Covid: Pandemic planning questioned and early Christmas shopping boosts retailon November 19, 2021 at 7:59 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.

The government wasn’t fully prepared for the impact of Covid-19, lacking detailed plans on shielding, job support schemes and school disruption, according to a report by spending watchdog the National Audit Office. It says planning had centred on a flu pandemic or infectious diseases such as Ebola, and not an illness with the characteristics of Covid involving a lower mortality rate but the ability to spread via people with no symptoms. The government says the pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to health systems around the world.

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It seems people may have heeded warnings to do their Christmas shopping early, in light of supply problems caused in part by the pandemic. People spent more on clothing and toys in October, with retail sales 0.8% higher than in September, according to the Office for National Statistics, with some retailers suggesting early Christmas trading boosted sales.

Woman shopping

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Northern Ireland’s health minister is arguing “people should be working from home” again, if they did so at the start of the pandemic. A document issued by Robin Swann to the Stormont executive suggests reversing the guidance issued to employers in September to “begin planning a gradual return to the workplace”, BBC News understands. On Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health said more restrictions before Christmas were possible but it was likely there will be a debate in the assembly before any changes come into force.

Woman working from home

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NHS doctors have spoken out about receiving abusive messages from coronavirus sceptics and anti-lockdown protesters. And in the US, deep political divides over mask and vaccine mandates have deepened since the Covid vaccine became widely available. One doctor in Tennessee tells us she’s been forced away from her home after facing threats and taunts.

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Has Covid changed the way we shop forever – even with major purchases, such as cars? Cazoo and Cinch are among a new breed of car dealer allowing shoppers to buy, part-exchange and finance used vehicles entirely online. And Nathan Coe, from car advertising giant AutoTrader, says it has started a ripple effect, with traditional dealerships also shifting more of their sales process online. Some buyers love the ease of the process. However, Emma Hull who bought online tells us “never again” after her Audi A1 arrived dirty and scratched on delivery.

May Lang with her Nissan Leaf

Image source, May Lang

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Wondering which children are being vaccinated – and why? Here’s our explainer.

Daily Covid-19 statistics for the UK
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