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Coronavirus - 14th April 2021

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 10:57

Summary for Wednesday, 14th April

  • In England, an estimated 54.9% of the population had Covid antibodies in the week to 28 March, the Office for National Statistics says
  • That number was 49.1% in Wales, 54.5% in Northern Ireland and 46% in Scotland
  • The US, South Africa and European Union pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout after reports of rare blood clotting
  • The US Food and Drug Administration says six blood clot cases were detected after more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine were administered
  • Johnson & Johnson says that "no clear causal relationship" has been established between its vaccine and the clots
  • A leading statistician says data supports PM Boris Johnson's claim lockdown, not vaccines, was the major cause of the UK's fall in cases
  • A UK trial looking at whether different types of jabs can be used for first and second doses hopes to recruit more volunteers
  • So far more than 32 million people in the UK have received a first vaccine dose, while 7.8 million have had both doses


Welcome to our daily rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll bring you the latest updates throughout the day.
Here are the main headlines this morning:

Summary

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:
The Guardian

  • People aged under 60 who have been given a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Germany will receive a different jab for their second dose, federal and regional health ministers agreed Tuesday.  Germany announced on 30 March that it would no longer offer the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 60 due to concerns over a possible link to rare cases of blood clots.
  • Meanwhile India has again posted a national record number of new coronavirus cases, with 184,00 in a single day, according to the health ministry.
  • The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it was reviewing cases of rare blood clots in women who had taken Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after US federal health authorities recommended pausing the use of the shot.
  • Johnson & Johnson has made the decision to “proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe”, the company said.
  • Canada said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets after someone received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, according to a health ministry statement. The person, who was not identified and who received the inoculation produced at the Serum Institute of India, is at home and recovering.
  • Canada is to reinstate enhanced screening measures for travellers who have been in Brazil in the previous 14 days, Reuters reports.
  • A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has ordered health regulator Anvisa to decide within 30 days whether it would approve the emergency import of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the government of Maranhao state, Reuters reports.
  • South Africa has temporarily suspended the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, its health minister said on Tuesday, after US federal health agencies recommended pausing its use because of rare cases of blood clots.
  • Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan announced several new restrictions and a “partial closure” for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to curb a rise in coronavirus infections.


Latest across Europe:


  • The delay in rolling out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is proving a headache for European governments that are relying on it to meet national vaccination targets.
  • Spain’s vaccine programme has started slowly and it was expecting 5.5 million doses of the Janssen dose (as it is known in Europe) by the end of June. Belgium received its first delivery of the single-dose vaccine on Monday – it says it’ll wait for a “clear signal” from the EU’s medicines agency before deciding which age group will receive it. German immunology expert Carsten Watzl wants the government in Berlin to focus on securing other vaccine deliveries to ensure under-60s are inoculated.
  • Lockdown in France has led to “significant and immediate health benefits” from a fall in pollution levels, according to the SPF public health agency. There has been an estimated fall of 2,300 deaths from exposure to particulate matter and another 1,200 from nitrogen dioxide linked to traffic.
  • France has suspended fights to and from Brazil because of concerns surrounding the P-1 Covid-19 variant prevalent in the country. Two flights will arrive in France this morning which took off before the midnight ban came into force.
  • Germany has reported more than 21,000 new infections in the past 24 hours and a rising seven-day incidence rate of 153.2.
  • A Dutch programme to hold test events with audiences is to continue later this week with 1,500 people attending a music award festival in Utrecht. Further big events will take place on 24 April with audiences of 8,000 and 10,000. Everyone needs a negative test before the event and then five days afterwards too.
  • In Croatia, Zagreb’s tourist board is offering half-price coronavirus tests to tourists who spend at least one night in the city. It wants them to extend their stay without worrying about their return home.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 11:05

Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused in US ‘out of abundance of caution’

Six cases of rare blood clotting have been detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.
It has recommended a temporary pause of the rollout in the US "out of an abundance of caution".
One patient died from blood clotting complications and another is in a critical condition, the FDA says.
All six cases were in women aged between 18 and 48, with symptoms appearing six to 13 days after vaccination.
Read more here

South Africa and EU suspend J&J vaccine rollouts

Like the US, South Africa and the EU have paused their rollouts of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
There have been no cases of blood clots reported in South Africa, which was the first country to administer the vaccine.
Deliveries of the vaccine to the EU started just 24 hours before J&J said it would pause the European rollout.
The World Health Organization has told Reuters it is monitoring the situation and waiting for reports from the US and European regulators.
The J&J vaccine is yet to be approved in the UK, although 30 million doses have been pre-orderered.

'Mix and match' UK Covid vaccine trial expanded

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
A major UK trial looking at whether Covid vaccines can be mixed with different types of jabs used for first and second doses is being expanded.
Combining vaccines might give broader, longer-lasting immunity against the virus and new variants of it, and offer more flexibility to vaccine rollout.
Adults over 50 who have had a first dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca can apply to take part in the Com-Cov study.
Their second dose could be the same again, or a shot of Moderna or Novavax.
Chief investigator on the trial Prof Matthew Snape, from the Oxford Vaccine Group, says he hopes to recruit 1,050 volunteers who have already received one dose on the NHS in the past eight to 12 weeks.
More than 800 people are already taking part in the research.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 11:09

Government scientist 'very concerned' over variant cluster in London

The easing of lockdown may need to be reversed if coronavirus variants spread rapidly, a scientist advising the government has warned.
Prof Peter Openshaw told BBC Newsnight that he and his fellow scientists are "very concerned" after a cluster of cases of the South African coronavirus variant were found in Lambeth and Wandsworth in London .
Surge testing for those who live, work or travel through those areas is being made available and there is additional testing in an area of Southwark where a case linked to the other cluster has been identified.
Prof Openshaw, a member of the Covid-19 clinical information network, says they are "just hoping" the easing of lockdown will "be ok".
But he adds: "If we get rapid spread of the South African or other more resistant variants, it may well be that we are going to have to put the reductions of lockdown into reverse."

