UK coronavirus death toll rises by 533
The Government said a further 533 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 62,566.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 78,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The Government said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 16,578 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,766,819.
Canada approves Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine
Health Canada on Wednesday approved the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, clearing the way for jabs to be delivered and administered across the country.
The nation’s first coronavirus vaccine green light comes under a new interim order system that allows for accelerated approval very similar to the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorisations.
Nicola Sturgeon defends ‘cautious approach’ as Edinburgh remains in Level 3
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she did not “pick on” Edinburgh by refusing to loosen coronavirus restrictions in place in the city.
Politicians in the capital have voiced anger at news it will remain under Level 3 restrictions – the second highest tier.
The First Minister said she fears taking a less cautious approach could see Covid-19 cases “skyrocket” in the city, leading to “even more severe restrictions” being imposed.
She stressed decisions on restriction levels are “difficult”, and added: “I am not taking these decisions for no reason.”
During the coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, she said: “The day I can stand here and say the whole of Scotland is open again, there are no restrictions, go back to living your life normally, will be the happiest day of my life.
“I can’t wait to get there, but we are not there yet.”
Adam McVey, the SNP leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, has demanded a meeting with ministers to get a “full explanation” as to why the city has not been moved down to Level 2.
Coronavirus death toll rises by 12 in Northern Ireland
A further 12 people have died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.
An additional 482 people tested positive for the virus in the last 24-hour reporting period.
UK named third most generous country after donating millions during pandemic
The UK has been named the third most generous country in the world after donating millions of pounds to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between March and August, more than £450 million was donated worldwide to people affected by the health crisis, using online giving platform GoFundMe.
Derry was named the most generous city in the UK, followed by Cambridge and Edinburgh.
The charity sector has been hit hard this year, with many seeing funding dry up almost overnight as lockdown came into force and events had to be cancelled and shops closed.
Charities have also come under increased pressure for services, with more people turning to them for help.
From funding funeral costs for healthcare staff who died with Covid-19, to a plumber raising money to foot the bill for free work for pensioners, and countless donations to local foodbanks — the UK has climbed two places from last year’s ranking of fifth.
One of Britain’s largest fundraisers made more than £1.2 million for the UK branch of Black Lives Matter and £530,000 for Black Minds Matter UK.
Nearly 30 per cent of donors gave more than once, with the most prolific giving 145 times to 139 different fundraisers.
The most popular day for giving was June 2, with 55,000 donations.
The UK’s most generous cities were:
The most generous countries based on the number of donations per capita were:
2. United States
3. United Kingdom
6. The Netherlands
People working harder for same pay, study suggests
Nearly half of employees have had to work harder for the same pay this year, new research suggests.
A survey of 618 workers also indicated that two out of five had taken a pay cut or reduced their hours to help their employer.
Health firm Equipsme said its study found that young people have been disproportionately affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on pay.
Half of respondents admitted they were not as fit as last year and almost as many said their mental health was worse than it was in March.
Matthew Reed, managing director of Equipsme, said: “People have been the backbone of businesses and the wider economy over the last nine months, but it’s clear in the run up to Christmas that Britons are running on empty.
“Now could be the time for employers to give something back.”
Michael Gove pays tribute to man of the hour Martin Kenyon
Michael Gove said the world is “looking on in admiration” at the NHS.
The SNP’s Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) said: “I’m just wondering, if Brexit is shaping up to be such a success, why is it that four-and-a-half years after the referendum no other European country is seeking to follow the UK out the door?”
Mr Gove replied: “What a remarkable rewriting of history.
“I think it is the case… just yesterday I was watching CNN and I saw an amazing man, a 91-year-old gentleman called Martin Kenyon, one of the first people in the world to be vaccinated. And he was vaccinated here in the United Kingdom.
“And it is because of the United Kingdom’s superb regulatory work, because of our vaccines taskforce, because of our NHS, because of our Health Secretary that the first people in the world to be vaccinated were here in the United Kingdom.
“And there are vaccines in Scotland thanks to the UK and the rest of the world is looking on in admiration at our British NHS.”
More on Martin here:
Wales cases surge by more than 2,200 overnight
There have been a further 2,238 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 94,030.
Public Health Wales reported another 31 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,756.
Planning an NYE all-nighter? Think again…
UK and overseas travel caused Scotland’s coronavirus second wave, says Sturgeon
The second wave of coronavirus infections in Scotland was caused largely by UK and international travel, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Revealing details of a report to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the First Minister said these journeys “reignited” the virus after it had been supressed.
She said these risks are why the Scottish Government recommends against non-essential travel outside of the country and the reason for legal restrictions being in place to prevent people travelling between Level 3 and 4 areas.
Ms Sturgeon reiterated during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday that travel restrictions are a “vital part of tackling the virus and trying to keep it contained rather than allowing it to spread across the country”.
She said 39 coronavirus deaths and 897 positive tests have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities under daily measures to 3,989.
But data released by the National Records of Scotland shows 5,868 people have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Giving more detail on the Sage report, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said the first lockdown successfully eliminated around the majority of 300 strains of the virus.
He said Covid-19 infections in the second wave were caused by new strains introduced to Scotland from other parts of the UK or aboard.
“Once as a society we are allowed to travel again, we brought fresh new strains into Scotland, which started our second wave,” he said.
Prof Leitch said this is a “cautionary tale” to people considering travelling over the Christmas period”.
“If you can stay local you will help Scotland to avoid another spike in January,” he added.