A new series of terrifying TV ads urging Britons to stay at home will air from tonight, as ministers face accusations of ‘scaremongering’ with claims that the new variant could be more deadly.
The shock tactic adverts will feature close-ups of Covid patients wearing oxygen masks accompanied by a bold thought provoking message.
In accompanying posters, Britons will be told to look into a patients eyes and ‘tell her you never bend the rules’.
In another of the posters, which carry the NHS logo and the Government’s ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ slogan, Britons are told to look the patient in the eye and ‘tell him the risk isn’t real’.
The new TV adverts, which also NHS staff, will air on ITV and Channel 4 this evening as part of the campaign.
Further advertising will run across radio, online and across social media from Saturday evening, the Government has announced.
But the new hard-hitting campaign comes amid accusations of Government ‘scaremongering’ from Tory MPs.
Boris Johnson and science chiefs tonight made the shocking claim that the Kent variant of the coronavirus could be 30 per cent more deadly than older versions of the virus.
However Tory backbencher Craig Mackinlay said some of the scientific warnings were reminiscent of ‘Project Fear’ – a term often used by Brexit campaigners against Remainers in the run-up to the EU referenedum.
The South Thanet MP, who is a member of the Covid Recovery Group, which opposes blanket lockdown measures, said every time there was hope of easing lockdown there was ‘a new twist’.
A hard-hitting new series of TV adverts urging Britons to stay at home will air from tonight, as ministers ramp up pressure on the public to obey lockdown rules. The shock tactic adverts will feature close-ups of Covid patients wearing oxygen masks accompanied by a bold thought provoking message
Other posters also urge viewers to look the patient in the eye and ‘tell him the risk isn’t real’
Mr Mackinlay told MailOnline: ‘It seems to me we are now being held hostage to a zero Covid policy which is completely unattainable – or if you do attain it we are going to be in lockdown for an incredibly long period. That just cannot be.
‘The next thing will be ‘’oh dear, this new variant from Timbuktu is not responsive to the vaccine’’, or ‘’the vaccine doesn’t work against it’’.
‘Because Covid has been with us now for a year it is not at all surprising if the evolution or mutation is going to be towards a different type of which these vaccines can’t work against.
Britain hits 400,000 daily Covid jabs: UK tops record for third day in a row as NHS drive continues to pick up pace
By Luke Andrews for MailOnline
More than 400,000 Britons were vaccinated against coronavirus on Thursday, official figures show, as the NHS drive to inoculate the most vulnerable continues to gather steam.
Department of Health figures published today reveal 412,615 jabs were carried out on Thursday, marking the third day in a row the scheme has picked up the pace.
The Government is aiming to vaccinate all 15million in the top priority groups – over-70s, NHS staff, vulnerable and care home residents – by mid-February, meaning they will need to get jabs into the arms of 350,000 people a day.
But today’s figures show the daily target was exceeded, sparking hopes the Government will make good on its promise which will pile pressure on ministers to end the brutal lockdown sooner.
Overall, more than 5.3million Britons have been vaccinated against the virus since the scheme began.
‘That doesn’t matter as such because you then need to formulate a new vaccine. But we are just adding more delay.’
His comments came as the Government tonight launches its new hard-hitting ad campaign urging Britons to obey lockdown rules.
The campaign will feature footage and remarks broadcast from patients who have coronavirus, as well as the NHS staff who are looking after them at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.
The Government said that someone is currently admitted to hospital every 30 seconds with the virus, and a quarter of those are under the age of 55.
There are currently over 38,000 beds taken up in England by Covid patients.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The NHS is under intense pressure. They are relying on all of us to follow the rules.
‘I know how long the last few months have felt, and I know the vast majority of people are following the rules, but we have come too far to let up now.
‘Every day we are closer to beating this virus, and already over five million people across the UK have been vaccinated.
‘But right now more than ever we need to stick together to protect our NHS and to keep saving lives. The message couldn’t be clearer – stay at home.’
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘The impact of the current wave is still putting significant pressure on hospitals across the country and many patients are very sick.
‘Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all continue to play our part in protecting the NHS and saving lives.’
Dr Emeka Okorocha, a A&E doctor at East London Hospitals, said: ‘The past year has been tough on everyone and I know that lockdown has been so frustrating for so many of us.
‘However, life is really tough on the frontline at the moment, so ask yourself, is it worth breaking the rules to go and meet friends?
‘Lives are being lost and the strain on my colleagues is clear.
‘We’re all exhausted but we are still here fighting the good fight against this horrible disease.’
The change of tone in Government messaging comes as, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government Sir Patrick Vallance presented a mixed bag of news at the Downing Street press conference tonight.
The trio sounded optimism about a recent decline in infections, but warned the new variant could lead to higher death rates in the coming weeks and months.
The change of tone in Government messaging comes as, Prime Minister Mr Johnson, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government Sir Patrick Vallance presented a mixed bag of news at the Downing Street press conference tonight
Explaining the risk change out loud without presenting data to prove the terrifying development after it was leaked to ITV political editor Robert Peston before the briefing, Sir Patrick said that hospital data had suggested the variant could increase the risk of death for a man his 60s from 1 per cent to 1.3 per cent, but he admitted ‘the evidence is not yet strong’.
