
The number of deaths remains tragically high, however, with another 548 people losing their lives within 28 days of a positive coronavirus death.
The news comes as Scotland revealed its lockdown roadmap – adopting a slightly slightly slower and more cautious than Boris Johnson’s roadmap in England – that includes retaining the stay at home order until April 5.
This morning Boris warned coronavirus lockdowns simply will NOT end on June 21 unless cases and deaths continue to fall,.
After yesterday outlining plans for schools to reopen and pubs and restaurants to welcome back guests over the coming months, the Prime Minister today warned that absolutely nothing was “guaranteed”.
Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic…
OFF-SONG BARBERS FACE HUGE FINE FOR PARTY
Twenty-two barbers’ shop revellers are facing large fines after a lockdown party was disrupted by police at their unusual venue.
Cops were called just before midnight last Friday to a large gathering with booming music coming from the barber’s shop.
Officers found a total of 22 people at the salon in Surrey who were all clearly breaching the national lockdown rules.
They will all face a fine and the organiser will be slapped with a £10,000 penalty.
Inspector Kathy Morteo, of the Metropolitan Police’s South Area Command, said: “Everyone knows it is neither lawful nor safe for such events to take place while the country is dealing with the Covid pandemic.”
JO WHILEY UPDATE ON SISTER FRANCES’ CORONA BATTLE
Jo Whiley says her sister Frances “would like to say a huge thank you” to everybody who has helped her after she contracted coronavirus.
The broadcaster, 55, revealed last week that her sister, 53, who has learning disabilities and diabetes, was admitted to hospital with Covid after an outbreak in her Northamptonshire care home.
On Tuesday, she wrote on Twitter: “It’s hard to believe we’ve gone from discussing palliative care on Friday night to sitting on her favourite bench drinking cups of tea.”
She added: “Covid has brought with it further complications. We’re now dealing with worrying diabetes and high blood pressure issues, and my parents are exhausted beyond belief.”
Alongside a video of Frances giving a thumbs-up and a round of applause, Whiley said her sister “would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has helped her, especially the amazing doctors and nurses of the NHS, and her many MANY well-wishers.”
COVID-STRICKEN MUM SEES BABY FOR FIRST TIME AFTER COMA
A mum who gave birth to her baby while unconscious and critically ill with Covid has seen her baby for the first time – eight weeks after she was born.
Tiny Shifa Begum was delivered six weeks early by emergency Caesarean in Milton Keynes Hospital, Bucks.
Immediately after her birth, doctors put her mum, Shamshad, in an induced coma – on a ventilator – where she remained fighting for her life.
The 44-year-old new mother was in intensive care for almost five weeks while nurses in the hospital’s neonatal unit initially cared for her baby.
Today Shamshad was finally well enough to leave hospital and return to the family home in Milton Keynes, where she held her infant for the first time.
She’s a fighter – little Shifa Begum was delivered six weeks early by emergency CaesareanCredit: Hyde News & Pictures Ltd
ALARM AMID DROP IN COVID VACCINATIONS
Covid jabs have fallen every day to just over 150,000 on February 21 – a dramatic drop from the nearly 500,000 doses reported on February 17.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “We continue to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people each day receive the vaccines.
“As we said from the start, there will be daily fluctuations in the number of people who receive it day on day, but you are aware of our target to vaccinate all those within the first phase by mid-April and we are confident in our supply to be able to do that.”
That means offering a first dose to 32million people across the UK by April 15.
The spokesman added that the Moderna vaccine will be available in the UK “in spring”, alongside the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, to ensure that all adults can be offered a dose by the end of July.
MISTAKE FOR PEOPLE TO REFUSE VACCINE – PM
Boris Johnson has warned it’s a “mistake” for people to refuse to have a coronavirus vaccine amid warnings that failure to protect all communities could risk a wave of infections.
The PM said some people “genuinely refuse” to receive a jab but he believed that everyone should have a jab if they are able to.
On a visit to a school in south London, Mr Johnson acknowledged there were medical reasons why some people could not have a vaccine.
NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens has previously acknowledged there is a “real concern” about hesitancy in some black and South Asian communities to accept a vaccine and efforts have been targeted at those groups.
