Coronavirus latest news: England’s Covid cases rise by three-quarters in a week, ONS figures show

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The number of people in England with Covid-19 has increased by around three quarters in a week, figures suggest.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that 85,600 people in England had the virus in the week to May 29 - around one in 640 people in private households.

This is the highest level since the week to April 16 and has increased from 48,500 people - one in 1,120 people in private households - from the week ending May 22.

The north-west continues to have the highest proportion of people testing positive, of around one in 280 people, while south-east England has the lowest rate of positive tests.

Figures are however still lower than they were earlier this year, with the ONS estimating that 1,122,000 people had Covid-19 in the first week of January.

It comes as the Pfizer jab was approved by the UK regulator earlier for 12-to 15-year-olds. People over 30 are currently being invited to receive the jab, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation yet to announce when the rollout will be extended to the next round of adults and under-16s.

Speaking at the G7 summit of world leaders in Oxford, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that vaccinating children in the UK to prevent them from passing on the virus was a priority.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:54 PM

Surge testing rolled out in Bradford, Canterbury and Maidstone

NHS Test and Trace – in partnership with local authorities – has this week launched additional testing and genomic sequencing in Bradford, Canterbury and Maidstone.

Additional testing is being offered in the CT1 and CT2 postcodes in Canterbury, the ME14 1 postcode in Maidstone and targeted areas within Bradford.

This surge testing is being deployed following the identification of a small number of confirmed cases of the Indian, or Delta, variant, B1.617.2. All the confirmed cases have been instructed to self-isolate and their contacts have been identified.

Everyone who lives or works in these areas, including children aged 12 and over in Canterbury and Maidstone, and 11 and over in Bradford, is being strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms or not. Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern (VOC).

05:37 PM

Putin primes Russia for 'vaccine tourism'

Vladimir Putin has told officials to prepare to open Russia for 'vaccine tourism', where foreigners can pay for the Sputnik V jab to protect against Covid-19.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a video conference meeting during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 4 2021 - Mikhail Metzel/Shutterstock
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a video conference meeting during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 4 2021 - Mikhail Metzel/Shutterstock

The president also claimed that some countries were avoiding the Russian-made jabs for "political reasons."

Speaking at the annual economic conference in St Petersburg, Putin said: "Taking into account the efficiency of our vaccines, I know that [foreign] demand is pretty high."

Kirill Dmitriyev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which finances the vaccine, said at the forum that Russia could become open for 'vaccine tourism' from July.

05:32 PM

China confirms new Covid cases

Mainland China has confirmed nine new symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in southern Guangdong. This is the only area where the country currently has an outbreak, with 113 people in hospital.

Currently, communities in two cities have local lockdown measures in place: Guangzhou and Foshan.

In the last 24 hours, national media have reported that mutant virus strains of the virus have been identified in Guangzhou. An extra 140,000 people have been ordered into lockdown, and a mass testing drive will take place in parts of the city between now and Sunday.

05:23 PM

Demand for staff soars - but companies are struggling to fill positions, says study

A lack of trained workers could slow down the UK's recovery from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, recruitment experts have warned.

Companies are struggling to fill positions, after demand for new workers soared in May at its fastest rate since January 1998, as large parts of the economy started to reopen after months spent in lockdown.

New figures from KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) showed that employers are looking for both permanent and temporary staff, but many are struggling to find enough people.

"With demand spiking, the skills and labour shortages that already existed in the UK have come into sharper focus - and Covid has only made them worse," said REC deputy chief executive Kate Shoesmith.

"This is the most pressing issue in the jobs market right now, and has the potential to slow down the recovery."

05:16 PM

June 21 unlocking could be in jeopardy, says academic

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel, said the scrapping of all restrictions on June 21 could be in jeopardy if ministers become "concerned" about rising hospital admissions and deaths as a result of the Indian variant.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's PM programme, the University of Warwick academic said: "We do need probably a little bit more time to fully establish how we think the virus is growing, but certainly the number of cases are growing, I think that is very clear.

"And of course that does raise certain concerns regarding what might happen in the coming weeks, particularly if we are looking forward to further relaxation measures in a couple of weeks' time."

Asked for his own view on what the current data meant for unlocking in little over a fortnight, Dr Tildesley said: "I think the data is certainly pointing towards the fact we are going to see cases rise over the coming weeks.

"I think we may well see hospital admissions and deaths also rise over the coming weeks, but I think where the bigger uncertainty is, and this is really where the key decision is for the Government, is how much those hospital admissions and deaths may rise.

"I don't believe they will rise to the same scale they did in January, but what are the Government going to consider is a rise they are then concerned about and that may then jeopardise the reopening on June 21?"

05:07 PM

Inside India’s ‘black fungus’ wards

The ‘black fungus’ killing hundreds across India could be related to the country’s highly infectious coronavirus variant, rather than overuse of steroids, Indian specialists believe.

Patients in the Mucormycosis Ward at Mumbai's JJ Hospital - Simon Townsley/Simon Townsley
Patients in the Mucormycosis Ward at Mumbai's JJ Hospital - Simon Townsley/Simon Townsley

It is thought that the new strain, known as “Delta” or B.1.617, is causing unprecedented damage to the pancreas of otherwise healthy people, triggering sudden onset diabetes and soaring blood glucose levels. This allows the deadly flesh eating fungus to thrive.

Over the last week, the Telegraph visited ten hospitals across the western Indian state of Maharashtra, where doctors are treating thousands of patients struck down by the devastating “black fungus”.

Called mucormycosis, the condition is a fast-moving, aggressive infection that attacks a person’s sinuses, lungs and brain and is deadly if not treated.

05:00 PM

Covid memorial trees planted in Oxford

Health ministers from around the world came together for a tree-planting ceremony to remember those who have tragically lost their lives to Covid-19, marking the conclusion of the G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting in Oxford today.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock, alongside other health leaders and a local Chief Nurse, planted ten Japanese cherry (Sakura) blossom trees – one for each representative of the G7, as well as for the World Health Organisation and global healthcare staff - at the Oxford Botanic Gardens this afternoon.

