Coronavirus live news: India reports cases of new Covid variant; Philippines extends travel bans

Latest updates: South Africa imposes tighter restrictions amid sharp increase in cases; UK told it must vaccinate 2 million people per week to avoid new wave

8.37am GMT

National restrictions are needed to prevent a “catastrophe” in the UK at the start of 2021, a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) has warned. Andrew Hayward, a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

I think we are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic and we’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.

A 50% increase in transmissibility means that the previous levels of restrictions that worked before won’t work now, and so Tier 4 restrictions are likely to be necessary or even higher than that.

The most stringent intervention scenario with tier 4 England-wide and schools closed during January and 2 million individuals vaccinated per week, is the only scenario we considered which reduces peak ICU burden below the levels seen during the first wave.

In the absence of substantial vaccine roll-out, cases, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths in 2021 may exceed those in 2020.

8.33am GMT

Russia has reported 27,002 new cases, including 5,641 in Moscow, taking the total to 3,105,037 since the pandemic began. Authorities also reported 562 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 55,827.

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