Coronavirus UK news – Vaccines for ALL Brits over 18 in one month as jab rollout on course to END lockdown on June 21

BRITS aged 18 and over could get a Covid vaccine in just ONE month as the race against the Indian variant shifts up a gear.

The Government is on track to meet its target of offering first doses to all adults by the end of July.

But according to reports from the Telegraph, NHS managers have begun plans to speed up the timetable amid concerns about the spread of the Indian variant among the younger cohorts. 

Plans drawn up by NHS managers suggested vaccines could be offered to over 18s within the next five weeks. 

Those aged 34 and over would be offered jabs from today, with texts inviting people to book a vaccination sent out today and tomorrow.

Younger folk in their thirties are expected to be invited within days.

Meanwhile, the nations's rollout is on course to defeat the feared Indian Covid variant and end lockdown on time.

In a huge boost to anxious Brits, scientists said hospital admissions in virus hotspot Bolton remain “fairly flat” despite the rise of the new strain.

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

  • Caroline Mortimer

    GLASTO TO RETURN FOR ONE-DAY SHOW IN SEPTEMBER

    Glastonbury festival has been given the go ahead for a one-day event in September, according to reports.

    Mendip district council in Somerset, which is responsible for approving the festival, has given the organisers a licence for a one-day event with no overnight camping, the Guardian has reported.

    The local council has given the go ahead for the event to go ahead with just 50,000 attendees – the event typically hosts 200,000 people – as part of a pilot programme for Covid-safe events.

    In January, festival organisers said the main event would be cancelled for the second year in a row.

  • Caroline Mortimer

    BOLTON’S COVID CASES REACH FOUR-MONTH HIGH

    Covid-19 case rates in Bolton have climbed to their highest level for nearly four months, latest figures show.

    A total of 920 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the seven days to May 15 – the equivalent of 319.9 cases per 100,000 people.

    This is up from 161.4 the previous week and is the highest since the seven days to January 23.

    Bolton continues to have the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the UK.

    Blackburn with Darwen has the second highest rate, up week-on-week from 96.2 to 145.0, with 217 new cases.

  • Caroline Mortimer

    COVID VACCINATION PROGRAMME OPENS TO 25-29 YEARS OLDS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

    Northern Ireland’s coronavirus vaccination programme has opened up to the 25 to 29-year-old age group.

    The latest expansion comes just days after the region hit the landmark 1million figure for the number of those who have received at least one dose of the jab.

    From Thursday, anyone born between 01/05/91 and 31/07/96 can book an appointment at one of the Trust vaccination centres across Northern Ireland.

    In line with the latest JCVI advice, anyone under the age of 40 can book a Pfizer-BioTech vaccine, or they can make what the Department of Health has described as an “informed decision” to receive the AstraZeneca jab at the SSE Arena in Belfast or participating community pharmacies.

    Vaccine supplies have been described as limited, with approximately 20,000 slots available each week.

  • Caroline Mortimer

    ROYAL MAIL PROFIT SURGE DUE TO LOCKDOWN

    Royal Mail saw profits increase four-fold during the year of Covid-19 as restrictions and lockdowns led to a surge in online shopping.

    Bosses revealed pre-tax profits for the year to March hit £726 million – up from £180 million a year earlier – with revenues up 16.6% to £12.6 billion.

    The former state-owned service added that parcel revenues rose 38.7%, offsetting a 12.5% fall in letters being sent.

    A 10p-a-share end-of-year dividend for shareholders was declared and the company said it was confident it could keep paying out future dividends of 20p-a-share from next year.

    Royal Mail's shift away from letters to focus on parcels was confirmed as the company revealed it generated more cash from parcel deliveries than letters for the first time in its history.

  • Caroline Mortimer

    BRAZIL RECORDS 79,000 NEW COVID CASES

    Brazil recorded 79,219 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 2,641 new deaths from Covid-19, Health Ministry figures showed on Wednesday.

    Brazil has now registered 15.8million cases since the pandemic began, and the official death toll stands at 441,691, according to ministry data. 

