September 21, 2021

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Coronavirus latest news: Stop forcing workers back into offices, Sage scientist tells Government

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, Coronavirus latest news: Stop forcing workers back into offices, Sage scientist tells Government, The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH
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, Coronavirus latest news: Stop forcing workers back into offices, Sage scientist tells Government, The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

, Coronavirus latest news: Stop forcing workers back into offices, Sage scientist tells Government, The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

People should be allowed to continue working from home rather than being forced back into offices, a scientist advising the Government has said.

Prof Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which feeds into Sage, said the number of people’s contacts per week had reached the highest number in a year.

“When you look more closely, what you find is nearly all of that is due to people mixing at work – a 63 per cent increase – and virtually none to do with meeting in the home and with socialising,” he said.

“So the problem isn’t that people are choosing to party all the time, the problem is people are given no choice because they are required to go back to work.

“So again, the problem doesn’t lie in public psychology, it lies in policy which forces people to do particular things. That’s why it would make sense for people to work at home if they can, and if they want to, to avoid presenteeism, forcing people to go in.”

Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of Sage, agreed that working from home would make “a significant difference to transmission if we get into trouble”.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

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Let people work from home, Government scientist says

People should be allowed to continue to work from home rather than being forced back into offices, a scientist advising the Government has said.

Prof Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which feeds into Sage, said the number of contacts people had per week had risen to the highest number for a year.

“When you look more closely, what you find is nearly all of that is due to people mixing at work – a 63 per cent increase – and virtually none to do with meeting in the home and with socialising,” he said.

“So the problem isn’t that people are choosing to party all the time, the problem is people are given no choice because they are required to go back to work.

“So again, the problem doesn’t lie in public psychology, it lies in policy which forces people to do particular things. That’s why it would make sense for people to work at home if they can, and if they want to, to avoid presenteeism, forcing people to go in.”

Chris Whitty’s war of words with Nicki Minaj 

Professor Chris Whitty has said anti-vaxxers who “peddle untruths” about the safety of coronavirus jabs “should be ashamed” of themselves, as he urged the public to receive a vaccine this winter.

England’s Chief Medical Officer told a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday that despite people holding “strange beliefs” about vaccines being unsafe, it was a “basic principle of medical ethics” that people be allowed to choose whether to accept one.

However, he said those who prevent others from receiving the vaccine “should be ashamed” of themselves.

WHO presses for global approach to vaccinations ahead of UK booster programme

Global health leaders have urged the UK and other wealthy nations to adopt a worldwide approach to tackling coronavirus as they raised concerns about new and emerging variants.

Giving healthy adults in rich nations booster jabs and vaccinating children should not occur when there are millions of at-risk adults yet to receive a first dose, experts said.

On Tuesday, UK health leaders announced a booster programme would begin imminently for 30 million adults over 50 and health and care workers.

But Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, criticised the plan to give third vaccines to millions and first jabs to children aged 12 and over.

He told Sky News: “I actually think that we should be using the scarce amounts of vaccine in the world today to make sure that everybody at risk, wherever they are, is protected – and you’re at risk if you’re a health worker, you’re at risk if you’ve got diabetes or heart disease or immune suppression.

“So why don’t we just get this vaccine to where it’s needed?

MPs do not need to wear masks in Commons, insists Health Secretary

Tory MPs do not need to wear masks in the Commons because they are not “strangers”, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said the Government’s advice was that people should consider wearing face coverings when they were gathered in a crowded space with people they did not normally mix with.

He said a photograph of the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, showing ministers around the table with their faces uncovered, was consistent with that advice.

“What we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people they are not normally spending time with,” he told Sky News.

Asked about Conservative MPs who were not wearing masks when he made his statement in the Commons, he said: “They are not strangers. Conservative backbenchers, whether they are in Parliament, in the chamber itself or other meeting rooms – you have to take measures that are appropriate for the prevalence of Covid at the time.”

Biggest fall in weekly worldwide cases in more than two months

Last week saw the biggest fall in the number of Covid worldwide for more than two months, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization, writes Anne Gulland

In the seven days up to September 12 there were nearly four million cases of the virus globally – compared to more than 4.4 million the previous week. This is a drop of nearly 14 per cent. 

Every region of the world has seen a fall in the number of cases, with the WHO regions of the Americas, South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean seeing the biggest declines. 

