Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Friday, November 27, as a union calls for schools to be closed early to help children and teachers avoid having to self-isolate on Christmas Day.
The UCAC teaching union told the BBC that schools should close on December 11 and move lessons online, but the Welsh Government has said that schools would only close if there were clear public health reasons.
In a letter to Education Minister Kirsty Williams, the union said there were “serious concerns” among UCAC members “that pupils and students will continue to attend an educational setting a week before Christmas Day”.
Most schools are due to break up around Friday, December 18, but if positive cases are found in pupils’ class bubbles, children would have to self-isolate for two weeks, meaning some would have to isolate on Christmas Day.
General Secretary Dilwyn Roberts-Young said in the letter: “If a pupil or student tested positive with Covid-19 during the last week of term, it would mean that the whole bubble would have to self-isolate, preventing them from joining their extended family for Christmas.
“The same could be true for the education workforce.
“In addition, Test, Trace and Protect could continue to contact school and colleges leaders on Christmas Day, which is totally unacceptable.”
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Talks continue on further restrictions
Talks are continuing today in Wales about whether further restrictions are needed in the run up to Christmas.
The Welsh Government cabinet met on Thursday to look at increasing the rules, and more talks are due to be held on Friday.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is due to the give coronavirus briefing on Friday at 12.15pm.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething was on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night and said: “If we don’t do something, we will witness and we will stand by while people are coming to harm.
“We can’t do that. The responsibility of the government is to care for the people they are responsible for, the people that we serve.
“I have already indicated at the start of the week that we are looking at different national measures. I always said, as did the First Minister, going into the fire-break that we hoped to get to the end of the year, but if case numbers move in the wrong direction, we may have to do something different.
“It is entirely possible we will have to do that. The cabinet will meet again on Friday, and we will have some decisions to make. All of those decisions, how we take care of ourselves, each other and how we will continue to keep Wales safe.”
PM facing rebellion as majority face tough post-lockdown restrictions
Meanwhile, the decision to impose tough restrictions on 99% of England has prompted a furious reaction with Boris Johnson facing a Tory revolt over his post-lockdown plans.
More than 55 million people will be placed into Tier 2 and Tier 3 measures when the second national lockdown ends on December 2, meaning mixing between households indoors will effectively be banned for the vast majority of the country.
Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – accounting for little more than 1% of England’s population – face the lightest Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions.
Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, which accounts for 41.5% of the population, or 23.3 million people.
The majority of authorities – including London – will be in Tier 2, which will cover 57.3% of the country, or 32 million people.
Out of those areas to go into Tier 3, only eight of 119 have reported a rise in cases.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, said the decision would make it “harder” to push the measures through Parliament, while the Daily Mail suggested up to 70 Government backbenchers were prepared to rebel in a vote on the regulations next week.
Some MPs were left angered after seeing their areas escalated up two tiers compared to their status before England’s November lockdown.
Don’t hug granny at Christmas
A review of the tiers is scheduled for December 16 but the Times reported the Government is not expecting to make any changes until the new year.
Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said if people wanted to see their family at Christmas then they had to accept harsher rules.
“People want to have five days of fun over Christmas. If they want that wriggle room, they really have to accept stricter restrictions in the run-up to Christmas,” he told Newsnight.
Despite a planned relaxation of restrictions during the festive period, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty warned the public against hugging and kissing elderly relatives “if you want them to survive to be hugged again”.
EasyJet sees huge surge in flight searches
Families desperate to see loved ones over Christmas have helped drive a 200 per cent surge in flight and holiday searches at Easyjet.
The airline said bookings for domestic flights in December had soared, as it emerged that UK-wide restrictions would be eased over Christmas.
The most popular routes included London and Bristol to Belfast and London to Edinburgh. Easyjet saw the jump in searches and bookings between Monday and Wednesday this week.
Police in Cardiff given extra powers
South Wales Police say they will use the powers to try to ensure those visiting Cardiff city centre are not breaching any coronavirus rules.
Police will have the power to carry out random checks on vehicles from 9am on Friday, as shoppers hit the city for Black Friday deals.
It comes after a weekend of “chaos” in the city, where police believe people from other parts of the UK “migrated” into the Welsh capital to enjoy the open shops, restaurants and pubs.
England is still in lockdown and nationwide restrictions on travelling outside of the country for non-essential reasons are in place until December 2.
Meanwhile, teams of coronavirus rules enforcers are being created across south Wales to crack down on people and businesses who don’t comply with the restrictions. Find out more here.
Cases in your area
Latest cases for Wales
A further 28 people have died with coronavirus in Wales and more than 1,200 new positive cases have been confirmed. Cases for your area are here.
Latest statistics released by Public Health Wales (PHW) on Thursday showed 1,251 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wales – a significant rise on the 907 recorded on Tuesday.
The infection rate across Wales as a whole now stands at 189.4 per 100,000 population based on the seven days up to November 23, up from 188.2 in the data released on Wednesday (up to November 22).
Blaenau Gwent remains the county in Wales with the highest infection rate with a seven-day rate of 405.1 , down from 415.1 the previous day.
Torfaen is the second highest with a rate of 333.1 , up from 315, while Newport is third with 298.7 , up from 283.2.
Regulator formally asked to assess vaccines
The coronavirus vaccine rollout in the UK could be a step closer after the regulator was formally asked by the Government to assess the Oxford University and AstraZeneca jab.
The move “marks a significant first step in getting the vaccine approved for deployment” if it meets safety, efficacy and quality standards, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
It comes a week after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was formally asked by the Government to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are working tirelessly to be in the best possible position to deploy a vaccine as soon as one is approved by the independent regulator the MHRA.
“We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards.”
British scientists have defended Oxford University and AstraZeneca after questions were raised about the results of their vaccine trial.
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AstraZeneca said it will most likely carry out a further global clinical trial to assess the efficacy of the jab after a surprise result found 90% protection was achieved when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose.
The pharmaceutical giant has acknowledged the finding was as a result of a dosing error, but said it did not expect any new trial to delay regulatory approval in countries including the UK.
US scientists questioned a lack of detail in the trial results published last week, and the scientific head of the US’s Operation Warp Speed – the programme to supply America with vaccines – told US reporters the half-dose regime was only given to people aged 55 and under.
Two out of three people have said they would be likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, according to research.
Nearly one in 10 (9%) people have told a survey they were unlikely to have the coronavirus vaccination, while 27% have stated they were unsure about being immunised.
The findings, published in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, are based on a demographically representative sample of 1,500 adults in the UK.
Scientists across the globe are hoping to find vaccines that work in older people – the group who are most at risk from Covid-19.