What happened today?
Good evening, that's all for now. Here's a roundup of UK coronavirus developments:
More than three quarters of all adults have now received a first vaccine dose, and nearly half are fully vaccinated with two shots
The Prime Minister threatened to put more countries on the "red list" for international travel - requiring hotel quarantine on return - and the "amber list" as he vowed to have "no hesitation" in re-imposing curbs on green countries
But Boris Johnson gave the best indication yet that the final stage in England's roadmap will go ahead on June 21, as he reiterated there was"nothing in the data at the moment" to delay
The Government's education catch-up tsar quit after his proposals for a £15bn rescue package to help schools recover from the Covid-19 pandemic was watered down by the Treasury
The speed of misinformation about vaccines is a "deadly threat" and "fake news travels fast", Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned, calling jab hesitancy an "international challenge" but praised the UK's role models such as 'JVT' for helping lift Britain's vaccine confidence to "sky high" levels
Nearly 40 per cent of recently registered Covid deaths in England and Wales were people who died primarily from another condition, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed
The country cannot "scamper down a rabbit hole" with every new variant, leading Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team member Sir John Bell warned, after the UK recorded zero daily Covid deaths for the first time in the pandemic on Tuesday.
Nearly a quarter of restaurants, pubs and bars remain closed
Almost a quarter of restaurants, pubs and bars have yet to reopen, with 8,500 closing their doors for good, new analysis has found.
Close to 25,000 licensed premises remain shut, with the current social distancing rules making it unviable for many to reopen their doors, according to research from the Market Recovery Monitor.
Industry leaders described the figures as "alarming" and called for greater financial support to save "thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs".
Many venues have found it difficult to hire front of house staff and chefs, with a shortage of 188,000 workers, according to UKHospitality. Kate Nicholls, the body's chief executive, said the uncertainty surrounding the restrictions had made the industry less appealing.
Here's a reminder of Boris Johnson' travel list warning earlier
Reaction to education catch-up tsar quitting
Here's how various education leaders are reacting to Boris Johnson's schools catch-up tsar quitting amid a row over funding for a Covid rescue package.
Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, said on Twitter: "To lose someone of the stature of Sir Kevan Collins is a real blow. Whilst today's catch up money is hugely welcome, to repair damage of school closures, to improve attainment & outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, we need a properly resourced, radical long-term plan & funding."
To lose someone of the stature of Sir Kevan Collins is a real blow. Whilst today's catch up money is hugely welcome, to repair damage of school closures, to improve attainment & outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, we need a properly resourced, radical long-term plan & funding 👇 https://t.co/1M9yjmlid0
— Robert Halfon MP -Working Hard for Harlow- (@halfon4harlowMP) June 2, 2021
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We are sad but not surprised that Sir Kevan Collins is reported to be standing down as education recovery commissioner following the Government's announcement of a recovery package which clearly falls a long way short of what he had in mind.
"We know that Sir Kevan had much bolder and broader plans but that these required substantially more investment than the Government was willing to provide.
"He's tried his hardest on behalf of children and young people, but, in the final analysis, the political will just wasn't there to support him."
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: "Kevan Collins' resignation is a damning indictment of the Conservatives' education catch-up plan.
"He was brought in by Boris Johnson because of his experience and expertise in education, but the Government has thrown out his ideas as soon as it came to stumping up the money needed to deliver them."
Education catch-up tsar quits after Treasury watered down his £15bn rescue package
Boris Johnson’s education catch-up tsar has quit after his proposals for a £15bn rescue package to help schools recover from the covid-19 pandemic was watered down by the Treasury.
Sir Kevan Collins, who was appointed by the Prime Minister last year to help students recover after months of disruption from school closures, had put forward a series of proposals including extending the school day.
However, after the Government on Tuesday announced a £1.4bn funding package for teacher training and pupil tuition - a tenth of what he had recommended - Sir Kevan last night decided to resign in protest.
In a resignation letter sent to Boris Johnson on Wednesday, seen by TES, Sir Kevan said: “Prior to my appointment you announced the ambition that lost learning caused by the pandemic be recovered within this Parliament.
Geoff Barton of ASCL on Sir Kevan's decision to quit:
"We are sad but not surprised that KC is reported to be standing down as Education Recovery Commissioner following the gov's announcement of a recovery package which clearly falls a long way short of what he had in mind."
— Harry Yorke (@HarryYorke1) June 2, 2021
As reported in @Telegraph this morning, Sir Kevan was "deeply frustrated" by Treasury's refusal to come forward with funding to secure more ambitious package
Allies took aim at Rishi Sunak, and say the Treasury is "completely in denial" about the scale of investment required https://t.co/h3H2L9eIoH
— Harry Yorke (@HarryYorke1) June 2, 2021
Vaccinate teenagers, says Blackburn health chief
Covid vaccines for 12-18 year olds are "desperately needed" to fight case numbers, the public health director for Blackburn with Darwen says.
Professor Dominic Harrison wants the Pfizer vaccine approved for the age group, saying that rates are "exceptionally high" among 17 and 18 year olds in the area.
He says there is a "very big shift" from the previous waves of the virus, with 13 out of the 21 people currently being treated in local hospitals aged below 55.
The latest government figures show that Blackburn with Darwen has the highest rate of cases in the country, with 416.2 cases per 100,000 residents in the week leading up to 31 May, an increase of 135 on the figure from seven days before.
