Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
2 February 2021
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- In a press conference last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the UK, 9.2 million people had now been vaccinated. He noted that there were 500 UK cases of the South African variant and outlined the postcode areas which would undergo door to door testing.
- The BBC reports that the door-to-door “testing blitz” is getting underway, and on-the-spot doorstep tests, home testing kits and mobile testing units will be deployed to try to reach 80,000 people in eight specific areas.
- A group of seven vice-chancellors have signed a letter asserting that the interest on student loans in England should be scrapped for 15 months, covering the period from the first national lockdown until summer 2021, which they say would ease the pressure on graduates.
- The Telegraph reports that Professor Nick Loman, Professor of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of Birmingham said that there will be more South African variant cases not linked to international travel.
- Northern Ireland’s Education Minister Peter Weir is due to make a statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly today on how GCSE, AS and A-Level students will be awarded their grades this year.
- The BBC reports that some staff working in special schools in Northern Ireland will be prioritised for vaccination against Covid-19.
- Almost a quarter of a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland.
- Nicola Sturgeon is set to confirm today whether Scotland’s Covid lockdown will be extended beyond mid-February, and is also expected to give details about the reopening of schools and nurseries.
- The BBC reports that almost every elderly care home resident in Scotland and 80% of the over-80s in the community have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine.
- Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has asserted that more lives could have been saved had Wales gone into lockdown earlier at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Welsh Government has announced that people in Wales who are told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 phone app can now apply for a £500 payment.
- An announcement is expected on Friday over whether some children in Wales will return to school later this month.
- The Japan Times has reported that the central government plans to extend the state of emergency covering Tokyo and other regions struggling to contain coronavirus outbreaks by one month until March 7.Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will make a final decision on the extension after hearing from an expert panel today.
- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has eased some restrictions imposed due to coronavirus, including lifting an unpopular ban on alcohol sales.
- The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the Biden administration has signed a $300 million ($US230 million) deal with Australian firm Ellume to dramatically ramp up the production and distribution of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests in the US.
- Ten Republican senators have agreed to carry on talks with the White House in an attempt to negotiate a bi-partisan coronavirus relief package, after a two-hour meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Monday night ended short of a breakthrough.
- The Guardian reports that a hotel quarantine security guard who contracted the UK strain of the virus may have caught it when delivering medication to a returned traveller.
- Many places in China plan to suspend religious gatherings during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays to control the coronavirus outbreak, the Global Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.
- Arabian Business has reported that Dubai announced new precautionary measures for hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment venues as the city intensifies its fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The BBC reports that Israel’s vaccination programme is showing signs of working to drive down infections and illness in the over-60s.
- Plaid Cymru has said that inspections of schools to measure how they are performing should be suspended until next year.
- A watchdog has expressed concerns over the roll-out of vaccinations in Welsh care homes after a minister said a key target had been reached.
- Responding to The Times’ report that SAGE recommended tougher restrictions at the border to protect the UK from new Covid strains from abroad, said: “These revelations are incredibly serious. Ministers have knowingly left the UK border open and potentially exposed people to new strains of the virus, in direct contradiction of their own Government scientists’ advice. This puts the gains of the vaccine at risk, with disastrous consequences for people’s lives. The Home Secretary needs to come to Parliament urgently and reverse this reckless policy of leaving our Borders unlocked and open to further risk.”
- Responding to the news that a COVID jab has now been offered at every eligible care home in England, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “That the COVID jab has been made available to so many older care home residents is an amazing achievement and should be celebrated…However, the figures only show how many care home residents have been offered a jab, not how many have been vaccinated. We’re still a way off from protecting everyone, and unless staff are also protected, the threat from the virus will remain. While cases may be coming down, infection levels and demands on the NHS are still high overall, including as a result of new variants. Today, we have learned that door-to-door COVID testing is being rolled out in some parts of the country to try to halt the further spread of the South African variant. It is imperative that we get a grip on this, especially as we seek to establish whether the approved vaccines are as effective against some mutated COVID strains.”
- GMB have asserted that essential key workers, including police staff, must be prioritised in the vaccine rollout to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
- The Telegraph has reported that it understands that Prof Chris Whitty told the Prime Minister the peak of coronavirus infections had been passed last week, and Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to ramp up preparations for reopening schools after being told the UK is now past the peak of the current wave of coronavirus