NHS faces ‘most dangerous situation’ of our lifetimes as cases surge – Evening Standard

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he NHS faces the “most dangerous situation” in living memory as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches hospitals to breaking point, Chris Whitty has warned. Writing in the Sunday Times, Professor Whitty urged the public to follow lockdown rules and “find the collective strength to get through this critical stage and save as many lives as we can”. Follow our live updates below…

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World update: Africa tops three million confirmed coronavirus cases

Africa has passed the milestone of three million confirmed cases of Covid-19, including more than 72,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa accounts for more than 30 per cent of the continent’s total with more than 1.2 million reported cases, including 32,824 deaths. The high proportion of cases in South Africa could be because the country carries out more tests than many other African countries. South Africa is battling a resurgence of the disease, driven by a variant of the virus that is more contagious and spreading quickly.

Many hospitals are reaching capacity, yet the numbers of those infected are expected to continue rising, according to health experts. South Africa’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 19.86 new cases per 100,000 people on December 26 to 30.18 new cases per 100,000 people as of yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins University. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet with his cabinet this week to consider if further restrictions should be taken to slow the spread of the disease, while balancing the need to encourage economic growth.

( A health-care worker sanitises her hands in Cape Town / AP )1610299011

Former One Direction star Liam Payne has opened up on the challenges of co-parenting during the pandemic:

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England numbers

A further 508 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 55,580, NHS England said on Sunday.

The deaths were between December 17 and January 9. There were 25 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

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Scotland stats

Scotland has recorded three deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,877 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to official figures. The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 4,968.

Scottish Government statistics indicate the daily test positivity rate is 10%, up from 8.7% on Saturday, when 1,865 positive cases were recorded. A total of 149,766 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic. There are 1,598 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up two from 1,596 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 123 are in intensive care – up by 14 from the previous day.

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Main quotes from the morning media round

“Absolutely I’m going to back the police. Because the challenge here is that every flex can be fatal… these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they’re the limit of what people should be doing” – Health Secretary Matt Hancock on enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions. “Hospitals are always busy in winter, but the NHS in some parts of the country is currently facing the most dangerous situation anyone can remember” – England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

“I think the larger issue here is the UK has no clear strategy beyond reactive lockdowns whenever hospitals are under pressure. People have been in lockdown for almost a year and I think it is unrealistic for people to continue to distance and avoid mixing for months and months when it’s part of what makes us human” – Professor Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of public health at Edinburgh University and an adviser to the Scottish Government.

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‘No more at risk?’

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Daisy Cooper has questioned Matt Hancock’s assertion that teachers are “no more at risk” of catching Covid than other groups. She said: “Pupils, parents and teachers will be hugely frustrated by these mixed messages on schools.

“They deserve to know why the Health Secretary is saying that teachers are no more at risk of catching Covid whilst just a few days ago, the Prime Minister said that schools are vectors of transmission. “Schools have been trying for months to get this vital information and have been blocked at every turn. “The Government needs to come clean and publish the figures.”

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‘Very encouraging’

Professor Peter Horby said the information to date on the success of vaccines against new variants is “very encouraging”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “So far, the data we have is encouraging that the vaccines still work just as well (against new variants). “We need more data but so far it’s very encouraging.” He said it might be that people would have to get a coronavirus vaccine “every few years” if it does need to be updated against new variants, and added that the virus “will not go away”.

He said: “This one (virus) I think will not go away.

We’re going to have to live with it but that may change significantly.

“It may well become more of an endemic virus, that’s with us all the time and may cause some seasonal pressures and some excess deaths, but is not causing the huge disruption that we’re seeing now.”

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