Covid news – live: Boris Johnson says ‘don’t cancel Christmas parties’ as adults offered booster by 31 January

Military drafted in to assist with vaccinations earlier this year

Boris Johnson says government ‘not changing guidance’ around Christmas socialising

Boris Johnson has said the NHS is stepping “back into the breach yet again” as he vowed vaccination centres would be “popping up like Christmas trees” as part of the UK’s booster jab drive.

The Prime Minister, addressing the nation from Downing Street, was setting out measures to combat growing fears over the new Omicron Covid variant.

He said: “We’re going to get behind the men and women of our NHS who saved so many lives and run our vaccination programme without a break as they have, who are going back into the breach yet again.”

He added that his government would be deploying “at least 400 military personnel” so assist the NHS and the “jabs army” of volunteers.

Meanwhile, the NHS has asked for military assistance to aid its bid to more than double the current Covid vaccination booster rates.

The expansion of the vaccination programme, to include all adults 18 and over, will also see the time between second jabs and boosters cut from six to three months – meaning the NHS will have to vaccinate 13 million people in addition to the 6 million already promised during the winter.

Sources attending an NHS webinar on Monday evening told The Independent the Ministry of Defence has been contacted by NHS leaders to provide staffing support.

Follow our live coverage below


Investigation launched after German doctor administers 20,000 home-made Covid ‘vaccines’

German state prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into a controversial physician and entrepreneur after he inoculated 20,000 people with a homemade Covid vaccine.

Winfried Stöcker, a 74-year-old billionaire and owner of Lübeck airport, where the shots were administered, faces charges of violating Germany’s medicines laws, along with the managing director of the airport and two other retired physicians, aged 80 and 81, according to a report on the NDR news station.

Erik Kirschbaum reports:

Investigation after German doctor administers 20,000 home-made Covid ‘vaccines’

Winfried Stöcker says he developed his vaccine in less than 30 minutes

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 23:30

Anneliese Dodds confronts Matt Hancock in the House of Commons over concerns about Covid-19 contracts being given to those individuals and firms referred by Tory figures:

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 23:15

Will there be a new UK lockdown before Christmas as Omicron cases rise?

In case you missed it...

As preventative measures against Omicron establishing a foothold, Britons are again being ordered to wear face masks in shops and on public transport, more countries have been added to the travel “red list” and new arrivals from overseas will be required to take a PCR test and potentially self-isolate for 10 days.

Will there be a new UK lockdown before Christmas as Omicron cases rise?

New variant raises alarm across the world and prompts Boris Johnson to impose first social restrictions since summer, inviting fears more severe measures could follow

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 23:00

Boris Johnson ‘broke’ lockdown rules by giving Downing St Christmas parties green light

Boris Johnson and a number of Downing St officials have been accused of flouting lockdown rules by attending parties at Number 10 last Christmas.

According to an exclusive from the Mirror, he held a festive party in Downing Street while London was under tier 3 restrictions.

It is claimed that around “40 or 50” people were packed in to the house “cheek by jowl” into a medium-sized room.

One source told the Mirror: “It was a Covid nightmare.”

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 22:45

PCR tests and self-isolation: What are the rules for travellers?

How the return of PCR tests and self-isolation for travel works

Arrivals to the UK must isolate until they get a negative result

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 22:30

Matt Hancock tells Labour chairwoman to withdraw ‘slur’ over pub contract claims

Matt Hancock has called accusations that his former pub landlord applied for or received a contract from the Government or NHS a “fabrication”.

The Conservative former health secretary accused Labour of pushing a “slur” and asked the party’s chairwoman, Anneliese Dodds, to withdraw remarks she had made in the House of Commons.

Ms Dodds refused to do so and argued that facts had been laid out in the courts and “they stand for themselves”.

Questions have been repeatedly raised about Mr Hancock’s involvement in helping his friend, the former landlord of his local pub, to obtain a multimillion-pound contract to supply test tubes for NHS Covid-19 testing.

