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Uber provides discounts on travel to vaccination centers

The company will cover up to £ 15 of the trip cost

From 18 January to 28 February 2021, the Uber taxi service will offer discounts on rides to seven of the largest vaccination centers in England. On the company’s website, you can find promotional codes with discounts up to £ 15.

One promo code can be activated by the client only once. Each promo code can be used by up to 4 thousand people, after which it becomes invalid.

Offer applies to all rides, including wheelchair-accessible Uber Access vehicles and Uber Assist vehicles for those who need assistance getting in and out of their car.

The starting or ending point of the trip should be the following centers:

– Robertson House, Stevenage;

– Excel Center (Nightingale), London;

– Center for Life, Newcastle;

– Etihad Tennis and Football Center, Manchester;

– Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey;

– Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol;

– Millennium Point, Birmingham.

“The sooner we get vaccinated, the faster we can return the country to normal life. It’s great that Uber has decided to do its part in the fight against the virus. “– said the British Minister of Health Matt Hancock.

The company is working with the charity Age UK to help the most vulnerable get to the vaccination center quickly and safely. “Uber will help older people get the vaccinations they need.”– added Age UK partner programs manager Hannara Lee.

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Open Mouth Reading Aloud World Championship to be held in London

The first qualifying stage will take place on January 16

“Open your mouth” – this is the name of the championship in reading aloud in Russian, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2021. Amateurs of reading aloud from 200+ cities of Russia and 18 foreign countries take part in the championship. The winners of the qualifying rounds in cities advance to the conference finals. Conference champions – “East”, “Siberia”, “Ural”, “Povolzhye”, “Center”, “South”, “North”, “Moscow” and “Zagranitsa” go to the Superfinal of the Championship, which will be held on Red Square in Moscow …

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t become a big handicap for reading enthusiasts and literature lovers. Last season, the Open Your Mouth reading aloud championship was brought online and hosted over 150 events on the Zoom platform. The Internet has made it possible for hundreds of Russian-speaking people around the world to take part in the project.

The first qualifying round of the conference ABROAD of the World Open Mouth Reading Championship will take place in London, 16 january at 15:30 BST (18:30 Moscow time) in online format. To participate, you need to register at otkroyrot.com/join Age limit – 18+. Participation in the championship is free.

Mikhail Faustov, the founder of the Open Your Mouth Reading Aloud Championship, says: “London is a special city for the championship. I happened to hold the first London Open Mouth in 2018, it was in the Pushkin House. Six months ago, when we were all tired of the pandemic and quarantine, the London match, thanks to the efforts of Rita Baskakova, took place online. Now, in the midst of quarantine, we really wanted to support our friends in the UK. We have long wanted to create something like a separate conference or league for Russian-speaking readers here, so that not only Londoners, but also residents of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and other British cities take part in Open Roth. And I’m sure we can do it. So this season’s Open Mouth London is just the beginning. “

The organizer of the Open Your Mouth Championship is the Interregional Reading Federation Association, the official partners of the 2020-2021 season are the Russian online library MyBook and the online store Myshop.ru. Media partners: Gorky-Media and the Year of Literature. The GlobalSiberia project is also a partner of the championship.

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Learning to write

It is believed that if you want to become a writer, it is not at all necessary to purposefully study this profession. Most of the classics received education in other areas (for example, legal, medical, philosophical). But they were all highly educated people, versed in art and linguistics, traveled a lot, had diverse interests. This trait – curiosity, interest in other aspects of life, the desire to unravel and learn something – is the main thing for any writer.

Learning to write, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, gain relevant experience, meet professional writers – learn the ins and outs of creative work.

My universities

Writing faculties and courses appeared only at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1936, a program of writing courses at the University of Iowa was launched in the United States, giving a master’s degree in the field of arts (by the way, this happened three years after the opening of the A.M. Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow), in England, the first similar program appeared and appeared at all in 1970, at the University of East Anglia.

Almost every university and college in the UK offers writing programs at various levels, from Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts to PhD in Creative Writing. And hundreds of other courses (short and long term – weekly, monthly, yearly, weekend) that offer training in writing skills. Some of them work on the principle of group discussion of texts, in others you work individually with a mentor who regularly gives you assignments and comments on the texts you have written.

According to the Complete University Guide, the top 10 best universities in the UK to study writing include Lancaster University, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick, University of Newcastle, King’s College Holloway, Queen’s University of Belfast, University of Nottingham, South Bank University of London, University of East Anglia and the University of Surrey.

Writing skills at universities are taught by professionals in their field – accomplished writers with doctoral degrees or professors (some of them are laureates of numerous literary awards, some have published one or two books).

freepik.com

Everything on the shelves

In universities, as a rule, the course of writing skills, especially at the initial stage (bachelor’s degree), is taught along with disciplines such as English, journalism, media, advertising. This gives the student the opportunity to choose the direction that he likes the most by the end of the training.

At the initial stage, in contrast to graduate and postgraduate studies, courses consist of several modules that allow students to try their hand at various genres: poetry, prose, criticism, literary criticism, drama, journalism, editing.

In the last year of study, students must submit their own project, which includes creative work in the chosen literary direction (prose, poetry, screenplay, children’s literature, etc.) and a critical analysis of this work. Master’s and postgraduate studies differ in that the student is engaged exclusively in one chosen direction, and the volume of work is about 15 thousand words for a master’s degree and 100 thousand words, respectively, for a doctoral dissertation.

The secret of motivation

Before entering the faculty of writing (spending several tens of thousands of pounds and your own time), you need to answer a few questions. Why do you want to go there? When? What do you want to get in the end?

Based on your answers, conduct research: look at the programs of all universities and courses you are interested in, find out their cost, admission conditions (is there a competitive selection), teaching staff and student reviews. Choose reputable educational institutions with a long history. Apply only when you are completely confident in your own choice, but do not diminish your chances – apply to several places, go for it!

From personal experience

Olga Kenton

– I started to try myself in writing at the age of twelve; they were miniature stories that appeared out of nowhere. Most of all in this process, I liked the fact that these were my own compositions, which had nothing to do with the school curriculum.

Then for some time I did an internship at the local district newspaper. The world of journalism has bewitched. I understood that journalism goes hand in hand with literature; and for some reason I thought that in order to become a writer, you need to go to the journalism department. But in the end, she received her first education in the field of jurisprudence and only after that she firmly decided to return to her beloved work – she entered the Literary Institute. A.M. Gorky.

Now, for my third year in a postgraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, Film and Creative Writing, I am writing my doctoral dissertation on Russian-speaking immigrants in England and teaching several courses at the Faculty of Modern Foreign Languages.

I deliberately approached the choice of the university and looked through the sites of all universities that offer PhD in Creative Writing programs (as it turned out, not everyone does this; some have only bachelor’s and master’s programs). Then I selectively studied the individual portfolios of teachers, trying to understand whether they would be interested in working with me on my project (I already had a ready idea, which I am now working on). In the end, I settled on two universities – Birmingham and Leicester.

Of course, I wanted to study closer to home (to reduce travel time and costs), but if necessary I was ready to go to other cities. Moreover, postgraduate study does not imply a daily presence on the campus. A huge number of students study remotely and come to England only for an orientation session, once a year. I know people from South Africa, USA, Latin America and other countries who are successfully studying at university and combining work and personal life with distance learning.

On admission, I applied for a university grant but did not receive it. I pay for my studies myself. But a year later, the university supported me and awarded me a small scholarship to cover the travel expenses necessary for my research.

I like the support that the university provides to students: in addition to monthly meetings with the supervisor, I can take part in various master classes, thematic meetings with students of my faculty, attend additional courses to improve various skills and qualifications, not to mention the huge library ! One of the most interesting was the experience of conducting several seminars with first-year students studying writing; whenever possible, the university tries to involve graduate students in teaching.

University of Iowa Writing Courses

Free Writing Course (Basic) from Open University

Screenwriting course from the University of East Angliya (participation is free)

Ridero Writing Courses and Webinars (in Russian)

Prepared by Olga Kenton

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Special project “British Horror Story”: burned alive

Elena Chernova

Two types of executions have long been considered the most brutal in Britain. The first is death by hanging, gutting and quartering, which was supposed to be for high treason (for more details see # XX for 2020). Today we will talk about the second – burning alive at the stake.

Evidence of execution by burning in England appears in the 13th century, and, unlike many other European countries, here such punishment was not at all for witchcraft. Laws have changed, and there have been times when people were burned for making counterfeit money, but mostly heretics (regardless of gender) and women guilty of high treason or so-called petty treasons were executed this way. What is it?

Loyalty Crimes

Petty treasons, that is, minor betrayal (they were also called “crimes of loyalty”), is a rather specific part of English law. Such treason included three types of crimes: the murder of a husband by his wife, the murder of the owner by a servant, and the murder of a prelate by an ordinary priest. It is noteworthy that the murder of a wife by her husband was considered not a minor betrayal, but an ordinary murder, for which a much less painful execution was supposed.

There were two types of punishments for minor treason: hanging for men and burning alive by a stake for women. And if a man’s execution was not much different from that which was due for an ordinary murder, then the woman who killed her husband died a very slow and terrible death. And we will get to know this sad story about English family law through the biography of Catherine Hayes – the last woman to be burned alive in England.

Bad start

Catherine was born in 1690 near Birmingham in a poor family. The girl very early began to lead a free lifestyle, and at the age of fourteen she left the village and became first a professional prostitute, and then an official kept woman at once with a whole group of young officers at a military unit.

Later, Katherine got a job in Warwickshire – she was hired as a servant in the house of a local farmer, where she quickly acquired a bad reputation and an illegitimate baby. When the farmer discovered that his eldest son John had secretly married the maid, he was horrified, but it was too late to do anything. The young couple lived on a farm for some time, and then moved to London. There, John Hayes soon became a very successful trader, and then a pawnbroker – a pawnshop owner. Nevertheless, good did not work out: Catherine was distinguished by her promiscuity and quarrelsome character, and John – the habit of fiercely hitting her family.

There is no living place

I must say, at that time, domestic violence often led to even greater trouble. Until the 19th century, marriages and divorces were subject to the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical court, and divorce was a great rarity there. Sometimes a church court could annul a marriage, declaring it invalid, but this also happened infrequently and only for special reasons, such as a consanguineous relationship that was accidentally revealed between the spouses. Beating and torture were not considered a reason for divorce (and, by the way, for deprivation of parental rights too) – moreover, they were not prosecuted by law and were not limited to anything. They were punished for them only if someone was beaten to death. Then the culprit was tried for murder and was usually hanged without further ado.

As a result, millions of English women and children were permanently beaten to a pulp (with concussion and broken bones), as well as severe exhaustion (the law did not forbid starving households as long as everyone was alive). From this situation, there was often no other salvation than death, and female and child suicide was common until the 19th century.

Accordingly, the situation when the wife was accused of murdering her husband was not uncommon either. Some of those under investigation got rid of a life partner, tired of bullying or protecting children, someone – wanting to marry someone else, and someone – for the sake of the opportunity to inherit property. Catherine Hayes was guided by several reasons at once, but she matured to murder only in 1726.

She orchestrated the murder

The Hayes lived in their house on Oxford Street. They rented out three rooms on the second floor, and in 1725 two young men settled there: Thomas Wood and Thomas Billings, both from the same village as John Hayes. Thomas Billings was the illegitimate son of Katherine – the same one she gave birth to as a girl and who, at the insistence of John Hayes, was given to be raised in another family before the wedding.

Motherhood, neighborhood and sixteen-year age difference did not prevent Catherine from having a love affair with both of her guests at once. Having done this, she spent six months trying to persuade them to kill her husband by all available means, promising to give them the money inherited from him. Catherine knew how to manipulate, and the lovers agreed. They made John Hayes drunk and beat him to death with an ax. Then, the three of them, in the company of Catherine (she prudently decided not to participate in the murder), they dismembered the body, threw the head into the Thames somewhere in Millbank, and threw the rest into a pond in Marylebone.

The murder was discovered by accident. In the morning, John Hayes’ head washed ashore in Westminster, was picked up, impaled on a lance and placed in the courtyard of St. Margaret’s Church for identification, and on the same day one of Hayes’s business partners saw and recognized the head. The guards, just in case, arrested everyone who lived in his house: three guests and Catherine (she was caught in bed with Thomas Billings) – and soon found traces of the crime.

The investigation is conducted

After his arrest, Thomas Wood fell ill in prison and, feeling that he was dying, confessed to the murder and told the details. Katherine insisted to the last that she did not know about the impending crime. When interrogated about the reasons for her hatred of her husband, she spoke about the prohibitions from attending church, the constant severe beatings and the murder of their two newborn children.

Execution of Catherine Hayes (drawing by a contemporary who presumably attended the execution) https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Children deserve special mention. According to Katherine, it turned out that the first two children of the couple, who were born prematurely, were strangled by her husband John immediately after birth and buried in the garden (back in Warwickshire) at night so as not to increase family expenses. He treated the other children badly: Catherine gave birth to twelve for him, but they either died in early childhood (Catherine said that from beatings), or were sent away from home to study very early. According to the laws of those years, parents were obliged to raise children only up to five years old, after the child it was already possible to send to work so that he earned himself a living on his own – John Hayes did just that.

