UK's daily cases drop to lowest level since December 27 – The Telegraph

The number of new Covid cases has fallen to the lowest level since December 27, with a further 109,133 lab-confirmed cases recorded in the UK as of 9am today.
The figures represent a fall of 16 per cent from the 129,587 new cases which were recorded yesterday.
The Government also said a further 335 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 151,342.
It comes as the Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that self-isolation is to be cut by a day to a minimum of five full days in England, as ministers start to relax Covid rules.
Under the new rules, from Monday those isolating after testing positive for Covid, or showing symptoms of it, will be freed from the start of their sixth day, as long as they have a negative lateral flow result that day, and the day before.
That’s all from us, but here’s a look back at today’s key developments:
Sajid Javid announced that the self-isolation period is to be cut by a day to a minimum of five full days in England, as ministers start to relax Covid rules.
It was revealed that England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam is to leave his role at the end of March
Meanwhile, the number of new Covid cases fell to the lowest level since December 27, with a further 109,133 lab-confirmed cases recorded in the UK as of 9am today.
The majority of patients in London’s hospitals with Covid are also being treated primarily for another illness, official data showed.
And in good news, France said it would lift its ban on UK holidaymakers from tomorrow morning.
Scroll down for more Covid updates from today.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister has expressed hope that the Stormont Executive will be able to announce coronavirus rule relaxations when it meets next week.
Paul Givan was commenting after ministers received an update on Covid-19 data from health officials at Thursday’s meeting of the Executive.
While the data confirmed that the omicron wave has not transpired to be as severe as first feared, the update came on a day when 14 further Covid-19 linked deaths were announced in the region.
Mr Givan said the most recent modelling information on the virus was “very encouraging”.
“We believe that we’re at the peak now in terms of the transmission rates within the community and we’re looking at the admission rates within our hospitals and they are starting to decline already and so the modelling that we’re following now is a very optimistic scenario,” he said.
“We don’t believe there will be a breach of over 500 people being admitted into our hospitals.”
More than half of all adults in some of the biggest cities in England have still not received a booster or third dose of Covid-19 vaccine, new figures suggest.
Take-up of the extra dose of vaccine among all people aged 18 and over is estimated at 45.9 per cent in Nottingham, 48 per cent  in Manchester and 48.7 per cent in Birmingham.
Other cities are only just over half, such as Liverpool (51.6 per cent) and Leicester (53.5 per cent).
The figures, compiled by PA from NHS England data, cover vaccinations delivered up to January 9.
They also suggest that Newham in London is the local authority in England with the lowest take-up of booster and third doses among all adults (41.3 per cent), followed by the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham (41.5 per cent), Westminster (42.2 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (42.6 per cent).
The local authority with the highest estimated take-up is Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire (84.7 per cent of all adults), followed by Hart in Hampshire (just under 84.7 per cent) and Cotswold in Gloucestershire (84.4 per cent).
The #COVID19 Dashboard has been updated: https://t.co/XhspozbgYH

On 13 January 109,133 new cases and 335 deaths in 28 days of a positive test were reported in the UK.

Our data includes the number of people receiving a first, second and booster dose of the #vaccine pic.twitter.com/E9TWNzQWpk
Women who have Covid-19 towards the end of their pregnancy are more vulnerable to stillbirths, newborn deaths and birth related complications, a new study suggests.
The research also found that most complications occurred in women who were not vaccinated, with the majority (98 per cent) of pregnant women with Covid-19 who were admitted to critical care being unvaccinated.
The study, which included more than 87,000 women in Scotland, found that preterm births, stillbirths and newborn deaths were more common among women who had the virus 28 days or less before their delivery date, compared to background rates.
All the women whose babies died had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 at the time of infection, though experts stressed that it is not possible to say if Covid contributed directly to the deaths or preterm births as they did not have access to detailed clinical records for individual women.
Researchers found that vaccination uptake during the study period, between December 2020 and October 2021, was lower in pregnant women, compared with women aged 18 to 44 in the general population.
Just under a third (32 per cent) of pregnant women who gave birth in October 2021 were fully vaccinated – meaning more than 14 days had elapsed since a second vaccine – compared with 77 per cent of the general female population aged 18 to 44.