Covid vaccine expiry dates could be extended as African nations forced to dump doses
Covid-19 vaccine expiry dates may be extended amid growing frustrations that countries in Africa are being forced to dump jabs because they have a short shelf-life.
Last month, Malawi incinerated 20,000 expired doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine.
The manufacturer said they would be safe to use for another three months, but ministers were concerned that using them would hit already shaky vaccine confidence.
Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs have shelf lives of six months, although once the Pfizer vaccine is taken out of its deep-freeze storage conditions it must be used within a month.
Now there is a push to extend these timelines, particularly considering the fact that many other vaccines have three-year use-by dates.
Read the full story: Push to extend Covid vaccine shelf-life as African nations forced to dump doses
Moderna gears up to halve Covid vaccine dose
Moderna is preparing to halve the dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, the US pharmaceutical company said on Wednesday, so that it can also be used to combat variants and inoculate children.
It has agreed a deal with Swiss-based drugmaker Lonza which said a new drug substance production line in Geleen, Netherlands, will have capacity to make ingredients for up to 300 million doses annually at 50 micrograms per dose.
Moderna, which has been studying lower-dose versions to help stretch supplies of its vaccine, has been delivering an approved 100-microgram dose to date.
The drugmaker has said early booster shot data for a 50-microgram version showed it helped protect against emerging virus variants. Lower-doses may also be given to children who may not require a full one.
Combined with a previous deal with Spain's Rovi, Moderna's pact with Lonza brings 50-microgram production in Europe to up to 600 million doses annually, with the capacity due to come on line this year.
US state offers prize lottery for vaccinated - including guns
In West Virginia in the US, anyone who has been fully vaccinated can sign up to win prizes including a $1.588 million grand prize, $588,000 second prize, school scholarships, custom-outfitted trucks and weekend breaks at state parks.
In addition to money and holidays, the prizes also include lifetime hunting licenses, hunting rifles and shotguns.
Governor Jim Justice said the vaccination push is crucial for saving lives, telling a news conference that "we have to get all of our folks across the finish line."
Many GP practices 'not safe' for walk-in patients, claims British Medical Association
Many GP practices are “not safe” for walk-in patients, the British Medical Association has said, in a continued backlash against NHS guidance to hold appointments in person.
Last month health officials said all patients should have the right to see a GP in person. The guidance stressed that people should be able to visit their surgery, in order to secure an appointment.
But the doctors’ union has repeatedly objected to the guidance.
Its latest GP committee bulletin says: "With social distancing and infection protection and control measures still necessary, patients should only receive a face-to-face appointment if they need one, not simply because they demand one.
“Many surgeries have restricted and unventilated reception areas and are not yet safe for patients to walk in without an assessment.”
Vietnam reverses international flight suspension
Vietnam will resume international flights to its two biggest cities, officials said on Wednesday, reversing a short-lived ban imposed over fears of a new Covid-19 wave.
As the country struggled to contain a virus outbreak in more than half of its territories, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam announced on Monday a temporary suspension for international passenger arrivals at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport from June 1-7.
A similar order was in force for the airport in commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City until June 14.
But on Wednesday the aviation authority told airports and airlines that it had reversed the suspension, without mentioning a timeframe or giving an explanation.
The country's Covid-19 cases have more than doubled in the past month, causing bars, restaurants and schools to close and a rush to secure vaccines.
Portugal takes next steps to ease Covid rules
Portugal will allow restaurants to stay open past midnight from mid-June and will lift its work from home order, as it takes its next steps towards easing Covid-19 restrictions.
From June 14, restaurants, cafes and pastry shops, which must currently close at 10.30 p.m, will be able to keep doors open until 1 a.m, and most public transport can return to operating at 100 per cent capacity.
Bars and nightclubs will stay shut until at least the end of August and masks remain mandatory outdoors in crowded places. There are no more restrictions on retail opening hours and cultural shows can run until midnight under capacity restrictions.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday that "British tourists continue to be welcome" in Portugal despite concerns about the spread of the Indian, or Delta, variant.
Greek islands, Malta and parts of Caribbean could soon be on the green list, says industry expert
Several Greek islands, Malta and parts of the Caribbean could be added to the green travel list on Thursday, according to an industry expert.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said a number of popular holiday destinations "really deserve" to be moved to the low-risk tier.
Mr Charles told the PA News Agency that he expects additions to the list to include the Greek islands of Zante, Rhodes and Kos, the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Antigua, plus Malta and Finland.
"It would be a boost to see those added. I still think we're going to get the majority of European countries added at the end of June, but it would be an encouraging step forward," he said.
Holidaymakers returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate, and only need to take one post-arrival coronavirus test. Assessments are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Six more Scotland players to miss game following positive test
Six more Scotland footballers will miss Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands, due to Covid-19 fears following John Fleck's positive test.
David Marshall, Stephen O'Donnell, Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley, John McGinn and Che Adams are not travelling with the rest of the squad to Portugal.
They have all tested negative but have been kept back as a precaution. Fleck is currently self-isolating at Scotland's training camp in Alicante.
Free circus tickets for vaccinated Russians - lions and all
A region of Russian Siberia is giving away 1,000 circus tickets to locals who agree to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The health ministry in Russia's Omsk Region has announced residents may claim a free ticket to the Omsk State Circus in exchange for getting their jab at a newly-set-up vaccination site on the circus premises, to try and boost uptake.
