Coronavirus UK news – Hancock BLASTS anti-vaxxers insisting jab isn't dangerous and is our best hope of ending lockdowns

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock today blasted anti-vaxxers, telling them taking the new coronavirus vaccine will be “much less worse than getting the virus”.

Speaking to LBC, Hancock said the vaccine “protects you, people around you, and your loved ones” and dismissed the discredited anti-vax movement as people in the extreme minority.

“It wouldn't be allowed if it weren't safe and that's why we've been doing these trials and why we haven't yet rolled out the vaccine, because we are absolutely determined that it will be safe,” Mr Hancock said.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier, Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the lockdown in England will end on December 2 as planned.

“We've seen in the last week that there is still a very high number of cases but we do absolutely want to come out of this national lockdown," he said.

“That is our goal, everybody has a part to play in making that happen of course, following the social distancing rules and isolating when you need to, which is the critical thing,” he added.

Follow our coronavirus updates below...

  • John Hall

    LONDON CASES HIT NEW HIGH AS HUNDREDS OFFERED JAB IN TRIAL

    Hundreds of Londoners have been offered a new coronavirus vaccine as trials of a third jab started today.

    New cases of Covid-19 in the capital rose to a high over the weekend and coronavirus patients in intensive care rose to their highest level in six months.

    There were 15,568 cases in London in the last seven days, taking the rate to a record 173.7 per 100,000 of the population, the Evening Standard reports.

    The number of Londoners being treated in hospital for Covid increased to 1,244, a level last seen on May 18.

    Barts Health and Imperial College Healthcare NHS trusts offered 800 volunteers the Janssen vaccine.

  • John Hall

    TESCO TOP FOR PANDEMIC RESPONSE

    Britain's shoppers have hailed retail giant Tesco as the best in the country for the way it reacted to the pandemic.

    The supermarket won the Gold Award from trade magazine The Grocer for its handling of the crisis and dealing with panic buying, safety and shortages during the first six months of Covid-19 restrictions.

    The annual awards by the industry “bible” saw Tesco named top supermarket for the fifth year running but, for the first time, included a separate category in which 5,000 shoppers were asked to say who they thought dealt with the pandemic the best.

    More than one in five (21 per cent) named Tesco compared to 12 per cent for Sainsbury's and 11 per cent for Morrisons in the next two positions.

    With vulnerable Brits having to shield, many moved to online shopping for the first time in their lives and Tesco became the first UK retailer to fulfil more than a million grocery shop orders in a week.

  • John Hall

    STURGEON URGED TO KEEP GYMS OPEN

    Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to keep gyms open if parts of Scotland enter the highest level of lockdown restrictions.

    Scotland has been under a five tier local lockdown system since November 2 which ranges from level zero to level four.

    The highest level would include the closure of gyms, sparking fears the move could harm people's mental health.

    SNP councillor Chris McEleny told the Daily Record: “Covid-19 is a deadly virus and I am wholeheartedly behind any public health measures aimed to stop its spread and safe lives.

    “However, the virus is having an equally deadly impact on mental health and I am very concerned about the harms of further prolonged isolation for many people during winter.”

  • John Hall

    HIGH MARKS

    Students in areas hardest hit by the pandemic may be given higher marks to ensure they're not disadvantaged, an exam board boss has admitted.

    Colin Hughes, chief executive of AQA, said a grades boost for some GCSE and A-Level students next summer was among the options being considered to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

    The measure would work in the same way as the “special consideration” measure – handed out to pupils who have been “disadvantaged due to illness or avoidable circumstances”.

    “One of the things that's being talked about is the notion that we could apply some kind of regional special consideration,” Mr Hughes told the Times Education Supplement.

  • John Hall

    FURTHER NI RESTRICTIONS 'LIKELY', SAYS EXPERT

    More coronavirus restrictions before Christmas are “likely” to be recommended to Stormont, Northern Ireland's chief scientific officer has admitted.

    Northern Ireland has been under a circuit-break style lockdown since October 16 which saw the hospitality sector close.

    Professor Ian Young told the BBC that the short-term shutdown had slowed the spread of the virus but warned that the decline is slowing.

    He believes it's more likely than not that there will be further restrictions ahead of the festive season, describing the decisions ministers may have to make as “immensely difficult”.

  • John Hall

    'TRAINS TESTING NEGATIVE'

    Southern and Thameslink trains are testing negative for coronavirus after being swabbed with viruscide.

    Randomly selected carriages from fleets up to 23 days have been tested, ITV reports.

    Swabs were taken from areas frequently touched by passengers and staff – including grab rails, door handles, tables, and door buttons.

    The tests revealed the surfaces were clear of Covid.

