Britain’s Covid death toll tops 60,000 with 414 new victims

Britain’s official Covid-19 death toll today passed the grim milestone of 60,000 after health officials announced another 414 people have died of the disease.

Department of Health chiefs recorded 498 victims last Thursday, meaning the daily number of victims has dropped by 16.7 per cent week-on-week. Deaths have been dropping consistently since November 21, two weeks after England’s entered its second national lockdown.

Cases have also been falling as a result of the harsh blanket measures, with today’s recorded cases (14,879) marking a 15 per cent drop on last Thursday’s figure of 17,555. Infections started to plummet much sooner than deaths did because it takes infected patients several weeks to fall severely ill and succumb to the illness. 

Drastic curbs placed on the entire nation were lifted yesterday after ministers accepted that levels of Covid were low enough that it was safe to switch to the revamped three-tier system, which means 99 per cent of England is still banned from socialising indoors with loved ones. 

It comes as North Yorkshire Police were today compared to the ‘Gestapo’ after guarding the area’s borders using number plate recognition cameras to stop drivers travelling between tiers. Officers are using the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to check people are not going from Tier 3 areas to Tier 2 areas to go to pubs or restaurants.  

In other developments today, it was revealed that Britain’s operation to transport Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid vaccine across the border via the Eurotunnel in unmarked lorries is being kept ‘top secret’ because of fears criminal gangs could ‘intercept and damage’ the precious cargo.

Britain’s operation to transport Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine across the border is being kept ‘top secret’ because of fears criminal gangs could ‘intercept and damage’ the precious cargo, it emerged today.

Government sources told MailOnline there was a ‘massive risk’ that the first batch of doses could be targeted on its journey from a Belgian manufacturing plant to the UK, via the Eurotunnel in a fleet of unmarked lorries.

Britain plans to begin its biggest vaccination drive in history next week, when the first 800,000 shots eventually arrive at NHS hospitals and makeshift centres. 

They will initially be stored at three specially equipped laboratories for batches to be checked, it was claimed.

When pressed on why the operation to get the vaccine into Britain was shrouded in secrecy, a No10 spokesperson said: ‘I’m not getting into discussions about where the vaccine is arriving and when for security reasons.’

But MailOnline has been told that Downing Street has purposely kept quiet about the exact locations of the lorries because there is a ‘massive risk that criminal gangs could intercept and damage’ the supplies – which England’s deputy chief medical officer this morning claimed would arrive within ‘hours’.

The number of positive cases of coronavirus dropped in the third week of lockdown, the latest figures from Test and Trace reveal

Government sources told MailOnline there was a 'massive risk' that the first batch of doses could be targeted on its journey from a Belgian manufacturing plant to the UK, via the Eurotunnel in a fleet of unmarked lorries (pictured, a lorry entering the UK from the Eurotunnel - it is not clear if it was carrying Pfizer's jab)

Government sources told MailOnline there was a 'massive risk' that the first batch of doses could be targeted on its journey from a Belgian manufacturing plant to the UK, via the Eurotunnel in a fleet of unmarked lorries (pictured, a lorry entering the UK from the Eurotunnel - it is not clear if it was carrying Pfizer's jab)

Government sources told MailOnline there was a ‘massive risk’ that the first batch of doses could be targeted on its journey from a Belgian manufacturing plant to the UK, via the Eurotunnel in a fleet of unmarked lorries (pictured, a lorry entering the UK from the Eurotunnel – it is not clear if it was carrying Pfizer’s jab)

Government figures show there were 1,230 new coronavirus patients needing NHS treatment every day in England during the week ending November 29, on average. But only 938 of these – or 76 per cent – were admissions from 'the community', meaning they definitely caught the virus in their day-to-day life. It leaves question marks over how the other 292 patients who were admitted each day, on average, got infected because the NHS does not break down why they count as an admission

Government figures show there were 1,230 new coronavirus patients needing NHS treatment every day in England during the week ending November 29, on average. But only 938 of these – or 76 per cent – were admissions from 'the community', meaning they definitely caught the virus in their day-to-day life. It leaves question marks over how the other 292 patients who were admitted each day, on average, got infected because the NHS does not break down why they count as an admission

Government figures show there were 1,230 new coronavirus patients needing NHS treatment every day in England during the week ending November 29, on average. But only 938 of these – or 76 per cent – were admissions from ‘the community’, meaning they definitely caught the virus in their day-to-day life. It leaves question marks over how the other 292 patients who were admitted each day, on average, got infected because the NHS does not break down why they count as an admission

BRITAIN’S TOP SECRET OPERATION TO GET PFIZER’S COVID JAB

Britain’s operation to transport Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine across the border is being kept ‘top secret’ because of fears criminal gangs could ‘intercept and damage’ the precious cargo, it emerged today.

Government sources told MailOnline there was a ‘massive risk’ that the first batch of doses could be targeted on its journey from a Belgian manufacturing plant to the UK, via the Eurotunnel in a fleet of unmarked lorries.

Britain plans to begin its biggest vaccination drive in history next week, when the first 800,000 shots eventually arrive at NHS hospitals and makeshift centres. They will initially be stored at three specially equipped laboratories for batch-testing to check, it was claimed.

When pressed on why the operation to get the vaccine into Britain was shrouded in secrecy, a No10 spokesperson said: ‘I’m not getting into discussions about where the vaccine is arriving and when for security reasons.’

But MailOnline has been told that Downing Street has purposely kept quiet about the exact locations of the lorries because there is a ‘massive risk that criminal gangs could intercept and damage’ the supplies – which England’s deputy chief medical officer this morning claimed would arrive within ‘hours’.

Interpol yesterday warned about criminal gangs peddling black market jabs, while ministers have already piled pressure on social media giants Facebook and Instagram to crackdown on bogus anti-vaxx theories that officials have branded ‘nonsense’.

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Interpol yesterday warned about criminal gangs peddling black market jabs, while ministers have already piled pressure on social media giants Facebook and Instagram to crackdown on bogus anti-vaxx theories that officials have branded ‘nonsense’.

Britain yesterday became the first country in the world to approve the jab, after regulators gave it the green light in the wake of evidence showing it was up to 95 per cent effective and safe.

It prompted a major international row, with both the EU and the United States lashing out at the speed at which it was approved. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hit back and insisted that Britain beat the world to a coronavirus vaccine because it was ‘a much better country’.

It comes amid mounting confusion over No10’s priority list, after advisers revealed care home residents would be at the front of the queue. 

Officials have since conceded they may have to wait because of the logistical nightmare of transporting the fragile vaccine.

Hospital patients over the age of 80, social care workers and NHS workers are likely to get bumped to the front of the line in the meantime because the regulator has yet to approve splitting up the batches of the vaccine, which currently comes in packs of between 975 and 4,875 doses.

In preparation for the mammoth nationwide operation the Army and NHS have already carried out a dry run of the campaign. 

Exercise Panacea took place at a Bristol football stadium and saw 30 staff and volunteers road-test how they plan to give most of the population the coronavirus jab at regional hubs.

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus fell 28 per cent in the third week of lockdown, the latest figures from Test and Trace revealed today.

There were 40,249 fewer infections diagnosed in England over the seven-day spell to November 25, with the number of cases dropping from 156,600 to 116,300.

This was the lowest total since the middle of October, when just 96,521 cases were identified. 

Test and Trace — which has already cost £22billion — was set up to prevent another lockdown by asking those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate.

But the system wasn’t prepared for an inevitable surge in cases after the return of schools in September, leading to delays in infected people being spotted and contacted.  

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