The PM’s spokesman said today: “We will continue to work closely with local authorities and community groups, including faith leaders and other representatives, to continue to promote the vaccine.”
LOCKDOWN BABY FOR ELLIE GOULDING
Ellie Goulding is pregnant with her first child.
The 34-year-old singer is 30 weeks’ pregnant after spending lockdown hunkered down in Gloucestershire with her new husband Caspar Jopling.
Ellie revealed her surprise baby news during a chat with Vogue after admitting she hasn’t been out in public with her baby bump.
“We did the one show. I was pregnant and had no idea,” she told the fashion mag about her last public outing – a live streamed concert.
“That was [around] the time when Caspar and I went away briefly when we were allowed to for our one-year anniversary, and that’s basically when we found out.”
‘It was crazy because it was our one-year anniversary,’ the thrilled star said
ENGLAND’S LATEST CORONA JAB STATS
A total 15,631,937 Covid vaccinations were given in England between December 8 and February 22, according to provisional NHS England data.
This figure includes first and second doses, which is a rise of 160,428 on the previous day’s figures.
Of this tally, 15,113,158 were the first vaccine dose of a vaccine, a rise of 155,084 on February 21, while 518,779 were a second dose, an increase of 5,344.
COP, 24, SACKED FOR BREAKING COVID LOCKDOWN RULES
A policewoman has today been tossed off the force for breaking lockdown rules by downing wine at a banned family party.
PC Tasia Stephens, 24, was more than double the drink-drive limit when she later crashed her car into a house after leaving the boozy bash.
A hearing was told the rookie cop – who was on her probation period with the South Wales force – had dealt with her first “sudden death episode” that day and wanted company.
Panel member Susan Ridge said: “You drove knowing you had been drinking and such conduct is likely to undermine public confidence in policing.”
Former javelin-thrower Stephens, of Treorchy, Rhondda, was convicted of drink driving at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ court in July last year, and had admitted that her actions amounted to gross misconduct.
PC Tasia Stephens breached tough Covid rules during the first national lockdown while she was off-duty
SOUTH AFRICAN MUTANT CORONAVIRUS STRAIN FOUND IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The first confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid have been found in Northern Ireland, said Health Minister Robin Swann.
Three cases of the mutant bug had been confirmed so far.
A detailed health protection risk assessment and contact tracing response is underway, but the risk of transmission has been judged to be low.
“This development does not mean that this variant is going to become the most prevalent or the dominant strain in Northern Ireland.
“However, it does underline once again the very real need for continuing caution in relation to Covid-19,” he said.
REGIONAL LEVELS RETURN TO SCOTLAND
Scotland will return to a regional levels system from the last week in April if its coronavirus suppression continues, says Nicola Sturgeon.
She said: “From the last week of April we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.
“And, of course, the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater.”
The First Minister told MSPs the five-level system, separated by council areas, will return and she hopes those in Level 4 will be able to drop down to Level 3, which would see sectors such as non-essential retail reopen.
COVID HITS REMOTE SCOTTISH ISLAND FAMOUS FOR WICKER MAN HORROR FILM
A remote Scottish island said to be the inspiration for the Wicker Man horror flick has been hit by a Covid outbreak.
Tanera Mor was bought in 2017 by English hedge fund tycoon Ian Wace – who is married to model Saffron Aldridge – for £1,695,000.
Mr Wace, who has a reported net worth of £630million, is overseeing a four-year programme of improvements on Tanera Mor which could see it become an idyllic retreat capable of hosting up to 60 paying guests.
NHS Highland has confirmed that a cluster of the workers on the island have tested positive for coronavirus.
TV adventurer Ben Fogle recently spent a few days on Tanera Mor and has sent a message of support to people on the island.
WALES GIVES ABOUT 870K COVID JABS
Public Health Wales says a total 869,653 first doses of the Covid vaccine have now been given – an increase of 7,405 from the previous day.
The agency said 49,729 second doses have also been given, a rise of 6,977.
In total, 90.7 per cent of over-80s in Wales have received their first dose, along with 92.7 per cent of those aged 75-79 and 92.1 per cent of those aged 70-74.
For care homes, 84.9 per cent of residents and 85.9 per cent of staff have received their first dose of the Covid jab.