  • John Hall

    SECOND TORY MP ISOLATING

    A second Conservative MP is reportedly self-isolating after attending a meeting on Thursday with other MPs.

    Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, said he would be quarantining for 14 days after being contacted by test and trace.

    When asked on Monday if he would be self-isolating, he said: “Yes, I had a call from test and trace yesterday following a work meeting at 10 Downing Street last Thursday. In line with the rules I am self isolating.”

    Last night, Boris Johnson announced he was self-isolating after Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19.

  • John Hall

    RENTS FALL AMID COVID 'EXODUS'

    Private rents in cities across the country have fallen by as much as 15 per cent in the past year, new data shows.

    In October, average rents in the countryside were 5.5 per cent higher than in 2019, while city rents were down by 5.3 per cent, according to figures from estate agents Hamptons International.

    Hamptons said rents in inner London were down by 14.9 per cent year on year, with landlords cutting monthly rent by almost £400 in a bid to woo potential tenants.

    Estate agents Zoopla revealed last week that Covid-19 has created a “two speed” market as rents outside the capital have grown.

    Belfast and Newcastle both recorded an annual rent growth of 3.5 per cent.

  • John Hall

    BOOZE BANNED ON SCOTRAIL TRAINS

    Drinking alcohol on all ScotRail services has been banned from today as Covid-19 measures are ramped up.

    It's designed that a ban on alcohol will encourage commuters to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

    Previously, alcohol was banned on ScotRail services between 9pm and 10am, the Edinburgh Evening News reports.

  • John Hall

    CHOKING UP

    Susanna Reid was left unable to speak on today's Good Morning Britain as a devastated mum revealed she's only seen her severely autistic son twice this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The journalist read out a heartbreaking Facebook message that left her exhaling heavily and tearful.

    She began: “Suzanne on Facebook says my son is severely autistic, he lives in a care home, he's distraught he can't see me… or come home to visit… sorry.”

    Dr Hilary Jones stepped in and continued: “It is very distressing, and we know those children with learning disabilities have very much higher mortality rates of the coronavirus than other children of the same age.”

    Read our full report HERE

  • John Hall

    TOO EARLY TO SAY WHETHER ENGLAND EXITS LOCKDOWN

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the lockdown in England will end on December 2 as planned.

    PM Boris Johnson plunged the country into lockdown on November 5 in a bid to curb rising infection rates.

    Asked whether the lockdown would simply be “rebadged” after the deadline, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “You tempt me, but it is too early to say I'm afraid.

    “We've seen in the last week that there is still a very high number of cases but we do absolutely want to come out of this national lockdown.

    “That is our goal, everybody has a part to play in making that happen of course, following the social distancing rules and isolating when you need to, which is the critical thing,” he said.

  • John Hall

    WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

    Piers Morgan finally got the chance to grill Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning.

    It has been 201 days since a senior government minister appeared on the ITV breakfast show amid reports that there was a “boycott” as a result of the journalist's interviewing technique.

    The so-called boycott ended today as Matt Hancock appeared on the show.

    “First question, given that we live in a democracy, where the hell have you been for 201 days?,” Piers asked.

  • John Hall

    VACCINE CHALLENGES

    The vaccine candidate from pharmaceutical firm Pfizer posed a “challenge” because it needs to be stored at minus 80, a leading Public Health England Official has said.

    If the jab is approved, then it will be stored at hubs – including hospitals and wholesalers – and then sent to vaccination clinics and GPs.

    “The Pfizer vaccine in particular is quite challenging because it has to be stored at minus 80 degrees and then transported around,” Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation at PHE, told BBC Breakfast.

  • John Hall

    HANCOCK TO LEAD DOWNING STREET PRESSER

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock will host a No 10 press conference on Monday on the coronavirus outbreak, Downing Street has said.

    Boris Johnson had been expected to lead the event before he was required to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Conservative MP who tested positive for the disease.

    It was revealed last night that Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, was the Tory parliamentarian who tested positive for the virus. He had a 35 minute meeting with the PM on Thursday where they discussed investment in the “Blue Wall”.

  • John Hall

    COVID 'CATASTROPHIC' FOR MUSIC INDUSTRY

    Pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “catastrophic” for the music industry.

    Speaking to the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson, she told LBC that the industry was “kind of discombobulated” at the cancellation of their concerts over the summer.

    Sophie said: “As the year’s gone on and they haven’t felt like they have been properly addressed by the government their voices have become more frightened, more angry.”

    The singer-songwriter live-streamed discos from her kitchen on Instagram during the first lockdown.

  • John Hall

    LOCKDOWN TRAFFIC IN GREENWICH

    Pictures show heavy early morning lockdown traffic near the Blackwell Tunnel in Greenwich, London this morning.