The court was not completely sure that Catherine’s words were true, but a letter to Warwickshire to find the remains and arrange for their burial in a Christian way was still written. Two murderers were sentenced to be hanged, and Katherine, who organized the murder, was found guilty of minor treason and sentenced to be burned alive.

The last bonfire

Burning was usually done in an open space. The victim was tied to a pillar dug into the ground, covered with bundles of brushwood and set on fire. In the old days, women were burned alive, but by the 18th century, medieval savagery began to wither away, so that the murderers began to strangle with a noose thrown around their necks immediately after the brushwood caught fire, and the corpse was already burned. They tried to do the same with Catherine, but the rope noose caught fire, so the woman was burned to death. The executioner, wanting to rectify the situation, began to throw heavy logs at the criminal, but he could only break her head.

This execution had an unexpectedly strong impact on the public. Contemporaries were horrified, and control over the execution of sentences was tightened, so that Catherine Hayes became the last woman in England to be burned alive. In 1790, burning was banned altogether.

But historians are still arguing about who Catherine really was – an unfortunate victim, a fighter for women’s rights or a calculating killer, for the sake of gaining rid of her husband by someone else’s hands.

Also in the series “British Horror Story”:

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No10 vows to trial 24/7 Covid jabs as GPs in parts of the UK are having to PAUSE vaccinations

Ministers will finally trial round-the-clock coronavirus vaccinations after bowing to immense pressure to adopt a 24/7 roll-out to drastically speed up the scheme, it was claimed today. 

A senior Government source said No10 is considering a ‘pilot where vaccinations are offered for longer hours’ to gauge whether there is enough demand to keep jab hubs open through the night. 

It could mark another U-turn for the Government, if the trial is successful and rolled out across the country. Boris Johnson claimed this week there was ‘no clamour’ for appointments after 8pm, sparking fury over whether the UK was doing everything it could to speed up the scheme. 

There will now be serious doubts about whether ministers are capable of delivering a round-the-clock operation because of issues with supply. This morning it emerged GPs leading the rollout have been forced to pause vaccinations to allow other parts of the country to catch up.

Practices that have already inoculated every patient over the age of 80 and are now looking to dish the jabs out to the over-70s have had their deliveries cancelled because minsters want to avoid a postcode lottery, according to The Telegraph. 

Matt Hancock hinted today that a lack of supply was behind the decision to delay jabs despite the vaccination programme desperately needing to get up to speed.

No10 is also offering vaccine passports to thousands of Brits who have already received their coronavirus jab in a trial taking place this month after ministers flip-flopped over the controversial policy. 

The companies behind the project said if the controversial scheme proves successful it could be rolled out to millions of people across the country. There are concerns about vaccine passports because they are viewed by some as a way of forcing people into getting the jabs.

Meanwhile, an Asda in Birmingham will be the first supermarket to offer up to 250 Covid-19 vaccinations per day starting from January 25, the retailer said.

Rita Passey receives a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre at Millennium Point centre in Birmingham on Tuesday

Rita Passey receives a Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre at Millennium Point centre in Birmingham on Tuesday

Ken Hughes is also given the injection at the mass-vaccination hub in Birmingham on Tuesday

Ken Hughes is also given the injection at the mass-vaccination hub in Birmingham on Tuesday

Mavis, 87, is pushed by her daughter out of the Covid-19 vaccination centre at ExCel London after receiving her jab

Mavis, 87, is pushed by her daughter out of the Covid-19 vaccination centre at ExCel London after receiving her jab

Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed on Tuesday that 2.43million people have now had their first dose, up from 2.29m yesterday. Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total

Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed on Tuesday that 2.43million people have now had their first dose, up from 2.29m yesterday. Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total

Quizzed over reports that GPs are having to pause vaccinations to let other practices catch up, the Health Secretary told BBC Radio’s 4 Today Programme: ‘The rate-limiting step on the rollout is the supply of the vaccine itself. 

‘We are now managing to get that supply more than we have done before and it will increase over the next few weeks.

How the Government’s vaccine plan breaks down 

PHASE 1 (FEB 15 TARGET)

CARE HOME RESIDENTS – 300,000

CARE HOME WORKERS – 500,000

AGE 80+ – 3,300,000

HEALTHCARE WORKERS – 2,400,000

SOCIAL CARE WORKERS – 1,400,000

AGE 75-79 – 2,300,000

AGE 70-74 – 3,200,000

CLINICALLY EXTREMELY VULNERABLE (UNDER 70) – 1,200,000

PHASE 2 (SPRING)

65-69 2,900,000

AT-RISK UNDER 65 7,300,000

60-64 1,800,000

55-59 2,400,000

50-54 2,800,000

PHASE 3 (AUTUMN)

REST OF ADULT POPULATION 21,000,000 

‘We have the capacity to get that vaccine out. The challenge is that we need to get the vaccine in.

‘What I know is that the supply will increase over the next few weeks and that means the very rapid rate that we are going at at the moment will continue to accelerate over the next couple of weeks.’

Britain’s vaccine drive has started to pick up pace following the approval of the Oxford vaccine but has still only seen 2.43million people immunised against the disease since launching at the beginning of December. 

Another 20,000 second doses were also added onto the cumulative total, with 2.8million shots administered in total. 

But the daily vaccination figure needs to double if the Prime Minister has any chance of delivering on his pledge to vaccinate all 13.9million Britons in the top four priority groups by February 15.

With just 34 days left to deliver on his lockdown-ending promise, around 11.5million over-70s, NHS workers, care home residents and workers, and adults with underlying conditions still need to be vaccinated — the equivalent of around 340,000 a day.

In a bid to speed up the sluggish programme, it emerged today that easyJet cabin crew are being recruited by the NHS as vaccinators to bolster the rollout.

The airline wrote to the PM in November to offer 3,000 crew who are first aid trained, security cleared and based in every major UK city. 

Crew who apply will be fast-tracked to become trained vaccinators at NHS vaccination centres across the country and will undergo online training and onsite immunisation training to become fully-qualified in administering the vaccine. 

EasyJet said: ‘As easyJet continues to operate a reduced schedule as a result of the pandemic, our furloughed crew has an ideal skill set to be able to assist in the effort to provide much needed inoculation support to the NHS in rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine.’

Katy Bryant who has been cabin crew for easyJet since 2005 and is based at Luton, added: ‘Like everyone, I’m incredibly grateful to our NHS and all frontline healthcare workers for all they continue to do for the country with the continued pressure they are facing from the virus, so when the opportunity came for cabin crew to assist the NHS as vaccinators I knew I wanted to apply.

Minister have promised o dish out 2million jabs a week by the end of January through 2,700 centres dotted across the country. The map shows the sites that are currently up and running, including seven mass centres (green), more than 100 hospitals (blue), as well as GP practices and pharmacies (purple)

Minister have promised o dish out 2million jabs a week by the end of January through 2,700 centres dotted across the country. The map shows the sites that are currently up and running, including seven mass centres (green), more than 100 hospitals (blue), as well as GP practices and pharmacies (purple)

‘As cabin crew we are in a great position to support the vaccination effort because of the first aid and safety-focused training we receive for our job, so I am sure I will be joined by many of my fellow cabin crew at easyJet who will want to support the NHS in the vital roll-out of the vaccine across the country.’ 

But amid reports of supply chain issues, Brigadier Phil Prosser, the head of military support to the coronavirus vaccination programme, warned of the huge logistical challenges involved in scaling up the rollout.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast, he summarised the challenge: ‘It’s an untested supply chain, brand new vaccines, the largest vaccination programme this country has ever delivered.

‘The amount of sites we’ve set up and the amount of vaccine we have to distribute … it’s complex by its very scale.’

Brigadier Prosser said the military were bringing ‘operational planning excellence’ and working ‘hand in glove’ alongside the NHS.

Thousands of Britons who have received their Covid jab ‘will be offered a vaccine passport’ in trial taking place this month – as EU considers plan to bring them in for travel across Europe 

Thousands of Britons who have already received their coronavirus jab will be offered a vaccine passport in a trial taking place this month after ministers flip-flopped over the controversial policy.

The passport, created by biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine, will be issued as a free app and will allow users to prove digitally if they have had their first or second jab – or no jab at all.

Though the Department of Health said there were ‘no plans’ to introduce vaccine passports, the Government’s own science and research funding agency Innovate UK has already pumped £75,000 into the project.

Mvine director Frank Joshi said the company, which had started working on the passports to demonstrate test results, later acquired more funding to switch into vaccination passporting.

The Government-backed trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and is expected to last until March – right through the third national lockdown.

However, the locations have yet to be agreed, according to the Telegraph.

The trial is expected to show how the passports can be used to help the NHS keep track of the number of people that have received their first or second jab.

iProov boss Andrew Bud told the paper: ‘We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS.’

Both companies added that if the vaccine passports prove successful, the project could be rolled out to millions of people across the country.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.’

The Government has contradicted itself on the implementation of vaccine passports, with Michael Gove saying they were ‘not the plan’ while Boris Johnson’s vaccine tsar Nadhim Zahawi said they were ‘looking at the technology’.

Mr Zahawi later told a Westminster Hall debate on Covid-19 inoculation there were ‘absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting’ and said ‘mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week also denied plans to implement passporting, telling the Spectator: ‘It’s not an area that we’re looking at.’

The policy has sparked concern that the passports could discriminate against people who must not be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Others fear it could keep non-vaccinated Britons under house arrest until they have a jab.

The idea of introducing vaccination certifications has already been floated in Europe, with Greek ministers suggesting that EU countries adopt a ‘standardised’ vaccine passport in order to promote travel and boost the industry.

In a letter to EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested: ‘Persons who have been vaccinated should be free to travel.

‘It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states’.

The governments of Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Spain, Denmark and Belgium have all hinted that they would support such a scheme – although the idea is already raising concerns about privacy and data-sharing.

He said planning included ensuring the vaccine was distributed across the country, including ‘the hardest-to-reach cohorts, as well as those most at risk’.

He added: ‘This isn’t about keeping vaccine in the warehouse, it’s about getting it in the arms as quickly as possible.’

He said the majority of clinical roles were being done by the NHS, but 21 quick reaction forces could ‘plug any gaps at short notice’ and could be deployed to hospitals, local vaccination services and large mass vaccination centres. 

Pressure to adopt a 24/7 vaccination scheme peaked yesterday as Nicola Sturgeon today hinted Scotland was considering the tactic.

She said: ‘We will look at anything and everything that allows us to get this vaccination programme done as quickly as possible’. 

Ms Sturgeon said supplies of the vaccine were still ‘relatively limited’, and that with the focus currently on getting jabs to care home residents and those aged over 80, these groups did ‘not lend themselves to out-of-hours vaccination’. 

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Commons that military personnel can ‘do more to assist’, as he suggested that the hold-up was due to a lack of stock and problems in the supply chain.

He added: ‘I could deploy all 100,000 soldiers tomorrow ready to vaccinate but if the stock isn’t there then we’ll have people not… we could employ them better off.

‘We are very, very clear that we can do more to assist, the Prime Minister knows that and the Prime Minister has indicated that we will be called on as the NHS requires it.’

It comes after Boris clashed with NHS chiefs over the pace of Britain’s mass vaccination programme as he blamed the ‘excessive bureaucracy’ for slowing down the national roll-out.

Officials have said the PM read NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens the riot act in a series of ‘tough’ exchanges last week as the Government comes under pressure to halt the cycle of lockdowns. 

Downing Street and the NHS said relations had since improved as the No10 now tries to accelerate the roll-out by approving 24/7 vaccine centres.

Tensions between Sir Simon and Mr Johnson had been simmering since before Christmas when the PM was concerned that some non-frontline NHS staff had been vaccinated before people aged 80 and over.

One person briefed on the clash claimed Mr Johnson had invited Brigadier Phil Prosser, who is leading the Army’s vaccine taskforce, to a Downing Street press conference last week to warn Sir Simon that the military would be given a bigger role in the programme unless the roll-out was sped up.

But NHS insiders told the Financial Times that Sir Simon had proposed Brig Prosser’s attendance at the conference and rejected claims of tension with the PM. No10 called reports of tension ‘completely untrue’, adding: ‘It’s a really good relationship.’ 

Meanwhile, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said coronavirus was unlikely to be eradicated and regular vaccinations may be needed.

He told LBC Radio it was unlikely a new variant would ‘outwit’ the current vaccines and his ‘hunch’ was that they would remain effective for months.

‘We know that the vaccines make what we call a polyclonal response. They make lots of different antibodies to different types, basically.

‘Therefore, the idea that a mutation of the virus would in one go out with the whole of the vaccine is pretty low.

‘So if we were to see an effect, it would be a small degradation rather than going off a cliff.’

Asked whether, in time, an annual jab would be required against a different strain, as happens with flu, Prof Van-Tam said: ‘I can’t say it will be every year yet but I can say that I don’t think we will ever eradicate coronavirus.’

Giving his best estimate on how long the current vaccine would be effective against mutations, he said ‘how long is a piece of string’ but ‘I would say it’s going to be many months that the vaccine is going to work for, but I’m not basing that on data, I’m basing it on a hunch’.

Professor Van-Tam also defended the decision to prioritise giving a first vaccine jab to as many people as possible rather than keeping doses to deliver booster shots after three weeks.

