MAGNITUDE 5.6 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
Depth: 142 km
Distances: 2785 km ENE of Punta Arenas, Chile / pop: 117,000 / local time: 09:16:14.2 2021-01-04
MAGNITUDE 4.7 ICELAND REGION
Depth: 10 km
Distances: 432 km N of Reykjavík, Iceland / pop: 118,000 / local time: 08:37:47.0 2021-01-04
MAGNITUDE 4.5 CROATIA
Depth: 5 km
Distances: 43 km SE of Zagreb, Croatia / pop: 698,000 / local time: 07:49:54.8 2021-01-04
COVID-19: Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown for England
Boris Johnson has announced a new national lockdown for England, with people instructed to “stay at home” as they did during March’s first lockdown.
The prime minister revealed the action in an eight-minute TV address on Monday night, after being told that COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in every part of the country due to the new coronavirus variant.
The public are being asked to follow the new rules, which replace the tiers system, from this evening.
It is expected the new lockdown in England – the third time a national shutdown has been introduced – will last until the middle of February.
People across the whole country must now stay at home apart from five exceptions:
for work, if people cannot work from home, such as those in the construction sector or key workers
to shop for necessities such as food or medicines
to exercise once per day at a local location. This can include with one other person from outside someone’s household or support/childcare bubble
to provide care or help to vulnerable people
to attend medical appointments or medical care, or to flee the threat of harm or violence.
All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges will move to online learning from tomorrow.
However, nurseries can remain open while childcare and support bubbles will stay in place.
Those who are judged to be clinically vulnerable are being urged to stay at home as much as possible and not go to work even if they can’t work from home.
They should only go outside for exercise or to attend health appointments.
Mr Johnson said the new coronavirus variant was spreading at a “frustrating and alarming” speed.
“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he added.
The prime minister’s announcement came after the UK’s COVID alert level was raised from Level 4 to Level 5, the highest possible, for the first time.
In a stark warning, the UK’s chief medical officers said there was a “material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days” without further action.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had earlier announced a nationwide lockdown would be introduced in Scotland from midnight tonight.
And the Welsh government announced that all schools and colleges will move to online learning until 18 January.
The UK recorded 58,784 new coronavirus cases on Monday – the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
It is the seventh day in a row that there have been more than 50,000 daily cases, while government figures also showed there have been 407 more deaths in the past 24 hours.
The House of Commons will be recalled from its current recess to sit on Wednesday, so MPs can hear a statement from Mr Johnson and to vote on the new lockdown restrictions.
However Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons’ Speaker, urged MPs to stay away from Westminster “unless absolutely necessary” and to take part virtually.
New polling published by YouGov on Monday suggested 79% of Britons are supportive of another lockdown for the UK, compared to 16% who are against a fresh nationwide shutdown.
Courtesy of Sky News
COVID-19: UK coronavirus alert level ‘to be raised to 5’ – highest possible
The UK’s coronavirus alert level will be raised from 4 to 5 for the first time, government sources have said.
Level 5 or “red” means there is a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”, compared to Level 4 when transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.
The COVID-19 alert level refers to the threat of the epidemic and is separate from the tiering system in England.
It is set by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which includes all four nations’ chief medical officers, and determines how strict coronavirus restrictions should be.
The system was created in May, when the government mapped a way out of the initial lockdown – moving the alert level from 4 to 3.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to address the nation from Downing Street at 8pm tonight in light of the rapid spread of the new variant of the virus.
A Number 10 spokesman said ahead of the announcement: “The spread of the new variant of COVID-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
“The prime minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives. He will set those out this evening.”
Scotland has already announced it will lockdown almost all of the country from midnight on Tuesday, with schools closed until at least 1 February.
Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster will join a call with the government ahead of this evening’s announcement.
The Welsh government has not yet announced any further restrictions, with the country currently in Alert Level 4.
Courtesy of Sky News
COVID-19: Nicola Sturgeon announces lockdown in Scotland from midnight
A lockdown for most of Scotland will be introduced from midnight tonight, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The first minister told the Scottish Parliament there will be a legal requirement for people to stay at home for the rest of January in areas currently in Level 4, which covers mainland Scotland and Skye.
Schools will also remain closed to most pupils until the start of February at the earliest.
“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” Ms Sturgeon said.
She said the increased transmissibility of a new COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK means that Scotland’s current Level 4 restrictions may not be enough to bring the R number back below 1.
“It is essential that we further limit interaction between different households to stem the spread and bring the situation back under control, while we vaccinate more people,” the first minister said.
“In short, we must return for a period to a situation much closer to the lockdown of last March.”
Failing to act further could see the NHS in Scotland overrun with coronavirus patients within “three or four weeks”, Ms Sturgeon added.
“We have an opportunity in Scotland to avert the situation here deteriorating to that extent,” the first minister told MSPs.
“But we must act quickly.”
Scotland reported 1,905 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, down from the 2,464 reported on Sunday. The daily test positivity rate stood at 15%, a small drop from 15.2% on Sunday.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands are the only parts of Scotland that are in Level 3.
Ms Sturgeon said the new restrictions will be kept under review but added: “However, I cannot at this stage rule out having to keep them in place longer, nor making further changes. Nothing about this is easy.”
The schools announcement will mean an extra two weeks of home learning for most children.
The Scottish government had already extended the Christmas break until 11 January, with the original plan for remote learning to continue until 18 January.
Schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers who cannot work from home.
“Just as the last places we ever want to close are schools and nurseries, so it is the case that schools and nurseries will be the first places we want to reopen as we re-emerge from this latest lockdown,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“They remain our priority.”
Updating MSPs on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said one million people will have had a jab by the end of the month.
She added that it is hoped that the most vulnerable people in the country and those over the age of 50 will have had their first dose by the end of May.
And the first minister implored Scots to “stick with” the new rules as the vaccines are rolled out.
“I know that the next few weeks will be incredibly tough,” Ms Sturgeon acknowledged.
“I’m sorry to ask for further sacrifices, after nine long months of them. But these sacrifices are necessary.
“And the difference between now and last March is that with the help of vaccines, we now have confidence that they will pave the way to brighter days ahead. So – for everyone’s sake and safety – please stick with it and stay home.”
The first minister also reprised the public messaging from the lockdown last March, saying: “Stay home. Save lives. Protect the NHS.”
Courtesy of Sky News