Covid news LIVE – Total RELIEF as end of coronavirus pandemic 'now in sight' for the UK, WHO declares

Covid news LIVE – Total RELIEF as end of coronavirus pandemic 'now in sight' for the UK, WHO declares

January 18, 2022

THE Covid-19 pandemic is nearly over as far as the UK is concerned, the World Health Organisation has declared.

Infections and hospital cases are falling across the country — the first time both measures have dropped since the ultra-contagious Covid variant swept the UK at the end of last year.

The World Health Organization’s Covid special envoy David Nabarro said Britain could now see “light at the end of the tunnel”.

And Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, predicted that life could be back to normal by the summer.

He said: “Covid will soon be just one of the causes of the common cold and will be a pain in the behind, maybe flaring up in winter.

"We will need boosters for the most vulnerable but I can’t see widespread mask use or testing being warranted.

Read our covid live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    Boris Johnson breaks cover for first time

    The scorned ex-aide last night insisted the PM WAS warned about the "bring your own booze" bash in May 2020 – but "waved it aside".

    His explosive accusation contradicts Mr Johnson's claim he had no prior knowledge of the lockdown-breaking knees-up in the garden.

    In a grovelling apology to the Commons last week he said he "implicitly believed it was a work event" but should have sent everyone back inside.

    The PM has been bunkering in isolation for the past few days after a family member tested positive for Covid.

    But he emerged to chair Cabinet this morning and will be grilled on the latest developments at a North London hospital later.

  • Louis Allwood

    New isolation timeline

    An example timeline is as follows:

    Monday = Day 0 (when you develop symptoms or get a positive test)

    Tuesday = Day 1

    Wednesday = Day 2

    Thursday = Day 3 

    Friday = Day 4  

    Saturday = Day 5 – first lateral flow test

    Sunday = Day 6 – second lateral flow test and if both are negative you can leave isolation

  • Louis Allwood

    What are the new self isolation rules?

    In a change to self-isolation guidance from January 17, people in England can leave quarantine after five full days, so long as they test negative on days five and six.

    But confusing detail means anyone isolating will actually have to do so for six, not five, days.

    This is because the first full day of isolation is NOT the day you test positive or noticed symptoms – although you must still isolate following either of these events.

    That day is now known as "day zero", with the next day counting as day one, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed.

  • Louis Allwood

    Common symptoms of Omicron

    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Sneezing
    • Headache
    • Cough
    • Nausea
    • Muscle pains
    • Diarrhoea
    • Skin rash

    Symptoms most likely to strike the fully vaccinated

    Omicron is still spreading throughout the UK, knowing the signs is important, as it means you stand less chance of accidentally passing on the virus.

    Symptoms are appearing to be slightly different in people who have been vaccinated against Covid.about:blankabout:blank

    Professor Tim Spector, behind the ZOE Symptom Study App, where people log how they are feeling with the virus, revealed around nine symptoms that keep popping up.

    He told newsGP: "Back in 2020, it quickly became clear that the original and Alpha versions of the coronavirus caused three very common symptoms – cough, fever and loss of smell – as well as at least 20 others.

    "When Delta appeared, we then noticed a shift in the most frequently reported symptoms,

    "Cold-like symptoms – including a runny nose, sore throat and persistent sneezing – became more common, along with a headache and cough, particularly in people who had been vaccinated.

    "It’s causing symptoms that are much more like a regular cold, particularly in people who’ve been vaccinated, and fewer general systemic symptoms, such as nausea, muscle pains, diarrhoea and skin rashes."

    No10 ‘cautiously confident’ we’re nearing end

    The deputy PM talked about a "positive prognosis" in the fight against the virus in a major boost to hopes all restrictions will soon be dropped.

    His remarks came with Boris Johnson readying to bin working from home and vaccine passports from next Wednesday.

    No 10 will hold a review of the ongoing need for Plan B measures as soon as the end of this week, with only masks set to stay.

    That means Brits will be able to go back to the office and attend mass events like the footie without showing their vaccination status or a negative test.

    Asked if the end of the pandemic is "in sight" Mr Raab replied: "I think it’s a bit early to say that definitively, but good we're asking that question.

    "The reality is we are the most boosted country in terms of vaccines of any large country, the most tested in Europe which helps limit the spread.

    "We've got the most antiviral drugs in Europe, which helps limit the seriousness of cases and severity."

    The Sun’s Jab Army needs YOU

    Although Omicron is markedly milder than previous variants, the sheer number of cases have left up to a million people self-isolating and threatening widespread disruption to schools and the economy.

