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'Patient X' , who is infected with the highly infectious P1 strain of coronavirus, has been found after a five-day nationwide hunt.
The hunt for the mystery patient had been narrowed down to 379 households in the south-east of England, and the patient was eventually found in Croydon after they had recently returned fro Brazil.
Six people in the UK have now tested positive for the P1 variant, but 'Patient X' had not provided their contact details and so could not be reached, sparking a massive search by healthcare and Government personnel.
"Using the latest technology, and with the dogged determination of our testing and tracing scheme, we've successfully identified the person in question," Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, told a press conference.
"The best evidence is that this person in question stayed at home, and there's no sign that there's been any onward transmission."
It comes as early Oxford University data suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against P1, which indicates the vaccine will not need to be modified in order to protect against the variant.
Follow the latest updates below.
Lockdown fatigue pushes people out to work
Britons are heading out to work in growing numbers as lockdown fatigue grows following the launch of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus roadmap, official figures suggest.
The share of adults travelling to work jumped to 39 per cent in the week to February 28, up from 34 per cent in mid-February, the Office for National Statistics said.
The proportion of adults working exclusively from home has also dropped sharply from 37 per cent to 32 per cent since mid-February, its survey of more than 6,000 people showed.
Russell Lynch has the story.
Big business offers booster shot for Germany's shambolic vaccine roll-out
German big business has offered to step in and salvage the country’s ailing coronavirus vaccination roll-out — for free.
With Germany lagging far behind the UK and US, some of its biggest companies including Deutsche Bank, Allianz, Adidas and Siemens are set to offer their services at talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
They say they could help accelerate the roll-out and clear a backlog that has left Germany unable to use 3.4 million jabs that remain sitting in storage.
They have proposed putting Germany’s 12,000 company doctors to work and say their empty office buildings could be used as vaccination centres.
Mrs Merkel’s government is said to be reluctant to accept their help over fears company employees would be able to jump the queue ahead of priority groups, but businesses say they would stick to the government's priority categories.
Justin Huggler has the story.
Covid vaccine benefits will be explained by NHS managers to staff who refuse to have jab
NHS staff who refuse a Covid vaccine will be spoken to by managers "to explain the powerful protective effects" of the jab, it has emerged.
Health bosses have called for one-to-one conversations with reluctant employees as part of a drive to "redouble our efforts" to keep hospitals safe from the virus.
An email from Prerana Issar, NHS England's chief people officer, seen by Health Service Journal, says: "As a result of your continued hard work we have seen an uptick in staff vaccination numbers, with nine out of 10 eligible staff now vaccinated.
"We are asking that every staff member who declined the vaccine should now have a one-to-one conversation with their line manager to explain the powerful protective effects of the vaccine. It is the perfect opportunity to address concerns and better understand hesitancy. Local occupational health teams should support these conversations."
Henry Bodkin has the story.
Matt Hancock defends one per cent pay rise for nurses: decision based on 'affordability'
Matt Hancock was asked at this evening's press briefing whether a one per cent pay rise for nurses is fair.
He paid tribute to the "incredible work" of all working in the NHS, especially during the second peak, and said the decision was based on "affordability" and is "fair":
Vaccine roll-out benefits should not be wasted by dropping guard, says Dr Mike Ryan
Dr Mike Ryan has said the arrival of vaccines is a moment of "great hope", but it is also potentially also a moment where the world could lose its concentration, Jordan Kelly-Linden reports.
"I hate to be the party pooper here, but we should not waste the precious gift that vaccines will bring by dropping our guard in other areas," the World Health Organization expert warned.
"Realising the benefits of vaccinations is going to be about doing the other things really well.
"Many countries have stopped doing case finding and contact tracing because they've had such intense community transmission," but getting these public health measures back in place is integral to controlling the disease, Dr Ryan said.
'Tragedy and trauma' will be felt for generations and mental health support needed, says WHO
More from Jordan Kelly-Linden on the ongoing WHO press conference:
The "tragedy and trauma" of Covid-19 will be felt for generations to come if countries do not invest in long term comprehensive mental health support, the WHO's top emergency expert has said.
"This has been a Cinderella area in health in public health for too long," Dr Mike Ryan warned. "We need to measure the mental health impact [of Covid-19] to understand truly what's happening."
Dr Tedros added the world is already on its way towards mass mental health trauma, much like that seen after the Second World War, and that this will "affect communities for many years to come."
Countries need to come up with comprehensive strategies to tackle this moving forward, Dr Mike Ryan stressed.
"The mental health and psychosocial support to individuals and communities must be central to all recovery plans and must be costed into those plans," he said.
Face masks in schools: Susan Hopkins sets out justification for policy
Susan Hopkins says that advice around face masks for secondary pupils comes after careful medical consideration of the issues at hand.
"Our face coverings and face masks group have reviewed the evidence and also looked at the variant we have circulating, B117," she says.
"It was with this variant and increased school transmissions that the advice for secondary school children to wear masks in the classroom and around school came as part of the advice package on March 8.
"That goes hand-in-hand with the testing. This is all there to allow our children to continue their education safely and to ensure we have the least amount of rises we can possibly hope for with increased mixing around return to schools next week."
Integration of health and social care will solve funding problem, says Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock says it is "more challenging" to deliver social care reforms in the current economic climate.
"What we will need to do is put in a long-term plan that will find a solution to this problem," he says. "In the meantime there are many other [improvements] we can make, and many are contained in the White Paper I set out last month to bring an integration between health and care, formally and much more so than we've had until now.
"That is part of the solution to this significant problem."
Matt Hancock defends one per cent pay rise for NHS staff
Matt Hancock is asked whether a one per cent pay rise for nurses is fair, and whether there is a case for mandatory vaccination of NHS staff.
He pays tribute to the "incredible work" of all working in the NHS, especially during the second peak.
"These have been challenging times and one of the challenges we face as a country is in terms of the financial consequences of the pandemic," Mr Hancock says. "The evidence that was put forward yesterday was put forward on the basis of affordability."
Mr Hancock says that he thinks the proposal is affordable amid a pay freeze in other areas of the public sector.