Those who get vaccinated there will receive a certificate which can be exchanged at the box office for a ticket to the next lion show performance, Interfax news agency reports.
Tatyana Kazantseva, head doctor at Omsk city clinic Number 10, suggested the move may be popular among Russians who have been reluctant to book a vaccination in a medical setting, adding the new site is well stocked with Russia's Sputnik V and CoviVac vaccines.
UK reports 12 more Covid deaths
The government said a further 12 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,794.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 4,330 confirmed cases in the UK.
'Speed is of the essence' as variant cases surge in North Wales
Health bosses in North Wales are urging people to get tested, even if they have no symptoms, following a surge in the Indian variant, now known as the Delta variant by the WHO.
A further 35 confirmed or presumptive cases of the variant were found in the area over the Bank Holiday weekend.
People living in Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay were urged to get tested, in a joint statement from Public Health Wales, Conwy County Borough Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Richard Firth, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, and chair of the multi-agency incident management team, said: "Speed is of the essence. The sooner we act, the better, so please, come forward for testing as soon as you can.
"The emergence of so many new cases of this transmissible new variant of coronavirus in the Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay areas is a reminder that we should not become complacent, even as rates of the virus across Wales remain low."
Everest climbers struggle to find return flights amid Nepal travel curbs
Climbers returning from Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks are struggling to find return flights back home after Nepal banned most air travel from the country to try and contain a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Nepal issued 742 permits – 408 of those to climbers aiming to reach the top of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest - in the April-May climbing season. Now, hundreds of climbers are returning from the mountains before the onset of the annual monsoon season, but international flight restrictions throughout June are making it difficult for some climbers to get home.
Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, a senior official at Kathmandu-based private firm Seven Summit Treks, said climbers were finding it difficult to get home as only five weekly flights - to India, Qatar and Turkey - were operational.
"The situation could worsen as more climbers wind up their expeditions and return to Kathmandu in the next few days," Sherpa told Reuters.
Andrew Hughes, from the US, said he had to pay for an expensive seat on a chartered flight to Qatar on Wednesday night due to the shortage of regular flights. Mexican climber Viridiana Alvarez, who had been stranded in Nepal for nearly three weeks after climbing Mount Annapurna, said she was lucky to find a seat on a chartered flight, also to Qatar.
Pledging conference secures extra $2.4bn for Covax vaccine sharing scheme
A pledging summit for the Covax vaccine distribution scheme has generated almost $2.4 billion in new contributions, bringing the total funding for the initiative to nearly $9.6 billion, Sarah Newey reports.
The conference came at a critical moment for vaccine rollout, with just 0.4 per cent of the 1.8 billion shots administered worldwide going to low income countries - a disparity that has been called a "vaccine apartheid".
Today, Japan's prime minister announced another $800 million to the UN.-backed Covax program, taking the country's total contribution to $1 billion.
Leaders from Australia, Austria, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were also among those citing their efforts to build momentum for greater vaccine equity.
Speaking at the event Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, added: "Restrictions in international trading create ripple effects in the supply chain. It is also clear that vaccine donations are essential; we are working with Covax and other governments to unlock further supplies."
More than 75pc of UK adults get first dose of Covid jab
More than three quarters of UK adults have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the latest figures published on Wednesday show, as the vaccination programme continues at pace.
Health services across the UK have now administered over 65.6 million vaccines between December 8 and June 1, including over 39.5 million people with their first dose (75.2 per cent) and over 26 million with both doses (49.5 per cent) ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against Covid-19 from a second dose.
The G7 Health Ministers’ summit this week follows the announcement last week that Janssen’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use by the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was an "incredible step forward in the largest and most successful vaccination programme in our history".
“Although we’ve come so far in less than six months since the world’s first authorised jab was given in the UK, our vital work is not done," he said.
"We must redouble our efforts on the second dose to ensure as many people as possible have maximum protection.
“We’ve brought forward appointments from 12 to 8 weeks for a second dose, and all over 30s are now eligible for the jab. I encourage everyone to come forward when the offer comes and play a part in getting us back to normality.”
500,000,000 AstraZeneca doses released for supply globally - Hancock
Half a billion doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been released for supply globally, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Speaking at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, he said: "The Oxford vaccine, developed by brilliant science here in Oxford, linked with AstraZeneca's industrial might, backed by the support of the UK Government, together, make it available at cost, this is in my view the greatest gift that this nation could give the world during this pandemic.
"A vaccine that's available at cost - with no charge but intellectual property - and that because it can be stored simply offers hope for the developing world.
"So, as well as the money that we've donated - giving half a billion pounds to Covax (the global vaccine sharing facility) - we've also given the world the vaccine, which makes up 96% of those Covax doses.
"As of today, I can confirm that over half a billion doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine have now been released for supply globally, the majority of them in low and middle income countries."
UK Government in talks for 'variant vaccine' to tackle South African strain
The Government has started commercial negotiations with AstraZeneca to secure a "variant vaccine" adapted to tackle the variant first identified in South Africa, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
In a speech delivered at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, he said: "There is yet more to do, the work isn't over yet - we're still procuring all the time and planning what we need to keep this country safe, including new vaccines specifically targeted at variants of concern.
"I can tell you today that we've started commercial negotiations with AstraZeneca to secure a variant vaccine - future supplies of the Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine that have been adapted to tackle the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa.