“As I work with my G7 colleagues to better prepare us all for future health threats, we must never forget the sorrow and heartbreak felt across the UK and around the world as a result of Covid-19.

“Oxford has played a central role in showing us the road out of the pandemic and their Botanic Gardens now have a fitting tribute for people to be able to reflect and remember those that have been lost," said Mr Hancock.

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who administered the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to a patient on January 4, said: “It is a great honour to be asked to plant a tree to remember all the dedicated nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals who have cared for people with Covid-19 – including those who have lost their lives during the pandemic."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock plants a tree during a memorial tree planting ceremony at Oxford Botanic Gardens, following the G7 Health Ministers Meeting on June 4 2021 - Steve Parsons/AFP
Health Secretary Matt Hancock plants a tree during a memorial tree planting ceremony at Oxford Botanic Gardens, following the G7 Health Ministers Meeting on June 4 2021 - Steve Parsons/AFP

04:36 PM

UK will give to Covax scheme when 'excess doses' are available, says Hancock

Asked if the UK was likely to pledge to give vaccine doses to the Covax scheme, which is distributing jabs to low and middle income countries, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters he would do so when "excess doses" were available.

"When we have excess doses that we don't need here in this country, then absolutely, we'll be looking to how they can be best deployed around the world," the Cabinet minister said.

"But as I said, at the moment we don't have any excess doses, we're just getting them into arms as quickly as possible."

04:33 PM

Social distancing, home working and masks could remain past June 21

Social distancing in hospitality venues, working from home and masks on public transport could all remain in place after June 21, under plans being considered to revise the roadmap out of lockdown.

According to senior Government advisers, the current thinking in No 10 is that many restrictions will have to remain in place after the so-called “Freedom Day” to avoid another full lockdown in autumn. It means the full lifting of lockdown restrictions are likely to be delayed for “a few weeks” due to concerns over new variants of Covid-19 and increased pressure on the NHS.

A Government source told the i newspaper: “The current thinking is it would be irresponsible to risk another full lockdown in the autumn by opening up too fast on 21 June.

“While many businesses would have been hoping to operate at full capacity in a few weeks’ time it is better that they can operate at reduced capacity rather than being shut down completely again if we hit another peak,” they added.

04:14 PM

Scotland's longest Covid ICU patient discharged

Neil McLaughlin with medical staff at University Hospital Hairmyres, East Kilbride, after being discharged from hospital having recovered from Covid-19 - Jane Barlow/PA
Neil McLaughlin with medical staff at University Hospital Hairmyres, East Kilbride, after being discharged from hospital having recovered from Covid-19 - Jane Barlow/PA

Neil McLaughlin was admitted to University Hospital Hairmyres, East Kilbride, on November 21 2020, after contracting Covid-19.

Mr McLaughlin spent a total of 167 days in ICU before eventually being discharged to the medical wards, and was finally released from hospital today.

04:08 PM

'Tough' international travel rules were needed to protect vaccine rollout success, says Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said "tough" rules were needed on international travel in order to protect the progress made by the vaccine programme.

Mr Hancock, asked by reporters on Friday whether Britons were being asked to sacrifice a holiday abroad in exchange for greater freedoms at home, said: "Ultimately we are very cautious on international travel because we want to protect the success and the progress that we've made.

"We've opened up domestically and been able to do that without seeing an increase in the number of hospitalisations.

"And that is partly because we are tough on international travel.

"We have the green list there for countries where it is safe to go to but we've always said that we're willing to act to take countries off that green list if we need to.

"It doesn't give me any pleasure that we've had to do that with Portugal but it is so important for protecting the vaccine rollout here at home."

04:06 PM

Government 'always expected cases to rise' as lockdown eased, says Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government "always expected cases to rise" as lockdown was eased, and told reporters that the data being watched "very carefully" is the number of people being admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms.

Asked whether data in relation to the Indian mutation, also known as the Delta variant, was "going in the wrong direction", Mr Hancock said: "We publish all the information we have about the new variants, including the Delta variant, and we take this approach of full transparency.

"The data on the impact on hospitalisations are very early data, so we can't yet conclude with any confidence that there's an impact on your risk of hospitalisation.

"But of course, we publish the early data and we watch it very carefully.

"Now, we always expected cases to rise as the country was opened up, the critical thing is the impact on the number of people who end up in hospital for any given number of cases.

"That link has been broken by the vaccine, but it hasn't been completely severed yet.

"That's one of the things that we're watching very carefully, and it's too early to say what the decision will be ahead of June 21, but we'll make sure people know in good time."

04:00 PM

Vaccines should be rolled out to hotspot teens as soon as possible, says health boss

Covid-19 vaccines need to be rolled out to teenagers in areas with high transmission rates as soon as possible, the director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen has said.

Use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12-15 was approved for the UK on Friday, having already been given the green light for people aged 16 and over.

Dominic Harrison, the director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen, which currently has the highest case rate in England, said the announcement was "great news".

Writing on Twitter, he said: "We need to mobilise roll out of this to areas of high variant surges and high and enduring transmission ASAP. This will reduce UK's rising risk from the Delta variant."

"What we need now is to accelerate first and second dose vaccine coverage across Pennine Lancashire to 90% coverage as fast as possible, and to vaccinate 12 to 18-year-olds as soon as it is judged safe and effective."

03:58 PM

Lioness dies from Covid at Indian zoo

A nine-year old Asiatic lion has died from Covid-19 in a state-run zoo on the outskirts of the south Indian city of Chennai, Reuters reports.

There have been various coronavirus cases in animals, including two white tiger cubs thought to have died of Covid-19 in neighbouring Pakistan and lions also testing positive in Spain and two other cities in India.

"A 9-year old lioness Neela succumbed to the disease on the evening of 3rd June," said the Arignar Anna zoological park.

