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Hospitals in the south of England have seen a “real rise in pressure” as the number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment heads towards the April peak.  
Paramedics in the capital are receiving almost 8,000 call-outs daily, with Boxing Day described as one of London Ambulance Service’s “busiest ever days”.  
The rise in patients come as hopes grow for the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming days, with volunteers ready to help roll out the jab nationwide, according to reports.  
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told the BBC ambulance trusts in particular are coming under extreme pressure, as are community and mental health services as many more people are coming through the door with Covid and other conditions.  
The 7,918 calls received by London Ambulance Service on 26 December was up more than 2,500 on the 5,217 received on the same day last year, and medics are receiving support from other ambulance services in the south. 
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Little sign of vaccine hesitancy among elderly
Practice GP Dr Fari Ahmad has said that so far there has been little sign of “vaccine hesitancy” among the first groups to receive the Pfizer jab.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “What’s really interesting is a lot of the over-80s are very happy to have the vaccine.
“I think they do understand how much of a difference it will make to them individually and they’re probably the ones that have been shielding, and it’s had a massive impact on them.
“As we move through the age ranges I certainly think there will be some vaccine hesitancy, but I would hope that people will have seen the benefits of it.”
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:58
Gove casts doubt on full reopening of schools
Michael Gove has thrown the full reopening of schools into doubt, with government scientists believed to have warned that some children must stay at home.
The intention for primary schools and GCSE and A-level students to return next week and all other pupils a week later is the plan for the moment, the Cabinet Office minister said.
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details:
The SAGE advisory group is believed to have recommended closures – to prevent Covid cases from spiralling out of control
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:50
Gove refuses to rule out tier 4 for whole of England
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has not ruled out the whole of England being moved into tier 4 restrictions.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We review which tiers parts of the country should be in on the basis of scientific evidence.
“The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will be making a recommendation to ministers, but I can’t pre-empt that because it obviously has to be a judgment based on the medical situation.
“As you quite rightly point out, the NHS is under pressure and these are difficult months ahead.”
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:45
Big lag before NHS feels benefits of tier 4
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said there will be a lag before the NHS feels the benefit of the tier 4 restrictions imposed on London and the south east.
Dr Katherine Henderson told BBC Breakfast: “We will hope to start seeing the benefits in London of the tier 4 restrictions and transmission rates but there is a big lag.
“All the people we are seeing at the moment were infected two weeks ago.”
She added: “It’s incredibly important that we don’t get another surge.”
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:40
NHS warns of rising pressure as cases near April peak
An NHS chief has warned hospital services are experiencing a “rise in pressure” from Covid patients as London Ambulance Service experienced one of its busiest ever days.  
Paramedics in London have been receiving almost 8,000 call-outs daily as the number of coronavirus patients in UK hospitals nears the April peak. 
Liam James has more on this below:
Virus poses greatest threat to UKs mental health since Second World War, says Dr Adrian James
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:27
Good morning and welcome to The Independents live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Stay tuned for rolling updates and the latest statistics.
Chiara Giordano28 December 2020 09:24