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

Coronavirus - 23rd April 2021

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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 10:21

Summary for Friday, 23rd April

  • Hairdressers, close-contact services and outdoor visitor attractions are reopening in Northern Ireland
  • Welsh pubs and restaurants could open indoors from 17 May, as plans to ease restrictions are brought forward
  • Indoor group activities and swimming lessons will also be allowed from 3 May in Wales - two weeks earlier than planned
  • UK and Irish nationals arriving from India must quarantine in a hotel, as new travel restrictions come into force
  • At least two hospitals in Delhi are running out of oxygen, as India struggles with second wave
  • UK government borrowing hit £303.1bn last year - the highest level since the end of World War Two
  • The chances of becoming infected with Covid falls sharply after a first dose of either the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines, a study finds

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the main stories in the UK today:


What's happening around the world?


  • At least two hospitals in the Indian capital of Delhi are running out of oxygen, as the country struggles with a second wave of coronavirus infections
  • Meanwhile, at least 13 patients have died after a fire broke out in the intensive care unit of a hospital set up to treat Covid patients near Mumbai
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African countries not to destroy Covid-19 vaccines that may have passed their expiry date
  • The head of the WHO has accused a handful of the richest countries of gobbling up supplies of vaccines, leaving others scrambling for the scraps
  • Japan is expected to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures from 25 April to 11 May, amid a surge in coronavirus cases
  • French prime minister Jean Castex confirmed that domestic travel restrictions will be lifted on 3 May and that secondary schools will reopen that same day. France is due to impose a 10-day quarantine starting from Saturday for travellers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India .
  • The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there had been 168 cases up to 14 April of blood clots with low platelet counts in the UK in people who had had the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
  • EU capitals have been asked by the European commission to back legal action against AstraZeneca by the end of the week over an alleged breach of its contractual obligations to supply member states with its Covid vaccine. Earlier on Thursday, a commission spokesperson confirmed legal action had not been launched against the company, following comments by Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly .
  • New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by more than 9,000 in 24 hours on Thursday, the highest level since early January, figures show .
  • In Indonesia , scores of prisoners have been sentenced to death over Zoom and other video apps during the pandemic in what critics say is an “inhumane” insult to those facing the firing squad.
  • Indonesia issues travel ban to India over coronavirus variant
    Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday.


Latest across Europe


  • Italian ministers will finalise a plan from PM Mario Draghi for an enormous €221.5bn (£192bn) recovery package of investment and structural reform. All but €30bn of the money is from EU grants and cheap loans, so the package has to be approved by the EU first: it covers six areas including energy transition away from carbon fuels; digitalisation and innovation, infrastructure projects, education, social inclusion and health.
  • Twenty Indian nursing students who recently arrived in Belgium via Paris have contracted the Indian variant of Covid. They all tested negative in PCR tests before leaving India and all gave a negative rapid test on arrival in Paris, before going into Belgian quarantine. Belgian experts believe they were infected by one of the students on the bus from Paris to the towns of Aalst and Leuven. The chances they have infected anyone else are small.
  • Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has said this morning that vaccination rates there will reach 40% next week and will help the country reopen further. He says anyone with a vaccination card will be able to enter cinemas, gyms, hotels and theatres. But Hungary still has high rates of infection and had to limit a plan to reopen primary schools on Monday.
  • The Dutch parliament has backed measures to reopen café terraces during the afternoon and lift overnight curfews, even though infection numbers have reached their highest numbers since early January, with almost 9,700 cases announced on Thursday. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte says five million vaccinations will have been completed by the end of this week.
  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex believes the third wave has peaked in France, with case numbers down 17% in the past 10 days. Nursery and primary schools will reopen on Monday with a strict testing protocol, and older children will start going back on 3 May.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 10:39

NI hairdressers and outdoor attractions reopen

Close-contact services such as hairdressers, along with outdoor visitor attractions, are reopening in Northern Ireland for the first time since lockdown was imposed after Christmas.
New Covid-19 regulations released yesterday state people must book appointments in order to get a haircut or attend a beauty salon.
Driving lessons are also restarting, while competitive outdoor sport organised by a club or individuals can resume without spectators and with no more than 100 people participating.
Outdoor hospitality businesses and all non-essential retail will open next week.
First Minister Arlene Foster says the Northern Ireland Executive will "keep looking" to see if Covid restrictions can be eased faster.
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 10:45

Welsh pubs and restaurants to reopen indoors from 17 May

Pubs and restaurants in Wales could reopen indoors for the first time in more than five months from 17 May, as plans to ease lockdown measures are brought forward.
Indoor children's activities such as soft play will be able to restart from 3 May, while indoor activities for up to 15 adults will also be allowed from that date.
First Minister Mark Drakeford says it will be for the incoming Welsh government to confirm the arrangements for any reopening of indoor hospitality when the next three week review is held on 13 May, a week after the Senedd election.
It comes after the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru called for the industry to be allowed to resume indoor trade on 17 May - the same proposed date as in England.
Opposition parties have accused Drakeford, the leader of Welsh Labour, of electioneering by changing coronavirus rules during the Welsh Parliament election campaign.
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 10:54

India joins UK's red list as travel ban begins

British and Irish nationals arriving in the UK from India must quarantine in a government-approved hotel, as new travel restrictions come into force .
India joined the UK's "red list" on Friday, which means anyone who has been there in the previous 10 days, except UK citizens and those with residency rights, will be barred entry to the UK.
The country has seen soaring infection rates, a rapidly rising death toll and the discovery of a new virus variant.
There are 40 countries on the government's red list across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.
You can read more about the rules on travel from "red list" countries here .