However, the UK had the second largest number of cases worldwide in the week up to 12 September. The UK reported just over 256,000 cases, second only to the United States which reported just over one million new cases. However, there has been a fall in the number of new cases in the UK in recent days. 

The WHO figures show there has also been a drop in the number of deaths globally – there were just over 62,000 deaths in the last seven days compared to 68,000 reported the previous week. South East Asia – where the virus has been surging in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam – saw the biggest fall with a 20 per cent drop in the number of deaths. 

Since the start of the pandemic there have been more than 224 million cases of Covid and 4.6 million deaths.

‘There won’t be any single trigger’, insists Health Secretary

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government is monitoring the pressures on the NHS on a daily basis.

He said they are keeping a “close watch” in case their Covid winter Plan B needs to be activated.

“There won’t be any single trigger. There are a number of measures we are going to keep under close watch with our friends in the NHS,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That of course includes hospitalisations, it includes the pressure on A&E, on the ambulance services, staffing levels.

“We are going to take all of those into account. On a daily basis we are working on those, reviewing that with the NHS.”

He added: “If the situation – and it is an ‘if’ – gets out of control, if for example there was a new vaccine-escape variant which no-one can predict, whether it happens or not, we will of course have to act and take new measures.”

Spi-M member: Hospitalisations versus vaccine protection will dictate further measures

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said reintroducing measures “quickly”, if needed, will mean restrictions do not need to be in place for a prolonged period.

“The situation we’re in at the moment of course is a very different position from where we were last year – of course we have the vaccines, which we have very high levels of protection across the population, but we have much higher prevalence, many more cases in the population and a lot more people in hospital than we did this time last year.

“So it’s really how those two trade off against each other as we move into the autumn that will really dictate the rate at which any of these measures might be introduced.”

He added: “At the point that there is a concern, it’s really important that any measures are introduced rapidly so that if that’s the case, we catch this rise in infections as it occurs and any measures that are introduced hopefully don’t need to be in for as long a period of time in total.”

“I don’t think there’s a suggestion at all that we are situation that we need to be mandating lockdown just that if we start to observe trends where hospital admission start to rise in a concerning way, then it’s better to introduce some measures earlier so that we don’t end up in a situation that we were last year.”

On modelling, he added: “When we’re trying to advise the Government regarding what they might expect to see in the winter it’s really important to have best and worst-case scenarios presented so that the Government can prepare accordingly, but it’s also important to remember that when these worst-case scenarios are reported, they are indeed worst-case scenarios and they’re not necessarily an expectation.

People in public eye should not spread vaccine ‘untruths’, warns Javid

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned people in the public eye not to spread “untruths” about the Covid vaccines.

“Anyone, whether you are a pop celebrity, a footballer or a politician, you should be very careful about your language,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“Certainly when it comes to something as lifesaving as vaccines – in this country there are 112,000 fewer deaths because of our, we estimate, because of our vaccine programme – they should be really careful about what they say and not spread untruths.”

Charity disappointed that shileding programme has ended

A charity has voiced its disappointment at the shielding programme – for some of the people most vulnerable to coronavirus – ending.

People with weakened immune systems should not be left behind as society learns to live with Covid, the Anthony Nolan charity said.

The blood cancer charity’s chief executive said the organisation is “extremely disappointed” that the programme has been brought to an end with “no clear plans to provide support for immunocompromised patients”.

The charity called for the appointment of a government lead for people in this category, whose immune systems might not have as good a response to vaccines.

‘Speed is of the essence’, says WHO

Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organisation special envoy for the global Covid-19 response agreed that the Government needed to be prepared to move very quickly from Plan A to Plan B in its Covid-19 winter plan.

He told Sky News: “Speed is of the essence. We’ve been through this before and we know, as a result of past experience, that acting quickly and acting quite robustly is the way you get on top of this virus, then life can go on.

“Whereas if you’re a bit slower, then it can build up and become very heavy and hospitals fill up, and then you have to take all sorts of emergency action.

“So I really like what the UK is doing. I think this emphasis on people learning to live with the virus is also the right one.”

He added: “I just hope there won’t be a need for lots more restrictions because as humanity, we need to be able to learn to live with this virus and to hold it away and stop it from wrecking our lives.”

Mask wearing  becoming political, warns WHO envoy

The World Health Organisation’s special envoy Dr David Nabarro said: “In some countries the actual act of wearing a mask or accepting some restrictions that Covid requires is some sort of political activity you do if you belong to one party.

