Coronavirus UK news – June 21 total lockdown lift WILL go ahead, Boris Johnson hints, as data shows 'low hospital risk'

THE total lifting of lockdown measures WILL go ahead as planned on June 21, Boris Johnson suggested today.

After studying data on the current rate of coronavirus infections versus hospitalisations and deaths, the Prime Minister today declared he as yet hadn't seen anything to justify delaying the plan.

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.

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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    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.

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    SEEING RED – FOUR MORE COUNTRIES TO JOIN BAN LIST

    Four more countries look set to be added to the red alert holiday list over high infection rates and Covid variant fears.

    British holidaymakers are likely to be banned from flying to Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait, predicts an analyst.

    Robert Boyle, a former BA strategist, said that he had looked at which countries might be added to the red list, based purely on Covid infection rates.

    After delving into the seven-day average reported cases per million, Boyle then drew up a chart of the countries with the highest coronavirus infections.

    He noted that while “most of them are already on the red list, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait are not. So expect those to be added shortly.” All four are currently on the amber list, which Brits also shouldn’t travel to.

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    VIRAL LOAD

    A third wave of Covid-19 could already be underway in the UK as infections continue to rise in some parts of the country, experts have warned.

    The next round of lockdown restrictions are set to be lifted on June 21 but an increase in cases has raised doubts that the relaxation will still go ahead.

    Cases are still rising in areas where the Indian variant is dominant and the North West has seen a rise in infections in areas such as Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale.

    In some areas, surge testing has been rolled out and increased vaccine capacity has also been deployed.

    Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that out of the 380 local areas in the UK 61 per cent recorded a week-on-week rise in Covid-19 case rates as of May 26.

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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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    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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    WATCH: TRICK TO STOP YOUR ARM HURTING AFTER COVID JAB

    Video reveals trick to stop your arm aching after your Covid jab

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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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    ON THE BRINK

    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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    EU PUTS JAPAN ON THEIR GREEN LIST – BUT BRITS ARE STILL BLOCKED

    European Union governments agreed on Wednesday to add Japan to their small list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, while holding off until at least mid-June for British tourists, EU sources said on Tuesday.

    Ambassadors from the EU's 27 countries approved the addition of Japan at a meeting on Wednesday, with the change to take effect in the coming days.

    EU countries are recommended gradually to lift travel restrictions for the current seven countries on the list – Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

    Individual EU countries can still opt to demand a negative Covid-19 test or a period of quarantine.

    The EU last month eased criteria for adding new countries to the list, by changing to 75 from 25 the maximum number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.

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    NEARLY 55m JABS GIVEN BETWEEN DECEMBER & JUNE

    A total of 54,883,579 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and June 1.

    This is according to NHS England data and includes first and second doses, which is a rise of 225,622 on the previous day.

    NHS England said 33,009,444 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 70,948 on the previous day, while 21,874,135 were a second dose, a rise of 154,674.

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    BORDER BONUS FOR BRITS IN AIRPORTS

    Sunseekers returning to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

    Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synced them up with passenger locator forms which carry Covid details.

    Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

    It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

    It will ease pressure on staff.

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    MAJORITY OF SCOTLAND REMAINS IN LEVEL 2

    Covid-19 restrictions will be eased in parts of Scotland on Saturday, but much of the country will retain tougher measures due to spikes in cases of the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

    She said parts of Scotland could move from Level 2 to Level 1 of the five tiers of restrictions, which run from 0-4.

    But Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire areas, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling will remain in Level 2.

    Glasgow, which was kept in Level 3 when measures eased in the rest of the country on May 17, will move to Level 2 on Saturday, with Ms Sturgeon saying the outbreak there had stabilised with case numbers falling slightly.

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    AYIA SEE YOU THERE

    Cyprus is likely to be added to the green list this week, the country's deputy tourism minister has said.

    The UK government is expected to add more countries to the list on Thursday, allowing Brits head to more destinations abroad from June 7.

    Brits heading to green list destinations, which currently only includes 12 countries including Portugal, do not have to quarantine when returning to the UK.

    Cyprus' Savvas Perdios told Telegraph Travel: "Cyprus absolutely deserves to be green-listed.

    "We are one of the few countries in Europe that has been so open to the UK in terms of travelling."

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    PROPORTION OF DEATHS INVOLVING COVID-19 AT LOWEST LEVEL FOR EIGHT MONTHS

    The proportion of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales is at its lowest level for more than eight months, figures show.

