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Covid-19: Ministers meet amid rising cases in England and US approves Moderna jab

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday. We’ll have another update for you on Sunday.

1. Ministers meet amid rising infection rates in England

Ministers have been meeting to discuss

how to contain the rising number of coronavirus infections in England. It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “hoping to avoid” another national lockdown in England. But there are “growing concerns” about the spread of a new variant of Covid-19 in south-east England. Health bosses have warned the NHS is under significant pressure and analysis suggests the R number is above 1 in the UK.

image copyrightEPA

2. ‘You don’t have to cancel Christmas, just postpone it’

A 60-year-old man who is in hospital with coronavirus has urged people not to visit relatives over Christmas. Chris Lea, from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, is on oxygen and being treated with multiple drugs. “It is not worth losing an aunt, an uncle or grandparent,” he said, as he warned against people travelling around the country to see loved ones.

media caption“You don’t have to cancel Christmas, just postpone it”, says Chris Lea, who’s in hospital with Covid-19

3. Fake ‘Covid immunity booster’ sold in shops

Fake “Covid-19 immunity boosters” are being sold in shops in London, a BBC investigation has found. Coronil, a herbal remedy from India, was found on sale in shops in predominantly Asian areas across the capital. Manufacturers Patanjali Ayurved claim the pills protect against “respiratory tract infections”. But tests carried out for the BBC show the pills offer no protection from coronavirus.

image captionThe herbal pill is advertised on websites and in-store as helping with Covid-19

4. US approves Moderna as second vaccine

The US government has approved the American-made Moderna vaccine. It comes about a week after the Food and Drug Administration authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is now being distributed. The US has agreed to purchase 200 million doses from Moderna. Meanwhile, US Vice-President Mike Pence has received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine live on TV.

image copyrightModerna

5. ‘Chris Whitty is more popular than Britney this Christmas’

At the beginning of the year, few could have named England’s chief medical officer. But as 2020 draws to a close, Chris Whitty has become an unlikely cult hero, inspiring a range of novelty mugs, T-shirts, beer labels, birthday cards and prayer candles. One business has sold more than 900 Prof Whitty mugs – the majority in the run-up to Christmas.

image copyrightTwisted Pickle
image captionIt’s a mug’s game: Hannah Spiers set up a business with cousin Daniel Guise during the first lockdown

And don’t forget…

…if you’re concerned about the prospect of picking up – or passing on – the virus over Christmas, we have some advice from scientists.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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