Leeds news LIVE: Hancock reassures public AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is safe | Several injured in M62 lorry crash

Welcome to the Yorkshire Evening Post's live news blog on Wednesday March 17.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6:40 am
Matt Hancock says there is no evidence AstraZeneca vaccine has caused blood clots (Photo: John Cairns/University of Oxford)

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Live Leeds news,: Coronavirus latest and traffic updates

Last updated: Sunday, 21 March, 2021, 07:52

This week’s Leeds weather forecast

Headline:

Largely dry at first. Turning more unsettled by Tuesday night.

Today:

A fine and dry with plenty of hazy sunshine. Some light winds, feeling pleasant in any spells of sunshine. Temperatures average for the time of year. Maximum temperature 12 °C.

Tonight:

Remaining dry with light winds and clear spells, locally prolonged, leading to a cold end to the night with patchy frost, mist and a chance of fog in prone areas. Minimum temperature 0 °C.

Monday:

A fine start for most, with plenty of sunshine. Becoming mostly cloudy later, with the best chance of any sunshine in the east, likely hazy. Remaining dry with light winds. Maximum temperature 13 °C.

Outlook for Tuesday to Thursday:

Breezy, mostly cloudy on Tuesday. Feeling colder on Wednesday, with early rain clearing to sunny spells. Sunny start on Thursday, then windy with rain and showers later, locally heavy.

A record number of people received their Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, with 711,156 doses given to the UK public.

More than half of the UK’s adult population – some 26,853,407 people aged 18 and over – have now received their first jab, Government data up to March 19 suggests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the milestone as a “phenomenal achievement”.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it remains “on track” to offer the vaccine to all over-50s by April 15.

It comes as countries across Europe have had to impose tougher restrictions amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, with UK scientists warning overseas holidays this summer will be “extremely unlikely”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those to receive his first dose on Friday when he was given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London.

Friday’s record daily total includes both first and second doses across the UK.

Of those, 636,219 were given in England – the highest daily amount since the NHS vaccination programme began, NHS England said.

Mr Hancock said: “Vaccinating over half of all adults is a phenomenal achievement and is testament to the mammoth efforts of the NHS, GPs, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants in every corner of the UK.

“During April, we will continue to vaccinate those most at risk and around 12 million people will receive their second doses as well.

“It is absolutely crucial people come forward as soon as they are eligible. When you get the call, get the jab, because the more people who are vaccinated the safer we will all be.”

Some 2,132,551 people in the UK – around 4% of all adults – have been given their second dose of the vaccine, while almost 95% of people aged 60 and over have received their first jab, the DHSC said.

Meanwhile, experts have warned there could be a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the UK and advised people not to consider overseas holidays when restrictions ease later this year.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the Government, said there was a danger that new variants could jeopardise the vaccination programme later in the year.

The infectious disease expert Dr Tildesley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker, sadly I think, extremely unlikely.

“I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.

“What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants where the vaccines don’t work as effectively spreading more rapidly.”

Government sources said the UK needs to be wary of what is happening in Europe “because in the past that has led to a rise here a few weeks later”, although how things will pan out is uncertain.

European countries are seeing pockets of the South African variant, with studies suggesting vaccines work less well against this strain of the virus.

In the UK, hospital admissions and deaths are still coming down due to the effect of vaccines, but there are worries that cases could rise quickly once restrictions are eased.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said although another wave was “likely” in the UK, the impact could be less deadly than previous ones.

He told Times Radio: “I think another wave is possible. Likely, even.

“I guess the difference is that another wave will cause substantially fewer deaths and hospitalisations because of high levels of vaccination across the sorts of people who would have ended up in hospital or unfortunately dying if they haven’t been vaccinated.

“So the consequences of another wave are less. I think the challenge is of course we don’t know exactly how much less.”

Experts believe there will be an increasing “disconnect” between cases and hospital admissions and deaths going forward, as vaccines work to keep people from dying.

Regarding foreign holidays this summer, Government scientists say it is still unclear what will happen, but the risk of importing cases and variants comes from countries with a higher prevalence than the UK.

In Europe, the French government announced that new lockdown restrictions would be imposed on Paris from midnight on Friday due to an increase in cases.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany may need to apply an “emergency break” on relaxing restrictions amid a rise in infections.

Poland began a new three-week lockdown on Saturday, with shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities closed.

Countries including France, Germany and Italy have begun restarting their vaccine programmes with the AstraZeneca jab – reversing earlier decisions to suspend them over blood clot concerns.

The rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will resume in Ireland on Saturday, the Health Service Executive announced.

What is the census?

It’s a huge national survey that takes place every 10 years and goes to every single household in the country.

It is to give the government and local authorities a good idea about where everyone is at in their lives, and helps inform decisions on big structural things

like public spending, transport, education and healthcare.

As the last census took place in 2011, the time is here for the next one – set to take place Sunday March, 21.

When should I complete it?

Census day is Sunday, March 21, meaning all information should be filled out around that particular date. Therefore, if you’re moving out the following week, or expect to change jobs in a month’s time, it shouldn’t be included.

The overall household questions should should take about 10 minutes to complete, and additional questions should take 10 minutes per person in the household.

What happens if I don’t fill it out?

