Coronavirus UK news – Delay June 21 NOW to avoid yo-yoing back into never-ending lockdowns, vaccine adviser warns

BRITAIN will be forced into yet more lockdowns unless we increase the speed of people getting their second vaccination, experts have warned.

While the UK has done a brilliant job of getting first jabs out to tens of millions of Brits, the terrifying Indian variant is continuing to pick up pace as it spreads across the country and becomes the dominant strain.

It is believed to be both more transmissible than the variant first detected in Kent, which previously dominated, and somewhat more resistant to Covid vaccines, particularly after one dose.

Scientists now fear that unless the UK speeds up its vaccination programme to get Brits their second dose, the strain will run riot among people who've only had a single jab – increasing hospitalisations and deaths.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a member (Nervtag), said the UK is already in the grip of an “early” third wave of Covid-19 infections and and we should now push back plans to scrap all Covid measures on June 21 “by a few weeks”.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

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    STOP THE SPREAD

    Brits should carry on working from home beyond the planned end of lockdown on June 21 to stop the spread of the Indian variant, a top scientist has said.

    Professor Andrew Hayward, who sits on the Sage group of boffins that advises the Government, said some restrictions may need to stay in place for longer.

    He warned cases of the new strain are doubling every week and on the current trajectory could hit a quarter of a million by mid-July.

    The top prof said full reopening may have to be delayed until a higher proportion of the population are fully vaccinated.

    Scientists have pointed to the fact that Israel waited until 70 per cent of its population had received both jabs before ditching all restrictions.

    At the moment 60 per cent of Brits have had one dose and just over a third have received two.

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    WAGE SUPPORT

    Millions of Brits who work for themselves are eligible for the fourth Covid support grant, but today’s the last day to apply.

    Claims for the up to £7,500 self-employment income support scheme must be made by June 1.

    The grant is designed to cover lost earnings through February, March and April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but it only applies if you’re self-employed.

    The scheme allows you to claim 80% of your business profits up to the £7,500 mark.

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the full details of the scheme’s latest installment as part of his Budget earlier this year.

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    JABS RACE

    Health chiefs will offer second jabs to all over-50s in the coming weeks to try and ensure the UK can throw off its final lockdown restrictions in June.

    There are just three weeks to go until the final stage of Boris Johnson's roadmap to freedom – but it's feared the date could be pushed back amid fears over the spread of the Indian mutation.

    So far, just two people who have received both jabs are known to have died of the variant, which is responsible for up to three-quarters of new infections in the UK.

    And with confidence in the vaccination growing, Government officials now want everyone over the age of 50 to have been offered their second jab by June 21, the Times reports.

    Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has reportedly set a new target for the rollout.

    The politician is said to have demanded that everyone in the top nine priority groups gets their second dose by that date.

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    LOCKDOWN TO EASE IN GLASGOW BUT MAJORITY OF SCOTLAND REMAINS IN LEVEL 2

    Covid-19 restrictions will be eased in parts of Scotland on Saturday, but much of the country will retain tougher measures due to spikes in cases of the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

    The First Minister updated MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on coronavirus restrictions.

    She said parts of Scotland could move from Level 2 to Level 1 of the five tiers of restrictions, which run from 0-4.

    But Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire areas, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling will remain in Level 2.

    Glasgow, which was kept in Level 3 when measures eased in the rest of the country on May 17, will move to Level 2 on Saturday, with Ms Sturgeon saying the outbreak there had stabilised with case numbers falling slightly.

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    WATCH: INDONESIAN VIDEO CLAIMS QUARANTINE DODGING BRITISH TOURISTS ARE 'DELUSIONAL'

    Indonesian immigration video describes Brit tourists who escaped mandatory quarantine as ‘delusional’

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    LATEST NEWS:

    • Cases of the Indian variant diagnosed in Bolton have fallen more than 10 per cent in four days after health chiefs deployed surge testing
    • Brit spies are ‘recruiting Chinese whistleblowers on the darkweb’ for intel on fears Covid leaked from a Wuhan lab
    • Fully-vaccinated people who catch Covid may STILL be able pass on variants, it's feared
    • Covid passports will be ditched by the Government – with one source claiming the idea has been 'killed off'
    • NHS staff ‘to be legally required to have the jab’ under Government plans to crack down on transmission in hospitals

     

    PORTUGAL TO VACCINATE 20-YEAR-OLDS IN AUGUST

    Portugal expects to start vaccinating 20- to 30-year-olds at the beginning of August, the vaccine task force coordinator said on Tuesday, as the rollout speeds up across Europe.

