Covid latest news LIVE: Daily cases hit new record as France set to ban UK tourists and Ireland moves to shut pubs early

·26-min read
Covid latest news LIVE: Daily cases hit new record as France set to ban UK tourists and Ireland moves to shut pubs early

Long queues formed at the Port of Dover on Friday as thousands of travellers tried to get to France ahead of the country’s ban on UK tourists, which comes into force at 11pm.

Many brought their Christmas travel plans forward to avoid the new restrictions, which require UK citizens to have a “compelling reason” to enter France, with trips for tourism or business banned.

Meanwhile another Covid record was broken on Friday as the UK reported 93,045 new cases, more than 4,600 up on the previous high a day earlier.

It comes as a leading health expert said most people who contract the Omicron variant have a “milder condition that looks just like a severe cold” and will recover “within five days”.

Professor Tim Spector, chief scientist on the ZOE Covid App, said many patients were not experiencing the “classical triad” of a persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste and high fever.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Cabinet has agreed to introduce an 8pm closing time for hospitality amid concern about the spread of Omicron.

The blog is ending for today. We will be back tomorrow, thanks for reading.

22:08 , John Dunne

Health experts in Netherlands call for ‘strict lockdown'

21:08 , John Dunne

Health experts have advised the Dutch government to adopt a “strict” lockdown to stem the spread of the Omicron variant, RTL Nieuws reported on Friday.

London hospital trust hit by staff sickness as Omicron rips through capital

19:40 , John Dunne

Omicron is having a major impact on staffing at a large hospital trust in England with hundreds off work due to illness, leading to the cancellation of non-essential services to tackle a surge in admissions driven by the variant.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ trust (GSTT) in London is preparing to redeploy staff to work in its A&E and intensive care units to cover for the growing number of staff who are off work sick.

It has seen the number of patients in hospital with Covid rising by a third over the last week.

Risk of reinfection with Omicron five times higher than with Delta

19:26 , John Dunne

The risk of reinfection from Omicron is more than five times higher than Delta and shows no sign of being milder than the previous coronavirus variant, according to a study by Imperial College London.

The results, based on data from the UK Health Security Agency and Britain’s National Health Service, analysed people who tested positive for Covid-19 in a PCR test in England between 29 November and 11 December.

Chancellor in talks with business leaders over Omicron impact

19:01 , John Dunne

The Chancellor has again met with business groups to discuss the support available amid the rising threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Rishi Sunak met virtually with the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the British Chambers of Commerce on Friday afternoon, after he returned early from a trip to California.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Chancellor spoke to business and industry leaders this afternoon.

“We recognise how important the festive period is for so many businesses and the Government will continue to engage constructively on how it can best provide ongoing support to the businesses and sectors affected.”

The groups raised concerns about the impact of cancellations and the importance of clear messaging from the Government.

Booster shot ‘could give 85% protection against severe Omicron

18:58 , John Dunne

A booster shot could provide around 85% protection against severe illness, according to London researchers.

The protection is a bit less than vaccines gave against earlier versions of Covid.

But it means the top-up dose should still keep many people out of hospital.

The modelling, from the team at Imperial College London, is based on limited information on Omicron.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin: ‘Ireland will see a massive rise in infections'

18:19 , Matt Watts

As he annnounced the new restrictions in an address to the nation on Friday night, Taoiseach Micheal Martin offered a stark warning about the threat Omicron poses to Ireland.

"We are going to see a massive rise in infections," Mr Martin warned.

"The challenge we face as a Government and a people is how we slow the rise in infection that is coming and how we prevent it getting out of control.

"We are likely to see infections at a rate that is far in excess of anything we have seen to date."

Breaking news from across the Irish Sea...

17:50 , Michael Howie

Ireland’s Cabinet has just agreed to introduce an 8pm closing time for hospitality, amid growing concern about the spread of the Omicron variant.

Boris and Nicola get down to business in Omicron call

17:48 , Michael Howie

The PM said there needs to be “swift engagement with the Treasury” on Covid-19 support funds during a phone call with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister’s spokesman has said.