Sweden could see a substantial increase in coronavirus cases for two more weeks, with a peak at the end of January, the country’s health agency said today.
The Scandinavian country set a new daily national record for Covid cases last week, registering 23,877 cases, as the omicron variant has surged through the country.
Sweden recently tightened its restrictions and has urged people to work from home in an effort to minimise the spread of the virus.
“The calculations in the Health Agency’s updated scenarios show a massively increasing infection spread for another two weeks, with a peak at the end of January,” the health agency said in a statement on Thursday, adding the worst-case scenario would see around 69,000 daily cases at the peak.
The number of people in the capital’s NHS wards with cases of ‘incidental’ Covid rises from 38 per cent to 51 per cent in a week, report Lizzie Roberts and Ben Butcher.
The majority of patients in London’s hospitals with Covid are being treated primarily for another illness, official data show.
It is the first time, since the figures were first reported in June, that a large number of coronavirus patients in the capital’s hospitals are being treated for something else, known as “incidental” admissions.
On January 11, 51.2 per cent of patients with confirmed Covid in London hospitals were there for another reason, up from 38.2 per cent the previous week.
Across England, 44 per cent of beds occupied by Covid patients were being treated for something else, up from 37 per cent in the previous week.
Read the full story here.
Germany’s vaccine committee has recommended that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a booster shot even though the European Union’s drugs regulator has not given approval for this age group.
The move makes Germany one of the first countries in the world to make the recommendation, with the United States, Israel and Hungary among the handful of countries to have already done so.
The committee said that the third dose should be an mRNA shot from BioNTech/Pfizer and should be given at the earliest three months after the child had their second shot.
“The current situation, with a sharp increase in the number of cases due to the omicron variant and the feared consequences for the health system in Germany, makes it necessary to extend the vaccination campaign,” said Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination in a statement.
While data on the effectiveness and safety of the booster vaccination for 12- to 17-year-olds was still limited, the risk of severe side effects was estimated to be very low, it added.
As the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not given regulatory approval, Germany would be responsible for any liabilities linked to the booster for this age group.
A total of 126,632 booster and third doses of Covid vaccines were reported across the UK on Wednesday, figures show.
This is the lowest daily number since January 2.
Nearly 36.1 million booster and third doses have been delivered in the UK, with 1.2 million in the past seven days.
An estimated 68 per cent of adults have received a booster or third dose.
The figures were published by the UK’s four health agencies.
From 17 January in England, if you are self-isolating with COVID-19 and provide negative lateral flow test results on day 5 and 6 you will be able to end self-isolation after 5 full days. pic.twitter.com/aE2u7y7WIR
Coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands will be eased from Saturday despite a wave of new infections due to the omicron variant, Dutch media reported today.
Non-essential stores, hairdressers and gyms will be allowed to reopen for a limited number of customers, broadcasters NOS and RTL said, citing government sources. Students will be welcomed back to their colleges and universities.
Bars, restaurants, theatres, museums and other public places will remain closed.
The government will decide formally on the changes tomorrow.
As omicron continues to work its way around Britain, many people are emerging from their official quarantine window with urgent questions, writes Luke Mintz.
Whatever the rules, many people are emerging from their official quarantine window wrestling with questions: What should I do if I’m still testing positive? What if I have lingering symptoms? Most pressingly of all, just how long can Covid last?
For much of the pandemic, public health authorities have focused on the question of how to prevent getting Covid. Less attention has been paid to how you should behave afterwards. It’s no surprise that ordinary people feel uncertain. Even top epidemiologists admit the rules can look confusing – and our understanding of the science has changed since the virus first emerged in Wuhan, China.
Read the full piece here.
Conservative MP David Johnston welcomed the changes to isolation rules but asked the Health Secretary to look again at rules for care homes.
The MP for Wantage said: “I have a number of constituents who haven’t seen their relatives in care homes for considerable time.
He asked the Health Secretary “to look at these guidelines again, because of course we want to protect care home residents, but the way they are being implemented is having a considerable impact on the physical and mental health of people in care homes”.
Sajid Javid said: “The approach that we’ve taken in England is different to other parts of the country. We do allow more visitors. We are supplying a record number of tests to care homes.”