He told LBC Radio ‘we are in a constrained supply situation’ because of the time it takes to supply vaccine doses.

‘We have all got older loved ones and if we want to protect as many as we can as quickly as possible, with a meaningful amount of protection, then the right strategy for us is to give the initial first dose and come back for the second when we have given more people the initial first dose,’ he said.

‘If you have got two grandparents and you have got two vaccines, what do you do – do you give two doses to one and leave the other one with nothing?’

With a delay of 10-12 weeks before people will now be given a second shot, Prof Van-Tam admitted there was no data available on what protection would be given by the initial shot at that stage, although he was ‘absolutely comfortable’ with the decision.

‘If you take an extremely purist answer and say ‘where do the data end?’, the data end at 42 days,’ he said.

‘But if you take an expert science viewpoint, it’s just not plausible that the protective effectiveness is going to disappear after that point and we are very confident that there will be plenty of protection on board right up until the second dose is given.’

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Covid UK: Scientists urge social distancing increase to THREE METRES

Boris Johnson is under pressure to increase the social distancing gap to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Leading members of the Sage scientific advisory panel want the measure raised from ‘one metre plus’ to ‘two metres plus’.

In practice this would change the limit to three metres – nearly 10ft. The drastic proposal came as a furious Matt Hancock denounced individuals who flout social distancing rules.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference the Health Secretary said that he would ‘not rule out further action if needed.’

He was backed by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who sits on Sage and said it was time to ‘double down’ on Covid curbs – including outdoor contact.

Asked if a three-metre rule would be imposed in England, a Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘There are no current plans to change social distancing rules. However, everything is kept under review.’

It came as the country recorded a further 529 Covid deaths on Monday – marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week. 

It was the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives. 

But, in a positive sign that the UK’s soaring case load may be leveling out, 46,169 people tested positive for the virus – down 20 per cent in a week.

As Boris Johnson also warned of tougher Covid-19 curbs if existing restrictions were ignored:

  • Another 529 virus deaths were recorded yesterday, up from 407 a week earlier, with 46,169 new cases;
  • Seven vaccination hubs came into use, including London’s ExCeL and Birmingham’s Millennium Point;
  • Morrisons said it would ban shoppers refusing to wear face coverings;
  • Derbyshire Police cancelled £200 fines for two women penalised for driving five miles to go for a walk;
  • Nearly a quarter of care home residents have received their first shot of Covid vaccine;
  • Hospitals started rationing oxygen as it emerged that one in four coronavirus patients is under 55.

Boris Johnson is under pressure from members of the Sage scientific advisory panel to increase the social distancing gap to stop the spread of coronavirus

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

The Daily Mail has been told that several members of Sage say the lockdown needs to be even tougher than the first one in March last year.

The idea of a Chinese-style ban on residents leaving their homes was raised at one meeting.

Ministers are furious that some people have been using their right to daily exercise simply as an excuse to meet friends for a coffee in the park.

One source said: ‘If it means limiting people to a single one-hour walk on their own once a week that is what we must do. We cannot let a few selfish idiots put the whole country in danger.’

It is feared that the failure to observe the restrictions is fuelling the number of deaths and risks hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Increasing the social distancing rule to three metres is seen as one way of stopping the spread of the new variant of the virus, which can be passed on more easily.

Britain yesterday recorded a further 529 Covid deaths - marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week. It is also the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives

Britain yesterday recorded a further 529 Covid deaths – marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week. It is also the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives

Opponents of the move say it would have little impact, cause more confusion and be a logistical nightmare.

Two-metre signs have been painted on pavements across the nation, with similar notices found in tens of thousands of shops, factories, offices and public places.

Changing them all would add to the soaring cost of fighting the pandemic.

Supporters claim the benefit in saving lives and protecting the NHS means the move is worth it. They argue it is a response to the new variant which is thought to be up to be 70 per cent more transmissible.

If it goes ahead it would be the Government’s third policy on social distancing.

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two.

But it was reduced to ‘one metre plus’ in July after the first lockdown – mainly to make it easier for restaurants and cafes to reopen.

Two-metre signs have been painted on pavements across the nation, with similar notices found in tens of thousands of shops, factories, offices and public places

Two-metre signs have been painted on pavements across the nation, with similar notices found in tens of thousands of shops, factories, offices and public places

A ‘two metre plus’ rule would in practice mean staying three metres apart – nearly 10ft – unless steps were taken to limit the danger of transmission, such as screens.

Social distancing gaps vary around the world.

In China, Hong Kong and Singapore, which were successful in controlling the pandemic, the gap was one metre.

However, they imposed other, far stricter, rules including curfews. Spain and Canada followed the two-metre rule.

The three other home nations have different versions of the two-metre rule.

In Scotland people are advised to keep two metres apart and in Wales they are told to stay two metres apart unless it is not practical, with young children exempt.

The gap in Northern Ireland came down to one metre but is two again.

Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said: ‘Risk declines the further you are away from someone.

‘So three metres will reduce risk somewhat compared to two metres – but it is difficult to say how much and whether that would make a big difference. I suspect the main issue is people not sticking to the two-metre rule.’

Mr Hancock warned against trying to ‘push the boundaries’ on exercise, adding: ‘If too many people break this rule we are going to have a look at it. Don’t say you are exercising if really you are just socialising.’

He said the two-metre rule had to be obeyed, not seen ‘as a limit to be challenged’. 

Shortly after Mr Hancock’s Downing Street press briefing on Monday, the PM released a short video filmed during his visit to the Ashton Gate vaccination centre in Bristol.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is allowed to cycle seven miles from where you live to take exercise, despite also insisting that people must ‘stay local’

In it, he urged Britons to ‘follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country.

Britons shouldn’t ‘lose focus on the pandemic’ as coronavirus is ‘still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS’, Mr Johnson added. 

Mr Hancock also used the briefing to defend the PM after he was spotted cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street in apparent breach of government advice.

The Health Secretary said it is allowed to cycle that distance from where you live to take exercise, despite also insisting that people must ‘stay local’.

But he also warned that rules on two people from different households being able to exercise outdoors together could be torn up if people keep abusing them.

‘If too many people keep breaking this rule we are going to have to look at it but I don’t want to do that,’ Mr Hancock told a No10 briefing yesterday evening.

The PM was seen wearing a hat and a face mask on his bike at the venue seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon.

Shortly after Mr Hancock's address, the PM released a short video (pictured) filmed during his visit to the Bristol vaccination centre yesterday

Shortly after Mr Hancock’s address, the PM released a short video (pictured) filmed during his visit to the Bristol vaccination centre yesterday

In the clip (pictured), he urged Britons to 'follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives' as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country

In the clip (pictured), he urged Britons to ‘follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country

What are the government’s rules on taking exercise? 

You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. 

This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. 

Personal training can continue one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

A source told the Evening Standard that Mr Johnson was exercising, accompanied by his security detail. 

Extraordinarily the premier is said to have ‘noted how busy’ the park was and remarked on it at a meeting later.

Official Government guidance says exercise should be limited to once a day and ‘you should not travel outside your local area’. 

Two women were fined £200 each by Derbyshire Police for driving five miles from their home for a walk, while in Whitby officers have slammed people for going sledging.

A witness said: ‘He was leisurely cycling with another guy with a beanie hat and chatting while around four security guys, possibly more, cycled behind them.

‘When I realised the person looked like Boris I cycled past them to hear his voice and be sure it’s him. It was definitely Boris.

‘Considering the current situation with Covid I was shocked to see him cycling around looking so care free,” added the woman, who asked not to be named.

Also considering he’s advising everyone to stay at home and not leave their area, shouldn’t he stay in Westminster and not travel to other boroughs?’

The PM’s spokesman was unable to give any information yesterday on why Mr Johnson had gone to Stratford and why it was within the rules.  

It is also not clear whether Mr Johnson was driven to the park with his bike, or cycled the whole way there and back. 

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: ‘Government guidance on travelling to exercise is as clear as mud. 

‘People are travelling hundreds of miles to the Lake District while others are afraid to drive 5 minutes to the local park. 

‘I’ve written to the Prime Minister, asking him to set out clear guidance once and for all.’

In a video shared to the PM’s official Twitter account yesterday evening – which features footage of Mr Johnson’s visit to Bristol on Monday- the PM heaped praise on the Government’s vaccine programme.

But he warned Britons that it should not lead to complacency, as the new Covid variant is still spreading rapidly. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘Hi folks. I am here at this amazing Bristol mass-vaccination centre in a football stadium and it’s one of the 50 that we are going to be rolling out by the end of the month to help all the 1,000-plus GP surgeries, the 233 hospital sites, plus the 200 pharmacies.

‘And that’s, of course, just a start that we’re using to dispense the vaccine.

‘As I speak to you this morning I think we’ve done about 2.4 million jabs, 2 million people in the country already who have been vaccinated, and we will be massively ramping that up in the course of the next few weeks as we get up to, we hope, 15 million by the middle of February.

‘And that’s a very ambitious programme, we’re confident we can do it. 

‘But, as we get the jabs into people, it’s incredibly important that we don’t lose focus on the pandemic that is still, alas, surging in so many parts of the country, still filling our hospitals with Covid patients, still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS.

‘So everybody has got to follow the guidance. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Along with his video, the PM tweeted: ‘As we get jabs into arms, we must not lose sight of the state of the pandemic – which is putting huge pressure on our NHS. 

‘So, please follow the rules and stay home to protect the NHS, and save lives.’   

Obey the rules or they’ll get tougher: PM’s warning as Whitty says we’re at the worst point of the pandemic

ByJason Groves Political Editor For The Daily Mail 

Lockdown restrictions will be tightened again if the public flout the current rules, Boris Johnson warned yesterday.

The Prime Minister said ‘complacency’ among the public could plunge the country into a deeper crisis at what was already a ‘very perilous moment’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night reinforced his message, saying so-called support bubbles were the only lockdown exemption guaranteed to stay.

The warnings came amid mounting Government concern that the third lockdown may fail to bring the latest spike in coronavirus infections under control.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus. 

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus.

He added: ‘The key thing to understand is that when you meet people from another household under any circumstances – and they’re very often your friends, your family – but those are the kind of situations where the virus is passed on.’

He added: ‘It doesn’t care who you are, it doesn’t care whether they’re your friends. If you meet someone from another household, the virus has an opportunity to be transmitted.’

Ministers are considering a number of further restrictions, including closing the exemption that allows two people from different households to exercise together outdoors.

Government sources yesterday said Mr Johnson was ‘reluctant’ to scrap the exemption, which provides one of the few remaining lifelines for the lonely.

But there are fears it is muddying the ‘stay at home’ message, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman yesterday struggling to clarify whether two friends can take drinks with them on a walk.

No mask, then you can’t shop at Morrisons

Morrisons will ban customers who refuse to wear face coverings from its shops amid rising coronavirus infections.

Shoppers who refuse to wear masks offered by staff will not be allowed in unless they are medically exempt. Chief executive David Potts said: ‘Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.’

The policy threatens to trigger confrontations at the doors amid concerns about a rise in abuse and attacks on staff who are trying to impose social distancing rules.

Sainsbury’s is also introducing rules which require customers to shop alone and wear face masks. Security guards will challenge those who are not wearing a mask or who are shopping in groups.

It came as industry bosses angrily rejected claims from ministers that supermarkets are to blame for the spread of the virus.

One retail source said the Government ‘would be wise to investigate their own decisions around reducing social distancing rules, rather trying to lay the blame on supermarkets.’

Mr Hancock said the exemption was under review as it was being abused. ‘We have been seeing large groups… and you should be two metres apart from the other person. If there are too many people breaking this rule then we are going to have to look at it.

‘But, I don’t want to do that because for many people, being able to go for a walk with a friend… is their only social contact.’

Pre-school nurseries and places of worship could also face restrictions if cases continue to rise – but Mr Hancock said support bubbles were sacrosanct.

The arrangement allows those living alone or with babies to link up with one other household for support.

The Prime Minister and his fiancee Carrie Symonds are among those who have taken advantage of the system, forming a support bubble with Miss Symonds’s mother following the birth of their son Wilfred in April.

Ministers hope the blunt messaging on the NHS crisis and tougher rule enforcement will persuade people to comply with the letter and spirit of the lockdown.

But Labour yesterday called for the rules to be tightened, including the closure of nurseries.

Mr Hancock last night suggested a major relaxation of the rules was unlikely until all over-60s have been vaccinated – which the new plan suggests won’t be until at least April.

He said it was only at this point that ministers could be absolutely sure that hospital admissions from the virus would start to fall.

But the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, who oppose lockdown, last night said it should be lifted as soon as the 13million most vulnerable are vaccinated – which the Prime Minister pledged to achieve by February 15.

Boris Johnson pedals into a storm over lockdown bike ride after he is spotted cycling SEVEN MILES from Downing Street in the Olympic Park

ByClaire Ellicott Political Correspondent For The Daily Mail 

Boris Johnson has been accused of undermining his own lockdown rules after it was revealed that he went cycling seven miles from Downing Street for exercise.

The Prime Minister was spotted on his bike at the Olympic Park in east London on Sunday afternoon with his security detail.

