Coronavirus UK news – Minister claims its 'too early to say' if hospitality can reopen in May as world deaths pass 3mill

IT is "too early to say" whether all hospitality businesses can reopen on May 17, a minister has said.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, environment minister George Eustice said: "Well, it is too early to say. But I think we are on track in the sense that we are on track with the rollout of the vaccination programme.

“We have now vaccinated everybody over the age of 50 and this week they are offering vaccinations as well to those under the age of 50, starting with the 45 to 59-year-olds – so that bit is on track.”

Meanwhile, the global death toll from Covid-19 has topped three million as cases continue to spiral in countries across the world.

The number of lives lost – as compiled by Johns Hopkins University – is almost equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal.

It is bigger than Chicago (2.7million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SCIENTISTS URGED TO SPEED UP INDIAN VARIANT ANALYSIS AMID TRAVEL BAN CALLS

    British scientists must urgently learn as much as possible about the Indian Covid-19 variant, a leading epidemiologist has warned, as calls mount for the country to be added to the Government's "red list".

    Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), which provides evidence on coronavirus to the Government's Sage committee, said as much information about the new variant must be gathered "as quickly as possible".

    But while confirming that there are "around 70 cases" of the new Indian variant in the UK, George Eustice defended the Government's decision not to further restrict travel to the country.

    He added that the situation is being kept "under regular review".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    AMBO BUNGLE

    An 89-year-old woman was taken to the wrong house and tucked up in a complete stranger’s bed in an ambulance blunder.

    Elizabeth Mahoney had been battling Covid-19 at Pontypool’s County Hospital, in Wales, for 10 weeks before she was discharged on Friday, March 12.

    Her family was relieved to hear she was on the way home, but began to get concerned when she failed to show up at her home in nearby New Inn, at the scheduled time.

    After a frantic few hours it transpired she'd instead been taken by ambulance to an address in Newport – more than eight miles away from where she lived – and left in the bed of a total stranger.

    More on the story here.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    INDIAN BUMMER

    UK cases of the Indian Covid variant have reportedly DOUBLED in a week raising fears its emergence could delay the roadmap to recovery.

    Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, discovered the number of confirmed cases had risen from 79 to 160.

    And it's feared – as only around a quarter of identified cases undergo tests to identify individual strains – the true figure could be at least 400.

    The worrying news comes after one top expert said the strain "may be resistant" to a vaccine and may "scupper the UK's escape plan" out of lockdown.

    Professor Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said India should now be on the Government's "red list" of hotel quarantine countries due to the new strain.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    THERE HAVE BEEN CASES OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE BECOME REINFECTED BY DIFFERENT STRAINS SAYS NHS TEST AND TRACE CHIEF

    Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said there had been cases where people had become reinfected by different strains of the coronavirus.

    "We have seen some people who have had their first dose of vaccine who have had the South African variant and the variant that arose in Kent," she told BBC's the Andrew Marr show.

    "That's to be expected, we know that these vaccines aren't 100% protecting you against infection and that's why we ask people to take caution.

    "You can see that they're not as good against the South African variant as they are against our own (variant) B117 at preventing infection and transmission."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RUSSIA REPORTS 8,632 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES AND 389 DEATHS

    Russia reported 8,632 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours on Sunday, including 2,252 in the capital Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,702,101.

    The country also reported another 389 deaths, raising the official toll to 105,582.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SUPER SATURDAY

    Brits hit pubs and beer gardens for an alfresco booze-up on the first Saturday since restrictions eased across England.

    Punters made the most of their new freedoms yesterday after April 12 saw Covid restrictions ease and allow pals to meet outdoors at a pub or cafe in groups of six.

    Across the UK, pub gardens were packed with drinkers since early yesterday morning – with six million pints expected to be drunk.

    High streets were also busy as an estimated 18.4 million people went shopping and blew more than £1.6billion – but this was still down on pre-pandemic levels, when £2bn was typically spent.

