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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)

Coronavirus - 21st April 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 10:51

Summary for Wednesday, 21st April

  • A key scientist advising the UK government on Covid-19 says results showing how few vaccinated people catch the virus are "very good news"
  • Prof Calum Semple says there is a "really sharp drop off" in people being infected more than a week after their jab
  • "It's really good real world data showing that this vaccine works and one dose works really well," Prof Semple says
  • Medics have written a letter to PM Boris Johnson calling on him to massively increase investment in NHS staffing
  • Unions say increased demand for services caused by Covid-19 has led to a "chronic undersupply" in staffing with nearly 90,000 vacant posts
  • Boris Johnson has announced a new taskforce to find "promising new medicines" to treat Covid by autumn
  • He told a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday it is hoped people will be able to take a pill or tablet at home to "stop the virus in its tracks"
  • Denmark is allowing people back inside restaurants, museums and football stadiums as restrictions are eased
  • Video-streaming giant Netflix reports a slowdown in subscriber growth, saying the pandemic has disrupted its production pipeline
  • UK authorities should publish more information on the vaccination programme to allay concerns, former PM Tony Blair says


Welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Key global developments from the last few hours:

  • More than 33 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine , according to the latest government figures
  • A search for simple treatments for Covid that can be taken at home has been launched by Boris Johnson
  • At a Downing Street briefing, the PM said he hoped pills or capsules could be available by the autumn to help fight an anticipated third wave
  • Boris Johnson assured Sir James Dyson his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic, according to text messages seen by the BBC
  • Video-streaming giant Netflix has reported a slowdown in subscriber growth , saying the pandemic has affected its production pipeline
  • The European Medicines Agency has stated that the overall benefits of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine outweigh any risks after eight cases of unusual blood clots, including one death, were reported in the US out of 7 million people vaccinated.


  • The EU drug regulator also said a warning about very rare blood clots should be added to label of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after finding a “possible link” between the shot and the clots.
  • The Netherlands will resume its use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine from Wednesday, Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge has announced following the European drug regulator’s statement earlier on Tuesday.
  • Spanish health officials have rejected a proposal to widen the interval between first and second vaccine doses, Reuters reports, citing an announcement on Cadena Ser radio on Tuesday.
  • Yemen started its vaccine rollout on Tuesday, with government-held areas in the war-torn country administering the first doses three weeks after initial supplies arrived.
  • The US has warned against travel to India, where cases are rising to staggering levels and a new coronavirus variant has been detected.
  • Authorities will impose a strict lockdown this week on India’s western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in India’s latest coronavirus wave, Reuters reports two senior ministers as saying.
  • Sweden will give people under 65 who have had an initial AstraZeneca vaccine dose a different vaccine for the second dose, the country’s health agency said on Tuesday.


Latest across Europe


  • German MPs vote today on a change to the law that will allow the federal government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to impose an emergency brake of overnight curfews and school closures to help curb the pandemic.The 22:00 curfew will only come in in areas with a seven-day incidence rate of over 100 cases per 100,000 while schools will be shut if it reaches 165. There have been 24,884 new cases in the past 24 hours but the incidence rate has fallen to 160.1.Only the state of Schleswig-Holstein in the north is below 100 – at 71.9 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Denmark has taken a big step in reopening this morning, allowing customers inside restaurants, visitors in museums and spectators back in football stadiums. One museum in Silkeborg in East Jutland even opened last night just after midnight.
  • Denmark's corona passport is key to the reopening, as it shows on your phone that you’ve been vaccinated, have had a negative test in the past 72 hours or had the infection in the past 180 days. Find out more here .
  • France will vaccinate some 400,000 people in 20 fields of work over a two-week period from Saturday. The list includes bus drivers, cab drivers and inspectors on public transport as well as refuse collectors, butchers and shop cashiers. Infections have begun to fall in France and almost 25% of the adult population (nearly 13 million) have been inoculated.
  • Spain’s health service will today start distributing Johnson & Johnson vaccines across the country after the EU’s medicines agency gave the drug its backing while listing the “very rare” side effect of blood clots. The country now has 3.45 million people vaccinated, more than have been infected since the start of the pandemic.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:17