Wearing a Transport for London hat and a face mask, he rode around the site in Stratford, east London, at around 2pm.

A few hours after his ride, Mr Johnson held a meeting with Cabinet colleagues to discuss the current lockdown.

Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

Last night, Hammersmith Labour MP Andy Slaughter said: ‘Once again it is ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ from the Prime Minister.

‘London has some of the highest infection rates in the country. Boris Johnson should be leading by example.’

A source told the Evening Standard that the PM was exercising, adding: ‘But he did note how busy the park was and he commented on it at the meeting last night.

So what is allowed?

Government rules state that ‘you should not travel outside your local area’ for exercise.

However, what does and does not constitute ‘local’ has been up for debate.

At yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked if Britons were allowed to exercise seven miles from home.

He replied: ‘It is OK to go if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles from home, that is OK, but you should stay local.’

He added: ‘You should not go from one side of the country to the other, potentially taking the virus with you, because remember one in three people who have the virus don’t know they have it because they don’t have symptoms.

‘It is OK to go for a long walk or a cycle ride or to exercise, but stay local.’ 

‘He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his ride around the park.’

Downing Street declined to comment on the journey, and would not clarify whether the PM cycled to the park or was driven there in a vehicle for his bike ride.

Some social media users have pointed out that there are green spaces much closer to the PM’s home in Westminster where he could exercise.

Mr Johnson has made of a point of being seen to exercise since his brush with death after he contracted Covid in March last year.

In a bid to prove he is ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’, he is regularly pictured running in nearby St James’s Park and with celebrity personal trainer Harry Jameson.

He often runs with his dog Dilyn around the Downing Street garden.

The PM has also been running in Buckingham Palace grounds after the Queen gave permission, and in Lambeth Palace’s grounds after the Archbishop of Canterbury gave his approval.

The PM’s spokesman was unable to give any information yesterday on why Mr Johnson had gone to Stratford and how it was within the rules.

However a Downing Street source told the BBC: ‘The PM has exercised within the Covid rules and any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.’

Mr Johnson has warned he is ready to tighten lockdown further as he voiced fears that vaccines have made people ‘complacent’ about obeying rules.

His warnings come as the NHS teeters on the brink of disaster. 

Derbyshire Police axe £200 fines for women swooped on during reservoir walk 

ByGeorge Odling Crime Reporter For The Daily Mail 

Police last night apologised and scrapped £200 fines handed to two women for driving five miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot during lockdown.

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, both 27, were fined for making a ten-minute journey to Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire last week after police claimed they could have taken exercise closer to home.

They said officers also accused them of having a picnic – because they were drinking takeaway peppermint tea.

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, pictured, both 27, who were each fined £200 by police for driving 10mins for a walk in a local reservoir say they've had their fines cancelled following backlash

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, pictured, both 27, who were each fined £200 by police for driving 10mins for a walk in a local reservoir say they’ve had their fines cancelled following backlash

Derbyshire Chief Constable Rachel Swann last night said the penalty notices had been withdrawn and the women had received an apology. She added: ‘I support the fact that the officers were trying to encourage people to stay local to prevent the spread of the virus.

‘We have been working hard to understand the ever-changing guidance and legislation and to communicate this to our officers in a way that makes it clear what is the right course of action to take.’

Beautician Miss Allen, from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, said both she and Miss Moore welcomed the apology. The pair were stunned when officers swooped as they strolled by the reservoir.

Miss Allen initially thought ‘someone had been murdered or a child had gone missing.’ West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth yesterday claimed officers had been left in an impossible situation by ‘woolly laws’.

He insisted: ‘Walking a tightrope between maintaining public confidence and upholding the law is not made easy with poor guidance. Police officers are being made scapegoats for poor policy and law-writing.

However, beautician Jessica Allen, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, revealed they had received separate calls from the force who apologised to them both and informed them their fines will be cancelled (This map shows the proximity between her house and the reservoir)

However, beautician Jessica Allen, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, revealed they had received separate calls from the force who apologised to them both and informed them their fines will be cancelled (This map shows the proximity between her house and the reservoir)

Jessica told how they were surrounded by police when they arrived in separate vehicles at Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire on Wednesday and 'assumed there had been a murder'

Jessica told how they were surrounded by police when they arrived in separate vehicles at Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire on Wednesday and ‘assumed there had been a murder’

‘Make it clear to the public, for example, if it is desired that exercise be limited to local – then clearly state in law what local is. Do not insert it into guidance that has no legal standing.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night praised the police for their efforts in enforcing the rules.

Following calls from police for clarification, a No10 spokesman said Britons were permitted to meet one other person for exercise but not socialising, adding: ‘Going for a walk, obviously, does count as exercise.’

Meanwhile, police in Devon and Cornwall are using car number plate recognition technology to ensure only essential journeys are made following reports of hundreds of travel breaches at the weekend – many related to second homes in the area.

Elsewhere, police were filmed smashing through the back door of a pub in Walsall, West Midlands, with a battering ram after receiving reports it was serving alcohol to a group of men.

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Influencers and Love Island stars ‘are inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday

Influencers including Love Island stars have been ‘inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic – as Britons scramble to get home before the UK’s new testing regime begins. 

Downing Street yesterday confirmed that all international arrivals to England, including UK citizens, will now be required to present a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before their departure. 

However, scientists have warned that cases of the virus could be missed at the border if the Government allows travellers to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are Covid-free. 

The new rule, which will come into force ‘next Wednesday or Thursday’, means around 100,000 Britons who are currently abroad will need to find Covid tests overseas before returning home.

Pictured: Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury in Dubai last month, there is no suggestion they are the reality stars referenced as receiving ‘death threats’

Influencers including Love Island stars have been 'inundated with abuse' for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Maura Higgins seen in Dubai in December

Influencers including Love Island stars have been ‘inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Maura Higgins seen in Dubai in December

Those who do not won’t be permitted to travel, or will face a £500 fine on arrival. It is unclear whether those who arrive without a test will then forced into quarantine. 

Celebrities have been heavily criticised on social media for travelling over the festive period, with one agent claiming an unidentified star received ‘death threats in [their] direct messages’ following a recent trip to Dubai.

‘It’s been relentless,’ they told the Mirror. ‘We warned them not to travel abroad while a lot of the nation is under severe restrictions as it’s a terrible look, but they ignored it.’  

Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson is among those who travelled to Dubai in December

Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson is among those who travelled to Dubai in December

Pictured: Love Island star Kady McDermott in Dubai on Friday, ahead of the change in rules

Pictured: Love Island star Kady McDermott in Dubai on Friday, ahead of the change in rules

DUBAI: The celebrities who have visited the UAE during Covid crisis 

LOVE ISLAND  

Georgia Steel, Kaz Crossley, Joanna Chimonides, Francesca Allen, Amber Gill, Malin Andersson, Theo Campbell, Molly-Mae Hague, Tommy Fury, Maura Higgins, Chris Taylor, Amber Davies, Elle Brown, Laura Anderson, Hayley Hughes, Jess and Eve Gale, Arabella Chi, Demi Jones and Wes Nelson

TOWIE 

Amber Turner, Dan Edgar, Yazmin Oukhellou, James Lock, Demi Sims, Kelsey Stratford and Ella Rae Wise

GEORDIE SHORE 

Chloe Ferry, Bethan Kershaw and Sophie Kasaei 

SPORTS STARS 

Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom, Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy  

The source added that ‘work’ for influencers consists of ‘doing vlogs’ and ‘advertising diet drinks’, which allows the stars to travel in return for publicity.

They added: ‘But it has gone down like a lead balloon with their fans, and you have to wonder if it is really worth it.’  

Love Island stars are among those who have travelled to the United Arab Emirates in recent months, with some jetting off while parts of the UK remained in strict Tier 3 and Tier 4 lockdown.

However, others departed from areas under Tier 2 lockdown in December, when international travel was permitted.  

Before the third lockdown began, Love Islanders including Laura Anderson, Molly-Mae Hague, Maura Higgins, Amber Davies, Georgia Harrison and Kady McDermott, were all pictured in Dubai. 

Although some have since returned to the UK, the likes of Anderson, McDermott and Harrison are understood to still remain in the United Arab Emirates.

The desert city has been an ideal choice for many as visitors aren’t currently required to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’, as the Government currently asks UK residents to avoid any non-essential travel. 

Many influencers have been forced to defend their actions to angry fans on social media after they were criticised for globetrotting during the pandemic, with the UK recording upwards of 68,000 Covid cases yesterday. 

Pictured: Georgia Harrison in Dubai on Friday. There is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced

Pictured: Georgia Harrison in Dubai on Friday. There is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn't break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn’t break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions 

HOW LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE ONLY TRUSTWORTHY WHEN ADMINISTERED BY TRAINED STAFF

Lateral flow tests are only accurate at diagnosing coronavirus when administered by trained professionals, studies have repeatedly shown. 

The tests, which give results in as little as 15 minutes, use swabs of the nose or throat. Samples are then mixed in a testing liquid and put into a plastic cassette which can detect the presence or absence of coronavirus and then produce an image of a line, the same way as a pregnancy test, to indicate whether it is positive or negative.

The Department of Health and NHS are instructing people to use the tests on themselves, despite manufacturers of some kits saying they shouldn’t be used as DIY swabs.

Both the swabbing procedure and the use of the test cassette can easily be done wrong and affect the accuracy of the test. 

If the swab isn’t done for long enough, or deep enough into the nose or throat, it may not pick up fragments of virus. Medical professionals are also able to use nasopharyngeal swabs, which go right to the back of the nostril, whereas this is not advised for people who test themselves.

And if the sample isn’t properly inserted into the cassette the result might be wrong, or people may misread the display when it produces a result. 

SELF-TESTING CUT ACCURACY FROM 79% TO 58%

A University of Oxford and Public Health England evaluation of the Innova lateral flow test, which is being widely used in the UK, found its sensitivity – the proportion of positive cases it detected – fell from 79 per cent to 58 per cent when it was used by untrained members of the public instead of lab experts. 

Based on this evaluation, officials pushed ahead and used it for a real-world self-testing trial.

PILOT IN LIVERPOOL FOUND FEWER THAN HALF OF POSITIVES

When the same Innova test was trialled on members of the public in Liverpool – with people taking their own swabs and trained military staff operating the tests – the swabs picked up just 40 per cent of positive cases.

In the study the rapid tests detected 891 positive results, compared to lab-based PCR swabs that found 2,829 positives in the same group. This means 1,938 people got a wrong negative result from the rapid test.

The study didn’t compare this to professionally done rapid tests, but the manufacturer Innova claims its test is 95 per cent sensitive in lab conditions. 

…BUT TESTING DONE BY MEDICS IN SLOVAKIA ‘REDUCED INFECTIONS’ 

Despite rapid lateral flow tests getting bad press, officials in Slovakia used them on 5.2million people – almost the entire population of 5.5m – in a trial that a study later estimated to have cut the country’s infection rate by 60 per cent.

The tests used were between 70 and 90 per cent accurate and all the swabs and evaluations were carried out by trained medical workers. They used deep nasopharyngeal swabs, that go to the back of the nose, whereas self-testing generally relies on a swab of only the nostril.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said that the scheme successfully weeded out coronavirus cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, slashing the number of cases by over half in a week during a lockdown. 

HOW RAPID TESTS ARE DIFFERENT TO LAB-BASED PCR SWABS 

Lateral flow tests are an alternative to the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing – which is more expensive and more labour-intensive but more accurate.

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world. 

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn’t break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions.        

She said: ‘In response to the messages I’m already getting about us being away throughout this time… 

‘Please understand that Tommy and I left the UK from Cheshire which was in Tier 2 at the time. We didn’t break any rules coming away.

‘If we knew these rules were going to be put in place then obviously we would have never left the UK. 

‘The minute we arrive home we will be following government guidelines.’ 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday confirmed nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. 

However, the measure has already sparked concern due to the Government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are not carrying the virus.

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. 

Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

The difference had led some to worry that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain. 

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’ 

Mr Shapps told the BBC: ‘They can be different types of tests – your viewers will have heard of PCR tests perhaps, but there are also lateral flow tests and lab tests.

‘The important thing is that it is up to a certain specification. Then people take that test and as long as it is negative, then they can fly. But they can’t board the plan for example without having that negative test.’ 

The Transport Secretary’s diktat forcing travellers to present a negative covid test before travelling to the UK will ground almost all flights to and from Britain until the summer and further lay waste to the aviation industry, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary warned on Friday.

The outspoken Irish billionaire said Mr Shapps’ management of the coronavirus crisis has been ‘shambolic’ and believes the policy is tacit confirmation the Prime Minister is lying to the British people about how quickly Britons will be vaccinated.

Mr O’Leary said: ‘This is more mismanagement by Grant Shapps. This new rule is going to ground almost all flights to and from the UK. Nobody is going to make any bookings because you cannot book with any certainty. The other problem we have is there is no end date. 

‘Boris Johnson is going around saying he’ll have all the four main risk groups vaccinated by mid-February – so why aren’t they ending this rule then. Otherwise Boris Johnson is lying to the UK or Grant Shapps is’. 

Businesss leaders also believe the plan will further damage Britain’s travel industry with boss of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, warning: ‘Very few people will travel with this in place’.  