Public Health Wales said 84.7 per cent of people in the clinically extremely vulnerable category had received their first dose.
WALES: 317 MORE COVID INFECTIONS
There have been a further 317 coronavirus cases in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 202,324.
Public Health Wales reported another four deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic last year to 5,250.
TRIBUTES FOR HERO NURSE… CONTINUED
The grieving family of hero nurse Ameta Rooplal, who died from Covid on January 29, have hailed her as “generous, kind and keen to help others”.
Her sister Carol Mohammed, 50, a trained nurse who works in hospital admin, said: “It is like someone ripping your heart out.
“I just can’t believe I am never going to speak to her again. The pain is excruciating – I never imagined I would have to be without her.”
Carol added: “When we went in to say ‘goodbye’ I prayed with her, even at that point I still thought God might save her. Spend as much time with the people you love as you can.”
Ameta’s colleagues in Birmingham are fundraising in her name to donate money to a homeless charity.
Ameta Rooplal cared for hundreds of patients with Covid on the respiratory ward at Birmingham City HospitalCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
HERO NURSE DIES AFTER EXHAUSTING CHRISTMAS DAY SHIFT
A heroic nurse has died of Covid in the hospital where she cared for people battling the virus after she fell ill following an exhausting Christmas Day shift.
Ameta Rooplal, 56, cared for hundreds of patients suffering from the virus on the respiratory ward at Birmingham City Hospital.
She started to feel unwell on Boxing Day and – despite suffering from severe asthma herself – thought it was fatigue having worked so many night shifts.
But just days later Ameta was rushed in and intubated before being transferred to the hospital where she had worked for 20 years.
Nurse Ameta, from Edgbaston, Birmingham, died on January 29 after battling the virus for a month.
NEARLY 1,500 MORE CARE HOME RESIDENTS DIE FROM COVID
There were 1,491 care home resident deaths involving Covid in England and Wales registered in the week to February 12.
This grim toll is down nearly a third (31 per cent) on the previous week, the ONS said.
A total of 39,386 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate.
The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.
UK DATA SHOWS 70 PER CENT DROP IN COVID CASES AFTER SINGLE PFIZER JAB
England’s ambitious coronavirus vaccine campaign is significantly reducing cases of Covid, with a drop of around 70 per cent in infections among healthcare workers who have had a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, say British health officials.
Data analysed by Public Health England (PHE) showed the Pfizer provided high levels of protection against infection and symptomatic disease from a single dose.
Also, hospitalisation and death from Covid is reduced by more 75 per cent in elderly people who have had a first dose.
“Overall, we’re seeing a really strong effect to reducing any infection, asymptomatic and symptomatic,” says PHE’s strategic response director Susan Hopkin.
PHE’s head of immunisation Mary Ramsay described the data as “strong evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is stopping people from getting infected, while also protecting cases against hospitalisation and death”.
WOMEN WARNED NOT TO IGNORE BLOATING DURING LOCKDOWN
Women are being urged not to ignore key symptoms of ovarian cancer, after a survey found fewer than a fifth would make an urgent doctor’s appointment if they experienced persistent bloating.
Just 17 per cent of women taking part in research by Target Ovarian Cancer said they would make an appointment within one week if they had bloating for three weeks or more.
Feeling constantly bloated is one of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer, alongside, or loss of appetite, tummy pain or needing to wee more often or more urgently than usual.
GP Dr Alison Wint said cancer “is not going away just because of Covid-19”.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity, added: “The pandemic can make it hard to put ourselves first, and people are worried about putting pressure on the NHS. But getting ovarian cancer symptoms checked out promptly and starting treatment quickly makes all the difference.”
VIRUS MUTATION LESS LIKELY WITH ZERO-COVID STRATEGY, EXPERT SAYS
Stamping out Covid means that the virus which causes the disease will have less chance to mutate, MPs have heard.
Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he could not understand why the Government had resisted following the path of eliminating the virus – or a zero-Covid approach – and instead accepted that it will become endemic in the UK.
Prof McKee said having a situation where infection rates are “yo-yoing” up and down was just creating uncertainty for the public and for the economy.