The outbreak was first observed on Thursday, with most of the lions being asymptomatic. They were quarantined and given antibiotics.

03:47 PM

Schools in 'precarious situation' over Indian variant, unions warn

The Government has been warned not to "sleepwalk" into further disruption at schools, with the rise in closures caused by the Indian variant prompting school leaders' unions to warn of a "precarious" situation.

The highest rate of new infections is among 10 to 19-year-olds with 72.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 30, up week-on-week from 55.1, Public Health England figures show. There have been 97 confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks in schools in the last four weeks.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders' union NAHT, said: "We have been hearing from our members that more and more schools are having to close multiple classes or 'bubbles', particularly in areas with higher case numbers... We must not sleepwalk into further widespread disruption to education."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), added: "The situation clearly continues to be precarious, and will need to be monitored very carefully after the half-term holiday."

03:39 PM

The global vaccine rollout, in pictures

A Tunisian tourism industry worker receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Tunis on June 4 2021 - Mohamed Messara/Shutterstock
A Tunisian tourism industry worker receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Tunis on June 4 2021 - Mohamed Messara/Shutterstock
Students of the State University of Management fill in documents ahead of receiving Covid-19 vaccines in Moscow - Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS
Students of the State University of Management fill in documents ahead of receiving Covid-19 vaccines in Moscow - Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS
People queue to receive their first shot of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 4 2021 - Fareed Khan/AP
People queue to receive their first shot of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 4 2021 - Fareed Khan/AP

03:27 PM

Protecting the UK is vaccination priority, says Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday that vaccinating children in the UK against Covid-19 would take priority over donating vaccine doses to other countries around the world.

"My first duty as health secretary for the UK is to make sure that the UK is protected and safe, and whilst thankfully children are very rarely badly affected by Covid themselves, they can still pass on the disease," Hancock said.

"Alongside that I'm working with my international colleagues to make sure that people can get access to the vaccine around the world, and in particular of course the Oxford vaccine."

Hancock was speaking after health ministers from the G7 countries met at the University of Oxford.

03:23 PM

Almost 200,000 more people get first vaccine dose in UK

Government data up to June 3 shows that of the 66,749,638 jabs given in the UK so far, 39,949,694 were first doses - a rise of 191,266 on the previous day.

Some 26,799,944 were second doses, an increase of 377,641.

03:08 PM

UK Covid cases rise by 6,238

The UK has reported a rise of 6,238 cases of Covid-19, along with 11 more deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, according to the latest government figures.

Yesterday, 5,274 cases and 18 deaths were reported.

03:03 PM

France to lift self-isolation rule for fully-vaccinated Brits

France will lift its self-isolation rule for fully-vaccinated Britons who arrive in the country from next Wednesday.

UK travellers who have not received both jabs will still be required to self-isolate for seven days after arriving in France and will need to provide reasons for travelling there, as well as showing evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result.

France announced changes to its border rules on Friday, which include waiving the test requirement for vaccinated EU residents. Vaccinated visitors from most of the rest of the world will see quarantine requirements removed, but will still need to show proof of a negative test result. The new measures come into force on June 9.

France remains on the UK’s amber list of destinations to which the Government advises against travel.

02:55 PM

Singapore Grand Prix cancelled

The Singapore Grand Prix has been called off this year, with Formula 1 now assessing its options to replace the race.

Formula 1 and the Singapore authorities agreed it will not be possible to hold the event, which had been scheduled for the weekend of 1-3 October, in the context of immigration restrictions in the city state.

Turkey, China and a second race at Austin in the US are all being considered as replacements.

02:44 PM

G7 countries to work together on vaccine passports

Health ministers from the G7 countries have agreed to work together to develop "mutual recognition of testing and vaccination certificates across countries".

Agreement was reached on vaccine passports following a meeting in Oxford during the G7 conference.

Documents released after the meeting said: "We are committed to work as G7 countries towards a process of mutual acceptance of Covid-19 certificates."

It comes after the NHS app was updated to allow members of the public to view their vaccination status, but also amid reports that vaccine passport plans for large events and gatherings in the UK are being scrapped.

02:35 PM

WHO warns of June-July Covax doses shortfall

The World Health Organisation said on Friday that a shortfall in Covid-19 vaccine doses going through the Covax programme in June and July could undermine the efficiency of the roll-out.

Covax was created to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to low-income countries, and has already delivered more than 80 million doses to 129 territories.

However, that is "about 200 million doses behind where we want to be" said Bruce Aylward, the WHO's Covax frontman.

While the pledges from rich countries to donate 150 million doses through Covax was a "great start", Aylward said there were "two big problems".

"Number one, very little is committed to the June-July period, which means we're going to still have this gap," Aylward said.

"The other problem is just the volume. If we are going to get on track to get at least 30-40 per cent of the world population vaccinated this year we got to get another 250 million people vaccinated between now and the end of September."

02:26 PM

North Wales to surge test after variant cases found

People living in Llandudno, Llandudno Junction and Penrhyn Bay in north Wales are being asked to get tested regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, after 54 "probable or possible" cases of the Indian, or Delta, variant were found in the area.

Richard Firth, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, and chair of the multi-agency incident management team, said: "Although the response from residents has been very positive, there is still more we can do.

"If you live in the area please get a test now, even if your symptoms are mild or if you have no symptoms at all.

"Although the cases we have identified are linked, please remember that the Delta variant is circulating. Please stay at least two metres away from others, wash your hands regularly, and wear a face covering where required.

"Please take up the vaccine when offered, and self-isolate and get a test if you or anyone in your household develop symptoms."

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02:02 PM

G7 health ministers to share data to combat future pandemics

International health ministers have agreed to share life-saving evidence and data to combat future pandemics at the G7 meeting in Oxford.

The health ministers from some of the world's largest democracies have committed to a Therapeutics and Vaccines Clinical Trials Charter, which will allow the quick sharing of results from vaccine and clinical trials.