Amanda Holden yesterday slammed the policy after cancelling her family’s holiday on Boxing Day because of Tier 4 regulations. 

Sharing a beach bikini picture on Instagram the star slammed a ‘senseless year of neglect of Government rules at our borders’ and the ‘lack of common sense’ by ministers. 

She said: ‘Other countries have done it before us. Why has it taken us so long? No one seems to have an answer… or be questioning it?!! Surely this could have prevented the increase of the spread?!!!’ 

Fellow star Jessica Wright replied saying: ‘Cancelled mine too for Boxing Day & couldn’t agree more, in disbelief over it all’ while actress Tracy Ann Oberman also backed her rant with some clapping emojis.

Passengers on planes, boats or trains will be banned from entering the UK next week if they do not have a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

All travellers will require a ‘passenger locator form’ and face a £500 fine if they fail to comply. Children under 11 will be exempt as will hauliers.    

Covid cases will be ‘MISSED’ at UK border: Scientists warn of rise in infections over government allowing arrivals to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests 

Coronavirus cases could be missed at Britain’s border following the government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they’re Covid-free, scientists have warned.  

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. 

Grant Shapps has said nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also adopt the measure.  

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. Pictured: January 8, Heathrow

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. Pictured: January 8, Heathrow

It is expected to cause a scramble for return flights as around 100,000 Brits are currently away in hotspots such as Dubai and the Maldives. Pictured: Heathrow last month

It is expected to cause a scramble for return flights as around 100,000 Brits are currently away in hotspots such as Dubai and the Maldives. Pictured: Heathrow last month

The difference has sparked concerns that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain.  

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

There are concerns in the travel industry some will be stuck on holiday because many destinations do not have facilities for carrying out tests. Pictured: A man being tested at Heathrow

There are concerns in the travel industry some will be stuck on holiday because many destinations do not have facilities for carrying out tests. Pictured: A man being tested at Heathrow

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’

Dr Edwards added that using lateral flow tests would prevent scientists from being able to detect or monitor new strains being brought into the country from abroad. 

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Birmingham Headlines UK Liverpool London

Boris Johnson begs families to stay home and Chris Whitty appears in TV ad as part of new campaign

Boris Johnson last night begged families to stay at home as the Covid-19 death toll hit a grim new record – with the Government launching a new campaign blitz to scare people into obeying lockdown rules.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has appeared in adverts urging us to stay at home as the new variant of the virus rips across the country.

Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Mr Johnson said that infections were rising at an alarming rate, despite the new national lockdown imposed at the start of the week.

And he warned the only way to prevent thousands more deaths was to follow the rules. The Prime Minister said: ‘I know the last year has taken its toll.

‘But your compliance is now more vital than ever. Once again, I must urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Another 1,325 Covid deaths were reported on Friday – nearly one a minute – and more than the peak of 1,224 in the first wave last April.

The grisly death toll – which has doubled in a week – takes the UK to the brink of almost 80,000 victims. 

Experts fear the daily death counts will continue to spiral because of rocketing cases and hospitalisations, piling further pressure on Boris Johnson to speed up the sluggish vaccination programme designed to start getting  Britain out of lockdown by mid-February.

Department of Health figures show the UK has recorded more than 50,000 cases for 11 days in a row, with the five worst days of the pandemic all occurring since the start of 2021. Cases have risen by almost 30 per cent week-on-week.

But a senior SAGE official today warned the actual number of Britons currently getting infected every day is closer to 150,000, claiming that the size of the second wave is now way worse than the first. 

The source also fears England’s third national lockdown will not ‘slam the R rate down as it did in March’ because the country was dealing with a more infectious mutated strain and because adherence to the rules has dwindled. 

 No10’s advisory panel revealed that the R rate could be as high as 1.4 across the seven regions of England.

Amid calls for even tougher restrictions, ministers are considering making face masks mandatory in busy outdoor locations, such as supermarket queues.

As London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident, saying the virus was ‘out of control’ and threatening to overwhelm hospitals in the capital:

  • Confirmed coronavirus infections hit a record high of 68,053;
  • One in every 15 people in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham may have the virus, according to an official survey;
  • A new highly infectious variant now makes up 81 per cent of cases in the capital;
  • Senior officials warned its virulence meant the current lockdown was likely to be less effective at curbing the virus than the first;
  • More hospitals cancelled other treatments, even cancer operations;
  • Police were put on standby to drive ambulances in London;
  • Constabularies launched a crackdown on lockdown-breakers;
  • A study suggested the Pfizer vaccine works against the new strain;
  • UK regulators approved a third vaccine but it will not be available until spring;
  • Vaccine tsar Kate Bingham vowed the target to inoculate the 13million most vulnerable by February 15 would be met.

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting "Stay Home, Save Lives" in central London

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ in central London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

Health chief warns London faces ‘biggest threat’ of pandemic so far 

London is facing the biggest threat of the pandemic so far as the NHS buckles under the strain of coronavirus cases, experts warned today as a major incident was declared in the capital. The city is one of the main hotspots of the latest wave of the virus which saw deaths reach a record high today, with its spread now ‘out of control’ in the metropolitan area.

Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that more than 1 per cent of the city’s nine million residents tested positive for Covid last week, with one in 30 residents currently estimated to be infected. In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate is as high as one in 20 and startling figures also show that hospital admissions rose by a quarter in the first week of January.

More than 7,000 NHS beds across the capital are currently occupied by Covid patients – 35 per cent higher than the busiest day of the pandemic in the spring.

The hard-hitting ad campaign was launched on TV last night, fronted by Chief Medical Officer Professor Whitty. He said that while vaccines provided ‘clear hope for the future… for now we must all stay at home’.

Professor Whitty, who is the most trusted government figure on Covid, said the rapid spread of the virus was putting ‘many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS’.

Dramatic images will carry the stark message: ‘Coronavirus. If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Prof Whitty says: ‘Covid-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.

‘Once more, we must all stay home. If it’s essential to go out, remember: wash your hands, cover your face indoors and keep your distance from others.

‘Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.’ The campaign also urges people to ‘act like you’ve got it’ adding that ‘anyone can spread it’.

England is now in its toughest and longest lockdown since last spring and may not emerge from it until all the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The Prime Minister has called in the Army to ramp up Britain’s vaccination roll out, which offers the only glimmer of hope for ending lockdowns. The sluggish programme has been dogged by staffing and supply issues and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled it in the early stages.

It comes as police were accused of cracking the lockdown whip too hard after a force threatened to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – while elsewhere officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot. 

And No 10 fears that Mr Johnson’s stay-at-home order is being flouted – a suspicion backed up by figures from Transport for London.

Passenger levels on the Underground were running at 18 per cent yesterday, compared with just 5 per cent last April. Bus use is at 30 per cent of capacity, compared with around 18 per cent in the first lockdown.

And traffic levels on main roads in the capital were at 76 per cent of normal compared with 30-40 per cent nine months ago.

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London 

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pupils swab themselves while a nurse watches on

Pupils have been swabbing themselves as school nurses watch on despite proof rapid tests only work if they are administered properly. Students at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, were sent the kits on Monday and given instructions by nurses on how to carry out the tests themselves.

Only vulnerable children or those whose parents are key workers are allowed to attend lessons in person during the latest national lockdown. It comes as figures suggest schools could still be attended by up to 20 per cent of pupils. But children are now being supervised by nurses, similar to how some walk-in testing centres are run, rather than having a nurse carry out the tests themselves.

The idea is that fewer medical experts or volunteers are needed allowing a larger number of people to be test more quickly. But multiple studies show lateral flow tests – when self-administered – could miss cases, due to the force and depth needed to collect a sample. It comes as calls to limit the number of children in school is growing, with attendance levels surging to more than 50 per cent in some areas.

The major incident declared by Mr Khan yesterday is a procedure previously invoked following the Grenfell Tower disaster and major terrorist attacks.

The mayor called for the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside the home. Downing Street sources said there were ‘no more new lockdown measures on the way’.

But the Mail understands that Health Secretary Matt Hancock and other ministers have been examining the case to extend the use of masks.

Mr Khan said the situation in the capital was dire, with an estimated one in every 50 Londoners infected. ‘It’s like being in a theatre of war,’ he said. ‘Unless we reduce the spread, the NHS will run out of beds.’

City Hall said Covid cases in the capital had exceeded 1,000 per 100,000 and there were 35 per cent more hospital admissions with the virus than last April.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said: ‘This is the biggest threat our city has faced in this pandemic to date.

‘The emergence of the new variant means we are setting record case rates at almost double the national average, with at least one in 30 people (in London) now thought to be carrying the virus.

‘Our NHS services are under immense pressure and currently another 800 people are being admitted to our hospitals every day.’

The London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day and at one east London hospital patients were apparently waiting 24 hours for a bed after arriving at A&E.

NHS London said a record 977 patients were admitted to hospitals over 24 hours.

Cases per day in London

Cases per day in London

People being hospitalised in London

People being hospitalised in London 

Coronavirus deaths in London

Coronavirus deaths in London

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

Nurse catches Covid three weeks AFTER getting vaccine as expert warns it takes time for immunity to build up

A nurse in Wales caught coronavirus three weeks after getting the vaccine, prompting experts to warn that it takes time for immunity to the virus to build up.

The nurse, who has been working for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, said that she contracted Covid-19 while waiting for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech developed vaccine.

While the vaccine ‘reduces your chance of suffering,’ the health board said, ‘no vaccine is 100 percent effective.’

Experts have warned that vaccines can take weeks to build immunity, and that people must still be careful to follow coronavirus rules after having the jab.

Speaking to the BBC, the nurse – who chose not to be identified – said she was ‘angry and heartbroken’ to have caught Covid at this stage.

She said that she was initially relieved to be offered the chance to be given the vaccine, and while she struggled to get an appointment, she was given her first dose of the Pzizer-BioNtech vaccine in December last year.

‘It gave me peace of mind. It made me feel safer and that I was doing the right thing for my family… but it gives a false sense of security,’ she told the broadcaster.

The nurse said that it was explained to her that it would take 10 days for the vaccine to offer some protection against Covic-19, and reduce the risk of transmission.

But three weeks after being given the jab, she said she began to feel unwell, suffering from ‘quite severe symptoms’ of a bad cough, high temperature and breathlessness, and was ‘shocked’ when she tested positive for the coronavirus – followed by her partner and one of her children.

Vaccinations have been shown to prevent severe infection, so even if people do become infected, they would be protected from becoming seriously unwell. 

The virus is also spreading rapidly outside the capital. Six out of ten hospitals in England are now reporting more Covid patients than in the first wave – a situation doctors say is ‘cataclysmic’.

Fewer than 500 were in hospital at the start of September but yesterday the figure stood at 28,246. That is an increase of more than 11,000 in a fortnight.

A doctor from Merseyside said her hospital is ‘almost at the limit’ with patients having to wait in corridors or ambulances.

Scientists advising the Government believe the current lockdown may lead to a plateau of cases across the UK rather than the dramatic cut seen in the March and April lockdown.

They estimate there are currently more than 100,000 new infections per day and possibly higher than 150,000.

They believe this estimate puts the current number of daily cases at a higher level than during the first wave of the pandemic. Hospitals are now seeing far more younger people than during the first wave.

There are also mounting fears about the knock-on effects on wider public health.

Experts expect there to be thousands of deaths as a result of disruption to cancer surgery in this wave, with some patients having vital operations cancelled even while they were heading to hospital.

Campaign group Catch up with Cancer: ‘If you have got Covid you can have a bed, but if you’ve got cancer you can’t have an operation. These cancer patients are dying at home and will be for the next five years.’

But there was an extra glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as a third vaccine in the fight against coronavirus was approved for use in the UK on Friday.

The jab, from US biotech firm Moderna, has been given the green light by the MHRA – joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

The approval of the Moderna vaccine means the UK should have three vaccines to use when it comes on stream in spring.

The Government has increased its order of the vaccine to 17 million doses – enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people – with batches expected to be released in phases.

It has been shown to be 94 per cent effective against Covid-19 in clinical trials. Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Excellent news the @MHRAgovuk has approved the use of the @moderna-tx vaccine.

‘Our national vaccine effort is accelerating to vaccinate priority groups with our existing two vaccines, and the Moderna doses will add to that when they become available in spring.’

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions - particularly in London and the South - but lower in others

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions – particularly in London and the South – but lower in others

 

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week's ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week’s ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK's other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK’s other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England's second lockdown wore off in early December

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England’s second lockdown wore off in early December

Prince William thanks frontline NHS workers during a video call with staff at Homerton University Hospital

Prince William has paid tribute to NHS staff working on the Covid frontline and thanked them for their continued efforts during a particularly challenging time.

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, spoke to staff from Homerton University Hospital via video call on January 7 to hear more about their experiences responding to the pandemic in recent weeks.

In the past week, Homerton University Hospital has seen their highest number of admissions since the pandemic began, with over 200 Covid patients currently being cared for and staff being moved to new roles within the hospital to cope with the ongoing pressure on frontline staff.

During the call, William heard from staff about the significant challenges that they are currently facing, and how this time compares to their experiences during previous spikes in transmission rates.

He told staff: ‘You’re all in my thoughts and Catherine and I, and all of the children, talk about all of you guys every day.

