Coronavirus latest news: Delay to lifting restrictions will prevent UK 'slipping into another lockdown'

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Soldiers from the Royal Horse Artillery guide members of the public at a rapid vaccination centre, set up outside Bolton Town Hall - Getty
Soldiers from the Royal Horse Artillery guide members of the public at a rapid vaccination centre, set up outside Bolton Town Hall - Getty

Delaying a final end to coronavirus restrictions by four weeks will help prevent Britain from "slipping into another lockdown", according to an expert advising the Government.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the SPI-M modelling group, said pushing back the final lifting of restrictions will give scientists a chance to assess whether a rise in coronavirus cases is leading to a corresponding increase in hospital admissions.

"The key thing now is not just looking at cases but really trying to establish the link between cases and hospital admissions," he said.

"We are starting to see early signals that hospital admissions are going up, but it is just slightly unclear exactly how much we may expect them to go up over the next couple of weeks given the vaccines are playing a very key role.

"Of course they (the vaccines) are not 100 per cent perfect so we need to be cautious. We don't want to go backwards when it comes to control, we don't want to be slipping into another lockdown."

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson will delay the June 21 "freedom day" following another sharp rise in cases of the Indian or Delta variant, with plans under way to use the time to push harder on the vaccine rollout.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

08:12 AM

Sharp rise in cases takes Russia's case tally to three month high

Russia has reported 13,510 new coronavirus cases,, the fifth day of a sharp rise that has taken the daily infection tally to a three-month high.

The announcement came a day after Moscow's mayor said he was expecting to see a peak in infections in the capital in June or July.

The new cases reported in the last 24 hours brought the national tally to 5,193,964. The government's coronavirus task force said 399 more people had died, pushing the national death toll to 126,073.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate tally and has said that Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to Covid-19 between April 2020 and April 2021.

07:56 AM

Emergence of highly infectious Delta variant 'a disappointing setback'

The Delta variant has turned the pandemic "up another gear", a scientists advising the Government has warned.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme Professor Peter Openshaw said the emergence of the variant, first detected in India, means ministers should be cautious about lifting lockdown restrictions.

"It is such a disappointing setback that there is another variant that seems even more successful than the previous variants. This Delta variant seems to be about 60% more transmissible than that (the Alpha variant).

"So it really has gone up another gear and that means that we really have to double down and not lose all the advantage that has been gained by the massive effort that has been put in so far."

Delta variant Q&A: are the symptoms different, and do vaccines protect against it?

07:45 AM

Covid school closures in poorer countries could 'affect this generation forever'

Covid-19’s mass school closures could “affect this generation forever”, according to emerging evidence from countries around the world showing lower test scores, a loss of key skills and a higher risk of children dropping out as a result of the pandemic.

Experts have long expected the closures to have huge repercussions, but until recently, the evidence came mainly from higher income countries.

Now, emerging data from low and middle income countries - where many schools have been closed for far longer - has shown even more dramatic impacts.

Professor Guilherme Lichand, a Brazilian economist at the University of Zurich who has studied the impact of school closures in São Paulo, Brazil, said: “It is arguably too late already, and this generation is going to be affected forever.”

Jennifer Rigby has more details on this story here.

07:36 AM

'I don't think we can afford to make a bad decision', health experts say on unlocking

Lots of reaction to the news that the Prime Minister looks set to delay the June 21 unlocking, this morning. But health experts have largely welcomed the news.

Professor Tom Solomon, director of the Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at the University of Liverpool, told BBC Breakfast that Covid restrictions should be kept in place for another month until more people are vaccinated:

"I completely understand that people want to get back to normal and businesses want to get going again, so I've got a lot of sympathy for that view.

"But I don't think we can afford again to make a bad decision and open up on the 21st [of June] and then within a few weeks we realise that was the wrong decision and then we are having to go all the way back.

"Although the vaccines are having a massive impact and they are keeping the disease under control, we are dealing with this Delta variant which is spreading much more quickly.

"If you look at hospitalisations, they are doubling - the numbers are small but they are doubling approximately every seven days - and so if you then suddenly say we are going to open up completely we may end up with the hospitals overwhelmed again.

