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Live Reporting

Edited by Helier Cheung and Sarah Collerton

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for joining us

    Thanks for following our live coverage of the pandemic.

    Today's live page was edited by Helier Cheung and Sarah Collerton and written by Becky Morton, Joshua Nevett and Alex Therrien.

    We'll be back with all the latest updates tomorrow morning.

  2. Day 273 of the pandemic - here are the headlines

    Margaret Keenan, the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine
    Image caption: Margaret Keenan, the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine outside medical trials, left hospital on Wednesday

    We’re wrapping up our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for the day soon.

    Before we do, let’s have a look at the stories that made headlines today, the 273rd day since a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    In the UK:

    • England's chief medical officer said there would be a "gradual retreat" from lockdowns and warned that easing restrictions now there is a vaccine would be "absolutely the wrong thing to do"
    • UK regulators advised people with a history of significant allergic reactions to not have the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The advice came after two people had a reaction shortly after having the jab, which experts say is not unusual
    • Wales' chief medical officer has urged people not to mix with others outside of their household between now and Christmas
    • The 90-year-old grandmother who became the first person in the world to have the Pfizer vaccine has been discharged from hospital
    • Four Sky News journalists have been taken off air while an investigation into breaches of Covid guidelines is carried out.

    Elsewhere:

    • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country's daily death toll was "not acceptable", as she backed calls for stricter coronavirus measures over Christmas
    • The first "Covid-free flight" from New York to Rome touched down earlier today, with all 100 passengers on board required to present a negative coronavirus test result before being allowed to travel.
  3. Conspiracy theories follow first vaccinations

    Alistair Coleman

    BBC Monitoring

    Margaret Keenan getting the coronavirus vaccine
    Image caption: Some people are claiming that this vaccine event was staged

    The roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK was met immediately - and predictably - by an uptick in misinformation and false claims online.

    Among posts on social media are claims that patients and medical staff seen on television “weren’t real people”, and that a “fake vaccination event” was staged for the media.

    Although on the face of it these wild claims are preposterous, we checked anyway – and found the theories full of holes.

    Take one allegation that gained traction on Twitter – that yesterday’s vaccination footage first appeared on CNN’s website in October.

    This, however, is a characteristic of the CNN website’s video player - a feature used by many news organisations.

    What readers actually saw was a constantly updated playlist of relevant stories, meaning new videos appear on older stories.

    Other untrue claims were even more contrived, alleging actors and bizarre secret codes. One feature they seem to have in common is the lack of any real evidence.

    We’ve been tracking some of the more popular anti-vaccine conspiracy theories during the pandemic - theories that are far from legitimate questions or reports, such as today’s reports of allergic reactions.

  4. Crypt of 1,400-year-old cathedral turned into Covid test site

    The Covid testing site in the crypt of Rochester Cathedral
    Image caption: The military has helped set up the testing site at Rochester Cathedral

    The crypt of England's second oldest cathedral has been turned into a coronavirus testing centre.

    Rochester Cathedral, which has stood in Medway, Kent, for some 1,400 years, is one of the area's new targeted community testing centres being run in partnership with the military.

    The county has some of the highest case numbers in the country and was recently placed under tier three - the highest level of restrictions in England.

    Residents without symptoms are being encouraged to book a test to help tackle a rise in infections.

    Rochester Cathedral testing centre
  5. People in Wales urged not to mix outside of their household before Christmas

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid: 'Don't mix with other outside household' plea

    People in Wales have been urged not to mix with others outside of their household between now and Christmas.

    The country's chief medical officer, Frank Atherton, told a Welsh government briefing: "The best present we can give our families this year is a coronavirus-free Christmas."

    Groups of four people from different households are allowed to meet indoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants.

    Previously the Welsh government had said people should limit themselves to seeing the same "one or two friends".

    Dr Atherton said: "We all have to work to reduce the number of people we have contact with between now and Christmas.

    "My message on this is really very simple - don't mix with people outside your household between now and Christmas."

    Read more

  6. Oregon nurse fired after claiming to flout Covid rules

    File photo of a medical workers
    Image caption: Oregon has experienced a surge in infections in recent weeks (file photo)

    A nurse in Oregon has been fired after claiming she does not follow pandemic restrictions outside of her job.