"I'd urge everyone in the NHS to get the vaccine and we have seen the take-up increase. I would like to continue to pursue that because I think that is the best way, to ensure we get as high coverage as we can without having to bring in a mandatory vaccination. We are not going to bring in mandatory vaccination across the board and at this stage we are not proposing to bring in mandatory vaccination for NHS staff."
He says a review led by Michael Gove will look into the moral, ethical and practical questions around vaccines.
'Patient X' had recently returned from Brazil
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, talks through the process of finding 'Patient X'.
"This individual was interviewed extensively, and lives in a household that had recently returned from Brazil, and all had quarantined at home," she says.
Further precautionary testing will take place in Croydon, where samples are already being sequenced to ensure that there are no further cases in the community.
"This is a testament to the NHS Test and Trace teams, the call handlers and Public Health England working together to prevent further transmission."
'Patient X' located in Croydon and stayed at home, Health Secretary confirms
Matt Hancock says that the sixth case of the Brazilian P1 variant has now been variant.
"Using the latest technology, and with the dogged determination of our testing and tracing scheme, we've successfully identified the person in question," he says. "The best evidence is that this person in question stayed at home, and there's no sign that there's been any onward transmission."
However more testing will be introduced in Croydon, where the patient lives, as a precaution, Mr Hancock says.
"This positive outcome was only possible because of the huge genomic sequencing capacity that we now have in this country and because of our Test and Trace team. It shows the importance of this capability we've built, and how important it is to be transparent where new variants are found.
"Being transparent about what you find helps to stop the spread of this disease, and in particular these new variants of concern that are so worrying. So I'm really, really delighted that the team have done this work."
£79 million for young people's mental health funding
The Health Secretary acknowledges that returning to normality will be a moment of "unease and anxiety" for many young people.
He confirms that an extra £79 million will be allocated to boost mental health support for children and young people, which he says will benefit almost three million people.
One of the most dangerous things about the virus is that one-third of people do not have any symptoms, Mr Hancock says.
"Rapid regular testing is a critical part of our response. We can do more because of the huge capacity built up by NHS Test and Trace," he says, urging all of those who are eligible to take part in regular testing.
2 in 5 have now had a vaccine dose, says Matt Hancock
Hospital admissions are falling at just under 30 per cent every week, Mr Hancock says, with the most recent seven-day drop - of 29 per cent - the fastest at any point in the pandemic.
"Where you can really see the effects in the vaccine is the fall in the number of deaths," he says. "Deaths in the last week have fallen by 41 per cent. They're falling faster than before.
"The link from cases to hospitalisations and to deaths, that had been unbreakable before the vaccine - that link is now breaking. The vaccine is protecting the NHS and saving lives right across the country."
The Health Secretary mentions a study among over-80s conducted by Bristol University which shows that a single dose of the Pfizer or Astrazeneca jab offers significant protection against hospitalisation after at least two weeks, even among the most frail and those with underlying conditions.
"What this corroborates is what we have seen over the last couple of weeks - the hard evidence that vaccines work. They're the best way of securing our freedom because they're the best way of protecting us," he says.
21.3 million Britons have now been vaccinated, Mr Hancock says, which amounts two two-fifths of the entire adult population.
Matt Hancock: Deaths and cases declining steeply
The daily average number of coronavirus cases has fallen to 6,685, Matt Hancock says, the lowest since late September. The weekly case rate across the UK is now 84 per 100,000, bringing it below 100.
A "further significant decline" is confirmed by Office for National Statistics figures, the Health Secretary adds.
"This is all encouraging news and it should give us confidence that we can safely take the steps we're taking on Monday," he says.
There are more than 12,000 people in hospitals with Covid, but the average number of new daily admissions is 900. Deaths with coronavirus are "also declining steeply", with an average of 248 deaths per day, also the lowest since October.
"What we can see across the whole of the UK is that the vaccine programme is working to protect the NHS, and saving lives."
Schools reopening will see classrooms 'buzzing with activity', says Hancock
Matt Hancock says that next week classrooms will "once again be buzzing with activity" when schools reopen to all students on Monday.
"I know that parents across England will be delighted and I'm sure relieved that all children are going back to school," he says.
"Also from Monday I'm just so pleased that we're able to reopen care homes for visiting. We've put in place a really careful policy so each care home residents can register a single visitor who will be tested and wear PPE but will be able to visit.
"And I know this means so much to hundreds of thousands of people with a loved one in a care home, and to those who live in care homes. And I'm really, really glad we're able to make those steps."
Downing Street briefing coming up
It's almost that time of day again. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will lead today's Downing Street press conference updating the nation on coronavirus.
You can watch live at the top of this live blog, and/or follow along for live text updates as it happens.
Urgent action is needed now to ramp up vaccine production: WHO
The head of the WHO has warned that several barriers of increasing the speed and volume of production of vaccines and urgent action is needed to clear the way, writes Jordan Kelly-Linden.
Dr Tedros said factors such as "export bans to shortage of raw materials, including glass, plastic, and stoppers" are holding up the production of lifesaving vaccines.
Short term solutions, such as "connect[ing] companies who are producing vaccines with other companies who have excess capacity to fill and finish" could help to speed up production and increase volumes, he said.
Another approach is bilateral technology transfer through voluntary licencing or waiving intellectual property rights.
"A good example of this approach is AstraZeneca, which has transferred the technology for its vaccine to SII and SKBio in the Republic of Korea, and the serum Institute of India, which is producing AstraZeneca vaccines for Covax," he told the press conference.
This has been done before, he said. "In the mid 2000s, the WHO supported the technology transfer for the production of pandemic flu vaccines to 14 countries."
The WHO believes that this is a time to trigger that provision and waive patent rights once again, he added.
Covax scheme: The countries that have already received vaccines
Covax delivered 20 million doses to 20 countries this week, says WHO
The vaccine-sharing scheme Covax has already delivered 20 million doses to 20 low and middle income countries this week, writes Jordan Kelly-Linden.
"As you know, this was a landmark week for Covax with the first vaccinations starting in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire," said Dr Tedros, the head of the World Health Organization, but he warned against complacency.
"In the next week, Covax will deliver [an additional] 14. 4 million doses to further 71 countries," Dr Tedros said.
