Live Covid latest news: NHS would back removal of follow-up PCR tests if science allows, confederation head says

Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

  • Covid testing rules to be relaxed to solve staff shortages
  • You’ll need a booster to travel abroad, warns PM
  • Why masks could be doing our children more harm than good
  • Allison Pearson: Omicron’s a pussycat really
  • TV twins die from Covid within a week of each other

The NHS would support the removal of PCR testing requirements to get staff back to work if the science allows, a confederation head has said.

Covid testing rules will be relaxed to remove the need of asymptomatic people to take a follow-up PCR test as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Asked on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme if he would support the move, Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation whose members are NHS organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “As long as it’s based on the science – because on the one hand, we do need to try to get staff back to work as soon as possible… on the other hand, if staff come back into the hospital and they’re infectious, that’s completely counterproductive, because that’s going to mean more sickness in the hospital and staff.

“So this can’t be led by kind of politics or blind hope – it’s got to be led by the science. If the science says it’s possible for us to go back to work earlier then of course, NHS leaders will want that to be possible.

The plans have also received backing from figures from Britain’s workforce.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

Auto update

On Off 9:12AM

Covid-19: Around the world in pictures 

A woman passes the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, at dusk as the UK recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time  A woman passes the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, at dusk as the UK recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time  Credit:  Dominic Lipinski/PA A lion named Maseru is seen before receiving an experimental dose of a vaccine in China  A lion named Maseru is seen before receiving an experimental dose of a vaccine in China  Credit:  JAVIER TORRES/AFP An ambulance crew delivers a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital as officials warned of a An ambulance crew delivers a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital as officials warned of a “tsunami” of new coronavirus disease in Canada Credit:  COLE BURSTON/ REUTERS 9:06AM

Removal of PCR testing requirements would be ‘very helpful’, says industry boss

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said relaxing the rules around follow-up PCR tests would be “very helpful” and “logical”.

He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme:  “The quicker you can get these people back in action the better really,” adding,  “let’s get people back to work.”

His comments come after The Telegraph revealed that Covid testing rules will be relaxed to remove the need of asymptomatic people to take a follow-up PCR test as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain,

8:53AM

‘We always knew that this was going to be one of the most pressurised winter’

The UK Government knew “this was going to be one of the most pressurised winters” for the NHS and that extra investment had been given to help the service cope, a minister has said.

Health minister Gillian Keegan, asked about the number of critical incidents being declared by NHS trusts, told BBC Breakfast: “Right now, they are under extreme pressure with the Omicron variant, with the number of positive cases and the increase in hospitalisations, and at this point in time when they always have extreme pressure.

“We knew that and we actually knew that going into this period – that’s why we’ve put an extra £5.4 billion of investment to try and get extra staff, get some extra capacity to be able to put virtual wards in place, extra beds and extra capacity with the Nightingales, etc, all of which we anticipated, that this was going to be really difficult.

“We’ve had two years of a pandemic, there is a build-up of people who haven’t come forward who need electives – there is a backlog we need to deal with – and then you have got the unknown of Covid – we now know we have Omicron – and also flu was a big unknown as well, how much flu we would have this year.

“We always knew that this was going to be one of the most pressurised winters and they are doing an absolutely amazing job.

“Part of one of the procedures we have with our NHS contingency and resilience plans is actually to declare this critical state, and then they will work with NHS regional colleagues and the local resilience forums to make sure that mutual aid is provided, or whatever support is required, so it is part of the escalation process.

“These are tried and tested plans, we have these plans in place every winter.”

8:45AM

One million isolating in UK

Health minister Gillian Keegan said “about one million” people are currently in isolation because of coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, she said: “We don’t actually collect that data on a daily basis but it is obvious if you look at how many people tested positive yesterday – it was about 215,000 – that they will all be self-isolating obviously from the previous days.

“So, it is about one million probably who are self-isolating right now.”

Asked why the UK Government did not have the exact data, Ms Keegan replied: “We get the tested positive … figures, so you can add those up over the days, but what we don’t know is how many people after day six and day seven have tested negative and are free to leave isolation.

“So, it is around about a million people though.”

You can follow the Telegraph’s politics live blog, manned today by Dominic Penna, here.

8:36AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph, on Wednesday, Jan 5

dt 8:33AM

Minister hints at removing ‘unnecessary’ testing requirements

A record number of lateral flow tests were mailed to people on Tuesday, Gillian Keegan said, as she hinted at removing “unnecessary” testing procedures.

Asked what might be behind teams looking at relaxing the rules around follow-up PCR tests, the health minister told BBC Breakfast: “What we’ve got is many, many more lateral flow tests.

“Yesterday was a record – we sent out 741,000 lateral flow tests to people’s homes.