  • Jon Rogers

    VACCINATION PROGRAMME IN ENGLAND TO EXTEND TO 34-YEAR-OLDS

    People aged 34 and over can book their Covid-19 jab from Thursday, the NHS in England has said.

    More than one million people aged 34 and 35 will get a text message on Thursday or Friday asking them to come forward for their Covid vaccine, NHS England said.

    The vaccination programme is expected to extend to people in their early thirties "over the next few days and weeks", it added.

    Health officials have sped up the timetable to offer second jabs in a bid to ensure that those at highest risk are protected from the variant of the virus first identified in India.

    At the same time, the programmes are extending to younger age groups to try and mitigate risk.

  • Jon Rogers

    SPAIN WANTS BRIT TOURISTS WITHIN WEEKS

    A senior Spanish government official says he expects British and other vacationers to return to Spain within weeks as the country races to revive its tourism industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Deputy Minister for Tourism Fernando Valdes told The Associated Press on Wednesday that falling coronavirus incidence rates and accelerating vaccine rollouts in some countries will enable Spain to drop travel restrictions early next month.

    Some people from countries outside the European Union will be able to come for example, from the United Kingdom, which is in a good epidemiological situation without any restrictions, Valdes said in an interview.

    And we are going to begin to accept citizens that can present a vaccine certificate, he said.

    In 2019, Britain sent 18 million people to Spain, the most of any country. Spain is one of the world's top tourism destinations.

  • Jon Rogers

    14,000 COVID VACCINATIONS GIVEN IN BOLTON SINCE FRIDAY

    The Health Secretary said almost 14,000 vaccinations had been given in Bolton and Blackburn since Friday and more than 26,000 have been given in the past week – the highest weekly total in the two areas.

    "When you get the call, get the jab," Matt Hancock urged the public during a Downing Street press conference.

    He said the surge testing "playbook" being used in the North West areas had worked in south London when tackling the South African variant.

    The Cabinet minister said monitoring travel patterns and analysis of waste water in 70% of the country had helped identify where variants are and also where they are at risk of spreading to.

    "We can spot the virus and variants in the water, and that can help us identify communities where there is spread," he added, with new surge testing taking place as a result in places such as Bedford and Burnley.

  • Jon Rogers

    DECISION MADE ON JUNE 14 OVER FINAL STAGE OF REMOVING LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

    Hancock said a decision about removing the final stage of lockdown restrictions, in light of the India variant, will be made on June 14.

    “Every day we’re getting more information,” he said. “We look every day at the data … Until then, it is too early to say.”

    Jonathan Van Tam added: “I think scientists are sure that this virus is more transmissible than the strain it is beginning to replace.”

  • Jon Rogers

    PROCEED WITH 'VIGILANCE'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government's decision to ease restrictions in the face of the Indian variant was the right call, but he urged the public to remain vigilant.

    Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, he said: "Overall hospitalisations and deaths remain very low, meaning we have been able to carefully take away more restrictions this week as we've taken step three of the road map.

    "But we must proceed with vigilance and with everyone taking personal responsibility.

    "We've always known that one of the things that has the potential to knock us off track would be a new variant.

    "That's why we made the presence of a new variant that could do that one of our four tests when we set out the road map, which is the tests we must pass for going down each step of the road map.

    "The early evidence suggests that the B1617.2 new variant, first discovered in India, passes on more easily from person to person than the B11.7 variant that was first discovered in Kent.

    "But as the Prime Minister said at lunch time, we have increasing confidence that the vaccines are effective against it.

    "That means that our strategy is the right one – to carefully replace restrictions on freedom with the protection from the vaccine."

  • Jon Rogers

    UK DONATES MORE THAN £500M TO COVAX

    Hancock has said the UK has donated more than £500m to Covax, the global initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer countries.

    He said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is now being distributed in more than 160 countries.

  • Jon Rogers

    BOLTON'S COVID CASES REACH FOUR-MONTH HIGH

    Covid-19 case rates in Bolton have climbed to their highest level for nearly four months, latest figures show.

    A total of 920 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the seven days to May 15 – the equivalent of 319.9 cases per 100,000 people.