'No clear causal relationship' with jab and rare blood clots, says J&J

Johnson & Johnson has issued a statement , saying that it shared "all adverse event reports" with the health authorities.
It says it is "aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with Covid-19 vaccines".
"At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine."

UK 'should keep close eye' on J&J pause in US - UK scientist

BBC Breakfast
The UK needs to keep a "very close eye" on the situation in the US, which has paused the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over cases of rare blood clots, a government scientist says.
"[The US] found six of this very unusual thrombosis associated with low platelets in the US amongst 6.8 million doses, so we must keep this in context," Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, tells BBC Breakfast.
"The problem is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the same viral vector platform vaccine as the Oxford-AstraZeneca, and we know we are seeing some safety signals in relation to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in this country, which is why - though incredibly rare still - we have advised that well under-30s received the choice for alternative vaccine."
So-called viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus to deliver important instructions to human cells to trigger an immune response.
Asked about whether the pause in the US of the Johnson & Johnson jab will affect the UK rollout, Prof Harnden says: "We have a whole portfolio of vaccines in the pipeline.
"I wouldn’t worry too much about the 30 million doses [of J&J vaccine ordered by the UK] and of course this is a preliminary review, the vaccine may well go ahead."
Read more: How does the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine work?
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 11:52

Hundreds test positive at religious festival in India


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Hundreds of devotees, including nine top saints, have tested positive for Covid-19 in India's Haridwar city, where huge crowds have gathered to participate in the Kumbh Mela festival.
More than three million people took a dip in the Ganges river on Tuesday to mark one of the most auspicious day of the two-month-long festival.
Millions are expected to repeat the ritual on Wednesday.
India reported 184,372 new cases on Tuesday - its highest-daily spike yet.
Many have criticised the government for allowing the festival to go ahead amid a raging pandemic.
You can read the full story here.

‘A tsunami of cases’: desperation as Covid second wave batters India

The rising case numbers in India have not stopped the weeks-long Kumbh Mela religious festival.
Saurabh Sharma and Sumit Khanna report for Reuters that hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges river on the festival’s third key day.

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Naga Sadhus, or Hindu holy men participate in a procession to take a dip in the Ganges river during Kumbh Mela today. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

Sanjay Gunjyal, the inspector general of police at the festival, said around 650,000 people had bathed on Wednesday morning.
“People are being fined for not following social distancing in non-crowded ghats (bathing areas), but it is very hard to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said.
There was little evidence of social distancing or mask-wearing, according to a Reuters witness. More than a thousand cases have been reported in Haridwar district, where the festival is located, in the last two days, according to government data.
You can read more about India’s Covid crisis here: ‘A tsunami of cases’: desperation as Covid second wave batters India .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:04

Former president of Timor-Leste slaps mourners and sleeps in street outside Timor-Leste hospital in Covid-19 protest

Raimundos Oki - The Guardian
The former prime minister of Timor-Leste Xanana Gusmão has been filmed slapping family members of a man who died in the capital, Dili, in what the government said was the country’s second Covid-related death.
Gusmão – the young country’s first president and a national hero – disputes the government’s assertion that Armindo Borges, who died aged 47 on Sunday night, died from Covid-19, with Gusmão claiming he died from a stroke. Borges’s body has been kept in the Covid isolation room at the Vera Cruz health centre.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the health centre on Monday, including Borges’s son. A video shows Gusmão arriving at the centre and repeatedly slapping the son in the face and also repeatedly and angrily slapping a woman, believed to be Borges’s sister. She is weeping as he hits her.
Gusmão said he had hit them because he believed their angry protests outside the hospital were not the way to get the action they wanted. “You guys don’t scream here,” Xanana told local television channel RTTL he explained to Borges’s son. “Please be quiet, don’t make a fuss. You also don’t scream, have to be quiet. Your father is dead, and you must not scream.”
Xanana said he did not accept the government’s explanation that Borges died from Covid. “To convince the public to believe in Covid-19, the government must work well,” he said. “Otherwise the people will say we lied to them …
“I am also following the development of Covid-19 in the world, I know, but the situation that is happening here makes me disbelieve.”
Timor-Leste has recorded two deaths and just shy of 1,100 cases of Covid, according to the World Health Organization, with cases escalating dramatically since the beginning of March.
Read more here .

'Testing is going to be a major barrier to travel this summer' – UK travel industry spokesperson

The Guardian
There is plenty of lobbying on UK media this morning about the government’s proposed plans for allowing limited foreign travel in the summer. Latest on the airwaves is Luke Petherbridge, Abta’s director of public affairs. Abta is the Travel Association, which was formerly known as the Association of British Travel Agents.
He has told Sky News that the travel industry feels “an overriding sense of frustration” with the “lack of detail” in the UK government’s recent report on how international travel could safely return. PA Media reports him saying that the sector needs to know the criteria by which countries are going to be assessed to determine their risk levels.
Petherbridge said: “Testing is going to be a major barrier to travel this summer – we need the government to engage with the industry on how we can bring down the cost of testing.”
Commenting on the recommended approach to potentially low-risk countries, he said: “We cannot understand why countries in the green category should require a PCR test. We believe a double lateral flow test approach would be a more proportionate approach to follow in that category.”
He also highlighted that the recent report “doesn’t say anything about the treatment of vaccinated individuals and whether or not they will be exempted from testing requirements. It doesn’t talk about whether children will require a test or not.”
Brian Strutton, the general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, has chipped in with another comment on Sky News, saying: “I think the government should kick-start the whole of international travel by offering all the tests free to our frontline key workers - they deserve that, they deserve a holiday. It would be a really good way to get this initiative under way.”
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:07