He said Friday’s call was constructive “though at this stage inconclusive” and that they “shared respective views on the current Omicron situation and agreed that it represents a significant threat to health and the economy”.

He added: “The First Minister emphasised the extreme urgency of the crisis for businesses in the hospitality, events, culture and related sectors which are already suffering a severe financial impact, and stressed that they needed immediate assurances of support from the Treasury.

“The Prime Minister agreed that there needed to be swift engagement with the Treasury on the immediate action needed, and committed to further talks over the weekend.

“The First Minister also made clear that the devolved administrations require clarity that additional funding support would be available, and also on how it can be triggered by any or all of the UK administrations, in the event of further protective measures being necessary to tackle the virus in the period ahead.”

Picture of massive queues at Port of Dover

17:14 , Michael Howie

Thousands of motorists are amassing at Dover as they try to get to France ahead of the country’s UK tourist ban...which comes into effect at 11pm GMT.


Breaking: Record Covid cases posted for third day in a row

16:15 , Michael Howie

The Government said a further 93,045 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Friday, the highest daily total recorded since the pandemic began and a rise of 4,669 on the previous record set on Thursday.

A further 111 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 172,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Lateral flow tests are as likely to detect Omicron as other variants of coronavirus

15:54 , Elly Blake

Lateral flow (LFD) tests are as likely to detect Omicron as other variants of coronavirus, the Health Security Agency (HSA) also found.

Dr Jenny Harries, HSA chief executive, said: “Our data shows that LFD tests are similarly able to detect Covid-19 in individuals who have been exposed to Omicron as in those exposed to previous variants. This is very encouraging.

“As we all work to limit the high levels of transmission of this variant over the Christmas period, we are urging people to test regularly, particularly before attending social gatherings.

“As always, the booster vaccine remains the best protection against infection. Please come forward to receive your booster as soon as possible.”

Debt expected to have grown in November, ahead of Omicron surge

15:46 , Elly Blake

The UK is expected to add to its growing debt last month, as statisticians prepare to release official data next week.

With debt having risen higher compared to GDP than at any point since the 1960 during the pandemic, Tuesday’s public sector borrowing figures will likely show another expansion in debt.

But as the figures will pre-date the Omicron spread, the amount that public bodies are borrowing each month is likely to fall.

Last month the Office for National Statistics reported a fall in the amount of money that the public sector borrowed in October.

But it comes off year-long highs during the pandemic.

Ministers ramped up borrowing, pushing the UK’s debt levels to their highest point in decades.

Battle of the Brits postponed due to Omicron

15:24 , Daniel Keane

The Battle of the Brits event due to be held in Aberdeen next week has been postponed due to rising rates of Covid.

The exhibition tournament pitting the best male players from Scotland against their English counterparts was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, with Andy and Jamie Murray, Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans among those due to take part.

However, a rapid rise in Covid cases has forced tournament director Jamie Murray and his organising team to postpone it until 2022.

He said: “Obviously this is incredibly disappointing for all of us organising the event, for the players and, most importantly, for the fans who wanted to come and watch us.

“Andy and I, and all the players due to take part, are absolutely gutted but some things are bigger than tennis. All that matters is keeping everyone safe.

“We’ve been blown away by Aberdeen’s enthusiasm for the event and we’re all looking forward to staging the Schroders Battle of the Brits – Scotland versus England in 2022.”

PM downplays reports of split with experts over Omicron wave

15:03 , Daniel Keane

Boris Johnson has downplayed suggestions he is at odds with Professor Chris Whitty over advice for the public as the Omicron variant spreads.

During a visit to a vaccination centre in Hillingdon, west London, on Friday, Mr Johnson said Omicron is “a very serious threat to us now” – and called on people to get their booster jabs.

The PM suggested he and England’s chief medical officer Prof Whitty are on the same page on Covid, after some Tory MPs claimed experts are “running the show”.

“What both Chris Whitty and I are saying is that there is a big wave of Omicron coming through,” he said.

“People need to be prudent. You need to think about your budget of risk.”