"Once again, we're leading the way and backing projects with potential, so we can keep our vaccination programme one step ahead of the virus and protect the progress that we've all made."
Vaccines 'breaking the chain' between infection and serious illness
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, described the latest vaccination rollout milestones as an "incredible achievement", with three-quarters of adults in the UK having received a first dose and 50 per cent of adults in England having been given both jabs.
He added: "We know vaccines are breaking the chain between infection rates, hospital admissions and death. But we also know two doses are better than one, particularly in our fight against the Delta (Indian) variant.
"So while there's a lot to celebrate, we've still got a way to go before people have had both jabs. We also know it takes three weeks for doses to be fully effective.
"We urge everyone to get their jabs when they're offered them."
Global vaccine rollout continues, in pictures
AstraZeneca row hit vaccine confidence across Africa, says continent's CDC
Vaccine confidence has dropped substantially across Africa since the start of the pandemic, according to Dr John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Speaking at a summit on Wednesday, Dr Nkengasong said a survey of 15,000 people from 15 countries before Covid vaccine rollout found vaccine acceptance ranged from 60 to 95 per cent.
"But over the subsequent months, when the vaccines became available, I think we have seen that in some countries that confidence in vaccines has fluctuated significantly."
He said part of this was due to concerns around the AstraZeneca shot and blood clots across Europe - at times, Dr Nkengasong said, the Africa CDC has had to convince political leaders and ministers to continue vaccinations.
"So each time you have a hit on any vaccine, whether it's because of variants, or any other factors, it has a serious effect on the ability for the population to continue to accept those vaccines."
Nearly 40pc of recent Covid victims died primarily of other conditions
Nearly 40 per cent of recently registered Covid deaths in England and Wales were people who died primarily from another condition, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
Out of 107 Covid deaths registered in the week ending May 21, just 66 had coronavirus recorded as the underlying cause of death, 61.7 per cent.
For the rest of the cases, although coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, it was not a major cause.
It is the lowest number of deaths with Covid as the underlying cause since the week ending March 13 2020, the first week that deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales, when just five registrations were listed.
Sarah Knapton has the full report: Nearly 40pc of recent Covid victims died primarily of other conditions
At current rates, it will take a decade to reach herd immunity in parts of Africa
At the current rate, it will take a decade for some African countries to reach herd immunity through vaccination, according to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of Facebook’s Oversight Board and former Prime Minister of Denmark.
Speaking at a conference on vaccine hesitancy, Thorning-Schmidt said that high access to shots mean that people will only die from Covid in richer countries if they are frail or have not had a shot.
"But we will still see people dying from Covid in poorer countries for a long time," she said. "Only 2% of the African population has been vaccinated, and with the speed of vaccination in some African countries, it will take a decade to get herd immunity."
She added that vaccine hesitancy is rising sharply across the continent, fuelled by a "lack of information, lack of trust, concerns about vaccine safety, and a lot of conspiracy theories".
This has also been "exacerbated by the confusing global debate about safety and efficiency of various vaccines, and some wealthier countries being very vocal and rather coy about avoiding certain vaccines", she said.
Hancock: 'You can't buy your way into the vaccine queue'
The Health Secretary has defended the order of priority for coronavirus vaccines, not just clinically for saving lives, but for encouraging vaccine uptake.
Matt Hancock told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit that in the UK it was important for people to know that people couldn't "buy their way up the queue".
"In fact, you can't buy your way into the queue at all," he said at the Science Museum in London. "The private jets haven't all lined up at Heathrow Airport to get it.
"Not far from where you're sitting (at the Science Museum in London), was where I got in the queue to get my jab a month ago, and Prince William, our future king, waited in that same line for his jab a couple of weeks after me - no special treatment, no queue-jumping.
"And I think that's one of the things that make people feel that the vaccine is for them, and that the programme is being delivered fairly according to need."
Chris Whitty: People have 'perfectly reasonable questions' about vaccines
Most people cautious about vaccines are starting from a "perfectly rational position", according to England's chief medical officer.
Sarah Newey reports that, speaking at a conference on vaccine hesitancy, Prof Chris Whitty said people are keen to understand three factors before they take any shot: whether the vaccine work; whether the disease is serious enough to need vaccinating against; and the side effects.
"Most people who are a bit cautious actually have got perfectly reasonable questions. They want the best for them, their families, their children and their communities."
He added that tackling hesitancy must be viewed as part of a "wider engagement on health" to normalise vaccinations.
"Whether it's Covid in London, or polio in northern Nigeria or Pakistan, I think the end point you have to look to, is that people don't see vaccination as a one off.
"If the only time people engage with them are when the white Land Rovers are sweeping through for a polio vaccination campaign, or from the government in London on a vaccination campaign, and otherwise there is no interaction, understandably people's concerns are actually magnified, rather than reduced."
Openness and honesty critical for tackling 'deadly threat' of vaccine fake news
The speed of misinformation about vaccines is a "deadly threat", the Health Secretary has said.
Matt Hancock tells the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: "The speed of misinformation is a deadly threat.
"So we've had some of our best people on the case from the beginning, long before there was a licensed vaccine, countering the myths, countering the lies, treating people with respect, taking respectful hesitancy and giving respectful answers.
"A crucial component of that confidence, which is openness and honesty.