    Ministers also say the combination of boosters and Plan B measures are “working” and are not expected to announce fresh measures.

    A third jab also significantly slashes the risk of falling seriously ill – and The Sun’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping get vital boosters in people’s arms.

    Boosters provide the most protection

    It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    Britain has passed Omicron peak, expert believes

    Infections and hospital cases are falling across the country — the first time both measures have dropped since the ultra-contagious Covid variant swept the UK at the end of last year.

    The World Health Organization’s Covid special envoy David Nabarro said Britain could now see “light at the end of the tunnel”.

    And Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, predicted that life could be back to normal by the summer.

    He said: “Covid will soon be just one of the causes of the common cold and will be a pain in the behind, maybe flaring up in winter.

    "We will need boosters for the most vulnerable but I can’t see widespread mask use or testing being warranted.

    “I think it’s quite plausible that we won’t have any restrictions by summer. That is a reasonably realistic expectation.

    "Ultimately, we will live in a society that this thing circulates quite widely and every few years we’ll get a dose of the cold.

    “But ultimately, it won’t be killing people, with the exception of our older population.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Why was Novak Djokovic's visa cancelled?

      Novak Djokovic's visa was cancelled twice by the Australian authorities.

      The first time, on January 5, the Australian Border Force were not satisfied that the Serb's prior infection with Covid was an adequate medical exemption to vaccination.

      However, this decision was quashed on January 10 by Judge Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court for procedural reasons.

      On the evening of January 14, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke made a new order cancelling the Serb's visa "on health and good order grounds, adding that it was in the public interest to do so".

      In his submission to the Federal Court, Hawke stated that he was "willing to accept" Novak Djokovic had a valid medical exemption from vaccination to travel to Australia.

      However, he added that Djokovic's status as a high profile unvaccinated person, his views on vaccination and his failure to isolate after testing positive in Serbia could be a threat to public health and public order.

      Specifically, he believed that Djokovic being allowed to remain in Australia could embolden anti-vax groups and encourage other people to ignore Covid rules refuse vaccination or not complete their full course of vaccination.

      Djokovic then lost his appeal against Hawke's order at the Federal Court.

      Explaining the process that led to the rejection of the appeal, Chief Justice Allsop explained that the court could only rule in favour of Djokovic if the decision was "irrational" or "legally unreasonable" and that it could not decide on the merits or wisdom of the decision.

    • Louis Allwood

      Potato and baby formula shortage as wild winter weather causes travel chaos

      As the coronavirus pandemic continues and some parts of the world have been affected by extreme weather conditions, potatoes are becoming less accessible.

      According to The Washington Post, some McDonald's locations in Japan have stopped selling large and medium-size french fry orders in December 2021.

      Supply chain issues and floods in the Port of Vancouver are the reasoning behind shipment delays.

      Additionally, South Africa has experienced a potato shortage after excessive frost and rains and various Kentucky Fried Chicken locations ran out of chips this month.

      Farmers across the US, one of the world's top potato producers, last year had to destroy millions of potatoes after a major drop in demand.

      Meanwhile, baby formula has also been difficult to come by as many brands have been out of stock.

      Parents across the nation have had difficulty finding formula by brands like Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    • Louis Allwood

      Covid is turning kids into fussy eaters, experts warn

      The virus is putting growing numbers of youngsters off their favourite foods by triggering parosmia – a change in the sense of smell.

      It can lead to chocolate whiffing of petrol and lemons having the pong of old cabbage.

      While this is a another side effect of Covid, experts have said that the Omicron variant is a milder one than those that came before it.

      Professor Carl Philpott, from the University of East Anglia, said cases of parosmia in kids were “almost unheard of in children” before the pandemic.

      But now “presentations in children are becoming increasingly common”.

      He added: “Parosmia is thought to be a product of having less smell receptors working which leads to only being able to pick up some of the components of a smell mixture."

    • Louis Allwood

      Cummings claims Boris Johnson ‘lied to Parliament’ (Continued…)

      In his latest explosive intervention into the saga, Mr Cummings blasted that regarding that day alone, "never mind the string of other events", the Prime Minister "lied to Parliament about parties" by insisting he had been assured no events had taken place that would have broken coronavirus rules.

      "Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened," he said.

      Tonight No10 repeated their insistence that “It is untrue that the Prime Minister was warned about the event in advance.”

      “As he said earlier this week he believed implicitly that this was a work event.