    In a TikTok video apparently filmed in her hospital’s break room, Ashley Grames – a cancer nurse – said she does not wear a mask away from work. She added that she still travels and lets her children have play dates.

    The now-deleted video caused a stir on social media, forcing Ms Grames’ employer Salem Health to condemn her behaviour and place her on administrative leave pending an investigation.

    The hospital told local media on Tuesday that it no longer employs Ms Grames.

    State records also indicate she will stop practising nursing for the time being, an agreement that will remain in effect until the state board of nursing allows her to practice again.

    Oregon has experienced a surge of the virus over the past few weeks, setting records in daily caseloads and hospital admissions.

  7. In charts: Decline in daily UK cases slows

    After the first Covid-19 peak in April, cases in the UK started rising again in July, with the rate of growth increasing sharply in September and October, before falling again in November following tougher restrictions.

    The rate of decline now appears to have slowed, with a further 16,578 confirmed cases announced by the government on Wednesday.

    It is thought the infection rate was much higher during the first peak in spring, but testing capacity at the time was too limited to detect the true number of daily cases.

    Graph showing daily UK cases
    Graphic showing daily coronavirus figures in the UK
  8. UN: Pandemic will have ‘negligible’ impact on climate change

    People wear face masks on a road during selective lockdown after new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Karachi, Pakistan
    Image caption: Lockdowns worldwide have reduced carbon emissions

    Flights have been grounded. Fewer cars have been on the roads. Economic activity has slowed.

    The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of life as we know it to a halt.

    As a result, carbon emissions are predicted to fall by about 7% globally this year, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

    Yet, this year’s projected reduction in greenhouse gases will have a “negligible” impact on climate change, the report says. The forecasted dip, it says, only translates to a 0.01C reduction of global warming by 2050.

    Such a reduction would do little to keep global temperatures within 2C of pre-industrial levels, the target set by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    A green pandemic recovery, however, can bring emissions close to levels needed to achieve the 2C goal by 2030, the report adds.

    While the report looks at the plans that governments have submitted to curb their CO2, it also examines the roles of lifestyles and consumption patterns of individuals.

    It says that the top 10% of earners would need to cut their carbon footprints to around one tenth of their current level to help restrict the rise in temperatures this century to 1.5C

    You can read more about these findings here.

    A staff member of Japan Airlines wearing a protective face mask and gloves cleans the cabin of a plane
    Image caption: The airline industry has been scuppered by the pandemic
  9. Canada approves vaccine - but faces 'hoarding' criticism

    Robin Levinson King

    BBC News, Toronto

    People wear masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the territory of Nunavut enters a two week mandatory restriction period in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada November 18, 2020

    Canada has officially approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, which means the first doses could be delivered by the end of the month.

    The drug will be indicated for people over 16-years-old, while its use in children continues to be studied, the health department said.

    Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 249,000 doses could go out to people in long term-care homes as early as the end of December.

    In total, the Canadian government has purchased 20 million doses of the vaccine - enough to inoculate 10 million people - with the option to buy 56 million more. The country's population is about 37 million.

    That gives Canada the most doses per capita than anywhere else in the world, according to a recent study.

    Amnesty International has accused Canada and other rich countries of "hoarding" the vaccine, and says it could lead to more deaths in the developing world.

  10. Fears as Stockholm's intensive care units reach 99% capacity

    Maddy Savage

    BBC News, Stockholm

    A person waring a protective mask collects coronavirus self tests from people in cars at a testing site in the car park of Svagertorp railway station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Malmo, Sweden, November 27, 2020. T

    Sweden’s capital has almost reached its limit for providing intensive care beds for the first time during the pandemic, with 99% of all spots filled with serious Covid-19 cases alongside other patients, according to Björn Eriksson, Health and Medical care director for the Stockholm region.

    He told a news conference that his team had thought they were seeing a “plateau or the beginning of a decline” of coronavirus admissions, but that the opposite had happened.

    In a separate interview with major Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, he admitted there was a risk that some patients in need of care may not be able to receive it, describing a “very serious situation”. Earlier this week intensive care staff from Blekinge in southern Sweden were called in to help doctors at Stockholm’s largest hospital, Karolinska.