"Because it's not just been about getting all those positive facts to people but being honest and transparent about the difficult ones too - being upfront and completely transparent, for instance, about side effects, levelling with people that our supply will be lumpy and changing from week to week.
"And being open, when we haven't known the answer, like for instance we took time to find out the impact of new variants. So we didn't jump on the answers people wanted to hear."
Hancock: 'We don't give anti-vaxxers the oxygen of publicity'
Matt Hancock said that ministers attending the G7 health summit next week will discuss how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, and will also address the "worldwide pandemic of misinformation".
The Health Secretary said that ministers would be launching a global vaccination confidence campaign.
"We've made the argument that the jab is our way out of these restrictions, and everyone has a part to play," he tells the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit.
"We don't give anti-vaxxers the oxygen of publicity.
"Instead, we built a counter-narrative - scientifically rigorous, yet harnessing the really human emotions of joy and of community spirit that the vaccination programme can bring, and that positive tone has led to this spectacularly high take-up that we've seen."
JVT has become a 'household name', says Hancock
Britain has harnessed influential voices from "across the board" to encourage vaccine take-up, Matt Hancock has told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit.
The Health Secretary said: "Figures from cricket to comedy to cookery, and things like the NHS campaign that resulted in a sharp uptake in vaccine take-up, including around a 20 per cent increase in Asian communities.
"We use trusted voices in a cheerful, positive way, from Her Majesty the Queen to Sir David Attenborough, they publicly made it known that they'd got the jab, and they played their part in normalising the acceptance of the vaccine."
He added: "Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, our deputy chief medical officer, who's lead on the vaccine project, has become a household name, with people people getting T-shirts and mugs with his face on.
"Because people admire his straight-talking approach, and that I think has helped to build confidence."
UK will not hesitate to move green list countries to amber or red lists, says PM
The UK will not hesitate to move countries from the holidays green list to its amber and even red lists if necessary, "to protect the people of this country," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Asked whether more countries will this week be added to the green list, as is hoped by British holidaymakers and the travel industry, Mr Johnson said he was sympathetic to Britons wanting foreign holidays, but added: "We have got to be cautious and we have got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.
"We will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list, to the red list, if we have to do so.
"The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout and to protect the people of this country."
Still 'nothing in the data' to postpone June 21, says PM
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there is still "nothing in the data at the moment that means we cannot go ahead with Step 4" of lifting coronavirus restrictions on June 21.
But the Prime Minister said we must remain "cautious" as infection rates are increasing.
"We always knew that was going to happen," he said.
"What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, against a new surge, and there I'm afraid the data is still ambiguous.
"The best the scientists can say at the moment is we just need to give it a little bit longer."
Vaccinations turning the tide on the pandemic, says WHO
Vaccinations are starting to "turn the tide on the pandemic", the head of the World Health Organization has told a Vaccine Confidence Conference in London.
Speaking via a virtual link, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "the countries with the highest vaccination coverage are now seeing a significant decline in cases".
But he warned that a stark global imbalance in access - of 1.8 billion doses administered, just 0.4 per cent have been given in low income countries - is "ethically, epidemiologically and economically unacceptable".
He also said that tackling vaccine hesitancy will be critical to bring the pandemic to a close. Alongside the UK and Google, the WHO is also developing a cloud-based platform to provide real time insights on Covid-19 misinformation across the globe and counter it.
Israel reports link between Pfizer shot and male heart problem
Israel's Health Ministry said on Tuesday that the small number of heart inflammation cases observed mainly in young men who had received Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine were likely linked to their vaccination.
In Israel, 275 cases of the condition - know as myocarditis - were reported between December 2020 and May 2021, among more than 5 million vaccinated people, the ministry said.
In a study commissioned by the ministry, it found "there is a probable link between receiving the second dose (of Pfizer) vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30."
Most patients who experienced heart inflammation spent no more than four days in the hospital and 95 per cent of the cases were classified as mild, according to the study, which the ministry said was conducted by three teams of experts.
Pfizer said in a statement that it is aware of the Israeli observations of myocarditis and said no causal link to its vaccine has been established.
'Reasonable' to require care home staff to be vaccinated, says EHRC
It is "reasonable" to legally require all care home staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, said the UK's human rights watchdog.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said a proportionate approach to mandatory vaccination for care home workers could help to ease restrictions, allowing staff to work safely while giving residents more freedoms.
The government should include safeguards and minimise the risk of discrimination by including exemptions in legislation, such as for people who cannot have the jab for medical reasons. Any legislation should also have a sunset clause and be regularly reviewed, it added.
An EHRC spokesman said: "Requiring care home staff to be vaccinated offers a way of protecting older residents who are most at risk of severe illness and death due to Covid-19. This would support their right to a private and family life, to health, to live independently, as well as reducing the risk to workers.
"Mandatory vaccination it is not a new idea, as some NHS Trusts do require staff to have hepatitis B vaccines.
Germany to build up reserve vaccine capacity to fight future pandemics
Germany plans to pay vaccine manufacturers an annual reservation fee to build up reserve capacity of 600-700 million doses per year to help it fight future pandemics, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday.
The government plans to launch a call for tenders for so-called pandemic preparedness contracts with a five-year term, he told a news conference.
"We in the government have agreed that we want to provide capacity for production of vaccines in and for Germany," Spahn said, adding this could be activated very quickly so that vaccine production could start at short notice.