‘We’re making sure the children understand the sacrifices that all of you are making.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.’

Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, with the Government aiming to jab 15 million of those most at risk by mid-February.

With the current lockdown and vaccine rollout, deaths from coronavirus are expected to start dropping in February, while hospital admissions should drop.

Coronavirus cases are expected to drop in the spring due to vaccination plus the fact people spend more time outdoors, making it harder for the virus to spread.

Elsewhere, research published on Friday suggests the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against a mutation in two coronavirus variants.

The pharmaceutical giant and researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch carried out lab tests on the strains -from the UK and South Africa.

Both variants contain mutations including N501Y, an alteration in the spike protein of the virus, which is a target for vaccines.

In the study, not yet peer-reviewed, people given the Pfzier jab had neutralising levels of antibodies which appeared to work against N501Y in the new strains.

But one of the mutations in the South Africa variant, named E484K, has not yet been studied and is still causing concern for experts.

While scientists at the top of Government increasingly believe the UK variant can be tacked with existing vaccines, there is concern that the South African variant has the potential to make them less effective, though studies are ongoing.

In future years, it is thought that Covid-19 vaccines will need to be tweaked annually much in the same way the winter flu jab is.

Meanwhile, papers released by the Government from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises ministers, suggests communication campaigns will be needed to ensure those who are vaccinated continue to adhere to lockdown rules.

It said there was some evidence that, ‘in the absence of any mitigation policies, some of those who have been vaccinated will show a reduction in personal protective behaviours’ such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

It is not yet known whether vaccination can prevent people passing the virus onto other people.

Problems by the armful… but at last we’re saving lives with Pfizer’s ‘pizza boxes from heaven’: Thousands of phone calls and up to a fifth of patients refusing jabs – one medic reveals the reality behind all the rhetoric

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines at a rate that, hopefully, will help free the country from the endless cycles of lockdowns. 

With 1.5 million doses dispensed so far — and the promise of two million a week to come — Louise Kyle, a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part.   

Mon, December 7

The usual business of a Monday morning is compounded by news that our proposed vaccine ‘hub’ has been given the OK to ‘go live’ in eight days.

We’d volunteered to be an active ‘wave one’ site for the Pfizer jab from the moment we were able. Now, here we were, at the coal face of this history-making exercise.

Louise Kyle, (pictured) a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part

Louise Kyle, (pictured) a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part

It’s exciting, but daunting given the huge challenge that lies ahead, the scale of which becomes apparent almost immediately when, within a day of receiving our news, NHS England changes its guidelines to say that all vaccinated patients will have to stay behind for 15 minutes after receiving their jab, in case of an allergic reaction — something that simply isn’t possible in the site we’d prepared, given the need for social distancing.

It means a hasty pivot to a new arrangement, in our case asking our district nurses to vacate their clinical rooms — the best we can do at a week’s notice. Still, it gives us some practice thinking on our feet, which I’m sure, given what lies ahead, will prove useful.

Wed, December 9

With our vaccine site confirmed the focus is on logistics. Given the vaccine’s strict ‘shelf life’ once it comes out of its deep-freeze storage, we have a 90-hour window to vaccinate 1,000 people. That means reaching some 2,000 registered patients in our area who are aged over 80 to get those who wish to take up the offer booked in.

Time constraints mean there’s no time to reach them by post and, given that we can’t rely on the mass-texting system we use to reach younger patients, we have a team of 12 staff across our practices phoning patients solidly from dawn until dusk. I even recruit my 19-year-old son, now at home from university, to help man the lines.

It’s a complex business, not least because English is not the first language for some of our patients, while others are lonely and want to chat for hours.

It’s one reason we give our team a script to stick to. Happily, most patients are only too eager to accept their proffered appointment, but it’s dismaying that one in five of them either decline to have the jab at all, or say they want to wait a bit longer before making their decision.

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines. Pictured: Taking delivery of the first batch in its takeaway-style box

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines. Pictured: Taking delivery of the first batch in its takeaway-style box

Is Britain’s great Covid vaccine roll-out finally picking up pace? 

Britain’s sluggish coronavirus vaccine roll out may finally be starting to gather steam as pictures emerged today of dozens of elderly residents queuing in the freezing cold to get their jabs, after Boris Johnson brought in the Army to ramp up delivery to 200,000 doses a day by the end of next week.

The pensioners were snapped standing in line outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, today as they patiently waited to get their first dose.

But many are still yet to be called for an appointment, with 99-year-old RAF veteran Arthur Clark who is classed as extremely vulnerable to Covid because of his age, saying he is still yet to be offered a jab by the NHS despite trying to get a slot since Christmas.

The widower and great-grandfather-of-four told MailOnline from his home in Beckenham, south east London: ‘It’s very annoying, I thought I’d been lost in the system.’ He added: ‘I appreciate it takes a while to get round to everyone, but I would have thought they’d have tried to give people of my age priority.’

And in yet more chaos to the lackluster scheme, a housebound 89-year-old widow was asked to travel 16 miles to a vaccination centre despite being unable to drive. Her daughter claimed the 80-minute journey from her home in rural Harleston, South Norfolk, was out of the question. 

One elderly Briton in her nineties also claims she hasn’t yet been able to get vaccinated because health bosses are going down the list in alphabetical order, instead of age priority. 

It comes as a patients’ rights group warned that some elderly Britons may be missing their Covid jabs because of AWOL reminder letters and text alerts amid reports of people not turning up to get either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab because they were waiting ‘for the English one’.

Fri, December 11

Two days of our first three-day vaccine schedule are now fully booked, with more than 600 patients scheduled to receive a jab on the coming Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving only Thursday to be sorted.

There’s a palpable sense of excitement among the team.

As I go home for a well-earned glass of wine I hope this is the moment that we turn the corner to combat Covid in our area, where it has been running rife.

Along with many of my colleagues, I caught the virus back in March — before the first national lockdown — and though I pulled through fine, it was still a wretched experience. For others, of course, it can be a matter of life or death.

I’ve lost several much-loved patients to this cruel disease over the past months.

Sun, December 13

I spoke too soon! My peaceful Sunday morning is overturned by an email informing us there’s been a 24-hour delay to the vaccine’s arrival. Cue a hasty scramble to get colleagues in to work to contact all of Tuesday’s patients and tell them to come in on Friday instead.

Since many of them had relatives or friends who had taken time off work to bring them in, it’s a major inconvenience, but mercifully most understand it’s not our fault.

Mon, December 14

Our ‘telephone terriers’ hit the phones again to book Thursday’s remaining slots, while I visit a local hospital to see how the vaccine vials arrive and are mixed to ensure the correct dosage.

The answer to the former, I discover, is that they come in what looks strangely like a small pizza box — rather different to the sci-fi cube emitting clouds of dry-ice that I’d half been expecting.

We’re similarly underwhelmed back at base by the arrival of the storage fridge, which we’d all pictured as some futuristic number but, in reality, is like a small under-the-counter affair you might keep your drinks in at home: ‘A G&T or a dose of Pfizer, darling?’ With the delivery of all the aprons, syringes and wipes we’re going to need, things are gearing up, although I’m anxious that with just hours to go until ‘V-Day’ we’re still awaiting the national protocol which allows our healthcare assistants and other junior staff or ‘lay vaccinators’ to help us administer it quickly and safely.

Ralph Evans, 88, receives the vaccine in Merthyr Tydfil. He is among the 1.5million to have been given the NHS jab

Ralph Evans, 88, receives the vaccine in Merthyr Tydfil. He is among the 1.5million to have been given the NHS jab

Scientists warn of rise in infections over government allowing arrivals to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are infection-free

Coronavirus cases could be missed at Britain’s border following the government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they’re Covid-free, scientists have warned.  

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. 

Grant Shapps has said nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also adopt the measure.  

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

The difference has sparked concerns that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain.  

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’

Dr Edwards added that using lateral flow tests would prevent scientists from being able to detect or monitor new strains being brought into the country from abroad.

The negative Covid test for all travellers to the UK will be imposed ‘next Wednesday or Thursday’ as stars including Amanda Holden slammed the Government’s plan as too little too late as mutant strains from countries like South Africa entered the country.

Tue, December 15

It’s here! The vaccine arrives mid-morning, and given all the fuss, I’d been braced for an elite squad of specialists, bearing it forth with all the awe of a holy relic. Instead, it’s a man-in-a-van: more Amazon delivery than Indiana Jones. Nonetheless we’re all excited to have what one colleague quips is the ‘Pizza Box from Heaven’.

Inside are 195 precious vials, each containing five doses, meaning 975 separate vaccines.

We’re all keenly aware that every second now is vital, as the countdown to beat the strict five-day expiry date has already begun, starting from the moment they leave the laboratory freezer.

Unlike the vintage pots of hummus in my fridge back home, there’s no wriggle room on ‘best before’ dates here.

Our schedule is based on three vaccinators working 9am to 7pm, giving a jab every five minutes. On paper, that looks do-able, until you think about the reality of dealing with elderly, sometimes frail, patients who need time to move around, remove their layers of winter clothing and so forth.

Throw in the strict social distancing requirements and it becomes trickier still, especially when you consider the additional personnel in the building required by the guidelines: as well as our three vaccinators, there has to be a GP on site, two healthcare professionals and a team of five marshals to shepherd the patients around.

Wed, December 16, V-Day One

The big day arrives. My job is to take the vials and convert them into syringe-dosages, following a labyrinthine series of procedures which require such delicate handling we have taken to calling them our little ‘V-babies’.

First the vials are removed from the fridge into a light-proof bag — they are light-sensitive as well as heat-sensitive.

I then take out the first six vials, mark them with a special time label, and leave them for ten minutes to get them to room temperature, before inverting each vial ten times and adding 1.8 millilitres of sterile saline and withdrawing the same amount of air.

They then have to be inverted another ten times before another date and time label is added.

With over 20 years’ experience, I’m used to this kind of painstaking procedure, but I can’t help thinking that for many of the groups proposing to join the ‘vaccine army’ it would be somewhat daunting and time-consuming. Unlike the flu jab, which comes ‘arm-ready’ as it were, this is more complicated. If the Government’s going to hit its targets, there will need to be some swift training factored in.

I’m intrigued by the instruction to only take five 0.3 millilitre doses out of each vial and throw away what’s left.

Out of interest I drew the last dose out of one vial and discovered it was 0.5 millilitres, which strikes me as a dose wasted. But rules are rules.

The day passes quickly, and it’s heartening to learn from my vaccinating colleagues that every single one of their patients was so grateful to receive it, although some of them expressed guilt at being at the front of the queue and said they felt key workers and teachers should have been vaccinated first.

The day ends on a happy note when we learn that the traffic warden we’d spotted hovering outside wasn’t handing out tickets, but helping our elderly patients out of their cars and taxis.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Thu, December 17

Another change from NHS England: overnight they decide we can now take six doses from each vial. That means we suddenly have 65 extra doses spare, and can vaccinate more patients. Our team hit the phones again. Every dose used is another life protected.

One step forward . . . two little hiccups back. Our IT system goes on the blink for an hour and a half, while we learn one of our marshals has called in sick with Covid.

Fri, December 18

Another busy day, and by 4pm, as we count the number of patients left waiting, with a handful of no-shows through the day, we realise we’ll have a few vaccine shots left over.

But as the clock runs down, we’re nearing the use-by deadline. Quick! We hit the phones to rally local healthcare professionals within a one-mile radius who, unlike more elderly patients, can get here pronto. We want to ensure not a precious drop is wasted.

We finish at 9pm, following an exhausting 12-hour shift: everyone had fitted the equivalent of a standard full NHS working week into three days.

Rishi Sunak examining plans for a £3billion scheme to help a MILLION small business owners

Rishi Sunak is examining plans for a £3billion scheme to help a million small business owners who have fallen between the cracks of other coronavirus help programmes.

The Chancellor is looking at proposals for a Directors Income Support Scheme that would pay sole directors up to 80 per cent of lost profits for three months, up to a ceiling of £7,500.

The scheme, targeting those earning less than £50,000 a year, would help entrepreneurs as well as plumbers, engineers and musicians.

Known as the #forgottenltd they pay themselves through dividends rather than a salary – a tax move that is legally allowed.

But it has left them unable to claim furlough or business loans.  

A source told the Sun that the Treasury was examining a plan put forward by the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forgotten Ltd campaign, former Office for Tax Simplification adviser Rebecca Seeley-Harris and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). 

‘It’s under active consideration,’ they said.

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said it was ‘encouraging news’, but added: ‘After 10 months of broken promises it’s vital the Chancellor now delivers. ‘The small business owners that make up the #ForgottenLtd and all of the three million #excluded are crucial to our economic recovery. We won’t stop fighting until they are ALL supported.’ 

We’ve administered 1,031 doses, we’re all knackered, and my knees hurt, but there’s a real buzz.

I spend much of Saturday morning trying to catch up on the Christmas shopping I’ve had no time to do, only to discover that afternoon that my area is to be plunged into Tier 4 rules, meaning non-essential shops will have to close. Sorry, kids, Santa’s been a bit busy.

Mon, December 21

It’s a return to normal business, as I try to catch up with all the patients I’ve had to cancel from my usual clinics to work on the vaccine roll-out.