    Sweden, which relied largely on voluntary social distancing guidelines at the start of the pandemic, has recently toughened its restrictions, banning public gatherings of more than eight people and alcohol sales after 10pm.

    Students over the age of 16 have also switched back to distance-learning, having returned to classrooms in August. However there are ongoing concerns about overcrowding in shops and on public transport.

    On Tuesday, Health Minister Lena Hallengren promised that everyone aged over 18 would be offered a Covid-19 vaccine within the first six months of 2021.

  11. US regulators will check vaccine allergy data

    The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
    Image caption: The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine must be stored at a temperature of -70C

    We can bring you a response from US Health Secretary Alex Azar to the vaccine advice issued by UK regulators earlier today.

    UK regulators have advised people with a history of significant allergic reactions against taking the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

    That's because two people had a reaction shortly after having the new jab, though they received treatment and are both fine now (read more about this here).

    The vaccine is yet to be approved by the US’s regulatory body, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), though it has found no safety concerns yet.

    In an interview with broadcaster CNN, Azar was asked if the advice issued in the UK would have any impact on the regulatory authorisation of the vaccine in the US.

    He said the FDA would examine the data on allergic reactions and speak to UK regulators.

    “FDA is going to not cut any corners,” Azar said. “They’re looking at the data. They’re looking under the hood at everything. So I’m sure that’ll be something the FDA looks at here.”

  12. Hong Kong's 'fourth wave' prompts mandatory testing

    Helier Cheung

    BBC News

    People wearing masks in Hong Kong
    Image caption: Hong Kong has had 7,180 coronavirus cases and 114 deaths

    Hong Kong is struggling under what officials are calling a "fourth wave".

    For several days in the past two weeks, the territory has seen more than 100 new infections per day - a sharp contrast from earlier this year, when the city seemed to have the outbreak contained, and some days with zero local transmissions.

    Now, authorities have banned dining in restaurants after 6pm - a significant move in a city where many work long hours, and eating out in an essential part of local culture.

    The government has also ordered compulsory Covid-19 testing for taxi drivers working between over Christmas and January, and for residents of two housing estate blocks with clusters of infections.

    Mandatory testing is a touchy subject to some in Hong Kong - some activists have raised concerns that testing could be used to collect DNA samples for surveillance purposes - claims the authorities have dismissed as a smear campaign.

    A survey last month found 49% of people said they did not trust the government (compared to 30% who said they did).

    However, attitudes may be changing as infection numbers rise, says Victoria Hui, a Hong Konger and politics professor at Notre Dame University.

    "While people didn't want to sign up before, there seems to be more acceptance of testing now... Covid-19 now seems to be the immediate concern, with the possibility of DNA collection becoming a secondary concern," she told the BBC.

  13. First person to receive Pfizer jab discharged from hospital

    Margaret Keenan, 90, the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine, with daughter Sue, leaving University Hospital, Coventry, Warwickshire
    Image caption: Margaret Keenan left hospital with her daughter Sue

    The 90-year-old grandmother who became the first person in the world to have the Pfizer vaccine has been discharged from hospital.

    Margaret Keenan was admitted to University Hospital Coventry a few days before she was given the jab early on Tuesday.

    Mrs Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said the injection was the "best early birthday present".

    It was the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be dispensed in the UK in the coming weeks.

  14. Four Sky journalists off air during Covid breach inquiry

    Kay Burley
    Image caption: Burley is likely to be off screen until the New Year

    Sky News presenter Kay Burley and three colleagues have been taken off air while an investigation into breaches of Covid guidelines is carried out.

    Political editor Beth Rigby, north of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid and presenter Sam Washington are off air while the inquiry takes place.

    BBC media editor Amol Rajan said Burley's job was hanging in the balance.

    It follows Burley's admission that she "inadvertently broke the rules" while celebrating her 60th birthday at the weekend.

    The journalist said she could "only apologise" for her "error of judgment".

    Writing on Twitter on Monday, Burley said she had been at a "Covid compliant" restaurant on Saturday and had later "popped into another" venue to use the toilet.

    Beth Rigby
    Image caption: Beth Rigby has also been taken off air

    Amol Rajan said she was one of a party of 10 people at the Century Club, a private members' club on London's Shaftesbury Avenue. Her group took up two tables, with six people on one and four on the other.

