Covid news live: UK ‘will suffer third wave this summer’


UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Britain will experience a third wave of Covid-19 this summer as lockdown is relaxed, a leading scientist advising the government has warned.

Adam Finn, a paediatrician and vaccines expert from the University of Bristol, said Boris Johnson was right to warn yesterday the country must be ready for another rise in cases of coronavirus.

“The models that we’ve seen on JCVI clearly point to a summer surge in cases as the lockdown is relaxed, because there are still many people in the adult population who’ve not been immunised and who will therefore start to transmit the infection between each other,” he told BBC Breakfast.

There remained lots of uncertainty over what kind of spike would occur, because it was unclear how many people would be vaccinated by that point, but it was wrong to believe the pandemic was drawing to a close, he said.

In Germany, MPs are voting on Angela Merkel’s proposed ‘emergency brake’ law which would create a nationwide lockdown protocol for the first time.

Protesters have gathered outside the country’s parliament building in Berlin to oppose the law, with thousands of demonstrators facing off against a heavy police presence.

Currently, Germany’s 16 states have each handled restrictions independently and some have refused to impose tougher lockdowns even as cases soared.

In response, Ms Merkel has proposed creating a nationwide federal law which would kick in when a region tops 100 new cases per 100,000 residents. The restrictions would include a nighttime curfew, limiting personal contact, and closing some kinds of businesses and venues.

Earlier, Air India announced it was cancelling all its flights between the UK and India as the country battles a devastating spike in Covid cases. On Wednesday, India reported more than 295,000 new Covid-19 cases as its daily death toll climbed over 2,000 for the first time since the pandemic began.

Follow the latest updates below


New guidance to ensure pregnant women do not have to attend appointments alone

NHS England has issued new guidance to ensure pregnant women do not have to attend appointments alone during the pandemic.

The guidance for trusts includes testing pregnant women and their partners for coronavirus ahead of scans, foetal medicine appointments and births to ensure they can safely attend together.

It also recommends hospitals in England assess their maternity services to identify whether there is an elevated risk of Covid-19 transmission if partners are present.

A friend or relative has been allowed to accompany pregnant women on maternity wards for some time, but coronavirus restrictions meant some have had to be undertaken alone.

The Royal College of Midwives’ chief executive Gill Walton welcomed the new guidance on Wednesday as it should allow pregnant women to be accompanied at all stages of their maternity care.

“Midwives really want women to have that all-important support of a partner, friend or relative during their pregnancy journey, particularly at scan appointments, during birth and labour,” Ms Walton said.

“Unfortunately, it has been necessary over the past year to place some restrictions on this to help stop the spread of the virus.

“At the time maternity services did not make these decisions lightly, but now as we move towards the easing of restrictions, with more people vaccinated maternity services are beginning to slowly return to normal.”

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 20:55


PM hails ‘significant milestone’ as 1 in 5 adults receive two vaccine doses

Boris Johnson has hailed a “significant milestone” after it was confirmed that 1 in 5 adults in the UK had now received their second Covid-19 vaccine dose.

Nearly 11 million second jabs have been given out in the UK so far, as of Wednesday.

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 20:44


Spain to begin using Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, minister says

Spanish regions are likely to begin using Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to inoculate 70 to 79-year-olds on Thursday, the country’s health minister has said.

“Regions will surely start tomorrow because they want to increase the pace of vaccination,” Carolina Darias told a news briefing.

An initial shipment of 146,000 doses of the single-shot drug landed in Spain last week but they were impounded in a warehouse on arrival over concerns about the possibility that the vaccine could cause a rare type of clotting disorder.

Spanish health authorities had been waiting for updated guidance from Europe’s EMA drug regulator – which said on Tuesday that the benefits of jab outweighed any risks.

However, a warning about unusual blood clots with low platelets must be added to the vaccine’s labels.

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 20:25


Spain to offer ‘up to 10 per cent’ of its Covid vaccines to Latin America and Caribbean

Spain will offer between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of its Covid-19 vaccine shots to Latin American and Caribbean countries this year, the country’s prime minister has said.

“Spain will launch this commitment as soon as it reaches the mark of 50 per cent of the Spanish population vaccinated,” Pedro Sanchez told the Ibero-American summit in Andorra.

He added that he expected Latin American nations to receive 7.5 million doses by the end of the year.

Mr Sanchez’s country aims to have half its population of 47 million fully-inoculated by the end of July – although only about 7.6 per cent have received their two doses so far.

Spain is entitled to over 93 million vaccine doses this year under an EU-coordinated purchasing scheme, mostly for double-dose inoculation, leaving it with millions of extra shots.

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 20:00


US may soon reach Covid vaccine ‘tipping point’ as demand decreases, report says

The US may soon reach a tipping point for its Covid-19 vaccination programme where the supply of shots far exceeds demand in the next 15 days.

“While timing may differ by state, we estimate that across the US as a whole we will likely reach a tipping point on vaccine enthusiasm in the next two to four weeks,” the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a new report.

Our reporter, Danielle Zoellner, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 19:44


Variant outbreaks ‘deeply worrying’, Labour’s shadow home secretary says

Outbreaks of the South African variant of Covid-19 are “deeply worrying” and show the need for a “comprehensive” hotel quarantine system for arrivals to the UK, Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds has said.

The shadow home secretary warned that thousands of people were arriving in the UK each day and not going into mandatory hotel quarantine, putting the promise of greater freedoms through easing lockdown “at real risk”.

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 19:26


Princess Anne opens garden to commemorate loved ones lost to Covid-19

The Princess Royal has opened a garden to commemorate loved ones lost to Covid-19 as part of one of three visits to hospitals in Gloucestershire today.

The Queen’s only daughter spoke to NHS staff about their work during the pandemic at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), Wotton Lawn Hospital, and Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) on Wednesday

At GRH, Anne opened a tribute garden designed by Danny Clarke, known as The Black Gardener, which also marks the contribution of NHS staff and carers.

“It’s incredibly important for families and friends of loved ones lost to Covid-19 to have a space where they can visit and reflect,” Dr Hina Iftikhar, chief registrar at GRH, told PA news agency.

“The pandemic has taken its toll on so many of us and in such different ways. Many of my colleagues both here in our hospitals and in the community have had the most challenging of times. I’m grateful that the Princess Royal recognised this today.”

Conrad Duncan21 April 2021 19:12


New ‘triple mutant’ Covid variant emerges in India as cases soar

India has detected a new ‘triple mutant’ variant of Covid-19 even as it battles to contain one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus.

The country is already facing a huge spurt in Covid-19 cases and many health experts point out the presence of double mutant as the reason.

Mayank Aggarwal has the details

Joe Middleton21 April 2021 18:54


Biden calls on employers to offer paid leave to get vaccinated

President Joe Biden is calling on US employers to offer paid sick leave for people to receive a Covid-19 vaccine to encourage Americans to get their shot.

The administration will propose tax credits for small- and medium-sized businesses for “any time off needed to get vaccinated and for any time it takes to recover” after receiving a shot, the White House said Wednesday.

Joe Middleton21 April 2021 18:27


Influenza drug ‘good contender’ for at-home treatment against Covid-19

An antiviral typically used to treat influenza is a “good contender” for a drug that could be taken at home by people infected with Covid-19, according to a scientist who is trialling the medicine.

Favipiravir, licensed as a flu treatment in Japan since 2014, has already shown potential in reducing lung damage in hospitalised Covid patients and speeding up the time taken to clear the virus from the body, writes The Independent’s science correspondent Samuel Lovett

Joe Middleton21 April 2021 18:04

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