Coronavirus UK news – Vaccines for over-18s within weeks as Britain hits ZERO daily covid deaths despite Indian variant

VACCINES will be offered to all Brits aged 18 and over within a matter of weeks, it has been revealed.

Although more than 39.4 million people have now received their first dose – equating to 74.9 per cent of adults – there is concern about how the Indian variant can still spread among people until they have their second jab.

As a result, the next few weeks will see a massive second vaccine rollout across the UK in a bid to give as many people covid protection as possible.

While that takes place, a secondary rollout to extend the vaccine to all Brits aged 18 will be launched to speed up protection against the Indian strain.

It comes as the UK reported zero deaths linked to Covid-19 for the first day since summer last year.

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

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    BORDER BONUS FOR BRITS IN AIRPORTS

    Sunseekers returning to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

    Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synced them up with passenger locator forms which carry Covid details.

    Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

    It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

    It will ease pressure on staff.

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    WATCH: BORIS JOHNSON URGED 'TO GET ON WITH IT'

    Boris Johnson urged to ‘get on with it’ and lift lockdown on June 21 or face economic ruin & spiralling health crisis

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    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.

    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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    ‘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.

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    GET JABBED OR GET OUT

    A private Hong Kong sports club has instructed all staff to get vaccinated for Covid-19 by the end of June or be denied future bonuses, promotions and pay rises.

    The request, an example of the rising pressure on residents in the Asian financial hub to get jabbed, comes days after the city's government launched a broad campaign to incentivise its 7.5 million population to get vaccinated.

    The Chinese special administrative region started its Covid-19 vaccination program in February but only around 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

    In an internal memo sent by the Hong Kong Football Club, General Manager Mark Pawley said staff who take the vaccine by the end of June will receive HK$2000 ($258) and days off in lieu for each jab they take. Those who do not will be denied future pay rises and bonuses.

    The Football Club denied comment on the issue.

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    DVLA WORKERS ON COVID STRIKE

    Hundreds of workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have launched fresh industrial action in a long-running dispute over Covid-related safety.

    Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the DVLA site in Swansea went on strike on Wednesday until Saturday.

    The union warned it was entering a new phase of "sustained and targeted" industrial unrest for months to come.

    The latest strike is the third time staff have walked out over demands for more safety measures.

    The DVLA insists it has done everything possible to keep workers safe and has followed official guidelines.

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    SURGE TESTING MAP LATEST

    Some experts have warned a third Covid wave may already be underway in the UK as infections continue to rise in some parts of the country.

    Professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee said: “We can already see that the current measures are not stopping cases rising rapidly in many parts of the country.

    “This looks very much as if we are now early in a third wave,” he told The Guardian.

    Mass testing is being carried out in Canterbury amid the rise in cases of the Indian Covid variant.

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    SEEING RED – FOUR MORE COUNTRIES TO JOIN BAN LIST

    Four more countries look set to be added to the red alert holiday list over high infection rates and Covid variant fears.

    British holidaymakers are likely to be banned from flying to Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait, predicts an analyst.

    Robert Boyle, a former BA strategist, said that he had looked at which countries might be added to the red list, based purely on Covid infection rates.

    After delving into the seven-day average reported cases per million, Boyle then drew up a chart of the countries with the highest coronavirus infections.

    He noted that while “most of them are already on the red list, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait are not. So expect those to be added shortly.” All four are currently on the amber list, which Brits also shouldn’t travel to.

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    UK SET TO HIT VACCINE MILESTONE AFTER ZERO DAILY DEATHS REPORTED

    The UK is on the brink of reaching the milestone of three-quarters of adults receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine, amid debate over ending restrictions.

    It is expected to come the day after no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year.

    Latest Government data suggests that so far, more than 39.4 million people had received their first dose – equating to 74.9% of adults.

    In a speech on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will praise the central role of the NHS in the vaccine rollout and say the Government "backed lots of horses", investing "at risk" in different projects.

    His comments come amid continuing debate over whether the final stages of unlocking restrictions in England can go ahead later this month due to concerns over the spread of the Indian variant.

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    MAJORITY OF PARENTS THINK PLAYING OUTSIDE THIS SUMMER IS VITAL FOR WELLBEING

    Nearly four in five parents think playing outside will be important for their child’s wellbeing this summer, a survey suggests.

    More than half (58%) believe their children have been more lonely amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report from the NSPCC charity.

    The poll, of 1,036 UK parents with children aged three to 12, suggests that 65% said their children have played inside more since the start of the pandemic, and 70% have spent less time playing with friends.

    Around two in three (68%) parents believe play has become more important for their children since the start of the pandemic, and 79% think playing outside will be vital for their child’s wellbeing this summer.

    The YouGov poll, which was carried out in May, suggests that children have done more arts and creativity (57%), played more online (66%), and played more pretend-based games (38%) during the pandemic.

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    PUPILS TO BE OFFERED EXTRA TUITION AND OPTION TO REPEAT YEAR UNDER £1.4bn PLAN

    Pupils will be offered up to 100 million hours of tuition as part of the Government's multimillion-pound catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption to schooling due to Covid-19.

    The Department for Education (DfE) has announced an additional £1.4 billion of funding – on top of the £1.7 billion already pledged for catch-up – to help pupils make up for lost learning following months of school closures.

    As part of the recovery package, some Year 13 students will be given the option to repeat their final year if they have been badly affected by Covid.