Why India's second Covid wave is devastating

By Vikas Pandey and Shadab Nazmi - BBC News, Delhi
Heartbreaking stories are coming in from across India as a second Covid wave wreaks havoc.
Data suggests this wave is proving to be more infectious and deadlier in some states, although India's death rate from the virus is still relatively low.
But the county's healthcare system is crumbling amid the surge in cases - doctors say it's hard for them to "see the light at the end of the tunnel this time" .
Rajeshwari Devi, 58, died on Sunday after waiting for two days to get uninterrupted oxygen, an ambulance and a bed in a Covid-19 hospital.
She kept waiting and gasping, but it was too late by the time help arrived. She was taken to a hospital emergency room on 16 April after her oxygen saturation level dropped. Her CT scan showed she had developed chronic pneumonia.
Without her Covid report, the hospital refused to admit her.
She spent about 36 hours in the emergency room on oxygen support in the northern Indian district of Robertsganj. The staff there told her family they were running out of oxygen and she needed to be moved to a bigger hospital - but there was no ambulance or any promise of a bed.


Calls for full lockdown in India as record cases reported

The chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra is facing pressure from cabinet ministers to impose a full coronavirus lockdown, as India struggles to manage a rising tide of new infections.
Maharashtra, the country's worst affected state, has already imposed tight restrictions.
India has again today reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases - more than 295,000 - and over 2,000 Covid-related deaths, according to health ministry figures.
Reports from hospitals in many states, including the capital Delhi, suggest facilities are overwhelmed and oxygen supplies are running critically low.
In a televised address on Tuesday, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state leaders to avoid lockdowns if possible.
Modi is facing criticism for failing to stop large political rallies and religious gatherings in recent weeks, despite a continuing surge in cases.

Netflix shares plunge amid fears coronavirus boom is over

As lockdown starts to ease in some countries around the world, video-streaming giant Netflix is seeing a slowdown in subscribers, which has sent its shares tumbling.
About 3.98 million people signed up for Netflix between January and March, well short of the projected 6 million.
The company says a lack of new shows may have contributed to the shortfall, adding it expects this to recover as sequels to hit shows are released.
Netflix shares fell 11% in after-hours trading to $489.28, wiping $25bn off the company's market capitalization.
The streaming service added 15.8 million new subscribers last year as Covid-19 forced people around the world to stay home.
But the pandemic also disrupted Netflix's production pipeline - find out more here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:23

Roadmap may need to change if cases rise 'significantly' - vaccines expert

BBC Breakfast
If there is a "significant" rise in cases in some parts of the country in the coming weeks and months then England's roadmap out of lockdown may need to be adjusted, according to Prof Finn, of the JCVI.
Asked if the next changes planned for 17 May could change, Prof Finn tells BBC Breakfast: "This is a balancing act, isn't it? People want to have some kind of certainty and businesses want to know how to plan, but on the other hand I think it's always been presented as as a provisional timetable, based on what actually happens.
"I think if we do start to see significant rises in cases in some parts of the country, they may need to adjust back those dates in order to avoid the situation coming into effect."
Regarding the variant first found in India, Prof Finn says that "as we all gradually become immune, either from being infected or being vaccinated, then variants of the virus that can resist that immunity will predominate - they'll have an advantage over the old versions, if you like."
But he adds he does not think it will be a "back to square one" situation, saying: "I think that the immunity that we've got already from infection and vaccines will continue to be useful, but it will get eroded and there will come a point where we need to reformulate vaccines to keep up with changes in the virus."
And on Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine and a link with rare blood clots, Prof Finn says it's important people are kept up to date but that these vaccines are "very effective" and the side effects "extremely rare".

France 'plans to ease restrictions on 2 May'


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French President Emmanuel Macron is considering ways of lifting restrictions safely

France is planning to lift travel restrictions and ease its nationwide curfew at the beginning of next month if daily Covid cases continue to fall as anticipated, AFP news agency reports, citing a presidential source.
The country currently has a curfew imposed between the hours of 18:00 and 06:00, which could be lifted on 2 May, AFP says.
Under the plans, President Emmanuel Macron will also allow cinemas to reopen, restaurants to serve customers outside and theatres and museums to welcome visitors with reduced capacity from mid-May.
Macron is chairing a meeting with ministers today to evaluate the government's measures to combat the spread of the virus and how best to ease restrictions safely.
France has so far reported more than 5.3 million coronavirus cases and over 102,000 Covid-related deaths.
But infections have begun to fall and almost 25% of the adult population - nearly 13 million people - have been inoculated.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:31

The passport helping Denmark open up

Adrienne Murray - Copenhagen

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The Danish pass is usually shown on a mobile phone, but a paper certificate is allowed

As we mentioned briefly earlier, football fans in Denmark are permitted to enter stadiums from today while bars, restaurants and museums are also reopening.
The country is taking a big foot forward in lifting its coronavirus restrictions. The big condition for Danes to take advantage of these new freedoms is that they must prove they are infection-free, by showing a coronapas - or corona passport.
It's a digital app on your phone which shows whether you have had a negative test result within the past 72 hours, a certificate of vaccination or proof of a previous infection two to 12 weeks earlier. It can also be in paper form if necessary.
Digital certificates are seen as Europe's route out of lockdown, and the EU wants to have its scheme in place across all 27 member states by the end of June.
Denmark is among the first to embrace the idea fully, but privacy concerns have made the passes controversial in some countries.


Russia should reach herd immunity by autumn, Putin says


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Russia's President Vladimir Putin says the country should reach "collective immunity" from the coronavirus by the autumn, while urging members of the public to get vaccinated.
In his annual state of the nation address today, Putin says the "solution to this problem lies in our - and your - hands, in the hands of all citizens".
"Our scientists have made a real breakthrough," he says, adding: "I once again address all Russian citizens with the call: get vaccinated - this is the only way we will get rid of this deadly disease."
The president has been addressing both chambers of the Russian parliament. RIA news agency says all those attending have had to undergo three tests for Covid-19 in recent days.
During the pandemic Putin has largely remained at a residence just outside Moscow, so this is a rare appearance in public.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:38

Hairdresser due in court over unpaid fines


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A hairdresser who has failed to pay £17,000 in fines for breaking Covid rules is being taken to court.
Sinead Quinn, whose salon is in Oakenshaw near Bradford, could face an unlimited fine if she is found guilty.
Kirklees Council says Quinn has not paid anything towards multiple fixed penalty notices after she "repeatedly breached Covid-19 restrictions by opening and trading during lockdown".
Quinn has previously said on social media she did not consent to or accept the fines.
She has also displayed a sign on the salon door referring to Magna Carta, and says the shop is "under the jurisdiction of common law".
Read more on this story here.

Disabled woman hails DJ Jo Whiley's vaccine drive

A woman with learning disabilities has spoken of her relief at being prioritised for a coronavirus vaccination following a campaign by DJ Jo Whiley.
Helen Illsley, who was born with brain damage, says she hopes to see her boyfriend, go shopping and go on holiday, after having her jab.
Her family praises Whiley, who called for people with learning disabilities to be moved up the list when she was offered a jab ahead of her sister Francis who has a learning disability and diabetes.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:46

Oxygen leak linked to 22 Covid deaths at India hospital

Indian officials say they're launching an inquiry into an oxygen tanker leak at a hospital in Marahashtra which appears to have contributed to the deaths of at least 22 coronavirus patients.
"The oxygen tank had a leak while refilling," Suraj Mandhare, an official in the Nashik district tells Reuters news agency.
Footage, which appears to show the tanker emitting clouds of white fumes, is being shared widely on social media.
Tweet  Shiv Aroor:
BREAKING: Terrible incident in Nashik — at least 10 people dead from oxygen deprivation after oxygen tank leak stops ventilators. Story on @IndiaToday right now

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Government officials say the disruption in the supply of oxygen to critically ill patients at the Nashik hospital, which is dedicated to Covid cases, may have led to the deaths.
It is unclear how the accident would have interrupted supply to patients, but officials say there was no oxygen flowing to ventilators for about 30 minutes, leading to the deaths.
"We want strict action against the culprits," Amol Vyavhare, whose grandmother was one of the patients who died due to a lack of oxygen, tells BBC Marathi.
India has again released record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths today, and the healthcare system in some states appears overwhelmed.


Protests in Germany against Covid lockdown law

Police in Berlin have been breaking up crowds near the German parliament who had gathered to protest against a proposed new law that would hand the government the power to override regional authorities and impose lockdowns in areas with high Covid cases.
The protesters, many of whom were not wearing face masks or social distancing, were waving German flags and carrying placards that read "peace" and "democracy" around the Brandenburg Gate, not far from the Bundestag.

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The law has been drawn up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel after some of the country's 16 federal states refused to impose tough measures when reported infections surged.
But the move has been criticised by her opponents, who argue the law - dubbed the "emergency brake" - could further restrict personal freedoms.
The measures include curfews between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00, limits on social gatherings and the opening of shops, and the possible return to online school classes, Reuters reports.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:50

Deaths in Scotland at lowest level since autumn

Scotland's Covid death rate has reached its lowest level since the beginning of October, according to official figures.
The National Records of Scotland said 24 death certificates mentioned Covid-19 between 11 and 18 April, down from 34 the previous week.
But the proportion of care home deaths has risen for the third week in a row.
There were seven deaths in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area, five in Lanarkshire and four in Ayrshire and Arran.
Read more

When will I get the vaccine?

This morning we've been hearing from scientists about the dramatic effect vaccines are having on Covid infections in the UK.
Here, about 33 million people have had a first dose of a Covid vaccine and nearly 10.5 million a second dose.
In England, people aged 45 and over are being invited and can book online .
Over-50s are being offered the vaccine in Scotland .
Unpaid carers in Scotland aged 16-64 can also register online to get the vaccine .
The Welsh government says all over-50s have now been offered their first dose .
In Northern Ireland, people aged 35 and over are now eligible .
Find out when you will get your vaccine here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:52

What's happened so far today?

Here is a round-up of the main coronavirus stories so far today.

  • Boris Johnson has said he makes "no apology for moving heaven and earth" to get ventilators during the pandemic, amid a row over lobbying by Sir James Dyson. In text messages seen by the BBC, the prime minister promised to "fix" tax changes Dyson wanted
  • The UK is likely to see a "summer surge" in Covid cases as lockdown is relaxed, a government scientist has said. Prof Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said modelling points to a rise in cases, as many adults are not immunised
  • There is a "really sharp drop off" in people being infected more than a week after being vaccinated, a scientist advising the UK government on Covid-19 has said. Prof Calum Semple said the results were "very good news"
  • At least 22 Covid patients have died in a hospital in India after they lost oxygen supply due to a leak. The incident occurred on Wednesday while an oxygen tanker was refilling a storage tank at the Zakir Hussain hospital in Nashik city


Analysis: 'Careful moves ahead of new wave'

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Earlier, a government scientist warned that the UK was likely to see a "summer surge" in Covid cases as lockdown is relaxed.
Talk of a new wave is alarming given what the UK has been through this winter - and what other countries are facing now.
A rise in infections is sadly inevitable, but that does not mean it will be as devastating as it was in January.
The vaccination programme should see to that.
But that does not mean we should be complacent. Significant numbers remain unvaccinated and despite how good the vaccines are, they will not work for everyone. There is also the impact of new variants to contend with - although the significance of these is still unknown.
Some models suggest there could be in excess of 100,000 deaths over the coming year or so. But others say it may be no worse than a bad flu season with about 30,000 deaths.
When the next wave will come is also not clear. Eventually it is expected the virus will become seasonal like flu. But that cannot be a given for this year - hence the summer warnings.
It's why government scientists are insisting we move forward carefully.
But why in the long-run we can learn to live with Covid.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 14:57

Two new unexplained Covid cases on Isle of Man


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Two new unexplained cases of coronavirus have emerged on the Isle of Man.
The new infections were detected last night, just two days after the island lifted lockdown restrictions for the third time .
Contact tracing is ongoing and close contacts of both people are being tested, a government spokesman says.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle says the cases have given the government "cause for concern".
The last Covid-19 case with an unknown source of transmission on the island was recorded on 30 March .
The Council of Ministers is due to meet at lunchtime to discuss the situation - and you can read more here.

'The clock is ticking' for summer festival season

Mark Savage - Music reporter, BBC News
Music festival organisers say they're "running out of time" to save their events this summer, as they renew calls for the government to intervene.
In recent weeks, Download, Boomtown and Deershed have all pulled the plug, joining Glastonbury, which cancelled its 2021 festival in January.
"What's currently a steady stream of cancellations is in danger of becoming a torrent," Greg Parmley of trade association Live told the BBC. "We're being timed out for the summer."
The live music industry has been calling on the government to provide cancellation insurance for festivals. But after months of lobbying, no such scheme has been put in place.
I spoke to festival organisers about the financial risks they face if they push ahead with their plans.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:04

Sri Lanka reports blood clots in six vaccinated patients

By Ranga Sirilal, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Six cases of blood clots have been reported in people who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Sri Lanka, officials say.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi says of those cases, three people have died.
The link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and reported rare blood clots has not yet been proven.
Sri Lanka started administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February, with doses donated as part of India's "vaccine diplomacy" scheme.
The Indian Ocean island nation has so far received 1.2 million doses of the vaccine, which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
Almost a million people have received their first dose.
Sri Lanka also approved the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in early March, but is yet to receive doses.
The nation has seen a surge in reported coronavirus cases since last October. It has recorded 97,472 cases and 625 Covid-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.


Japan to declare state of emergency in Tokyo amid pre-Olympics Covid surge

Justin McCurry - The Guardian
Japan is poised to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and two other regions amid a surge in coronavirus cases just three months before the start of the Olympic Games.
Domestic media said the government was considering tougher measures for Tokyo, Osaka prefecture and neighbouring Hyogo prefecture, as experts warned that mutant strains of the virus were driving new outbreaks that are straining health services.
Japan has avoided the catastrophic outbreaks seen in Europe, the US, Brazil and India, but cases have risen in recent weeks as the country struggles to get its vaccine rollout under way.
As of Tuesday, Japan had reported a total of 542,000 infections and more than 9,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The arrival of a fourth wave in densely populated parts of Japan has caused alarm among medical experts, and could further frustrate preparations for the Olympics, which are scheduled to open on 23 July.
Under the next state of emergency – which would be Japan’s third since April last year – restrictions on opening hours will remain in place, but local authorities could also request the closure of shops, theme parks and other facilities, adding to concerns about the impact the virus is having on the world’s third-largest economy.
Japan’s authorities do not have the legal powers to impose business closures or force people to stay at home. Instead, it has used subsidies and fines to persuade commercial facilities to fall into line, while urging residents to avoid non-essential outings and companies to allow employees to work remotely.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:19

Finland agrees exit plan from restrictions, but intends to keep border closed

Also in the lifting restrictions business today is the Finnish government. Ministers there have said that Finland could start lifting coronavirus curbs on businesses and youth activities from next week, but borders will stay closed to tourists for at least the coming months. They have agreed an “exit plan”.
A decision to lift the state of emergency, which allows the government to shut businesses and restrict movement, could be made next week “if the situation continues improving,” prime minister Sanna Marin told a press conference.
But with the pandemic still worsening in many European countries, she warned that “the same can happen in Finland if we don’t stay on the ball.”
Agence France-Presse report that infection rates in the Nordic country have fallen sharply over the last month, with only 83 new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, giving Finland one of Europe’s lowest incidences of the virus, according to WHO figures.
The prime minister’s office has published a road map to reopening the country between now and August, agreed after negotiations between the five-party coalition and consultations with the public.
Restrictions on youth sports and hobbies will gradually be lifted from April, while libraries and museums, currently closed in the worst-hit areas, will re-open in May. The current 10-person limit on gatherings will be lifted for outdoor events in July, and in August at the earliest for indoor meetings.
But the ban on all but the most essential international arrivals - a border policy previously described by Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo as the EU’s toughest - will only be partially lifted in the months to come.

Spanish PM: We're getting closer to the end of the pandemic

Sam Jones - The Guardian
In Spain, which is currently being hit by a fourth wave of the virus, the government shared some rare good news, announcing on Tuesday night that more people have now been fully vaccinated against the virus than have contracted it.
The health ministry said that 3,452,119 had received both doses of the vaccine, while the total number of people who have contracted the virus since the pandemic began is 3,435,840.
To date, Spain has administered 13,041,032 doses of the vaccine to its population of around 47 million people.
“We’ve reached a new milestone,” the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said on Tuesday night . “Let’s keep pushing firmly on with our aim: immunising 70% of the population before the summer is over. We’re getting closer to the end of the pandemic.”
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:23

Today so far …


  • India’s authorities scrambled to shore up supplies of medical oxygen to hospitals in the capital, Delhi, as coronavirus stretched medical infrastructure to breaking point. Tuesday marked the seventh day in a row of more than 200,000 new cases being recorded.
  • Japan is poised to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and two other regions amid a surge in coronavirus cases just three months before the start of the Olympic Games.
  • Demonstrators have gathered in Berlin this morning to protest against a law parliament is set to pass giving Germany’s national government power to impose lockdowns on areas with high coronavirus infection rates to curb a third wave of the pandemic.
  • Finland could start lifting coronavirus curbs on businesses and youth activities from next week, but borders will stay closed to tourists for at least the coming months.
  • France’s domestic travel restrictions will end on 3 May, a government source has told Reuters.
  • Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has said “We’re getting closer to the end of the pandemic” after the number of people receiving one dose of a Covid vaccine exceeded the country’s total coroanvirus caseload for the first time.
  • The archbishop of Canterbury has called on the UK government to start a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic, saying it should call out “reckless error” and have the power to compel witnesses to attend.
  • State minister George Gerapetritis has told broadcaster ERT in Greece that the government plans to allow restaurants to reopen early next month.
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin has called on Russians to get vaccinated, saying the public should attain collective immunity from Covid-19 by this autumn.
  • Sri Lanka’s health minister Pavithra Waniarachchi told parliament the country had found six cases of blood clots among recipients of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, three of whom have died.
  • Nearly six months after the first Covid-19 vaccines were approved for emergency use, Guardian analysis shows that the vast majority of the world is yet to see a substantial benefit .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:28

NSW Health investigates second possible Covid spread in hotel quarantine in Sydney

Josh Taylor - The Guardian
New South Wales health authorities are investigating another potential transmission of Covid-19 between people staying in hotel quarantine in Sydney , as Western Australian officials confirmed two new cases had been acquired in hotel quarantine in Perth.
Three returned travellers arrived on 3 April on the same flight, and stayed in adjacent rooms at the Mercure hotel on George Street in Sydney’s CBD.
All three, two of whom are members of the same family, tested negative on day two of their stay, but then tested positive later on.
Genomic testing shows they share the same viral sequence for the B1351 variant, first identified in South Africa.
Read more here .

Lockdown breachers in Cambodia arrested and beaten with rattan canes

Police in Cambodia have come under fire for caning people who breached coronavirus restrictions during a two-week lockdown in the capital.
Despite still having one of the world’s lowest caseloads, authorities in the capital Phnom Penh imposed a lockdown on 15 April following an outbreak beginning in late February, Reuters reports.
Police arrested lockdown breachers and beat some with rattan canes following breaches of lockdown. In some “red zone” districts of the city, people are banned people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.
Cambodian human rights groups condemned the canings and arrests, saying that there were better ways to ensure people protected themselves and others from the coronavirus.
“We are shocked such severe punishments are used against people for some small infractions,” Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) echoed the concerns, with its executive director Chak Sopheap saying: “We are dismayed at footage showing use of force by authorities against individuals. Violence is never the answer.”
A police spokesman defended the arrests and beatings, saying that “a small number of people” didn’t follow the rules and police “must take measures to save their lives”.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:34

Syria receives first Covax vaccine doses

Northwestern Syria has received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, AFP’s correspondent reports, with the doses arriving in a Idlib on Wednesday.
Some 53,800 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine were sent to the rebel-dominated city via the WHO-backed Covax programme. Other regions of Syria will also receive doses through the scheme.
Regime-controlled areas have already begun vaccinating health workers, but not with doses from Covax.
“Today, we received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines,” said Abdul Hamid al-Hussein of the Physicians Across Continents group which accompanied the shipment into Syria.
Mahmoud Daher, a senior official with the WHO, said the UN is ready to vaccinate Syria’s most vulnerable.
“Once the vaccines arrive, we are prepared to start vaccination to priority groups through our implementing partners,” he told AFP before the vaccines crossed into Idlib.
The first groups to be vaccinated will be medical workers and first aid responders, followed by people over 60. Younger people with chronic illnesses will get the vaccine next.

Oman to ban entry to travellers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Oman will ban entry to travellers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from 24 April, as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, Omani state TV reported on Wednesday.
The travel ban comes amid a dramatic surge in coronavirus infections and deaths in India, which has recorded new cases over 200,000 for seven consecutive days.
The world’s second-most populous nation recorded 295,041 new infections on Wednesday – the highest daily figure reported in any country during the pandemic.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 15:38

Hospital discharge link to Scotland outbreaks 'can't be ruled out'

Public Health Scotland has said it "cannot rule out" a link between patients being discharged from hospital and Covid outbreaks in care homes.
It found mortality was high, with Covid associated with 21.6% of deaths within 30 days of discharge to a care home.
More than 5,000 patients were sent to care homes between 1 March and 31 May last year - many without a test.
This report follows an earlier PHS study that was criticised for not being clear on its findings.
The health body said the size of a care home was still the biggest factor in the risk of an outbreak.
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German police clash with anti-lockdown protesters


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German police have fired tear gas and made several arrests in Berlin as they try to control large crowds of people protesting against a proposed new lockdown law.
Thousands of people gathered near the parliament building in the German capital, many without face masks, to demonstrate against a bill that would hand the government the power to override regional authorities and impose strict curfews in areas with high Covid cases.
At least seven people were arrested as protesters clashed with officers, police say.
Some German media outlets are reporting that as many as 8,000 protesters gathered ahead of the vote in the Bundestag - or the lower house of the German parliament - taking place today.
More than 2,000 police officers have reportedly been deployed to the area.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 17:31

German parliament passes Merkel's lockdown law

Damien McGuinness - BBC News, Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national lockdown law has been passed by parliament.
The law forces the country's regions back into tough lockdown once infections exceed a certain level.
But the move is controversial because regions say they are being overruled, and the debate was heated.
Some opposition politicians say the measures - such as a night-time curfew - are too harsh and will undermine support.
Outside on the streets, protesters have been even angrier.
Some demonstrators were far-right activists or conspiracy theorists. Most have refused to wear masks or adhere to distancing rules, so police ordered the protesters to disperse.
But a majority of politicians believe tougher measures are needed - and polls show that most voters agree.
That's because infection rates have been rising. Germany hasn't been hit as hard as some other European countries, but scientists warn that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed if tougher measures are not introduced.
Tomorrow, the law will be discussed by the Germany's Bundesrat, or upper house, and could be enforced next week.

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UK deaths rise by 22

A further 22 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, according to the latest government figures .
A further 2,396 cases have been recorded.
On Tuesday there were 33 deaths and 2,524 cases.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 17:45

China delivers 200m vaccine doses - but some struggle to book

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst

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China has today announced it has administered more than 200 million vaccine doses .
After the US, which has delivered 213 million doses, it is the country with the second highest number of vaccinations in the world.
China is aiming to vaccinate 40% of the country's population by the end of June, and has in recent days been strengthening calls for eligible recipients to get vaccinated amid concerns that at its current pace of between three and four million a day, it will not reach that target.
Media have repeatedly said the country remains at risk of a domestic outbreak - via infected people entering the country from overseas - unless vaccination is accelerated.
Outlets observe the number of new Covid-19 cases worldwide has been rising for eight consecutive weeks.
Today, however, the National Health Commission's spokesperson has commented that in China, "some people have reported that it has been difficult to make an appointment for a second dose".
On Sina Weibo, China's version of Facebook or Twitter, users are talking about how that has been their experience, with commenters saying that they've still not been notified about when they will receive a second dose , or have simply been told a second appointment is currently not available.
It is more likely this is due to staff shortages than vaccine shortages. China is one of the world's largest vaccine producers, and it says it has the capacity to provide five billion doses annually

First batch of vaccines arrives in opposition-held Syria

The first batch of coronavirus vaccines has arrived in opposition-held north-western Syria.
Some 54,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine supplied through the global Covax facility have arrived in Idlib province today via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.
Health authorities in both opposition- and government-controlled areas of the north-west have initially requested enough vaccines to cover 20% of their populations, or 855,000 people, via Covax.
Phase one of the roll-out is expected to begin in early May and will include medical personnel and people aged over 60 with high-risk health conditions.
More than 20,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 640 deaths have been reported in north-western Syria since the pandemic started. Infections are now reported to be on the rise again, after a lull.
Idlib is the last stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups that have been trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad since 2011. An estimated 2.7 million displaced people, including a million children, are living there, many of them in dire conditions in camps.
There has been a relative calm in the region since March 2020, when Russia, Assad’s ally, and Turkey, the opposition’s main backer, brokered a ceasefire to halt a government offensive.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 17:53

June 'too soon' for Dublin to host Euros with 25% capacity


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Leo Varadkar said it would be "unfortunate" if Dublin cannot host games for the delayed Euros

Dublin looks set to miss out on hosting matches at the delayed Euro 2020 this summer after the Irish government conceded it does not expect to meet Uefa's demand of filling stadiums to 25% capacity.
The tournament is due to be hosted in 12 cities across Europe from June, with Uefa set to make a decision on Munich, Bilbao and Dublin on Friday.
Those three cities have been unable to guarantee spectator attendance.
"We think June is too soon," says Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar.
"I think if they continue to insist on [having 25% of the stadium full], it'll be hard for it to go ahead quite frankly, which is unfortunate."
While the Republic of Ireland has one of Europe's lowest incidence rates of Covid-19, the government plans to reopen sectors very gradually with most shops due to stay shut until at least May and hotels potentially only opening in June.
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Cupcake factory hit by Covid outbreak


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A cupcake maker that supplies major supermarket chains has had an outbreak of Covid at its factory.
The Cake Crew says 42 members of staff have tested positive for the virus at the production facility in Bala, Gwynedd, in North Wales.
The firm employs 330 people making over a million cupcakes a week.
It said those identified and their contacts were now self-isolating.
A joint incident response team includes the company, health board officials and Public Health Wales, and both Gwynedd and Shropshire councils.
Here's the full story.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 18:00

What's gone wrong with Australia's vaccine rollout?

Australia has been one of the world's success stories in its fight against Covid-19, but frustration is growing over its delayed vaccination rollout.
The country has been slower than most others to immunise its population, with some high-risk groups crying out for protection.
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Last month, it fell 85% short of its own target - and the lack of clarity around the process has been criticised.
Supply shortages and delivery problems have been blamed for the delays.
And while steps have been taken to speed up the programme - such as mass immunisation hubs and investment in local production - the government is seeing its success so far in battling Covid tarnished by its sluggish vaccination effort.
We look here at what's gone wrong with Australia's vaccine rollout.

Loose debris found at US plant that makes vaccines

Problems including peeling paint and loose debris have been found during inspections at a US plant in Baltimore that makes coronavirus vaccines, the US Food and Drug Administration has said.
Emergent Biosolutions, which owns the plant, stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.
The FDA said its inspections were complete and in a report detailed a long list of problems, including failure to train personnel to avoid cross contamination of Covid-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which were made at the site.
The inspection, carried out between 12 and 20 April, found the building was not of the suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.
Reuters, which reported the news, said Emergent was not immediately available for comment.
Johnson & Johnson said it would ensure all of the FDA's observations were addressed "promptly and comprehensively".
No vaccine manufactured at the plant has been distributed for use in the US.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 18:08

Beach partygoers warned of police action


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Swansea beach

Potential beach partygoers have been warned not to flout Covid-19 rules or they could face police action.
South Wales Police says it is aware of messages on social media about a gathering on a Swansea beach.
Six people from two households are currently able to meet outside in Wales, and from Saturday, this will change to six people from six households.
The force says it will be using section 35 dispersal orders and adopting "a far more robust approach".
Ch Insp James Ratti says he is "appealing to the better nature" of local young people, and pleaded with those thinking of attending "to please reconsider and avoid doing so this weekend".

Focus shifts from first to second jabs


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In the UK, one in five adults has had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine and experts say it is working "very well" in bringing down new infections.
These charts show how hospitalisations have dropped and that second doses have become the main focus of the vaccination programme.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 21 2021, 18:11

What's been happening today?


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Cherry trees planted in memory of Covid victims will flower each spring to mark the anniversary of the first UK lockdown in 2020

We are going to be bringing our coronavirus updates to a close for the day soon so here's a reminder of today's news:

  • One in five adults in the UK has received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine - just under 10.8 million people
  • Prof Calum Semple, a scientist advising the UK government on Covid-19, says there is a "really sharp drop off" in people being infected more than a week after having the jab
  • But vaccines expert Prof Adam Finn has warned there is likely to be a summer surge in cases in the UK
  • Boris Johnson says he makes "no apology for moving heaven and earth" to get ventilators during the pandemic, amid a row over lobbying involving Sir James Dyson
  • In text messages seen by the BBC, the prime minister promised to "fix" tax changes the entrepreneur wanted
  • In Germany, there have been clashes between police and crowds in Berlin protesting against a new lockdown law passed by parliament
  • Denmark is allowing people back inside restaurants, museums and football stadiums as restrictions are eased
  • At least 22 Covid patients have died in a hospital in India after they lost oxygen supply due to a leak
  • Hairdresser, Sinead Quinn, who has failed to pay £17,000 in fines for opening her salon during lockdown is due in court
  • And cherry trees will be planted in parks around a Lancashire town in memory of people who died during the coronavirus pandemic .


Goodbye

That's all from us for today - but we will be back with more coronavirus news tomorrow.

Today's updates have been brought to you by Ella Willis, Mal Siret, Jennifer Meierhans, Alex Therrien and James Clarke.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:13