“We’ve tripled capacity – that’s what we’ve been working on over Christmas – so for January and February, we have 350 million lateral flow tests, so hopefully that should sort out some of the short-term supply issues that we’ve had where people have had to wait a little bit to get their packs.

“We’re doing so many of these and they are really accurate when you’ve got a very infectious variant like Omicron.

“So, actually, what we are doing all the time is looking at what makes sense, we don’t need to do things that are unnecessary.”

8:30AM

There may be news today on follow-up PCR testing, says minister

There is “no official” update yet on whether testing rules will be changed in England so that those who test positive in lateral flow tests will not need a confirmatory PCR, according to a health minister.

Gillian Keegan, asked about The Telegraph’s front page, told BBC Breakfast: “The teams are looking constantly at what makes sense and what works, etc, but I don’t have any official news or updates for you this morning.”

Pressed on whether the rule change was being brought in for those who are asymptomatic, the minister replied: “As I say, I don’t have any official news on that but I know that the teams are looking at testing and testing regimes.

“We’ve introduced so many lateral flow tests now and they are very accurate – they are really accurate if people are infectious, so I guess they are looking at the regime all the time in terms of what makes sense.

“I don’t have any official news but the teams will announce it once they have come to their conclusions.”

Asked whether the announcement could come on Wednesday, she said: “You may be able to expect some news – I don’t know when.”

8:28AM

Lateral flows are very accurate, says Spi-M expert

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M), told BBC Breakfast that lateral flows were very accurate when it came to recording a positive result.

“Of course, with a PCR test what happens is a number of those can get sent away for sequencing and then you get more information regarding the virus itself.

“So, that sort of information may potentially be lost, but only a subset of those PCR tests are sent away for sequencing anyway, so, hopefully, we won’t be losing the levels of information that we already have in this country that enables us to identify variants and so forth.”

He said it was “very, very important” that if any changes were brought in regarding dropping some PCRs that people still recorded their results from lateral flows.

Regarding the potential change to travel testing requirements, he said when there were very high numbers of cases in the UK, testing upon entry to the UK “becomes less important” as cases are already circulating.

“So, again, that’s probably why the change is coming in to support the travel industry and reduce a lot of the testing requirements.”

8:19AM

Covid testing rules to be relaxed to solve staff shortages

Covid testing rules will be relaxed as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Fears are growing that staff absences have become as big a problem as Covid itself, with bin collections delayed, trains cancelled and 17 hospitals in Greater Manchester announcing on Tuesday that they would be suspending some non-urgent surgery, with 15 per cent of staff off sick.

Millions of people who test positive on lateral flow devices will be told they do not need to take follow-up PCR tests, which currently delay the official start of isolation for hundreds of thousands.

Health officials have drawn up plans to limit PCR tests to those with Covid symptoms, allowing people who are asymptomatic – around 40 per cent of cases – to return to work more quickly. More than 1.2 million people are isolating after testing positive in the last week, with hundreds of thousands more waiting for tests or results.

9:12AM

Covid-19: Around the world in pictures 

A woman passes the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, at dusk as the UK recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time  A woman passes the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, at dusk as the UK recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time  Credit:  Dominic Lipinski/PA A lion named Maseru is seen before receiving an experimental dose of a vaccine in China  A lion named Maseru is seen before receiving an experimental dose of a vaccine in China  Credit:  JAVIER TORRES/AFP An ambulance crew delivers a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital as officials warned of a An ambulance crew delivers a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital as officials warned of a “tsunami” of new coronavirus disease in Canada Credit:  COLE BURSTON/ REUTERS 9:06AM

Removal of PCR testing requirements would be ‘very helpful’, says industry boss

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said relaxing the rules around follow-up PCR tests would be “very helpful” and “logical”.

He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme:  “The quicker you can get these people back in action the better really,” adding,  “let’s get people back to work.”

His comments come after The Telegraph revealed that Covid testing rules will be relaxed to remove the need of asymptomatic people to take a follow-up PCR test as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain,

8:53AM

‘We always knew that this was going to be one of the most pressurised winter’

The UK Government knew “this was going to be one of the most pressurised winters” for the NHS and that extra investment had been given to help the service cope, a minister has said.

Health minister Gillian Keegan, asked about the number of critical incidents being declared by NHS trusts, told BBC Breakfast: “Right now, they are under extreme pressure with the Omicron variant, with the number of positive cases and the increase in hospitalisations, and at this point in time when they always have extreme pressure.

“We knew that and we actually knew that going into this period – that’s why we’ve put an extra £5.4 billion of investment to try and get extra staff, get some extra capacity to be able to put virtual wards in place, extra beds and extra capacity with the Nightingales, etc, all of which we anticipated, that this was going to be really difficult.

“We’ve had two years of a pandemic, there is a build-up of people who haven’t come forward who need electives – there is a backlog we need to deal with – and then you have got the unknown of Covid – we now know we have Omicron – and also flu was a big unknown as well, how much flu we would have this year.