    The announcement by Henrique Gouveia e Melo came after health authorities said last week those aged 40 or older will be inoculated from June 6 and those aged 30 or older from June 20.

    Vaccinations of 30-year-olds should be completed by the end of July, Gouveia e Melo said. “At that stage, we will start vaccination of people over 20.”

    Portugal, where COVID-19 cases are now stable after a devastating outbreak earlier this year, is in the second phase of its vaccination plan, targeting 50- to 65-year-olds.

    Nearly 18% of the population of 10 million has received both doses of the vaccine so far.

    FULL STEAM AHEAD

    Downing Street has indicated that Boris Johnson still sees nothing in the data to suggest the plan to end all legal lockdown restrictions on June 21 will need to be delayed.

    Asked about the Prime Minister’s plans amid warnings over the spread of the Indian variant, a No 10 spokesman said: “I was going to point to what the PM said on Thursday.

    “The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that we haven’t seen anything in the data but we will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards June 21.”

    Last Thursday, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t see anything currently in the data” to divert from the June 21 target for the next stage of exiting lockdown.

    But he did concede that “we may need to wait” for more data.

    GERMANY INVESTIGATES COVID TESTING FRAUD

    German authorities are investigating allegations of fraud involving the massive rollout of free coronavirus tests

    Germans have to present a negative test result in order to enter non-essential stores, visit restaurants or bars, or attend small-scale cultural events.

    The government pays for one free test per person each week, which has led to a proliferation of more than 15,000 businesses offering antigen tests that provide results within 20 minutes.

    “There is the suspicion, a very well-founded suspicion after everything I’ve seen, that there’s also been fraud,” Jens Spahn, the country’s health minister, said Tuesday.

    “There need to be criminal consequences,” he added, noting that prosecutors are investigating the allegations.

    The issue has once again raised questions of who is accounting for the German government’s spending splurge in response to the pandemic.

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      IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME

       Public Health England is considering whether to adopt the World Health Organisation’s new naming system for coronavirus variants.

      Experts working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) developed the labels for variants which are often colloquially named after the places where they are first detected.

      Many variants of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – have been identified around the world.

      They include B.1.1.7, known in the UK as the Kent variant and around the world as the UK variant – but now labelled by the WHO as Alpha.

      The B.1.617.2 variant, often known as the Indian variant, has been labelled Delta, while B.1.351, often referred to as the South African variant, has been named Beta.

      A No 10 spokesman said: “I understand Public Health England is considering how to adopt the new naming system and will set out further details in due course.”

    • John Hall

      ‘EVEN SMALL NUMBERS’ OF COVID PATIENTS COULD ‘OVERSTRETCH HOSPITALS’ DUE TO EXISTING BACKLOG CAUSED BY LOCKDOWN

      NHS chiefs warned that the lockdown-induced backlog of treatments for ailments other than Covid mean that even a small increase in the number of coronavirus patients could cause hospitals to be overstretched once again.

      When asked about the possibility of a delay to freedom from restrictions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said nothing could be ruled out.

      With both deaths and cases up significantly in the past week, experts and Opposition politicians are urging the Prime Minister to keep to his “data not dates” approach to easing lockdown.

      Between May 24 and 30 there were 60 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, an increase of 42.9% compared with the previous seven days.

      On Monday, one further death in the UK was recorded by the same metric and 3,383 lab-confirmed cases were confirmed.

    • John Hall

      WAGE SUPPORT

      Millions of Brits who work for themselves are eligible for the fourth Covid support grant, but today’s the last day to apply.

      Claims for the up to £7,500 self-employment income support scheme must be made by June 1.

      The grant is designed to cover lost earnings through February, March and April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but it only applies if you’re self-employed.

      The scheme allows you to claim 80% of your business profits up to the £7,500 mark.

      Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the full details of the scheme’s latest installment as part of his Budget earlier this year.

    • John Hall

      CLASS ACTION

      The school day is set to be extended for half-an-hour under a proposed plan to help kids catch up with classes missed as a result of the Covid lockdowns.

      Under the proposal, teachers will be told they must keep pupils for an extra two-and-a-half hours a week as part of a £15billion Covid rescue plan, it's reported.

      A leaked presentation written by education tsar Sir Kevan Collins, who has been tasked with sorting out kids' missed learning, reveals plans for youngsters to face a 35-hour week as a minimum.

