CORONAVIRUS cases and deaths are continuing to plunge in every English region ahead of lockdown rules easing, data reveals.
In its latest figures, the Office of National Statistic said during the week ending 12 February, every area of the country recorded a week-on-week fall in the number of registered covid deaths.
There were more signs of recovery this afternoon with cases falling to their lowest levels since October with 8,489 testing positive yesterday.
The number of deaths remains tragically high, however, with another 548 people losing their lives within 28 days of a positive coronavirus death.
The news comes as Scotland revealed its lockdown roadmap – adopting a slightly slightly slower and more cautious than Boris Johnson’s roadmap in England – that includes retaining the stay at home order until April 5.
This morning Boris warned coronavirus lockdowns simply will NOT end on June 21 unless cases and deaths continue to fall,.
After yesterday outlining plans for schools to reopen and pubs and restaurants to welcome back guests over the coming months, the Prime Minister today warned that absolutely nothing was “guaranteed”.
Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic…
HOW THE VACCINE ROLL OUT IS SHAPING UP
MATT HANCOCK SAYS IT WILL BE ‘QUIETER’ WEEK AS JAB ROLLOUT SLOWS
The Health Sec told LBC’s Nick Ferrari it was “all about supply schedules” — and the nation will bounce back in March.
IN OTHER NEWS…
- Scotland’s stay at home order to end on April 5 and pubs should be open by end of that month
- Rishi Sunak is set to extend furlough until at least July as businesses remain shut
- Boris sets England on snail-paced return to freedom with restrictions not fully lifted until at least June 21
- Foreign holidays banned until May 17 at the earliest but ministers won’t decide until April if travel allowed
- Summer of freedom could be brought to crashing end by FOURTH Covid wave, scientists warn
CASES AND DEATHS OVER TIME
UK COVID CASES AT LOWEST LEVEL SINCE START OF OCTOBER
The number of new infections recorded today is smaller than it was last Tuesday (10,625).
It is also the lowest daily rise the nation has seen since October 2, when 6,968 new cases were confirmed.
Today’s rise in deaths (548) is lower than it was this time last week (799).
It is bigger than it was yesterday (178) although this is likely to be due to a lag in reporting over the weekend.
A total of 4,134,639 have now tested positive for Covid in the UK since the start of the outbreak.
CHARITY HELPING MUSLIMS SEES DEMAND MORE THAN DOUBLE WITHIN A YEAR
A charity providing grants to struggling Muslims has seen demand for help more than double within a year in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Zakat Foundation (NZF) received 19,244 applications for financial support in 2020, more than 2.5 times the 7,348 applications in 2019.
And it distributed £3.8 million in grants, a 27 per cent rise from the previous year when £2.9 million was given out.
Of the applications received last year, 11,740 (61 per cent) were from asylum seekers.
At the end of 2020 demand had risen so much the charity was receiving more than 70 requests a day on average, up from 15 a day before the first lockdown.
EU LEADERS CALL FOR EXTENSION TO TRAVEL BAN FROM All COUNTRIES
Millions of Brits may be banned from European holidays this summer — even if our Covid rates continue to go down.
The bloc’s PMs and presidents will call for a ban on non-essential travel from outside the EU to be extended, dealing a blow to Brits’ holiday hopes.
Sickly Europe will have to stay in lockdown while Britain breaks free – with EU leaders publicly turning on Brussels over its bungled vaccine rollout.
The bloc’s leaders will admit during a video call on Thursday that the pandemic there is too “serious” to start lifting restrictions.
‘I AM NOT AT ODDS WITH OTHER CMOS ON SCHOOL REOPENING’
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer has insisted he is not at odds with other UK CMOs on his approach to schools reopening.
Dr Michael McBride defended his advocacy of a phased return to face-to-face learning as he warned that a rush out of lockdown could trigger the worst wave of Covid yet.
Dr McBride made clear his advice to the Stormont executive, recommending a gradual return to classes, had not changed since he briefed ministers last week ahead of their decision on the issue.
Last Thursday, ministers unanimously backed a plan to bring some primary school children back on March 8, with some secondary school children returning to class two weeks later.
However, last night First Minister Arlene Foster said she wanted to revisit that decision.
ENGLAND’S LATEST CORONA JAB STATS
A total 15,631,937 Covid vaccinations were given in England between December 8 and February 22, according to provisional NHS England data.
This figure includes first and second doses, which is a rise of 160,428 on the previous day’s figures.
Of this tally, 15,113,158 were the first vaccine dose of a vaccine, a rise of 155,084 on February 21, while 518,779 were a second dose, an increase of 5,344.