"This is encouraging progress, but the volume of those being distributed through Covax is still relatively small." he added.
Breaking: Travellers to be forced to carry a permit to go abroad, DfT announces
People travelling overseas from England will be required to complete and carry a ‘travel declaration form’, starting from Monday.
Airlines and other transport carriers will be legally obliged to explain on their websites that the document must be completed before travelling.
Carriers will then check that each passenger has completed the form before they board – and those who have not done so may not be allowed to join the service they have booked.
Anyone identified as trying to travel overseas for reasons that are not currently permitted will be asked to return home and risk receiving a fixed penalty notice for breaking 'Stay at Home' rules. Such fines start at £200 and can go up to £6,400.
Queen gets two new corgi puppies as lockdown present
The Queen has two new corgi puppies after being given them as a present during lockdown.
The delighted monarch - who has long been synonymous with the breed - has been kept entertained by the dogs while the Duke of Edinburgh is in hospital and as Buckingham Palace braces itself for the Sussexes' bombshell Oprah interview, The Sun newspaper said.
She has been without corgis at her side for more than two years after her final one Whisper, who was adopted following the death of his owner, a former Sandringham gamekeeper, died in October 2018.
At the end of last year, the Queen was left with only one pet dog, a corgi-dachshund cross called Candy, when Vulcan - her other dog of the same "dorgi" breed - died.
An insider told The Sun of the new puppies: "Both are said to be bringing in a lot of noise and energy into the castle while Philip is in hospital."
Gareth Davies has more here.
AstraZeneca vaccine effective against new Brazilian variant, reports Reuters
Early data from an Oxford University study suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against the P1 variant, according to the Reuters news agency.
This indicates that the vaccine will not need to be modified in order to protect against the variant, which is thought to have originated in Manaus in the Amazon.
Hospitals are once again overflowing in the port-city amid a record high in coronavirus fatalities.
Brazil's coronavirus response has been hampered by the arrival of the highly infectious new variant and a disjointed approach to public health restrictions.
'Patient X' found in search for Brazilian variant
'Patient X' , who is infected with the highly infectious P1 strain of coronavirus, has been found after a five-day nationwide hunt.
The hunt for the mystery patient had been narrowed down to 379 households in the south-east of England, the Health Secretary revealed on Wednesday.
Alcohol and fuel duties frozen for a year, while air passenger duty and car tax increase
Motorists and drinkers received a boost in the Budget as fuel and alcohol duties were frozen, but long-haul air passengers face hikes in duties and road tax will still increase by the rate of inflation.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, announced planned rises in the duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be frozen for a second year running.
The amount of tax on a tankful of petrol and diesel will also remain the same for the tenth year in a row.
The Treasury estimated the cumulative saving for the average car driver was £1,600, when compared to the pre-2010 escalator.
Addressing the Commons, Mr Sunak said: ''All alcohol duties frozen for the second year in a row, for only the third time in two decades.
“And right now, to keep the cost of living low, I'm not prepared to increase the cost of a tank of fuel. So the planned increase in fuel duty is also cancelled."
Charles Hymas has more details.
Jeremy Warner: Britain should beware a global business exodus
Is Britain any longer a place where you would want to do business? asks Jeremy Warner.
The fear after this week’s Budget – which looks increasingly like one of those Budgets that seemed good on the day, but progressively unravels the more the rats get to gnaw at it – is that it has just become that little bit less so.
The UK would necessarily have to change its economic model to remain globally competitive, Philip Hammond, then chancellor, told a German newspaper at the start of the Brexit negotiations, becoming a kind of low tax, low regulation Singapore on Thames, if the European Union refused to grant Britain the access to its markets demanded. And you wouldn’t like that on your doorstep, would you, was his implied threat.
Well here we are four years later, having now Brexited, and thanks to Covid, we seem to be heading off in exactly the opposite direction.
That we would, subsequent to Brexit, come to look ever more like our European neighbours, not less so, would not have been predicted. Far from diverging as might have been expected, we appear instead to be converging, at least in terms of the tax burden.
Cuomo aides 'stripped data about nursing home deaths' to hide higher death toll claim reports
This from our US Correspondent Jamie Johnson:
A damning report into nursing home deaths in New York was rewritten by aides of the embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo to hide the true number of elderly people who died, it has been claimed.
Data compiled by state health officials showed that 9,200 nursing home residents had died with the coronavirus by June last year, but the definition was changed so that only deaths which occurred in nursing homes were recorded.
This meant that the nearly 3,000 residents who died in hospital were not counted in the figures, which only detailed that 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes.
At the time, officials acknowledged that the true number of deaths was higher because of the exclusion of patients who died in hospitals, but they declined to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified.
But The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that original drafts of the report had included that number, then more than 9,200 deaths, until Governor Cuomo's aides said it should be taken out.
State officials insisted on Thursday that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy, not to protect Mr Cuomo's reputation.
The true numbers were not published for months, but the state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents have died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it released in late January that didn't include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals.
It is the latest in a wave of scandals to embroil Mr Cuomo, after accusations that he made lewd comments and inappropriately touched two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding.
Boris Johnson challenges EU after Italy blocks Covid vaccines shipment to Australia
Boris Johnson has challenged the EU’s decision to approve the blockade of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia, warning that the restrictions “endanger” global efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Downing Street on Friday questioned the European Commission over its acceptance of the Italian government’s decision to use EU-wide export controls to prevent the shipment from going ahead.
Asked about the controversy, the Prime Minister’s spokesman pointed out that Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, had previously assured Mr Johnson the controls would not be used in this way.
Speaking at the Number 10 daily lobby briefing, the spokesman added: “We're not privy to the specific agreements between other countries and vaccine manufacturers.
“However, the PM spoke to President von der Leyen earlier this year, and she confirmed that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not intended to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities."
Harry Yorke has more on this story.
Working in office full-time more popular than home working, ONS survey reveals
The number of workers back in the office has overtaken those staying at home for the first time in nine months, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals.
A total of 39 per cent of Britons report working exclusively in the office, compared with 32 per cent who are only home working, the body's survey of more than 4,000 adults found.
