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Coronavirus UK news – Jabs minister urges ‘caution’ over June 21 reopening as Indian Covid variant cases spike

VACCINES minister Nadhim Zahawi warned “we have to be cautious” about reopening on June 21 because of the growing Indian Covid variant infection rate.

The Government will wait for the latest data on June 14 before deciding whether to proceed with lifting England’s lockdown the following week.

Mr Zahawi said that as the virus becomes endemic “we’re going to have to live with a certain amount of Covid being transmitted”.

Pressed on whether there could be a partial lifting of restrictions, with mask-wearing and working from home continuing, Mr Zahawi said: “We need to look at the data.”

The latest official figures showed that as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 3,240 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

Between May 24 and 30 there were 60 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, an increase of 42.9 per cent compared to the previous seven days.

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…

  • CHINA’S ‘COVID COVER-UP’

    It is crucial that the West gets to the bottom of China’s Covid cover-up, urges the Sun on Sunday.

    It adds: “Explosive new evidence suggests the virus was created in a lab and researchers used science to hide their tracks.

    “The toothless World Health Organisation was led on a merry dance by the Communist regime and came away with nothing from its Wuhan investigation.

    “But these highly disturbing new findings have emerged just as American President Joe Biden has ordered a fresh probe. Western experts are increasingly suspicious that Covid escaped from the lab in what would be one of history’s most terrible scientific blunders.

    “But it would be far worse if the Chinese deliberately deceived the world by manipulating the bug to conceal its origins. If proven, that would be an outrageous crime against humanity. More than 3million have died in the pandemic and economies destroyed.”

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

    Nadhim Zahawi says 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.”

  • 50 PER CENT OF BRITS DON’T SUPPORT JUNE 21 RESTRICTION LIFTING

    Nearly 50 per cent of Brits don’t want all Covid restrictions lifted on June 21, according to a poll.

    The survey for i news by Redfield and Wilton Strategies found:

    • 49% are against plans to fully reopen the country on June 21
    • 34% in favour of step four of the roadmap to remove all legal limits on social contact and an end to working from home on June 21
    • 55% will continue wearing a mask outside home even after all Covid restrictions are lifted
  • JAB JOY FOR THE UK AS NEARLY 50 PER CENT FULLY VACCINATED

    Almost half of all adults will be fully vaccinated with both doses of their Covid jab by the end of next week.

    Official data from Public Health England showed yesterday that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot and 24,892,416 have had the second in Britain’s tremendous vaccine rollout.

    Back in March, Matt Hancock confirmed that half of the UK’s adult population had received a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

    But we’re now fast approaching the new milestone – with nearly 50 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated after receiving two shots, up to 12 weeks apart.

    With 24,892,416 people protected from the virus with their second jab, around two million more need to be dished out to reach the 50 per cent mark.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • WORKING FROM HOME DURING PANDEMIC ‘DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD’

    Working at home can be ‘a double-edged sword’, according to latest research by academics at the Universities of Leicester and Exeter.

    While working from home enabled staff to remain more focused and enjoy greater ‘peace and quiet’, the blurred boundaries between home and work contributed to increased levels of anxiety, with more than 50 per cent of homeworkers typically reporting symptoms in any one week.

    In a survey involving more than 850 members of staff at the Universities of Leicester and Exeter, employees were more likely to feel anxious if they were feeling isolated, unable to detach themselves from their work, or had to make large adjustments from their normal working arrangements.

    The study revealed that while 80 per cent of staff reported a high level of satisfaction with homeworking in October 2020, this had dropped to 70 per cent by February 2021.

    Prof Stephen Wood, Professor of Management at Leicester, said: “There are many obvious benefits of homeworking, such as enjoying the peace and quiet of home and being able to think on your own, but there are downsides – it can be a double-edged sword.”

  • LATEST COVID STATS FOR SUNDAY, MAY 30

    • A further six people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 127,781.
    • Between May 24 and 30 there were 60 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, an increase of 42.9% compared to the previous seven days.
    • As of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 3,240 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
    • The number of cases between May 24 and May 30 – 22,474 – was 26.8% higher than the previous seven days.
    • Some 39,259,168 people had received a first dose by Saturday – up 190,822 on the day before – while 25,332,851 of them had been given both shots, an increase of 440,435.
  • DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE ‘HUGELY GRATEFUL TO NHS’ AFTER COVID JAB

    Kate Middleton praised the NHS as she received her first dose of the Covid vaccine just days after Prince William was jabbed.

    The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, posed for a photo at the Science Museum in London.

    Kate looked casual in a white t-shirt and light blue jeans as the needle was administered.

    In an official tweet, she said: “Yesterday I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at London’s Science Museum.

    “I’m hugely grateful to everyone who is playing a part in the rollout – thank you for everything you are doing.”