Breaking: More than 3,000 new Omicron cases detected

14:49 , Daniel Keane

A further 3,201 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of Covid have been reported in the UK, taking the total to 14,909.

More to follow.

Watch: Boris Johnson takes 'personal responsibility' for by-election loss

14:36 , Daniel Keane

Premier League managers to hold talks on Monday amid Covid crisis

14:17 , Daniel Keane

Top-flight managers will hold talks with the Premier League on Monday over the ongoing Covid crisis.

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has revealed the bosses will speak to each other and the league to discuss their concerns.

He said: “On the back of what a lot of managers have said, we want the same thing – which is for the game to continue. There are obviously a lot of concerns and a lot of unanswered questions.

“That’s the reason why the Premier League, on Monday, have put in place an opportunity for the managers to get together and I’m hoping there will be a lot of clarity which comes off the back of that meeting.”

Football stadiums turned into vaccine centres this weekend

14:02 , Josh Salisbury

Racecourses, Christmas markets and football stadiums will be among almost three thousand sites used as vaccination centres this weekend.

The NHS is "pulling out all the stops" to make it easy for people to get jabs, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said.

Staff will be vaccinating at about 2,900 places on Saturday and Sunday.

This includes two London football grounds, Stamford Bridge and Wembley, as well as Old Trafford and Anfield. Three racecourses, Sandown Park, Bath and Chelmsford will also be used.

A vaccine bus will also be parked on Oxford Street, and a 24/7 jabs clinic will run at Morris House Group Practice on Lordship Lane in Haringey, north London.

More than 21 million booster jabs have been delivered by the NHS in England so far, NHS England said.

People can get their vaccine by booking online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119, and GP practices are also inviting those who are eligible.

Germany could introduce new restrictions on British tourists

13:34 , Josh Salisbury

The German government could introduce new restrictions on British travellers, with a decision to be made later Friday.

Reuters reported that that a government spokesperson said it is looking into whether Britain should be classified as a “virus variant area”.

This would require travellers to quarantine for two weeks even if vaccinated.

It comes after France announced Thursday that it would effectively ban travel to and from the UK without “compelling reason”, which does not include tourism.

The move, which comes into force Saturday, has sparked a rush to enter the country, with tickets on train services and flights selling out.

Sturgeon: ‘Westminister must bring back business support schemes'

13:13 , Josh Salisbury

Scottish Government advice to minimise social interaction is having a "severe economic impact", Sturgeon also admitted, saying hospitality is being hard hit.

She said that the UK Government must put in place the “type and scale of financial support available earlier in the pandemic” back in place.

Ms Sturgeon said she would be making that point in a meeting with PM Boris Johnson later Friday, saying only the UK Government had the borrowing powers necessary for the support schemes.

Ministers at Holyrood have found £100 million for business support, with around £66 million earmarked specifically for hospitality.

While she said this was "significant" support, Ms Sturgeon added: "I know it will not fully compensate these sectors for the impact they are suffering right now."

The First Minister also revealed Scotland had the best single day for vaccinations on Thursday, with 67,016 first, second and third jabs delivered, the vast majority booster and third doses.

London ‘already seeing hospitalisations spike’, says Sturgeon

12:57 , Daniel Keane

London, which has the highest number of Omicron cases in the UK, is already seeing rising hospital numbers, Nicola Sturgeon said.

So she added: “If we don’t act now, what we have feared all along since the very start of this pandemic but so far have managed to avoid, the overwhelming of the NHS, could happen.

“That is one very important reason why slowing this down matters so much.”

She went on to say the issue was not one for just the health service, saying the number of people having to isolate after testing positive is “already putting a significant strain on the economy and on other critical services”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “As people become infected we lose drivers for trains, we lose teachers from classrooms, we lose nurses from hospital wards and workers from businesses the length and breadth of the country.”

Omicron now dominant in Scotland, says Sturgeon

12:40 , Daniel Keane

Omicron is now the dominant strain of Covid in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

She told a briefing that 51.4 per cent of cases in the country are likely the new variant.

The First Minister added that there were seven Covid deaths and 4,336 cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

ONS - Omicron rates rising in London and East of England

12:25 , Daniel Keane

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people testing positive for Covid has increased in eastern England and London.