This is the first time in nine months that the proportion of exclusive office workers has overtaken that of exclusive home workers.
It previously happened in the middle of June as the first lockdown eased, with 33 per cent of Britons reporting only working at home compared with 36 per cent working exclusively in the office.
The gap continued to widen and office working dominated until the third national lockdown was announced in January, prompting home working to become more popular.
However, this trend has now reversed, with 39 per cent of adults in Britain reporting going to the office full time between February 24 and 28, compared with 32 per cent who worked at home in the same period.
Phoebe Southworth has more on this survey.
Vaccine update: 365,433 doses administered in England yesterday
365,433 additional vaccine doses were administered in England yesterday.
This breaks down into 320,388 first doses and 45,045 second doses.
37,203 doses were given out in Scotland, and 30,876 in Wales.
Brazil Covid deaths hit new highs as president tells people 'enough whining'
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has told his countrymen to stop “fussing and whining” about the pandemic, following two consecutive days of record Covid-19 deaths.
The country, which already has the world’s second highest number of deaths from Covid-19, is in the grips of a devastating second wave driven by a lethal pairing: the arrival of a highly infectious new variant and a disjointed approach to public health restrictions.
Sarah Newey has more here.
Ofsted chief inspector moves to reassure parents
Ofsted's chief inspector has said that she wants face masks in secondary schools for "as little time as possible", as the organisation moved to allay parents' fears ahead of schools reopening on Monday.
Amanda Spielman said that while she appreciated the need for coronavirus measures, she hoped children would be able to return to a more normal environment within weeks.
"I understand the need for infection controls, but at the same time I hope that it needs to be there for as little time as possible," she told BBC Radio 4.
"I think we need to make sure children get their full allocation of schooling."
Schools across England will reopen on Monday, with face masks to be worn in secondary schools until Easter in a bid to curb any increase in transmission.
'Super deduction' tax prompts fraud fears
The “biggest business tax cut in modern British history” is at risk of tax avoidance and fraud, Rishi Sunak has been warned.
The Chancellor’s corporate tax “super deduction” - one of the few surprises in this week's Budget - could be manipulated by bosses seeking hefty tax breaks.
The super deduction allows companies to deduct 130pc of the value of plant and machinery from profits.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said this would boost business investment by a tenth, or £20bn.
Mr Sunak said: “During the two years it is in place this will be the biggest business tax cut in modern British history.”
However, experts have warned that the “devil is in the detail” of the tax break.
R rate between 0.7 and 0.9 across UK
The R rate estimate for across the UK is now between 0.7 and 0.9, meaning the coronavirus growth rate is between -5 per cent and -3 per cent.
The estimated R rate for England is also between 0.7 and 0.9, new calculations from the Department of Health and Social Care show.
R rate estimates for different regions of England, based on data up to March 1, are as follows:
East of England 0.6 to 0.8
London 0.6 to 0.8
Midlands 0.7 to 0.9
North East and Yorkshire 0.7 to 1.0
North West 0.7 to 0.9
South East 0.6 to 0.8
South West 0.6 to 0.8
Flights to Greece among searches seeing significant uptick
Flight search engines have seen a significant in searches for trips to Greece throughout the past week.
"European short-haul destinations are the order of the day for the summer months, with searches for 2021 summer hotspot Greece increasing rapidly over the last week," Skyscanner's Jon Thorne told Telegraph Travel.
"It’s good news for those eager to get away this summer and book ahead as airlines look to be keeping prices low and flexible booking policies in place in order to entice travellers back to the skies.
"Our analysis shows that average prices are up to 34 per cent lower compared to the same time last year, and up to 31 per cent cheaper than summer 2019."
Pope in first overseas trip since start of pandemic
Pope Francis landed in Baghdad this afternoon on the first ever papal visit to Iraq, where he will rally the country’s dwindling Christian population and preach coexistence.
An honour guard dressed in red coats and white plumed helmets flanked the red carpet where a large delegation greeted the 84-year-old pontiff as he descended the red-carpeted stairs at Baghdad airport.
The Pope then sat with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi at the airport and was later scheduled to meet President Barham Salih.
About 10,000 special forces, soldiers and police have been deployed across the country to provide security ahead of the three day-day visit – his first overseas trip since the pandemic began – with Iraq’s government eager to demonstrate it has moved past its dark years of violence.
Amid an economic downturn and worsening coronavirus outbreak that has prompted lockdowns across the country, many Iraqis – Christian and Muslim alike – say they are excited by the Pope’s visit, even if the pandemic restrictions mean few will be able to see him in person.
Our Middle East Correspondent Campbell MacDiarmid has more.
Covid-19 has killed at least 17,000 frontline health workers globally, figures show
At least 17,000 health workers around the world have died of Covid-19, or one every half an hour in the last year, according to Amnesty International.
Those numbers are likely to be an underestimate as the data remains incomplete, the new analysis from Amnesty, Public Services International and UNI Global Union suggested.
The organisations called for vaccines to be rolled out more quickly for frontline health workers around the globe. They also stressed the importance of including groups often overlooked but at equal risk, including cleaners, community health workers and social care workers.
Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, said: “For one health worker to die from Covid-19 every 30 minutes is both a tragedy and an injustice.
“Having risked their lives throughout the pandemic, it’s time they were prioritised for life-saving vaccines. Urgent action must be taken to close the huge global inequalities in vaccine access, so a community health worker in Peru is protected as much as a doctor in the UK.”
Jennifer Rigby has more here.
England coronavirus cases rate at lowest since end of September, suggests ONS
Around one in 220 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between February 21 and 27, according to new estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - the lowest figure since the end of September.
The ONS figure suggests that the equivalent of 248,100 people had the virus in the last full week of February.
This is down from around one in 145 - or 373,700 people - for the period February 13 to 19.
It is the lowest figure since the week to October 1 when the estimate stood at one in 240, or 224,400 people.
Queue-jumping and clandestine jabs: Peru’s ‘vaccinegate’ sparks outrage – and a national inquiry
As Peru’s hospitals battle a second, fiercer wave of Covid-19 cases, the launch of a vaccination campaign this month was a much-awaited glimmer of hope for one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the pandemic.