It is hoped the initiative will help quicken access to approved treatments and vaccines in the future.

G7 health ministers from Italy, Germany, the US, EU, Japan and UK meet in Oxford on June 3 2021 - WPA Pool/Getty Images
G7 health ministers from Italy, Germany, the US, EU, Japan and UK meet in Oxford on June 3 2021 - WPA Pool/Getty Images

01:40 PM

EasyJet to run extra flights to bring Brits back from Portugal

EasyJet said it will operate larger planes and additional flights to bring British holidaymakers back from Portugal before quarantine rules come into force on Tuesday.

More than 1,000 additional seats have been added on routes from Faro to Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Bristol.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: "We know first-hand from our customers what a blow this sudden decision to put Portugal on the amber list is.

"With many British tourists currently in Portugal our priority is to help the customers who need to return ahead of the Tuesday deadline.

"And, for customers who need support with testing requirements, we're working with approved testing partner Collinson to provide support to customers in Portugal who need to arrange new tests."

01:22 PM

Pfizer approval for over-12s "makes my heart sing", says Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon said news that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the over-12s "makes my heart sing".

Scotland's First Minister welcomed the announcement from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that said the jab could be used in the younger age group, following a review of its safety, quality and effectiveness.

Ms Sturgeon did however stress that under-16s are unlikely to start receiving the vaccine any time soon.

Asked about the decision, she welcomed the news and said the Scottish Government would wait for advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) on how to potentially include younger people in the vaccine rollout.

"It is not the case that the MHRA decision this morning means that children in that age group will suddenly start being vaccinated next week or in a few weeks' time, there is work to be done there," she said.

01:12 PM

Stranded in Portugal? Can't book a flight or test? Get in touch:

The Telegraph is looking to speak to Britons stranded abroad in Portugal, who are unable to book a flight before June 8 or unable to book a Covid-19 test in the country.

  • Contact max.stephens@telegraph.co.uk

01:05 PM

Full scale of long Covid exposed as 376,000 Britons suffer lengthy symptoms

The full scale of Britain’s long Covid problem has been exposed by official figures, which reveal 376,000 people are suffering with symptoms more than a year after catching coronavirus.

Numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that, as of May 2, 2021, one million people had symptoms lasting more than four weeks, the threshold for long Covid.

Of the one million people suffering for more than a month with Covid-related health issues, 869,000 had symptoms lasting longer than 12 weeks.

Forty-three per cent of these cases persisted for more than a year, the data shows.

12:42 PM

R number slightly rises in England

The coronavirus reproduction number, or R value, in England is between 1 and 1.2, according to the latest Government figures. Last week, it was between 1 and 1.1.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.

An R number between 1 and 1.2 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people.

However, when case rates are low the R number is thought to be less significant and is only one of several metrics of data, such as vaccinations, infection rates and low hospitalisations.

The R number in England has risen slightly - Rob Pinney/Getty Images
The R number in England has risen slightly - Rob Pinney/Getty Images

12:29 PM

Don't be fooled: Keeping lockdown beyond June 21 comes with consequences

The Prime Minister must not be distracted by Sturgeon's missteps on his way to delivering June 21, writes Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady.

Of course, government should continue to monitor the path of a dangerous virus as the race to vaccinate enters the final straight, but the second crucial factor is that we now know we are dealing with an endemic virus. It will return each year; some strains will be worse than others but there is good reason to believe that that the vaccine boosters will continue to protect in future cycles. We need to find a balanced way to address the risk, recognising that there are massive problems that would be caused by continuing legislative restrictions; none of this is a one-way bet.

12:15 PM

New catch-up funding in autumn 'could be too late to help pupils'

Any measures to help pupils catch up on lost learning could arrive "too late" if the Government delays announcing new funding until autumn, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

A £15 billion education recovery package over three years could be "a terrific investment" if it helps to mitigate the future lost earnings of schoolchildren, the analysis says.

Boris Johnson's school catch-up tsar quit this week with a stinging condemnation of the Government's £1.4 billion recovery fund, watered down from £15bn, for children affected by school closures during the pandemic.

IFS researchers warned: "If new spending is only announced in the autumn, the actual measures could be delayed well into 2022 - potentially too late to effectively make up for lost learning."

"If these losses are not properly addressed, then the long-run costs could easily run into the hundreds of billions as a result of lost skills and productivity," the observation adds.

11:58 AM

Minister promises to get courts 'firing on all cylinders' post-pandemic

Robert Buckland has vowed to get the justice system "firing on all cylinders" and tackle the "historically high" backlog of criminal cases in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech to the Law Society of England and Wales on Friday, the Justice Secretary said that as the country begins to move beyond the crisis: "I want victims and all those who use the justice system to know that I am personally committed to getting justice firing on all cylinders."

He promised the Government would continue to make "big decisions" - like looking at extending court sitting hours - and give the system "all the support it needs to start moving at pace once again".

The crown court backlog stood at around 40,000 in March last year but has been exacerbated by delays and court closures amid the pandemic. Ministry of Justice figures show that towards the end of April this year more than 57,000 crown court cases were outstanding - with some trials now being listed for 2023.

11:46 AM

Portugal removal from green list a 'real kick in the teeth', says tourist

Simon Smith, who is currently in Portugal, said his family has been racing to find Covid tests to get a return flight to the UK on Saturday morning.

The property developer from Stamford, Lincolnshire, who owns a villa in the Lagos area, said he has visited five medical centres and the main hospital to try and get his family tested.

He told the PA news agency he was turned away from one centre after it ran out of testing kits.

Mr Smith, who is abroad with his wife and two children, aged two and four, said: "There were about 35 people in the queue, all British, and they told us, 'the first 15 are okay, but the rest of you might as well go home because we don't have enough tests'.

"There has just been no thought into it at all. I thought with the whole idea of the green list was that they were going to monitor it and give people plenty of time and notice to get flights and sort out problems with testing.

