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Concern over Omicron spread among over-50s – Covid news live

Concern over Omicron spread among over-50s – Covid news live
Latest Covid omicron updates today

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Number of people in England’s ICUs coming down, Nadhim Zahawi says

Despite a drop in the UK’s daily case count, a senior minister has said the government has fresh concerns about the Omicron variant of Covid as it begins to spread in those aged 50 and above.

“They’re the ones who, if you recall in the earlier waves, ended up in hospital with severe infection and hospitalisation and sadly death rates went up,” Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding it was “good news” that 90 per cent of the age group had received a booster jab.

The education secretary also said this morning it was his “top priority” to ensure schools stayed open during the current wave of infections, having witnessed the “painful lesson” closing sites taught leaders last year at the height of the pandemic.

To curb the spread of Omicron in the classroom, students returning to secondary schools in England this week will be tested on site at least once and will then be urged to do so at home twice-weekly for the foreseeable future. They will also be asked to wear face masks at all times.

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Parents can now register children aged five to 11 for Covid jab

Children aged five to 11 are now eligible to be put on a list to receive their Covid-19 vaccines, with the rollout set to begin imminently.

Registration can be done online, and parents will receive a text message confirming their appointment, PA reports.

The HSE has urged the public to consider bringing their children forward for vaccination after it said, in a statement, that “clinical trials [had] showed the vaccine was highly effective at preventing Covid-19 in children”.

Parents can now register children aged five to 11 for Covid-19 vaccine

Registration can be done online, and parents will receive a text message confirming their appointment.

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 12:25
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In images: Covid in the UK over the weekend

<p>A fan has their Covid pass checked outside the stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Leeds United and Burnley at Elland Road</p>

A fan has their Covid pass checked outside the stadium ahead of the Premier League match between Leeds United and Burnley at Elland Road

<p>An NHS Nightingale surge hub at St George’s Hospital, southwest London</p>

An NHS Nightingale surge hub at St George’s Hospital, southwest London

<p>A dose of a Covid vaccine is prepared before being given to a member of the public at Grim's Dyke Golf Club in northwest London</p>

A dose of a Covid vaccine is prepared before being given to a member of the public at Grim’s Dyke Golf Club in northwest London

<p>A temporary field hospital is seen taking place in the grounds of The William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, Kent</p>

A temporary field hospital is seen taking place in the grounds of The William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, Kent

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 11:38
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Covid testing facility ‘deliberately’ set alight in Scotland

A Covid test centre was set on fire just minutes into New Year’s Day in what police believe to be a deliberate act.

Investigators say an item was thrown at the canopy of the facility in Dumbarton on Saturday morning, causing it to catch fire, reports my colleague Chiara Giordano. No one was injured in the incident and the fire was extinguished soon after.

Images of the scene show a large hole burned into the side of a gazebo at the test centre in Risk Street.

Covid testing facility ‘deliberately’ set alight

Police investigating after item thrown at facility in Dumbarton minutes into New Year’s Day

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 11:27
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Passengers leave ‘Covid cruise’ ship after five days

Over to Portugal. Passengers who were stuck on a cruise ship moored in Lisbon’s port for five days due to a Covid outbreak began disembarking today.

Those on board were told they had to test negative before being allowed to fly back to their respective homes.

The AIDAnova, carrying 2,844 passengers and 1,353 crew, had docked in Portugal’s capital on Wednesday. The ship was on its way to the island of Madeira for New Year’s Eve celebrations, but its operator decided to cut the cruise short after the virus was detected among what it said was a fully vaccinated crew.

By Monday, 68 positive cases, including among passengers, had been detected, port captain Diogo Vieira Branco told the Lusa news agency.

“We’re living in this situation and it can always happen. Of course it’s not nice, we imagined something else,” one passenger said as he left the boat. Another added: “We all want this to end. We’re going home.”

<p>People pass by the AIDAnova cruise ship at Lisbon dock </p>

People pass by the AIDAnova cruise ship at Lisbon dock

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 11:22
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‘Good for everyone’ to get Omicron and build immunity, says PM’s sister

After having the Omicron variant herself, Rachel Johnson has suggested it might be “good that everybody has it [so] we build up immunity”.