President Francisco Sagasti got the first of an initial 300,000 doses on February 9. It was hoped the breakthrough would restore confidence that the health crisis could be overcome, Peru’s ministry for health said.
Instead, the rollout has caused indignation, a flurry of senior political and academic resignations, and a national investigation.
In what has been dubbed “Vaccinegate”, it has emerged that more than 200 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine were secretly administered to politicians and well-connected individuals before the healthcare workers who had been promised them.
Luke Taylor has all the details.
House prices fall in February but stamp duty extension could end the 'blip'
House prices remained stagnant last month as demand waned ahead of the stamp duty holiday ending but experts said the extension announced this week could add life back into the market.
The average house price fell just 0.1pc last month, reaching £251,697, according to Halifax bank. January’s average of £251,832 was already 0.4pc lower than December, suggesting the record growth seen throughout last year had finally come to an end.
House prices are still 5.2pc higher than in February last year – the last full month before the UK entered national lockdown.
The Halifax numbers contrast to the index from rival Nationwide, which reported a 0.7pc monthly rise in February, suggesting buyers were already responding to reports that the stamp duty holiday would be extended.
The figures come the same week Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed plans to extend the much-called for stamp duty holiday until the end of September, as well as the incoming Government-backed 95pc mortgage scheme.
Rachel Mortimer has the story.
Staycation prices a third higher in holiday hotspots this year
The cost of staycations could be a third higher this year as British tourists look to have their first post-pandemic holidays, writes Sam Meadows.
A snapshot investigation by consumer group Which? showed that the cost of holiday lets in some of the UK’s most popular seaside locations had risen by a third on average, while some had soared even higher.
There have been warnings that, with foreign holidays off the table for many, there will be unprecedented demand for UK trips this summer, pushing prices up.
The Which? research tracked prices of 15 holiday lets listed on Airbnb and Vrbo for last summer when booked in May and June and compared them to the amount charged in February for this summer.
It found the price of one let in Brighton had soared by 140 per cent, from £53 a night to £127, with the average increase being 35 per cent.
Hotel quarantine leaves oil and gas workers 'completely forgotten about', say staff
Oil and gas industry workers on overseas jobs have said they have been "completely forgotten about" by the UK's hotel quarantine rules, as they are unable to see their families.
Gary Douglass, of Sunderland, is effectively unable to come home to see his family amid his 28 days on, 28 days off shift pattern.
Mr Douglass, 51, would have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel on his return to the UK, at a cost of £1,750.
"I'm pretty gutted to be honest with you," he told the PA news agency. "If it was 12 months ago I could accept it but the UAE and most other countries brought in restrictions there and then and the UK stayed open.
"So, why, 12 months down the line, are they putting in all these restrictions? We've been completely forgotten about."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We recognise the impact restrictions have on many people and are grateful for the public's continued efforts to comply with the rules and help us tackle this global pandemic."
NHS pay industrial action fund launched amid 1 per cent rise
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will set up a £35 million industrial action fund in response to the Government's recommendation of a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS workers, its leaders have announced.
The RCN’s Fair Pay For Nursing campaign had called for a 12.5 per cent pay increase for all nursing staff under Agenda for Change terms as part of a one-year deal.
Commenting on the Government’s own submission yesterday, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “This is pitiful and bitterly disappointing. The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers and the public."
Budget 2021: Cost of Covid will take decades to pay off, warns Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak has said it will take "many years, decades and governments" to pay off the £407bn cost of coronavirus to the UK, following this week's Budget.
The Chancellor said his statement would start the process, and "stop the problem getting worse".
He told BBC Breakfast: "The shock that coronavirus has done to our economy has been significant and as I said yesterday, this won't be fixed overnight."
France 'could join Italy' and block AstraZeneca imports
France has threatened to block shipments of coronavirus vaccines from leaving the European Union after Italy denied 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca jabs to Australia, Henry Samuel reports.
The threat came as Australia said it was seeking assurances from the European Commission that future vaccine shipments would go ahead.
French health minister Olivier Veran said this morning that his country could block shipments of Covid vaccines to non-EU countries and was in discussions on the matter with European counterparts.
“I understand (the Italian position). We could do the same thing,” said Mr Véran when asked by BFM TV if France could follow suit.
“We’ll see. The more doses France has, the happier I will be as health minister,” he added. “We believe in a European approach … France has the right to talk to its European neighbours to ensure that laboratories respect their commitments and contracts. That seems to me to be common sense.”
Nurses pay row: Government pushes back amid union criticism
The Government is pushing back on criticism over its proposed one per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
Nadine Dorries this morning defended the Government position, and said that nurses have received a 12 per cent increase in pay across the last three years, noting that the average nurse's salary is around £34,000.
A senior Government source said: “Lots of people in the private sector are losing their jobs or having pay cuts. Most other public sector workers are getting a pay freeze. So we do have to be fair to everyone.”
Rachel Harrison, national officer of the GMB union, told the PA news wire: “NHS workers are furious at the Government’s recommendation of 1 per cent pay increase, published in their evidence to the PRB late yesterday afternoon – six weeks late."
Starmer: 'It is not good enough just to clap them: this is a real insult'
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the Government's recommendation of a 1% pay rise for nurses and other health workers is a "real insult".
He told reporters: "This is insulting to NHS staff on the front line - they have been on the front line throughout this pandemic.
"It is not good enough just to clap them: this is a real insult. They need to be properly recognised and properly rewarded.
"The Prime Minister tries to take credit for the vaccine rollout whilst cutting the pay of those who are actually delivering it, and it is insulting."
Sir Keir said a pay cut is "completely the wrong thing in this situation" as he called for NHS workers to be given a pay rise above inflation.
He declined to give a figure for how much pay should rise by but said: "They need a fair rise in pay, above inflation, to be properly recognised and rewarded for what they have put in in the last 12 months."
Asked whether he would honour a 1% pay rise if that is what the pay review body recommends, he said: "Yes, we would look at what the independent body would give, but if I was prime minister I would be recognising and rewarding those on the front line in the NHS by giving them a pay rise."