    Many shared their first pint with friends last night in months due to the tough lockdown restrictions in place since Christmas.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    ON TRACK

    Britain could hit 10million second vaccine doses today in an impressive milestone.

    As of yesterday a total of 9,416,968 Brits had received their second jab in the UK, taking all vaccines administered in the UK to 42,110,495. 

    Britain's speedy roll-out is a stark contrast to the rest of Europe – with many countries not yet having given out 10million first doses.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MEND THE GAP

    Poorer households were thrown into the pandemic with a “weak foundation” due to high levels of income inequality compared to other countries, a new study shows.

    Research reveals lower savings, more debt and a weaker social security safety net than in France and Germany left some Brits with less resilience to deal with the crisis.

    The least well-off fifth of working-age households in the UK are 20 per cent worse off than those in France while the richest fifth are 17 per cent better off, the Resolution Foundation found.

    Their report, to be published this week, says the UK performs “particularly poorly” when support is needed for those being made redundant explaining the need for the furlough system to save jobs.

  • Ellie Cambridge

    LOOKING GOOD

    UK Covid cases have dropped by 60 per cent in a month as 2,206 more people tested positive for the virus and another 35 died, we reported yesterday. 

    Compared to March 17, when 5,758 cases were recorded, the number of positive tests recorded daily have dropped by almost two thirds. 

    There have been a total of 4,385,938 recorded cases of the virus in the UK and 127,225  deaths from Covid since the pandemic began. 

    The number of cases is 14 per cent lower than last Saturday, when there were 2,584 cases and 40 deaths. 

  • Ellie Cambridge

    NO NEED TO PANIC

    Imported coronavirus variants are unlikely to push lockdown measures back to “square one”, a leading expert has said.

    Professor Adam Finn said concerns about 77 cases of a mutation from India being identified in the UK had been “a bit pessimistic”.

    The immunology expert, who sits on the UK’s immunisation committee, told Times Radio: “We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start.”

    “I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

    “It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened.”

  • Ellie Cambridge

    SUPER SATURDAY

    Brits hit pubs and beer gardens for an alfresco booze-up on the first Saturday since restrictions eased across England.

    Punters made the most of their new freedoms yesterday after April 12 saw Covid restrictions ease and allow pals to meet outdoors at a pub or cafe in groups of six.

    Across the UK, pub gardens were packed with drinkers since early yesterday morning – with six million pints expected to be drunk.

    High streets were also busy as an estimated 18.4 million people went shopping and blew more than £1.6billion – but this was still down on pre-pandemic levels, when £2bn was typically spent.

    Many shared their first pint with friends last night in months due to the tough lockdown restrictions in place since Christmas.

  • Olivia Burke

    HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VACCINATED IN THE UK?

    Over 32 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest figures released yesterday.

    It is thanks to the pioneering vaccine programme that has been the envy of Europe.

    People below the age of 50 are now being offered an inoculation after everyone in the highest priority groups had been offered a jab before April 15.

    It continues to go from strength to strength despite potential delays.

  • Olivia Burke

    NHS SHARE NEWS ON PREGNANT WOMEN GETTING JAB

  • Olivia Burke

    TWO MORE HOSPITAL DEATHS IN GREATER MANCHESTER

    A further two people have died in Greater Manchester hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the region's hospital death toll to 5,867.

    The latest NHS England figures showed one coronavirus-related death in the last 24 hour reporting period.

    The second death was recorded at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CANADA RECORDS SECOND CASE OF RARE BLOOD CLOTS AFTER ASTRAZENECA COVID VACCINATION

    A second person in Canada has experienced rare blood clots with low platelets after being jabbed with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, the Public Health Agency of Canada said on Saturday.

    The agency said in a statement it received the report about an individual in Alberta.