ANOTHER 372 COVID PATIENTS DIE IN ENGLAND
A further 372 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.
This brings the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 81,854, NHS England said on Tuesday.
Patients were aged between 28 and 99. All except 16, aged between 44 and 99, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between December 9 and February 22.
There were 34 other deaths reported with no positive Covid test result.
OFF-SONG BARBERS FACE HUGE FINE FOR PARTY
Twenty-two barbers’ shop revellers are facing large fines after a lockdown party was disrupted by police at their unusual venue.
Cops were called just before midnight last Friday to a large gathering with booming music coming from the barber’s shop.
Officers found a total of 22 people at the salon in Surrey who were all clearly breaching the national lockdown rules.
They will all face a fine and the organiser will be slapped with a £10,000 penalty.
Inspector Kathy Morteo, of the Metropolitan Police’s South Area Command, said: “Everyone knows it is neither lawful nor safe for such events to take place while the country is dealing with the Covid pandemic.”
JO WHILEY UPDATE ON SISTER FRANCES’ CORONA BATTLE
Jo Whiley says her sister Frances “would like to say a huge thank you” to everybody who has helped her after she contracted coronavirus.
The broadcaster, 55, revealed last week that her sister, 53, who has learning disabilities and diabetes, was admitted to hospital with Covid after an outbreak in her Northamptonshire care home.
On Tuesday, she wrote on Twitter: “It’s hard to believe we’ve gone from discussing palliative care on Friday night to sitting on her favourite bench drinking cups of tea.”
She added: “Covid has brought with it further complications. We’re now dealing with worrying diabetes and high blood pressure issues, and my parents are exhausted beyond belief.”
Alongside a video of Frances giving a thumbs-up and a round of applause, Whiley said her sister “would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has helped her, especially the amazing doctors and nurses of the NHS, and her many MANY well-wishers.”
COVID-STRICKEN MUM SEES BABY FOR FIRST TIME AFTER COMA
A mum who gave birth to her baby while unconscious and critically ill with Covid has seen her baby for the first time – eight weeks after she was born.
Tiny Shifa Begum was delivered six weeks early by emergency Caesarean in Milton Keynes Hospital, Bucks.
Immediately after her birth, doctors put her mum, Shamshad, in an induced coma – on a ventilator – where she remained fighting for her life.
The 44-year-old new mother was in intensive care for almost five weeks while nurses in the hospital’s neonatal unit initially cared for her baby.
Today Shamshad was finally well enough to leave hospital and return to the family home in Milton Keynes, where she held her infant for the first time.
ALARM AMID DROP IN COVID VACCINATIONS
Covid jabs have fallen every day to just over 150,000 on February 21 – a dramatic drop from the nearly 500,000 doses reported on February 17.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “We continue to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people each day receive the vaccines.
“As we said from the start, there will be daily fluctuations in the number of people who receive it day on day, but you are aware of our target to vaccinate all those within the first phase by mid-April and we are confident in our supply to be able to do that.”
That means offering a first dose to 32million people across the UK by April 15.
The spokesman added that the Moderna vaccine will be available in the UK “in spring”, alongside the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, to ensure that all adults can be offered a dose by the end of July.
MISTAKE FOR PEOPLE TO REFUSE VACCINE – PM
Boris Johnson has warned it’s a “mistake” for people to refuse to have a coronavirus vaccine amid warnings that failure to protect all communities could risk a wave of infections.
The PM said some people “genuinely refuse” to receive a jab but he believed that everyone should have a jab if they are able to.
On a visit to a school in south London, Mr Johnson acknowledged there were medical reasons why some people could not have a vaccine.
NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens has previously acknowledged there is a “real concern” about hesitancy in some black and South Asian communities to accept a vaccine and efforts have been targeted at those groups.
The PM’s spokesman said today: “We will continue to work closely with local authorities and community groups, including faith leaders and other representatives, to continue to promote the vaccine.”
LOCKDOWN BABY FOR ELLIE GOULDING
Ellie Goulding is pregnant with her first child.
The 34-year-old singer is 30 weeks’ pregnant after spending lockdown hunkered down in Gloucestershire with her new husband Caspar Jopling.
Ellie revealed her surprise baby news during a chat with Vogue after admitting she hasn’t been out in public with her baby bump.
“We did the one show. I was pregnant and had no idea,” she told the fashion mag about her last public outing – a live streamed concert.
“That was [around] the time when Caspar and I went away briefly when we were allowed to for our one-year anniversary, and that’s basically when we found out.”
COP, 24, SACKED FOR BREAKING COVID LOCKDOWN RULES
A policewoman has today been tossed off the force for breaking lockdown rules by downing wine at a banned family party.