  • MINISTER PROMISES CAUTIOUS APPROACH AMID WARNINGS OVER JUNE 21 LOCKDOWN LIFTING

    Ministers will be cautious when deciding whether to ease lockdown on June 21, with hospitals already under pressure and health experts warning against “charging ahead”.

    The continued spread of the Indian coronavirus variant has cast doubt on the ability to scrap restrictions, with ministers considering plans to keep some measures – such as the continued use of face masks and guidance on working from home – in place.

    Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the vaccine programme aimed to offer a second dose to all over-50s by June 21, but he told Times Radio “I could do with more supply” because “I will be able to protect more people more rapidly”.

    Asked whether the remaining restrictions could be eased if cases were still increasing, he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “We have to be cautious. We have to look at the data and share it with the country. Are we still vaccinating at scale? Big tick. Are the vaccines working? Yes.

    “But are infection rates too high for us to then not be able to proceed because there are too many people getting into hospital? I don’t know the answer to it. But we will know it on, hopefully on the 14th, a few more weeks.”

  • NEW COVID HOTSPOT

    Blackburn has overtaken Bolton as England’s Covid hotspot – after both areas were badly hit by the Indian mutation.

    A total of 584 confirmed cases were recorded in Blackburn in the seven days to May 26, Public Health England said.

    It’s the equivalent of 390.1 cases per 100,000 people – meaning the Lancashire town has overtaken Bolton, where cases are finally beginning to drop and 386.7 cases per 100,000 have been recorded.

  • STEP FOUR OUT OF LOCKDOWN ‘LIKELY TO BE DELAYED’

    One source involved in assessing emerging Covid figures for the Government told the Sunday Times: “If I were to call it now, I’d say step four is highly likely to be delayed.”

    Elsewhere, officials are understood to be committed to ending social distancing and the ‘one metre-plus’ rule on June 21.

    However, some restrictions – including the use of masks when walking around in places like restaurants and pubs – are set to stay in place.

    And a full return to the office looks likely to be delayed. Scientists advising the Government say life cannot yet go back to normal.

    Professor Stephen Reicher, who advises on behavioural science for Sage, said: “The data we are seeing at the moment suggests we have a problem. We don’t know how big the problem is – it might be bad, it might be very bad, we will learn in the next week or two.”

  • JUNE 21 UNLOCKING ‘TOO EARLY’ – EXPERTS

    Health experts have warned that the June 21 unlocking is still “too early” – even though 95 per cent of over-65s now have coronavirus antibodies and cases are 95.5 per cent below the peak in January.

    Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told Sky: “I really think that it is too early to be charging ahead. I would like to see several more weeks’ data.”

    She said the planned date is “very ambitious”, and that “June 21 is very soon and I think to avoid more preventable deaths we really need to be cautious at the current time”.

    Meanwhile, Mr Zahawi told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We have to be cautious.”

    “Are we still vaccinating at scale? Big tick. Are the vaccines working? Yes. But are infection rates too high for us to then not be able to proceed because there are too many people getting into hospital? I don’t know the answer to it,” he said.

  • OVER 530,000 MORE COVID JABS CARRIED OUT IN ENGLAND ON SATURDAY

    A further 537,000 vaccinations were carried out in England yesterday.

    Ministers are reportedly preparing to row back on ‘freedom day’ next month, with face masks and the work from home order set to stay in place for weeks to come.

    Brits will be told of the decision on June 14, Vaccines Minister Nsdhim Zahawi confirmed today. Meanwhile, NHS chiefs have warned that hospitals are under “worrying” pressure.

    There’s uncertainty over the transmissibility of the Indian variant – and it’s believed hospitalisations are starting to rise again, although they remain well below the peak in January.

    Between May 19 and 25, 870 people went into hospital with coronavirus, an increase of 23.2 per cent compared with the previous seven days. In Bolton, currently England’s worst-affected area, 41 Covid patients were in hospital on May 25. Eight of them were on ventilators.

  • COVID CASES RISE BY 40 PER CENT

    The number of people testing positive for Covid has risen by almost 40 per cent in just a week, with another 3,240 infections reported today.

    The troubling news comes as Boris Johnson mulls over a decision on whether he can lift all restrictions on June 21 amid the spread of the Indian mutation.

    Deaths currently remain low, with six fatalities reported today.

    It’s hoped the low toll means the UK’s jabs rollout has severed the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths – despite the super-infectious new variant taking hold.

  • PROTESTS IN BRUSSELS

    Thousands of protesters angry at pandemic-related restrictions marched to European Union headquarters in Brussels and had minor tussles with police over their unauthorised gathering.

    They assembled in a Brussels park on Saturday for a party designed to flout Belgium’s Covid-19 rules and call for Europeans to claim back their freedom.

