October 26, 2021

Coronavirus live news: Merkel will receive AstraZeneca vaccine; Northern Ireland lockdown easing to be unveiled

German chancellor will be vaccinated on Friday; NI executive to outline reopening dates; Cambodia ‘on...

German chancellor will be vaccinated on Friday; NI executive to outline reopening dates; Cambodia ‘on brink of death’, says premier

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12.36pm BST

The head of Germany’s disease control agency has called for “drastic” measures to curb the third wave of the virus which is hitting hospitals hard with intensive care beds filled to capacity in some areas.

It has also been announced that chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, is to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. The jab is only recommended for over 60 year olds in Germany.

12.29pm BST

In the UK, the NHS Confederation, a membership body for organisations that commission and provide NHS services, has issued a statement following the news earlier that the number of people waiting for routine operations and procedures on the NHS in England in February has hit its highest level since records began in 2007 [See 9.45am].

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, attempted to strike an upbeat note about the services that had been able to continue during the pandemic, saying:

The latest performance figures demonstrate the huge range of services the NHS is able to provide, not just in caring for Covid patients. It is so much more than a Covid-only service, providing 1.9 million elective procedures and other care unrelated to the virus in January and February, alongside treatment for almost 140,000 Covid patients, thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS teams. It is also good news that cancer treatment is in line with February last year, before the real disruption of the pandemic began.

We cannot ignore the scale of the challenge still facing the health service. There is still a major backlog in terms of diagnostic and elective activity as a result of Covid-19. As it stands, there are now 4.7 million people waiting for treatment, and nearly 390,000 have waited for over a year. There has also been a concerning increase in the number of people having to wait longer than 62 days after being urgently referred for suspected cancer.

There is a plan in place to tackle this backlog and through collaboration and innovation, our members are finding ways to improve throughput and efficiency. The £1 billion pledge in the Budget will go some way towards supporting this, but health leaders are clear that the NHS will be recovering for years to come, and this must be appropriately resourced in the long-term.

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