He added: “We keep this under review and will remove restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Drugs supply has been unable to cope with rocketing demand caused by coronavirus, reports Tom Rees.
Omicron has sparked a shortage of paracetamol and ibuprofen as shoppers stock up on painkillers to fight the virus.
Paracetamol is the scarcest item on shop shelves with three in 10 stores having no or low stocks of the painkiller during the huge Covid wave, according to the Office for National Statistics. 
A fifth of shops are suffering shortages of ibuprofen while there are also low supplies of toilet roll and fresh fish. 
Read the full story here.
Two hospitals in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, including one that refused to admit a pregnant woman for not having updated negative Covid test results who later miscarried, have been shut down by authorities to “rectify” mistakes, reports Sophia Yan in Beijing.
Xi’an has been sealed for weeks as authorities raced to curtail a new outbreak that saw at the peak hundreds of new infections daily. The historic city’s 13 million residents were confined to their homes for three weeks in a sudden lockdown – now the norm, under China’s “zero-Covid” strategy.
Other cities across China experiencing outbreaks this winter have also been locked down in the broadest, most restrictive lockdowns since Wuhan erupted as the first epicentre more than two years ago. 
Authorities have credited abrupt lockdowns for curbing spread, even though strict isolation rules disrupt lives, impact the economy and even mean people are denied emergency medical treatment. 
The Chinese government is taking no chances, given the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, which kick off Feb 4, as well as the spread of omicron.
Testing should be “sorted out”, Labour said, as it welcomed the reduction in Covid isolation to five full days if there were consistent negative test results.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told MPs: “We welcome the announcement the Secretary of State has made on the reduction of the Covid isolation period to five days on condition that two negative tests are produced, so let’s hope the Secretary of State sorts out testing.
“Before Christmas he told use there was no issue with supply but over Christmas NHS staff and other keyworkers were unable to access tests because the Government hadn’t noticed that the deliveries had shut up shop for Christmas.”
Sajid Javid replied there was “not one word of thanks from him to the NHS, the volunteers, the military and everyone who helped” with the booster rollout.
He added: “It will be noted by the British public.”
The Health Secretary reiterated the Government’s commitment on compulsory vaccines for healthcare workers.
Mr Javid said that since the announcement of the vaccine mandates, uptake over the past few months has been “very promising”.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Javid told MPs: “People working in health and care look after some of the most vulnerable in our society, and so they do carry a unique responsibility.
“Last month, this House approved our plans that anyone working in health or wider social care activities that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if their roles involve direct contact with patients, unless of course they are medically exempt.
“This includes NHS hospitals, it includes the independent sector, GP and dental practices regardless of whether they are working in the public or private sectors.
“Uptake over the past few months has been very promising. Since the Government consulted on this policy in September, the proportion of NHS trust health care workers vaccinated with at least a first dose has increased from 92 per cent to 94 per cent . We remain committed to putting these measures into force on April 1.”
The Health Secretary told the Commons: “I’ve always said to the House that any curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and that we shouldn’t keep them in place for a day longer than absolutely necessary,” adding that the changes would maximise activity in the economy, and minimise the risks of infection. 
Mr Javid announced in the Commons that the amount of time people with Covid in England have to spend in self-isolation is to be cut to five full days.
The Health Secretary told the Commons that omicron “still has the potential to lead to significant numbers of people in hospital. There’s already almost 17,000 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England.”
“Due to the lag between infections and hospitalisations, the NHS will remain under significant pressure over the next few weeks.
“It is encouraging, however, that during this wave we have not seen an increase in Covid-19 intensive care patients, and there are already early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow
“We know that omicron is less severe. But no-one should be under any illusions, it is severe for anyone that ends up in hospital, and that’s far more likely if you have not had the jab.”
French teachers walked off the job today over what they say is the government’s failure to adopt a coherent policy for schools to manage Covid-19 and protect pupils and staff against infection.
Teachers, parents and school administrators have struggled to deal with the government’s many twist and turns on Covid rules at school. New testing requirements were announced on the eve of the return from Christmas holidays and have changed twice since.
“We had reached such a level of exasperation, tiredness, and anger that we didn’t have any other option but to organise a strike to send a strong message to the government,” said Elisabeth Allain-Moreno, national secretary of the SE-UNSA teachers union.