    Participants then marched to the district of the Belgian capital that houses key EU buildings.

    Police officers blocked them and dispersed the marchers by early Saturday evening.

    Earlier Saturday, about 1,000 health care workers demonstrated at an authorised protest in Brussels to demand more financial support and hospital staff after a coronavirus-dominated year.

  • PM TO DECIDE ON JUNE 21 RESTRICTIONS LIFTING

    Boris Johnson is expected to make a decision on which Covid restrictions can be lifted within the next fortnight.

    Sources told i news that the planned June 21 reopening is on a “knife edge”.

    Covid jab centres have been advised to be ‘pragmatic’ about contacting Brits for a second jab much sooner than the previously recommended guidance.

  • GERMANY INVESTIGATES ‘ILLEGAL BILLING’ FOR COVID TESTS

    The German government is following up on media reports that coronavirus test centres across the country have overcharged authorities for the number of tests taken.

    Germans are allowed one free citizen’s test per week to check if they are negative for coronavirus. They can use the result to be able to dine at outside restaurants, go shopping or visit cultural institutions.

    In recent weeks, thousands of antigen tests centers for have popped up everywhere in cities and towns in empty store fronts, closed dance clubs or community centers. Several media have reported that operators are illegally billing for more tests than they actually take.

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted that anybody who uses the pandemic to enrich himself should be ashamed.

    He noted that prosecutors in the western city of Bochum were investigating some suspected cases of fraud, but said that most providers were doing a professional job.

  • TENS OF THOUSANDS FLEW INTO THE UK FROM INDIA IN APRIL

    The UK welcomed tens of thousands of people who flew in from India in April – it was put on the red travel list the same month.

    The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released updated figures which show that 42,406 passengers travelled between the UK and India.

    Unfortunately it didn’t give details of how many flew each way.

    Those returning from red list countries have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days upon returning to the UK.

  • COVID-STRICKEN MOUNTAINEERS CONQUER EVEREST

    Two mountaineers have tackled Mount Everest despite being sick with the coronavirus.

    Icelandic climbers Sigurdur Sveinsson and Heimir Hallgrimsson realised they were sick at about 7,000m (23,000ft).

    They were coughing excessively at that stage.

    But they reached the top, and returned to base camp, where they tested positive for Covid. They had tested negative before climbing.

  • NUMBER OF COVID DEATHS CONTINUE TO FALL IN THE UK

    The UK’s successful jab rollout is believed to be responsible for the recent low death tallies – despite rising cases of the Indian mutation.

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

    Of 5,599 people who went to A&E with severe symptoms from the strain, 177 had received both doses, while 3,400 had not yet had their first jab.

    By May 25, 12 people had died of the variant. Eight were unvaccinated, two had a first dose, and two had both doses.

    More than half of all people in their 30s have been inoculated in just over a fortnight since the eligibility opened up for the age group.

  • JAB JOY FOR THE UK AS NEARLY 50 PER CENT FULLY VACCINATED

    Almost half of all adults will be fully vaccinated with both doses of their Covid jab by the end of next week.

    Official data from Public Health England showed yesterday that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot and 24,892,416 have had the second in Britain’s tremendous vaccine rollout.

    Back in March, Matt Hancock confirmed that half of the UK’s adult population had received a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

    But we’re now fast approaching the new milestone – with nearly 50 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated after receiving two shots, up to 12 weeks apart.

    With 24,892,416 people protected from the virus with their second jab, around two million more need to be dished out to reach the 50 per cent mark.

  • CHINA’S ‘COVID COVER-UP’

    It is crucial that the West gets to the bottom of China’s Covid cover-up, urges the Sun on Sunday.

    It adds: “Explosive new evidence suggests the virus was created in a lab and researchers used science to hide their tracks.

    “The toothless World Health Organisation was led on a merry dance by the Communist regime and came away with nothing from its Wuhan investigation.

    “But these highly disturbing new findings have emerged just as American President Joe Biden has ordered a fresh probe. Western experts are increasingly suspicious that Covid escaped from the lab in what would be one of history’s most terrible scientific blunders.

    “But it would be far worse if the Chinese deliberately deceived the world by manipulating the bug to conceal its origins. If proven, that would be an outrageous crime against humanity. More than 3million have died in the pandemic and economies destroyed.”

  • 50 PER CENT OF BRITS DON’T SUPPORT JUNE 21 RESTRICTION LIFTING

    Nearly 50 per cent of Brits don’t want all Covid restrictions lifted on June 21, according to a poll.

    The survey for i news by Redfield and Wilton Strategies found:

    • 49% are against plans to fully reopen the country on June 21
    • 34% in favour of step four of the roadmap to remove all legal limits on social contact and an end to working from home on June 21
    • 55% will continue wearing a mask outside home even after all Covid restrictions are lifted

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