"So I think, unfortunately, we are just going to have to maybe give it another month until we have so many more people vaccinated."

06:59 AM

Former Tory MEP reveals she was put under DNR order against her will

A former Tory MEP has told how she was given a “do not resuscitate” order at the height of the pandemic without her consent or even her knowledge.

Caroline Jackson, 74, a former chair of the European Parliament’s Environment, Consumer Protection and Public Health Committee, was admitted to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford last May for an operation on her broken pelvis.

However, she was “very shocked” to discover after her discharge that medics had decided she should not be resuscitated in the event her heart stopped.

Read the full story

Read more: Hancock promises investigation into inappropriate ‘do not resuscitate’ orders

06:35 AM

Vaccine heroes take pride of place in Queen’s Birthday Honours

The Oxford professors behind Britain’s coronavirus vaccine are among hundreds of “heroes” of the pandemic recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Prof Sarah Gilbert, who co-designed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is awarded a damehood, while her colleague Prof Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, is knighted.

A damehood also goes to Kate Bingham, who led the procurement and deployment of the vaccines and has been credited with the huge success of the rollout.

Read the full story

05:47 AM

Mexico says virus has affected a quarter of its population

About a quarter of Mexico's 126 million people are estimated to have been infected with the coronavirus, the health ministry said on Friday, far more than the country's confirmed infections.

The 2020 National Health and Nutrition Survey (Ensanut) showed that about 31.1 million people have had the virus, the ministry said in a statement, citing Tonatiuh Barrientos, an official at the National Institute of Public Health.

The estimate was given as the country recorded 3,282 new cases and 243 more fatalities, taking its total number of confirmed infections to 2,448,820 and the death toll to 229,823.

A girl is sanitised as she enters a school during the resumption of face-to-face classes in Mexico City on June 7 - AFP
A girl is sanitised as she enters a school during the resumption of face-to-face classes in Mexico City on June 7 - AFP

05:09 AM

We’ll quash future ‘zoonotic’ pandemics within 100 days, vow G7 leaders

Britain is to open a new animal vaccine development centre that will aim to stop viruses leaping into the human population, as part of a landmark global health declaration to be agreed by G7 leaders on Saturday.

The Carbis Bay Declaration will see the world’s leading democracies commit to a series of measures that are designed to quash future pandemics within the first 100 days.

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the Covid-19 crisis, the G7 will pledge to reinforce global surveillance networks, boost genomic sequencing capacity, and support reform of the World Health Organisation.

Read the full story

04:24 AM

Wedding hopefuls face anxious wait

When Samantha Penney wakes up on Monday morning, she is hoping to hear the news she has been waiting for – that her wedding the following week is finally on.

Penney, 36, and her husband-to-be Steve Weaver, 46, are one of 50,000 couples in the UK currently hoping to get married in the first four weeks after the restrictions on weddings are due to lift on June 21.

Penney and Weaver, from Hertfordshire, are on their second attempt at a full-sized wedding, with 139 guests due to celebrate with them on Friday, June 25.

Read the full story

02:18 AM

FDA asks J&J to discard millions of vaccine doses

The US Food & Drug Administration on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must throw away millions of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine that were manufactured at a problem-plagued Baltimore factory but also cleared millions for use.

Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that the agency had cleared about 10 million doses. The New York Times said that the batches being discarded amount to about 60 million doses, citing people familiar with the matter.

Without disclosing or confirming the number of vaccine doses, the FDA said in a news release that it had authorised two batches of the vaccine for use, that several other batches were not suitable for use and that others were being evaluated.

12:37 AM

Half of those previously not willing to get vaccine have had jab

More than half of people who said they would definitely not get a coronavirus vaccine last year have gone on to have the jab, a study has found.

Some 52 per cent of those who said they would not get a jab when asked in November and December 2020 have now done so, according to research by King's College London and the University of Bristol.

And among people who said they were not very or not at all likely to accept a vaccine when asked last year, 84 per cent have since been vaccinated.

Read the full story

Read more: G7 vaccine largesse all hinges on timing, says Covax

12:15 AM

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