“We always knew that this was going to be one of the most pressurised winters and they are doing an absolutely amazing job.

“Part of one of the procedures we have with our NHS contingency and resilience plans is actually to declare this critical state, and then they will work with NHS regional colleagues and the local resilience forums to make sure that mutual aid is provided, or whatever support is required, so it is part of the escalation process.

“These are tried and tested plans, we have these plans in place every winter.”

8:45AM

One million isolating in UK

Health minister Gillian Keegan said “about one million” people are currently in isolation because of coronavirus.

Speaking to Sky News, she said: “We don’t actually collect that data on a daily basis but it is obvious if you look at how many people tested positive yesterday – it was about 215,000 – that they will all be self-isolating obviously from the previous days.

“So, it is about one million probably who are self-isolating right now.”

Asked why the UK Government did not have the exact data, Ms Keegan replied: “We get the tested positive … figures, so you can add those up over the days, but what we don’t know is how many people after day six and day seven have tested negative and are free to leave isolation.

“So, it is around about a million people though.”

You can follow the Telegraph’s politics live blog, manned today by Dominic Penna, here.

8:36AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph, on Wednesday, Jan 5

dt 8:33AM

Minister hints at removing ‘unnecessary’ testing requirements

A record number of lateral flow tests were mailed to people on Tuesday, Gillian Keegan said, as she hinted at removing “unnecessary” testing procedures.

Asked what might be behind teams looking at relaxing the rules around follow-up PCR tests, the health minister told BBC Breakfast: “What we’ve got is many, many more lateral flow tests.

“Yesterday was a record – we sent out 741,000 lateral flow tests to people’s homes.

“We’ve tripled capacity – that’s what we’ve been working on over Christmas – so for January and February, we have 350 million lateral flow tests, so hopefully that should sort out some of the short-term supply issues that we’ve had where people have had to wait a little bit to get their packs.

“We’re doing so many of these and they are really accurate when you’ve got a very infectious variant like Omicron.

“So, actually, what we are doing all the time is looking at what makes sense, we don’t need to do things that are unnecessary.”

8:30AM

There may be news today on follow-up PCR testing, says minister

There is “no official” update yet on whether testing rules will be changed in England so that those who test positive in lateral flow tests will not need a confirmatory PCR, according to a health minister.

Gillian Keegan, asked about The Telegraph’s front page, told BBC Breakfast: “The teams are looking constantly at what makes sense and what works, etc, but I don’t have any official news or updates for you this morning.”

Pressed on whether the rule change was being brought in for those who are asymptomatic, the minister replied: “As I say, I don’t have any official news on that but I know that the teams are looking at testing and testing regimes.

“We’ve introduced so many lateral flow tests now and they are very accurate – they are really accurate if people are infectious, so I guess they are looking at the regime all the time in terms of what makes sense.

“I don’t have any official news but the teams will announce it once they have come to their conclusions.”

Asked whether the announcement could come on Wednesday, she said: “You may be able to expect some news – I don’t know when.”

8:28AM

Lateral flows are very accurate, says Spi-M expert

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M), told BBC Breakfast that lateral flows were very accurate when it came to recording a positive result.

“Of course, with a PCR test what happens is a number of those can get sent away for sequencing and then you get more information regarding the virus itself.

“So, that sort of information may potentially be lost, but only a subset of those PCR tests are sent away for sequencing anyway, so, hopefully, we won’t be losing the levels of information that we already have in this country that enables us to identify variants and so forth.”

He said it was “very, very important” that if any changes were brought in regarding dropping some PCRs that people still recorded their results from lateral flows.

Regarding the potential change to travel testing requirements, he said when there were very high numbers of cases in the UK, testing upon entry to the UK “becomes less important” as cases are already circulating.

“So, again, that’s probably why the change is coming in to support the travel industry and reduce a lot of the testing requirements.”

8:19AM

Covid testing rules to be relaxed to solve staff shortages

Covid testing rules will be relaxed as part of efforts to shorten isolation periods and ease the staffing shortages crippling Britain, The Telegraph understands.

Fears are growing that staff absences have become as big a problem as Covid itself, with bin collections delayed, trains cancelled and 17 hospitals in Greater Manchester announcing on Tuesday that they would be suspending some non-urgent surgery, with 15 per cent of staff off sick.

Millions of people who test positive on lateral flow devices will be told they do not need to take follow-up PCR tests, which currently delay the official start of isolation for hundreds of thousands.

Health officials have drawn up plans to limit PCR tests to those with Covid symptoms, allowing people who are asymptomatic – around 40 per cent of cases – to return to work more quickly. More than 1.2 million people are isolating after testing positive in the last week, with hundreds of thousands more waiting for tests or results.

Leave a Comment

x
SMM Panel PDF Kitap indir