The UK reported 109,133 new coronavirus cases and 335 deaths this afternoon, both of which are down on the last few days with infections in particular dropping by around 20,000.
It comes after Covid-related fatalities reached their highest number since last February, with 379 and 398, on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Earlier, Sajid Javid announced the isolation period after testing positive for Covid in England will be cut to five full days from next Monday, to get staff back to work faster. People will still have to test negative on the final two days of isolation.
During the same Commons session, while paying tribute to England’s outgoing deputy chief medical officer, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, the shadow health secretary commended him not only for “providing outstanding public service” through Covid – but for “working with the PM” for as long as he had.
“JVT already has a knighthood, but working with the prime minister, he must have the patience of a saint,” Labour’s Wes Streeting said.
Nurses and midwives in the UK have called for the government to delay its deadline for all NHS staff to be vaccinated against Covid, over fears it could “backfire”.
Read the full story here:
Dismissing nursing staff during crisis would be ‘self-sabotage’, the Royal College of Nursing says as it called for the new policy to be delayed
Donald Trump endorses booster shots
Former president Donald Trump has endorsed booster shots and called out other politicians who hide their vaccination status.
In an interview with One America News, Mr Trump said: “I’ve had the booster. Many politicians, I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get the booster?’ Because they had the vaccine.
“And they’re answering like, in other words, the answer is yes, but they don’t want to say it. Because they’re gutless. You got to say it, whether you had it or not. Say it.”
French government says they won’t change course even as cases soar
The French government on Wednesday said that it would stick with its strategy to keep the country open despite the record number of covid-19 cases.
According to French health authorities, France is now averaging nearly 300,000 newly reported coronavirus cases a day — almost six times as many as a month ago and far more than at any earlier point in the pandemic.
“The pandemic is stronger than ever in our country,” Gabriel Attal, a government spokesman said. But, he added that despite those “dizzying” figures, “we are not changing course.”
“We want to live as normally as possible despite the virus,” Mr Attal added.
CDC forecast predicts over 62,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US in the next month
A forecast from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that more than 62,000 people could die of Covid-19 in the next month.
According to the forecast, published on Wednesday, on average the US could see 2,624 Covid-19 deaths a day — up from the current average of 1,715 per day.
Hospitalisations are also predicted to rise with the forecast predicting 17,900 to 48,000 new confirmed Covid-19 hospitalisations reported on 4 February.
Australia’s North South Wales reports over 92,000 new Covid-19 cases
North South Wales has recorded 92,264 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday — after the Australian state decided to include rapid antigen tests in the official figures for the first time.
Among the numbers reported on Thursday, 61,387 are positive rapid antigen tests taken since 1 January with 50,729 of those from the last seven days.
The residents of NSW were able to upload the result of their rapid antigen tests on an app, starting Wednesday.
According to the health ministry data, NSW has now reported 628,100 total Covid-19 cases.
Social care providers ‘turning away new care requests and closed to admissions’
Social care services are turning away new clients and handing back existing care packages as they struggle with staffing shortages exacerbated by the spread of Omicron a survey has found.
Two thirds of home care providers are turning away new requests for care while a fifth are handing back care packages, according to research by the National Care Forum (NCF).
And 43 per cent of care home providers are closed to new admissions, the research found.
Read the full report below:
Members on the frontline are describing the situation as ‘grim, difficult and relentless’, the National Care Forum said.
Hospitals in Greater Manchester call for military aid over Omicron surge
Hospitals in Greater Manchester have called for urgent military support as the region’s NHS creaks under pressure from the Omicron variant.
Chris Brookes, acute lead for Greater Manchester and an A&E consultant at Salford Royal, told the Manchester Evening News (MEN) that the system has been holding together so far, but “it would be wrong for me to say it’s not more intense a pressure, because it is”.
He added: “The word I’d use is uncomfortable. When bed occupancy is in the low- to mid-90%, that is an uncomfortable place.”
Senior NHS bosses are now in urgent talks with the military about the forces providing extra support across the region’s hospitals, as it has done in other parts of the country already.
‘Stop doing Covid theatre’ says Lord Frost
Former Brexit minister Lord David Frost has urged the government to stop doing “Covid theatre” and has called lockdowns a “serious public health mistake.”
The former minister left the Cabinet after disagreeing with the government’s Covid policy.
“We can’t afford it [and] it doesn’t work. Stop doing Covid theatre – vaccine passports, masks, stuff that doesn’t work – and focus on stuff that does work so that we’re ready if the next one is worse,” he told the Daily Telegraph’s Planet Normal Podcast.
“Stuff like ventilation, antivirals, proper hospital capacity, managing it properly – that’s what we need to be focusing on going forward.”
Covid exposing ‘weaknesses of democratic leaders,’ landmark human rights report says
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of democratic leaders, a landmark report has said.
The annual report by NGO Human Rights Watch said while democratic leaders developed effective vaccines at speed, they failed to tackle issues of social inequality and poverty that were exacerbated during the pandemic.
Our reporter, Thomas Kingsley, has the full story below:
Leaders must do more to protect democratic values, the report said
Still ‘significant number’ of patients on ventilation, NHS boss warns amid case decrease
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told Times Radio that data showed Covid-19 cases were coming down but "we are still seeing very high levels of hospital admissions and we are still seeing significant numbers of patients on mechanical ventilation".
She said the numbers in intensive care are not as high as the peak of the pandemic, but were still posing a challenge for the NHS.
She added: "I think there is considerable uncertainty still about how this will play out because levels come down in London, but they're going up in the North West, they're going up in the East of England, so we need to think really carefully about how it's impacting, and impacting differentially across the country."
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