Coronavirus News 25 November 2021

Blurred photograph of a hand holding a lateral flow test overlapped with black text reading 'When is the End? #COVID19'

What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a very infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is more serious in older people and those with certain health conditions.


Do you know someone who has not been vaccinated?  Do you think it is because they don’t feel they have enough information about the safety of the vaccine?

It is understandable that people worry that the vaccine is too new for them to be confident it is safe.  But the vaccine is not totally new, it is an adapted version of vaccines that have been around for quite a while.  Also, because of the pandemic, the vaccine has been tested on thousands and, in the past year, researchers have been able to follow the effect of the vaccine on hundreds of thousands of people.

For example, to begin with people were rightly worried about the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women and their babies.  Now, after researchers have been able to follow the pregnancies of over 100,000 women, we know that catching Covid-19 does more harm to them than having the vaccine. 

Vaccinations – over 50s can have booster jabs; go online to book. Please encourage everyone to book their vaccinations, including flu jabs for those entitled.

COVID-19 boosters

The COVID-19 Booster Programme is now open to those aged 40 years and over, as well as frontline health and care staff and those with an underlying health condition.

A COVID-19 booster vaccine dose helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine.

This booster dose will help extend the protection you gained from your first two doses and give you longer term protection.

The booster will help to reduce the risk of you needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection this winter.

That’s why it’s really important that, if you’re eligible for a booster jab, you please book your appointment as soon as possible or visit a walk-in clinic near you.

Visit for a full list of walk-in clinics offering boosters near you.

Coronavirus deaths

The first official statistics covering the deaths of those getting home care over the past year have been published.

The figures tell us that the pandemic has probably taken a great toll on a stretched and unequal system.  More than 25,000 people died in the past year while receiving home care in England, and almost 3,000 died over that period in Scotland, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

These figures report deaths having increased in England by nearly 50% between April last year to March, compared with the previous year.  The deaths are of all Disabled people, including older people, who rely on care workers coming into their own homes for them to be able to live independently.  This rise in reported deaths in England of 50%, and in Scotland of 70%, compares to an increase of 22% in the wider population in England, according to figures from the ONS.

However, although recorded deaths have increased quite a lot, relatively few people in home care have died of coronavirus.  Across England, the data is saying only 8.7% were Covid-19 related, though that rose to 20% in some areas.  This suggests the deaths were related to the pandemic, but not caused by the Coronavirus itself.

We can’t say why, just yet, but it may be that with hospitals almost only taking Covid-19 patients for along time led to people dying who may well not have done if the NHS had not been so overloaded.

The data shows very wide regional differences in deaths across England.  This may be because the home care system is quite complex – care can be delivered through one of almost 19,000 providers, including agencies, non-profits, councils, NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups – and differs from area to area.  Or, it may be that the differences relate to how may Covid-19 patients the local hospitals had.

Deaths of adults in home care more than doubled in 38 council areas across England, according to data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In ten local authority areas recorded deaths tripled.

In Bristol, recorded deaths among those getting home care of one type or another increased from 106 in 2019-2020 to 165 in 2020-2021.  This is a 55.7% increase in deaths.

Warm Home Discount

Warm Home Discount will take £140 off your electricity bill between September and March.

The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

If you have a prepayment (pay as you go) meter, you might get a voucher to top up your meter.

Warm Home Discount Scheme (GOV.UK)

Eligibility for Warm Home Discount Scheme

There are 2 groups which can receive the discount.

Core group

Core group includes those receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

You should get a letter telling you about the discount if you qualify. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by the end of March.

Broader group

The broader group includes those on lower incomes who meet the supplier’s eligibility criteria. If you are eligible, you can apply through your supplier’s website.

Not all suppliers offer Warm Home Discount, so it is important to check that your supplier does.

Warm Home Discount Scheme: energy suppliers (GOV.UK)

There is no confusion about using an accessible venue

Photograph of Israeli minister Karine Elharrar, left, pictured at the Israeli president's residence in April 2021 in her wheelchair. She is the minister who could not get entry into the Cop26 conference in Glasgow.

Last week the British Prime Minister apologised – very half-heartedly, in our opinion – to the Israeli minister excluded from COP26.  

He said there had been “some confusion with the arrangement”, adding that he was, “very, very sorry about that.” 

That is simply not good enough.

The government has extra responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, over and above what the rest of us are legally required to do, to make sure all that it does, and the buildings it uses, are accessible to Disabled people.  This is called the Public Sector Equality Duty.  

So, the question is not, ‘were alternative arrangements made’ for the minister.  It is, ‘Why did the UK government not bother to book a fully accessible venue in the first place?’

Why does the COP 26 host think that what applies to local councillors, service providers etc does not apply to them?

Mr Johnson’s inadequate apology coincided with Purple Tuesday – an awareness day set up to make organisations improve the accessibility of their goods or services to Disabled customers.

The government even tried to blame the Israeli delegation, with the UK’s Environment Secretary, George Eustice saying, 

“”What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister.”, 

when interviewed by on Radio 4.

However, a spokesman from the Israeli Embassy in London said the country’s delegation to the summit had 

“communicated over the past several weeks all the details about the minister’s requirements”.

The COP26 organisers went on to say that the main venue was fully wheelchair accessible, while temporary structures built around it had all undergone accessibility checks and were fully compliant.  

But, if this is the case, how come Minister Elharrar could not get into the venue?  Any decent access auditor knows you look at whether the person can get to the accessible entrance, not just the entrance and inside the building itself.

The excuses given do nothing to justify the situation that arose.  Disabled people should have been able to safely and comfortably travel from the city centre/nearby train station[s] into any of the buildings, using the main entrance.  Anything less it not equality and definitely is not respectful of Disabled people, whether ministers or citizens.

Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care – Listening and Engagement Exercise

Logo from the Church of England's website for the Archbishop's Commission on Reimagining Care = graphic of people made up of circular shapes in green, yellow, pink and blue with text in a green/grey underneath reading "Reimagining Care".

The Church of England has set up a commission to look at how social care should be provided and they would like your views. 

Below are the questions they are asking you to respond to as part of the Listening and Engagement stage of the Commission on Reimagining Care’s work. 

The Commission’s aim is to develop a radical and inspiring long-term vision for care and support in England so that everyone can flourish.  Whether you draw on care and support, work in the care sector, care for a neighbour or relative, or have ideas about how care and support could be different, they want to hear from you. 

The Commission will use the responses to their questions to help them decide what practical recommendations to national and local government, policymakers, the Church, the care sector, and society as a whole, about how to deliver a reimagined vision of care and support. 

The would like to thank you for taking the time to complete the questions.  They will greatly value your insights.

To participate in the Listening and Engagement Exercise
1.    Fill out the form online
2.    Download the form
3.    Download the large print version of the form

If for any reason you would prefer to have your say using a different format, please get in touch with the Commission at

A version of the questions will be available in British Sign Language in the coming days.  [go to: for updates. 

The deadline for responses is Friday 10th December.