06/10/2022

UK excess deaths continue to rise across the country but experts have highlighted key positives in the fight against the invisible killer coronavirus disease.

Deaths in the UK rose above average for the first time since mid June this week – but COVID-19 is not thought to be the reason behind this rise. The Office for National Statistics said the heatwave during the week ending August 14 is likely to explain the weekly increase.
There were 9,392 deaths from all causes in England and Wales in the week ending August 14 – 447 more deaths compared to the previous week.
This took the number of deaths that week to 3.4 percent above the average for this time of year over the past five years – the first time the average has been exceeded since June 12.
But deaths involving coronavirus have been steadily falling.
There were 139 deaths registered in the week ending August 14 that mentioned “coronavirus”, an 8.6 percent fall from the 152 deaths in the previous week.
It is the lowest number of weekly deaths involving COVID-19 registered since the week ending March 20, before the lockdown.
Meanwhile Professor Karol Sikora said he was “not worried” after a man became reinfected with the virus in Hong Kong.
He tweeted: “I’m not as worried about the reinfected man in Hong Kong as some.
“On first infection he was sick enough to be hospitalised, second time he would never have known he had it if he wasn’t screened as he had no symptoms.
“Sounds like his immune system is doing a good job.”
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READ MORE: UK coronavirus hotspots MAPPED: The NINE areas on brink of lockdown
8.50am update: Russia’s coronavirus cases exceed 970k
Russia reported 4,676 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing its confirmed national tally up to 970,865.
Authorities said 115 people had died of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 16,683.
8.06am update: Williamson rules out mandatory school face coverings extension 
When asked if the measures could be extended, he told the BBC: “No, no, there’s no intention of extending it beyond that because as both Dr Jenny Harries said and Schools minister Nick Gibb said is that actually that isn’t what is required.
“But where you’re seeing in local lockdown areas, we recognise the importance in making sure that we maintain education in every part of the country.
“The last thing that we ever want to see close is schools and we need to ensure that all schools are open so that children are able to access our world-class education that we all want to see them benefiting from.”
7.45am update: Clarity of face masks given 
Teachers have now been given clarity on the rules surrounding the use of face masks, according to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School & College Leaders.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We now know that if you are in an area of high risk you will have to wear a face covering if you are in secondary school.
“If you are not in a high area of risk, then it will be at the discretion of your school or your college.
“I think that kind of clarity which gives that flexibility will not be welcomed by everybody, but it will be welcomed, I think, by a lot of the headteachers and other senior leaders I represent.”
7.34am update: Gavin Wiliamson on school return 
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government wants to create an environment with safety at its “absolute core” as schools get set to return across England.
He said: “As we look towards next week and the following week as more and more schools come back, we want to create an environment that has safety at the absolute core of everything that we do.
“Because the safety for pupils, the safety for those who work in schools, is absolutely critical for all of us.”
Mr Williamson added: “What we’re recommending in terms of mandating the wearing of face coverings in communal areas for secondary schools is only in a very, very small number of areas in the country which are in local lockdown.
“What we’re doing is we recognise that there are added concerns in those communities about transmission.
“But we also recognise how important it is for every child to get back.”
7.30am update: Education Secretary addresses face masks in schools 
Gavin Williamson said the “best” scientific and medical advice indicates that the wearing of face coverings in all schools is not necessary.
He told Sky News: “We always follow and listen to the best scientific and medical advice, and that’s why we’re not recommending that face coverings should be mandatory right across the country in all schools.
“The best scientific and medical advice says that that isn’t necessary.”
Mr Williamson added: “We are recognising the fact that there are certain areas of the country where there’s a high instance, or a higher instance, of coronavirus that we’re taking an extra precautionary measure.
“When we do look at school return, the key thing, the thing that has informed us most of all, yes, it is for scientific and medical advice and it’s been on the basis of how we ensure that all schools are as safe as possible.”