    There were 9,860 deaths from all causes registered in the week ending May 21, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    Of these, 1.1% (107 deaths) had "novel coronavirus" mentioned on the death certificate.

    The last time the proportion was so low was in the week ending September 11, when the virus accounted for 1% of deaths.

    At the peak of the second wave, in the week ending January 29, Covid-19 accounted for 45.7% of registered deaths.

    The latest figure is the lowest number of deaths involving coronavirus since the week ending September 11, and a fall of 29% from the previous week.

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    HELP VACCINATE THE WORLD OR IT WILL COME BACK TO 'BITE US'

    The UK could be "slammed" by new coronavirus variants unless more is done to help poorer nations vaccinate their populations, an expert has warned.

    Although vaccines have been effective against the Delta variant first identified in India, protection against future variants is "not guaranteed forever", Professor Sir John Bell said.

    As the disease rages in other parts of the world, new variants could emerge which will come back to "bite us", the regius professor of medicine at Oxford University warned.

    He said that if the UK "scampers down the rabbit hole" every time a new variant emerges the nation will be "huddled away" for a long time.

    The comments came as academics debate whether the final easing of restrictions in England should proceed on June 21.

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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.

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    DVLA WORKERS ON COVID STRIKE

    Hundreds of workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have launched fresh industrial action in a long-running dispute over Covid-related safety.

    Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the DVLA site in Swansea went on strike on Wednesday until Saturday.

    The union warned it was entering a new phase of “sustained and targeted” industrial unrest for months to come.

    The latest strike is the third time staff have walked out over demands for more safety measures.

    The DVLA insists it has done everything possible to keep workers safe and has followed official guidelines.

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    BORDER BONUS FOR BRITS IN AIRPORTS

    Sunseekers returning to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

    Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synced them up with passenger locator forms which carry Covid details.

    Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

    It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

    It will ease pressure on staff.

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    SEEING RED – FOUR MORE COUNTRIES TO JOIN BAN LIST

    Four more countries look set to be added to the red alert holiday list over high infection rates and Covid variant fears.

    British holidaymakers are likely to be banned from flying to Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait, predicts an analyst.

    Robert Boyle, a former BA strategist, said that he had looked at which countries might be added to the red list, based purely on Covid infection rates.

    After delving into the seven-day average reported cases per million, Boyle then drew up a chart of the countries with the highest coronavirus infections.

    He noted that while “most of them are already on the red list, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait are not. So expect those to be added shortly.” All four are currently on the amber list, which Brits also shouldn’t travel to.

  • [email protected]

    VIRAL LOAD

    A third wave of Covid-19 could already be underway in the UK as infections continue to rise in some parts of the country, experts have warned.

    The next round of lockdown restrictions are set to be lifted on June 21 but an increase in cases has raised doubts that the relaxation will still go ahead.

    Cases are still rising in areas where the Indian variant is dominant and the North West has seen a rise in infections in areas such as Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale.

    In some areas, surge testing has been rolled out and increased vaccine capacity has also been deployed.

    Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that out of the 380 local areas in the UK 61 per cent recorded a week-on-week rise in Covid-19 case rates as of May 26.

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    VIETNAM FIGHTING DANGEROUS NEW COVID VARIANT

    Vietnam fighting ‘very dangerous’ new hybrid Covid variant that could be fuelling worst outbreak so far

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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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    DVLA WORKERS ON COVID STRIKE

    Hundreds of workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have launched fresh industrial action in a long-running dispute over Covid-related safety.

    Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the DVLA site in Swansea went on strike on Wednesday until Saturday.

    The union warned it was entering a new phase of “sustained and targeted” industrial unrest for months to come.

    The latest strike is the third time staff have walked out over demands for more safety measures.

    The DVLA insists it has done everything possible to keep workers safe and has followed official guidelines.

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    GET JABBED OR GET OUT

    A private Hong Kong sports club has instructed all staff to get vaccinated for Covid-19 by the end of June or be denied future bonuses, promotions and pay rises.

    The request, an example of the rising pressure on residents in the Asian financial hub to get jabbed, comes days after the city’s government launched a broad campaign to incentivise its 7.5 million population to get vaccinated.

    The Chinese special administrative region started its Covid-19 vaccination program in February but only around 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

    In an internal memo sent by the Hong Kong Football Club, General Manager Mark Pawley said staff who take the vaccine by the end of June will receive HK$2000 ($258) and days off in lieu for each jab they take. Those who do not will be denied future pay rises and bonuses.

    The Football Club denied comment on the issue.

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