That means everything from smear tests to ‘frailty reviews’ — managing elderly patients’ end of life plans, and whether or not they would like to be resuscitated in the event of cardiac failure. There’s a slightly grim irony in undertaking the latter with a patient who, just a few days earlier, had been given a life-saving jab.

It feels like saying: ‘We’ve helped save your life, now how would you like to die?’

Wed, December 23

I thought I was off for Christmas, a time to recharge the batteries, but lo and behold the holiday’s interrupted with another goalpost-moving missive from NHS England, this time informing us they are going to extend the period between the two vaccine doses from three weeks to 12 weeks.

This means that any area which started administering their vaccines on or after Wednesday 16th needs to cancel those patients due their second jab, and book a thousand new patients in for their first instead.

Oh, and we can’t even tell the first thousand when they should come back, as the vaccine supply is so patchy at the moment we can’t make plans that far ahead.

How on earth can we make those 2,000 phone calls in time? On a good day, one ‘telephone terrier’ working flat out can reach about 120-150 patients a day.

Frantic conversations between health chiefs ensue, until a pragmatic solution is reached. Huge relief!

Nonetheless, given all the coverage in the media, we still have to call all 1,000 patients to reassure them their appointments are going ahead.

Tue, January 5, 2021

Hallelujah! The second lot of vaccines arrive at our hub on schedule. This time I’m at least expecting a man-in-a-van, not the Messiah.

Wed, January 6

Round two gets under way. It feels calmer this time as we’ve established a good working rhythm. With a fair wind, we’ll pick up speed, but the fiddly nature of the Pfizer jab means it’s surely going to be a huge challenge to scale-up on a national level.

The Government are making promises to have administered 12 million doses by mid-Feb.

As my eye-rolling teenager would say: good luck with that.

Fri, January 8

Another day of mixed news. Our final tranche of Pfizer jabs is marred by the IT system used to register all vaccinations — called Pinnacle — going down for most of the morning.

Now all 480 patients due in will have to be logged by hand and inputted onto the database at a later date.

I worry the system is struggling to cope as more and more hubs join the national roll-out.

On the plus side, we get the first arrival of 400 doses of the alternative ‘Oxford’ or AstraZeneca vaccine, which are to go to local care homes as they’re more transportable and require less gentle care than our Pfizer V-babies.

On paper, this is good news — if only we weren’t all so hampered by NHS England’s obsession with running all vaccinations through specific designated ‘hubs’ like ours.

The reality of this is that the maximum number of front-line vaccinators we can have working from the hub at any one time is four, whereas if we were allowed to give it out at our usual local GP surgeries too, I could have two vaccinators working at each of our ten sites — taking that number up to 20.

That’s a huge potential to upscale, if only NHS England would listen. Overnight, we got another missive from them saying the Oxford vaccine can at least be delivered to different sites, but still no clarity on whether it can be administered there, too.

If it can’t, then I’m afraid Boris’s pledge of delivering two million doses a week doesn’t stand a chance, especially given the baffling reality that by the time you read this, our hub will stand empty and unused.

At the time of writing, we have no further vaccine deliveries scheduled. And so we wait . . .

After all our efforts, it’s disheartening. And very worrying.

Now police ban SNOWBALLS! Officers threaten to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – after swooping on friends for driving just SEVEN miles to go for a walk in the park – and claiming their cups of tea counted as a picnic

Police today faced criticism they were taking the lockdown crackdown too far after a force threatened to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – while elsewhere officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot.

The Broseley and Much Wenlock division of West Mercia Police tweeted last night: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm.

‘This is obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house, this behaviour is likely to result in a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice for breaking the lockdown rules.’

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police fined beautician Jessica Allen and her British Airways flight attendant friend Eliza Moore £200 each for driving for a socially distanced stroll at Foremark Reservoir, which despite not being her nearest park is only 10 minutes from her house. 

Ms Allen, 27, said she assumed ‘someone had been murdered’ when she saw a police van, a police car and several officers at the entrance of the open space. 

Neighbourhood officers for the Broseley and Much Wenlock tweeted on Thursday night: 'There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm'

Neighbourhood officers for the Broseley and Much Wenlock tweeted on Thursday night: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm’

Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore were stopped by officers from Derbyshire Police while they were enjoying a socially distanced walk at a Derbyshire beauty spot

Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore were stopped by officers from Derbyshire Police while they were enjoying a socially distanced walk at a Derbyshire beauty spot 

Jessica Allen

Eliza Moore

Ms Allen (left) and Ms Moore (right) were taking a stroll at Foremark Reservoir when they were surrounded by Derbyshire Police, read their rights and hit with £200 fines each

Ms Allen, a beautician from nearby Ashby-de-la-Zouch, said she assumed ‘someone had been murdered’ when she saw a police van, a police car and several officers at the entrance of the open space. This map shows the proximity between her house and the reservoir 

‘It was a short journey and only took about ten minutes,’ she said. I genuinely thought someone had been murdered or a child had gone missing; the place is normally so quiet. 

‘The next thing, my car is surrounded. I got out of my car thinking ”There’s no way they’re coming to speak to us”. Straight away they start questioning us. One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ”This must be a joke”. 

‘I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He said ”You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic”.

‘Crossing into a different county seems to have caused the issue but the border into Derbyshire is only a minute away from my house.’

Ms Moore, who is 27 and alongside her work for BA runs a make-up business, said she was ‘stunned at the time’ so did not challenge police and gave her details so they could send a fixed penalty notice.

‘Just seeing a police officer anyway is quite scary for some people and we were really not expecting to be approached and to be told we were doing something wrong,’ she said.

‘We don’t want to get away with it if we have broken the rule, but it seems a bit unfair that you can be fined on something that’s so vague.’

The pair were also told their cups of Starbucks peppermint tea, which they bought at a drive-thru, were not allowed because they were ‘classed as a picnic’. 

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night  

A police officer stopped a group of three walkers as they headed through Birmingham City Centre amid lockdown

A police officer stopped a group of three walkers as they headed through Birmingham City Centre amid lockdown

Police officer took a picture of one man

Officers crowded around a person out walking in Birmingham City Centre

A police officer took a picture of one man, as others crowded around another person while they were out walking in Birmingham City Centre despite coronavirus lockdown

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise ‘as long as it is in their local area’, but does not specify how far people can travel. 

Derbyshire Police insisted the distance was ‘at the discretion’ of individual officers and the trip was ‘not in the spirit of the rules’.

It later said all fixed penalty notices issued during the new national lockdown will be reviewed after it received clarification about the coronavirus regulations.

The force has previously been criticised for its heavy-handed approach to enforcing the restrictions, and in March released drone footage of dog walkers in the Peak District in an attempt to ‘shame’ them. 

And in March, the force dumped black dye into a famous blue lagoon in Harpur Hill near Buxton to prevent Instagrammers from posing for snaps during the lockdown. 

It comes as police forces nationwide upped up their enforcement of Covid regulations.     

In Aberdeen, two policeman knocked on a family’s front door after complaints from a neighbour and stormed inside as a woman shouted ‘this is my house, get out of my house’ and children screamed in the background. 

Two women, aged 18 and 48, and a 43-year-old man were charged in connection with assaulting police officers and threatening and abusive behaviour.

The footage immediately sparked controversy, with critics accusing the police of ‘oppressive’ behaviour for storming into a private house – while others argued they were just trying to enforce the Covid rules.  

At Euston, officers were seen stopping passengers this morning to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: ‘Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I’d have dreamed of seeing in London.’ 

Snowdonia National Park has now closed all its car parks to visitors to ‘protect our communities and the NHS’, as officials slammed the public for ‘disregarding’ the law. 

In an attempt to clarify the guidance, Leicester City Council’s public health director Professor Ivan Browne today urged residents to visit ‘your nearest park, not your nicest park’, Leicester Live reported. 

Categories
Birmingham Headlines UK Liverpool

Pupils are forced to perform their OWN Covid tests at school as nurse watches on

School pupils are carrying out Covid tests on themselves, despite fears over their effectiveness when self-administered.

Students at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, were sent the kits on Monday ahead of the regime starting.

Following the latest national lockdown being announced only vulnerable children or those whose parents are key workers have been allowed to attend lessons in person.

They were given instructions by nurses on how to carry out the tests themselves and supervised by them, similar to how some walk-in testing centres are run.

The idea is that fewer medical experts will be needed to test a larger number of people.

But it comes amid fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the force and depth needed to collect a sample.

Experts recommend a trained nurse or professional carries out the insertion of the swab to get to the necessary spot, which can be extremely uncomfortable.

Student Molly Tinker takes a COVID-19 test at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, today

Student Ruby Soden receives instructions on how to self-administer her coronavirus test

Student Ruby Soden receives instructions on how to self-administer her coronavirus test

Student Henry Parker receives instructions and equipment on how to take his virus test

Student Henry Parker receives instructions and equipment on how to take his virus test

John Murphy, CEO of Oasis Trust, said on Monday before the lockdown and general school closures: ‘What we know for sure is that our young people make the best progress with quality first teaching, with their teachers, in the classroom with their friends.

‘Therefore, once effectively delivered, we are assured that mass testing in schools will provide additional confidence to our children, parents, teachers and staff, and has the potential to greatly reduce disruption to learning, alongside our existing Covid controls.

‘In January we will be piloting the testing in a number of our schools before implementing this to all our secondary academies across the country.’

Schools were given comprehensive online training modules with 1,500 military personnel on hand to provide advice and guidance on establishing the process. 

Student Lily Mae Milliman takes her COVID-19 test using a mirror to assist in using the swab

Student Lily Mae Milliman takes her COVID-19 test using a mirror to assist in using the swab

After use the swab is placed into a reacting agent which shows whether the user has Covid

After use the swab is placed into a reacting agent which shows whether the user has Covid

The tests were sent out to schools before they were shut down under the UK's new lockdown

The tests were sent out to schools before they were shut down under the UK’s new lockdown

There fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the depth needed to take swab

There fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the depth needed to take swab

Professional use swabs are longer and when administered by a nurse can be painful

Professional use swabs are longer and when administered by a nurse can be painful

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs makes false negatives more likely

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs makes false negatives more likely

Schools could still spread coronavirus 

Covid-19 infections will continue to spread through classrooms where high numbers of children are attending schools in the lockdown, experts have warned.

Scientific advice group Independent Sage is calling for the definition of key workers to be narrowed and for increased financial support or furlough to be given to those who cannot work amid a large demand for school places.

The group of scientists, chaired by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, warns that underprivileged children are being exposed to a “greater risk of infection” due to the high number of pupils who are eligible to attend class.

The warning came after the Government told schools not to limit the number of children of key workers onsite during the national lockdown in England – and it said vulnerable children should be strongly encouraged to attend.

Headteachers have been reporting a high demand for places after students in schools and colleges – except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – were told to learn remotely until mid-February.

Vulnerable children can include “pupils who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home” due to a lack of devices or a quiet space to study.

The report from Independent Sage says: “First … this undermines the whole point of school closures making the policy less effective and therefore extending the period of closure.

“Second, it exposes underprivileged children to still greater risk of infection.”

Addressing high demand from key worker parents, it adds: “This is in danger of increasing the number in school to a point where the policy becomes less effective and the ability of teachers to deliver remote learning is undermined.”

Independent Sage is calling for the creation of a national education task force involving Government, councils, teachers, parents and students to “create a more Covid-secure environment in schools”.

Experts warned last year some self-tests are less accurate because they use shorter swabs and do not need to be inserted as deeply into the nose.

Instructions for some say: ‘No force is needed and you do not have to push far into your nostril.’

However, professional-use swabs – which are much longer and are designed to take samples from the ‘floor’ of the nose – can make people gag, their eyes water or even trigger nosebleeds when carried out properly.

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs themselves – notoriously difficult even for trained medics – makes false negatives more likely. False negatives mean people who are infected with the virus are wrongly told they’re in good health. 

Britain’s current guidelines mean there is no rule to tell them to stay at home after a negative test, even if they have symptoms. Medics say Britain is out of step with other countries such as New Zealand – which contained its Covid-19 outbreak quickly, which place less importance on tests and do them multiple times.

Norwich-based researcher Dr Katherine Deane, branch equalities officer for the University and College Union, is worried about how effective infection control will be.

She told the Eastern Daily Press: ‘Schools don’t have experts in infection control, so the level of precision there will be on the set up, the cleaning of the area, the wearing of personal protective equipment and the ventilation is all worrying.

‘When you have a swab test, that tends to produce a cough – a gag reflex and the droplets go into the air.

‘The big ones will fall quickly, but the fine ones can stay in the air for up to an hour.

‘And yet, the idea of the testing is that you get a student swabbed, you clean up and five minutes later the next student is tested.

‘It means the volunteers supervising can be at higher risk of infection and, unless the infection control is meticulous, the venues run the risk of being the site of super-spreader events.’

Professor Jon Deeks, a biostatistics expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘A single negative test result doesn’t exclude the disease. You can so easily miss the virus – they give a lot of false negatives.’

Research suggests up to 30 per cent of professional swab tests return false negatives, meaning the number of positive cases may be underestimated by thousands.

It is not clear how inaccurate self-swabs are, even though they are being carried out more than 60,000 times a day in the UK. The Department of Health will not release data about the false negative rates of its tests.

