1,500 Lorries Still Stuck

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Tesco lorry drivers fighting for their jobs – 1,500 lorry drivers are now marooned outside Dover

ONE THOUSAND five hundred lorries are still stuck in Kent unable to leave the UK as Tory PM Johnson and French President Macron thrash out a plan to reopen France’s border.

France shut its UK border for 48 hours on Sunday amid fears of a new coronavirus variant. More than 50 countries have now banned UK arrivals.

Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel said 650 lorries are stacked up on the M20, with a further 873 at a lorry park.

Meanwhile, the UK’s top scientist, Patrick Vallance, has warned the new variant is ‘everywhere’ and further restrictions are likely to be needed in more areas.

In England, 17 million people are under Tier 4 rules, the toughest level, where people are being told to stay at home and not leave the area. Some parts of England and Wales, have asked people who travel from Tier 4 areas to self-isolate.

Wales has entered a new national lockdown, Scotland has tightened rules and both Scotland and Northern Ireland will begin national lockdowns on Boxing Day.

Almost every EU member state has now stopped travel from the UK amid fears over the virus mutation, and the EU is talking about how to form a united response.

Meanwhile, Rapid Covid tests deployed to enable students to return home for Christmas, which have been proved a total failure, are now to be rolled out to secondary schools in January!

These tests, known as Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs), are failing to identify up to 50 per cent of positive infections, according to the government’s own analysis.

The rapid test kits most widely used in UK universities, schools, and care homes detect just 48.89% of Covid-19 infections in asymptomatic people when compared with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, real world data from the Liverpool pilot have shown.

The failure of the devices to pick up enough cases has raised the risk of asymptomatic Covid carriers bringing the virus into care homes, or back to their families.

But it is these LFT tests that have been rolled out, as opposed to the PCR tests.

The LFTs are not fit-for-purpose, evidence has shown. They are meant to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus using a sample from your nose and throat even if you show no symptoms.

The test measures to see the level of antibodies in your system. A surge of antibodies means that the body has already responded to a viral attack.

The PCR test is much better at identifying Covid-19 cases as it looks for the genetic code (RNA) of the virus. The test involves taking a swab of the throat and nose and will confirm if an individual who is showing symptoms of the virus currently has it. It will not confirm whether they have had it and have now recovered.

A document released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) read: ‘In the field evaluation in Liverpool, compared to PCR tests, these tests picked up five out of 10 of the cases PCR detected and more than seven out of 10 cases with higher viral loads, who are likely to be the most infectious. These tests will not pick up everyone who has Covid-19.’

Professor Jonathan Deeks from the University of Birmingham said researchers estimated around 60 coronavirus cases were missed from students who got tested before returning home for Christmas, while only two were identified with the rapid tests used in the nationwide scheme.

Prof Deeks told yesterday’s BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was ‘concerning’ that only a couple of cases were found with these tests out of around 7,100 students who came forward for asymptomatic testing before Christmas at the university.

Research – led by Professor Alan McNally at the university – tested 10 per cent of the negative cases with PCR tests, and found another six coronavirus cases.

‘Our summary was that we probably found two students and missed 60 with this test because of its poor performance,’ Prof Deeks told the Today programme.

When pressed on what this would mean for schools preparing to use the devices in January, Prof Deeks said: ‘We would be missing people who’ve got Covid.’