South African police seize fake Covid-19 vaccines
Police in South Africa have seized 400 ampoules —around 2,400 doses — of fake Covid-19 vaccines, days after Interpol issued a notice that vaccines would become a prime target for organised criminal networks, reports Antoaneta Roussi in Nairobi.
The bogus vaccines were found at a warehouse in Germiston, a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg, where officers also retrieved a large quantity of fake 3M masks and arrested a Zambian and three Chinese nationals.
“Whilst we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine related crime,” said Interpol Secretary-General, Jürgen Stock in a statement following the arrest.
The South African operation came as police in China discovered the manufacturing premises of a group producing sham vaccines, resulting in the arrest of some 80 suspects, and the seizure of more than 3,000 fake vaccines.
Interpol has warned the public that no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online. In addition to the South Africa and China tip-offs, the agency has received reports of scam ampoules targeting health bodies, such as nursing homes.
“Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous,” the organization said in a statement. “Anyone who buys these drugs is putting themselves at risk and giving their money to organized criminals.”
In December, NGO Transparency International warned that many countries, which lack robust medicinal regulatory systems, would become prey to falsified vaccines. “The impact of these could be devastating, fuelling scepticism and distrust, worsening the pandemic, and ultimately costing lives,” it said.
Health Secretary's health kick
Following his boss' lead, Matt Hancock is also on the fitness hype.
Nurse: Extra £3.50 a week is 'an insult' and 'hypocrisy in its greatest form'
Mel, a staff nurse, said the Government's proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff was an "insult" and "hypocrisy in its greatest form".
She said the increase for her would equate to an extra £3.50 a week.
"It really isn't true remuneration for the real-time pay cut that we have seen over the last decade," she said.
"We have healthcare staff using foodbanks, so £3.50 is not going to improve their situation in any way, shape or form.
"I am angry beyond words, both for myself (and) for my colleagues, who I see struggle daily."
She said staff already feel demoralised and warned more would leave the frontlines without proper recognition.
"The phrase 'NHS heroes' - we are not heroes and we don't want to be hailed as heroes, we are a professional body and we want recognition for the work we have done, not just during the pandemic," she added.
"We have absolutely tried our best, but there has to be a line. We are still human at the end of the day, we are still people who come home and crumble at the thought of the number of deaths we've seen."
Tory backbencher attacks 'inept' Government decision on 1pc pay rise
Conservative backbencher Sir Roger Gale accused the Government of acting in an "inept" way as he said a 1% pay rise for health workers is not enough.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think more is needed. I think the way that this has been presented and handled has been inept, and I have to say that.
"I'm not going to try and put a figure on this and it is expected that the Government will start low and the unions will start high, and normally there is an agreement reached somewhere in the middle.
"But we are facing exceptional circumstances and yes, I know, that over a period of three years nurses have had a considerable pay increase, but that is not what I think the public wants in terms of recognition of a wholly exceptional situation.
"And by the way, this isn't just about nurses; this is also about ancillary staff, the people who do the mopping up when people are dying or have died. We need to remember that as well. They seem to get forgotten, and they shouldn't be."
Minister 'hopes' nurses will stick with NHS
Asked whether people would still be signing up to work for the NHS in light of the proposed 1 per cent pay rise and the pandemic, Health Minister Nadine Dorries told BBC Breakfast: "I believe nurses are about more than superficial soundbites, I think nurses love their job. They do their job because they love their job.
"I know myself, I was a nurse myself and trained as a nurse, I became a nurse because I loved nursing.
"I hope that those nurses who love their jobs too will stay in the NHS and stick with us through what is a difficult time."
I was 'pleasantly surprised' at 1pc pay rise, says health minister
Health Minister Nadine Dorries said she was "pleasantly surprised" when a 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England was proposed.
Asked by BBC Breakfast what her reaction was to the news, Ms Dorries said: "I was actually surprised because I knew that we'd frozen public-sector pay, that no-one in the public sector was receiving a pay rise, so I was pleasantly surprised that we were making an offer. "
Minister denies there will be cuts to NHS budget
Nadine Dorries said nurses have received a 12% increase in pay over the last three years and the average nurse's salary is around £34,000.
"Everybody in an ideal world would love to see nurses paid far more, in an ideal world, but we are coming out of a pandemic where we have seen huge borrowing and costs to the Government," she told Sky.
The Health Minister also insisted there would be "no cuts" to NHS budgets going forward.
Budget documents revealed there is a planned cut of £30 billion in day-to-day spending at the Department for Health and Social Care from April of this year, falling from £199.2 billion to £169.1 billion.
Ms Dorries said: "That £30 billion, I believe, was a reduction on the pandemic spending - there are actually real-time increases going into the NHS budget year on year.
"That figure, I'm afraid, is completely wrong - that's not on our annual funding of the NHS, that was on our pandemic budget, which is completely separate.
"There are absolutely no cuts moving forward to frontline NHS services either in waiting lists, accident and emergency. There are just no cuts moving forward - there are real-time increases going into the NHS budget."
'The priority has been saving jobs, protecting livelihoods, protecting people'
Health Minister Nadine Dorries told the Today Programme: "No other public sector is getting any pay increase whatsoever and that's because we've had to prioritise, and the priority has been saving jobs, it's been furlough, protecting livelihoods, protecting people."
She called the proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England "a statement of what we think we can afford because we want to acknowledge nurses and doctors and healthcare workers".
Ms Dorries added: "All other public-sector employees are facing a pay freeze, are having no increase whatsoever, we didn't think that was the right thing to do for the healthcare sector given what they've been through over the last year.
"That is why we decided they have to have something and we've recommended the 1%, which is what we can afford."
Government pressed hard on NHS pay row
The Government is being asked tough questions this morning on its stance on NHS staff pay, saying they cannot afford more than a 1 per cent increase in an unprecedented period of spending.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries said the Government "would love to do more" than a proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England "but at this present point in time it's been fighting the pandemic for the past year which has been a priority".
Ms Dorries told the BBC's Today Programme: "I trust the Chancellor, I trust him in handling the nation's purse strings.
"All of us, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, I don't think there's any of us who have not been touched or have needed NHS services over the past year.
