BORIS Johnson's lockdown roadmap could be delayed – because the UK faces a fresh Covid surge as restrictions ease, an expert has warned.

Dr Peter Drobac, a former assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, warned there will be a spike in cases as Brits enjoy their new-found freedoms – including pubs reopening yesterday.

And he said that unless we take it slow and steady, Britain could face a similar future to Chile – which has just gone back into a strict lockdown, despite one of the world's best vaccination programmes.

Speaking on Sky News, Dr Drobac called the South American country a "real Covid vaccination success story. Some 40 per cent of people have received one dose, and 25 per cent have received two doses – and at the same time, they've got a surge that is the worst they've experienced throughout the pandemic," he said.

Chile has, however, largely been using a Chinese made vaccine that is understood to be less effective than the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines currently being rolled out in the UK.

Last night it was revealed that surge testing is to begin in parts of south London after 44 cases of the South African Covid-19 variant were found.

People living and working in Wandsworth and Lambeth are being urged to get tested after "significant" reports of the mutated virus, in the largest surge testing operation to date.

Additional testing and genomic sequencing will take place predominantly in these boroughs, where 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were found.

The variant is deemed to be more transmissible – potentially up to 50 per cent more infectious.

All identified cases are isolating or have completed their isolation, and their contacts have been traced and asked to isolate.

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

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    GOVERNMENT WILL MISS GOAL OF ADMINISTERING 180,000 JABS THIS WEEK

    The Government's goal of administering 180,000 jabs this week will be missed following the change in advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Thousands of vaccine appointments this week will be rescheduled by the HSE after the the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) said that the vaccine should not be administered to people under the age of 60 in Ireland.

    The decision came after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned that rare blood clots have been associated with the jab.

    The HSE is examining the effect of the change in advice on the Government's vaccine rollout programme.

    Some 813,000 AstraZeneca vaccines are due to be delivered over the next three months, including 224,000 in April.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHEN WILL OVER 45S GET THE VACCINE?

    Brits aged over 45 have been invited to book their Covid vaccine.

    The NHS booking website now tells people they can make an appointment if they are aged 45 or over.

    Slots were available for as early as tomorrow through the online system.

    The rush caused the website has already crashed for many eager to get their shot of either the Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca or Moderna jab.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING – UK COVID DEATHS PASS TRAGIC 150,000 MILESTONE, OFFICIAL DATA REVEALS

    The coronavirus death toll in the UK has now passed 150,000, official data states.

    Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that as of April 2, 150,418 deaths had been recorded with Covid-19 on the death certificate.

    As it stands there are only four other countries that have recorded a higher fatality rate than the UK.

    The US, India, Brazil and Mexico have all recorded high death tolls.

    Data from the ONS states that the updated figure released today includes 450 deaths recorded in the seven days to April 2.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BREAKING – WHO CHIEFS FINALLY CALL FOR A BAN ON WET MARKETS OVER COVID OUTBREAK

    The World Health Organization today called for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the spread of disease and any future pandemics.

    They have called on countries to abandon the traditional trade of "live caught wild animals of mammalian species" in a bid to curb public health risks.

    It is a dramatic U-turn from the WHO's original decision to back the re-opening of the controversial wet markets last May. Health experts around the world condemned the decision to support the trade, which restarted at the original virus epicentre in China.

    A dual WHO-Chinese study published last month that investigated the origins of coronavirus suggested the markets selling both live and dead animals were a likely source.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    PUBS FACE BEING SHUT OR FINED UP TO £10K AS HUGE QUEUES THREATEN TO BREAK COVID RULES

    Pubs face being shut or fined up to £10,000 for failing to enforce coronavirus regulations. 

    Officials have warned that venues must obey the rules after huge queues were spotted outside boozers yesterday.

    The easing of restrictions prompted huge queues outside boozers yesterday, with Soho in Central London packed with punters spilling out onto the street. 

    Pictures also show hundreds of Brits queueing outside pubs in Manchester, Sunderland, Burnley and Birmingham. Councils have since pledged to set up enforcement squads to patrol queues and look for rule-breakers.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    NHS WEBSITE CRASHES AFTER OVER-45S THEY CAN BOOK COVID VACCINES

    An NHS website that allows over-45s to book their vaccine appointment crashed shortly after opening.

    The online booking system had been open for Covid vaccine jab bookings just minutes before it went down. This week's rollout to under-50s marks the start of 'Phase 2' of the government's vaccination programme.

    The government reached its target of offering a first dose to priority groups in the over-50s three days earlier.

    But the NHS booking system ran into problems this morning as over-45s piled in to secure their slot.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    ROADMAP COULD BE DELAYED AS BRITS FACE SURGE BY EASING RESTRICTIONS

    Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown could be delayed – because the UK faces a fresh Covid surge as restrictions ease, an Oxford academic has warned.

    Dr Peter Drobac, a former assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, warned there will be a spike in cases as Brits enjoy their new-found freedoms.

    And he said that unless we take it slow and steady, Britain could face a similar future to Chile – which has just gone back into a strict lockdown, despite one of the world's best vaccination programmes.