    This is up from 161.4 the previous week and is the highest since the seven days to January 23.

    Bolton continues to have the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the UK.

    Blackburn with Darwen has the second highest rate, up week-on-week from 96.2 to 145.0, with 217 new cases.

  • Jon Rogers

    UK LAUNCHES CLINICAL TRIAL ON BOOSTER JABS

    Hancock has announced the world's first clinical trial on booster jabs.

    Seven existing vaccines are to be tested in the Cov-Boost trial to see which jabs could be used in any forthcoming autumn vaccination programme.

    Some 2,886 people aged 30 and older are being recruited at 18 NHS sites from London to Glasgow, with the first booster jabs administered in early June.

    The trial will cost £19.3million, backed by taxpayers' money.

  • Jon Rogers

    PFIZER TO OPEN NEW VACCINE PLANT IN IRELAND

    Pfizer is to begin producing ingredients for its Covid-19 vaccine at an Irish facility, the U.S. drugmaker said in a statement.

    The plant, which will produce “mRNA drug substance” and employ 75 new staff, will be brought onto the network by the end of 2021 with an investment of up to $40 million, the statement said. 

  • Jon Rogers

    THERE COULD BE ‘UNREST’ IN BOLTON IF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS ARE REIMPOSED, HANCOCK WARNED

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been warned there could be “unrest” in Bolton if the Government brings in local lockdowns to contain the Indian variant.

    David Greenhalgh, Conservative leader at Bolton Council, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve been there before and they don’t work – not in a dense conurbation like Greater Manchester.

    “This happened before, the spread increased because people travelled 50 yards across the county boundary to access hospitality that they can’t in their own area.”

    Asked if he had told Mr Hancock there would be civil unrest, he said: “I do think there is a danger of unrest.

    “There is a great deal of resentment. Bolton was… we were disproportionately affected really since July last year.

    “Even when our rates were coming down, we still remained in lockdown when other areas’ rates were higher than ours, so there was a build up of resentment.

  • Jon Rogers

    PLAY ALONG

    Portugal has announced the new Covid rules for holidaymakers visiting the beach this summer – and rule-breakers face €100 (£86) fines.

    Thousands of Brits have flocked to the country this week, with the holiday ban lifted on Monday and Portugal one of the few green list countries.

    The new rules, according to local media, now mean that Brits face the steep fines if they don't wear a face mask while on the beach.

    There will also be a traffic light system in place, with sunbathers banned from red areas – also facing fines if breaking the rules.

    Beaches with capacity of more than 90 per cent will show a red light, meaning access is not allowed.

  • Jon Rogers

    UPDATED COVID-19 DEATH TOLL

     The Government said a further five people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 127,684.

    Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 152,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 1,979 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

  • Jon Rogers

    GLASTO TO RETURN FOR ONE-DAY SHOW IN SEPTEMBER

    Glastonbury festival has been given the go ahead for a one-day event in September, according to reports.

    Mendip district council in Somerset, which is responsible for approving the festival, has given the organisers a licence for a one-day event with no overnight camping, the Guardian has reported.

    The local council has given the go ahead for the event to go ahead with just 50,000 attendees – the event typically hosts 200,000 people – as part of a pilot programme for Covid-safe events.

    In January, festival organisers said the main event would be cancelled for the second year in a row.

  • Jon Rogers

    WHO IS MATT HANCOCK?

    Matthew Hancock, 42, replaced Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary on July 9, 2018.

    He was an first an economist, then became the economic advisor at the Bank Of England.

    Mr Hancock entered the field of politics as the chief of staff to George Osborne, the shadow chancellor at the time.

    Since then, he rose through the ranks to become health secretary in July 2018.

    His ambitions didn't stop there and in July 25, 2019, he announced that he was going to stand to become leader of the Conservative Party.

    Read more here.

  • Jon Rogers

    CONSUMER GROUPS ISSUES WARNING OVER HOLIDAY REFUNDS

    A consumer group says the reopening of international travel is at risk of "descending into farce" as it warned about refunds for amber list destinations.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should only travel to an amber list country "for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member" and not for a holiday.

