A STARK warning from NHS bosses as Covid cases continue to rise in the North-East, the latest on the success of a vaccine, and reports that families will be able to meet over the festive period are among the latest Covid headlines.

Here's everything you need to know on Thursday, November 19:

  • NHS bosses warn of bed shortages unless Covid cases fall in the North-East

NHS and council leaders across the North-East have warned of hospital bed shortages and more deahths if the number of new Covid cases do not fall.

Leaders from seven local authority areas have warned a rise in Covid hospitalisations will lead to fewer hospital beds and "inevitably" excess deaths.

Last night, health bosses across County Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, issued the stern warnings.

They said: "Our local hospitals are appealing to the public to only attend A&E if they have serious or life-threatening emergencies.

"We have learnt so much about Covid and how to treat it, but the virus remains a potent threat.

"The more Covid positive patients in hospital, the fewer beds and staff we have to treat other people. Inevitably this leads to worse outcomes, including, sadly, excess deaths.

FULL STORY - read here

  • Council explains why Covid cases have risen in County Durham despite national lockdown

A North-East council has explained why the Covid infection rate has continued to climb across County Durham as we enter the third week of national lockdown.

Amanda Healy, Director of Public Health at Durham County Council, made the comments as she renewed her warnings for residents to adhere to the rules.

She said that a rise in Covid infections had been spurred on by the volume of people in towns and city centres across the country in the days before the national lockdown.

But Ms Healy said she expects to see cases start to reduce following national lockdown rules, which were introduced on November 5.

She said: “We’d like to thank everyone for the lengths they have gone to in trying to minimise the spread of coronavirus, particularly during this latest period of national restrictions which we appreciate have made life harder for us all.

FULL STORY - read here

  • Pfizer vaccine passes safety checks and is 95 per cent effective

The coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer – which is due to arrive in the UK before the end of the year – is 95 per cent effective and has passed its safety checks, according to further data from the firm.

The pharmaceutical giant and its partner BioNTech published interim results last week showing the jab could prevent more than 90% of people developing Covid-19.

That data was based on the first 94 volunteers to develop Covid-19, but further figures released on Wednesday are based on the first 170 cases of the virus in the clinical trial.

FULL STORY - read here

  • Government 'considering' plans to allow families meet for 5 days over Christmas period

Families across England could be allowed to mix indoors for a five-day period over Christmas under new rules, it has been reported.

Ministers are understood to be looking at allowing households to meet over a period covering Christmas Eve right through to Bank Holiday Monday.

It is also understood that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to ease Covid rules to allow families to mix.

FULL STORY - read here 

  • Ministers must 'come clean' over coronavirus failings, says watchdog

Ministers abandoned normal standards of transparency as they scrambled to secure £18 billion of supplies and services in response to Covid, the public spending watchdog has concluded - and now it must "come clean".

Firms recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority as the Government raced against the rest of the world to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) , the National Audit Office found.

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the failings uncovered in the NAO report may be the “tip of the iceberg” and called for ministers to “come clean” and publish all information about the contracts awarded.

FULL STORY - read here 

There have been 1,825 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the North-East and North Yorkshire.

The Government has announced a further 529 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the UK total to 53,274.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where the virus has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have happened in recent days, show there have now been 68,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK.

As of 9am yesterday, there had been a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,430,341.

Coronavirus cases in the North-East and North Yorkshire as of Wednesday, November 18: County Durham: 17,230 was 16,925; Darlington: 2,867 was 2,797; Gateshead: 7,039 was 6,931; Hartlepool: 3,440 was 3,378; Middlesbrough: 5,037 was 4,941; Newcastle upon Tyne: 14,529 was 14,335; North Tyneside: 5,919 was 5,835; North Yorkshire: 11,809 was 11,572; Northumberland: 7,339 was 7,202; Redcar and Cleveland: 4,044 was 3,944; South Tyneside: 5,018 was 4,926; Stockton-on-Tees: 6,675 was 6,546; Sunderland: 10,036 was 9,857 and York: 5,291 was 5,259.