Read the full story here.
That senior scientists saw evidence for theories that they trashed in public has shattered trust in science, argues Matt Ridley.
Inch by painful inch, the truth is being dragged out about how this pandemic started. It is just about understandable, if not forgivable, that Chinese scientists have obfuscated vital information about early cases and their work with similar viruses in Wuhan’s laboratories: they were subject to fierce edicts from a ruthless, totalitarian regime.
It is more shocking to discover in emails released this week that some western scientists were also saying different things in public from what they thought in private. The emails were exchanged over the first weekend of February 2020 between senior virologists on both sides of the Atlantic following a meeting arranged by Sir Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, with America’s two top biologists, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Read Matt’s full piece here.
Cathay Pacific Airways said that transfer and transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be banned to passengers coming from places deemed at high risk of coronavirus from midnight on January 16 until February 15.
‘High-risk’ places include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.
Passengers on flights arriving from cities in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan may continue to connect to onward flights, the airline said in a statement on its website, saying the measure is in response to the rising number of omicron cases around the world.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to confirm that the time people who test positive for Covid have to spend in self-isolation is to be cut.
Mr Javid will update MPs today, a day after Boris Johnson said a decision would be made on the issue “as fast as possible”.
The Government has been under pressure to bring the situation in England into line with the United States, where the isolation period has been cut to five days.
The current UK Health Security Agency guidance is for cases to isolate for at least six full days from the point at which they have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first, with release from self-isolation after two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven. People can leave self-isolation on day seven.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said:” We are certainly looking at reducing the isolation period, and we hope to bring you more about that.. as fast as possible.”
Tokyo recorded a four month high in Covid infections and experts forecast the spread of the omicron variant will cause the daily count to triple by the end of the month. 
Japan’s capital had 3,124 new coronavirus cases, the most since September 1. The daily tally will likely exceed 10,000 by the end of January, according to projections announced at a municipal government meeting.
Nationwide cases exceeded 18,000 today, about 5,000 more than the day before, broadcaster TBS reported. The western prefecture of Osaka reported 2,452 new cases, the highest since September 2.
Omicron now accounts for more than 80 per cent of new infections in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Nearly nine in 10 hospices have revealed that patients are being referred to them with terminal illnesses as a result of Covid-related NHS delays in diagnosis and treatment, reports Charles Hymas.
Marie Curie, one of the UK’s biggest providers of hospices, warned it meant that patients were dying in pain because delays from health service treatment backlogs meant they could not access palliative care in time.
Only 17 per cent of practitioners surveyed felt patients were being referred in a timely manner so that they could fully benefit from specialist palliative care.
And 87 per cent said they were seeing patients presenting as terminal because of a late diagnosis or a delay in treatment due to the backlog, according to the survey of 130 practitioners by Marie Curie and the Association of Palliative Medicine.
Read the full story here.
Finland has cut the length of its Covid quarantine from 10 days to five for most cases, its public health authority has announced.
It will still be possible for doctors to order a longer quarantine period of up to 10 days if need be, it said.
With the omicron variant, “the progress of infection development has speeded up and therefore the quarantine length of ten days is no longer justifiable the way it was before,” public health authority THL’s chief physician Otto Helve told reporters.
Finland reported 53,600 new Covid cases over a week, up by more than 27 per cent from the week before, but authorities said the numbers were no longer reliable due to lack of testing capacity caused by the rapid spread of the omicron variant in the country. 
The country’s total death toll from the pandemic is more than 1,700.
I would like to thank Jonathan Van-Tam for his extraordinary contribution to our country and his invaluable advice throughout the pandemic. Wishing him the very best for the future. https://t.co/4E6XIszJED
 
The Prime Minister will not be visiting a vaccination centre in Lancashire as planned this morning.
Mr Johnson would have been wanting to refocus minds on the success of the vaccination rollout, which as he reminded the Commons yesterday has seen Britain outflank other European countries in rolling out booster vaccines.
Almost 36 million third or booster vaccine doses have now been administered. But due to coronavirus itself, and a case within his own family, Mr Johnson is no longer planning to attend.