In London, south-east England and south-west England, around one in 50 people was likely to test positive in the week to December 11.

This was the highest proportion for any region.

North-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber had the lowest proportion, at around one in 80.

One in 60 estimated to have Covid in England

12:16 , Daniel Keane

Around one in 60 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to December 11, unchanged from the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

One in 60 is the equivalent of about 936,000 people.

The proportion of people who were estimated to have coronavirus at the peak of the second wave in early January was one in 50.

Pressure grows on Sunak to support hospitality industry

12:04 , Daniel Keane

Hospitality bosses are putting Chancellor Rishi Sunak under pressure to hand out financial support after he returned from California for crisis talks.

Pubs, bars and restaurants have suffered a plunge in revenue this past week as an increasing number of Britons stay at home to avoid contracting Covid before Christmas.

It is understood that Mr Sunak will hold talks with pub and restaurant bosses in person on Friday afternoon.

Sources told the PA news agency that those on the call urged him to freeze business rates, reduce VAT rates for the sector, and provide targeted support for the most heavily affected parts of the industry.

Omicron ‘is like severe cold’, says expert

11:47 , Daniel Keane

Most people who contract the Omicron variant have a “milder condition that looks just like a severe cold” and will recover “within five days”, a leading health expert has said.

Professor Tim Spector, chief scientist on the ZOE Covid App, said many patients were not experiencing the “classical triad” of a persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste and high fever.

Prof Spector told Sky News: “Broadly what we’re seeing now is the majority of people testing PCR positive actually have cold-like symptoms and they do not have the classical triad of ill COVID symptoms of fever, loss of smell and taste and persistent cough.

“So it’s slowly emerged into a more symptomatic milder condition that looks just like a severe cold to many people.”

A quarter of footballers have no intention to get vaccinated

11:21 , Daniel Keane

A quarter of England’s professional footballers have no intention to get vaccinated against, a survey by the English Football League has found.

It comes as multiple Premier League clubs have had matches postponed due to Covid outbreaks among players and staff.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said: “The vaccination is really important, first of all just in case you catch it, to prevent getting really ill, we have seen that obviously has been a massive help.

“But as well you see many other cases when they have had the vaccine and still caught it, so you don’t know.

“We try to do the right thing (at the club) and it (vaccination) is a really personal matter, but we try to educate.”

Welsh government to prioritise booster jab for pregnant women

11:02 , Daniel Keane

The Welsh Government has said it is now prioritising pregnant women for the booster jab after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised they should be considered an at risk group.

A statement said: “For any mother-to-be, getting their first, second and booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the most important things they can do to protect themselves and their unborn baby against coronavirus and, particularly against the new omicron variant.

“New advice from Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reinforces this message.

“The number of pregnant women coming forward for vaccination has been lower than we would want it to be, and this places mothers and their babies at risk.

“Based on the data about safety, together with the increased risk from Covid-19 the JCVI has advised that pregnant women should be considered as a clinical risk group and prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination.”

More than a third of adults do not expect ‘return to normal’ next year

10:52 , Daniel Keane

More than a third of adults do not believe life will return to normal within a year, figures show.

Some 39 per cent of adults do not expect life to be back to normal for at least 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is more than twice the proportion (18 per cent) in December 2020, underlining the impact of the emergence of new variants of the virus which have changed the course of the pandemic.

Just 7 per cent expect life to return to normal in less than six months - a 21 per cent drop on last December.

South African minister says high infection levels ‘helping keep Omicron at bay'

10:40 , Daniel Keane

South Africa’s health minister said on Friday that the government believed that vaccines and high levels of prior Covid infection were helping to drive down Omicron cases.

“We believe that it might not necessarily just be that Omicron is less virulent, but ... coverage of vaccination (and) ... natural immunity of people who have already had contact with the virus is also adding to the protection,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla told a news conference.

“That’s why we are seeing mild illness.”

Just 44 per cent of adults in South Africa have received one shot of the vaccine. But among the over-50s vaccination coverage levels are over 60 per cent.

