LiveCoronavirus in Scotland RECAP: People urged not to ‘go wild’ as restrictions ease for fear South African variant may be becoming ‘more prevalent’

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Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: People urged not to ‘go wild’ as restrictions ease for fear South African variant may be becoming ‘more prevalent’

Last updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2021, 14:02

  • Trial mixing Covid vaccines for better protection against the virus expands in the UK
  • Scotland records its lowest number of Covid-19 cases since late September last year
  • People urged not to ‘go wild’ as lockdown lifts for fear of South African variant spreading
  • March 2021 was the first month since October 2020 where Covid-19 wasn’t the top cause of death, according to NRS

South London residents queue for tests amid South African variant fears

Thousands of residents have queued up to take coronavirus tests at additional facilities set up after new cases of the South African variant were found in three south London boroughs.

Wandsworth Council said the testing operation is a “mammoth task” but urged all adults in the area to get tested even if they do not have any symptoms, while people in Lambeth and an area of Southwark have been asked to do the same.

A steady stream of people joined the lines at pop-up centres on Clapham Common and in Brockwell Park, near Brixton, in Lambeth, on Wednesday morning.

Marshals said they had warned on Tuesday afternoon that waiting times could be up to two hours and were forced to stop people joining the queue early.

Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Denmark becomes first country to stop using AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clots

Monthly analysis shows that March 2021 was the first month since October 2020 where Covid-19 wasn’t the top cause of death

Coronavirus was instead the 5th most common cause of death.

As of 11 April, 10,031 deaths have been registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to statistics published by National Records of Scotland (NRS) today.

In the week 5-11 April, 34 deaths were registered that mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, a decrease of 4 deaths from the previous week.

A statement from NRS said while registered deaths continue to fall, care should be taken when interpreting the number of deaths in the last two weeks as recent public holidays and the closure of registration offices for Easter may have caused delay in registering some deaths.

Covid death toll in Scotland officially passes 10,000

Scotland’s coronavirus death toll has officially passed the 10,000 mark, while there has been a slight fall in the weekly fatality figures.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) data shows 34 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between April 5 and 11, down four on the previous week.

It brings the total number of fatalities up to Sunday to 10,031.

Of the deaths recorded this week, 26 happened in hospital, five in care homes and three at home or in a non-institutional setting.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

The NRS also warned care should be taken when interpreting the number of deaths in the past two weeks, as there may have been a delay in registering some fatalities due to the recent public holidays and the closure of registration offices for Easter.

Last week, the figure sat at 9,997 – however six deaths were also recorded in the daily figures from Public Health Scotland.

Percentage of people testing positive for antibodies in Scotland

In Scotland the highest percentage of people testing positive for antibodies in the week to March 28 was estimated to be among 65 to 69-year-olds (82.9%), followed by 70 to 74-year-olds (78.0%) and 75 to 79-year-olds (69.4%).

In England, the highest proportion of people likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies was estimated to be the 65 to 69 age group (84.5%), followed by 70 to 74 (82.4%), 75 to 79 (79.8%) and 80 and over (77.6%).

The lowest percentage was for 16 to 24-year-olds (38.7%).

In Wales, the highest proportion of people likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies was the 65 to 69 age group (79.7%) followed by 70 to 74 (79.2%) and 75 to 79 (75.6%).

In Northern Ireland, the ONS uses different age groups due to small sample sizes and estimates 78.0% of people aged 70 and over were likely to have tested positive for antibodies in the week to March 28.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) release data on Covid-19 antibodies

An estimated 54.9% of people in private households in England were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in the week to March 28, according to ONS.

The presence of Covid-19 antibodies suggests someone has had the infection in the past or has been vaccinated.

The ONS said antibody positivity has levelled off in England, Wales and Scotland.

In Wales, the latest estimate is 49.1% and for Scotland it is 46.0%.

In Northern Ireland, an estimated 54.5% of people were likely to have Covid-19 antibodies in the week to March 28 – up from 50.0% in the previous week.

EasyJet boss expects ‘majority’ of European destinations to be on ‘green list’

Most popular European holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal should be on the Government’s “green list” for foreign travel, according to the boss of easyJet.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said he “would expect almost all major European countries” to be put in the low-risk category when overseas holidays from the UK are allowed to resume.

Under the new traffic light system, people arriving in the UK from a “green” country will not be required to self-isolate, but those entering from an “amber” destination must quarantine for 10 days.

Existing rules for arrivals from “red” locations will continue, including the mandatory stay in a quarantine hotel.

