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Live Reporting

Edited by Sarah Collerton

All times stated are UK

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  1. What's been happening around the UK?

    We are going to be closing the live page soon so here's a recap of today's coronavirus headlines:

    • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference where he announced all travel corridors will be closed from Monday for a month to protect the UK against new variants of Covid
    • People arriving in the UK must show a negative test and quarantine for 10 days or test negative again after five days
    • Deaths will continue to rise into next week because there are more people in hospital with Covid than ever, says Prof Whitty
    • The number of cases are "extremely high" but are "levelling off", he says
    • Meanwhile, a leading scientist says one of two coronavirus variants first detected in Brazil has been found in the UK - but not the variant that is causing concern
    • Hospitals in the Brazilian city of Manaus have reached breaking point while treating Covid-19 patients, amid reports of severe oxygen shortages and desperate staff
    • Globally, more than two million people have now died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    That's all from the live team but we will be back tomorrow.

    These updates were brought to you by Jasmine Taylor-Coleman, Sarah Collerton, Vanessa Barford, Emma Harrison, George Wright, Doug Faulkner, Jennifer Meierhans, Victoria Bisset and Joshua Cheetham.

  2. New York City 'will run out of vaccines next week,' says mayor

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned that the city may run out of coronavirus vaccines next week without a resupply.

    “If we don’t get a serious supply, we’re going to have to freeze the appointment system," he told WNYC radio. "That would be insane, after all the progress we’ve made.”

    He's the latest official to express concern for vaccine supplies, in a state that was once at the epicentre of America's outbreak and continues to be one of the worst-affected parts of the US.

    New York State receives about 300,000 doses a week, and a third of these go to New York City, according to officials. But Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday that the state would be receiving 50,000 fewer doses next week.

    While New York City has historically been struggling to administer jabs at scale, the pace picked up this week due to the expansion of vaccination sites, and more people becoming eligible. Between Monday and Thursday, the city administered nearly 120,000 doses.

  3. Temporary London mortuary 'a sobering reminder'

    The Breakspear Crematorium Facility

    A temporary mortuary that can hold up to 1,300 bodies has been opened in Ruislip, west London, as the capital faces a growing coronavirus death toll.

    London recently exceeded 10,000 Covid-related deaths, a figure Mayor Sadiq Khan described as "heartbreaking".

    The Breakspear Crematorium facility, which took a week to build and cost about £3m, is expected to receive bodies from Friday.

    It has been called "a visual, sobering reminder" of the continuing cost of the pandemic.

    Westminster City Council chief executive Stuart Love, who is leading the London-wide response, says: "We have built this really hoping it doesn't get used to its capacity.

    "This just re-emphasises the message of staying at home and looking after your loved ones."

  4. Portugal spends first day under new lockdown

    A man wearing a face mask walks in central Lisbon

    Portugal has entered its second national lockdown, with all non-essential businesses closed.

    Unlike in the previous lockdown, however, schools will remain open. Measures will also be relaxed for the presidential election, which takes place on 24 January.

    The new restrictions came into force as Portugal's daily deaths reached 159 on Friday. Infections, meanwhile, were at the second-highest number since the pandemic began, with 10,663 new cases announced the same day.

    Portugal has recorded more than half a million cases and 8,543 deaths from Covid-19, figures from Johns Hopkins University show.

  5. Airlines support travel ban

    Norwegian Air
    Image caption: Norwegian Air has axed its long haul network due to the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry

    Airline bosses have said they support the government's decision to close all travel corridors to the UK to prevent the import of new variants of coronavirus.

    Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said: “Travel corridors were a lifeline for the industry last summer and the government were right to bring them in when they did.

    "But things change and there’s no doubting this is a serious health emergency and ministers need to act to keep borders safe and the public protected.

    "We therefore support this latest measure, on the assumption that we will work with government – when the time is right – to remove these restrictions when it is safe to do so and start to open up our sector again, to support the UK’s economic recovery.”

  6. Reality Check

    How widely enforced is the travel quarantine rule?

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all travel corridors with the UK will be closed from 04:00 GMT on Monday.

    This means all arrivals to the UK must self-isolate or quarantine for up to 10 days upon arrival to the country (most passengers will also need proof of a negative Covid test too).

    When it comes to enforcement of the quarantine rules, the latest figures we have show police in England and Wales investigated around 9,000 cases – of reported breaches - in the period to 24 November 2020.