      The proposal, revealed by The Times, says each child needs 100 hours of extra schooling a year from 2022 to help plug the gaps caused by closed schools.

      In addition, in England five million of the worst-hit students will get extra tutoring on top of that, while 500,000 teachers will get more training

    • John Hall

      GO GREEN

      More green list countries are expected to be added to the list this Thursday, allowing Brits to travel without quarantining when returning to the UK.

      Both the Canary and the Balearic Islands in Spain could be added, according to PC Agency's Paul Charles.

      The travel expert has said that both of the Spanish islands could be added this week, and open from June 7 – the next date for the easing of travel restrictions.

      Currently on the green list are just 12 countries, many of which remain closed to Brits.

      Only Portugal and Gibraltar are the popular holiday hotspots on the list which are welcoming Brits with few restrictions.

    • John Hall

      LARGE CROWDS LOOKED LIKE ‘V-DAY CELEBRATIONS’, TOP MEDIC SAYS

      Scenes of large crowds gathering over the weekend looked like “V-Day celebrations”, a senior HSE figure has said.

      Chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has warned that the gatherings could “exploit our weakest position” if large groups of unvaccinated people are coming together.

      At the weekend chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan blasted the “enormous crowds” who gathered in parts of Dublin, saying it was what the country “does not need” after making so much progress pushing down cases of Covid-19.

      On Monday, Dr Henry joined in the condemnation, saying: “Younger people for the most part did their best to protect their older citizens. A huge acknowledgement is required by all of us to them… they’ve suffered from isolation and lost opportunities in life.

      “But some of the scenes looked like V-Day, as if the virus had surrendered. This virus doesn’t surrender.It exploits our weakest position – and our weakest position of course is those who are unvaccinated. It exploits congested gatherings, and certainly situations where there is alcohol.”

    • John Hall

      HOPE FOR HOLS

      The EU’s ambassador to the UK has raised hopes that those wanting to holiday in Europe later this summer will find the process easier.

      Joao Vale de Almeida told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I hope many, many British citizens will come to our countries and I hope many EU citizens will visit the UK.”

      He said that the bloc was hoping a digital Covid certificate would pave the way for greater ability to travel.

      “We’re hopeful that some time later in the summer, around July, we could be in a situation where travel and tourism will be made a lot easier,” he added.

    • John Hall

      SCIENTISTS SPLIT ON JUNE 21 REOPENING AMID RISE IN CASES OF NEW VARIANT

      The job of the Covid-19 vaccination programme is not yet "done", an immunisation expert has said as scientists are split on whether the Government should press ahead with the final stages of easing social restrictions later this month.

      Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said there are still many people who are vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 as he warned "the idea that somehow the job is done is wrong".

      Experts are divided over whether the final stage of easing social restrictions should press ahead on June 21 amid a surge in cases of the new variant first identified in India.

      Prof Finn, from the University of Bristol, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There's vulnerability across the country. The idea that somehow the job is done is wrong.

      "We've still got a lot of people out there who've neither had this virus … nor yet been immunised, and that's why we're in a vulnerable position right now."

    • John Hall

      BIZARRE CLAIMS

      Good Morning Britain's Adil Ray became embroiled in a furious clash with a coronavirus anti-vaxxer, who claimed that getting the vaccine is "psychotic" and "middle class".

      Dominique Samuels was on the breakfast show to debate TV host Nick Hewer – and host Adil was stunned by some of the bizarre comments that she made.

      The UK's world-beating Covid vaccine programme has now reached those in their 30s, with everybody who is high risk now fully vaccinated from the deadly illness.

      The breakfast show was debating whether it was right to stop being friends with somebody who refused to have the life-saving jab.

      Nick, 77, reflected on his concerns about having an unvaccinated friend over to his house, adding: "We've got to be responsible, there's a war on here."

    • John Hall

      COVID-19 NEWS ROUND-UP: THE LATEST

      • Indian variant cases diagnosed in Bolton have fallen more than 10 per cent in four days after health chiefs deployed surge testing
      • Brit spies are ‘recruiting Chinese whistleblowers on the darkweb’ for intel on fears Covid leaked from a Wuhan lab
      • Fully-vaccinated people who catch Covid may STILL be able pass on variants, it’s feared
      • Half of adults in the UK will have been vaccinated with both jabs by the end of the week
      • NHS staff ‘to be legally required to have the jab’ under Government plans to crack down on transmission in hospitals

      EVIDENCE OF COVID TRANSMISSION IN SETTINGS SUCH AS FAN ZONES 'RELATIVELY MODEST'

      Evidence of transmission of coronavirus in outdoor settings such as fan zones is "relatively modest", according to a leading scientist.