The law around the census is surprisingly strict – it is an offence to not complete the census or include false information, and you could be fined up to £1,000. However, some of the questions are labelled as voluntary, and it is not an offence to avoid answering these.

The UK is on the verge of reaching the major milestone of giving more than 50% of the adult population their first dose of coronavirus vaccine.

The UK is on the verge of reaching the major milestone of giving more than 50% of the adult population their first dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Government data up to March 18 suggests that 49.9% of the population aged 18 and over have received a first dose, with an estimated 73,000 more jabs needed to pass the halfway mark.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, a rise in coronavirus infections has led to countries across Europe imposing tougher restrictions, with UK scientists concerned about outbreaks of the South African variant.

Government sources said the UK needs to be wary of what is happening in Europe “because in the past that has led to a rise here a few weeks later”, although how things will pan out is uncertain.

European countries are seeing pockets of the South African variant, with studies suggesting vaccines work less well against this variant.

In the UK, hospital admissions and deaths are still coming down due to the effect of vaccines, but there are worries that cases could rise quickly once restrictions are eased.

Experts believe there will be an increasing “disconnect” between cases and hospital admissions and deaths going forward, as vaccines work to keep people from dying.

Regarding foreign holidays this summer, Government scientists say it is still unclear what will happen, but the risk of importing cases and variants comes from countries with a higher prevalence than the UK.

On Friday, Mr Johnson gave a double thumbs-up to mark his vaccination as he was given the jab at Westminster Bridge Vaccination Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London shortly after 6.30pm.

Leaving hospital he told reporters: “I literally did not feel a thing and so it was very good, very quick and I cannot recommend it too highly.

“Everybody, when you get your notification to go for a jab please go and get it. It is the best thing for you, best thing for your family and for everybody else.”

The Prime Minister had previously dismissed concerns it was linked to blood clots, and told the nation it was “safe” at a press briefing on Thursday.

Mr Johnson was treated in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in April last year after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

His jab comes as England became the first of the four UK nations to pass the milestone of giving a first dose of vaccine to more than 50% of the adult population.

A total of 22,337,590 people had been given a first jab as of March 18, according to NHS England.

This is the equivalent of 50.5% of the population of England aged 18 and over, based on the latest estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A separate milestone has been passed in Wales, where one in 10 of the total population is likely to have had both doses of the vaccine.

In Europe, the French government announced that new lockdown restrictions would be imposed on Paris from midnight on Friday due to an increase in cases.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said France was facing a “third wave” of the pandemic, adding the new measures will last for four weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany may need to apply an “emergency break” on relaxing restrictions amid a rise in infections.

Poland begins a new three-week lockdown on Saturday, with shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities closed, while other countries including Italy and Spain have opted for curfews in a bid to reduce the rate of transmission.

Earlier, Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said the UK must keep the South African Covid-19 variant at bay as some European countries reported a third wave of infections.

Prof Ferguson, who spurred the UK’s decision to go into lockdown last March, warned that a group of European countries are seeing increasing levels of coronavirus cases.

“Perhaps more concern for the UK though is that some countries are notably seeing a significant fraction, 5-10% of cases, of the South African variant,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That is the variant we really do want to keep out of the UK.”

A study published on Thursday by Oxford University suggested that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs could struggle against the South African variant and may end up offering limited protection.

Researchers said the South African variant should be the focus of any efforts to create new vaccines that may be needed next winter.

Prof Ferguson said there are “important decisions coming up” with regards to dealing with variants, including how much the ban on international travel is relaxed.

One way of dealing with variants may be through “introducing testing of people coming into the country”, he suggested, but added: “These are policy decisions.”

Countries including France, Germany and Italy have also began restarting their vaccine programmes with the AstraZeneca jab – reversing earlier decisions to suspend them over blood clot concerns.

The rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will resume in Ireland on Saturday, the Health Service Executive has announced.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said: “We welcome the review by the European Medicines Agency and the positive outcome.

“We will now put in place the updated information and advice recommended by NIAC, and begin rescheduling vaccinations starting with a relatively modest number tomorrow (Saturday).”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective” and its benefits in preventing Covid-19 hospital admission and death greatly outweighed potential risks.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have said that the jab is safe and have encouraged people to take up their vaccine appointments.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged people to watch a potential Wales rugby Six Nations Grand Slam at home within their household.

He added: “The last thing we want is to mark a potential Grand Slam weekend with a surge in Covid cases.”

Statement from British Transport Police:

“Officers were called to an area of railway in Burley, Leeds, at 10.13am following concern for the welfare of a person. Specialist officers attended and a person has now been taken to a place of safety.”

Statement from British Transport Police:

“Officers were called to an area of railway in Burley, Leeds, at 10.13am following concern for the welfare of a person. Specialist officers attended and a person has now been taken to a place of safety.”

Statement from British Transport Police:

“Officers were called to an area of railway in Burley, Leeds, at 10.13am following concern for the welfare of a person. Specialist officers attended and a person has now been taken to a place of safety.”

Kirkstall Road is now open to traffic and the incident has concluded

Replacement rail buses every quarter hour due to ongoing incident

Rail replacement buses now serving Leeds-Harrogate line

Disruption is expected until at least 2pm.

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