    The majority – just over 7,000 - needed no further investigation.

    In almost 1,400 cases, the police were unable to take any action because no-one answered the door or they had the wrong address.

    Just 223 fines were actually given out. Border Force are also able to hand out fines but we can’t find any figures for this.

    A survey from the Office for National Statistics in October showed that roughly two-thirds of people in England said they were following the quarantine rules.

    This means the other third said they had breached the rules in some way or another.

  7. Starmer: Travel ban 'the right step but slow again'

    Sir Kier Starmer

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says the government announcement to suspend all UK travel corridors is the “right step” but called the timing of the decision “slow again”.

    He says the public will be thinking “why on earth didn’t this happen before?"

    He also "urgently" called for a “longer term plan for the airline industry” going forward and said that the enforcement of isolation upon arrival needs to be properly addressed, as “the quarantine hasn’t really been policed effectively at all.”

    Asked if he forced former Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard’s hand in resigning, Mr Starmer said he wanted to “pay tribute to Richard and everything he achieved” and insisted the decision was his alone.

  8. The main takeaways from the PM's press conference

    Boris Johnson

    The prime minister finished a Downing Street press conference a short time ago. He was speaking alongside England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and the UK's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

    Here are the main takeaways:

    • All travel corridors will be closed from Monday for a month to protect the UK against new variants of Covid
    • Travellers arriving in the UK must show a negative test and quarantine for 10 days or test negative again after five days
    • Deaths will continue to rise into next week because there are more people in hospital with Covid than ever, says Prof Whitty
    • The number of cases are "extremely high" but are "levelling off", he says
    • Cases are coming down as a result of lockdown rules, but "take the lid off now and it is going to boil over for sure", says Sir Patrick
    • It is not the time for the slightest relaxation, says PM
    • A total of 3.2 million people have received a vaccine across the UK
  9. Get the vaccine when you get the message - PM

    Asked about reports of deliveries of vaccines being cancelled, the prime minister says the crucial thing is that everyone gets down to their vaccination centre when they get the message to come for their vaccine.

    "When we have the problem of some groups or some people not getting the message or perhaps being a bit reluctant to go for one reason or another that we all work to make it clear this is a great thing to do," the PM says.

    He says local councils and public health directors will know where to find people who are hard to reach.

    "We have got the Army, we've got pharmacies and we have got the NHS," he adds.

    That marks the end of the press conference. We will bring you a round-up of it shortly.

  10. BreakingGlobal deaths pass two million

    More than two million people have now died with Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

    The US has recorded more fatalities than any other country, with almost 390,000 deaths, followed by Brazil and India with around 200,000 and 150,000 deaths respectively.

    More than 93 million infections have been recorded worldwide.

  11. 'Miracle' that so many vaccines developed so quickly - Vallance

    The prime minister says there is "clearly" a problem with care home infections and the government is working "flat-out" to vaccinate residents and staff. About 40% of elderly residents have received jabs and the hope is that the programme will be complete by the end of January, he adds.

    In some areas, 80% to 90% of 80-year-olds have received vaccination offers, Boris Johnson says.

    Sir Patrick Vallance calls it a "miracle" that so many vaccines have been developed so quickly. It's too soon to see the effect on transmission yet, but it would be "very surprising" if they didn't have a "decent effect" in curbing the spread, he says.

  12. 'Debate to be had' on who gets vaccine after most vulnerable

    Sebastian Payne, of the Financial Times, asks what will happen to the rest of society once the most vulnerable are inoculated.

    Boris Johnson says it is the question which preoccupies most of us at the moment.

    "Let's focus for now on getting those cohorts, the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] groups one-to-four - the over-70s, the over-80s - vaccinated and I think that will already make a huge difference," he says.

    He adds there is a "debate to be had" on what happens after that, "and we will make sure everybody has a chance to have their say".

    Asked again about vaccine wastage, Prof Chris Whitty says there have been "perfectly sensible decisions made by GPs" to maximise the delivery of vaccines, particularly with the Pfizer vaccine which needs to be stored at -70C.

    He says the overwhelming volume of vaccines have gone to the over-80s.

