BORIS Johnson warned the Government will have "no hesitation" over moving countries off the green list if necessary.

The PM said he will "wait and see" what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the UK's travel lists.

It comes as the UK recorded 12 deaths from Covid yesterday – the highest number of cases since April 1.

After analysis of data on the current rate of coronavirus infections versus hospitalisations and deaths, the PM today declared he as yet hadn't seen anything to justify delaying the plan to end Covid restrictions on June 21.

Boris did stop short of saying June 21 would definitely happen, however, and insisted on waiting "a little bit longer" before making a firm decision.

"I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can't go ahead with step four of the opening on 21 June," he said on Wednesday..

Yet he stressed a need to be "cautious" due to "ambiguous" data on how successful the UK's vaccine programme is in fighting a new infection surge.

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

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    SPANISH AND GREEK ISLANDS COULD BE ADDED TO GREEN LIST

    There is growing speculation that popular holiday islands could be added to the Government's travel green list on Thursday.

    Spanish and Greek islands plus Malta are among the destinations which experts believe may be given green status.

    That would mean people visiting those locations from the UK will no longer be required to quarantine on their return.

    Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways' parent company IAG, predicted that a number of summer hotspots will be added to the green tier.

    He wrote in a blog post: "It still seems very likely that whilst Spain and Greece will not make it onto the green list, many of their islands will, due to lower case rates and higher vaccinations than on the mainland."

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    SCIENTISTS PLEAD FOR DELAY TO ROADMAP OVER VARIANT HOTSPOT ‘VOLCANOES’

    Scientists are pleading for a delay of the June 21 unlocking as Covid variant hotspots are like “volcanoes” set to explode.

    Government scientific advisers have repeated calls to wait a month to end all restrictions amid spread of the Indian strain.

    Dr Lisa Spencer, honorary secretary of the British Thoracic Society, told the BBC: “There are a few hotspots around the UK. These are areas where the variant first identified in India seem to be causing a majority of the infections, spreading quickly.

    “These areas of the country represent mini-Covid volcanoes, that’s the problem.

    “If we don’t handle these volcanoes carefully they could explode and send a massive gas plume across much more of the UK.”

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    CALL TO TACKLE COMPLACENCY AS VACCINE IS ROLLED OUT TO YOUNGER GROUPS

    Global efforts must tackle complacency as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out to younger age groups, experts have said.

    A five-pronged approach focused on the five C’s – confidence, complacency, convenience, communication and context – is needed to combat vaccine hesitancy, according to scientists from the UK, US and South Africa.

    Writing in the Royal Society of Medicine journal, they say complacency due to lower perceptions of personal risk and disease severity, particularly among younger people and those of lower socioeconomic status, is strongly associated with lower vaccine uptake.

    One of the authors, Dr Mohammad Razai, of the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s, University of London, said: “As the lower age groups are being offered the vaccine, addressing complacency through repeated risk communication is crucial to facilitate informed decision-making.

    “It is important to emphasise the greater societal benefits of population level immunity and the protection it offers to those vulnerable, their families and friends.”

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    WATCH: THE NEPALESE VARIANT EXPLAINED

    Dr Hilary Jones explains possible impact of Nepal Covid variant

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    TRAVEL LIST CHANGES EXPECTED AS HOLIDAYMAKERS AWAIT TO SEE IMPACT OF VARIANTS

    Holidaymakers are bracing themselves for changes to the Government's travel list, amid concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variants on summer plans.

    Ministers are predicted to update the traffic light destination system on Thursday, which could see countries moving between the green, amber and red lists.

    On Wednesday, Boris Johnson warned the Government will have "no hesitation" over moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will "wait and see" what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the travel lists.

    People returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate, and only need to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

    Travellers returning from amber list locations – which includes popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests, while there is a travel ban to red list countries.

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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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    TESTING STEPPED UP IN BID TO HALT RISING COVID CASES IN BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN

    Testing for Covid-19 will be stepped up in Blackburn with Darwen as health chiefs hope to control its rising infection rates “in the next week or so”.

    The East Lancashire borough has recently overtaken Bolton as England’s top Covid hotspot area as cases rise in parts of the north-west region amid concerns over the spread of the Indian variant.

    The rate in Blackburn with Darwen currently stands at 436.2 cases per 100,000 people, with 653 new cases in the seven days to May 28.

    This is up from 303.3 in the seven days to May 21.

    Bolton in Greater Manchester has the second highest rate, down from 452.8 to 375.2, with 1,079 new cases.