Premier League ‘on a knife edge’ over Covid

10:21 , Daniel Keane

The Premier League is on a “knife edge” as Covid cases rise among players and staff, a manager has warned.

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe said he wants games to continue despite the disruption - but the table could look lopsided if cancellations continue.

Half of the weekend’s fixtures have already been postponed due to Covid outbreaks at clubs, with just a handful set to go ahead.

“I don’t think we want half the games played and half not played,” he said.

“The league really loses something if it becomes disjointed in terms of games played.

“When you start losing players to Covid then the worry is the competition becomes slightly unfair and I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

“A decision needs to be made to ensure integrity is maintained in the competition. I think it is on a knife edge.”

France approves vaccination for children

10:06 , Daniel Keane

French ethics body CCNE has approved vaccination against COVID-19 for all children aged 5-11.

It comes as a string of European countries began to inoculate younger children to curb rising infections and keep schools open.

Germany, Spain, Greece and Hungary are among the countries that have already expanded their vaccination campaign to a younger age group.

Meghan Thee Stallion pulls out of concert over Covid fears

09:52 , Daniel Keane

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has cancelled a concert appearance after feeling unwell as members of her team were exposed to Covid.

The US star said she had tested negative but pulled out of a performance at the Jingle Ball in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday night.

The Jonas Brothers had already pulled out of the event after a member of their production crew tested positive for the virus.

 (Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
(Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

Dowden: Chris Whitty ‘advises the government’, not speaks for them

09:38 , Daniel Keane

Oliver Dowden said England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, advises rather than speaks for the Government.

It follows a furious - and swiftly deleted - tweet from Tory MP Joy Morrissey in which she accused Prof Whitty of attempting to create a “public health socialist state”.

Lockdown-sceptic MPs drew criticism on Thursday following briefings against Professor Whitty after he advised Britons to limit their social contacts over the Christmas period.

Pressed on the criticism, Mr Dowden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Professor Whitty advises the Government.

“The Prime Minister speaks for the Government. Chris Whitty advises the Government. Actually, the Prime Minister and Chris Whitty are in agreement not just on the vaccine rollout, they’re also in agreement that we have to show some caution.

“So, for example, if you are going to events with lots of people, then you should, for example, look at taking a negative lateral flow test before doing so.”

Londoners cancelling plans ‘having devastating effect’ on businesses

09:24 , Daniel Keane

The leader of Westminster City Council has said people cancelling plans in the run-up to Christmas is having a “devastating” impact on hospitality and entertainment businesses in London’s West End.

Rachael Robathan said: “The situation is deteriorating daily for our theatres, restaurants and bars – widespread cancellations are having a devastating effect and I fear for many hospitality and creative jobs.

“In Westminster we have 3,700 restaurants, clubs and bars – the largest number of any local authority – and it’s a sector that supports 80,000 jobs.

“The curtain is coming down on production after production in the West End, and it is heart-breaking after Theatreland had only just got going again.

“I have already written to Rishi Sunak asking for help, but we don’t have time to deliberate – the Government needs to step in and act now to avoid permanent damage to the economy of central London.”


Watch: 'Voters were fed up and they gave us a kicking', says Oliver Dowden

09:06 , Daniel Keane

Dowden confident that flat party investigation will ‘vindicate’ Johnson

08:52 , Daniel Keane

Oliver Dowden has said he is confident that an investigation into an alleged party held by Downing Street officials last Christmas will “vindicate” Boris Johnson.

The Conservative Party chairman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I understand and I appreciate that there was a perception, particularly from the media coverage surrounding those alleged events, that we were not abiding by the rules.

“I have to say to you that there is an ongoing inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary and I’m confident that that inquiry will vindicate the Prime Minister’s assertion that everything that happened was within the rules.

“But I do appreciate the noise and the sound around that was something that was of concern to voters.”

Thousands set off for France to beat midnight tourism ban

08:40 , Daniel Keane

Thousands of Britons are scrambling to get into France ahead of a looming midnight ban on travel from the UK.