He said the change was a "real kick in the teeth", adding: "It's really safe here in Portugal... On the Algarve, there are very few cases, and all the restaurants and shops take it really seriously."

Holidaymakers have been dealt a major blow with Portugal's removal from the green list - Pedro Nunes/Reuters
Holidaymakers have been dealt a major blow with Portugal's removal from the green list - Pedro Nunes/Reuters

11:27 AM

UK regions see slight uptick in percentage of Covid positive tests

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in north-west England, the East Midlands and south-west England.

There are also signs of a possible increase in the West Midlands and London while the trend is uncertain for other regions, the ONS said.

In many regions positivity rates are very low, meaning trends are difficult to identify since they are affected by small changes in the number of people testing positive from week to week.

North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to May 29: around one in 280. South-east England had the lowest: around one in 1,490.

Around one in 640 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to May 29 - up from one in 1,120 in the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is the highest level since the week to April 16.

11:16 AM

Nepal’s schools turn into medical hubs as Covid sweeps through remote villages

As coronavirus seeps into the most remote Nepalese villages, charity-run schools are racing to plug gaps in healthcare by turning classrooms into isolation centres and training teachers as medical assistants. The virus has already swept through Nepal’s major cities.

The Himalayan nation recorded 164 Covid cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, compared to 99 per 100,000 in neighbouring India, while the UK sits at 32.

Nepal's underdeveloped, unequipped and geographically inaccessible healthcare structure has less than 1,500 intensive care beds and oxygen cylinders, and just 481 ventilators for its 28-million population.

“Nepal had time to prepare for the second wave but we did not, we were unguarded, and hit hard,” says Surya Karki, co-founder of the country’s United World Schools (UWS), a non-profit which runs 45 schools.

“The second wave is much deadlier, it has spread faster, and 10 per cent of all infections are children.”

The country has been locked down since the end of April and in major cities, including capital Kathmandu, cases have recently started to fall. But in remote villages cases are spiralling, says Mr Karki.

10:57 AM

Lord Sumption: ‘I have observed that lockdown scepticism goes with high levels of education’

The anti-lockdown campaigner and loud critic of the Government’s Covid response has talked to Philip Johnston.

Lord Sumption has become the intellectual champion of the anti-lockdowners – one of the few public figures prepared to stick his neck out and articulate a case against the Government’s measures. His stand has drawn criticism from his former colleagues at the Bar and from those who believe the threat from Covid justified the most illiberal measures seen in peacetime. But Sumption, who began his working life as an academic, believes the response has been massively disproportionate and betrays a distinct lack of historical perspective.

10:39 AM

Pfizer jab trial involved more than 2,000 children

More than 2,000 children were involved in the clinical trial to determine the safety of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines said.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed said: "We have been very careful to take into consideration the younger age group and the benefits of this population being vaccinated against any potential risk of side effects.

"There has been a thorough assessment and review of this data which was also looked at specifically by the CHM's Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Group who are scientific experts within this age group, as well as the CHM's Covid-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group.

"We have concluded that based on the data we have seen on the quality, effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, its benefits do outweigh any risk. The MHRA will continue to scrutinise all of the suspected side effects data received through the rigorous surveillance programme in place through the Yellow Card scheme and other safety surveillance measures for all of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK.

"Over 2,000 children aged 12-15 years were studied as part of the randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

"There were no cases of Covid-19 from seven days after the second dose in the vaccinated group, compared with 16 cases in the placebo group. In addition, data on neutralising antibodies showed the vaccine working at the same level as seen in adults aged 16-25 years. These are extremely positive results."

10:30 AM

Indian variant up to 60pc more transmissible, says government adviser

The Indian variant, now the dominant strain in the UK, has been estimated to be up to 60 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Kent variant, said Professor Neil Ferguson.

This comes amid warnings from the Imperial College professor and Government advisor that the data is looking "more negative" than it was last week.

He said the Indian variant was "substantially more transmissible", but added that the exact percentage could range from 30 to 100 per cent more depending on "assumptions and how you analyse the data".

Prof Ferguson told BBC Radio 4's Today that the new hospitalisation data points to the variant causing "more severe" disease, but said that most people hospitalised at the moment are unvaccinated.

New Public Health England and Public Health Scotland data points to a "two-fold increased risk" of hospitalisation for those who are unvaccinated, he said.

He added that the decision to reopen on June 21 will be "a very difficult judgement call".

10:21 AM

Independent Sage urges Government to 'pause' last stage of roadmap

Independent Sage has issued an emergency statement urging the Government to "pause" last stage of roadmap after the latest Public Health England data showed increased infectivity of the new Delta variant first identified in India.

The group said they are concerned that the Delta variant seems to be spreading widely across the country and also cited the increasing evidence that vaccine efficacy might be compromised by it.

09:35 AM

Wales 'right to be concerned' about Delta variant, says First Minister

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he believes Wales is "right to be concerned" about the Delta variant of Covid-19.

"It is spreading very quickly in the north-west of England, right on our border," Mr Drakeford told the Today Programme.

"We know it's more transmissible. There is some evidence that it is driving more people into hospitals."

Mr Drakeford said the country's chief medical officer had advised on Thursday that Wales should "phase in" its move to Alert Level One over the next three weeks.

He said a cluster of cases of the Delta variant in Llandudno was believed to be "under the control" of public health teams in the area but 300 people were self-isolating as a result of it.

09:15 AM

3,000 'underpaid' doctors in India resign amid Covid pandemic

Nearly 3,000 junior doctors in the BJP ruled Indian state of Madhya Pradesh resigned on Thursday after their demands for an increase in monthly stipend and free treatment to them and their families in case they contract Covid-19 were not met, writes Samaan Lateef in New Delhi.

Dr Arvind Meena, the president of the Junior Doctors Association, said the state government has not fulfilled its May 6 promise that the stipend of doctors would be raised by 24pc.

Until government raises the stipend to that limit, the strike will continue, Meena said.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court had called the strike illegal and asked the government to take action against the doctors if they didn’t return to work by Friday afternoon.

