UK Covid news LIVE: Frontline doctors and nurses could be forced to take Covid vaccine

·17-min read

Covid vaccines could be made mandatory for frontline health and care staff, as Sajid Javid vowed to protect” patients vulnerable to the virus in hospitals.

The Government has launched a six-week consultation into whether mandatory jabs should be expanded beyond care homes. All staff in registered care homes in England must be vaccinated against Covid-19 from November 11, unless medically exempt.

A government source told The Times that Boris Johnson personally supports the plan for mandatory jabs for frontline health and social care staff, stressing: “It’s only right that those who are caring for people who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus should be vaccinated. This will save lives.”

The Health Secretary urged all health and social care staff to be vaccinated, regardless of the outcome of the consultation.

“Whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated - for their own health as well as those around them.”

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A comedian fronting the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 health campaign has been axed over “unacceptable tweets”

20:26 , Barney Davis

Janey Godley, 60, who found viral fame with her dubbed pastiches of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus news briefings in recent months, apologised for her “offensive, hurtful language”.

Ms Godley was paid a reported £12,000 for the TV adverts, which were running online under the hashtag #Stopthespike amid rising coronavirus rates.

According to The Scottish Sun and US news website the Daily Beast, Ms Godley made offensive remarks about black American celebrities including Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland, and rappers 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg.

Sajid Javid: Government has duty to consider compulsory jabs for health workers

19:50 , Barney Davis

The Government has a “duty” to consider making vaccines compulsory for health workers following the launch of a consultation on the issue, the Health Secretary said.

Sajid Javid said any such move would ensure patient safety due to hospitals being “full of vulnerable people”.

Speaking during a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital, Mr Javid said: “It’s right that we do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable from this virus, that is why we have already insisted that those staff that work in care homes get vaccinated and I think people know why that’s so important.

“The reason we have launched this consultation today for the health sector, for the NHS, is because obviously hospitals are full of vulnerable people and I think it’s our duty to make sure that we are considering this.

“We haven’t made a decision but we do want to listen to what people have to say because I think it is important that we show that patient safety will always be a priority.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended the consultation (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended the consultation (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Scotland votes for vaccine passports

18:26 , Barney Davis

The Scottish Government’s plans for vaccine passports have been backed by MSPs as the Greens provided the necessary votes.

In the first major vote since the co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Greens was finalised, the party joined the government in backing vaccine passports by 68 votes to 55.

Thursday’s vote was not to pass legislation, but rather to pass a motion supporting the implementation of vaccine passports.

A paper released just hours before MSPs were due to vote on the scheme stated there would be a legal requirement for businesses to “take all reasonable measures” to ensure compliance, while ministers are also considering if there is a need for an offence to stop the “misuse” of the certificates.

From October 1, the scheme will make a QR code available through a smartphone app – along with a paper alternative for those who need it – which will be scanned before entry is allowed to nightclubs or similar venues, adult entertainment, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people or any event with more than 10,000 in attendance.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “confident” the vaccine booster programme will start later in September

16:57 , Barney Davis

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are safe to use as boosters, but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has yet to give its advice to ministers.

“We are heading towards our booster programme, so the news from the MHRA today is welcome,” Mr Javid said during a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

“But also I want to wait for the final opinion of the JCVI, it’s important that we do and we listen to what they have got to say.

“I’m confident that our booster programme will start later this month but I’m still awaiting the final advice.”

UK: 167 more Covid deaths on Thursday

16:24 , Tom Ambrose

The Government said a further 167 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 133,841.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 158,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 38,013 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

Los Angeles school board to vote on student vaccine mandate

15:54 , Tom Ambrose

The Los Angeles board of education has scheduled a vote on whether to require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in on-campus instruction in the nation’s second-largest school district.

The Los Angeles board of education is expected to vote Thursday on whether to require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in on-campus instruction in the nation’s second-largest school district.

The proposal, scheduled for discussion at a special afternoon meeting, would be one of the most aggressive measures taken by a major U.S. school district to protect children from infections.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in interviews last week, a majority of board members said they either favored or were leaning toward requiring vaccinations.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines ‘are safe to use as booster shots’

15:32 , Tom Ambrose

The UK’s medicines watchdog has said the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines are safe to use as booster jabs.

The move by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means a booster programme could be brought in imminently if the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) gives the go-ahead.

Members of the JCVI are meeting on Thursday, with a decision on who should get a third booster shot expected in the coming days.

The JCVI is looking at the latest data from the Cov-Boost trial run by the University Hospital Southampton.

Biden requiring federal workers to get COVID shot

15:07 , Tom Ambrose

President Joe Biden on Thursday is toughening COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors as he aims to boost vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation's economic recovery.

Just weeks after he mandated federal workers get a shot or face rigorous testing and masking protocols, Biden will sign a new executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The word comes ahead of the president's speech Thursday afternoon outlining a six-pronged plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots.