Manufacturing setbacks and an over-reliance on European Union approval for supplies slowed Germany's rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. It wants to boost domestic production to ensure it is not deprived of shots in future pandemics.
Germany will also set up a centre for pandemic vaccines at its vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute.
Singapore grants China's Sinovac Covid vaccine special access
Singapore will allow usage of the coronavirus vaccine of China's Sinovac Biotech under its special access route, the city-state said on Wednesday, following its approval by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Singapore had this week said it would allow private healthcare providers to access Covid-19 vaccines not approved by Singapore but on the WHO's emergency use listing. Sinovac was added to the WHO list on Tuesday.
The health ministry said it was studying the possibility for private healthcare institutions to access Singapore's current stock of 200,000 Sinovac doses, which it received in February.
The ministry said Sinovac's CoronaVac was not part of the national vaccine programme, under which Singapore is using shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
BLM protesters in Northern Ireland will not be charged for Covid breaches
No prosecutions are to be taken against Black Lives Matter demonstrators who participated in protests in Northern Ireland when strict coronavirus rules on public gatherings were in place.
The Public Prosecution Service said it has decided not to take action over 14 suspects reported to it for potential offences under Stormont's Covid-19 regulations.
The decisions relate to three protests that occurred last June - two in Belfast and one in Londonderry.
Officials concluded that the test for prosecution was not met because the suspects would have been able to successfully argue a defence of reasonable excuse.
Scottish Conservatives leader goes into self-isolation
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who had Covid-19.
Douglas Ross was in the Scottish Parliament this morning and questioned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood on Tuesday when she announced a delay to lockdown easing for three million Scots amid the spread of the Indian variant.
He is now self-isolating at an Edinburgh hotel and will be tested for coronavirus as soon as possible, a statement from his party says.
Four other MSPs and five members of staff will be tested as a precaution.
More details here:
— Alan Smith (@Political_AlanS) June 2, 2021
Cyprus checkpoints sealed by Covid-19 to reopen June 4, says UN
Checkpoints between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides of Cyprus are to reopen on Friday, the United Nations has said, marking the first time restrictions have been eased since December 2020 because of the pandemic.
Cyprus is split between its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations, with a number of designated checkpoints controlling movements between the north and south of the island.
"The reopening of all crossing points will facilitate free movement, promote people to people contacts, build trust and have an overall positive socio-economic impact across the island for the benefit of all Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," the United Nations mission on Cyprus said in a statement.
A committee of health experts from both sides would be assessing the situation on a bi-weekly basis.
Vehicle and pedestrian crossings have been subject to on-and-off closures since February 2020, when the Greek Cypriot side shut the checkpoints for the first time in decades to quell Covid-19.
UK vaccine rollout continues at pace, in pictures
China reports first human case of rare H10N3 bird flu strain
A 41-year-old man in China has been confirmed as the first human case of an infection with a rare strain of bird flu known as H10N3, in a “vivid reminder” of the continued threat of influenza.
Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday that the man, who lives in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was hospitalised on April 28 and diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28.
Officials did not offer details about how the man became infected, but it is currently thought that the H10N3 strain does not spread easily between humans.
There are many strains of bird flu circulating across China which sporadically infect people, usually those who work with poultry.
The 41-year-old man has now fully recovered from the infection and is ready to be discharged, the NHC said, adding contact tracing found no other cases.
We patients protected the NHS – now it's blaming us for its own failings
As thousands of patients with advanced cancers come to light, it takes some nerve to suggest they're the reason hospitals are struggling, Allison Pearson writes.
Back at the start of the first lockdown, all those aeons ago, a doctor gave me a piece of advice. “Don’t get ill, Allison,” he said. But I’m not really at risk from Covid, am I? “Forget about Covid,” he said, “Just don’t get ill from anything else for a year or two.” I thought he was joking. I didn’t know. Well, I do now.
Allison Pearson: Don't have the virus? Good luck getting hospital treatment
Poll: Can we get our freedoms back on June 21?
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to push ahead with lifting England's remaining Covid restrictions on June 21 after Nicola Sturgeon delayed the easing of lockdown in Scotland.
The First Minister's decision came despite the Government declaring zero Covid deaths in the UK for the first time since the pandemic began – a significant milestone that was cautiously welcomed by ministers and health chiefs.
It also comes despite the fact that Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will announce that 75 per cent of adults in the UK are expected to have received their first jab by the end of Wednesday as the nationwide vaccine rollout continues apace.
But what do you think?
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
Poland to raise limit for wedding guests as Covid-19 cases fall
Poland will triple the number of guests allowed at large gatherings like weddings, the health minister said on Tuesday, as the country eases Covid-19 restrictions further due to a falling number of cases.
With restaurants open for business and children back in schools, Poland has already lifted many of the restrictions it put in place to contain the virus in spring, and with cases decreasing authorities say further easing can be put in place for the summer.
"We can see a further decrease in the daily number of infections and beds occupied, despite the increasing mobility of Poles," Adam Niedzielski told a news conference. "This is why we are proceeding with further easing of restrictions."
The number of guests allowed at large gatherings will rise to 150 from 50 as of June 6, Niedzielski said, adding that people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will not be counted as part of this limit.
Proportion of deaths involving Covid at lowest level for eight months
The proportion of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales is at its lowest level for more than eight months, figures show.