  13. Video: Travel corridors to close for a month - PM

    Speaking earlier at the Downing Street press conference, the prime minister announced the UK is to close all travel corridors from Monday to "protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains" of Covid. Watch here:

    Video content

    Video caption: PM announces that the UK's travel corridors will close
  14. Vaccines 'will do more of the heavy lifting'

    Covid vaccine

    Asked about figures on supply of vaccines and some reports of wastage, Boris Johnson says the key question is "getting jabs into arms". Batches have to be tested for safety, he adds, saying that the government is "using all the supply that we can possibly lay our hands on".

    Prof Chris Whitty says he has never said things will get better by Easter, adding the PM may have quoted him as saying that. But he says an improvement is likely at some point during spring.

    Increasingly, he predicts, the vaccine will do "more of the heavy lifting" in dealing with the pandemic. The situation will get "a lot better than it is now" in the next few months, Whitty says.

    Sir Patrick Vallance says a lot of work is going on to "optimise" workplace hygiene to prevent infections.

  15. Ministers strengthen rules to prevent imported cases

    Leila Nathoo

    BBC political correspondent

    There have long been calls for the rules for people arriving into the UK to be tightened up to stop Covid cases being imported.

    The government only this month introduced the requirement for proof of a negative Covid test on entry and other countries have had stricter policies in place for months.

    With two prominent variants of the virus - originating in Brazil and South Africa - already on the government’s radar, ministers seem determined to get ahead of any others that may yet pose a risk.

  16. It's likely there are variants all over the world - Vallance


    ITV's Libby Wiener asks if the move to put restrictions in at the borders is too late.

    The PM says the government is taking steps to protect against the new variants.

    "We have a situation now where we have a very high rate of domestic infection in the UK combined with a vaccination programme," he says.

    "There will come a point in the next weeks and months where the vaccination programme will take effect... and you will see a decline in the death rate.

    "What you can't have is a situation where you have new variants with unknown qualities coming in from abroad and that's why we have set up the system to stop arrivals where new variants are a concern."

    Sir Patrick Vallance says the virus is changing all the time and he suspects there are variants "all over the world of different types".

    "The countries which have detected them first have got good sequencing," he says.

  17. Peak of deaths 'likely to be in future'

    Press conference line up

    BBC health editor Hugh Pym says some hospitals in London and south-eastern England are so busy they're having to move patients hundreds of miles and asks how the NHS is set to cope over the next few weeks.

    The PM says the NHS in London has been coping "magnificently" and intensive care units are not yet overwhelmed. There are "tentative early signs that the pressure might be easing slightly" in the capital but it's too early to be confident of that.

    Prof Chris Whitty says the hope is that infections have already peaked in some areas of the country, but the peak of hospitalisations is delayed until about a week after infections, with the peak of deaths later still.

    The peak of deaths is, he says, likely to be in the future.

    Sir Patrick Vallance says the measures in place must remain in place to suppress the figures.

  18. 'We can't have virus run riot in younger generations'

    Young people in the street

    Michael from Cornwall asks at what rate of deaths and infections the government will lift lockdown restrictions.

    The prime minister says the government wants to get to a stage where the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated.

    "Depending on the effectiveness of that roll-out, and we are hoping to do all of them by the 15 February, we will think about what steps we could take to lift the restrictions, but it will also depend on where the disease is and what's happening," he says.

    "We can't have any false sense of security so that we lift the restrictions all together and then the disease really runs riot in the younger generations," Mr Johnson adds.

    Prof Whitty says we will not "move from a sudden lockdown situation to nothing".

  19. Vaccines easy to adjust to new variants - Vallance

    Sir Patrick Vallance

    Asked about plans for any future variant that may be more easily transmissable, the PM says a lot of scientific work is being done on keeping vaccines updated.

    He adds that the "tough" measures at borders and airports will also help this effort.

    Sir Patrick Vallance says there's a "very comprehensive" method used to keep up with developments. The new UK variant transmits more readily but there's nothing to suggest it's more intense.

    Other variants may get round vaccines in the future, he adds, but scientists "don't know that". Vaccines are "really quite easy to adjust", thanks to recent developments, Sir Patrick adds.

    It's also likely that vaccines used now will protect against new variants, he says.

    Prof Chris Whitty stresses the need for international co-operation on vaccines to keep ahead of variants that develop.

  20. Deaths will continue to rise into next week - Whitty


    Prof Whitty says deaths will continue to rise into next week because of the lag between people going into hospital and then some dying.

    But he says the effects of everyone's actions will begin to reduce "this strong pressure" on the NHS, along with the vaccination of the most vulnerable.