Most of the doctors in India are underpaid, triggering protests even during the CoVID pandemic. Tough competition, low salaries, and lack of job satisfaction have led to an exodus of doctors to other professions in India.

Junior doctors in India get a monthly stipend of around GBP 600 to 800 while specialists get less than GBP 2000.

09:12 AM

Watch: What happens at a long Covid clinic

One million people in the UK are experiencing long-term symptoms after contracting Covid-19, according to new figures by the Office for National Statistics.

And many of those who are suffering are losing hope, with little signs of their condition improving.

The health sector - still trying to understand how this new virus affects the body - has been unable to provide all the answers.

Long Covid is defined by the NHS as symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.

In response, the NHS in England is opening a service specifically created to better understand and treat those long-term symptoms: long Covid clinics. The Telegraph spent a day at a clinic in Birmingham - watch the video above to see how it works.

09:06 AM

'Perplexed' by decision to remove Portugal from green list, says Portuguese MP

Cristovao Norte, Portuguese MP for the Algarve, said he is "perplexed" by the British Government's decision to remove Portugal from the green list.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "We were not expecting the decision because there haven't been major changes in Portugal, just a spike in the Lisbon area.

"But we have 66 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Our rate of transmission is more or less the UK rate, so we weren't expecting this decision from the English government.

"We wear masks, we obey the rules, we maintain social distancing, vaccination is growing steadily. So I'm a little bit perplexed."

Mr Norte said it is "a huge blow" on the economy, adding that the country heavily depends on British tourism.

09:03 AM

New figures released by ONS shows around 1 million reporting 'long Covid'

An estimated 1 million people in private households in the UK reported experiencing "long Covid" in the four weeks to May 2, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Of these people, an estimated 869,000 first had Covid-19 - or suspected they had Covid-19 - at least 12 weeks previously while 376,000 first had the virus or suspected they had the virus at least one year ago.

Long Covid was estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 650,000 people, with 192,000 reporting that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been limited a lot.

08:56 AM

'Marked increase' in people self-reporting long Covid symptoms lasting a year, says ONS

There has been a "marked increase" in the number of people with self-reported long Covid that has lasted for at least a year, the ONS said.

Previous figures, covering the four weeks to March 6 2021, suggested 70,000 people in private households in the UK had experienced symptoms of long Covid for at least 12 months.

These people would have been infected before March 6 2020, early in the pandemic and before the peak of the first wave of the virus.

The latest figures, for the four weeks to May 2, put the number at 376,000 and will include people infected during the peak of the first wave.

08:50 AM

Fauci calls on China to release medical records of Wuhan's virology lab workers as evidence

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration, has said that China must release the medical records of Chinese lab workers who fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in November 2019, writes Daniel Capurro.

Three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was conducting research into coronaviruses, were treated in hospital for their symptoms more than a month before China informed the World Health Organisation of the new disease.

Their medical records could be vital evidence of whether Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, came from a lab leak rather than a Wuhan food market.

Dr Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Financial Times that China should release their records, along with those of six miners who fell ill in 2012 after entering a bat cave.

"I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019," Dr Fauci told the FT. "Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?

"The same with the miners who got ill years ago . . . What do the medical records of those people say? Was there [a] virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab."

08:45 AM

World has missed all targets for tackling Aids by 2020, UN report reveals

The world has missed all of the targets for tackling Aids by 2020 and "time is running out" to end the disease in the next ten years, according to a new United Nations report.

Despite some major achievements, including cutting deaths by 43 per cent in the last decade and infections by 30 per cent, progress has been patchy and in some regions – such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia – new HIV infections are actually on the rise.

Globally, there were three times as many new infections in 2020 – a total of 1.5 million – than the hoped for 500,000, the report from UNAids found.

"The global HIV response is teetering, caught in a perfect storm of waning political and public engagement, diminishing funds and the global shock of Covid-19," said Christine Stegling from Frontline Aids said.

"In many countries, the Aids crisis never ended – the world just stopped talking about it."

Jennifer Rigby has more details on this story here.

08:39 AM

Taking Portugal off green list is an 'overreaction', says epidemiologist

Moving Portugal off the UK's green list is "an overreaction", an epidemiologist in the popular holiday destination has said.

Professor Henrique Barros, president of Portugal's National Health Council, said the overall situation in the country is "relatively stable".

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said positive cases had doubled in the last three weeks in Portugal.

Prof Barros told Sky News: "We didn't reach such an increase, except as I said in a specific area around Lisbon. The overall picture in the country, we didn't reach such figures."

Tourists wheel luggage from the arrivals terminal at Faro Airport in Faro, Portugal - Jose Sarmento Matos/Bloomberg
Tourists wheel luggage from the arrivals terminal at Faro Airport in Faro, Portugal - Jose Sarmento Matos/Bloomberg

08:31 AM

The Government seem to 'have lost faith in its own system', says travel executive

Tim Hawkins of Manchester Airport Group said the latest announcement on travel lists had affected the company "very negatively".

He told Times Radio: "It's not a good situation to be in. We had worked on the basis that the travel corridors system, the traffic light system, would be providing people with confidence to book over the summer, and we'd see a really good recovery.

"But the Government does seem to have lost faith in its own system, and now we're seeing changes at short notice, we're seeing changes that we don't fully understand, and we're seeing a situation where lots of countries that have made really strong progress over the last few weeks are not being included on the green list.

"It's a situation we don't fully understand."

08:27 AM

Indian variant doubling across UK 'about every nine days', says prof Ferguson

Asked what difference delaying the June 21 lifting of restrictions would make in terms of the scientific evidence, Prof Ferguson told the Today Programme: "We know at the moment that the Delta variant, the Indian variant, is doubling across the country about every nine days with some variability place to place.

"But we haven't fully seen the effect of what happened May 17 step three, the relaxation of restrictions, come through into that data, so we expect that to accelerate even more."

