Hospitals in the south of England have seen a “real rise in pressure” as the number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment heads towards the April peak.
Paramedics in the capital are receiving almost 8,000 call-outs daily, and Boxing Day was described as one of London Ambulance Service’s “busiest ever days”.
NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “We’re seeing a real rise in the pressure for hospital services, but also other types of NHS services as well … ambulance trusts in particular are coming under extreme pressure, as are community and mental health services.”
“Part of the issue is many more people coming through the door with Covid, but also people coming through the door with other conditions as well.”
Follow the latest updates below.
Greg Norman in hospital – again – after testing positive
Greg Norman is back in hospital in Florida after the Australian golfing star tested positive for Covid-19, the 65-year-old said late on Sunday.
Norman, whose two major titles came at the British Open in 1986 and 1993, said he tested negative at the exhibition PNC Championship in Orlando from December 19-20 but began to experience a fever and joint and muscle aches later in the week.
He went to hospital on Christmas Day and returned home to self-isolate on Saturday while awaiting the results of another test.
“I hope this will be my final update on this Covid saga … back in hospital after getting a positive result,” he said on Instagram, adding he was receiving an infusion of antibodies.
“The path to full recovery. Hoping to be out later today.”
Norman said that despite being fit and strong and having a high tolerance for pain, the “hideous” virus had “kicked the crap out of me like nothing I have ever experienced before”.
“Muscle and joint pain on another level. Headaches that feel like a chisel going through your head scraping little bits off each time, fever, muscles that just did not want to work.
“Then my taste failed, where beer tastes bad and wine the same … at times struggling with memory of names and things.”
Norman’s son, also named Greg, had played with his father at the PNC Championship and confirmed he and his wife had tested positive.
His son re-shared Norman’s Instagram post on Twitter (see below).
News briefs from around the world
- The United States government will require all airline passengers arriving from the UK to test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of departure starting on Monday.
- Argentina will start vaccinations on Tuesday using the recently delivered Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.
- Iran has reported the lowest daily fatalities in more than three months.
- US President Donald Trump has signed into law a $2.3 trillion (£1.7 trillion) pandemic aid and spending package.
- South Korea has extended social distancing measures for another six days – until January 3 – with the country reporting near-record numbers of new cases each day.
- Brazilian vice-president Hamilton Mourão has tested positive for coronavirus.
African nation records one million coronavirus cases
South Africa has logged its millionth case of Covid-19 as the pandemic shows no signs of letting up.
Global infections have raced past 80 million with nearly 1.8 million deaths, even as vaccination drives gather pace in North America and Europe, with a top US expert warning that the pandemic might get even worse in coming weeks.
The explosion of cases worldwide in recent weeks has prompted the return of many unpopular restrictions.
South Africa became the first African nation to log one million cases, official data showed on Sunday, as authorities considered reimposing restrictions to battle a second wave of infections driven by the new variant.
For those who miss their grandmother’s honest truths…
“This has been the year of Granny Appreciation,” writes Shane Watson.
“Ten months without proper granny contact has left us craving those words of advice, beady observations and practical tips that we used to mildly resent.”
For those who didn’t get their granny/mum fix this Christmas, click the link below for a quick reminder of what you probably missed…
NHS staff told to prepare for Oxford vaccine
Frontline NHS workers have been told they will soon receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, as regulators look set to approve the coronavirus treatment this week.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency could give the go-ahead for the British vaccine as early as Monday, a decision which would rapidly speed up the vaccination rollout across the UK.
Although there were concerns that the Oxford jab may not be as effective as the Pfizer version, AstraZeneca said it was due to publish new data showing efficacy is now around 95 per cent.
Read the full story here.
The true cost of Covid on our nation’s retail soul
“The coronavirus pandemic, and the measures taken to try and bring it under control, have wreaked havoc across our high streets,” writes Rosa Silverman in The Telegraph.
“With trade brought to a grinding halt and their life blood all but cut off, shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, hairdressers and beauty salons have struggled to stay afloat.
“Many thousands haven’t prevailed. Shocking new figures compiled by the Local Data Company and published exclusively in The Telegraph lay bare the extent of the damage.”
Volunteer army ready to distribute Covid vaccine
An army of more than 10,000 medics and volunteers has been recruited by the NHS to help deliver the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, once it is given approval.
The Telegraph has learnt that teams are trained and ready to begin giving the jab at sports stadia and race courses across the country, with a target of vaccinating at least a million people each week.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could be approved early next week, after the final cut of data was submitted by the Government last Monday.
Officials have pinpointed January 4, 2021, as the date the rollout of the mass vaccination programme will begin.
Crowds banned for New Year fireworks on Sydney foreshore
Sydney, one of the world’s first major cities to welcome each New Year with a public countdown featuring a fireworks display over its well-known Opera House, has banned large gatherings that night amid an outbreak of coronavirus.
A mid-December resurgence in the city’s northern beach suburbs has grown to 125 cases after five new infections were recorded on Monday. About a quarter of million of people there must stay in strict lockdown until January 9.
That has led to further restrictions of the already toned-down plans for New Year’s Eve.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian banned most people from Sydney’s CBD that night and limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people.
“We don’t want to create any super-spreading events on New Year’s Eve, which then ruins it for everybody across the state moving forward,” Ms Berejiklian said.
NSW Police have issued 15 notices in Sydney for breaking public health orders since Christmas Eve.
“I would say to those people half contemplating doing anything stupid in the next few days, forget it,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
Cases of new strain reported in Norway and Canada
Mutant coronavirus strains spread further across the world this weekend, with new cases detected in countries including Portugal, Norway and Canada.
Health officials in Ontario said that two confirmed cases of the new and highly infectious coronavirus variant, which was first detected in the UK, had appeared in the Canadian province.
On the Portuguese island of Madeira, cases of the new strain have been found, according to local officials.
Norway confirmed that at least two people who returned recently from Britain were infected with the variant.
UK variant reaches South Korea
Three cases of a particularly infectious coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain have been confirmed in South Korea, health authorities said on Monday.
The three individuals are members of a London-based family who arrived in the country on December 22, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
They have been placed in isolation since testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival.
The new strain of the virus emerged earlier this month in Britain and has already reached several European countries, as well as Canada, Jordan and Japan.