    Speaking on Sky News, Dr Drobac called the South American country a "real Covid vaccination success story. Some 40 per cent of people have received one dose, and 25 per cent have received two doses – and at the same time, they've got a surge that is the worst they've experienced throughout the pandemic," he said.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    UK ECONOMY GREW .4% IN FEBRUARY BUT REMAINED ALMOST 8% BELOW ITS PRE-PANDEMIC PEAK

    The UK economy grew 0.4% in February as lockdown restrictions remained – but it was still almost 8% below its pre-pandemic peak.

    Gross domestic product (GDP) rebounded slightly from January's fall of 2.2%, according to revised figures by the Office for National Statistics.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    PITCHER WORTH 1,000 WORDS

    Thirsty Brits have danced into the night after piling into pub gardens for their first post-work pints in months as lockdown eased yesterday.

    Huge queues were seen outside boozers across the country with revellers partying in the street despite the chilly weather.

    People dance in the street in the Soho area of London
    Drinkers have a street-side party in central London
    Crowds packed the streets with plastic cups for their first night of freedom
  • Britta Zeltmann

    JAB HAPPY

    NHS patients are set to receive the Moderna vaccine today as the Government begins its next phase of the jab rollout.

    The vaccine will be the third Covid jab to be dished out in Britain and will be available at 21 sites in England, officials confirmed.

    Along with the Pfizer jab, Moderna offers an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for under-30s, after concerns about a possible link to very rare blood clots.

    More than 20 sites, including Reading’s Madejski Stadium and the Sheffield Arena, will initially use the newest jab – which Wales and Scotland began administering last week. Read more here.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    TESTING TIMES

    Surge testing is to begin in parts of south London after 44 cases of the South African Covid-19 variant were found.

    People living and working in Wandsworth and Lambeth are being urged to get tested after "significant" reports of the mutated virus, in the largest surge testing operation to date.

    Additional testing and genomic sequencing will take place predominantly in these boroughs, where 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were found.

    The variant is deemed to be more transmissible – potentially up to 50 per cent more infectious.

    All identified cases are isolating or have completed their isolation, and their contacts have been traced and asked to isolate.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON HAILS 'SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE' AS ALL OVER 50S OFFERED COVID JAB

    All adults in the UK aged over 50 have now been offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for the next phase of the rollout, the Government has said.

    Boris Johnson hailed another "hugely significant milestone" in the programme to protect the country against the disease.

    It means the Government has met its target of offering the jab to all of its top nine priority groups, including the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers, three days ahead of its target date of April 15.

    The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation will shortly set out its final advice for the completion of the programme, expected to begin this week with those in their late 40s.

    The announcement comes after Ireland became the latest country to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it should not be given to people under the age of 60, amid concerns over possible links to rare blood clotting events.

  • Joseph Gamp

    'LIKE VE DAY' – REVELLERS GATHER IN LONDON'S SOHO TO CELEBRATE PUBS REOPENING

    Revellers have tasted the first signs of freedom with a pint in London's Soho, as crowds of people gathered in the heart of the West End – but some warned of "very little" social distancing.

    Police officers patrolled busy areas in London on Monday night as hordes of people flocked to Old Compton Street and neighbouring areas to enjoy al-fresco dining and drinks after coronavirus restrictions eased in England.

    Several West End streets were closed to traffic between 5pm-11pm to create outdoor seating areas as part of measures implemented by Westminster City Council to support hospitality businesses.

    Pictures and videos being shared online show people packed onto tables laden with food and drinks, while several dozen more stood on the streets cheering the first night of pubs and bars reopening.

  • Joseph Gamp

    SHOPPERS AND DRINKERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW FREEDOMS AS LOCKDOWN EASES

    Shoppers flocked to high streets and drinkers downed pints as coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as life took another step back towards normality, with indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcoming customers back.

    People in Wales were also enjoying renewed freedoms from Monday, with non-essential retail reopened and border restrictions eased to permit travel again with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

    Remaining school pupils returned to face-to-face teaching in Wales and Northern Ireland, in moves being echoed in Scotland as some pupils return from their Easter breaks.

    The "stay at home" order in Northern Ireland also ended as the number of people permitted to meet outdoors increased from six to 10.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BORIS JOHNSON HAILS 'SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE' AS ALL OVER 50S OFFERED COVID JAB

    All adults in the UK aged over 50 have now been offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for the next phase of the rollout, the Government has said.

    Boris Johnson hailed another "hugely significant milestone" in the programme to protect the country against the disease.

    It means the Government has met its target of offering the jab to all of its top nine priority groups, including the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers, three days ahead of its target date of April 15.

    The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation will shortly set out its final advice for the completion of the programme, expected to begin this week with those in their late 40s.

    The announcement comes after Ireland became the latest country to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it should not be given to people under the age of 60, amid concerns over possible links to rare blood clotting events.

  • Joseph Gamp

    IRELAND: ASTRAZENECA VACCINE SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TO PEOPLE UNDER 60, SAYS NIAC

    The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should not be administered to people under the age of 60 in Ireland, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said.