    Roads appeared gridlock despite the Government's stay-at-home message which has been in place since November 5 as England entered a four-week shutdown.

    Last week in the capital, traffic levels were only marginally down from 63 per cent to 59 per cent, according to TomTom.

    Traffic levels in some parts of the country actually increased.

    In Liverpool, morning rush-hour congestion was at 41 per cent, up from 37 per cent the previous week, while in Bristol, congestion levels were at 42 per cent – an increase at 7 per cent.

  • John Hall

    'TAKING THE VACCINE MUCH LESS WORSE THAN GETTING THE VIRUS'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told anti-vaxxers that taking the coronavirus vaccine is “much less worse than getting the virus”.

    He told LBC that the vaccine “protects you, people around you, and your loved ones” and dismissed anti-vaxxers as people in the extreme minority.

    “It wouldn't be allowed if it weren't safe and that's why we've been doing these trials and why we haven't yet rolled out the vaccine, because we are absolutely determined that it will be safe,” Mr Hancock said.

  • John Hall

    'WE WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THEIR LOVED ONES'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was the Government's aim for care home visitors across England to be able to take a test so they can see their loved ones before Christmas.

    A new pilot scheme has been launched today which offers regular testing to one family member or friend of a resident in a care home.

    Asked if there was a chance people could see their relatives in care homes before Christmas, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Yes… I understand how important this is.

    “And yes, our goal is to ensure that we have the testing available in every care home by Christmas – to make sure that people can take a test and therefore see their loved ones safely, that is the goal.

    “We're working closely with the social care sector to try to make that happen.”

  • John Hall

    'PM VERY SPRIGHTLY,' SAYS HANCOCK

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Boris Johnson would be able to work fully from home and was “very sprightly”.

    He told BBC Breakfast: “The wonders of video conferencing mean that you can be incredibly effective even when self-isolating if you're in the sort of job where you can do that.

    “I'd say probably the majority of my meetings with the Prime Minister are over video conference – of course I see him as well – and you can be really effective that way.”

    Mr Hancock refused to admit whether Dominic Cummings' trip to Barnard Castle in north-east England during the first lockdown had undermined confidence in the Government's public health message.

  • John Hall

    MEGA LABS SET TO OPEN BY 2021

    The UK's daily coronavirus testing capacity is set to more than double with the opening of two new “megalabs” in early 2021, the Government has announced.

    The two laboratories, one in Leamington Spa and another in Scotland, will together be able to process up to 600,000 samples a day when operating at full capacity, according to the Department for Health and Social Care.

    The Government have said that the daily capacity of 300,000 in each lab will mean faster turnaround times for results.

    The latest data on the Government's coronavirus dashboard shows capacity on Sunday was at an estimated 519,951 – with 379,955 tests actually processed.

  • John Hall

    BAPTISM OF IRE

    A BAPTISM service was held outside a church after police put a halt to the indoor ceremony due to Covid.

    About 30 worshippers had gathered at The Angel evangelical church in North London yesterday.

    But four cops on the door stopped them breaching lockdown by entering.

    Lead pastor Regan King, 28, said he wanted to hold it in defiance of the curbs because “we serve a greater good”.

    Read our full report HERE

  • John Hall

    'FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DOG'

    Boris Johnson today said he feels as "fit as a butcher's dog" after he was forced to self-isolate when he met an MP who now has Covid.

    The PM nearly died after catching the coronavirus earlier this year.

    In a video tweet, he said this morning: “Hi folks, the good news is that NHS Test and Trace is working ever more efficiently.

    “The bad news is they've pinged me and I've got to self-isolate because somebody I was in contact with a few days ago has developed Covid.

    “It doesn't matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn't matter that I'm fit as a butcher's dog and feel great.”

  • John Hall

    STOP & GO LOCKS

    Parts of England could be placed into on-off lockdowns under a new “pump the brakes” Covid strategy, health bosses have warned.

    Boris Johnson has vowed to lift the national lockdown on December 2 and move back to regional tiers in his battle against the killer bug.

    But large parts of the country could be placed into rolling ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns if infection rates bounce back.

    Department of Health bosses warned the gloomy prospect may be needed as part of a new “pump the brakes” strategy to combat the pandemic.

  • John Hall

    COVID CASE

    A landmark case relating to businesses and their eligibility to claim on insurance for Covid-related disruption will be heard at the Supreme Court today.

    The hearing is expected to last four days and could have implications for hundreds of thousands of businesses and involves payouts of around £1.2 billion.

    The initial test case, brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), related to the wording of business interruption insurance policies, which some insurers have argued do not cover the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The High Court has previously determined the “disease clauses” in most, but not all, of the policies in the test case provide cover to policyholders.

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