It is likely he would have been asked by reporters about the Downing Street party revelations, after Mr Johnson’s contrite appearance in the Commons yesterday failed to pacify anger among swathes of the public and some of his own party members.
Follow all the latest politics news here.
France will lift its ban on UK holidaymakers from Friday morning, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has announced.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure.
The requirement to isolate on arrival will be scrapped.
The decision to end the ban on non-essential travel is a major boost for travel firms and the thousands of people in the UK who have booked ski holidays in France.
Follow all the latest travel news here.
It has been an honour to work with JVT and I am hugely grateful for his advice & the vital role he has played in our vaccination programme.

I wish him all the best for the future at @UniofNottingham @UoNFacultyMHS
Reports this morning suggest that Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam will be leaving his role as England’s deputy chief medical officer.
The decision is understood not to directly relate to parties or policy, The Times reported. 
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government asking for “full details of parties” which cabinet ministers may have attended during lockdown, according to her shadow cabinet colleague Lisa Nandy.
The shadow housing secretary told Sky News: “Angela Rayner has written to the Government to ask for full details of parties that cabinet ministers have been asked about but refused to answer questions about.
“The Prime Minister has refused to come clean about the extent of the amount of rule-breaking that he personally took part in during the lockdown, but there are questions for other cabinet ministers to answer about whether they themselves attended parties that were in breach of the rules.
“I think it’s important because the public does really deserve to know the extent of this.
“We know that there was a party within the Department for Education that took place that we’ve had an apology from civil servants for, we know that the (former) health secretary (Matt Hancock) broke the rules, we know that the Prime Minister’s closest adviser Dominic Cummings also broke the rules, and now we know that the Prime Minister broke the rules too.
“But there are other questions to answer for other members of this Government and we deserve to know the full extent of it.”
Bereaved relatives who did not get to say goodbye to loved ones who died during the first lockdown have felt “appalled, horrified and re-traumatised” by the Prime Minister attending a party in May 2020, shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy has said.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “We’ve got a Prime Minister who has lied to the country.
“My inbox is full of stories of people who lost loved ones, who weren’t able to say goodbye, absolutely heart-breaking stories about what was happening to them on the day that this party took place.
“They are appalled, horrified and re-traumatised about the fact that we’ve got a Prime Minister who is still refusing to come clean about what other parties he attended, what parties the members of his cabinet attended, and how it could have been that we could have had senior ministers and the Prime Minister telling us about the impact that this (the pandemic) was having on the country, that we all must continue to do what they were telling us to do, and yet they weren’t doing it themselves.
“He’s taking the public for fools and he’s got to go.”
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told Times Radio that data showed Covid-19 cases were coming down but “we are still seeing very high levels of hospital admissions and we are still seeing significant numbers of patients on mechanical ventilation”.
She said the numbers in intensive care are not as high as the peak of the pandemic, but were still posing a challenge for the NHS.
She added: “I think there is considerable uncertainty still about how this will play out because levels come down in London, but they’re going up in the North West, they’re going up in the East of England, so we need to think really carefully about how it’s impacting, and impacting differentially across the country.”
Asked if the NHS was in a “middle phase” between being overwhelmed and working at full capacity, she said: “I think we’re somewhere between the middle phase and going towards still being beyond full stretch, really, because what we have to remember is that the NHS isn’t an island, we have a huge impact of Covid across all of the different services that work alongside and with the NHS.”
She said, for example, problems in social care and staff absences had a knock-on effect on how many people could be discharged from hospital.
Ms Cordery suggested it was “premature” to look at “living with Covid” as being in the next few months, adding there would be “a gradual return to a new kind of normality for the NHS”.
Boris Johnson does not believe he broke Covid rules when he attended a Downing Street drinks party during the first lockdown, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said.
Mr Lewis said people should wait for the report of the senior civil servant Sue Gray into what happened before reaching a judgment.
“The Prime Minister has outlined that he doesn’t believe that he has done anything outside the rules. If you look at what the investigation finds, people will be able to take their own view of that at the time,” he told Sky News.
Mr Lewis played down reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had been lukewarm in his support for Mr Johnson.
“I have seen Rishi working with the Prime Minister. They work absolutely hand-in-hand. I know that Rishi has got support for the Prime Minister,” he said.