Speaking on LBC Radio, the prime minister’s well-known sister was explaining her own experience having “tested positive” before Christmas on 23 December and negative again four days later.

“Honest to goodness, if I hadn’t stuck a swab up my nose I don’t think I’d have known. I wouldn’t have even told a doctor I had a mild cold,” she said.

“But my experience of the Omicron variant is that… if that’s what [it is] like, then I think it’s really good that everybody has it and we build up immunity.”

It comes after Nadhim Zahawi announced this morning that Omicron had begun infecting people aged 50 and above, which he said would require ministers to “keep an eye” on a potential spike in hospital admissions. NHS Providers boss Chris Hopson also compiled a lengthy Twitter thread this morning, explaining the pressure health services across the country are under due to Omicron.

“Very clear that the NHS in the rest of the country outside London is now coming under the significant pressure that London has been encountering,” he wrote. “Suggestions that the lag between the two is about 10 days. Data (and conversations) now, very obviously, showing this pressure.” You can read the rest here.

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 11:08
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Watch: Zahawi says number of people in ICUs coming down

Number of people in England’s ICUs coming down, Nadhim Zahawi says
Sam Hancock3 January 2022 10:31
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Opinion: ‘No masks in class is nonsense – it’s parents who have the problem’

Our voices editor Victoria Richards writes about who really has an issue with kids wearing face masks in school. (Hint: it’s not the kids.)

On Christmas Eve, I went to the pantomime in London’s West End with a friend and our three children. While we were preparing to leave the house, my son – who’s five – reminded me of something vital.

“Don’t forget your mask, Mummy! I’ve got mine!” I looked at him and had to stifle a laugh, because he was wearing a bright green “Hulk” costume, the mask covering his entire face – not just his nose and mouth. If only we all took to mask-wearing so easily.

Seeing how well and how naturally my children have adapted to mask-wearing only makes the riotous clamour against them seem more ridiculous. And it’s all coming from adults: a straw man argument if ever there was one. People are arguing on behalf of children, without – seemingly – actually asking children what they think about the government asking all secondary school-aged pupils to wear masks, and for regular testing (both at school on site and at home).

‘No masks in class’ is nonsense – it’s parents who have a problem | Victoria Richards

I asked my nine-year-old how she’d feel if she had to wear a mask all day at school – she was utterly unfazed

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 10:27
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Israel to reverse travel ban imposed after Omicron

Israel will allow tourists with “presumed Covid-19 immunity” to enter from medium-risk countries from 9 January, the health ministry said on Monday, in a reversal of a ban on entry by foreigners imposed in late November in response to the Omicron variant.

People seeking to travel from countries on Israel’s “orange” list would have to prove in advance that they are either vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 and would be subject to PCR testing before and after their arrival, Reuters reports.

It comes after the Middle Eastern country became the first in the world to begin administering a fourth Covid vaccine, the so-called second booster.

<p>Heart transplant patient, Ishai Eilat, receives a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine</p>

Heart transplant patient, Ishai Eilat, receives a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 09:55
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NHS suffering not just staff shortages but tired workforce

As Dr Amil Mehta, a GP based in Redbridge, explains:

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 09:50
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Concern over ‘leakage’ of infections into over-50s

Concern is growing about the “leakage” of Omicron infections from younger to older people, even as overall case numbers flatten in the hotspot of London.

The education secretary said ministers are watching closely rising case rates in over-50s – the more vulnerable age group – ahead of a decision this week on whether to introduce tougher restrictions, writes our deputy political editor Rob Merrick.

“They’re the ones who, if you recall in the earlier waves, ended up in hospital with severe infection and hospitalisation and sadly death rates went up,” Nadhim Zahawi said of the age group.

Concern over ‘leakage’ of Omicron infections into over-50s, minister says

But Nadhim Zahawi says cases in London ‘epicentre’ are ‘beginning to plateau if not drop’

Sam Hancock3 January 2022 09:29