He told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: “At the minute, we have a situation where we’re yo-yoing up and down and that means that nobody can plan holidays, nobody can plan weddings, nobody can plan anything.”
When asked about virus variants, Prof McKee added: “If we can suppress it, it’s not going to mutate at anything like the same rate.”
SIX IN TEN PUBS TO ‘STAY CLOSED TILL MID-MAY’
Six in ten pubs could remain shut till May – even though outdoor drinking is allowed from April 12, industry experts warned today.
The British Beer and Pub Association’s prediction (BBPA) follows Boris Johnson’s announcement that pubs will have to wait until May 17 at the earliest before they can re-open fully, and serve drinkers indoors also.
As many landlords will be unable to make a profit with outdoor service only or their pubs do not have a garden, this will cost the sector some £1.5billion in lost takings, the BBPA said.
The group’s CEO, Emma McClarkin, said it was vital further financial support was given to the hospitality sector in next week’s Budget.
She said: “The reality is debt is mounting and many pubs simply won’t be able to hold out to April or May and will close for good before any doors are opened.”
NO COVID SNOWFLAKES
A headteacher says the ‘snowflake generation’ slur is over after the way youngsters have reacted to the pandemic.
Tim Firth, head of Wrekin College, a public school in Telford, Shropshire, where full boarder fees range up to £33,000 a year, says children do not deserve the tag any longer.
He’s praised the way young people have adapted throughout the Covid restrictions and says they can ‘put to bed’ the phrase, which has come to describe easily offended young people with no grit or determination.
“The pandemic’s impact on education, which included the cancellation of exams for the second year running, has cemented our firm belief that schools need to do so much more than just teach to an exam.”
BEER WE GO!
BRITS desperate to sip on a pint are rushing to book tables at pubs and restaurants for when they reopen in April.
They will then be given the green light to offer indoor seating from May 17, providing specific Covid conditions are met.
Some establishments have already started accepting bookings for the provisional dates and punters are snapping them up.
A remote Scottish island that is said to be the inspiration for the Wicker Man horror movie has been hit by a covid-19 outbreak.
TV adventurer Ben Fogle recently spent a few days on Tanera Mor and has sent a message of support to people on the island, owned by a multi-millionaire.
The island in Wester Ross is the largest of the Summer Isles and was bought in 2017 by English hedge fund tycoon Ian Wace – who is married to model Saffron Aldridge – for £1,695,000.
Mr Wace, who has a reported net worth of £630m, is overseeing a four-year programme of improvements on Tanera Mor which could see it become an idyllic retreat capable of hosting up to 60 paying guests.
NHS Highland has confirmed that a cluster of the workers on the island have tested positive for coronavirus.
CHURCH BELLS TO RING OUT FOR LEGEND CAPTAIN SIR TOM MOORE
Church bells will ring out across the UK on Saturday for the first time after months of silence – in honour of Britain’s Covid hero Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Hundreds of bellringers will be joining others in remembering the 100-year-old Army veteran who raised more than £30million for NHS charities.
They will ring a single bell 100 times on Saturday to mark his funeral. The exact time of the funeral has not been released so as to reduce the risk of well-wishers gathering so it is suggested that bells will be tolled at noon.
The only ringing that has been allowed during lock-down has been either a single bell or bells rung by the same family group in churches that have been opened.
The majority of churches, however, have remained closed to public worship because of difficulties in maintaining social distancing in historic bell-towers.
BURGLAR FLEES PRISON OVER ‘FAMILY COVID FEARS’ – COURT
A convicted burglar absconded from an open prison because he was worried about his family during the coronavirus pandemic, a court heard.
Tom Scott, 23, was serving an eight-year sentence for multiple house raids at HMP Hollesley Bay near Woodbridge, Suffolk, when he went on the run in January.
Scott walked out of the front gate and took a day trip to see his family before handing himself in at the prison two days later, Snaresbrook Crown Court was told.
Oliver Kelham, defending, said: “He made what at the time he called a stupid mistake. He went to see his family and wanted to make sure they were not suffering during this pandemic.”
After Scott admitted escaping from lawful custody, Judge Oscar Del Fabbro told him: “The starting point is a three-month sentence that you will serve consecutive to the sentence which you will be serving. There will also be a £128 statutory surcharge.”
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