He said it is still unclear how increased numbers of cases will translate into hospital admissions.

"We're seeing an uptick in hospitalisations in the North West, in a couple of other areas, but it's just too early to say, and that's critical because we do expect vaccines to give a high level of protection still, but exactly how high it's critical to what size third wave we might see," he said.

08:16 AM

Data this week is pointing in 'more negative direction'

Professor Neil Ferguson said he thinks the data is "pointing this week in a more negative direction than it was last week" when asked about whether the June 21 lifting of restrictions needs to be delayed.

He told the Today Programme: "First of all, it's not my job to make that decision, thankfully.

"I think the data is pointing this week in a more negative direction than it was last week, so it points towards the direction of being cautious.

"I think balancing, clearly, people's desire - and there clearly is a built-up desire to get back to normal - against the potential risk is a very difficult judgment call."

08:11 AM

Most people in hospital with virus have not been vaccinated, says prof Ferguson

Professor Neil Ferguson said most people in hospital with the virus have not had a vaccine.

He told the Today Programme: "It's important to say that most people being hospitalised at the moment with this variant, and with any Covid variant, are unvaccinated.

"So, it's clear that the vaccines are still having a substantial effect, though it may be slightly compromised."

He said they are still waiting for data on how much the Delta variant can evade the immunity which protects people against being admitted to hospital.

"The data being reported relates to unvaccinated people, so if you haven't been vaccinated there appears to be, both from Public Health England data and from Public Health Scotland data independently, about a two-fold increased risk of hospitalisation," he said.

07:41 AM

Delay in moving Portugal to amber list is 'practical trade-off' to allow people to get back

The fact the quarantine for travellers returning from Portugal begins on Tuesday rather than straight away is a "practical trade-off", said Dr Mike Tildesley.

He also acknowledged it is a "really rotten time for the travel industry".

He told BBC Breakfast: "If you purely ask me what the best thing to do is as an epidemiologist, then at the moment that you know there is a risk, of course you have to impose that control immediately.

"Of course, we need to be practical. It's very, very difficult to say 'this country is being added to the amber list, anyone that comes home now needs to quarantine immediately'.

"I always think there needs to be some kind of practical trade-off to allow people to get back, whilst they are overseas in what is currently a green country."

07:34 AM

Government must weigh up potential rise in hospitalisations and death with reopening

The Government needs to decide what potential rise in hospital admissions and deaths it can cope with in order to allow society to reopen, a health expert has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel, said the June 21 proposed reopening in England will be a "really difficult decision".

He told BBC Breakfast: "I think the question the Government needs to answer, and I can't answer this, is - if we show that cases may rise, and of course hospital admissions and deaths may rise over the coming months, what kind of rise in those the Government can cope with to allow society to reopen.

"Of course, if you delay that date then those rises will not be as severe."

He said his "hope and belief" is that hospital admissions will not rise on the same scale as they did in January.

07:24 AM

Antibodies can protect against Covid for at least 10 months, study finds

People who have previously caught Covid-19 are protected from reinfection for at least ten months, a study has found.

The findings, published in the Lancet, is reassuring for many of Britain’s almost 4.5million cases, and builds on previous studies which indicate natural immunity to the virus is long-lasting.

Researchers looked at how many people who contracted Covid-19 in the first wave also tested positive in the second wave.

Most of the reinfection cases in the study suffered symptoms, but none required hospitalisation.

07:20 AM

Michael Gove received coronavirus app alert after trip to Portugal

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove had to abandon a meeting with Boris Johnson and leaders of the devolved nations on Thursday after he was notified he may have come into contact with someone who had coronavirus on a trip to Portugal.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had gone to Porto with his son to watch the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Mr Gove has been alerted through the NHS app that he may have been in contact with someone who had the virus.

Instead of self-isolating for 10 days, Mr Gove will be able to take part in a pilot scheme for workplaces, including No 10, where he can instead be tested every day for a week.

07:18 AM

Cabinet minister rejects suggestions from Labour to scrap amber list

Mr Jenrick rejected suggestions that there should only be two lists of travel restrictions - red and green - as suggested by Labour.

He told Sky News: "I hope people will appreciate that you shouldn't be visiting those countries on the amber list for holidays.

"You wouldn't drive through an amber light at the traffic lights, you shouldn't be going on holiday to those countries either."

07:15 AM

Portugal removed from green list due to higher positive tests and Nepal variant, says Cabinet minister

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said there were two reasons why Portugal was being moved from the green list of travel restrictions.

He told Sky News: "Firstly, the amount of positivity has increased significantly, it's doubled in the last three weeks to a level that's much higher than we have here in the UK.

"Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, although both countries have prevalence of the Indian variant or Delta variant as it's called, we're also seeing in Portugal now growing evidence of a further mutation being called the Nepal variant.

He added: "It's important that we take a cautious approach, and so we take action now whilst we do research and learn more about that variant."

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06:32 AM

Booster jabs in autumn following Pfizer data of lower Delta variant antibody levels

Following the data released by the Francis Crick Institute showing that the Pfizer jab produces less antibodies that are effective against the Delta variant, the lab’s founder has said that we need to look at booster vaccinations in autumn.

Dr David Bauer, founder of the Francis Crick Institute, has said the results show us that "we need to keep our eyes open and look at the possibility of boosters in autumn, even for those who have had their second dose."

He added that booster jabs will be especially important for "those who are in the more vulnerable categories".

06:24 AM

Pfizer vaccine recipients have lower antibodies targeting Indian variant, study shows

People who have had the Pfizer vaccine have lower antibody levels targeting the coronavirus variant first discovered in India, the Delta variant, than those against previously circulating variants in the UK, new data suggests.

The research also suggests the levels of these antibodies are lower with increasing age and that levels decline over time.

Researchers say this provides additional evidence in support of plans to deliver a vaccination boost to vulnerable people in the autumn.

The new laboratory data from the Francis Crick Institute and the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre also supports current plans to reduce the dose gap between vaccines.