"The Chancellor believes that this is what we can afford to pay NHS staff across the board, and this is our recommendation to the pay review body, we will have to see what the pay review body come back and say, and we're also waiting for feedback from unions and all stakeholders across the sector."
Pictured: Boris Johnson on his morning run
The Prime Minister has been pictured jogging this morning.
Ofsted chief does not rule out lengthening school day
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said it was "important" that children get the "full amount of schooling that we know that they can cope with and benefit from".
Asked whether school days should be longer, or holidays shorter, she said: "I think we need to make sure children get their full allocation of schooling.
"Around the world we see quite a bit of variation in the number of hours of teaching that children get across the school year.
"What is important is that we make sure that children get the full amount of schooling that we know that they can cope with and benefit from."
Ms Spielman also said she hoped measures such as coronavirus tests for pupils and the wearing of face coverings in secondary schools would be in place for "as short a time as possible".
"I understand the need for ... infection controls, but at the same time I hope that it needs to be there for as little time as possible."
Remote learning has been sticking plaster, Ofsted chief says
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said many families have been stretched "almost to breaking point" with remote education.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "A large proportion of children are just bored, lonely, miserable.
"Remote education has been a sticking plaster that we have had to apply, but it just doesn't replicate what you get when you have good teachers in good schools and the social benefits of being in school alongside your peers."
She said that some younger children have been "going backwards" in the language they use, and the ability to use a knife and fork - while there have been signs of increased mental health problems among older children.
Asthma sufferers refused jab, charity warns
Some people with severe asthma who are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine have been refused one by their GP, a charity has warned.
Asthma UK said there is widespread confusion over the guidance for who should be in priority group six, after some GPs appeared to say only those with recent hospital admission - rather than any history of admission - should be included.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance for group six says anyone with asthma that has resulted in admission to hospital should be given a vaccination, alongside those who have had three tablet or liquid steroid prescriptions over a three-month period.
People with asthma who were shielding have already been vaccinated in group four, while those with milder asthma must wait for a jab according to their age.
ICYMI: Boris Johnson gives up cheese
Boris Johnson has been on a fitness drive since his Covid scare.
Here is his take on it.
Timings of March lockdown stifled by conflicting advice, says expert
Asked if he thought epidemiologists did not really have the ear of Government in early March last year, Prof Hayward told Times Radio: "The concept, you know, the political concept of going into lockdown and doing something like that seemed so extraordinary...
"Also, I think there was conflicting advice ... there was some advice if you go too early then people will get tired of it, but it did seem to be fairly inevitable that we would need to do something like that at some stage.
"I think the timing of it was something that they were getting conflicting advice on.
"However, I think we didn't learn our lesson from that and we didn't really learn the lesson that lockdowns are going to be way, way more effective if you start them earlier."
Prof Hayward said it is much easier to put out a very small fire than it is to put out a really big forest fire.
"When it came to the following autumn, we didn't learn that lesson," he said.
'We left things too late', says Prof Hayward
Looking back on the beginning of the pandemic, Prof Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UCL, told Times Radio: "I think one of the reasons that we've had so many deaths is that we left things far too late, in terms of taking more restrictive measures.
"We should have been taking social distancing measures, if not a full lockdown then other measures that were trying to separate people much earlier.
"At that time, of course, we also didn't really have the same mechanisms to measure how much disease there was in the community, so we were largely only really seeing the tip of the iceberg of cases.
"By the time you start to see major increases in deaths then it was really too late to take action, and hence the levels got extraordinarily high before we took effective action, and it took a long, long time for them to go back down again."
Moldova becomes first European country to receive Covax jabs
Moldova became the first European country to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the global Covax scheme, Moldova President Maia Sandu said on Friday.
She said on Twitter the first batch of 14,400 doses arrived in Moldova last night.
The first Covax vaccines were administered in Cote d'Ivoire on Monday.
Read our dispatch here.
Denmark u-turn on AstraZeneca jabs to over-65s
Denmark's health authority said on Friday it would recommend giving Oxford/AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to everyone aged over 18.
The health agency has previously only recommended giving the shot to under 65s.
EU put too much emphasis on saving money on jabs, concedes Italian MP
Wrapping up the interview, Ms Quartapelle was asked if there were lessons to be learned by the Italian government.
She said: "Certainly the lesson you cannot trust firms. That if they promise to do something, they don’t do it.
"They sign contracts with other countries that are more advantageous."
She eventually conceded: "The EU a could probably have done better in the sense that it out to much emphasis on price and not delivery."
Australian ex-leader: EU is entering a nationalist trade policy of vaccine nationalism
In response, Alexander Downer the former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, split the row into two.
He told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme: "There are two isseus here - the emotional one, which is an important one actually.
"We don't want to see Italians die - they are lovely people. And Australia has handled the Covid issue as well as any country on earth.
"The reasons Australia has handled it well is because it's thought it through very carefully on how to deal with the problem and acted pretty vigorously in negotiation contracts a long time ago.
"The second point is on the technical issue. The expectation on that contract. It's OK. Australia will get by without them. But as a matter of principle this isn't the way to conduct international trade.
The EU is forever talking about the importance of multilateralism and suddenly it's decided that multilateralism is 'only when it suited us'.
"Now we're going to enter a nationalist trade policy, a vaccine nationalism."
Asked if it would not have been better if Italy had called Australia to ask them to help out given the disparity in cases, Mr Downer said: "That might’ve been possible.
"It would’ve been much better that bludgeoning around with some sort of EU law where you can just terminate arrangements with other countries outside the EU. You saw the turmoil it caused in the UK."
Italian MP: AstraZeneca is not bananas or milk - it can save lives daily
Here is what the Italian had to say, in full, on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme.
Lia Quartapelle, an Italian politician of the Democratic Party (PD), said: "It is allowed by EU law and we got approved the decision by the EU Commission.
"The situation is very simple - Italy is registering 20,845 cases yesterday. Australia only 11.
"AstraZeneca has delivered to Italy only 40percent of what was written in the contract that it would deliver by the end of March.
"We are asking AstraZeneca to respect the contracts because we need those vaccinations."
