On the Feast of Stephen thousands of people worked hard to get most of the lorry drivers trapped at the Channel ports Covid tested and if found to be negative, allowed to board a ferry for France. Some 15,000 drivers have been swabbed and the results found to be negative. Manston Airport is now clear of lorries again, although they are still parked up on the M20. More lorries are expected to join the queues now once the holiday is over. A huge congratulations to all those involved in this operation which largely ran smoothly with only minor disputes.In all, so far only 36 lorry drivers have been tested positive. Really only a very small number, but well worth identifying and isolating before spreading it even further around Europe. The French are insisting that anyone travelling to Europe through a French Port must have written documentary evidence of a negative Covid test in the previous 72 hours.
The New Variant first identified in England, thanks to our genomic testing, is now being found in many other countries in Europe. At the same time the second new variant first detected in South Africa has also been found in many other places as well.
Once our scientists are able to confirm that these virus variants will respond normally to the vaccines now available, we will be able to relax. Scientists are confident they will respond to the same vaccine and the evidence so far is that it does not cause a more severe illness but is more easily transmitted from one person to another.
It is the risk of increased transmissibility which has led many to say that all of the UK should move to tier 4. This would simplify the rules we have to follow, if we all had the same rules, after all we are all in this together. I would support a national Tier 4 to simplify the rules for us all. Sadly because of the poor compliance with the rules it still will not be enough. We may yet need national shut down rules for a month or so. We will see what is decided on 30th December.
Congratulations to Hungry on getting sufficiently organised to get mass vaccination started, the first county in Europe. France Germany and Spain are due to start in the next day or so.
I think we have been misled about the number in care homes already immunised in England. It turns out that only the residents of 7 care homes have been immunised so far. The seven homes have been in Slough, Aintree, Herne Bay, Thanet, Chalfont St Peters, Droitwich and Cheltenham. The Chelsea Pensioners have all been immunised as well.
The statistics released today will have been affected by the Christmas holiday but 210 deaths were recorded yesterday. This brings the total UK deaths to 70,000 since it all began. Despite being Christmas Day some 34, 693 tests proved positive. There was no Christmas break for all the staff involved in collecting and processing them.
As life slowly comes back to normal after the holiday is almost over, we have a job to do. We have got Brexit Done, now let’s get Covid Done.
We will do that if we celebrate New Year from our Sofas and got to the virtual Christmas sales on our computers. We really must avoid mixing, Travel except for essential work or health purposes should not be happening. Let’s get back to looking out for one another and above all be kind. Christmas can be a time of family tensions. If it has been like this for you, try to understand and move onto keeping one another safe. You cannot beat the basics, Hands, Face and Space. Stay safe please.