“What I have seen yesterday, and I have seen consistently through this, is the Cabinet have been completely joined-up, working together.”
Boris Johnson can lead the Tories to victory in the next general election, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said.
Mr Johnson is facing calls from some Conservative MPs to resign following the disclosure that he attended a drinks party in the Downing Street garden during the first lockdown in May 2020.
Mr Lewis told Sky News: “I personally think the Prime Minister is the right person to be Prime Minister.
“I think we will be able to go forward and win a general election.
“We have got work to do. We have got to deliver on exactly on what the Prime Minister set up, which is some of the biggest important reforms dealing with issues the country would have liked to have dealt with years ago, like health and social care, issues in Northern Ireland that haven’t been dealt with in decades.
“This is somebody who wants to deal with that and do it in a way that delivers for everybody in the UK, and that is why I think he will win the next election.”
The Prime Minister’s position is “untenable” and his attendance at a Downing Street party while lockdown restrictions were in place has caused an “unbelievable” amount of “hurt and anguish”, shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy has said.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she said: “If you listen closely to what he said in the House of Commons yesterday, he was apologising for the perception of what had happened when he attended this drinks party during lockdown.
“He was apologising as well, it sounded like, because he was sorry he got caught.
“What he’s not done is come clean about all the parties that were attended not just by him but by other members of the cabinet – he told us over and over again that no rules had been broken.
“I think the MPs who have come out and said his position is completely untenable are absolutely right.
“The amount of hurt and anguish that this has caused for people is just unbelievable.”
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Jan 13.
One NCF member said: “The situation changes by the shift, let alone by the day.
“It is firefighting every day and prioritising delivery of care over other responsibilities.”
Another said: “We have had to have contingency plans in place asking families and volunteers to help out.
“Also, our directors and senior managers are on standby and have covered waking night shifts.”
NCF chief executive Vic Rayner said: “It is unacceptable that yet again, nearly two years on from the start of the pandemic, we continue to see enormous pressures in the care and support sector, this time compounded by the impact of Omicron.
“Staff shortages are excessively high and everything must be done to support providers to operate safe and quality services, so that people have access to the care and support they need, when they need it.
“The adoption of a strategy by government that gives social care the crumbs from the table in an unrealistic hope that somehow it can continue to operate regardless of meaningful attention is negligent.
“The NCF and our membership have been highlighting the growing shortages in the workforce and the knock-on impact on those who remain working in the sector and those who use care and support services for many months. How many times does this message need to be repeated for it to be heard?”
Some 110 members responded to the National Care Forum’s survey, who support over 130,000 people, provide approximately 5,250 services and employ approximately 98,000 staff.
Members reported an average vacancy rate of 18%, and said 14% of staff were unable to work because of Omicron on average.
The shortages mean some frontline staff are picking up extra shifts while non-care staff are being redeployed from other areas, and providers are increasingly relying on agency staff with higher hourly rates.
Social care staff vacancy rates have been growing for months and have been compounded by the mandatory vaccination requirement for care home staff, which came into force in mid November.
The NCF said “extensive delays” in receiving PCR tests results is also exacerbating pressures.
And it criticised the “continual drip feed approach” to Government funding, saying that bureaucracy means tranches fail to reach providers in time.
The Government has announced an extra £60 million for local authorities to support the adult social care response to coronavirus in January.
This is on top of existing funding to prevent infections and provide testing, a recruitment campaign, and a £162.5 million fund to help providers recruit and retain staff over the coming months.
Lord Frost has accused the Government of “Covid theatre”, as he called on Boris Johnson to scrap mask mandates and warned that the country will look back on lockdowns as a “serious public policy mistake”.
Instead of pursuing “stuff that works” such as antiviral drugs and effective ventilation, Mr Johnson has locked down the country and restricted freedoms unnecessarily, the peer argued, as he called on ministers to rule out any prospect of a new lockdown and to consider a more diverse range of advice when making public health decisions.
Speaking to this week’s episode of The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, which you can listen to using the audio player below, Lord Frost also said that the Government’s controversial net zero agenda had been “rushed”, and that technology receiving taxpayers’ money “may not be the best way forward” but is “increasing costs on individuals”.
 
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