Coronavirus UK news – Vaccine roll-out in 'race against time' with Indian variant as new Covid strain found in Vietnam

VIETNAM has discovered a new Covid-19 mutation that spreads quickly by air and is a hybrid of the Indian and Kent strains.

The country is struggling to deal with fresh outbreaks across more than half of its territory including industrial zones and big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

More than 6,700 cases including 47 deaths have been reported in Vietnam, with the lion's share occurring since April.

“We have discovered a new hybrid variant from the Indian and the UK strains,” the health minister, Nguyen Thanh Long, was quoted as telling a national meeting on the pandemic on today.

It comes as UK experts said the next few weeks would be crucial in determining whether coronavirus restrictions in England can be lifted next month.

Three new coronavirus hotspots have been identified in England as experts warn the Indian variant is now the dominant strain.

But there's good news, too, after it was announced that a single shot coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been approved for use in the UK.

The one-dose jab, developed by Johnson & Johnson's pharma arm Janssen, is 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19, and may offer complete protection from admission to hospital and death.

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

  • Joseph Gamp

    EXPLAINED: WHEN WILL THE NEXT GREEN TRAVEL LIST ANNOUNCEMENT BE?

    A review of the list is due to take place on June 3, with experts expecting Malta, Balearics and the Greek Islands to be added.

    There are currently 12 countries and territories which have been put on the green list for England. 

    Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; and Israel are all on the list.

    It is also hoped some of the 43 destinations of the “red list” will be upgraded to “amber”, meaning returning Brits can self-isolate at home instead of quarantining at a hotel.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHO MUST BE ABLE TO FULLY INVESTIGATE ORIGINS OF PANDEMIC SAYS VACCINE MINISTER

    Nadhim Zahawi said the World Health Organisation investigation must be able to fully investigate the origins of the pandemic.

    The Sunday Times reported that British agents now believe it is “feasible” that the crisis began with a coronavirus leak from a Chinese research laboratory in Wuhan.

    Vaccines minister Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “I think it’s really important that the WHO is allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered into the origins of this pandemic and that we should leave no stone unturned to understand why – not only because of the current pandemic that has swept the world but also for future-proofing the world’s capability to deal with pandemics.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    HUNT FOR ‘PATIENT SU’ WHO MAY HAVE BEEN FIRST COVID CASE INFECTED BY WUHAN LAB ‘LEAK’

    THE HUNT is on for a Chinese woman known as "Patient Su" who may have be the first Covid case infected by a potential lab leak of the virus in Wuhan.

    It is claimed the 61-year-old woman contracted a mystery condition in November – around one month before China reported the outbreak to the World Health Organisation.

    China is facing mounting pressure to come clean as circumstantial evidence continues to emerge that ties Covid to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

    British spies have now admitted the theory is "feasible", US President Joe Biden has ordered a "redoubled" investigation, and a new paper claims to have evidence the virus was "engineered".

    And amongst all this is a mysterious woman known only as "Patient Su", reports the Mail on Sunday.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    DECISION ON LIFTING ENGLAND'S LOCKDOWN WILL BE DRIVEN BY DATA, MINISTER SAYS

    The decision to lift final lockdown measures in England on June 21 will be made after data on infection, hospitalisation, vaccination and new variants are assessed, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.

    "We will share the evidence with the country on the 14th of June to basically explain exactly where we are on infection rates, on hospitalisation, and of course, sadly, on deaths," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr.

    "We have to be cautious; we have to look at the data and share it with the country."

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRITS BANNED FROM ENTERING FRANCE

    Brits have been banned from entering France unless they can prove they have a “compelling reason,” from Monday.

    The country’s foreign ministry said France is re-introducing strict rules on arrivals from the UK who are not French residents in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially the Indian variant.

    While the ministry did not specify what would count as a “compelling reason”, the French government had previously said that family, health or professional reasons could be acceptable, reports France24.

    Back in March, France had relaxed the rules for Brits and other EU citizens.

    But starting Monday “compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreigners who are not residents in France and who come to France from the United Kingdom”, the ministry said in a statement. However, the ministry added that there would be “no systematic checks” to ensure compliance with the requirement, “given the low incidence of Covid in Britain”.

  • Joseph Gamp

    HEALTH CHIEF CALLS FOR 'BETTER QUALITY OF DEBATE' OVER LOCKDOWN ENDING

    A health chief has called for a more informed debate on the planned lifting of all legal limits on social contact in England on June 21 as Labour questioned if the move would proceed.

    The continued spread of the Indian coronavirus variant has prompted experts to argue restrictions should remain in place until more people have received both doses of a vaccine amid reports ministers are drawing up plans for a partial end of lockdown.

    NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told BBC Breakfast a "much better quality of debate" was needed on the implications of easing measures, according to the BBC.

    Hospitals were dealing with patients with complex needs who had delayed treatment earlier in the pandemic and now required longer stays, he said.

    Staff were "going full pelt" to deal with waiting lists and do not have the space for a significant increase in Covid patients, he added.

