Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.
1. Doctors call for England’s Covid Plan B to start
There are no plans to introduce tougher measures, or Plan B, in England despite daily coronavirus cases staying above 40,000 and a warning they could reach 100,000. This has been met with criticism from doctors who say ministers should trigger Plan B for the pandemic this winter, doctors say. The British Medical Association, which describes the rate of Covid infections as “unacceptable”, accuses ministers of being “wilfully negligent” for not re-imposing rules. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has rejected fresh restrictions right now and urged people to get booster vaccines and wear face coverings in crowded places, or Plan A.
2. Pandemic could drag into 2022, WHO warns
The slow supply of vaccines to poorer countries means the pandemic will go on for a year longer than it needs to – and could easily drag into 2022, according to the World Health Organization. In order to tackle this, Dr Bruce Aylward, senior leader at the organisation, appealed to wealthy countries to let pharmaceutical companies prioritise the lowest-income countries over theirs. So far fewer than 5% of Africa’s population have been vaccinated, compared to 40% on most other continents. The UK is among those which have pledged vaccines to countries in need.
3. More funding needed to help pupils
More funding is needed to ensure pupils won’t suffer lasting damage after school closures were imposed by the government to tackle coronavirus. A new report from the Education Policy Institute says funding needs to quadruple to at least £13bn and suggests targeting disadvantaged pupils and certain regions. It calculates a minimum of £78bn in lifetime earnings could be lost by those who missed out on education in England. The government has a £3bn catch-up plan, which includes a national tutoring scheme, to help millions of pupils by 2024.
4. The Covid-free remote island
It’s probably known best as the place where Napoleon was exiled and died, but St Helena – a remote British island in the middle of the south Atlantic – is one of the few places in the world that has not reported a single case of coronavirus. It welcomes tourists, like Alasdair and Gill Maclean who ended up staying for eight months while other countries were in lockdown, and hopes more will come to visit. Take a look.
5. The street singer serenading shoppers
When 73-year-old John Fellows realised he missed singing during lockdown he headed to a shopping centre in South Gloucestershire and started serenading shoppers. He’s on a mission to “brighten up everybody’s life”, and it appears to be working. “You’ve cheered up my whole pandemic, you have,” says one shopper. Here he is, doing the thing he loves.
And there’s more…
Remind yourself of what could be introduced across the UK to avoid a winter crisis.
Find further information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
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