Breaking News

Half of people in England likely to have Covid antibodies - ONS

An estimated one in two people in England have antibodies to the coronavirus, according to a sample of the population in the week ending 28 March.
This figure is largely unchanged from the previous two weeks.
Antibodies against Covid can be found in the body after either a past infection or somebody had been vaccinated. They are proteins in the blood that recognise specific infections and fight them off.
According to the Office for National Statistics, in England an estimated 54.9% of the population would have tested positive for antibodies in a blood test in the week ending 28 March,
This number was 49.1% in Wales, 54.5% in Northern Ireland and 46% in Scotland.
The ONS said the figures varied across regions, with the West Midlands having the highest percentage of antibody positivity in England, and the North East had the lowest.
“There is a clear pattern between vaccination and testing positive for antibodies, however the detection of antibodies alone is not a precise measure of protection granted by vaccines," said the ONS.
“It is possible that antibody levels in some people are now too low to be detected by our tests but still high enough to grant a level of protection."

When can I get my vaccine?


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More than 32 million people have had their first dose in the UK and 7.8 million people have had both doses.
On Tuesday, it was announced that people aged 45 and over in England can now book appointments for their Covid vaccinations and Scotland is set to follow suit this week.
In Northern Ireland and Wales, people aged over 40 are eligible.
The UK government insists all adults will be offered their first dose - in decreasing age order - by the end of July.
So when will you get your vaccine? BBC health reporter Philippa Roxby explains...
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:11

UK 'mixing vaccines' trial recruiting adults over 50

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
A major UK trial looking at whether Covid vaccines can be mixed is recruiting adults over 50 who have had a first dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca to take part.
The participants' second dose could be the same again, or a shot of Moderna or Novavax.
Prof Matthew Snape, chief investigator, tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme the volunteers will not know which jab they are getting in the randomised trial.
The study will look for reactions and will test immune responses, he says, adding that there are "some hints from studies in mice that a combination of vaccines might give a better response overall".
Read more in our story here

Israel 'may be close to herd immunity to Covid'

Israel is leading the world in its vaccination rate, and now one of the country's leading doctors believes it may be close to reaching herd immunity.
Herd immunity happens when enough of a population has protection against an infection that it stops being able to spread - and even people who don't themselves have immunity are indirectly protected.
For Covid, the estimated threshold for herd immunity is at least 65%-70%.
Prof Eyal Leshem, a director at Israel's largest hospital, the Sheba Medical Center, says herd immunity is the "only explanation" for the fact that cases continue to fall even as more restrictions are lifted.
"There is a continuous decline despite returning to near normalcy," he says.
But scientists in the UK are more cautious. Dr Sarah Pitt from the University of Brighton urges "extreme caution" in concluding that herd immunity had been reached - something she believes will be difficult even at high vaccination rates.
She says it is still too early to tell: "We need to see whether the cases in Israel continue to fall and stay at low levels."
Read the full story here.

Driving lessons and tests could resume in Northern Ireland next week

Nuala McCann - BBC News NI
Driving lessons and tests could resume in Northern Ireland next week, BBC News NI understands.
A proposal has been submitted for the Stormont executive to consider when it meets to review Covid-19 lockdown restrictions tomorrow.
Lessons in England and Wales resumed on Monday with practical and theory tests due to restart next week.
Stormont ministers have said they are hoping to provide reopening dates for some other services tomorrow.
Read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:16

Poland reports second highest daily Covid deaths

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
Poland has reported 803 new coronavirus-related deaths today, the second highest since the pandemic began, according to the country's health ministry.
It also reports 21,283 new infections, a rise of 43% compared with one week ago.
The high number of deaths is a result of the recent surge in infections, which reached an all-time high of 35,251 on 1 April.
The UK variant of the virus is responsible for 90% of all new cases, health ministry officials say.
The highest number of deaths, 954, was recorded on 8 April, but that number was derived from a longer time period because of the Easter holidays.

Bournemouth pop-up beach bar bids raise disorder fears


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The beaches at the resort were heaving with people when the first lockdown was eased last year

Residents and traders in Bournemouth fear plans for pop-up beach bars will lead to a repeat of disorder and overcrowding seen in 2020.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP) wants to allow events and catering along more of Bournemouth's seafront throughout the summer.
But Alan Dove, chairman of Bournemouth Townwatch pub association, says the scale and size of the proposals would place "significant additional alcohol consumption directly on to the beaches".
Other objectors believe it would give the council "carte blanche" to hold events while "circumventing the controls and safeguards" of individual applications.
A major incident was declared in June last year when an influx of visitors led to gridlocked roads, litter, wild camping and anti-social behaviour.
BCP has agreed an extra £2.4m of resources , including Covid marshalls and drones, to manage "exceptional" numbers expected at the resort this summer.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:19

Should this year's Tokyo Olympics go ahead?

The Olympic Games were originally meant to take place in Tokyo in 2020 but the pandemic saw them postponed until 23 July this year. The event is still scheduled to go ahead - although without any spectators from abroad.
Japan has marked the 100th day until the start of the games with a ceremony. But, amid a fourth wave of infections in Japan, there's still considerable uncertainty within the country about whether the Olympics should or can go ahead.
According to a poll, 70% of Japan's population want the games cancelled or postponed again. The BBC has spoken to people living in Tokyo about what they think.
"In these dark times, anything that will brighten up the day, like getting a gold medal, or anything that can energise us, will be appreciated," says Kenzo Tanaka. "If we are going to do it, let's do it. There are athletes who have put in a lot of effort for this and so I think we should hold it."
But another resident - who doesn't want to be named - says she disagrees.
"I think the situation is uncertain for us to hold the Olympics," she says. "I don't feel it [the Olympic spirit] at all. People around me are saying they wish the Games were cancelled and hope for a quick decision — if you are going to cancel it, cancel it."

Minister defends England travel plan

The UK government's plan for reopening foreign travel is "overcautious and doesn't recognise the huge change that vaccination has created", a travel trade organisation boss says.
Under the government's plan, passengers will have to take PCR tests before leaving and on returning to England - even from low-risk countries.
But Mark Tanzer, chief executive at Abta, says the use of lateral flow tests for passengers, which are cheaper and faster, would be preferable to more expensive PCR test - which could cost about £120 per person.
"Otherwise you are going to hobble the industry and you are going to stop people from travelling, even though they've been vaccinated," he says.
Defending the plan, aviation minister Robert Courts tells the committee the government is "trying to protect public health but we are also seeking to unlock international travel" - adding their plan "balances those twin imperatives".
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:23

Putin gets second vaccine dose and urges others to do the same

BBC Monitoring

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has received his second Covid vaccine dose while urging others to get the jab.
Speaking at a meeting of the Russian Geographical Society, he says: "I wish to inform you that right now, just before I entered this room, I also got my second jab, and I hope, or rather I'm confident, that everything will be fine. And I wish you the same."
The clip has been broadcast today on the state rolling news channel Rossiya 24.
"I'm assuming that you too, showing concern for yourselves and your loved ones, will do the same thing, and follow my example," Putin said.
Putin reportedly received his first dose - of an unspecified Russian vaccine - on 23 March.

Hundreds queue for tests in London in hunt for SA variant cases

Hundreds of people have been queuing on Clapham Common in south London to take coronavirus tests, after cases of the South African Covid-19 variant were found in the area.
London's Lambeth and Wandsworth boroughs announced additional testing in what the government described as the "largest surge testing operation to date".
In Clapham, lines have been stretching across the green from halfway down Windmill Drive to the main road this morning.

Marshals say yesterday afternoon they were advising people wait times could be up to two hours and had to stop people joining the queue.
One woman, who lives and works in Lambeth, says she is taking "every possible precaution to protect her family and colleagues".
Contract tracers believe the cluster of cases of the variant have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February, according to documents seen by the BBC .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:29

Denmark will reopen borders to some fully vaccinated people from 1 May

A quick snap from Reuters here that Denmark will allow people from countries in the European Union and Schengen Area to enter the country from May if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the foreign ministry said in a statement late last night.
Denmark’s government agreed with parliament late on a plan to gradually reopen the Nordic country’s borders, starting on 21 April.
As of 1 May, fully vaccinated people, including tourists, in EU or Schengen countries with low infection rates will be allowed to enter Denmark with no demand that they present a negative Covid-19 test or go into quarantine.

Germany in grip of third wave

The Guardian
Germany is gripped by a third wave of the pandemic, which has brought an increased number of infections of the more contagious British variant and left many younger patients sick. “The third wave is clearly upon us,” 42-year-old Thomas Marx, medical director of a hospital in Freising, Bavaria, told AFP.
Of the clinic’s 14 intensive care beds, five are occupied by Covid-19 patients. The patients are also younger now, with most of them “between 40 and 60”, according to Marx. “They often have to be intubated and then face a long fight with the virus,” the doctor sighed, adding that one in four do not survive their battle with Covid-19.
In one bed at the intensive care unit, a man of about 40 looked exhausted as he struggled to breathe through an oxygen tube. “We were ready to intubate him a few days ago, but we managed to avoid it,” said Marx. Nevertheless, his recovery will still take a long time, the doctor explained at the man’s bedside.
After coming through the first wave of the pandemic relatively unscathed, Germany has been rocked by a rough third wave. The number of hospitalised patients aged 35 to 49 has “strongly increased” lately, said Lothar Wieler, the head of the RKI infections disease control agency.
Despite repeated warnings from health workers about the urgency of the situation, German authorities remain entangled in a fierce political debate over restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic.
While Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing for tougher measures to keep the population home and avoid contagion, some of the country’s powerful regional leaders are refusing to sign up.
Fed up with the dithering states, Merkel’s government agreed a law change which would give Berlin more centralised power to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews in hard-hit areas.
“When I look at the news and I see that the measures are not enough, it’s difficult to take,” admitted Marx.
Marx voiced fears about the days ahead. “It’s not just a question of treating those with Covid-19, it’s also about dealing with all the other patients and making sure we don’t reduce the quality of their care,” he said.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:34

Today so far…


  • A major UK study examining whether Covid vaccines can be safely mixed with different types of jabs for the first and second doses is to be expanded. Launched in February to investigate alternating doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, it will now also include the Moderna and Novavax vaccines.
  • The latest figures from the ONS suggest an estimated 54.9% of people in private households in England were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in the week to 28 March – largely unchanged on the previous two weeks. The presence of Covid-19 antibodies suggests someone has had the infection in the past or has been vaccinated.
  • People aged under 60 who have been given a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Germany will receive a different jab for their second dose, federal and regional health ministers agreed
  • France is suspending all flights to and from Brazil to contain the spread of a highly contagious new Covid-19 variant picked up in the country.
  • Brazil’s senate, meanwhile, has launched an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Ireland is considering extending the gap between injections of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to more than four weeks to keep its vaccine programme on track while other vaccines are restricted.
  • Poland will reopen kindergartens and allow open-air sports from 19 April, but other restrictions will be extended by a week.
  • Romania’s prime minister Florin Cîtu has fired health minister Vlad Voiculescu after weeks of mounting tensions over how to handle the pandemic.
  • Denmark will allow people from countries in the European Union and Schengen Area to enter the country from May if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • Rising case numbers in India have not stopped the weeks-long Kumbh Mela religious festival. The inspector general of police at the festival said around 650,000 people had bathed in the Ganges on Wednesday morning. “People are being fined for not following social distancing in non-crowded ghats (bathing areas), but it is very hard to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said.
  • Thailand reported on Wednesday 1,335 new Covid cases, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic and the third record rise this week, as the country struggles with a new wave of infections.
  • Australia’s national cabinet will begin meeting twice a week from Monday, marking a return to a “war footing” in the country’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic amid turmoil in its national vaccination programme. The country has fallen to 100th in the world for the number of Covid-19 vaccinations administered for every hundred residents, and is only 44th in total doses administered.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 12:44

Asked when the British government will announce which countries will be in which categories for foreign travel rules, aviation minister Robert Courts told MPs: “I anticipate that at the early part of May we’ll be able to give more detail.”
He insisted “we are giving as much notice as we can” and acknowledged “there is a logistics issue” in giving customers and business enough time to prepare for the potential resumption of foreign holidays from England on 17 May.
Courts added:
I accept this is a cautious unlocking of international travel. It is meant to be because it’s meant to be robust and it’s meant to be something that is sustainable and that protects public health and ensures that we don’t have to go backwards again.
So it is intended to enable people to travel, but to do so in a way that is safe, secure and not reversible.





Japan, for the first time in nearly four months, recorded more than 4,000 new cases on Wednesday, while its Osaka Prefecture reported a record 1,130 daily coronavirus cases, as the area struggles with a surge in infections driven by a highly contagious variant of the virus amid concerns that the country has entered a fourth wave of infections.
The Japan Times reports:
Osaka logged 1,099 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, topping 1,000 for the first time.
Also on Wednesday, the nationwide daily tally of new cases surpassed 4,000 for the first time since late January.
The same day, the head of the government’s coronavirus panel acknowledged that Japan had entered the fourth wave and urged more of a sense of crisis over the situation.
Shigeru Omi, an infectious disease expert who chairs the government’s subcommittee, said in parliament the government should expand areas subject to tougher anti-virus measures due to rising cases “in an extremely swift and nimble manner.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, however, took a cautious stance as to whether the country has entered the new phase of infections, playing down concerns at an Upper House plenary session.
“I don’t see a big wave (of infections) nationwide,” he said.
Omi’s warning came as the government is considering adding some prefectures to the list of areas requiring the quasi-state of emergency that involves shorter business hours for restaurants and bars, among other anti-virus steps.
The quasi-state of emergency is already in place in six prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka. The capital on Wednesday reported 591 new infections and Hyogo Prefecture, which neighbors Osaka Prefecture, reported a record 507 cases. Okinawa Prefecture, meanwhile, confirmed 137 cases, topping 100 for the second straight day.
The figure in the capital was the highest since the government’s second state of emergency ended on March 21 and more than the last two Wednesdays — 555 on April 7 and 414 on March 31.




The Ukrainian capital Kyiv will stay in strict lockdown until 30 April amid rising case numbers and fatalities, despite tight restrictions imposed in March, the mayor said on Wednesday.
Reuters reports:
“We have no other choice, otherwise the medical system will not cope with such a number of patients, otherwise there will be even more deaths,” mayor Vitali Klitschko told a televised briefing.
Earlier, in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Kyiv limited its public transport services, closed schools and kindergartens, theatres and shopping centres, and banned spectators from sporting events. It allowed cafes and restaurants to provide only takeaway food, and recommended that all state employees to work from home.
However, Kyiv continues leading other regions with about 1,500 new coronavirus cases and over 40 coronavirus related deaths registered daily.
“The epidemiological situation is not improving significantly, that is why the city will keep previously introduced restrictions,” said Klitschko.
Ukraine has registered almost 1.9 million infections and 38,225 deaths since the pandemic started last year.




Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travellers from the EU and five other countries, including the UK, who have been vaccinated or test negative for Covid-19, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Reuters reports:
Last month, the country lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travellers who have been inoculated and test negative.
Greece, which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis before the pandemic last year, has said it will open its tourism sector, a key growth driver for its economy, from the middle of May.
“We will gradually lift the restrictions at the beginning of next week ahead of the opening on May 14,” a senior tourism ministry official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The official said citizens from the European Union, the United States, Britain, Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to travel to Greece via the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, and two border crossings.
Passengers from those countries will not be quarantined, as long as they prove that they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine or show a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to their arrival, the official said, adding the tourists would be subject to domestic lockdown restrictions.
Under current rules, all foreigners arriving in Greece should test negative and quarantine for seven days. For passengers from Britain and the United Arab Emirates, a second mandatory test is also required upon their arrival.
Greece has fared better than other EU countries in containing the first wave of the pandemic but a resurgence in Covid-19 infections has forced the country to impose lockdown restrictions since November.
Greece has reported a total of 301,103 cases and 9,054 deaths so far.
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Breaking News

Surge testing extended to Southwark after new South African variant case

Surge testing will take place in a third London borough after a case of the Covid-19 South African variant was found.
Residents in a "targeted area" within the SE16 postcode in Southwark are being urged to get tested.
It comes after 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases were identified in Wandsworth and Lambeth.
All identified cases are isolating or have completed their isolation and their contacts have been traced.
Read more here

Breaking News 

Denmark to stop using AstraZeneca vaccine

Denmark will permanently stop using AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, following concerns of rare cases of blood clotting. It is the first country to completely remove the vaccine from its innoculation programme.
The move will delay Denmark's vaccination roll-out by a few weeks, broadcaster TV 2 is reporting.
Denmark has also temporarily paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of similar blood clot concerns.
Danish health authorities will hold a new conference with more information shortly.

Every adult vaccinated in the UK's remotest island community

It may be one of the UK's most remote communities but tiny Fair Isle - with a population of just 48 people - can now claim to be one of the safest.
The Scottish island - located between Orkney and Shetland - is famed for its knitwear and migratory birds.
It only got a reliable 24-hour-a-day electricity supply in 2018.
This week, vials of AstraZeneca vaccine were flown in on a small plane, meaning every adult on the island was able to have their second dose.
Read more

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 15:02

Heathrow says airport queues are becoming 'untenable'

Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow, tells MPs on the transport committee long queues caused by extensive Covid checks at the airport are becoming "untenable".
He says some travellers have faced waits of up to six hours.
On more than one occasion police have had to intervene because queuing is "not something passengers want to do", he adds.
Foreign travel is only permitted for certain reasons at the moment.
He says the queues will become a "much bigger" problem if rules on foreign travel are relaxed on 17 May, as the government is planning.
Read more here

What's going on around the world?

If you're just joining us, here's what's happening around the world:

  • Denmark will permanently stop using AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, following concerns of rare cases of blood clotting. It has become the first country to completely remove the vaccine from its inoculation programme
  • US federal health regulators have recommended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be paused while investigations take place into rare cases of blood clotting, similar to those related to AstraZeneca. Six cases have been detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine in the US. One woman died, and another is in a critical condition. Read more here
  • South Africa has temporarily stopped using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following the blood clotting cases. It was the country's preferred vaccine, because studies show it offers more protection against the South African variant . Denmark has done the same, while J&J has said it will delay sending the vaccine to the European Union. Read more here
  • In India hundreds of people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the city of Haridwar after participating in the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival. More than three million devotees bathed in the Ganges river on Tuesday, and millions are expected to repeat the ritual on Wednesday. Many have criticised the government for allowing the festival to go ahead amid a raging pandemic. Read more here
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has received his second dose of a Covid vaccine. “I hope, or rather I'm confident, that everything will be fine. And I wish you the same," he said at a meeting afterwards. Putin reportedly received his first dose of an unspecified Russian vaccine on 23 March
  • Poland has extended its lockdown rules until 25 April, after the country reported its second highest ever death toll on Wednesday, with 803 people. There were also 21,283 new cases, a 43% increase from the previous week.
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Denmark says it may still use AZ jab in the future

Denmark has become the first European country to completely stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine due to rare blood clotting concerns - but it may not be forever.
The head of Denmark's health authority, Soren Brostrom says he is not ruling out using the vaccine again in the future, adding if Denmark was in a different situation right now and being affected by a third wave of the pandemic, Danish health authorities would not hesitate to use the vaccine.
The WHO and EU’s medicines regulator have urged countries to continue using the AZ vaccine , saying the blood clots are a very rare side effect, and the benefits of the vaccine outweighs the risks.
Denmark suspended use of the vaccine a month ago when reports of rare blood clots first surfaced. About 150,000 Danish citizens have already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Denmark has also temporarily halted the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following similar rare blood clotting cases.

Pfizer and AZ jabs produce strong immune responses in over-80s

Pallab Ghosh - Science correspondent, BBC News
A new study has found both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines produce a strong response from the body’s immune system in the over-80s five weeks after a single dose.
The study backs the clinical evidence which shows that both vaccines have greatly reduced deaths and hospitalisations.
There was some concern that because older people have weaker immune systems the protection from vaccines would be reduced.
And there were also worries about extending the time of the second dose from three or four weeks to up to 12 weeks.
The results show that both vaccines were highly effective after five weeks in the over-80s.
Antibodies to fight off Covid infection were found in 93% of those receiving the Pfizer jab.
For AstraZeneca it was 87% and the response of a part of the immune system known as T cells were three times stronger.
It’s unclear at this stage what if any advantage this might provide in fighting off infection, though there is some suggestion that T cells might help to prevent serious illness.
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Virus no longer leading cause of death in Scotland

March was the first month since October that Covid was not the leading cause of death in Scotland.
National Records of Scotland figures reveal the virus-related death rate fell from 259 per 100,000 people in February to 69 last month.
Official statistics also confirm a further 34 deaths where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate were registered up until 11 April.
This brings the total under the weekly measure to 10,031.

Since Sunday, a further three Covid deaths have been registered within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
Last week, Scotland passed the 10,000 deaths milestone , 13 months after the first death was reported.
Find the full story here .

Care home staff in England may have to get vaccine

Staff in care homes in England with elderly residents may be required to get a coronavirus vaccine, the government says.
The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation on making Covid vaccination a condition of deployment for care home workers.
The government says experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advise 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks.
Only 53% of older adult homes in England are currently meeting this threshold.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says: "Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for.
"It is right we consider all options to keep people safe."
The five-week consultation will seek views on the proposal, any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety, how it could be implemented and who could be exempt.
Staff, care providers, residents and their families are being urged to take part. A decision is expected to be made this summer.

What’s happening in the UK?

Here’s an afternoon round-up of the main coronavirus headlines in the UK so far today:
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Denmark health expert faints during news conference


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Tanja Erichsen speaking in March

Denmark's media conference on the vaccine situation was dramatically interrupted when Tanja Erichsen, the director of the Medicines Agency, suddenly passed out and fell to the floor.
The briefing was being broadcast live, and pictures show a shocked Soren Brostrom, head of the Danish Health Authority, rushing to help her.
The Medicines Agency tweeted that Ms Erichsen is ok but has been taken to the emergency room as a precaution.

Isle of Man businesses 'should prepare to reopen on Monday'


Coronavirus - 14th April 2021 53a25610

Businesses on the Isle of Man should "begin preparations for reopening from Monday", the chief minister says.
There has been no evidence of Covid-19 community spread on the island since 30 March , and the number of cases has now fallen from a peak of 881 to just 21.

Howard Quayle says if the trend continues, all legal restrictions will be lifted on Monday.
Non-essential firms were forced to close on 3 March when the island entered its third lockdown after a sharp rise in cases.
Quayle says: "Unless there are events that give us significant cause for concern before then, our intention remains that we will lift all legal restrictions from 19 April."
Read the full story here .
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China officials urge ‘accelerated’ but ‘voluntary’ vaccination

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
China’s National Health Commission says that 175.6 million vaccine doses have been delivered in the country .
China aims to vaccinate 40% of the population by the end of June, which would equate to some 560 million vaccine doses. It hopes to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating more than 70% of the population by early 2022.
But vaccination is not happening as quickly as China would like.
At its current pace, the country would be tens of millions of vaccinations short of its goal by the end of June. The current statistics also include the recipients of second doses.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that “the pressure of imported cases has not subsided” . He says China could be susceptible to outbreaks, such as the one in the border city of Ruili - caused by infected people entering the country from Myanmar - unless 70-80% of the population are vaccinated. That is about one billion people.
In recent days, some local governments have come under fire for trying to make vaccination mandatory in order to help China achieve its vaccination goals.
This led to medical specialists urging a halt to compulsory vaccination schemes , saying that people’s individual wishes should be respected.

South African variant found in fourth London borough


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Testing for the variant has already begun on Clapham Common, in south London

Surge testing will be extended to a fourth London borough after a case of the South African Covid variant was found in Barnet.
It comes after testing began in Lambeth, Wandsworth and parts of Southwark after cases of the variant were found.
Some 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases were identified in Wandsworth and Lambeth and a further one in Southwark.

Barnet Council, in north-west London, said it will start testing people for the South African variant in specific postcode areas affected in N3, or those who shop on the local high street from Thursday.
Teams of officials will go door-to-door to deliver PCR test kits and a mobile testing unit will be set up in the car park of Finchley Central Station.
Those affected should visit the council's website for more details, it says.
Read more here .
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Coronavirus pandemic 'is nowhere near finished', warns WHO envoy

The Covid-19 pandemic is "far from over", the World Health Organization’s special envoy on Covid-19 is warning.
Speaking at a Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh symposium, Dr David Nabarro says coronavirus is "surging forward" in most parts of the world and new variants will be a “regular” occurrence.
"The pandemic is nowhere near finished," he says, adding coronavirus is "one of the fastest spreading viruses" he has ever worked with.
But he adds: "The doubling time (of infections) has slowed massively through the behaviours of people - though physical distance, masks, better hygiene and isolating to avoid transmission."
On the lifting of restrictions in the UK and the success of the vaccination programme so far, Dr Nabarro says: "(Some say) this is an opportunity for the UK to emerge from the pandemic, well I say 'perhaps'.
"I have to stress that I am not 100% sure that the world is going to find it easy to vaccinate itself out of this pandemic because the emergence of variants that are capable of escaping protection of current vaccines."

EU's J&J vaccine decision expected next week

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) says it is expediting a safety review of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and hopes to issue its recommendations next week.
A number of countries have temporarily stopped using the jab , including the US and South Africa, after some extremely rare side effects of blood clotting.
Shipments to the European Union only started this week, and widespread use of the jab, which is also known as the Janssen vaccine, had not begun. J&J has paused future deliveries to the bloc.
In a statement , the EMA said it "remains of the view that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects." This opinion is shared by the World Health Organization.
The agency’s scientific opinions provide EU member states with the information they need to decide whether to include the vaccine as part of their inoculation programmes.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 16:11

Czechs bid for Denmark's unwanted AstraZeneca vaccines

We've been bringing you the news that Denmark has become the first country to completely stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns of rare side effects.
Now the Czech government wants to buy Denmark's leftover supplies.
Czech deputy PM Jan Hamacek tweeted that he has asked the Czech ambassador in Copenhagen to negotiate the purchase of all of Denmark's unwanted AZ vaccines. That is about 2.4 million jabs.
"We are looking for vaccines all over the world. We are willing to buy AstraZeneca from Denmark. On Monday, I fly to Moscow, where I want to arrange possible deliveries of Sputnik V after its approval by the European Medicines Agency," he said.
The Czech Republic, like several EU countries, says its vaccination effort is being hampered by insufficient supplies .
The country has registered 1.59 million infections, and more than 28,000 people have died.

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions on travellers from some countries

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travellers from the EU and five other countries, including the UK, who have been vaccinated or test negative for Covid-19, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Reuters reports:
Last month, the country lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travellers who have been inoculated and test negative.
Greece, which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis before the pandemic last year, has said it will open its tourism sector, a key growth driver for its economy, from the middle of May.
“We will gradually lift the restrictions at the beginning of next week ahead of the opening on May 14,” a senior tourism ministry official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The official said citizens from the European Union, the US, Britain, Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to travel to Greece via the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, and two border crossings.
Passengers from those countries will not be quarantined, as long as they prove that they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine or show a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to their arrival, the official said, adding the tourists would be subject to domestic lockdown restrictions.
Under current rules, all foreigners arriving in Greece should test negative and quarantine for seven days. For passengers from Britain and the United Arab Emirates, a second mandatory test is also required upon their arrival.
Greece has fared better than other EU countries in containing the first wave of the pandemic but a resurgence in Covid-19 infections has forced the country to impose lockdown restrictions since November.
Greece has reported a total of 301,103 cases and 9,054 deaths so far.
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Johnson to cut short India trip after cases soar

Boris Johnson will scale down his trip to India at the end of the month due to the deteriorating coronavirus situation in the south Asian country.
The prime minister had been due to spend four days in India, but following talks with Narendra Modi's team, the "bulk" of the meetings could be squeezed into one day.
Covid cases are soaring India, with more than 180,000 new infections identified since Tuesday.

India has so far confirmed more than 13.9 million cases and 172,000 dead, in what is likely to be an undercount.
The PM's trip has already been delayed once, having been pushed back from January due to the UK's second wave.

Breaking News 

More than 8 million in UK have second vaccine dose

More than eight million people have now had their second dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the latest government figures .
Some 8,170,081 people have had their second dose, and 32,326,604 have received their first.
Another 38 deaths were recorded in the UK of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, and a further 2,491 tested positive.

Welsh government and NHS 'responded well' on PPE supplies

The Welsh government and NHS "responded well in challenging circumstances" to prevent health and care bodies running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, a watchdog says.
Audit Wales says arrangements were made to manage risks which helped avoid some problems reported in England.
Wales' spending on PPE increased from around £8m a year to £300m in 2020-21.
You can read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 14 2021, 19:27

Long queues in London's surge testing areas

Hundreds of residents in the London borough of Lambeth have joined long queues to take coronavirus tests, after surge testing was introduced there. It's one of four boroughs where the testing is taking place.
A total of 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases of the South African variant were identified in Wandsworth and Lambeth, and a confirmed case was found in Southwark and in Barnet.

Barnet variant case not linked to south London cluster

We [url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-56743085?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=6076f78c0b5e0102e3fc5696%26South African variant found in fourth London]told you earlier[/url] about a case of the South African variant of coronavirus being detected in Barnet, north-west London.
The local council has now said that it is unrelated to the cluster of cases detected in south London.
There have been 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases identified in Wandsworth and Lambeth, and another in Southwark linked to that cluster.
Surge testing has been extended to Barnet after the discovery there and will begin tomorrow.

Portugal extends state of emergency

Portugal’s parliament extended on Wednesday a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases.
Reuters reports:
The state of emergency grants the government powers to take emergency measures such as imposing a nighttime curfew if deemed necessary, though the general trend is currently to ease a lockdown imposed in January to curb what was then the world’s worst Covid-19 surge.
Portugal started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.
People have flocked out of doors to enjoy the warmer spring weather, to see loved ones and enjoy a meal outside after more than two months stuck at home.
If approved, the third phase of the government plan to ease the lockdown will come into force on April 19, allowing cinemas, shopping malls and indoor areas of restaurants to reopen under restrictions designed to reduce the risk of contagion.
Portugal has suffered 828,857 cases and 16,931 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Although the infection rate has slowed, health experts said it could take two weeks to one month for it to fall to the limit of 120 cases per 100,000 people set by the government in March

Turkey logs record daily cases and deaths

Turkey recorded 62,797 new coronavirus cases and 279 deaths in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, registering the highest daily death toll and rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
With Wednesday’s numbers, the total number of cases recorded in Turkey have surpassed 4 million. The total death roll rose to 34,737, according to the data.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced several new restrictions and a “partial closure” for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to curb the surge in cases.
The measures went into effect at 1400 GMT on Wednesday.
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Surge testing in West Midlands after variant case identified

Residents in some areas of Smethwick in the West Midlands are being urged to get tested for coronavirus after a case of the South Africa variant was detected.
It comes as the "largest surge testing operation to date" is being carried out in London after cases were identified there.
Sandwell Council has published a list of postcodes in Smethwick and Cape Hill where people should get tested.
The authority is urging all residents in those areas to get tested, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
Read more here .

Vaccines 'success' in reducing hospital admissions

Vaccinations are "successful" at reducing hospital admissions, the head of the NHS in England says.
Sir Simon Stevens has been speaking as a new study shows a 75% reduced risk of emergency hospital admission among people who have received the Pfizer vaccine.
The study by the NHS and the University of Manchester has found older people who have received the jab are less likely to be admitted to hospital, and less likely to have a positive test, compared with those who have not been vaccinated.
Researchers examined data on more than 170,000 people aged 80 to 83 who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine between 15 and 20 December last year.
They compared this information with "matched controls" aged 76 to 79 who had not yet received the jab.
Sir Simon says: "Vaccines are successfully reducing hospitalisations and deaths amongst the cohorts that have had the vaccine.
"Data that we have analysed shows a 75% reduction in emergency Covid hospitalisations for the vaccination cohorts and, as more and more people are vaccinated, that effect will widen."
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Today's Covid news from around the world

We'll be bringing our live page to an end for the day soon but here is a summary of the Covid related stories we've brought you today from around the world:

  • Denmark has completely removed the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine from its inoculation programme, amid concerns about rare cases of blood clots. It's the first European country to permanently stop using the shot. Read more here
  • During Denmark's news conference about the vaccine, which was being broadcast live on television, the head of its medicines agency, Tanja Erichsen, fainted and fell to the floor. She was taken to hospital as a precaution
  • The Czech government said it wanted to buy Denmark's unwanted AstraZeneca vaccines, about 2.4 million jabs
  • The EU will get a boost to its struggling inoculation drive, with 50 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine set to arrive months earlier than expected
  • In India hundreds of people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the city of Haridwar after participating in the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival. More than three million devotees bathed in the Ganges river on Tuesday. Read more here
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has received his second dose of a Covid vaccine. “I hope, or rather I'm confident, that everything will be fine. And I wish you the same," he said at a meeting afterwards
  • Poland has extended its lockdown rules until 25 April, after the country reported its second highest ever death toll on Wednesday, with 803 people. There were also 21,283 new cases, a 43% increase from the previous week.


What happened in the UK today?

And before we go, here is a round-up of the main coronavirus stories from the UK today:

  • A major UK trial looking at whether Covid vaccines can be mixed, with different types of jabs used for first and second doses, is being expanded
  • Care home staff in England could be mandated to receive a coronavirus vaccine in new plans under consultation by the government
  • A new study has found both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines produce a strong response from the body’s immune system in the over-80s five weeks after a single dose
  • Surge testing is being extended to a fourth London borough after a case of the South African Covid variant was found in Barnet . Residents in certain postcodes in Smethwick in the West Midlands are also being urged to get tested
  • Young black people have been hardest hit by unemployment during the pandemic, new research indicates. The UK jobless rate for young black people now stands at 35%. Read more here
  • Vaccinations are "successful" at reducing hospital admissions, the head of the NHS in England said, after a new study showed a 75% reduced risk of emergency hospital admission among people who had the Pfizer vaccine.


Goodbye

That's all from us for today but the live page will be returning tomorrow.

The coronavirus news was brought to you today by Francesca Gillett, Emma Harrison, Dulcie Lee, Lauren Turner, Tiffany Wertheimer, Hamish Mackay and James Clarke.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:51