    "While it's great news that the vaccinations are working – and I think that sends us one message in terms of opening up on June 21 – what we mustn't forget is there are still lots of people who need to be vaccinated, and we know this variant that originated in India is much more transmissible," Mr Hopson said

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPH: COVID-19 VACCINATIONS IN THE UK

  • Joseph Gamp

    RUSSIA REPORTS HIGHEST NUMBER OF DAILY COVID-19 CASES SINCE MARCH

    Russia reported 9,694 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest number since the end of March, which took the national tally to 5,063,442 infections.

    The Russian coronavirus task force said that 355 more deaths of coronavirus patients were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 121,162.

    The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 250,000 deaths related to COVID-19 from April 2020 to March 2021.

  • Joseph Gamp

    UK COULD MAKE COVID-19 JABS COMPULSORY IN HEALTHCARE, MINISTER SAYS

    The British government is thinking about making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers to stop the spread of the virus in hospitals, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.

    "It would be incumbent on any responsible government to have the debate, to do the thinking as to how we go about protecting the most vulnerable by making sure that those who look after them are vaccinated," he told Sky News.

    "There is precedent for this; obviously surgeons get vaccinated for hepatitis B. So it's something that we are absolutely thinking about."

  • Joseph Gamp

    ANTI-VAXXERS CLAIMING PANDEMIC IS A HOAX TRY TO STORM WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE AND CLASH WITH COPS

    Anti-vaxxers claiming pandemic is a hoax try to storm Westfield shopping centre and clash with cops

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHO MUST BE ABLE TO FULLY INVESTIGATE ORIGINS OF PANDEMIC SAYS VACCINE MINISTER

    Nadhim Zahawi said the World Health Organisation investigation must be able to fully investigate the origins of the pandemic.

    The Sunday Times reported that British agents now believe it is "feasible" that the crisis began with a coronavirus leak from a Chinese research laboratory in Wuhan.

    Vaccines minister Mr Zahawi told Sky News: "I think it's really important that the WHO is allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered into the origins of this pandemic and that we should leave no stone unturned to understand why – not only because of the current pandemic that has swept the world but also for future-proofing the world's capability to deal with pandemics."

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • Joseph Gamp

    VACCINES MINISTER CONGRATULATES BORIS JOHNSON ON WEDDING

    Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi offered his congratulations to Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds following their wedding.

    "It's a great feeling as you come together and of course I think it's a wonderful thing for both of them, that they have made their marriage vows to one another," he told Sky News.

    Mr Zahawi said the timing of the secret wedding should not send a signal that the further easing of lockdown measures earmarked for June 21 will not happen.

    Put to him that the timing suggested that a larger wedding after June 21 was not on the cards, Mr Zahawi said: "I wouldn't extrapolate anything from that."

    He added: "On June 14, we will set out very clearly, the data that we are continuing to gather from step three, which was on May 17, and then we'll share that with the nation, as the Prime Minister has done in each and every step from step one, two and three and then of course, step four."

  • Joseph Gamp

    TWO COVID DEATHS LINKED TO INDIAN VARIANT AFTER BOTH JABS

    New figures have revealed that only two people have died after contracting the Indian Covid variant after being fully vaccinated. 

    Public Health England analysis has shown that only three per cent of people who caught the mutant strain already had both jabs – raising hopes that “freedom day” is on track. 

    Of 5,559 people only 177 caught the mutant strain when they had both jabs, with 3,400 having not been given their first dose. 

    The data shows that of the 12 people who died after catching the strain in England by May 25, eight were unvaccinated, two had a first dose and two had received both doses. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRITS BANNED FROM ENTERING FRANCE

    Brits have been banned from entering France unless they can prove they have a “compelling reason,” from Monday.

    The country’s foreign ministry said France is re-introducing strict rules on arrivals from the UK who are not French residents in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially the Indian variant.

    While the ministry did not specify what would count as a “compelling reason”, the French government had previously said that family, health or professional reasons could be acceptable, reports France24.

    Back in March, France had relaxed the rules for Brits and other EU citizens.

    But starting Monday “compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreigners who are not residents in France and who come to France from the United Kingdom”, the ministry said in a statement. However, the ministry added that there would be “no systematic checks” to ensure compliance with the requirement, “given the low incidence of Covid in Britain”.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ANTI-VAXXERS DEMONSTRATE AT WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE IN LONDON

    Anti-vaxxers demonstrate at Westfield Shopping Centre in London

  • Katie Davis

    BRITS IN INDIAN VARIANT HOTSPOTS ‘TO GET 2ND JAB SOONER’

    The NHS is being urged to speed up the coronavirus vaccine roll out and try to give as many second doses as soon as possible as the spread of the Indian variant accelerates. 

    Officials have told all staff in charge of administering the jabs that second doses for over 50s should be brought forward, from 12 weeks to eight weeks, but the delay for under 50s would remain at 12 weeks.

    But some people in their late 40s and early 50s are now being invited for their second jab after just six weeks, the i reports.

    The government’s plan to lift all restrictions by June 21 is reportedly “on a knife edge” due to the rapid spread of the indian variant. 