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    INDONESIA CANCELS HAJI FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

    Indonesia has cancelled the haj pilgrimage for people in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation for a second year in a row due to concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic, the religious affairs minister said on Thursday.

    Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas told a briefing Saudi Arabia, where the pilgrimage takes place, had not opened access to the haj.

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    MAPPED: GLOBAL PANDEMIC HOTSPOTS WHERE NEW COVID VARIANTS COULD EMERGE

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    POLICE OFFICERS FOUND AT PARTY IN BREACH OF COVID-19 REGULATIONS

    A group of police officers are being investigated by their force after being found at a party in contravention of Covid-19 rules.

    Police were called to the gathering at a property in Hove, East Sussex, on May 15, where the off-duty officers were found inside.

    A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: "Police officers were called to an address in Hove, following reports of a gathering inside on Saturday May 15 at 8.46pm.

    "They entered and found a number of off-duty officers present.

    "This incident, in breach of current lockdown restrictions, is being investigated by the force's Professional Standards Department."

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    MODERNA PLANS MIX OF VACCINES

    Moderna is gearing up to halve the dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, the U.S. drugmaker said on Wednesday, so that it can also be used to combat variants and inoculate children.

    It has agreed a deal with Swiss-based drugmaker Lonza which said a new drug substance production line in Geleen, Netherlands, will have capacity to make ingredients for up to 300 million doses annually at 50 micrograms per dose.

    “We’re assuming that as of 2022, we are going to have a mix of dose levels on the market,” a spokeswoman for Moderna said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    STURGEON: SCOT GOVERNMENT HAS 'DONE EVERYTHING WE CAN WITH LIMITED POWERS'

    Ms Sturgeon said: "We have done everything we can with the limited powers we have to tackle inequality and mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on people's livelihoods, but we cannot allow that to be eroded as we enter the next phase of living with the virus. A return to the pre-pandemic austerity would be disastrous for jobs, for public services and for people and families across Scotland.

    "As the UK Government hold the key financial levers to help us recover from this, I will be calling on it to commit to maintain public spending during the period of recovery, and to extend the furlough scheme for as long as it is needed to protect businesses and people who have been required to stop working to protect others, and I will be emphasising that it is managed sensitively in a way that supports longer-term recovery.

    "I've been given assurances that this will be a meaningful discussion, and it must be. Working to recover from Covid cannot be a PR exercise – it must be a collaborative process that properly respects the devolution settlement.

    "The Scottish Government requires certainty over funding. Without it, people across Scotland who have had to endure so much these past 14 months would lack the reassurance that their jobs are protected, and their public services will continue to be funded to an appropriate level, whatever the virus has in store – that is the bare minimum of our expectations.

    "For this summit to be in any way productive, all UK nations must work collaboratively. As part of that, the UK Government needs to ensure meaningful engagement with the devolved administrations on the negotiation and governance of trade deals, and to respect the devolved Parliaments by not diverting money to be spent by UK ministers."

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    BORIS JOHNSON TO CHAIR FOUR-NATION CORONAVIRUS RECOVERY SUMMIT

    Boris Johnson will chair a coronavirus recovery summit with the leaders of the devolved nations on Thursday afternoon.

    The rearranged meeting was due to take place last week but was postponed after the first ministers of Wales and Scotland pulled out because they wanted it to be a "meaningful discussion with substantive outcomes".

    Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford subsequently wrote to the Prime Minister asking for more substance and clarity about the summit.

    Ahead of the summit, the Scottish First Minister has called on the UK Government to extend furlough again – and ensure pre-existing inequalities are not further exacerbated by the crisis.

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    MATT HANCOCK ANNOUNCES NEW COVID VACCINE DEAL WITH OXFORD ASTRAZENECA TO COMBAT VARIANTS

    Matt Hancock announces new Covid vaccine deal with Oxford AstraZeneca to combat variants

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    12 MORE UK DEATHS FROM COVID-19

    The Government said a further 12 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,794.

    Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 4,330 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

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    75% OF BRITS HAVE NOW HAD THE FIRST DOSE OF THE JAB

    The UK has hit a milestone in its coronavirus vaccination programme as 75 per cent of Brits have now had a first dose of a jab.

    It comes the day after zero Covid deaths were reported, amid debate over lockdown restrictions ending.

    The next set of lockdown restrictions are due to end on June 21, but doubt had been cast over this date due to a rise in cases of the Indian variant – especially in the North West.

    Yesterday no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year – in a sign that vaccines are protecting people from severe infection.

    Extra jabs have been rolled out in hotspot areas and the UK was also given an extra boost last week after the Johnson & Johnson jab was approved for use.

