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Lockdown looms as PM prepares to announce new measures
Boris Johnson is to make a televised address at 8pm on Monday evening setting out new emergency measures to control the rapid spread of coronavirus in England. The announcement will be followed by the recall of Parliament on Wednesday so MPs can debate and vote on the measures. A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
What do we know about the new rules?
The current tier system was due for review later in the week, but a decision has been brought forward amid increasingly dire warnings from a stretched NHS over mounting numbers of COVID patients. It is understood the new measures will be tougher than the current Tier 4 rules, and school closures are likely to be included.
Can the NHS cope?
The latest data shows a 41% rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and 3 January, a figure that has caused alarm in Whitehall and the health service. The UK’s chief medical officers are understood to have agreed to raise the COVID-19 alert level to 5 – its highest – meaning there is a risk of the NHS being “overwhelmed”.
Read more about it
UK to move to highest coronavirus alert level (The Guardian)
Starmer urges PM to close all schools in England (The Independent)
Tough new lockdown rules 'coming soon' says Johnson (Yahoo News UK)
—The big coronavirus stories today—
82-year-old first to get Oxford vaccine
A retired maintenance manager has become the first person in the world to receive the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outside clinical trials. Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, received the jab from nurse Sam Foster at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Churchill Hospital. Read the full story here (The Independent)
Scotland going back into full lockdown
Scotland will go into lockdown for the rest of January, with a legal requirement to stay at home and schools closed to most pupils until February. Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs: “It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.” Read the full story here (PA Media)
New cases top 50k for seventh day
The UK has recorded 58,784 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily total seen so far in the pandemic. It is the seventh day in a row the number of lab-confirmed COVID cases has exceeded 50,000. A further 407 people were confirmed to have died within 28 days of a positive test. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)
Primary schools defy orders to open
Primary schools due to open on Monday have stayed shut amid staff shortages and warnings over safety. Some schools made unilateral decisions not to open, while some councils advised against restarting classes. A joint letter from teaching unions accused the government of "creating chaos" with its advice to schools. Read the full story here (The Independent)
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— What else happened today? —
Teen stabbed to death is named
A 13-year-old boy who died after being stabbed in Reading on Sunday has been named by Thames Valley Police as Oliver Lucas Stephens, known as Olly. Four boys and one girl arrested following the incident remain in police custody, the force said. Read the full story here (Sky News)
Girl's jungle death 'was misadventure'
The death of a London schoolgirl whose body was found during a holiday in a Malaysian jungle was a result of "misadventure", a coroner has ruled. Nora Quoirin, 15, was discovered dead nine days after she went missing from a resort in August 2019. Read the full story here (The Telegraph)
Assange extradition bid blocked
A judge has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States, because of his mental health. Judge Vanessa Baraitser said there was a “real risk” Assange, 49, would be locked up in conditions of “significant isolation” and that “contact with his family will be curtailed". Read the full story here (PA Media)
Trump told official to 'find him votes'
Donald Trump told Georgia’s secretary of state to “find him 11,779 votes" to overturn his election defeat, in an hour-long call that has been obtained and released by the Washington Post. The state’s Republican election chief Brad Raffensperger repeatedly told the president the outcome was fair and accurate. Read the full story here (The Independent)
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