PC Tasia Stephens, 24, was more than double the drink-drive limit when she later crashed her car into a house after leaving the boozy bash.
A hearing was told the rookie cop – who was on her probation period with the South Wales force – had dealt with her first “sudden death episode” that day and wanted company.
Panel member Susan Ridge said: “You drove knowing you had been drinking and such conduct is likely to undermine public confidence in policing.”
Former javelin-thrower Stephens, of Treorchy, Rhondda, was convicted of drink driving at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ court in July last year, and had admitted that her actions amounted to gross misconduct.
SOUTH AFRICAN MUTANT CORONAVIRUS STRAIN FOUND IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The first confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid have been found in Northern Ireland, said Health Minister Robin Swann.
Three cases of the mutant bug had been confirmed so far.
A detailed health protection risk assessment and contact tracing response is underway, but the risk of transmission has been judged to be low.
“This development does not mean that this variant is going to become the most prevalent or the dominant strain in Northern Ireland.
“However, it does underline once again the very real need for continuing caution in relation to Covid-19,” he said.
REGIONAL LEVELS RETURN TO SCOTLAND
Scotland will return to a regional levels system from the last week in April if its coronavirus suppression continues, says Nicola Sturgeon.
She said: “From the last week of April we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.
“And, of course, the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater.”
The First Minister told MSPs the five-level system, separated by council areas, will return and she hopes those in Level 4 will be able to drop down to Level 3, which would see sectors such as non-essential retail reopen.
COVID HITS REMOTE SCOTTISH ISLAND FAMOUS FOR WICKER MAN HORROR FILM
A remote Scottish island said to be the inspiration for the Wicker Man horror flick has been hit by a Covid outbreak.
Tanera Mor was bought in 2017 by English hedge fund tycoon Ian Wace – who is married to model Saffron Aldridge – for £1,695,000.
Mr Wace, who has a reported net worth of £630million, is overseeing a four-year programme of improvements on Tanera Mor which could see it become an idyllic retreat capable of hosting up to 60 paying guests.
NHS Highland has confirmed that a cluster of the workers on the island have tested positive for coronavirus.
TV adventurer Ben Fogle recently spent a few days on Tanera Mor and has sent a message of support to people on the island.
WALES GIVES ABOUT 870K COVID JABS
Public Health Wales says a total 869,653 first doses of the Covid vaccine have now been given – an increase of 7,405 from the previous day.
The agency said 49,729 second doses have also been given, a rise of 6,977.
In total, 90.7 per cent of over-80s in Wales have received their first dose, along with 92.7 per cent of those aged 75-79 and 92.1 per cent of those aged 70-74.
For care homes, 84.9 per cent of residents and 85.9 per cent of staff have received their first dose of the Covid jab.
Public Health Wales said 84.7 per cent of people in the clinically extremely vulnerable category had received their first dose.
WALES: 317 MORE COVID INFECTIONS
There have been a further 317 coronavirus cases in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 202,324.
Public Health Wales reported another four deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic last year to 5,250.
TRIBUTES FOR HERO NURSE… CONTINUED
The grieving family of hero nurse Ameta Rooplal, who died from Covid on January 29, have hailed her as “generous, kind and keen to help others”.
Her sister Carol Mohammed, 50, a trained nurse who works in hospital admin, said: “It is like someone ripping your heart out.
“I just can’t believe I am never going to speak to her again. The pain is excruciating – I never imagined I would have to be without her.”
Carol added: “When we went in to say ‘goodbye’ I prayed with her, even at that point I still thought God might save her. Spend as much time with the people you love as you can.”
Ameta’s colleagues in Birmingham are fundraising in her name to donate money to a homeless charity.
HERO NURSE DIES AFTER EXHAUSTING CHRISTMAS DAY SHIFT
A heroic nurse has died of Covid in the hospital where she cared for people battling the virus after she fell ill following an exhausting Christmas Day shift.
Ameta Rooplal, 56, cared for hundreds of patients suffering from the virus on the respiratory ward at Birmingham City Hospital.
She started to feel unwell on Boxing Day and – despite suffering from severe asthma herself – thought it was fatigue having worked so many night shifts.
But just days later Ameta was rushed in and intubated before being transferred to the hospital where she had worked for 20 years.
Nurse Ameta, from Edgbaston, Birmingham, died on January 29 after battling the virus for a month.
NEARLY 1,500 MORE CARE HOME RESIDENTS DIE FROM COVID
There were 1,491 care home resident deaths involving Covid in England and Wales registered in the week to February 12.
This grim toll is down nearly a third (31 per cent) on the previous week, the ONS said.
A total of 39,386 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate.
The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.