Everyone returning to or visiting the UK will be required to take at least one coronavirus test prior to departure and after they arrive.

The earliest date that foreign holidays could be permitted for people in England under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map for easing restrictions is May 17.

Mr Lundgren was asked if he expects destinations such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey to be on the “green list”.

He replied: “Yes, by the time we open up for travel on the 17th of May and if the Government continues to have the plan in place on the two-test system.

“I wouldn’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there.”

The Department of Transport has pledged to categorise countries “by early May”.

Assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Cambridge professor says Boris Johnson was right to say lockdown played a huge part in curbing cases

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, said the Prime Minister was right to suggest lockdown had played a significant part in reducing coronavirus infection levels.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It is the lockdown that has caused the major drop, of course, because we’ve seen that happen in the huge reduction in the people who haven’t been vaccinated.

“We’ve estimated that the vaccination programme has maybe saved 10,000 lives – a fantastic success.

“But that is not what has brought the enormous reduction since earlier in the year – that is lockdown.

“We only have to look over the Channel to mainland Europe to see this huge surge going throughout the continent – case rates are 10 times as high in Germany, 20 times as high in Sweden, death rates 10 times as high in France and Italy and going up.

“I think there is, quite reasonably, an anxiety about what might happen but there is definitely a considerable caution at the moment because they (ministers) have said they are not going backwards and so I think that is dictating the caution of the policy and does seem to have considerable public support.”

Vaccine expert warns people not to ‘go wild’ as restrictions ease as South African variant may be becoming ‘more prevalent’

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), urged people “not to go wild” after restrictions were eased, warning that it could lead to the variant first identified in South Africa becoming “more prevalent”.

“From a vaccine point of view the South African variant is of concern”, he told Good Morning Britain.

“We know from studies that none of the vaccines are as effective against the South African variant – though the vaccines still prevent against severe disease and death even with the South African variant.

“The problem is, they may not protect against infection which allows infection to transmit, and if we allow transmission through the community in large numbers with high infection rates then we could see other variants emerging.”

He added: “We’ve all been desperate for our freedoms – and it has been great this week when we can get out to the pub gardens and enjoy the outside space – but we must not go wild.

“If we start going wild and completely ignore all the basic rules then we will see more transmission and things like the South African variant will become more prevalent.”

Analysis: How does Scotland’s vaccine rollout compare to England as phase one draws to an end?

Scotland has almost completed phase one of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout – the first nine JCVI priority groups, which include everyone over 50 and those with underlying health conditions.

The Scottish Government has said the next cohort – over 40s – will begin to receive invitations in the next few days, slightly behind those in England, where an appointment booking service has already opened to over 45s.

But as the vaccination programme approaches the most important milestone in its four-month history, it is no longer fair to say the rollout of first doses in Scotland lags behind.

Read more here by our health correspondent Elsa Maishman.

‘Mix and match’ vaccine trial expands in the UK to see which combination works best

A UK trial looking into whether a combination of Covid vaccines could offer better protection against the virus is being expanded.

The study is looking at different types of jabs used for first and second doses to see if it gives a broader, longer-lasting immunity against the virus and new variants of it, and offer more flexibility to vaccine rollout.

Adults over 50 who have had a first dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca can apply to take part in the Com-Cov study.

Every adult in Fair Isle, the UK’s remotest island community, has been vaccinated

A tiny island, located between Orkney and Shetland, can claim to be one of the safest places in the UK as all of its residents have been vaccinated - the BBC reports.

The Fair Isle has a population of just 48 people who have all had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

This week, batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine were flown in on a plane and the population were vaccinated.

Health spending increases in Scotland smaller than in England, says think tank

Scottish health spending per person is currently 3% higher than in England, compared with 22% at the start of devolution, according to a leading think tank.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said increases in health spending in Scotland have been significantly smaller than in England, under both Labour and SNP-led administrations.

As a result, per capita health spending in Scotland went from being 22% higher than in England in 1999–2000, to 10% higher in 2009–10 and just 3% higher in 2019–20, according to official estimates.

Overall spending on public services is currently 27% higher in Scotland, with the IFS saying this largely reflects the impact of the Barnett formula.

The IFS released a briefing note on Thursday comparing spending on public services between Scotland and England.

On education, it found that spending per pupil was higher in Scotland than in England, but the report stated it was not clear if this was delivering better outcomes.

The IFS noted that spending on early-years provision and a range of other non-health services was much higher in Scotland than in England.

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