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

  • Joseph Gamp

    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”.

  • Joseph Gamp

    AMBULANCE BLUNDER SEES WOMAN TAKEN TO WRONG HOUSE AND TUCKED UP IN STRANGERS BED AFTER COVID BATTLE

    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.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RAVE REVIEW 

    Five thousand music lovers will be allowed to attend a concert in Liverpool in just two weeks time as lockdown measures continue to ease.

    The pilot event – at Sefton Park on May 2 – will have no social distancing and attendees will not have to wear masks and could pave the way to more outdoor events, ministers revealed today.

    Indie band Blossoms will headline the gig which will also feature The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he hoped the Events Research Programme (ERP) test event would mean the wait for gigs to return would not be "too much longer".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    LATEST COVID FIGURES

    The Government said a further 10 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 127,270.

    Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,882 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

    It brings the total to 4,387,820.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    VARIANTS 'EXPECTED'

    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.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    EU HINTS IT MIGHT NOT ORDER AZ JAB AGAIN

    The EU's internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton hinted Sunday that the bloc might decide not to order AstraZeneca's coronavirus jab again following delays in delivering the first batches of the vaccine.

    "We're pragmatic. My priority, as far as the vaccines are concerned, is to ensure that the firms we have contracts with deliver them punctually," Breton told BFMTV television.

    Brussels had originally ordered 120 million doses of the Anglo-Swedish group's jab for the 27 member states in the first quarter and 180 million in the second quarter.

    But the drug maker "only delivered 30 million, thus creating the problems that everyone has seen," Breton said.

    And only another 70 million will be delivered in the second quarter, he continued, but added: "Nothing is decided. Talks are still ongoing".

  • Dan Keane

    'NOT ENOUGH DATA'

    Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said that whilst there is not yet enough data to officially classify the new Indian strain as a "variant of concern", investigations are ongoing.

    "We have seen a couple of cases (of the Indian variant) that haven't arisen from travel but we're still trying to undergo the investigations to look in great detail at where they might have acquired it from.

    "To escalate it up the ranking we need to know that it is increased transmissibility, increased severity or vaccine evading, and we just don't have that yet," she told the BBC.

  • Dan Keane

    'COMPLEX PROCESS'

    Ms Walters blamed challenges – including delivery delays for the AstraZeneca shot in the European Union – on the "complex process" of producing a vaccine.

    "We had to work without keeping a supply in reserve. As a result, we couldn't make up for unexpected events," she said.

    "We are confident that we will fulfill our commitment to deliver 300 million doses to the European Union this year."

  • Dan Keane

    TWEAKED JAB TO TACKLE SA VARIANT 'READY BY END OF THE YEAR'

    A modified version of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine tailored to combat the South African variant could be ready by the end of 2021, an AstraZeneca official in Austria said in an interview published today.

    Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca's Austria country manager, told the Kurier newspaper that studies indicating the jab was less effective against the strain were "too small to draw final conclusions".

    "In the meantime, AstraZeneca and Oxford University have started on modifications to the vaccine for the South African variant and we expect it will be ready by the end of the year, should it be needed," Walters told the Kurier.

  • 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. 

    Source: Read Full Article