There were 9,860 deaths from all causes registered in the week ending May 21, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Of these, 1.1pc (107 deaths) had coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate.
The last time the proportion was so low was in the week ending September 11, when the virus accounted for 1pc of deaths.
At the peak of the second wave, in the week ending January 29, Covid-19 accounted for 45.7pc of registered deaths.
£1.4 billion pupil catch-up cash branded 'pitiful' as recovery tsar admits more needed
The coronavirus catch-up tsar has said "more will be needed" to help children recover learning lost during the pandemic as school leaders branded the Government's extra £1.4 billion funding "pitiful".
The money, announced by the Department for Education on Wednesday, will be used to offer pupils up to 100 million hours of tuition as part of the Government's catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption due to Covid-19.
But the £1.4 billion - made available on top of £1.7 billion already pledged - has come under fire following suggestions that the Government's education recovery commissioner called for 10 times as much to be invested.
Lowest number of weekly Covid deaths recorded since September 2020
A total of 107 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 21 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics, which is the lowest number since the week ending September 11 2020.
The figure is down 29pc on the previous week.
Some 25 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to May 21, down 17pc on the previous week.
'I see the benefits directly' of a longer school day, says Education Secretary
Gavin Williamson said the Government would be reviewing school hours as part of "further improvements" to England's teaching system.
The Education Secretary told Sky News: "Longer term, we do want to see further changes and further improvements.
"That's why we are doing a review in terms of time within schools, how best we can use it.
"I think there is a debate to be had whether children should be exiting the school gate as they do in some schools at 2.45pm, or whether they should be in school later.
“I see the benefits directly… I think it’s really important to see how we can do that”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson tells #BBCBreakfast he supports extending the school day in England. https://t.co/3EIlwCTdvR pic.twitter.com/qykRAvklxL
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 2, 2021
Engineered pandemic as big a threat as nuclear war
The threat of an "engineered pandemic" on a scale many times worse than the global Covid outbreak needs to be treated with the same level of urgency as the threat of nuclear war, experts have warned.
In a stark report the Centre for Long-Term Resilience warns that biological warfare, a leak of a virus from a lab and out-of-control artificial intelligence pose an extreme threat to humanity's very existence. Yet they are being ignored by policy makers in the UK and across the world.
The report, entitled Future Proof, calls on the government to learn lessons from Covid-19 and seize a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to prepare for these and other extreme risks.
It says the "tragic events" of the pandemic have highlighted the need for the UK to transform its preparedness against biological threats. And it warns that the threat of diseases bio-engineered by humans – either by accident or by design – is growing "in step with the rapid march of biotechnological progress".
Read the full story from Anne Gulland, our Global Health Security Deputy Editor: 'Engineered pandemic' as big a threat as nuclear war, report warns
More money 'required' for lost pupil learning during pandemic, says Cabinet minister
Cabinet minister Gavin Williamson suggested more money will be "required" as the Government tackles lost pupil learning during the pandemic.
Put to him that an extra £1.4 billion amounted to £50 per pupil in England, the Education Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is quite unprecedented to be getting this quantum of money outside of a spending review.
"But what we decided we needed to do was deliver interventions and support and invest in children immediately."
Asked whether the Department for Education had not announced longer learning hours...due to a lack of extra funding, Mr Williamson said: "I have no doubt that in order to deliver everything we have ambitions for, for our children, there will be more that is required."
Recording zero Covid deaths on Tuesday 'promising', says Gavin Williamson
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said recording zero deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday was "promising" but urged the public not to be complacent.
Speaking to LBC radio, he said: "It shows that the enormous sacrifices of the British people are starting to really deliver.
"The fact that the British people have gone out there with verve and gusto and actually got vaccinated when so many other nations have not had that same level of take-up is a real credit.
"It is promising what we've seen in terms of zero deaths but we can't be complacent."
Mr Williamson added that was a sense in Government that there had been "really promising progress" towards scrapping all restrictions on June 21.
He said: "The vaccines are having an impact in terms of actually reducing transmission, reducing the number of people in hospital and it is these factors that are going to guide the decision."
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says the UK recording zero daily deaths yesterday shows "the enormous sacrifices of the British people are starting to really deliver".@NickFerrariLBC pic.twitter.com/iv09OQZqWW
— LBC (@LBC) June 2, 2021
The £1.4 billion for pupil Covid catch-up is 'part of process' of recovery, says Education Secretary
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the £1.4 billion announced for pupil Covid catch-up was "part of a process" of recovery.
The Cabinet minister also said that he had been "working closely" with the Government's catch-up tsar on the plan, following reports Sir Kevan Collins had called for £15 billion of investment to increase learning opportunities.
Mr Williamson told Sky News: "It is a lot of money and it builds on £1.7 billion that we've already committed in terms of actually delivering for children - it is an extra 100 million hours of tutoring.
"It is making sure that children who need that help, who need that support, that we're delivering that tutoring revolution to help them get it.
We started work on a vaccine before UK's first case, says Matt Hancock
The biggest risk during the pandemic was not to find a vaccine at all, Matt Hancock is expected to reveal, as he delivers a speech on the lessons learned from the response to coronavirus.
Speaking at the Jenner Institute in Oxford ahead of the UK-hosted G7 Health Ministers' Meeting this week, Mr Hancock is expected to say: "Even before the first Covid-19 case arrived in the UK we'd started the work on how to develop, procure and roll out the vaccines that would ultimately make us safe.