    The agency added that such reports remain very rare. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    VACCINE IMMUNITY 'WON'T JUST DISAPPEAR' IN FACE OF COVID VARIANTS – JCVI EXPERT

    Imported coronavirus variants are unlikely to set lockdown easing back to "square one" because immunity from vaccines "won't just disappear", according to a key figure on the UK's immunisation committee.

    Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said he expected a "gradual erosion" of vaccine protection as the virus evolves but not enough to "scupper" the Prime Minister's road map, as one leading scientist had predicted.

    On Friday, Imperial College's Danny Altmann said "we should be terribly concerned" after 77 cases of a potentially vaccine-busting Covid-19 mutation first discovered in India were identified in Britain.

    "They (variants of concern) are things that can most scupper our escape plan at the moment and give us a third wave. They are a worry," Professor Altmann told the BBC.

    Prof Finn said he thought the immunology expert had been "a bit pessimistic" with his assessment, telling Times Radio: "We've all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start."

  • Joseph Gamp

    MEXICO RECORDS 4,157 CORONAVIRUS CASES, 535 NEW DEATHS

    Mexico's recorded another 4,157 coronavirus cases and 535 new deaths on Saturday, according to health ministry data.

    The latest figures brings Mexico'a total number of cases to 2,304,096, while the country's death toll now stands at 212,228.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ITALY REPORTS 310 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS ON SATURDAY, 15,370 NEW CASES

    Italy reported 310 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 429 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections edged down to 15,370 from 15,943.

    Italy has registered 116,676 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world.

    The country has reported 3.857 million cases to date.

    Patients in hospital with COVID-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 24,100 on Saturday, down from 24,743 a day earlier.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CHART: COVID VACCINATIONS IN THE UK TO DATE

  • Joseph Gamp

    RUSSIA REPORTS 9,321 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES, 398 DEATHS

    Russia on Saturday reported 9,321 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, including 2,822 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,693,469.

    The country also reported another 398 deaths, raising the official toll to 105,193. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    MORE THAN 42 MILLION COVID VACCINES NOW ADMINISTERED IN THE UK SO FAR

    Government data up to April 16 shows that of the 42,110,495 jabs given in the UK so far, 32,693,527 were first doses – a rise of 119,306 on the previous day.

    Some 9,416,968 were second doses – an increase of 485,421.

  • Olivia Burke

    MODERNA VACCINE DELAYS FOR UK

    The UK's supply of the Moderna vaccine has been delayed after the US pharmaceutical firm announced it will miss deadlines for doses for the UK and Canada.

    It came after Canada revealed it would only receive around half of the expected 1.2 million doses by the end of the month.

    The company announced in a statement, "The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain.

    "Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process, and a number of elements, including human and material resources, have factored into this volatility."

    Swiss drugmakers Lonza have increased three new production lines to produce the active ingredients for the Moderna vaccine to aid supply outside of the United States.

  • Olivia Burke

    PREGNANT WOMEN TO GET VACCINE

    Pregnant women will be offered a Covid vaccine, government scientists have said.

    The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation announced that pregnant women are expected to receive the vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population.

    They said it would be "preferable" if they were offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

    It comes after US data showed around 90,000 expectant mothers were jabbed without any issues.

  • Olivia Burke

    EXPERTS WANT INDIA ADDED TO "RED-LIST"

    Experts have called for India to be added to the government’s “red list” of hotel quarantine countries as the new variant hit the UK.

    The strain worryingly has two new substantial mutations in the spike protein which allow it to infect cells and override the immune system.

    Professor Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, told of his worry that the new variant could halt the UK's continuing progress.

    The B.1.617 variant, first found in India, has been detected in 73 cases in England and four in Scotland, according to Public Health England.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRITS HIT THE PUBS FOR ALFRESCO BOOZE-UP ON FIRST SATURDAY SINCE RESTRICTIONS EASED

    Brits hit the pubs for alfresco booze-up on first Saturday since restrictions eased

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