It wasn't immediately clear if Biden's order includes exceptions for workers or contractors seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's plans before they were publicly released.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Around 20% of home care staff ‘could leave if Covid jabs become mandatory’

14:38 , Tom Ambrose

Around a fifth of home care staff could leave if the coronavirus vaccine becomes mandatory for remaining social care staff, the sector fears.

The Government has launched a six-week consultation on making vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and more social care settings.

Staff at registered care homes have already been told they will need to be double jabbed as a condition of deployment in England’s care homes by November 11, unless they are exempt.

The UK Home Care Association said it believes that persuasion will be more effective than compulsion for increasing uptake “without losing vital workforce capacity”.

Some 81.7% of home care workers have had their first dose, and 69.4% are fully vaccinated, according to the NHS data platform capacity tracker.

Scottish Health Secretary praises TRNSMT organisers over safety measures

13:53 , Tom Ambrose

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said he is confident the TRNSMT festival can go ahead and praised the “excellent” job organisers are doing to make it as Covid safe as possible.

Up to 50,000 people a day are expected to attend the festival which is taking place at Glasgow Green from September 10-12, with performers including Liam Gallagher, Snow Patrol, Amy Macdonald and The Chemical Brothers.

The event will happen before the proposed introduction of vaccine passports, which from October 1 would be required at any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

However, to gain access to the site everyone who attends TRNSMT must provide proof of a negative NHS Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test (LFT), which must be taken no more than 48 hours before they arrive.

Ticket holders will be refused entry without proof of a negative LFT, and those attending on multiple days must take a second test 48 hours after the first one.

Music fans bask in the sun at a festival in Glasgow (PA)
Music fans bask in the sun at a festival in Glasgow (PA)

Slight fall in positive cases of Covid-19 in England, though levels remain high

12:40 , Tom Ambrose

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has dropped slightly, though levels remain high.

A total of 191,431 people tested positive at least once in the week to September 1, down 4% on the previous week, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

Positive cases have numbered around 200,000 in the six most recent weeks of data.

Test and Trace figures peaked at 390,232 cases in the week to January 6, at the height of the second wave of coronavirus.

Some 12.5% of people – one in eight – who were transferred to Test and Trace in the week to September 1 were not reached, meaning they were not able to provide details of recent close contacts.

This is down slightly from 12.7% in the previous week.

A Covid-19 testing centre (PA Wire)
A Covid-19 testing centre (PA Wire)

Japan extends COVID-19 emergency curbs in Tokyo, other areas

12:07 , Tom Ambrose

Japan extended emergency COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday in Tokyo and other regions until the end of this month to curb infections and prevent hospitals being overwhelmed.

Announcing the extension, ratified earlier by an advisory panel, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was needed to shore up a medical system still stretched by serious cases even though new infections were falling and vaccinations were rising.

"Inoculation of all those who wish to be vaccinated will be completed in October or November," Suga told reporters. "And from then, we will be able to ease restrictions by using proof of vaccination or testing results."

Japan has been struggling with a fifth wave of the virus and last month extended its long-running curbs until Sept. 12 to cover about 80% of its population.

The number of severe cases and the strain on the medical system have not eased sufficiently in Tokyo and surrounding areas to allow restrictions to be lifted. The measures will now stretch until Sept. 30, including for Osaka in the west.

Japan's emergency curbs have centred on asking restaurants to close early and refrain from serving alcohol. Residents are being urged to work from home as much as possible and refrain from travel.

11:27 , Tom Ambrose

A total of 191,431 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to September 1, down 4% on the previous week, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

The number of people testing positive has been around 200,000 in the six most-recent weeks of data.

Singapore to ease COVID-19 restrictions for migrant workers

10:45 , Tom Ambrose

Singapore said on Thursday it will start easing movement restrictions for migrant workers living in dormitories from next week, more than a year after the curbs were imposed due to a surge in infections in their often cramped quarters.

The announcement by the manpower ministry came after more than 90% of the workers in dormitories were fully vaccinated, higher than Singapore's overall vaccination rate at 81%, which is one of the highest in the world.

Up to 500 vaccinated migrant workers will be allowed to visit pre-identified public locations for six hours each week. They are required to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test before and three days after, the ministry said in a statement, adding it would evaluate the pilot scheme after a month.

"Together with the implementation of a multi-layered strategy to test, detect and contain the spread of COVID-19, we are now better prepared to handle any outbreaks at the dormitories," said the ministry.

Meanwhile, all other migrant workers will be allowed to visit recreation centres up to twice a week, and organised excursions by non-governmental organisations for vaccinated migrant workers to local attractions will resume.

10:12 , Tom Ambrose

The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high.

A total of 5.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July 2021, according to figures from NHS England.

This is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

The number of people having to wait more than 52 weeks to start treatment stood at 293,102 in July 2021, down from 304,803 in the previous month, but more than three times the number waiting a year earlier, in July 2020, which was 83,203.