      “He has apologised to the House and is committed to making a further statement once the investigation concludes.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Cummings claims Boris Johnson ‘lied to Parliament’

      The rogue Brexit guru said he warned the PM directly that a drinks party in the Downing Street garden at the height of the first lockdown was against the rules.

      But No10 have repeatedly denied Mr Johnson was aware of the “bring your own booze” invite sent to staff by his private secretary Martin Reynolds.

      The PM issued a public apology last week over revelations that 100 Downing Street staff were invited to the boozy bash in May 2020.

      He told the Commons that he attended the event for 25 minutes to “thank staff” and “believed implicitly that this was a work event”.

      But last night Cummings said that was a lie.

      The ex-No 10 adviser said he raised concerns that the email invite to the socially distanced drinks “broke the rules” before the event took place – and he says he warned Mr Johnson.

      He wrote on his blog: “I said to the PM something like: 'Martin's invited the building to a drinks party, this is what I'm talking about, you've got to grip this madhouse.”

      But he claims “the PM waved it aside.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Boris Johnson set to make major announcement THIS WEEK

      BORIS Johnson will announce THIS WEEK whether he is ditching Plan B restrictions, Downing Street hinted today.

      Working from home, mandatory indoor mask-wearing and vaccine passports are set to expire next Wednesday.

      No10 this morning vowed to reveal whether they intend to extend the measures beyond January 26 in plenty of time.

      The PM's official spokesman said: "I think you'd expect us, as we've always sought to do is give the maximum amount of time possible. 

      "I don't have a specific date for you. But certainly we will look to announce our position in advance to those changes coming into effect."

    • Louis Allwood

      Keir Starmer refuses to apologise over office beer

      Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to apologise over images of him drinking beer in an office at a time when coronavirus rules banned indoor socialising.

      Sir Keir insisted no rules were broken while he had a takeaway in a constituency office while working on the election campaign in 2021.

      He repeatedly refused to apologise and was branded a "hypocrite" by a caller during his LBC Radio phone-in show.

      The Labour leader has demanded the resignation of Boris Johnson over No 10 parties held during 2020 when England was locked down.

      Sir Keir was pictured in the office of City of Durham MP Mary Foy on April 30 2021 in the run-up to May's local elections and the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election.

      He said: "The picture of me was in a constituency office up in the North East, it was I think, three or four days before the May elections, so we're really busy. I was with my team going across the country from place to place. We're in the office, working in the office and we stopped for a takeaway, and then we carried on working and that is the long and the short of it. There was no breach of the rules. There was no party. And there was absolutely no comparison with the Prime Minister."

    • Louis Allwood

      Downing Street statement on PM commuting in March 2020

      Downing Street said Boris Johnson commuted between Chequers and No 10 during March 2020 as his wife was pregnant and it was safer for the couple to be away from London.

      The Prime Minister's official spokesman was asked about reporting by news website Tortoise that alleged Mr Johnson had commuted between his country residence and No 10 between March 16 and 27, 2020, when guidance said people should not travel for non-essential reasons.

      He said: "At the time, as you know, Mrs Johnson was heavily pregnant and had been placed in a vulnerable category and advised to minimise social contacts, so in line with clinical guidance and to minimise the risk to her they were based at Chequers during that period, with the Prime Minister commuting to Downing Street to work."

      The spokesman said there would have been staff at Chequers with the couple.

      He said the guidance on not travelling to second homes did not come in until March 22, "at which point the Prime Minister and his wife were already based in Chequers, acting in line with clinical guidance".

      Asked if the PM was therefore putting his wife at risk by commuting during the period, the spokesman said: "The Prime Minister was leading the coronavirus response, the pandemic response, and in line with a number of individuals who were required to still be in work… that's why the Prime Minister was coming to No 10 for necessary work meetings."

    • Louis Allwood

      Downing Street says 'encouraging signs in data' for Plan B lift on Jan 26

      Downing Street said there were "encouraging signs" in the data as Boris Johnson considers whether England's Plan B restrictions can be lifted on January 26, when they are due to expire.

      The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the "maximum amount of time possible" would be given to prepare for any changes in the rules.

      "In terms of the data, there are some encouraging signs that infections are falling across the country," the spokesman said.

      "Obviously we want to see that mirrored in the latest ONS data as well.

      "There are also some signs of falls – or at least plateauing – in admissions and occupancy in hospital, which is good to see.

      "But it still remains the case that our NHS is under significant pressure, there are over 16,000 Covid patients in hospital in England alone.