    Passengers arriving from amber list countries are required to self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests.

    But the rules have caused confusion, with mixed messaging from ministers adding to the lack of clarity.

    Environment Secretary George Eustice said people could go to amber-listed countries to visit family or friends as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return, while Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said "some people might think a holiday is essential" and therefore a valid reason to travel.

    Many holiday firms are continuing to sell trips to amber destinations.

    But consumer group Which? warned that those who no longer want to take a holiday against Government advice, including those with bookings from last year, were unlikely to secure a refund.

  • Jon Rogers

    EU'RE WELCOME

    The European Union took a step toward relaxing travel rules for tourists from outside the 27-nation bloc Wednesday when EU ambassadors agreed on measures to allow in fully vaccinated visitors.

    The ambassadors also agreed to ease the criteria needed for nations to be considered Covid-19 safe and from which all tourists can travel, depending on their coronavirus and vaccination status. Under the existing criteria, the list includes only seven nations.

    The EU imposed restrictions on nonessential travel last year to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The bloc's ambassadors say many of those restrictions should be eased, including to permit vacation travel by non-EU residents.

    The European Council made up of EU nations, "will now recommend that member states ease some of the current restrictions" for those who have been vaccinated, European Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said. He didn't give a precise date for when the borders will reopen since EU countries have yet to formally approve the measures.

  • Jon Rogers

    CALL FOR HEALTH WORKERS TO GET MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT LIKE VETERANS POST-PANDEMIC

    Healthcare staff who have worked through the coronavirus crisis should have a similar mental health service as that offered to war veterans, a group of leading medical organisations has said.

    The pandemic has had a "huge impact" on a workforce that has already been stretched thin, according to the 13 healthcare organisations which have come together to call on the Government to make sure there is a dedicated mental health support service similar to that established for former troops.

    Staff have been dealing with "extremely high" numbers of critically ill or dying patients.

    Some have suffered "moral injury" of not being able to deliver the care they would like to their patients.

    Meanwhile support and facilities staff have been under "significant pressure" to keep services functioning at periods during the crisis, they said.

    The letter said: "The duration and severity of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on an already stretched workforce.

    "Many have been dealing with extremely high numbers of critically ill and dying patients, made more challenging by restrictions on family visits."

  • Jon Rogers

    COVID VACCINATION PROGRAMME OPENS TO 25-29 YEARS OLDS IN NORTHERN IRELAND

    Northern Ireland's coronavirus vaccination programme has opened up to the 25 to 29-year-old age group.

    The latest expansion comes just days after the region hit the landmark 1million figure for the number of those who have received at least one dose of the jab.

    From Thursday, anyone born between 01/05/91 and 31/07/96 can book an appointment at one of the Trust vaccination centres across Northern Ireland.

    In line with the latest JCVI advice, anyone under the age of 40 can book a Pfizer-BioTech vaccine, or they can make what the Department of Health has described as an "informed decision" to receive the AstraZeneca jab at the SSE Arena in Belfast or participating community pharmacies.

    Vaccine supplies have been described as limited, with approximately 20,000 slots available each week.

  • Jon Rogers

    VACCINATION PROGRAMME IN ENGLAND TO EXTEND TO 34-YEAR-OLDS

    People aged 34 and over can book their Covid-19 jab from Thursday, the NHS in England has said.

    More than one million people aged 34 and 35 will get a text message on Thursday or Friday asking them to come forward for their Covid vaccine, NHS England said.

    The vaccination programme is expected to extend to people in their early thirties "over the next few days and weeks", it added.

    Health officials have sped up the timetable to offer second jabs in a bid to ensure that those at highest risk are protected from the variant of the virus first identified in India.

    At the same time, the programmes are extending to younger age groups to try and mitigate risk.

  • Jon Rogers

    BRAZIL RECORDS 79,000 NEW COVID CASES

    Brazil recorded 79,219 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 2,641 new deaths from Covid-19, Health Ministry figures showed on Wednesday.

    Brazil has now registered 15.8million cases since the pandemic began, and the official death toll stands at 441,691, according to ministry data. 

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