PCR vs lateral flow Covid tests

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PCR TEST AND A LATERAL FLOW? 

A PCR test can cost upwards of £180 per person, with the swab needing to be processed in a lab. 

The UK, on the other hand, favours faster tests which are not lab based and give a result within 15 minutes.

These rapid coronavirus tests, known as lateral flow tests, are ones that can be done on the spot using portable equipment.

They are faster and cheaper than lab-based PCR tests, which the government uses to diagnose people, but are less accurate. 

LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE RAPID – BUT CAN SACRIFICE ACCURACY

In a lateral flow test a swab is used to get a sample from the person’s nose or throat and it is then processed in a small machine that tries to detect the coronavirus by mixing the sample with something the virus would react with.

If there is a reaction in the mixture it suggests that the person is carrying coronavirus. If not, they get a negative result. This process can be completed in as little as 15 minutes.

You take your own swab though a professional on site processes it through the machine. 

Lateral flow miss up to half of cases, by the Department of Health’s own admission. 

But damning evidence shows they may be effectively useless when self-administered, despite Downing Street’s current testing scheme relying on people taking their own swabs. 

The tests are more accurate when swabs are carried out by trained professionals because they have to be pushed deep inside the nose. 

But scientists fear Britain simply doesn’t have the money or enough spare medics to do this nationwide every day, with health chiefs instead accepting DIY swabs to save time. 

PCR TESTS CAN TAKE SEVERAL DAYS TO GET RESULTS – BUT ARE MORE ACCURATE 

These lateral flow tests differ from the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing. 

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world.

This compares to a much lower sensitivity in lateral flow tests, with a trial of one type used in Liverpool suggesting they miss around 50 per cent of the people who would test positive with PCR.

SO, WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF LATERAL FLOW TESTING? 

Extreme accuracy may be a drawback for PCR now that so many people have been infected, however, with the tests able to detect shreds of the virus in people who recovered weeks ago and are no longer infectious, which may lead them to have to self-isolate unnecessarily.

Lateral flow tests are more likely to miss people who are carrying the virus but, experts say, do have value as a way of weeding out people carrying large amounts of the virus and therefore most likely to be spreading the disease.

Categories
Birmingham Headlines UK London

Are police taking Covid crackdown too far?

Police today faced questions about whether they were taking the Covid crackdown too far as officers swooped on friends drinking tea on a walk to a beauty spot, forced their way into a family home ‘for having too many people inside’ and taped off benches to stop people from sitting down. 

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore were taking a stroll at Foremark Reservoir when they were surrounded by officers, read their rights and fined £200 each. Police also claimed their cups of Starbucks peppermint tea were not allowed because they were ‘classed as a picnic’. 

Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise ‘as long as it is in their local area’, but does not specify how far people can travel. Derbyshire Police insisted the distance was ‘at the discretion’ of individual officers. 

Ms Allen, who lives in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, told the BBC: ‘I genuinely thought someone had been murdered… my car was surrounded… one of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ”This must be a joke”.’ 

In Aberdeen, two policeman knocked on a door after complaints from a neighbour and stormed in as a woman shouted ‘this is my house, get out of my house’ and children screamed in the background. 

Two women, aged 18 and 48, and a 43-year-old man were charged in connection with assaulting police officers and threatening and abusive behaviour.

The footage immediately sparked controversy, with critics accusing the police of ‘oppressive’ behaviour for storming into a private house – while others argued they were just trying to enforce the Covid rules.  

At Euston, police at Euston were seen stopping passengers to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: ‘Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I’d have dreamed of seeing in London.’ 

Snowdonia National Park has now closed all its car parks to visitors to ‘protect our communities and the NHS’, as officials slammed the public for ‘disregarding’ the law. 

Priti Patel yesterday said it is ‘right’ for officers to confront Britons sat on park benches and argued that police should stop people and demand to know why they are outside their homes.  

As the crackdown continued –  

  • Officers enforcing the new Covid lockdown laws will fine people the first time they are caught not wearing face coverings or being outside without a suitable reason;
  • Police cars were patrolling the market square in Ely this morning to ensure people were obeying the rules, and benches were taped off;
  • Police in Crewe fined two maskless men buying beer at 3am after they claimed to be ‘unaware’ about the lockdown;  
  • In Nottinghamshire, 20 gym-goers were seen fleeing the World Physiques Gym after police raided the venue; 
  • In Rochester, Kent, a pub was stripped of its licence and ordered to close after repeatedly holding lock-ins;
  • Furious pub owner has posted a sign on his parish hall notice board telling villager to ‘f*** off’, after being reported to the police; 
  • Brits abroad were told they had five days to come home or would not be able to return without a negative Covid test; 
  • Boris Johnson vowed to ramp up Britain’s vaccination drive and use Army to deliver 200,000 doses a day;PM slammed Covid deniers and told them to ‘grow up’ while NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens slammed their ‘lies’ about hospitals being empty.

Eliza Moore

Friends Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore (right) were taking a stroll at Foremark Reservoir when they were surrounded by Derbyshire Police, read their rights and hit with £200 fines each

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night  

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

Derbyshire police were pictured turning drivers away at a vehicle checkpoint at Calke Abbey, near Ticknall, yesterday afternoon

Derbyshire police were pictured turning drivers away at a vehicle checkpoint at Calke Abbey, near Ticknall, yesterday afternoon

Police and Covid marshals patrol the seafront in Bournemouth this morning to spot any people breaking the rules

Police and Covid marshals patrol the seafront in Bournemouth this morning to spot any people breaking the rules 

Police at Euston were this morning seen stopping passengers to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: 'Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I'd have dreamed of seeing in London'

Another lawyer suggested short hearings should be held over Zoom to avoid unecessary journeys

Police at Euston were this morning seen stopping passengers to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: ‘Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I’d have dreamed of seeing in London’

Footage taken in Aberdeen at 11.20pm on Wednesday before being shared online showed a police officer standing inside the hallway of a home as a woman was held back by another man.

She said: ‘My house. That is bullying. This is my house. Get out of my house. I did not ask you in here.’

What is a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home?

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes: 

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
  • Education and childcare – you can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. 
  • Meeting others and care – you can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
  • Exercise – you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble, limited to once per day, and not outside your local area 
  • Medical reasons – you can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
  • Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). 
  • You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment
  • Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

A young boy can be seen in the video as the woman’s daughter said: ‘Just stop it mum’. 

A police spokesman said: ‘We received a complaint from a member of the public regarding a breach of coronavirus regulations at a property in Aberdeen, around 11.20pm on Wednesday, 6 January, 2021. 

‘Officers attended and two women (aged 18 and 48) and a 43-year-old man were charged in connection with assaulting police officers and threatening and abusive behaviour and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.’ 

Police officers are legally allowed to enter Britons’ homes if ‘that person reasonably suspects that an offence under regulation 5(1) is taking place on the premises,’ according to legislation. 

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore decided to visit Foremark Reservoir on Wednesday afternoon to get some fresh air. 

Ms Moore said she was ‘stunned’ by what had happened so did not challenge police and gave her details so they could send a fine. 

The legislation does not specify a maximum distance that people are allowed to travel for exercise, and Derbyshire Police insists it is at the ‘discretion’ of the individual officer. 

Just hours after Home Secretary Priti Patel threw her support behind the crackdown yesterday, it emerged that officers in Birmingham questioned a couple with pushchair to ask what business they had in town. 

In Ely, Cambridgeshire, disturbing pictures highlighting the harsh reality of lockdown 3.0 showed town-centre seats taped off to stop people using them.

Snowdonia National Park took the decision to close its car parks yesterday after an ‘increase’ in the number of people disregarding Covid rules. 

Officials said people could only take part in exercise that started and finished in their own home. 

Nigel Harrison, Temporary North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable said: ‘We understand that people want to go outside to enjoy the mountains and snow, however this is a national emergency and we will continue to work with our National Park colleagues to ensure that Welsh Government restrictions around essential travel are adhered to.’

The World Physiques Gym in Mansfield was raided by police on Monday, with one person at the venue fined £1,000 and another £200 for breaching Covid guidelines. 

In Rochester, licencing officers forced the closure of the Hop and Rye pub after finding six people drinking on November 28 last year during the second lockdown.  

It came police spotted two maskless men getting out of a cab in Crewe at 3am yesterday before going into a shop and buying a case of beer. 

When approached by Cheshire Police officers they said they were ‘unaware’ of the lockdown and the way coronavirus is spread.

Under the national lockdown rules face masks must be worn in shops unless medically exempt from doing so.

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: ‘Officers had to report two men for breaching the lockdown regulations yesterday.

‘The officers were on patrol in Crewe at 3am when they spotted two men leaving a taxi without a face covering.

‘On leaving the shop, the officers approached the men to engage and explain the lockdown regulations while also reiterating the importance of wearing face coverings.

‘The men said they were not aware that a lockdown was in place and were also unaware of how their actions could result in the transmission of coronavirus to others.

‘The officers told the men they would be receiving a fixed penalty notice (FPN) each for their blatant breaching of the coronavirus rules.’ 

Exercise and essential journeys are the only reasons people are allowed to leave their homes. 

In Crowborough, East Sussex, the local running track was closed today due to the ban on sports venues.  

Five police officers surround a man at Hammersmith Tube Station in west London yesterday as part of a crackdown on people shunning lockdown

Five police officers surround a man at Hammersmith Tube Station in west London yesterday as part of a crackdown on people shunning lockdown

One MailOnline reader sent a picture of these taped off benches in Ely, Cambridgeshire, claiming they are not allowed to be used because of the pandemic

One MailOnline reader sent a picture of these taped off benches in Ely, Cambridgeshire, claiming they are not allowed to be used because of the pandemic

Two police officers knocked on a door in Aberdeen at 11.20pm on Wednesday after a member of the public reported a breach of coronavirus restrictions

Footage shared online showed a police officer standing inside the hallway of a home as a woman was held back by another man

Two police officers knocked on a door in Aberdeen at 11.20pm on Wednesday after a member of the public reported a breach of coronavirus restrictions

It came as a furious pub owner has posted a sign on his parish hall notice board telling villager to ‘f*** off’, after being reported to the police.

Keith Waterhouse, who owns the Badger’s Holt in Bridgetown, Somerset, posted the note on Bridgetown Village Hall after police officers visited him after reports he was breaching Covid-19 rules the previous day.

The note read: ‘Whoever the nasty, vindictive b****** is that reports me to the police for a completely incorrect breach of Covid rules, have the b******* to talk to me first and find out the truth. 

Policeman stopped by his OWN force and asked where he was going  

A red-faced policeman was stopped by officers from his own force and asked where he was going during coronavirus lockdown.

Insp Lee Wiggan was on his way to a meeting at his police headquarters when he was asked to justify his movements by a police officer. It comes as cops said they will beef up the approach to lockdown breachers and impose £200 fines for anyone out without a valid reason.

Insp Wiggan – who covers the Ladywood East area of Birmingham – was on his way to the meeting in the city centre at the West Midlands Police Lloyd House HQ.

He was stopped on Wednesday morning. The policeman tweeted: ‘On my way to a meeting at headquarters and got asked to explain my reason for being in town by Brum City Centre Police. Keep up the good work team.’ 

Meanwhile, in London yesterday, one man who was stopped outside Hammersmith Tube station was asked to provide his name and address, which was written down and checked by officers, and the reason for his journey. The man was allowed to enter the station and continue travelling but refused to comment on whether he had been fined. 

One officer told MailOnline: ‘We’re all over the area to enforce Covid laws and make sure that people are out for the right reasons. If you’re not local or don’t have a valid reason to be out, then you will be fined.’

But the police officer revealed that they had not issued a single fine as most people have been adhering to the rules. saying: ‘I think the message is getting through that you should only be out for essential reasons’.

In Birmingham, an exchange between two officers and a couple with a pushchair walking through the city centre only ended when the man produced cash from his pocket and told officers they were going to pay in money at a bank.

The pedestrian, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I don’t know why they picked on us. 

‘They just asked why we were in the city centre and when I explained about the bank they left it at that. I think it’s just a matter of control really.’

The same pair of Police Community Support Officers then quizzed two men languishing by a shop doorway and threatened one with a £250 fine if he did not leave.

Isaac, 33 – who only provided his first name – said: ‘I have to come into the city centre to pick up my methadone from Boots pharmacy.

‘During the first lockdown they would give us two weeks worth so as to stop us making so many trips out but this time they are only giving it to last a day so we will have to be back tomorrow.

‘The officers were very fair because my friend is not really allowed in the city centre and could have been given a £250 fine on the spot and not just a warning.’ 

His friend Luke, 34 – who also declined to supply a surname – added: ‘Methadone is not something you want to be picking up in your local area so I come to the city centre.

‘These officers were fair. They told us not to hang around and to make our way home. 

‘Another officer would have taken a much harder approach.’   

Thames Valley Police apologised for the behaviour of an officer who they said was 'a bit keen' in handing out leaflets outside a Tesco in Maidenhead earlier this week asking drivers 'why are you here today?'

Thames Valley Police apologised for the behaviour of an officer who they said was ‘a bit keen’ in handing out leaflets outside a Tesco in Maidenhead earlier this week asking drivers ‘why are you here today?’