The Mail on Sunday, following a contested Freedom of Information request, obtained messages between Mr Hancock and Alex Bourne in which he personally referred a plea for business to Jonathan Marron, at the time the director-general of community and social care at the Department of Health.

A message from Mr Bourne, who runs a food packaging company, initially raised the possibility of making personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical facemasks, before later exchanges reveal a switch to producing items involved in coronavirus testing.

Mr Bourne said his firm had signed a contract with an approved NHS distributor rather than directly with the Government and added: “This idea that I am chummy with [Mr Hancock] is not true.”

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 22:15

Nine Scottish Omicron cases all linked to same event, says First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon today announced that the nine cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Scotland are all linked to the same private event.

She also confirmed that none of the people who had tested positive for the variant had required hospital treatment.

There are now five cases in the Lanarkshire area and four in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, up from the six across the two areas announced on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said: “None of these individuals - as far as we know - has recent travel history to or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.

“However, while the contact tracing exercise is still ongoing, health protection teams have established that all nine cases are linked.

“They all trace back to a single private event on 20 November.

“Indeed, we fully expect that there will be more cases identified over the coming days that are also linked to this event.”

She added: “Public Health Scotland is working hard to identify any and all cases of Omicron in Scotland as quickly as possible and I’m very grateful to them for these efforts.

“However, given the nature of transmission, I consider it highly likely, indeed almost certain, that more cases, perhaps many more cases, will emerge.”

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 22:00

Anti-mask Maine lawmaker resigns after wife dies of Covid-19

A state legislator in Maine who aggressively fought mask and vaccine mandates has resigned just months after his wife died of Covid-19, writes Nathan Place.

Rep Chris Johansen, a Republican who represented parts of Aroostook County, had vigorously protested pandemic precautions in his state, and was one of seven lawmakers who refused to wear masks in the Maine House of Representatives, causing a confrontation with police.

Mr Johansen and his wife, Cindy Johansen, also posted numerous messages on Facebook casting doubt about the pandemic and vaccines.

Anti-mask Maine lawmaker resigns after wife dies of Covid-19

‘This is a difficult decision to make,’ wrote State Rep Chris Johansen. ‘But I also must honor my obligations to my family and to my animals’

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 21:45

Booster programme poses ‘huge logistical challenge’ to NHS, say health leaders

The acceleration of the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme poses a “huge logistical challenge” to the NHS, experts have said.

Health leaders have said the campaign was already at its “most complex phase” even before the Government confirmed changes to the programme.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: “The target to offer boosters to all eligible adults by the end of January presents a huge logistical challenge for the NHS, but given the potential threat from the Omicron variant, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

“There are many competing pressures. The health service is already operating at, and sometimes beyond, full stretch.

“But trusts have been at the heart of the vaccination campaign that has done so much to curb the threat from Covid-19, and will play their full part in expanding and accelerating the programme.”

“I think we can do it but to do it will have other consequences,” NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

“Everybody knows our health service is under unprecedented pressure this winter. When you take a system that is already under enormous pressure and finds it difficult to cope, and you throw something else into it, then I’m afraid it will have consequences.

“We need to be realistic about what the health service is going to be able to do when it is prioritising these booster programmes.”

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 21:30

Unvaccinated Canadians banned from planes and trains beginning today

Unvaccinated Canadians will be barred from air and train travel beginning today amid growing fears over the new omicron coronavirus variant.

The strict policy was announced on 30 October with a month-long delay to allow unvaccinated residents a chance to get their shots before it officially went into effect on Tuesday.

The new policy includes a few exceptions, including medical exemptions, connections through Canada and travel to remote areas that are only accessible by plane.

Megan Sheets reports:

Unvaccinated Canadians banned from planes and trains beginning today

Canada’s strict new policy comes into effect two days after the country reported its first cases of the omicron Covid variant

Emily Atkinson30 November 2021 21:15

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