“And if you do it you belong to one party, and if you don’t you belong to another.

“I want to be very clear, this virus has no political affiliations at all.

“The facts are the same, whatever party you vote for.”

ICYMI | Catch up with Boris Johnson’s Downing Street briefing

, Coronavirus latest news: Stop forcing workers back into offices, Sage scientist tells Government, The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Health Secretary defends Covid winter plan

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended that Government’s Covid winter plan after scientists warned of a potential new wave of hospital admissions.

Scientists advising the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned the burden on the NHS could rise “very quickly” as people returned to their offices after working from home.

But speaking on Sky News, Mr Javid said there were no “risk-free” options.

“It is right that experts are looking at what is happening and come up with their best guess of where things might go based on certain assumptions,” he said.

“Back when we made the Step 4 decision there were also experts saying that case rates are going to surge to 200,000, hospitalisations are going to go to 2,000 to 3,000 a day – don’t do it.

“We have to listen to them but eventually make what we think is the right decision. There is no risk-free decision but I think what we have announced in terms of this plan, is well thought through.

“It is the act of a responsible Government to set out this is our plan, this is how we are going to protect the gains, but just in case things are not quite as we want them to be we have got to have another plan and get that ready too.”

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, Sep 15.

Sydney curfew to end for vaccinated

A curfew imposed on more than two million people in the 12 Sydney suburbs hardest hit by the spread of the delta variant will end on Wednesday night, authorities said, stopping short of easing more lockdown restrictions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned it would be against the law for unvaccinated people to attend any public venues once the state hits 70pc, when the fully vaccinated are promised more freedom.

“It’s black and white. If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t go to a restaurant, you can’t go to a cafe,” she said, urging the unvaccinated to get their shots soon.

New South Wales, the epicentre of Australia’s delta outbreak, reported a slight rise in new infections to 1,259, the majority in Sydney, from 1,127 on Tuesday, and 12 deaths.

Broadway’s big names are back in New York

Broadway’s biggest musicals roared back to life on Tuesday, banishing the eerie silence of the past 18 months in New York’s pandemic-hit theatre district with screams, tears and standing ovations.

Emotions were giddy as the curtain rose again on top musicals Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked before packed audiences welcoming back live theatre after the coronavirus shutdown.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda received a standing ovation when he appeared on stage before the start of his Tony Award-winning hip-hop show about America’s founding fathers.

Lin-Manuel Miranda welcomes back his audience

Credit:
Craig Ruttle/AP

“I don’t ever want to take live theatre for granted ever again, do you? It’s so sacred,” said Miranda, tearing up with emotion. “I’m so grateful to you and I hope you go see as many shows as you can and keep supporting our industry.”

A few blocks away, Kristin Chenoweth made a surprise appearance before the start of Wicked, in which she originated the role of Glinda about 20 years ago. Composer Steven Schwartz joined a prolonged curtain call.

Actress Kristin Chenoweth gives the curtain speech on the stage of Wicked

Credit:
 Craig Ruttle/AP

“There’s no place like home,” said Chenoweth, to wild cheers and audible weeping. “I wanted to be here to welcome New York and all of the theatregoers back to what is my favourite show.”

Julie Taymor, director of The Lion King, opened the show by telling the audience: “As Rafiki says, it is time.”

The Lion King cast in their first show back after the pandemic shutdown

Credit:
AP/Charles Sykes

The long-running musical Chicago also re-opened to long applause after every song.

Broadway was one of the first institutions to close when the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020 and is the last to re-open in the United States.

Today’s top stories

  • Boris Johnson on Tuesday night put the public on alert that a new wave of Covid-19 restrictions – possibly even including a lockdown – could be reintroduced this autumn.
  • Analysis: There is no work from home order from the Prime Minister, but nor is he enthusiastically urging Britain’s army of office workers to return to their desks.
  • Winter is coming, and with it the bleak prospect of a return to enforced mask wearing, working from home and vaccine passports.
  • Sajid Javid faced jeers in the Commons on Tuesday as he announced contingency plans to introduce vaccine passports this winter if coronavirus surges.
  • The Government has a Plan A – which will be used if the pandemic continues not to threaten the capacity of the NHS. But there will also be a Plan B, to be held in reserve in case the pandemic resurges.
  • Sajid Javid has signalled the end of PCR tests for fully jabbed holidaymakers as travel chiefs called for all tests for people arriving from low-risk countries to be scrapped.
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