Young people ‘permanently disadvantaged by pandemic’

09:30 , Tom Ambrose

Children as young as 10 believe the pandemic will change the rest of their life, a new study suggests.

Almost two-thirds of young people said their generation will be permanently disadvantaged by the impact of the coronavirus crisis, research by the Co-op found.

Two out of three said competition to get a job has already increased so it feels “impossible” to find work, while almost a third said the pandemic has made them less likely to continue with further education.

Almost three in five respondents said the Government has failed them in its handling of Covid-19.

The Co-op called on the Government to consider appointing a Youth Minister to ensure young people are actively considered in decision-making.

The survey of more than 5,000 10 to 25-year olds found that half of school-aged children believe they have fallen behind in the past year, with almost two-thirds feeling the pressure to “catch up” quickly.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

TUC: Pandemic has exposed divide between low-paid and well-off workers

09:29 , Tom Ambrose

The Government is being urged to tackle a huge “class divide” exposed by the pandemic, with low paid workers bearing the brunt of the impact of the virus crisis, according to a new report.

The TUC called for urgent action after its research suggested “a tale of two pandemics.”

Low-income workers have had little or no option to work from home, no or low sick pay and reduced living standards, while better-off workers have enjoyed greater flexibility, financial stability and increased spending power, said the union organisation.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, told the PA news agency that the Government had been talking about its levelling up agenda, but asked: “Where’s the action?”

She said: “It is nothing if we don’t tackle living standards, increase sick pay and improve working conditions.

“People have had enough of clapping – they want action. If the Government really wants to improve local economies, it should do something about ending low pay.”

09:16 , Tom Ambrose

Helen Whately said families of care home residents had told her they want staff to be double-vaccinated.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the care minister said: “Yes, the vast, vast majority of residents in care homes have been doubly vaccinated. But we know that though the vaccine is very effective, it’s not perfect, there is still a risk of getting Covid, particularly for those most vulnerable residents.

“And so (what) we’re doing I think has to be the right thing, which is to give those residents the maximum protection, and that means staff looking after those vulnerable people should be vaccinated.”

Ms Whately said 90% of staff had been vaccinated, but asked whether therefore those who were not should be sacked, she said they could be deployed to alternative roles.

She added: “This is really difficult, but I don’t know about you, I’ve certainly spoken to people receiving care in care homes, or the families of those in care homes, and they want their family members to be looked after by people who are doubly vaccinated. They want their family members to have the most possible protection against this horrible disease.”

Sydney reveals plan to end months-long lockdown

08:54 , Tom Ambrose

Cafes, restaurants and pubs in Sydney, Australia, are set to reopen in the second half of October after months of strict Covid lockdown.

It comes as the country’s prime minister warned higher case numbers will follow the easing of curbs and leaders must “hold their nerve”.

Authorities said Sydney would be able to reopen at reduced capacity within days once New South Wales (NSW) reached a 70 per cent double-vaccination target, now expected around mid-October.

Stay-at-home orders for the fully vaccinated will be lifted on the Monday after the target is achieved, the officials said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

08:27 , Tom Ambrose

Professor Adam Finn also expressed his concerns that a decision on booster jabs for coronavirus would be made too quickly.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) member told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Although there’s waning against mild disease, we’re not clear that we’re seeing waning against severe disease, and the programme is really driven by trying to keep people out of hospital and stop people dying rather than by trying to control the spread of the vaccine.”

Prof Finn raised concerns about the limited global supply of the vaccine, adding that “each dose going into the arm of someone who’s immune is not going into the arm of someone who’s got no immunity at all”.

08:17 , Tom Ambrose

The care minister suggested those in health and care sector who would not get double jabbed could be moved to back-office roles.

Speaking on Times Radio, Helen Whately recognised there were people who would be medically exempt from the vaccine, but for others she said: “You can look at whether there are alternative ways somebody could be deployed, for instance, in a role that doesn’t involve frontline work, or doesn’t involve being physically in the same setting as the patient – whether it’s, for instance, working on 111, something like that.

“So we could look at alternative roles for individuals, these are exactly the sorts of things that we can investigate.”

Frontline doctors and nurses could be forced to take Covid jab

08:11 , Tom Ambrose

Covid vaccines could be made mandatory for frontline health and care staff, as Sajid Javid vowed to protect” patients vulnerable to the virus in hospitals.

The Government has launched a six-week consultation into whether mandatory jabs should be expanded beyond care homes. All staff in registered care homes in England must be vaccinated against Covid-19 from November 11, unless medically exempt.

A government source told The Times that Boris Johnson personally supports the plan for mandatory jabs for frontline health and social care staff, stressing: “It’s only right that those who are caring for people who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus should be vaccinated. This will save lives.”

The Health Secretary urged all health and social care staff to be vaccinated, regardless of the outcome of the consultation.

“Whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated - for their own health as well as those around them.”

A nurse prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (PA Archive)
A nurse prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (PA Archive)
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