Cross-Channel rail operator Eurostar is urging people to avoid London St Pancras station unless they have a pre-booked ticket.

Most of the firm’s train services on Friday were sold out as many people brought their Christmas travel plans forward after the new coronavirus restrictions were announced on Thursday.

Ferry operators and airlines have also experienced a surge in demand.

‘A smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas’, says Drakeford

08:27 , Daniel Keane

Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford has said a “smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas” as he urged people to limit their social contacts in the coming week.

“Wales is in the calm before the storm,” he said on Friday. “Ask are you doing simple things like hand washing and mask-wearing?

“We think we can get a run through to Christmas where people enjoy the day but feel safe as well.”

Dowden declines to say whether restrictions will be introduced before Christmas

08:19 , Daniel Keane

Asked if there would be more restrictions ahead of Christmas, Mr Dowden said the Government currently had “the balance right”.

He told Sky News: “These are very difficult times and we’ve seen with this surge of Omicron doubling almost every two days, we’re having to take very difficult decisions.

“I think anyone that pretends that this is simple or straightforward is pretending.

“However, I do think right now we have got the balance right. The key thing is the booster.”

Lib Dem leader ‘not great’ after positive Covid test

08:07 , Daniel Keane

Sir Ed Davey – who is isolating after testing positive for Covid – was asked by Sky News how he is feeling.

He replied: “Not great, I’ll be honest.

“I’m under the weather but the sun is shining on the Liberal Democrats”.

Dowden dismisses report of No10 party

07:58 , Daniel Keane

Mr Dowden said the circumstances of a “meeting” that took place in Downing Street during the first national lockdown were “appropriate and reasonable”.

It has been reported that Boris Johnson attended a party with staff at No 10 on May 15 last year, when restrictions on household mixing were still in place.

But Mr Dowden referred to the event as a “meeting” and said that he did not think it would be necessary for the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate.

He told Sky News: “I understand that this was a meeting that took place in the garden. Actually it was the case at the time if you are going to have a meeting you’re better off having it outside because of the fresh air and ventilation.”

Asked if there would be an investigation, he said: “I have seen the account given by Downing Street that there was a meeting that took place, and it took place outside. I think that that was perfectly appropriate and reasonable.

“There had been a press conference previously, and it was perfectly reasonable to have the meeting afterwards outside.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s a need for the Cabinet Secretary to look into this one because the circumstances appear to be pretty clear.”

Tory chairman says businesses are already supported amid Omicron wave

07:46 , Daniel Keane

Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden says the country has appropriate support in place for those businesses being hit by a wave of infections from the Omicron variant.

“We have already put support in place, of course we watch this hour by hour, day by day, and I know the chancellor is very closely engaged but at the moment we have appropriate support in place,” Mr Dowden told Sky News.

Dowden defends embattled PM after Shropshire by-election defeat

07:36 , Daniel Keane

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden insisted Boris Johnson was still an “electoral asset” for the Tories.

He told Sky News: “Yes, I think the Prime Minister is an electoral asset for the Conservative Party, and I’ll tell you why.

“Just take the three really big calls we’ve faced. Get Brexit done: he’s delivered on it. We’ve delivered the fastest booster programme in the world twice over and we’ve seen the economy through this terrible period, with unemployment lower than when we entered.

“So I think actually on the big calls the Prime Minister has the vision and the direction to get us through this difficult period.”


07:27 , Daniel Keane

Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live coverage of the Covid pandemic.

Here’s a run down of this morning’s main news:

- The Premier League is under increasing pressure to suspend this weekend’s entire schedule following a raft of positive Covid cases among players

- Boris Johnson will come under vast pressure after losing what had been an ultra-safe seat of North Shropshire in a stunning defeat to the Lib Dems during the by-election triggered by a sleaze scandal

- A drug that may benefit some patients admitted to hospital with Covid pneumonia has been identified by researchers. Led by the Universities of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the Catalyst trial tested namilumab (IZN-101) as a potential treatment for patients who are receiving usual care.

- Wales is set to see a return to tougher Covid restrictions after Christmas, with nightclubs to be banned under new rules

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