Principal of Orthdox Jewish girls school where 400 guests attended lockdown-busting wedding died of the virus in first wave
By James Gant and Jack Elsom for MailOnline
Police raided a lockdown-breaking wedding at a Jewish girls’ school last night – 10 months after its principal died of Covid-19.
Four hundred guests packed inside Yesodey Hatorah Girls’ Senior School in Stamford Hill, north London, which is being used as a coronavirus testing centre.
The organiser was fined the maximum £10,000 penalty and five others were stung £200 after officers busted the address at 9.14pm following a tip-off.
The building’s windows had been covered to stop people seeing inside and many of the guests fled as the police arrived and avoided being fined.
Downing Street today condemned the ‘selfish’ illegal gathering which took place hours after Priti Patel announced a police crackdown on rule-breakers.
The Home Secretary said people attending illegal house parties will face £800 fines from next week, doubling for each offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Jewish leaders blasted the wedding – which costs about £750 at the venue – with the Chief Rabbi branding it ‘a most shameful desecration of all that we hold dear’.
Yesodey Hatorah was run by Rabbi Avrohom Pinter until he was struck down and killed by coronavirus in April last year.
No10 rowed in behind the police and supported them in doling out fines.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Large gatherings such as this pose a health risk not just to those who attend themselves but to those they live with and others who may come into contact with them.
‘We fully back the police in taking action against people who flagrantly and selfishly break the rules.’
Yesodey Hatorah Girls’ School was being held as a coronavirus testing centre for people in Hackney, opening on Sundays between 12pm and 3pm.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis tweeted: ‘At a time when we are all making such great sacrifices, it amounts to a brazen abrogation of the responsibility to protect life and such illegal behaviour is abhorred by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community.’
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the breach ‘goes against Jewish teaching that preserving life is of the highest value’.
‘The reckless and dangerous behaviour of those behind this event does not represent the attitude of the vast majority of British Jews, including from within the Strictly Orthodox community, who are fully aware of the terrible toll of this pandemic.
‘At the latest count, 740 members of the Jewish community were among the more than 90,000 UK fatalities from Covid.’
Mr Johnson has pointedly refused to rule out the draconian restrictions lasting well into the summer and No10 today slapped down Tory calls for a ‘road map’ back to normal life, despite an array of data suggesting the worst of the second wave is over.
SAGE today claimed Britain’s R rate has fallen below the crucial level of one, separate experts estimated daily cases have halved in a fortnight and the Department of Health’s own statistics show daily infections have fallen every day for almost two weeks.
Defying mounting pressure to commit to easing the current measures, Mr Johnson warned today that the NHS is still under huge pressure and the curbs will only be lifted when it is ‘safe’.
Downing Street was warned it faces the ‘mother of all battles’ next month when it has to discuss relaxing the restrictions.
The 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is urging the government to start lifting the lockdown no later than March 8 – when vaccines given to the most vulnerable groups should have taken effect.
But No10’s refusal to give an exact day for when lockdown will end may have been fuelled by worrying findings from scientists feeding into SAGE, who believe that the highly-infectious Kent variant of Covid – called B.1.1.7 – may be up to 30 per cent deadlier than older strains.
The PM is expected to discuss analysis of the variant’s lethality by Public Health England and other groups feeding into NERVTAG at tonight’s press conference, alongside Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist whose grim modelling warned hundreds of thousands of Britons could die without action back in March, told ITV’s Robert Peston it is a ‘realistic possibility’ the new variant increases the risk of death.
The variant has already been spotted in 60 countries, including the US, Australia, India, China and Saudi Arabia. But the Government’s top scientific advisers believe the current crop of vaccines will work against the variant – but may be less effective against other South African and Brazilian mutations.
In a dramatic sign that the outbreak could be flattening out, SAGE said the R rate – the average number of people each infected patient passes the virus onto – was between 0.8 and 1. That is down sharply from last week, when it was between 1.2 and 1.3.
Separate data show cases have halved in a fortnight and deaths in London are falling.
And figures today revealed Britain’s mass vaccination drive is continuing to pick up speed following a blip last week, with a record 400,000 doses dished out yesterday.
The epidemic is still huge and devastating the country, however, with almost 40,000 infected patients in hospital.
And grim figures laying bare the other economically-crippling side of lockdown reveal business activity has fallen even more than expected this month, leaving the UK looking down the barrel of a double dip recession.
Number 10 borrowed more than £34billion in December – the third highest monthly total ever – as it scrambles to keep millions of jobs and stricken firms afloat while tax revenues dwindle.
Instead Cabinet ministers are embroiled in an unseemly squabble over whether to pump up financial support further and toughen rules at UK borders.
A leaked plan from Matt Hancock’s Department of Health would see everyone who tests positive for coronavirus given £500 in cash to self-isolate.
The idea, which could cost half a billion pounds a week, is meant to bolster low levels of compliance – but officials at Rishi Sunak’s Treasury branded it ‘bonkers’, while No10 effectively disowned the proposal, saying the PM had not seen it.