Covid latest news: Mask rules scrapped as plan B ends in England

Commuters return to London transport as work from home guidance ends

England will today revert to its plan A measures, lifting some mask-wearing requirements, as the government said that its vaccine booster rollout has successfully reduced the risk of serious illness and hospitalisations with Covid-19.

Social care restrictions have also been eased and limits on the number of visitors allowed to care homes have been scrapped.

Health secretary Sajid Javid suggested that the country must “learn to live with Covid,” however shopkeepers told The Independent of their concerns over the removal of the mask mandate.

Under the earlier plan B measures, people were required by law to wear masks indoors in public venues, recommended to work from home where possible and required Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and other large venues.

The curbs were put in place in December last year to stop the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

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Sweden will not recommend vaccine for five to 11 year olds

Sweden has decided that they will not recommend Covid vaccination for children between the ages of 5 and 11. The country’s health agency said on Thursday they felt hat the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm said to a news conference.

She added that they may revisit the decision should the research changed or should a new variant alter the course of the pandemic. Children in high-risk groups can however already get the vaccine.

The news comes as Sweden registered more than 40,000 new cases of Covid-19 on 26 January. This is one of the highest daily numbers the country has seen during the pandemic and comes in spite of limited testing.

Although the latest wave has seen daily infection records shattered, the healthcare system is in fact not under the same strain as it has been during previous waves.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 15:10


Neil Young: Spotify ‘regrets’ musician’s decision to remove music over Joe Rogan row

Spotify is in the process of removing Neil Young’s music from its library.

The decision follows after the musician penned an open letter to his manager and label asking them to remove his music from Spotify should the service continue to host Joe Rogan’s podcast.

“They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” said the “Harvest Moon” singer.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 14:30


Timeline of alleged gatherings across government during Covid restrictions

Boris Johnson is facing intense scrutiny over further allegations of rule-busting gatherings in No 10 as the rest of the country was subject to strict lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

After a leaked email showed over 100 No 10 staff were invited to “bring your own booze” event in the Downing Street garden on 20 May 2020, including the prime minister and his wife, Carrie Johnson, MPs within his own party have also called on Mr Johnson to resign.

Here The Independent looks at all the allegations of gatherings across No 10, government and at the Conservative Party headquarters:

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 13:45


‘I don’t think we should rush’: Anxiety and relief as masks and Covid passes axed

The end of England’s plan B Covid restrictions have been met with a mixture of concern and relief from business owners, commuters and shoppers.

Rules requiring masks to be worn on public transport and in indoor venues such as shops were lifted on Thursday, while Covid vaccine passes are no longer be mandatory in nightclubs.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the country must “learn to live with Covid”.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 13:11


Covid: Who is responsible for tracking new variants as they emerge around the world?

With the world already grappling with the highly infectious Omicron variant of Covid, the discovery of a new sub-lineage at the end of last year gripped the attention of scientists and health officials.

Identified as BA.2, this sub-lineage of Omicron has so far been found in at least 40 countries, including scores of cases in the US. In the UK it now accounts for more new cases than Delta — around 300 in the last week.

The emergence of BA.2 highlights both the importance of tracking new variants and the inconsistency with how they are handled. The sub-lineage has formally been identified as a “variant under investigation” by the UK’s Health Security Agency, but it has so far not been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 12:31


Delhi doctors ‘forced to work with Covid’ as relaxed testing guidelines mask true scale of Omicron wave

Wth India in the midst of an Omicron-fuelled coronavirus wave, doctors working in Delhi’s top hospitals say new policies to restrict testing mean they are being forced to work gruelling shifts while Covid positive.

Though the healthcare system has not been stretched to the same degree as during last year’s second wave, India’s Covid figures are rivalling the peak last summer and the country recorded 286,000 cases on Thursday alone.

Cases have dipped slightly since they hit an eight-month high last week of over 300,000, but experts are concerns there is also not enough testing — the national positivity rate remains almost 20 per cent, meaning one in every five people getting tested has Covid.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 11:55


Over half of hospitalisations with Covid came in for something else

Of the 13,023 patients in hospital in England reported as having the virus on 25 January, 6,767 (52 per cent) were not being treated principally for Covid-19.

This is the highest percentage since these figures were first published in June 2021, and is an increase from the 26 per cent recorded at the start of December.

In London the figure was reported as 64 per cent of patients. Meanwhile in eastern England it was 62 per cent.

The figure was also about 50 per cent in the Midlands (54 per cent) and southwest England (51 per cent).

All hospital patients who recieve a positive Covid test need to be treated separately from those who do not have the virus, whether or not they are in hospital primarily for Covid.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 11:30


No limits on care home visitors from Monday as social care restrictions eased

Limits on the numbers of visitors to care homes will be lifted on Monday as Plan B curbs are rolled back across England.

Self-isolation periods will also be cut for those who test positive for Covid-19 and care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 days, not 18.

The move comes as restrictions put in place to tackle the spread of coronavirus are eased across the country due to a high rate of vaccination take-up.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 11:05


Sarah Palin dines out again at New York restaurant – two days after announcing positive Covid test

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has been spotted dining at a New York restaurant again, just two days after she tested positive for Covid-19.

The 57-year-old was spotted on Wednesday night at the same restaurant, Elio’s in Manhattan, where she was seen dining earlier on Saturday.

Ms Palin has not yet been vaccinated.

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 10:41


The Department of Health tweets news of lifting plan B measures

The Department of Health tweeted the news of plan B measures being lifted. They wrote: “Plan B measures have been lifted following the success of the booster programme.”

Eleanor Sly27 January 2022 09:50

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