LiveSheffield coronavirus news LIVE: Updates as new rapid Covid-19 testing site opens TODAY

Welcome to The Star’s live blog on Thursday February 18.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 8:23 am
Patient receives her vaccination for Covid-19
Patient receives her vaccination for Covid-19

Follow this live blog for updates on the coronavirus situation in Sheffield plus weather updates and how it is impacting traffic and travel.

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Coronavirus in Sheffield LIVE blog

Last updated: Thursday, 18 February, 2021, 10:43

Yorkshire has R rate of 0.92 so has almost constant prevalence. only North East higher.

Health minister Helen Whately urged the public to be “patient” while waiting for the return of freedoms such as going abroad.

Asked about booking summer holidays, she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “We need to be a bit patient.

“We’re seeing really good data coming through, clearly on the rates coming right down, though I should remind you and remind viewers that we still have got over 20,000 patients in hospital with Covid.

“On Saturday alone we had over 1,000 new admissions with Covid. So people are still catching it and still being hospitalised. So we need to take this step by step.

“But on Monday the Prime Minister is going to set out the road map for coming out of this and we will see more information then about the steps that we’re going to be able to take to ease the restrictions and get back more towards normal.”

Coronavirus infection rates have fallen by two thirds in England since January

Imperial College London's React study found there has been a "strong decline" in levels of coronavirus infections in England

The study found infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began, with an 80% fall in London, taking rates to a similar level to late September 2020.

However virus levels are still high, with one in 200 testing positive between 4 and 13 February.

Health minister Helen Whately said plans for schools testing are a “work in progress”.

Health minister Helen Whately said plans for schools testing are a “work in progress”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “There is work being done to look at how testing will help schools come back.

“But there will be more details set out about that next week.”

Asked about press reports that parents could be asked to test their children at home, she added: “I’m not going to get drawn into that, there is work in progress looking at how testing can support schools to come back.

“There’s already testing going on in schools where you have children of key workers and teachers in schools at the moment because schools aren’t completely closed, and there is work going on at the moment about the details of the return to schools, and there will be more said about that next week.”

Health minister Helen Whately said plans for schools testing are a “work in progress”.

Health minister Helen Whately said plans for schools testing are a “work in progress”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “There is work being done to look at how testing will help schools come back.

“But there will be more details set out about that next week.”

Asked about press reports that parents could be asked to test their children at home, she added: “I’m not going to get drawn into that, there is work in progress looking at how testing can support schools to come back.

“There’s already testing going on in schools where you have children of key workers and teachers in schools at the moment because schools aren’t completely closed, and there is work going on at the moment about the details of the return to schools, and there will be more said about that next week.”

Health minister Helen Whately said visitors to care homes would still be expected to wear PPE to protect residents even if visiting rules are relaxed.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “There is still a way to go to see, for instance, whether the vaccine stops people from being infectious and how it plays through.

“Visiting will be taken step by step and we will, for instance, when people come back to more normal visiting, still be asking people to use PPE and follow those kinds of procedures.”

She added: “I don’t want to have to wait for the second vaccination dose. Clearly, that’s really important to give care home residents maximum protection, but I really want us to be able to open up cautiously and carefully.

“To enable residents some contact with family members, because I know it’s just so, so important.”

New lateral flow Covid testing site for people is opening in Sheffield

A new lateral flow testing site is opening in Sheffield, the BBC has reported.

The centre at the English Institute for Sport has been established to extend capacity so that people working with vulnerable people can get regular tests even if they don not have symptoms.

Police cordoned off block of flats after woman sexually assaulted on Sheffield estate

Police cordoned off block of flats after woman sexually assaulted on Sheffield estate

Two men are wanted by the police over a sex attack on a Sheffield estate.

Boris Johnson said easing England’s restrictions would be done in “stages” and noted that reopening of hospitality was one of the last things to return after the first lockdown. The Prime Minister said: “I certainly think that we need to go in stages. We need to go cautiously.

“You have to remember from last year that we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality.

“I know there’s a lot of understandable speculation in the papers and people coming up with theories about what we’re going to do, what we’re going to say, and about the rates of infection, and so on.

“I would just advise everybody just wait, we’ll try and say as much as we can on that.”

Boris Johnson said easing England’s lockdown will be based on a “cautious and prudent approach”.

The Prime Minister was responding to whether he agreed with Professor Dame Angela McLean’s comments to the Science and Technology Committee that any unlocking should be based on “data, not dates”.

Speaking at a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, south Wales, Mr Johnson said: “I do think that’s absolutely right.

“That’s why we’ll be setting out what we can on Monday about the way ahead and it’ll be based firmly on a cautious and prudent approach to coming out of lockdown in such a way to be irreversible.

“We want to be going one way from now on, based on the incredible vaccination rollout that you’re seeing in Cwmbran

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that ministers had “ambitious targets”, when asked about reports of 400,000 lateral flow tests being posted out to homes per day.

“We have got ambitious targets in relation to testing which we have met at various points, as well as the vaccine rollout,” he told Times Radio Breakfast.

“And we are absolutely doing everything we can to meet those targets. They are obviously designed to be challenging, because we want to get people out of the current lockdown as soon as possible.

“The only way to do that is responsibly, safely – that’s the way we make it sustainable.”

He said the Prime Minister had been “cautious” on easing lockdown to ensure that there would be no “yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdown”.

He added: “We have got the tools in place, we are delivering on it, but of course it is a challenge.”

Travellers could now be imprisoned or fined £10,000 for failing to follow these Coronavirus quarantine rules

Travellers could now be imprisoned or fined £10,000 for failing to follow these Coronavirus quarantine rules

The rules on quarantining after entering England from abroad have changed – and you could now be imprisoned for failing to follow them.

Covid cases have dropped in nearly 95% of the UK - here’s how regions compare

Covid cases have dropped in nearly 95% of the UK - here’s how regions compare

Covid-19 case rates have dropped across nearly 95 per cent of local authorities in the UK, new figures show.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the NHS Providers organisation, said the nation was “still some way away” from being able to start relaxing restrictions.

The body, which represents NHS trusts, has written to the Prime Minister urging him to “resist pressure to loosen restrictions” before it is safe to do so.

It set out four “tests” which should guide easing: getting case numbers down, reducing pressure on the NHS, further strides in the vaccination programme and an effective strategy to control future outbreaks.

Mr Hopson told the Today programme: “I think if you look at where we are against those four tests, each one of them tells you that we’re still some way away from being able to start relaxing restrictions.”

He added: “We had 500 Covid patients in hospitals in September and yet, 15 weeks later, we had 34,000 patients, and we were perilously close to overwhelmed. So, what that says to you is that you just need to be really careful before you start relaxing the restrictions prematurely.”

He said he did not want to speculate what level case numbers should reduce to before restrictions were lifted but he cited Office for National Statistics data which estimates that 695,400 people in England have Covid-19, adding: “I think there is a pretty clear view is that number needs to come down to around 50,000.”

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