      Glasgow City Council announced last month it would hold a fan zone event at Glasgow Green for football's European Championships, which would allow 6,000 people to gather together per day.

      Fans will be able to watch the Scotland men's team play in their first major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998.

      Professor James Chalmers, an epidemiologist from Dundee University, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme the risk was relatively low if the event went ahead.

      "Although there have been successful trials of outdoor and even some indoor events with testing, outdoor transmission is believed to be much less of a risk than indoor transmission," he said.

      RED-Y TO GO

      Heathrow Airport has finally opened their dedicated "red list" terminal to stop arrivals mixing with amber and green list passengers.

      Travelers arriving from red list countries on direct flights will now be taken to Terminal 3.

      The red list currently consists of 43 nations from which arrivals are deemed to present a high risk of importing coronavirus, which include Turkey, the Maldives and the UAE.

      Despite the new plans, passengers travelling to the UK on connecting flights from red list locations will continue to transit through the airport alongside those from green and amber countries.

      This means only direct arrivals will go through Terminal 3

      • John Hall

        EXPERTS WARN JABS GIVING ‘FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY’ AMID CALLS TO DELAY UNLOCKING

        The UK’s vaccination programme is offering a “false sense of security” amid a mounting third wave of infections, according to Government advisers who have called for next month’s unlocking to be delayed.

        Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said that with the UK in the grip of an “early” third wave of Covid-19 infections, ministers should consider pushing back their target of scrapping all Covid measures on June 21 “by a few weeks”.

        The University of Cambridge academic said there had been an “exponential growth” in the number of cases, fuelled by the more transmissible Indian variant, but that the “explosive” impact it could have was currently being masked by the high vaccination rate.

        More than 39 million people have been given a first jab and a further 25.3 million have had both doses.

        Thousands more are likely to be added to that tally after organisers at a major walk-in vaccination centre at Twickenham Stadium opted on Monday afternoon to open up the jab offer to anyone aged over 18 in order not to waste doses, leading to lengthy queues in south-west London.

      • John Hall

        COVID VARIANTS GIVEN NEW GREEK ALPHABET NAMES

        Global health leaders have announced new names for Covid-19 variants using letters of the Greek alphabet.

        Experts working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) developed the labels for variants which are often colloquially named after the places where they are first detected.

        Many variants of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – have been identified around the world.

        They include B.1.1.7, known in the UK as the Kent variant and around the world as the UK variant – but now labelled by the WHO as Alpha.

        The B.1.617.2 variant, often known as the Indian variant, has been labelled Delta, while B.1.351, often referred to as the South African variant, has been named Beta.

      • John Hall

        SCOTLAND: STURGEON TO CONFIRM IF FURTHER EASING OF COVID RESTRICTIONS CAN TAKE PLACE

        Nicola Sturgeon will confirm “whether and to what extent” plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions can take place next week .

        Under the Scottish Government’s Covid route map, Scotland was scheduled to move into Level 1 restrictions from June 7.

        But a recent spike in infections has forced ministers to keep the entire Glasgow City Council area under Level 3 restrictions – meaning bars and restaurants can not serve alcohol indoors and get-togethers inside people’s homes are also barred.

        Ms Sturgeon has already warned that Glasgow may “have to be in Level 2 for a couple of weeks before it moves to Level 1”.

        She is due to reveal if the move to Level 1 can go ahead in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood this afternoon.

      • John Hall

        LARGE CROWDS LOOKED LIKE ‘V-DAY CELEBRATIONS’, TOP MEDIC SAYS

        Scenes of large crowds gathering over the weekend looked like “V-Day celebrations”, a senior HSE figure has said.

        Chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has warned that the gatherings could “exploit our weakest position” if large groups of unvaccinated people are coming together.

        At the weekend chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan blasted the “enormous crowds” who gathered in parts of Dublin, saying it was what the country “does not need” after making so much progress pushing down cases of Covid-19.

        On Monday, Dr Henry joined in the condemnation, saying: “Younger people for the most part did their best to protect their older citizens. A huge acknowledgement is required by all of us to them… they’ve suffered from isolation and lost opportunities in life.

        “But some of the scenes looked like V-Day, as if the virus had surrendered. This virus doesn’t surrender.It exploits our weakest position – and our weakest position of course is those who are unvaccinated. It exploits congested gatherings, and certainly situations where there is alcohol.”

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