    Schools and colleges will be funded by the DfE to help accommodate the additional student numbers.

    But education unions have described the £1.4 billion funding package as "hugely disappointing" and a "damp squib", with one school leaders' union boss warning that the announcement "lets down the nation's children".

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    EU BRINGS IN DIGITAL ID WALLET IN RESPONSE TO COVID

    The European Commission will on Thursday announce plans for a digital identity wallet to allow Europeans to access public and private services, prompted in part by the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen a massive surge in online services.

    The move also seeks to counter the growing popularity of digital wallets offered by Apple, Alphabet unit Google, Thales and financial institutions which critics say could pose privacy and data protection concerns.

    The digital identity wallet “can be used anywhere in the EU to identify and authenticate for access to services in the public and private sectors, allowing citizens to control what data is communicated and how it is used”, according to a Commission document.

    The adoption of an electronic wallet could generate as much as 9.6 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in benefits for the EU and create as many as 27,000 jobs over a five-year period, the document added.

  • Debbie White

    GREEN TRAVEL LIST LATEST

    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.

    Mr Charles explained: "Several criteria determine a country’s colour but two are key: 14-day infection rate and ability to do regular genomic sequencing, to check for variants."

    The Balearic Islands, which include Majorca and Ibiza, are lower than the UK when it comes to the 14-day infection rate, with 35 cases per 100,000, compared to the UK's 44.9.

  • Debbie White

    SURGE TESTING MAP LATEST

    Some experts have warned a third Covid wave may already be underway in the UK as infections continue to rise in some parts of the country.

    Professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee said: “We can already see that the current measures are not stopping cases rising rapidly in many parts of the country.

    “This looks very much as if we are now early in a third wave,” he told The Guardian.

    Mass testing is being carried out in Canterbury amid the rise in cases of the Indian Covid variant.

  • Debbie White

    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.

  • Debbie White

    PM URGED TO STICK TO JUNE 21 REOPENING

    Some boffins have called for this month’s great unlocking to be delayed by a month due to the rise in Indian variant Covid cases.

    But on Tuesday, Downing Street indicated that a defiant Boris Johnson sees nothing in the data to suggest this month’s axing of Covid restrictions should be delayed.

    The PM has been urged to forge ahead with binning all restrictions later this month amid mounting concerns over the spread of the Indian variant.

    Tory MPs and business chiefs are pleading with him to stick to his guns and keep to the final date in his roadmap.

    They say many small firms including shops, pubs, and restaurants are struggling to survive due to the current curbs on how they can operate. And they insist there is no reason to put off fully opening up the country thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout.

  • Debbie White

    FIGHTING COVID ‘NOT LIKE THE MOVIES’

    A minister has warned that the fight against Covid is “not like a movie where you kill the baddie” and then “roll credits”.

    Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the PM must fight back against “an organised push by a group of scientists to stop June 21”.

    The influential backbencher said the low numbers of deaths and hospitalisations means waiting any longer isn’t justified.

    He told TalkRadio: “These figures are calculated on the back on an envelope. There is no actual fact that says we shouldn’t unlock on the 21st.”

  • Debbie White

    BOLTON CASES FALL

    Bolton has seen its Covid infection rate plunge more than 10 per cent in less than a week.

    A ramped-up vaccination drive and mass testing has led to a huge drop in cases in the Covid hotspot Lancashire town in a four-day period.

    The Indian strain is behind almost three quarters of all cases in the UK and has been found in more than 250 of England’s 300-plus authorities.

    Health chiefs have now ditched Covid names ‘India’ and ‘Kent’ amid fears they spark hate crime.

  • Debbie White

    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.

    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.

  • Debbie White

    NEARLY 55M JABS GIVEN BETWEEN DECEMBER & JUNE

    A total of 54,883,579 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and June 1.

    This is according to NHS England data and includes first and second doses, which is a rise of 225,622 on the previous day.

    NHS England said 33,009,444 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 70,948 on the previous day, while 21,874,135 were a second dose, a rise of 154,674.

  • Debbie White

    BORDER BONUS FOR BRITS IN AIRPORTS

    Sunseekers returning to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

    Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synced them up with passenger locator forms which carry Covid details.

    Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

    It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

    It will ease pressure on staff.

  • Debbie White

    ‘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.

  • Debbie White

    JAB SUCCESS

    A further 93,103 people had their first dose of a Covid vaccine on Bank Holiday Monday, taking the total to 39,477,158.

    The figures also show 195,546 people had their second jab on Monday – meaning 25,734,719 Brits have now been fully vaccinated.

  • Debbie White

    TEST ALERT

    Mass testing is being carried out in Canterbury amid a surge in cases of the Indian Covid variant.

    Residents living in the CT1 and CT2 postcodes are being urged to get tested at one of five mobile testing centres over the next two weeks.

    People in the Kent city who have symptoms are able to get tested from 9am to 7pm.

    It comes after a government adviser warned the June 21 end to lockdown is "likely to be delayed" as cases of the Indian variant soar.

    Cllr Rachel Carnac, the Deputy Leader of Canterbury City Council said: "I would really urge all residents that qualify, so that's anyone over the age of 12 that isn't showing any symptoms of coronavirus.

  • Debbie White

    ZERO COVID DEATHS FOR FIRST TIME IN MONTHS

    The UK has not reported any deaths linked to Covid-19 for the first day since summer last year.

    No deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported on Tuesday, according to the Government.

    It is the first time this has happened since July 30, 2020.

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