UK Covid live: daily death figures likely to stay at high levels ‘for some weeks’, says Vallance


Latest updates: government’s chief scientific adviser offers grim assessment but points to evidence that lockdown measures are working

Even though the UK government has delayed the introduction of compulsory pre-flight tests for international arrivals to England until Monday, on BBC Breakfast this morning John Swinney, the Scottish deputy first minister, stressed that this rule was already in force in Scotland. He said:

The position in Scotland is that those restrictions are in place and we want to see people following those restrictions to make sure that we minimise the risk.

A temporary mortuary that was set up in a former aircraft hangar at the start of the pandemic is now in use, PA Media reports.

The facility at the former RAF Coltishall base, north-east of Norwich, was not required during the first wave of coronavirus but is now being used by the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital (NNUH).

Tom McCabe, chairman of Norfolk’s Covid-19 strategic co-ordination group, said:

It was always anticipated that during challenging periods there would be extra pressures on mortuaries, undertakers and crematoria.

This temporary mortuary provides additional capacity to help make sure the county’s hospitals have enough flexibility of space in their own mortuaries, and to ensure we can provide the most respectful and dignified way to look after both those who have died, and their families, over this difficult period.

Good morning. Yesterday Britain passed a grim milestone, as the number of people who have died from coronavirus in the UK passed 100,000 and the daily figure for recorded deaths reach a new all-time high, at 1,564.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, was asked about the figures in an interview on ITV’s Peston last night. On the plus side, he said that there was evidence that the lockdown measures were working and that coronavirus cases numbers were starting to come down. He told the programme:

I think the existing restrictions … are making a difference and you can see that. What we know now – that we didn’t know a few weeks ago – was, would these sorts of restrictions be enough to bring this virus under control with the new variant? And the answer is yes.

It looks like it is and things are flattening off, at least in some places.

But Vallance also said that high daily death numbers were going to continue “for some weeks”. He said:

When you look at the number of infections we’ve had over the past few weeks and how this is likely to continue …

I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks.

It’s not going to come down quickly even if the measures that are in place now start to reduce the infection numbers.

So we’re in for a pretty grim period, I’m afraid.

It has been a relatively quiet morning so far. The UK government is being criticised for announcing last night that the law requiring international arrivals to England to have a negative test will come into force on Monday, not on Friday as originally planned.

My colleague Matthew Weaver has this story.

And today Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is due to chair a meeting that is expected to approve a ban on flights from Brazil.

My colleague Heather Stewart has the story here.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on the economic impact of coronavirus.

9.30am: NHS England publishes its latest hospital waiting time figures.

10.30am: An environment minister responds to a Commons urgent question about the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry.

11am: NHS test and trace publishes its weekly performance figures.

12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.

12.15pm: The Scottish government is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.

2pm: Public Health England publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.

Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future.

But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

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