    Sources claim that the government is urging vaccination centres with sufficient supply to accelerate the roll out of the jabs.

  • Katie Davis

    CARMAKERS IN ‘INDIA’S DETROIT’ ALLOWED TO OPERATE AS WORKERS PROTEST COVID RISK

    Carmakers in the Indian automobile hub of Chennai will be allowed to keep operating, the state government said on Saturday, amid protests by workers who fear catching Covid-19 in one of the country’s hardest-hit states.

    Tamil Nadu’s government on Friday extended a near-total lockdown as coronavirus infections and deaths rise in the southern state, where average cases are running at more than 30,000 a day, official figures show.

    But a government order issued on Saturday said so-called continuous process industries, which include auto factories, would be allowed to function in accordance with measures such as social distancing to stem the virus’s spread.

    It also urged vehicle manufacturers to initiate immediate action to vaccinate all their employees within a month.

  • Katie Davis

    ONE SHOT JAB APPROVED IN UK

    A single-shot coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson has been approved for use in the UK.

    The jab, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm Janssen, has been shown to be 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid, with studies suggesting it also offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death.

    Announcing that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had approved the safety of the jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.

    “As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”

    The UK has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine, which England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has previously said could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people, where recalling them for a second jab is not always successful.

  • Katie Davis

    COVID CASES RISE BY A QUARTER IN A WEEK

    The number of people testing positive for Covid has surged by a quarter in a week – but deaths are still low, with seven more fatalities recorded today.

    A further 3,398 Brits are newly-infected with the virus, 26.1 per cent higher than this time last week.

    Cases have been rising amid the spread of the Indian mutation, set to become the UK’s dominant strain.

    However, overall the infection rate currently remains low, and the UK’s jabs roll-out continues apace, with more than 23million now fully vaccinated.

    Figures show that just two people given both jabs have died with the Indian variant.

  • Katie Davis

    WHAT IS YOUR RISK OF CATCHING COVID NOW?

    Researchers on the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App estimate your current risk of getting Covid infection right now depending on your vaccine status:

    Unvaccinated: One in 17,104 chance

    One dose: One in 32,196 chance

    Two doses: One in 68,417 chance 

  • Katie Davis

    WELSH GOV FORCES HAVEN PARKS TO BAN SINGING & DANCING

    Haven holiday parks in Wales have been forced to ban singing and dancing entertainment because of the Welsh Assembly’s rules on Covid-19.

    Families set to descend on the resorts for a half-term getaway have been left disappointed as the company announced live entertainment is cancelled.

    The holiday parks had planned a series of family shows to entertain guests, but had been told that as their venues are not classed as theatres they would not be able to go ahead.

    Many were planning to visit resorts such as the Presthaven Sands, Greenacres in Porthmadog and Hafan y Mor in Pwllheli during the schools’ half-term break. But earlier this week the company informed guests that due to Covid-19 regulations there will be no live singing or dancing.

    Guests will only be allowed to watch pre-recorded shows on a big screen and meet characters while observing social distancing rules, reports North Wales Live.

  • Katie Davis

    HALF OF PEOPLE IN THEIR 30S IN ENGLAND GIVEN CORONAVIRUS JABS

    NHS England said that, since it began opening up the vaccine rollout to this age group on May 13, some 53 per cent of those aged 30 to 39 have been given at least one dose.

    People aged 30 to 31 were the most recent group to be invited for their jab – from Wednesday – with more than five million appointments made through the national booking service within 72 hours.

    The data comes as the NHS is asking people aged 50 and over, as well as those who are clinically vulnerable, to bring forward their second Covid-19 vaccination to help combat the spread of the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

  • Katie Davis

    TWO COVID DEATHS LINKED TO INDIAN VARIANT AFTER BOTH JABS

    New figures have revealed that only two people have died after contracting the Indian Covid variant after being fully vaccinated. 

    Public Health England analysis has shown that only three per cent of people who caught the mutant strain already had both jabs – raising hopes that “freedom day” is on track. 

    Of 5,559 people only 177 caught the mutant strain when they had both jabs, with 3,400 having not been given their first dose. 

    The data shows that of the 12 people who died after catching the strain in England by May 25, eight were unvaccinated, two had a first dose and two had received both doses. 

  • Katie Davis

    BRITS BANNED FROM ENTERING FRANCE

    Brits have been banned from entering France unless they can prove they have a “compelling reason,” from Monday.

    The country’s foreign ministry said France is re-introducing strict rules on arrivals from the UK who are not French residents in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially the Indian variant.

    While the ministry did not specify what would count as a “compelling reason”, the French government had previously said that family, health or professional reasons could be acceptable, reports France24.

    Back in March, France had relaxed the rules for Brits and other EU citizens.

    But starting Monday “compelling reasons will be required for non-EU foreigners who are not residents in France and who come to France from the United Kingdom”, the ministry said in a statement. However, the ministry added that there would be “no systematic checks” to ensure compliance with the requirement, “given the low incidence of Covid in Britain”.

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