Scientists warn cases will spike if vaccinated people break rules – Wales Online

These are the coronavirus morning headlines for Tuesday, January 18, as ministers and officials are warning that it is still too soon to rely on the jab “coming to our rescue” as the number of first doses delivered in the UK passed four million.

Scientists have warned that people could become less strict at sticking to coronavirus rules as more of the population is vaccinated.

The warning came as the latest official figures showed there was a record 37,475 people in hospital with the disease across the UK.

As the pressure continues to mount, the NHS Confederation has said the health service could reach its limit for critical care beds this week.

The latest minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), called for close monitoring of the situation with a system of “rapid alerts” if adherence to the rules begins to fall off.

“There is a risk that changes in behaviour could offset the benefits of vaccination, particularly in the early months of vaccine rollout,” it said.

At a No 10 news conference on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a direct appeal to the public, saying: “Don’t blow it now.”

NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “It is absolutely critical that we continue to stick to those social distancing rules that are in place. That we don’t rely yet on vaccines coming to our rescue.

“It will be some time before the effects of the vaccination programme are seen through into reducing pressure on hospitals. We all have a role to play in reducing the risk of transmission.”

The Government says it is on track to vaccinate around 15 million high-priority people across the UK by February 15, including frontline health and social care staff, the over 70s and people in care homes.

Wales has faced criticism in the past week for vaccinating fewer people in proportion to its population than the other home nations.

As of Monday, 4.8% of the population in Wales had been vaccinated, compared with 4.8% in Scotland, 6.2% in England and 6.6% in Northern Ireland.

First Minister Mark Drakeford dismissed the statistics as “very marginal differences” and insisted Wales was “on track” to vaccinate the top four priority groups by the middle of February, with almost 152,000 having received their first injection. Five lockdown dates for Wales in January and February 202.

Latest coronavirus infection rates in Wales

Another 20 people have died with coronavirus in Wales and more than 1,300 new cases have been identified.

Latest figures from Public Health Wales published on Monday, January 18 show 1,332 new cases of the virus have been recorded to bring the total since the pandemic began to 181,493. The overall death total with lab-confirmed coronavirus now stands at 4,294 in Wales.

Following the latest figures, the Wales infection rate is now 306.1 cases per 100,000 people based on the seven days up to January 13. That is a decrease on the 321.9 previously reported.

PHW data also shows 151,737 people have now received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of 10pm on Sunday, up 25,362 on the figure last published on Friday. There are 201 people who have received both of their vaccine jabs. Cases for your area here.

More coronavirus breaches in Wales

A man who failed to self-isolate was one of 90 people fined by police for breaches of Covid lockdown rules over the weekend.

The individual from Barry should have self-isolated after his wife tested positive for Covid, according to South Wales Police.

It received more than 442 reports of possible breaches of the rules over the weekend, as Wales remains under Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Many of those reports did not amount to actual breaches, but officers issued fixed penalty notices in a host of other cases. More breaches here.

Meanwhile, it emerged that crowds of people headed to the Esplanade at Penarth at the weekend, forcing police to shut the road for “the safety of the public”.

Despite the coronavirus regulations banning people from travelling to exercise, crowds descended on the Esplanade as people headed to the popular spot and walk along the seafront.

Getting children back into the classroom in Wales

Changing school holiday dates in Wales is being looked at again as part of discussions on how to get pupils back into the classroom.

At Monday’s Welsh Government briefing Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she was keen to look at all options to return to face to face teaching.

Attempts to extend last summer term for a week to help children catch up after months of closure had to be ditched after an outcry from local education authorities and unions.

Most of Wales’ 22 councils told schools they could not open for the extra fourth week, due to staff contracts.

But the minister said following talks with councils and unions last week possible term date changes were back on the table to help get pupils back to the classroom.

Schools are likely to be shut at least until half term in mid February to most pupils and are only open to vulnerable and key workers’ children.

Government must extend furlough – CBI

The Government should announce an extension to the furlough scheme and business rates holiday before the Budget in March, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In its Budget submission to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the CBI said businesses cannot be expected to wait nearly two months to know whether support will be extended beyond the current deadlines.

The furlough scheme is currently set to finish at the end of April and a rates holiday closes at the end of March but many businesses will already be planning spending for the year ahead.

Tony Danker, CBI director-general, said: “Our Covid-related business support asks are about moving now or soon, rather than waiting until March 3… Business support needs to go in parallel with the tiering of restrictions.

“Sudden stops and cliff edges really don’t help and I don’t think anybody in Government believes that we’re going to have a sudden opening up with the economy.”

The organisation said business rates will become a particularly serious problem if not addressed ahead of the Budget, with a rates holiday for retailers, leisure and hospitality sectors due to end at the end of March.

Cases in your area by postcode:

Toll on young people’s mental wellbeing revealed

The coronavirus crisis has taken a “devastating toll” on young people’s mental wellbeing, with the unemployed more likely to feel anxious and depressed, a new study suggests.

Research by The Prince’s Trust suggested the experience of young people not in education employment or training is more negative than those in work and training.

The youth charity said its survey of 2,180 people aged 16 to 25 across the UK indicated that that more young people are feeling anxious than in the 12-year history of the study.

One in four respondents said they felt “unable to cope with life” since the start of the pandemic, increasing to 40% among those not in work, education or training.

Half of 16 to 25-year-olds said their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust said: “The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Joe Biden to block Donald Trump’s plan to lift Covid-19 UK travel restrictions

US President-elect Joe Biden plans to quickly extend travel restrictions barring travel by most people who have recently been in the UK and much of Europe and Brazil soon after President Donald Trump lifted those requirements effective from January 26.

Mr Trump signed an order Monday lifting the restrictions he imposed early last year in response to the pandemic after winning support from coronavirus task force members and public health officials.

Soon after Mr Trump’s order was made public, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted “on the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.”

She added: “With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”

In other parts of the world, Swiss authorities say they have placed two hotels under quarantine and ordered all guests and employees to be tested after a new variant of coronavirus was detected among them in the upmarket skiing resort of St Moritz.

Local authorities said they have also closed down skiing schools, regular schools and kindergartens.

Officials did not reveal the names of the two affected facilities, but Swiss media said both were luxury hotels.

In addition to tests at the hotels, all residents of St Moritz were being asked to be tested on Tuesday.

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