    Burley then went on to Folie restaurant, where she used the toilet, before moving on to a private residence where individuals from at least three households mixed, Rajan said.

    London is under tier two restrictions, which means people are not allowed to socialise with anyone from outside their household or support bubble indoors, either in a private home or a public place.

  15. EU medicines regulator hit by cyber-attack

    A vial of a coronavirus vaccine
    Image caption: The EU regulatory body is assessing whether Covid-19 vaccines are safe for use in European countries

    The medicines regulator for the European Union (EU) says it has been the victim of a cyber-attack.

    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently working on approval of two Covid-19 vaccines, which it expects to conclude within weeks.

    The EMA did not say what the nature of the cyber-attack was, if it was successful, or if it was linked to the vaccine approval process.

    The agency authorises the use of medicines across the EU.

    It is trying to decide if the Pfizer/BioNTech jab - which is being rolled out in the UK - and another made by Moderna, are safe for use in EU countries.

    There has been a string of warnings about hacking threats against vaccine-makers and public health bodies.

    Security services warned in the summer that Russian intelligence had been targeting organisations attempting to develop a successful vaccine.

    Read the full story

  16. Do you need to wear a mask if you're vaccinated?

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    Care home worker Pillay Jagambrun, 61, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
    Image caption: Care home worker Pillay Jagambrun, 61, receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday

    One of the big unknowns about the vaccines that are being developed is whether they prevent people from passing on the virus.

    The trials that have taken place have only established that they stop people getting ill.

    But it is quite possible that someone who is vaccinated could still infect others.

    The assumption is vaccination will at least disrupt this to some extent - but it may not end transmission completely.

    For that reason, those who are vaccinated will still be expected to wear masks and self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who is infected.

    That does not mean these precautions can never be lifted.

    Once all the vulnerable people are immunised, there will be a strong case that these steps are not needed – or at least not needed on the scale they are currently being used.

    However, it will take many months to get to that point.

    Masks, self-isolation and social distancing are here for a while.

  17. How one woman’s foot became anti-vaccine propaganda

    Marianna Spring

    Specialist disinformation reporter

    Patricia

    Patricia from Texas is suffering from an unexplained skin condition on her feet - but a misunderstanding about what might have caused it set off a chain of events that turned her into fodder for anti-vaccine activists.

    Mistaken claims she was injured in a vaccine trial were shared on a fundraiser page.

    That fuelled rumours and conspiracy theories.

    They all were based on the idea that Patricia had received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

    She had been part of a trial, but medical records show that instead of the vaccine itself, she received a placebo, a small injection of salt water.

    Dermatologists confirmed that such an injection would not cause a skin reaction.

    That didn't stop activists twisting her story to advance their own agendas.

    The disinformation they fuelled online is worlds apart from legitimate safety concerns and today’s reports about allergic reactions.

    On top of the physical pain caused by her condition, Patricia received a wave of online abuse.

    Read more

  18. BreakingCanada approves Pfizer vaccine for use

    The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been deemed safe for use by regulators in Canada, paving the way for mass vaccination in the country.

    Health Canada approved the Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday, shortly after the UK's move at the start of December.

    "The approval of the vaccine is supported by evidence that it is safe, effective and of good quality," Health Canada said in a statement.

    On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians would start receiving their first doses of Pfizer's vaccine before the end of December.

  19. UK coronavirus deaths rise by 533

    A further 533 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the UK, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus to 62,566.

    The latest government figures also show there have been a further 16,578 cases across the UK.

  20. Analysis: Allergic reactions can happen with any vaccine

    James Gallagher

    Health and science correspondent, BBC News

    The story about two people having allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech jab is one to assess with your head and not your gut.

    No effective medicine is without side effects so you have to balance the risk and the benefit.

    Remember, one in 1,000 people in the UK have died after being infected with coronavirus this year and that figure is rising daily.

    Two people, out of thousands vaccinated yesterday, had an allergic reaction which they recovered from.

    Such reactions can happen with any vaccine and are treated with drugs such as steroids or adrenaline.

    The trials reported one possible allergic reaction per 1,000 people immunised that may have been related to the jab.

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has given targeted advice to those most at risk, but for the overwhelming majority of people this changes nothing.

    More from James: What you need to know about vaccine safety