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Mass Covid Vaccination Centres to Open in England

Thousands more people will receive a Covid-19 vaccine this week as seven mass centres open across England. NHS England said hundreds more GP-led and hospital services would also open later this week.

The government is aiming to vaccinate 15 million people in the UK – the over-70s, healthcare workers and those required to shield – by mid-February.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out the government’s vaccine delivery plan at a press conference later.

He said the proposals would be the “keystone of our exit out of the pandemic”.

The government will also publish its first daily figures which will reveal how many people have been given the vaccine.

Hancock said on Sunday about two million people in the UK had been vaccinated, with some 200,000 jabs administered in England daily.

The vaccine plan will be unveiled after the UK recorded more than 80,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic.

In Surrey, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country, a temporary mortuary has been opened as hospital mortuaries have reached capacity.

Almost 200 bodies are being stored at the emergency site, which is a former military hospital, and other local authorities have told the BBC they expect to open similar facilities soon.

On Saturday scientists warned stricter lockdown measures might be needed in England and the health secretary has urged people to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.

Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday “every time you try to flex the rules that could be fatal” and said staying at home was the “most important thing we can do collectively as a society”.

Under the national lockdown, people in England must stay at home and can go out only for limited reasons such as food shopping, exercise, or work if they cannot do so from home. Similar measures are in place across much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ministers held two meetings on Sunday to discuss how to enforce the current lockdown measures more strictly and whether even tighter restrictions may be needed.

The vaccination programme is described as the biggest in NHS history, with an aim of offering jabs to most care home residents by the end of January and the most vulnerable by mid-February.

Some 600,000 invites were due to be sent out over the weekend and this coming week to people aged 80 or older who live up to a 45-minute drive from one of the new regional centres.

The new sites, which NHS England said were chosen to give a geographical spread covering as many people as possible, are:

Millennium Point, Birmingham

Ashton Gate, Bristol

ExCel Centre, London

Manchester Tennis and Football Centre

Centre for Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Robertson House, Stevenage

Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey

However, some vulnerable people have questioned why they have been asked to travel to centres miles away from their homes during a pandemic.

The NHS said people would not miss out on their vaccination if they do not use the letters to make an appointment at one of the centres, adding that local jabs would become available to people if they waited.

Two Labour MPs also raised concerns about the letters being delayed in getting out to people due to coronavirus affecting Royal Mail staff.

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