06:14 AM

Hopes for summer holidays fade as Portugal moved to amber list

Hopes for summer holidays abroad are fading after travel rules were tightened amid growing concerns over coronavirus variants and mutations.

Travel bosses are facing "another lost summer" after Portugal was added to the amber travel list just weeks after the holiday hotspot reopened for British tourists.

Urging caution ahead of the scheduled domestic unlock on June 21, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blamed the move on "a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant" having been detected, and an increased test positivity rate in the country.

The news comes as it was revealed that the variant first identified in India is now the dominant Covid strain in the UK.

06:09 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Friday, June 4.

tel front page
tel front page

05:49 AM

Outbreak builds in Myanmar near Indian border

A new outbreak of Covid-19 is growing near Myanmar's northwestern border with India, bringing the sharpest increase in cases since the military coup in February led to a collapse in health services and the testing programme.

Official figures released late on Thursday showed 122 cases across the country for the second time in three days - a low number compared with many Asian neighbours, but the highest in nearly four months.

Many of the cases are from Chin State, bordering India, raising concerns that the more transmissible variant first found there is now spreading in Myanmar.

05:26 AM

Malaysia warns of rising number of deaths, cases among children

Malaysian health authorities have raised concerns about a growing number of coronavirus deaths and serious cases involving children, after a surge in overall infections forced the Southeast Asian nation into a strict lockdown.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared a two-week "total lockdown" from June 1-14, as daily cases and deaths hit record numbers, with the government warning the outbreak may be linked to more contagious variants.

Malaysia recorded the deaths of three children aged below five due to the coronavirus in the first five months of this year, the same number recorded over the whole of 2020, according to Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah.

A total of 27 children, including 19 below the age of five, also had to be treated in intensive care between January and May after contracting the virus, up from eight cases last year.

Parents comfort their children as medical personnel collect swab samples for Covid-19 testing in Selangor - FAZRY ISMAIL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Parents comfort their children as medical personnel collect swab samples for Covid-19 testing in Selangor - FAZRY ISMAIL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

04:32 AM

Vietnam approves China's Sinopharm vaccine

Vietnam has approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for use against Covid-19, state media reported on Friday, making it the third shot to be endorsed in the Southeast Asian country that is tackling a new outbreak of infections.

The decision to approve the Sinopharm vaccine was issued by the health ministry, the official Vietnam News Agency reported. Vietnam has previously approved the AstraZeneca vaccine and Russia's Sputnik V.

The ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Read more: Vietnam's 'very dangerous' new hybrid variant may be fuelling its worst outbreak so far

A warning sign is seen outside an area locked in quarantine in Ho Chi Minh city - Reuters
A warning sign is seen outside an area locked in quarantine in Ho Chi Minh city - Reuters

03:35 AM

Japan donates more than 1 million AstraZeneca jabs to Taiwan

Tokyo is donating more than one million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to Taiwan, Japan's foreign minister announced on Friday, as Taipei struggles to secure jabs, accusing China of interference.

The move is likely to stir controversy with Beijing, which views democratic and self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and works to keep the island diplomatically isolated.

"We have received requests from various countries and areas for the provision of vaccines," Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters in Tokyo. "At this point, we have finished the arrangement for the request from Taiwan. And we will deliver free of charge 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines that have been produced in Japan," he added.

He said the vaccine would be handled through the territory's embassy equivalent and would arrive in Taiwan later today.

Read more: Taiwan accuses China of disrupting vaccine supplies

03:05 AM

Variant that devastated India detected in Australia

Australia's Victoria state authorities said on Friday genomic sequencing has detected for the first time the Delta Covid-19 virus variant among infections in the latest virus outbreak in state capital, Melbourne.

"That variant is the Delta variant, it is now infamous in India and increasingly found in the United Kingdom. It is a variant of significant concern," Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Sutton said the new variant had not been linked to any sequenced infections cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or elsewhere.

So far, two Victoria cases have the so-called 'Delta' variant of concern, which is likely the strain that caused the latest devastating wave of Covid-19 in India.

Read more: UK sees more than 20 cases of the 'Nepal variant'

02:55 AM

May joins rebellion against move to slash foreign aid

Theresa May has backed a swelling Tory revolt that aims to force a Government about-turn on controversial cuts to the aid budget.

The former prime minister on Thursday joined a list of 30 Conservative MPs who have vowed to vote for a rebel amendment on the issue in the Commons next Monday.

Opposition parties are also lining up behind the bid to compel ministers to reverse their decision to slash overseas development spending from 0.7 per cent of gross national income to 0.5 per cent.

The move, unveiled by Boris Johnson last year, breaks a Conservative party manifesto commitment and has been heavily criticised. Ministers conceded last year that it was a "difficult" decision to cut the aid budget, but insisted it was necessary in the wake of the exorbitant cost of the Government's Covid response.

Read more: Theresa May joins rebellion over foreign aid cuts

The former Prime Minister is among 30 MPs who are challenging the proposed cuts - PA
The former Prime Minister is among 30 MPs who are challenging the proposed cuts - PA

02:29 AM

Fatigue and depression common signs of Covid

Neurological and psychiatric symptoms such as fatigue and depression are common among people with coronavirus and may be just as likely in people with mild cases, new research suggests.

Evidence from 215 studies of Covid-19 indicates a wide range of ways in which Covid-19 can affect mental health and the brain.

The studies from 30 countries involved a total of 105,638 people with acute symptoms (the main disease stage, rather than longer-term impacts) of Covid-19, including data up to July 2020.

Lead author Dr Jonathan Rogers, of UCL Psychiatry and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We had expected that neurological and psychiatric symptoms would be more common in severe Covid-19 cases, but instead we found that some symptoms appeared to be more common in mild cases.

"It appears that Covid-19 affecting mental health and the brain is the norm, rather than the exception."

Read more: Depression is common sign of coronavirus, even in mild cases

02:10 AM

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