She then went on: "I'm amazed by the fact that the problem is that Italy bans the export and the problem is not AstraZeneca not delivering what is written in the contracts.
"Italy is coming under scrutiny for something that is allowed while AstraZeneca is doing something that is not allowed under the contract it signed. I do not understand why."
Told by presenter Nick Robinson that the probable reason for that would be that Italy along with other countries have cast doubt over the effectiveness of the vaccine, even banning its use in over-65s, only to reverse its decision after UK data was released, Ms Quartapelle said: "We ordered jabs for our population. They're not delivering.
"It's not a matter of how we intend to use those jabs. Whether we intend to give them to doctors or professors.
"It's not doing this on bananas or milk - it's doing this on something that can save lives daily."
Cyprus to welcome vaccinated British tourists from May 1
Cyprus said it will open its borders to vaccinated Britons from the beginning of May - although UK government restrictions on foreign travel will still be in force.
Nearly a million people in the UK have received two doses of a Covid-19 jab, and the Cypriot government said those who had both jabs could travel without restrictions from May 1.
However, the date Cyprus has set to open its borders to Britons is still more than two weeks before the earliest people in England will be able to leave the country for holidays.
It comes as analysis found seaside accommodation prices have risen by an average of 35% this summer compared with last year, owing to a surge in demand for staycations.
The study by consumer group Which? indicated that prices have been hiked in 10 of the UK's most visited beach destinations, including St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.
Government 'cannot afford' more than 1pc pay rise for NHS staff
Health Minister Nadine Dorries said the Government could not afford to give NHS staff in England a pay rise of more than 1%.
She told Sky News: "Of course, we recognise the sacrifice and the commitment and the vocation of nurses and all health workers over the past year.
"We've all been touched by, or personally experienced, help by NHS workers.
"But I think it is important to note that the priority of the Government has been about protecting people's livelihoods, about continuing the furlough scheme, about fighting the pandemic, and we've put huge effort into that.
"We do not want nurses to go unrecognised - or doctors - and no other public-sector employee is receiving a pay rise, there has been a pay freeze.
"But the 1% offer is the most we think we can afford which we have put forward to the pay review body."
Society will have to deal with 'substantial' deaths in future
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said society will have to live with a degree of mortality that will be "substantial", but added that we will "get back to normal".
He told Times Radio: "I think, you know, given the societal trade-offs, we are going to have to live with a degree of mortality that will be substantial.
"I think it will get less over time as more people get vaccinated, and as more people get immune, and I do believe that we've been through the worst of this."
Prof Hayward said he does not think new variants of Covid-19 will completely evade vaccine-related immunity.
"The vaccines will still take the sting out of it, if you like, and reduce the case fatality rates," he said.
"Of course, we have the technology to update the vaccines and I think that's where we're going really, a situation that will be much more like flu, the numbers of deaths will be much more like flu, the approach to surveillance of new strains and development of new vaccines and regular annual vaccinations will be like that. And we will get back to normal."
Mystery organiser of shipping container rave fined £10,000
The mystery organiser of an illegal music event held during lockdown, who ran away when officers went to shut down the event, has been identified and is now facing a £10,000 fine.
Officers were called to Trowbridge Road, Hackney at 3am on Sunday 7 February after reports of anti-social behaviour from people in the vicinity of a series of shipping containers.
Members of the public reported hearing loud music and seeing more than 30 people gathered near Trowbridge Gardens.
On arrival, police found the dangerous event underway and a crowd of people around two stacked shipping containers, a barefaced breach of Covid regulations.
Chief Inspector Pete Shaw, from the Hackney and Tower Hamlets policing area, said: "It is frustrating that, almost a year into the pandemic, there are still some people acting so selfishly, especially given the awful human cost from this virus."
Seaside staycations 35pc more expensive this year
Seaside accommodation prices have risen by an average of 35% this summer compared with last year, according to analysis.
A study by consumer group Which? indicated that prices have been hiked in 10 of the UK's most visited beach destinations, including St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.
People in England could be permitted to stay in self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets from April 12 under Boris Johnson's road map for easing lockdown restrictions.
Foreign holidays - which may be allowed from May 17 - are likely to involve several restrictions and requirements such as coronavirus testing and self-isolation periods.
This has led to many people booking staycations, resulting in them becoming more expensive.
Today's front page
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Friday, Mar 5.
New Zealand lifts lockdown
New Zealand will lift a Covid-19 lockdown on nearly two million people on Sunday, as authorities say they are confident that a virus cluster in the country's largest city has been contained.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday the stay-at-home order for Auckland will end early Sunday, one week after it was imposed in response to a mystery case that contact tracing could not explain.
It later emerged that family members of the infected person had defied isolation orders, socialising with friends who later tested positive for Covid-19.
With the case's origins solved, quarantine protocols were enforced and Ms Ardern said the cluster had been limited to 15 cases, allowing Aucklanders to leave their homes.
"This plan is consistent with our cautious and careful elimination strategy," she told reporters.
Cyprus will allow vaccinated Britons to visit from May 1
Cyprus will allow British tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 into the country without restrictions from May 1, its tourism minister said on Thursday.
British visitors are the largest market for Cyprus's tourism industry, which has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.
Arrivals and earnings from the sector, which represents about 13 per cent of the Cypriot economy, plunged on average 85 per cent in 2020.
"We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated ... so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine," Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency.
Visitors would need to be inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, he said.
Today's top stories
The European Union began blocking exports of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on Thursday as Europe's leaders finally admitted they were wrong about the jab and that it worked
The Prime Minister is facing a Tory backlash over face masks in the classroom as 32 MPs demand that the measure is dropped after Easter
Excess deaths in England and Wales may already be back to normal levels following steep falls in recent weeks, experts have said
Care home residents can see family and friends even if they have not been vaccinated, new guidance says
The number of patients with Covid in hospitals in England has dropped to below 10,000 for the first time since the start of the second lockdown in November, NHS figures reveal
Air travel will not be back to normal levels for at least three years, the Government’s independent forecaster has said, as it warned the industry of a slowdown similar to the aftermath of 9/11
Pubs and restaurants were asked to carry out contact tracing calls to customers in breach of data protection rules, leaked documents reveal