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    GRAPHIC: COVID VACCINATIONS IN THE UK

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    HANCOCK HAILS UK’S VACCINE CONFIDENCE

    Confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines has been “sky high” in Britain, Matt Hancock has said.

    The Health Secretary told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: “Across the UK confidence in the vaccine programme has been sky high.

    “We continue to top the list of places where people are willing to take, or have taken, a Covid vaccine – around nine in 10 of us.”

    He added: “I am aware that this isn’t a vaccine world cup – different nations don’t compete for one prize, we know that when everyone is safe we’re all going to be the winners.”

    Mr Hancock added that when vaccine confidence in one country “takes a hit” then “word can spread, fake news travels fast”. “Vaccine confidence is an international challenge and one that takes international action,” he added.

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    ANTIBIOTIC USE HIGH IN COVID PATIENTS (CONTINUED…)

    They recommend that antibiotic use should be more evidence-based (known as antimicrobial stewardship), while adding that medics should restrict prescribing these drugs unless tests confirm a bacterial infection.

    Study author Dr Antonia Ho, of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: "Our findings are in no way a criticism of the NHS clinicians.

    "During the first wave, there was huge uncertainty as this is a new disease (and) patients were very sick – a lot of patients were in critical care. We did not have very many options in terms of effective treatments and, (based on) how sick patients were, I think it was a sensible thing to do (prescribe antibiotics) at the time."

    She added: "However, we now know that bacterial co-infection is uncommon in patients with community-acquired Covid-19.

    "Since antimicrobial resistance remains one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, measures to combat it are essential to help ensure that these life-saving medicines remain an effective treatment for infection in years to come."

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    ANTIBIOTIC USE 'VERY HIGH' IN COVID-19 HOSPITAL PATIENTS DURING FIRST WAVE

    Antibiotic use was "very high" among Covid-19 hospital patients in the UK during the first wave of the pandemic, even though confirmed bacterial infections were rare, scientists have found.

    Antibiotics are medicines used to treat some types of bacterial infections and do not work on viral diseases, such as Covid-19.

    New analysis, published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, shows that, between February 6 and June 8 2020, 85% of coronavirus patients received one or more antibiotics during their hospital stay, while 37% were prescribed the drugs prior to admission.

    It suggests many ill Covid-19 patients who did not have a bacterial infection were being unnecessarily treated with medicines that kill bacteria.

    The scientists say that giving antibiotics to Covid-19 patients who do not have a bacterial co-infection risks worsening global antimicrobial resistance – which occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs made to kill them.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CALL TO TACKLE COMPLACENCY AS VACCINE IS ROLLED OUT TO YOUNGER GROUPS

    Global efforts must tackle complacency as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out to younger age groups, experts have said.

    A five-pronged approach focused on the five C's – confidence, complacency, convenience, communication and context – is needed to combat vaccine hesitancy, according to scientists from the UK, US and South Africa.

    Writing in the Royal Society of Medicine journal, they say complacency due to lower perceptions of personal risk and disease severity, particularly among younger people and those of lower socioeconomic status, is strongly associated with lower vaccine uptake.

    One of the authors, Dr Mohammad Razai, of the Population Health Research Institute at St George's, University of London, said: "As the lower age groups are being offered the vaccine, addressing complacency through repeated risk communication is crucial to facilitate informed decision-making.

    "It is important to emphasise the greater societal benefits of population level immunity and the protection it offers to those vulnerable, their families and friends."

  • Joseph Gamp

    TRAVEL LIST CHANGES EXPECTED AS HOLIDAYMAKERS AWAIT TO SEE IMPACT OF VARIANTS

    Holidaymakers are bracing themselves for changes to the Government's travel list, amid concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variants on summer plans.

    Ministers are predicted to update the traffic light destination system on Thursday, which could see countries moving between the green, amber and red lists.

    On Wednesday, Boris Johnson warned the Government will have "no hesitation" over moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will "wait and see" what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the travel lists.

    People returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate, and only need to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

    Travellers returning from amber list locations – which includes popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests, while there is a travel ban to red list countries.

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    WATCH: BELGIUM FOOTBALL STARS TAKE COVID JAB BUT SOME REFUSE IT AS IT WILL WRECK THEIR EURO 2020 CHANCES

    Belgium football stars take Covid jab but some refuse it as it will wreck their Euro 2020 chances

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    CARE HOME DEATHS FALL BY 17% ON PREVIOUS WEEK

    Some 25 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to May 21, down 17% on the previous week.

    In total, 42,486 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

    The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

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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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