Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Friday morning.
1. Vaccine rollout requires ‘unprecedented effort’ – PM
The vaccine rollout is a national challenge requiring an unprecedented effort involving the armed forces, Boris Johnson has said. At a Downing Street press briefing, the PM confirmed almost 1.5 million people in the UK have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. More than 1,000 GP-led sites in England will be able to offer a total of “hundreds of thousands” of jabs each day by 15 January, he said. The Army will use “battle preparation techniques” to help achieve that goal. It comes as GPs in England began receiving doses of the Oxford Covid jab.
2. Some hospitals could become Covid-only sites
There are currently about 26,500 Covid patients in hospitals across England, meaning almost a third of all people in hospital have the virus. In London, half of all hospital patients have Covid. It means some hospitals in England are at risk of becoming Covid-only sites, with rising virus admissions forcing trusts to cut back on other services such as routine operations and cancer care. It comes amid warnings from epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson that the coronavirus situation in the UK is, in some ways, bleaker than it was in March before the first lockdown. So how busy are England’s hospitals?
3. Fears pupils without laptops may overwhelm schools
There are concerns some schools in lockdown could be inundated with pupils without laptops after a change to the vulnerable pupil list. Pupils are learning remotely in England after schools were closed on Tuesday to all but children of key workers and those deemed vulnerable. But those without laptops or space to study at home are now eligible to attend school, under government guidance. It comes as some parents say they feel “deserted” having to home school-during lockdown with a lack of access to computers.
4. Sainsbury’s gets festive boost but Ryanair scraps flights
It’s been an extremely challenging time for most businesses, but there was good news for Sainsbury’s as it reported a bumper Christmas with sales up 9.3% for the festive trading period. However, the outlook is bleaker for others in the business sector, with the owner of pub chains Harvester and Toby Carvery saying it may need to raise more cash to survive lockdown. Meanwhile, National Express announced that it is suspending its entire national network of coach services from midnight on Sunday, while Ryanair is making big cuts to its flight schedule in response to the latest lockdowns.
5. More life-saving Covid drugs discovered
As well as the rolling out of vaccines, there’s been more good news in the fight against Covid with the discovery of two more life-saving drugs. The anti-inflammatory medications, given via a drip, can cut Covid deaths by a quarter in patients who are sickest, say researchers who have carried out a trial in NHS intensive care units. Supplies are already available across the UK so they can be used immediately to save hundreds of lives, say experts. The drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – also speed up patients’ recovery and reduce the length of time that critically-ill patients need to spend in intensive care by about a week.
And don’t forget…
Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
Plus, the rules about lockdown do vary across the UK. Find out what the restrictions are where you live.
What questions do you have about coronavirus?
Use this form to ask your question: