Coronavirus news – live: Christmas ‘may lead to third wave’ but life ‘could start to normalise by spring’

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<p>UK governments unveil coronavirus Christmas plans</p>

Experts are warning the planned relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic, after the UK’s four nations agreed three households would be allowed to mix in a bubble for five days over the festive period.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC’s Newsnight “it will definitely lead to increased transmission”, adding: “It is likely to lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals being overrun, and more unnecessary deaths.”  

He also described the bringing together of families with elderly relatives “for hours, let alone days” as “a recipe for regret for many families”.  

The British Medical Association (BMA) also warned easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will "almost certainly" lead to a rise in the infection rate.  Meanwhile, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said that “many of us hope that things will begin to normalise” by spring 2021, but cautioned that life will not go “straight back to normal in one band”.

Meanwhile, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said that “many of us hope that things will begin to normalise” by spring 2021, but cautioned that this will be a “steady” rather than immediate return to normality.

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Exeter’s Nightingale to receive first patients

The Nightingale Hospital in Exeter, which opened in July, will receive its first coronavirus patients on Thursday.

“The Nightingale Exeter will accept patients tomorrow who will be transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) which is very busy,” a spokesperson said.

Local MP Ben Bradshaw said:

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 21:52

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Trump’s handling of coronavirus pandemic ‘shambolic’, says Obama

Discussing the pandemic as he promoted his new memoir, Barack Obama said: “This would have been hard for anyone.” 

Some aspects of the pandemic response were not "rocket science", Mr Obama told Late Show host Stephen Colbert, as he lashed out at the defeated incumbent’s “shambolic” handling of the crisis.

“We're not talking about inventing vaccines, which are now coming on board,” he said, adding that Mr Trump could have done better by “communicating effectively” and “respecting the science".

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 21:11

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Hospitals in small-town and rural America warn they are drowning in Covid cases

After pounding the country’s biggest cities in the spring and summer months, the coronavirus has now caught-up with rural and small-town America, where officials say they are drowning, and fast, Gino Spocchia reports.

According to Reuters’ interviews with more than a dozen medical care providers and public health officials in the country’s heartland, many hospitals are severely lacking in beds, equipment and – most critically – clinical staff, including specialists and nurses.

And while Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations have spiked all over the United States, the Midwest – which stretches from Ohio to the Dakotas – has been particularly brutalised.

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 20:19

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Declare two public holidays next year for those who cannot celebrate this Christmas, Sage advisor suggests

Stephen Reicher, a member of Sage’s behavioural science subcommittee, has added his name to a growing number of people suggesting that the government declare two days of national holiday in 2021 to compensate for those who feel it is too risky for them to celebrate this Christmas with their loved ones.

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 20:16

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Virologist suggests a ‘Zoom Christmas’ for those who can tolerate it

“There is a risk of a third wave in January 2021 if we relax too much at Christmas,” Dr Julian Tang, clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, told the Science Media Centre.

“Most people in the country are still susceptible to the virus and any mixing will just give the virus a chance to spread further. For some, this year's Christmas contact will be very important - perhaps more so than in other years.

“But if the rest of us who can tolerate a Zoom Christmas can do this to reduce the transmission risk for those who can't, this will also reduce the virus spread for that bit longer, which will help all of us - and hopefully prevent a New Year third wave and possibly another national lockdown.”

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 20:00

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Infection rate data to be brought forward for Thursday’s tier announcement

The publication of data on coronavirus infection rates across the UK has been brought forward to "respond to emerging policy decisions", according to the Office for National Statistics.

The weekly Covid-19 Infection Survey is now set to be published at 10.30am on Thursday – the same day the government will reveal which tier of the new system areas in England will enter into when the current lockdown ends.

Figures from the weekly survey are usually published at midday on a Friday.

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 19:48

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‘I hope your last moments don’t look like this’: ICU doctor reveals what a dying Covid patient sees

A doctor has recorded a video of what it looks like when a patient dies from Covid-19, in order to convince people to protect themselves by wearing face masks.

ICU doctor films video of breathing tube as plea to people to wear masks

My colleague James Crump has the full report here:

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 19:39

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Millions of Americans travel for annual holiday despite Covid warnings

Millions of Americans are taking flights, hitting the roads or using public transport over the Thanksgiving holiday, despite public health warnings against travel amid soaring coronavirus infections, Matt Mathers reports.

At one point on Tuesday, nearly 7,000 planes were tracked in airspace over North and Central America, according to data from FlightRadar24.

The figure was slightly down on the same period last year (7,630) but higher than the 6,815 recorded in 2018, the data shows.

Many chose to make the trip over the weekend.  Almost 1 million people have travelled by plane since the holiday travel season began on Friday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 19:27

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Close contact with loved ones could deliver ‘deadly dose of virus’, former Sage member says

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, has urged people to “be inventive and ingenious” in finding safe ways to meet up at Christmas.

 “I do hope that people will not let caution evaporate over the Christmas period and think that a short break from restrictions will be fine. It really won't,” the former Sage member said. “I urge everyone to maintain precautions and to be inventive and ingenious in devising ways to meet up in safety.

“Close personal contact is the main way this virus transmits and it should be possible to celebrate without letting the virus spread. Meet outdoors if possible, wear masks if you can't maintain safe distance, wash your hands and use gel.

“Feeling well does not guarantee that you don't have the virus: kissing your grandparents may be delivering a deadly dose of virus. Be pleased to see them but keep a safe distance.”

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 19:06

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Infection rates fall across most of England

Infection rates in the week to 21 November have dropped in 276 out of 315 local authorities in England since the previous week, analysis of testing data suggests.

Swale in Kent continues to have the highest rate in England, with 803 new cases recorded in this period – the equivalent of 535 cases per 100,000 people, down from 619 the previous week.

Thanet has the second highest rate, down slightly from 517 to 493, with 700 new cases.

Hull is in third place, where the rate has dropped sharply from 754 to 490, with 1,274 new cases.

The areas with the largest week-on-week jump in rates are Medway (up from 319 to 429 cases per 100,000 people), Gravesham (up from 310 to 391) and Ipswich (up from 85 to 153).

Andy Gregory25 November 2020 18:51

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