      "So we are keeping a very close eye on the data but we do believe the mitigations we have in place – particularly our booster programme – is offering massive protection to the public."

    • Louis Allwood

      Sajid Javid urges people to get boosted

      Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said: “We can learn to live with Covid if everybody comes forward for their vaccines and gets boosted now.”

      Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, also said: “Covid has caused so much disruption for so many families over the past two years, affecting young people’s lives and education.

      “I’d urge everyone, whatever your age, to come forward and get that vital top-up as soon as it is possible.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Boris Johnson’s future as Prime Minister on ‘death row’

      BORIS Johnson’s Premiership is on “death row” as he faces a two-week battle to save his political neck.

      The PM has been warned he is in for the fight of his life as top Tories held emergency talks over when to bring his 907 days in office to a swift end.

      One senior figure yesterday claimed up to 35 MPs had already sent letters of no confidence to backbenchers’ leader Sir Graham Brady.

      A Cabinet source said: “Boris is toast and deep down he knows that. He’s not stupid. He’ll be thinking long and hard about his way out now.

      “He may reach the conclusion it is better to get out with a bit of dignity in his own time.

      “Even if he wins a confidence vote, he’ll know that’s a step along the road towards the exit door.”

      Read more here.

    • Louis Allwood

      Two Omicron symptoms that could be the only sign

      Some people can test positive while showing no signs at all – but there are a few key symptoms to know of that could mean you have been hit with the variant.

      This version of the Covid virus is presenting as more cold-like, especially in people who have been vaccinated.

      It is milder, again largely in those who have been jabbed, and so is unlikely to require anything more than a few days at home recovering.

      But incase you come into contact with anyone more vulnerable or who could be taken ill more seriously, it's good to know the signs you might be carrying Omicron.

      Two key symptoms, according to an expert, are a runny nose and headache.

      Professor Irene Petersen, a professor of epidemiology and health informatics at University College London, told the Independent: “A runny nose and headache are symptoms of many infections, but may also be the first symptoms – and only symptoms – of Covid."

    • Louis Allwood

      WFH and vaccine passports to be DROPPED in just 9 days

      Brits will be able to go back to the office and attend mass events like the footy without showing their vaccination status or a negative test.

      But the requirement to wear face coverings in many public places like trains, buses, and shops is set to remain until Omicron cases dip further.

      Two senior Cabinet ministers have dropped the strongest hints yet that the PM is preparing to end the Plan B restrictions next week.

      Today the education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said "the numbers are looking positive" in the UK's fight against Covid.

      He added: "I'm confident that when we review this on January 26 then we'll be in a much better place to lift some of these restrictions.

      "I think we are witnessing the transition of this virus from pandemic to endemic.

      "I hope we'll be one of the first major economies to demonstrate to the world how you transition this from pandemic to endemic."

    • Louis Allwood

      Boris ‘is safe in his job’ says Nadhim Zahawi

      The PM is battling to stay in Downing Street following the dripping allegations of Covid rule-breaking and hypocrisy.

      Ahead of a crunch report into parties by Whitehall mandarin Sue Gray, he is planning a charm offensive to win round mutinous Tory MPs.

      Six Conservative backbenchers have publicly confirmed submitting letters of no confidence in the PM. 

      This morning Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted Mr Johnson was staying put.

      On the third time of asking if the PM is "safe in his job" the top Tory said: "Yes, he is, because he's human and we make mistakes.

      "And, actually, he came to the despatch box and apologised and said he will absolutely submit himself to Parliament, because that's our parliamentary democracy."

    • Louis Allwood

      What is included in Labour's 10 point plan

      Labour’s 10 point plan for living with Covid:

      • Retain volunteer responders to assist with vaccination (next winter)
      • Prioritise testing and make it fit for the future
      • Fix sick pay
      • Playing our part in vaccinating the world
      • Prioritise children’s learning
      • Launch exercises to learn lessons
      • Publish a “road map” for future decision-making
      • Transform the “front door” of the NHS and use Covid’s legacy to build resilience and bring waiting lists down
      • Transform social care
      • Turbo-charge research and innovation

      'The virus will change and adapt and we need to learn to live well with it'

      Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the proposals were a way of learning to “live well” with coronavirus as it continues to adapt.

      Mr Streeting said: “We’re not out of the woods with Covid-19.

      “The virus will change and adapt and we need to learn to live well with it.

      “For the Government, living with Covid is just an empty slogan with no plan.

      “For some of the fanatics on the Conservative backbenches, living with Covid means letting the virus rip. Both positions are highly irresponsible.”

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