    The advisory body has recommended restrictions of its use after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned that rare blood clots have been associated with Astra Zeneca's coronavirus vaccine.

    In a statement, NIAC said the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine "is not recommended for those aged under 60 years including those with medical conditions with very high or high risk of severe Covid-19 disease".

    The advisory body added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be limited to those "aged 60 years and older".

    NIAC said anyone under the age of 60 who has had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a "very high-risk or high-risk medical condition" should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.

  • Joseph Gamp

    SUNNY DRINKS

    Pictured: Customers sit outside bars and restaurants on Canal Street in the Gay village in Manchester.

    Restaurants, bars and pubs can open and serve people who can be seated outside.

    Millions of people in England will get their first chance in months for haircuts, casual shopping and restaurant meals on Monday, as the government takes the next step on its coronavirus lockdown-lifting road map.

    Credit: AP
  • Joseph Gamp

    SURGE IN JOURNEYS AS LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS EASE

    Transport usage surged across England as coronavirus restrictions were partially lifted.

    Road journeys in London at 8am on Monday took an average of 42% longer compared with free-flow conditions, according to location technology firm TomTom.

    That is up from 32% at that time on April 6, the first working day of last week.

    Other cities to experience rises over the same period included Brighton (22% to 28%), Birmingham (22% to 27%), Bristol (25% to 33%), Manchester (27% to 37%) and Leeds (23% to 51%).

  • Joseph Gamp

    SHOPPERS AND DRINKERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW FREEDOMS AS LOCKDOWN EASES

    Shoppers flocked to high streets and drinkers downed pints as coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as life took another step back towards normality, with indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcoming customers back.

    People in Wales were also enjoying renewed freedoms from Monday, with non-essential retail reopened and border restrictions eased to permit travel again with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

    Remaining school pupils returned to face-to-face teaching in Wales and Northern Ireland, in moves being echoed in Scotland as some pupils return from their Easter breaks.

    The "stay at home" order in Northern Ireland also ended as the number of people permitted to meet outdoors increased from six to 10.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 DEATHS AND CASES PER DAY

  • Joseph Gamp

    COVENTRY PUB UNDER INVESTIGATION AFTER MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE QUEUED UP AT MIDNIGHT TO GAIN ENTRY

    A pub in Coventry is under investigation by the local council after a long queue of people arrived for its opening at midnight when coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased.

    Videos posted on social media showed more than 100 people lining the street outside the Oak Inn, near the city’s university, after it advertised plans to open its large outdoor space with heaters, marquees and blankets.

    A Coventry City Council spokeswoman confirmed to the PA news agency that the pub was under investigation and said: “People are beginning to enjoy the easing of restrictions and with the city beginning to reopen non-essential shops and hospitality venues from today, we would like to remind everyone about the importance of following the rules.

    “This includes social distancing and staying two metres apart, wearing face coverings in public and washing hands regularly when visiting hospitality venues. It is extremely important we continue to work together to slow the spread of Covid-19 and not undoing all our good work over the last few months.

    “We will be investigating any venue reported to not be following these rules or having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    JAB STATS

    A total of 33,445,922 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and April 11, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 197,053 on the previous day.

    NHS England said 27,107,590 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 36,599 on the previous day, while 6,338,332 were a second dose, an increase of 160,454.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRITS WAIT QUEUED FOR TWO HOURS TODAY TO GET THEIR HANDS ON A MUCH-MISSED PINT

    PUBS have reopened in England for the first time in months, with punters queuing up for hours to get their hands on a poured pint.

    Wetherspoons’ Imerial Pub in Exeter saw thirsty Brits waiting outside for an estimated two hours as they battled to get into the popular beer garden.

    The line could be seen snaking around the pub’s entrance as youngsters waited patiently for their turn.

    Meanwhile, more than 100 students queued for just 20 tables at The Friendship Inn in Fallowfield, Manchester after the drinking hole reopened at midday.

  • Joseph Gamp

    UK COVID DEATHS HALVE IN A WEEK (CONTINUED…)

    Cases have dropped by 23 per cent in a fortnight to 3,568 infections compared to 4,645 on March 29.

    Since the latest national lockdown was introduced at the start of January, cases have plunged from almost 60,000 a day to an average of around 2,500 infections.

    The number of patients in hospital with Covid across the UK has fallen to around 3,000 from a peak of almost 40,000 in January.

    Deaths have plummeted from a peak seven-day average of 1,250 on Januaey 23 to around 30 today.

  • Joseph Gamp

    UK COVID DEATHS HALVE IN A WEEK WITH 13 FATALITIES AND 3,568 CASES IN LAST 24 HOURS AS SHOPS AND PUBS REOPEN

    CORONAVIRUS death in the UK have HALVED in the last week as the spread of the virus continues to slow.

    A total of 3,568 cases and 13 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours as Brits headed out to pubs and shops open for the first time since January in the latest easing of restrictions.

    Covid figures tend to be lower on Sundays and Mondays due to a lag in recording cases and deaths over the weekend.

    The 13 deaths is 50 per cent down on the 26 fatalities recorded on March 29.

    Deaths fell into single figures for the first time since last September yesterday.

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