"I was told a vaccine had never been developed against any human coronavirus. We dared to believe ... and we started early.
"By March, we were supporting six different projects, including the Oxford vaccine, alongside the vital work on treatments - including the Recovery trial, which led to the discovery of dexamethasone, the first proven treatment to reduce coronavirus mortality. These two projects, together, have already saved over a million lives."
He will say: "The biggest risk would have been the failure to find a vaccine at all. So we explicitly embraced risk early on. So we backed lots of horses and invested at risk."
DVLA staff begin strike over Covid-related safety
Hundreds of workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have launched fresh industrial action in a long-running dispute over Covid-related safety.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the DVLA site in Swansea went on strike on Wednesday until Saturday.
The union warned it was entering a new phase of "sustained and targeted" industrial unrest for months to come.
The latest strike is the third time staff have walked out over demands for more safety measures.
The DVLA insists it has done everything possible to keep workers safe and has followed official guidelines.
Taiwan reports rise in new domestic Covid-19 cases
Taiwan reported 549 domestic Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, including 177 cases added to the totals for recent days as it continues to readjust its infection numbers following delays in reporting positive tests.
That was up from the 327 domestic infections reported on Tuesday.
Scotland fans warned not to travel to London without Euro 2020 match ticket
Scotland fans without a ticket to their team's Euro 2020 match with England have been warned not to travel to London by mayor Sadiq Khan.
There will be nowhere for large groups to gather in the capital for the match at 8pm on Friday June 18, with the traditional Trafalgar Square meeting place being used as a socially-distanced fan zone for key workers.
About 2,600 tickets have been allocated for Scotland supporters in Wembley, with pubs and bars also expected to limit the number of football fans allowed in during the European Championship, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Khan has joined the Scottish Government and Scottish Football Association to ask fans not to travel to the city unless they have a ticket, or a safe place to watch the match.
He said: "I am today urging all fans to only come to London if you have a ticket for the match or if you have arranged a safe place to watch it from, in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines."
Today's front page
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, June 2.
Israel sees link between Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis
Israel's Health Ministry said that the small number of heart inflammation cases observed mainly in young men who received Pfizer's vaccine were likely linked to their vaccination.
Pfizer has said it has not observed a higher rate of the condition, known as myocarditis, than would normally be expected in the general population.
In Israel, 275 cases of myocarditis were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than five million vaccinated people, the ministry said in disclosing the findings of a study it commissioned to examine the matter.
Most patients who experienced heart inflammation spent no more than four days in hospital and 95pc of the cases were classified as mild, according to the study, which the ministry said was conducted by three teams of experts.
The study found "there is a probable link between receiving the second dose (of Pfizer) vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30".
According to the findings, such a link was observed more among men aged 16 to 19 than in other age groups.
Pfizer said in a statement that it is aware of the Israeli observations of myocarditis, noting that no causal link to its vaccine has been established.
Longer school day for catch-up in doubt
Proposals to extend the school day risk being shelved amid a government row over the multi-billion pound price tag, The Telegraph understands.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has announced that disadvantaged children who need help to catch up will be offered tuition as part of a multi-billion pound Covid recovery programme. He also pledged millions for teacher training.
However, he stopped short of an expected announcement that the school day will be lengthened.
UK set to reach vaccine milestone
The UK is on the brink of reaching the milestone of three-quarters of adults receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine, amid debate over ending restrictions.
It is expected to come the day after no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year.
Latest Government data suggests that more than 39.4 million people have received their first dose - equating to 74.9pc of adults.
In a speech on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will praise the central role of the NHS in the vaccine rollout and say the Government "backed lots of horses", investing "at risk" in different projects.
Melbourne extends lockdown
A coronavirus lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city will be extended by another seven days, authorities announced on Wednesday, as they attempt to stamp out a cluster of cases in Melbourne.
"We have right now 60 cases and over 350 exposure sites and a variant of the virus that is quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before," said James Merlino, the acting premier of the state of Victoria.
"I know that this is not the news that everyone wants to hear."
Victoria had imposed a seven-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown to fight a growing Covid cluster in northern Melbourne.
But after six new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, Mr Merlino was forced to extend the temporary shutdown.
He said: "If we don’t do this... this thing will get away. This variant of concern will become uncontrollable and people will die. No one - no one - wants to repeat last winter."
Today' top stories
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to push ahead with lifting England's remaining Covid restrictions on June 21 after Nicola Sturgeon delayed the easing of lockdown in Scotland
Vaccination is keeping Covid patients out of intensive care, NHS bosses have said, as data shows that Indian variant hotspots have started to pass their peaks
Matt Hancock has ordered a detailed timeline of decisions made around care homes during the pandemic, with sources claiming he is "sparing no effort" to rebut the damning allegations against him
A leading group of British scientists including Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, have called on world governments to slash regulatory red tape in order to free up the supply of vaccines to the developing world
Covid e-gates for holidaymakers are on course to be ready by the end of June at Britain’s major airports, as Border Force accelerates plans to cope with a potential surge in foreign travel
Peru’s official Covid-19 death toll more than doubled this week after the government admitted it had been using a faulty methodology, making it the country with the highest Covid-19 mortality per capita in the world
Newly diagnosed cancer patients are being forced to speak to their specialist over the phone or via video call rather than in person, experts have warned