'India's medical system has collapsed'

The medical system in India has collapsed and cremations may soon have to take place on roads because of lack of space, a charity that helps poorer families cremate their relatives' bodies says.
Jyot Jeet Singh, who runs the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal charity in New Delhi, says during the first wave of coronavirus his charity was transporting 30 to 40 bodies every day but now they are dealing with an average of 70 to 80 a day.
“The situation has really worsened, the medical system has collapsed. Our government was not prepared for this disaster to happen," he tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He says lack of space means bodies are having to be cremated in parking lots.
"In the coming three or four days the situation is going to get so [much] worse that we’ll have to cremate dead bodies on the road," he says.

Covid is now endemic in UK, says leading scientist

Covid-19 in the UK has moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation in the UK, a leading scientist says.
An endemic disease is present in a particular group of people or country.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is an endemic human infection now. It’s not going to go away. Humanity will have to live with this."
He says society now has the tools, including diagnostic tests, genomic sequencing, treatments and vaccines to deal with coronavirus - but these need to be spread globally.
"Otherwise in a virus that is still evolving and adapting to humanity, new variants will come, which may take us back to some point in 2020 if they escape vaccines and treatments," he adds.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 11:16

Reopening of services a 'good day' for Northern Ireland

The reopening of close contact services and outdoor attractions in Northern Ireland is a "good day and an even better day for the economy", the nation's economy minister says.
Diane Dodds says: "It's the start of a road back to rebuilding and recovering our economy and a bit of normality.
"It has been an absolutely torrid year, particularly for our retail, for these close contact services. The cycle of lockdowns has been really, really devastating."
She says the Stormont Executive wants to see the economy reopen safely and sustainably, and adds next week is "another momentous week", with the reopening of all retail as well as outdoor hospitality.

Travellers rush to beat India red list deadline


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Biju Mathew flew from Kochi via Mumbai and Frankfurt to beat the Friday deadline

When Biju Mathew heard India was going on to the UK's travel red list, he leapt into action.
"I couldn't afford to stay away," he says. "I had to get back to work."
The social services manager from Walsall, in England's West Midlands, was in India visiting family. He began ringing local travel agents in attempt to beat the Friday deadline.
Since 04:00 BST today, most travellers who have been to India in the past 10 days are banned from entering the UK unless they hold UK passports or residence rights. Those that do are required to quarantine in hotels on arrival, at significant cost and inconvenience.
"Eventually, yesterday, a friend in the UK managed to book me a ticket from Mumbai to Manchester," says Biju. He had just half an hour's notice to pack and go.
"I had to stop everything. I didn't get time to say a proper goodbye to my parents."
It also cost him close to £2,000 for the flight and Covid tests required, when a flight from Mumbai is usually well under £1,000.
But others haven't managed to find a flight back at all .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 11:22

More evidence of human-to-cat Covid transmission


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Scientists say they have identified two cases where humans are thought to have passed Covid-19 to their cats .
Researchers at the University of Glasgow say both cats developed the virus after their owners.
They were of different breeds and lived in separate households. One displayed mild symptoms but the other had to be put down.
Scientists now want to improve understanding of whether pets can play a role in infecting humans.
The cases were found as part of a screening programme of the feline population in the UK.
Researchers believe both pets were infected by their owners, who had Covid-19 symptoms before the cats became unwell.

UK should be 'very highly immune' by end of summer

The UK population will be "very highly immune" to Covid-19 by the end of the summer if vaccination rates continue to be high, a leading scientist says.
Prof Adam Finn, a member of the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, says results from a study that found the chances of becoming infected by the virus fell sharply after one dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, are "really good news".
“We knew already these vaccines were really, really good at stopping you from getting seriously ill with Covid but what this is telling us is they can pretty reliably stop you getting the infection at all – even after first dose," he tells BBC Radio 5 Live.
He says this has "enormous implications" for the UK because it will become harder for the virus to transmit.
"We’re going to get what we call population immunity or herd immunity," he adds.
Herd immunity is 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.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 11:29

India is running out of oxygen again. This time it's much worse

Janhavee Moole - BBC Marathi, Mumbai

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Twenty five families in India's capital Delhi woke up to the news this morning that someone they loved had died in the city's Sir Ganga Ram hospital, reportedly because the patients could not get enough oxygen.
The hospital's medical director says a severe shortfall has slowed the flow of oxygen to 25 of the sickest patients, who needed high pressure, stable oxygen supply.
The tragedy comes at the end of a week when several major hospitals in Delhi have repeatedly come close to running out of oxygen. On Tuesday, it took a desperate public plea from the chief minister and an intervention from the high court for the federal government to facilitate a late night refill.
An oxygen tanker eventually arrived at Sir Ganga Ram hospital this morning, shortly after a dire warning that 60 more patients were on the verge of death. But India's rising wave of cases is pushing its healthcare system to the brink - from the country's richest cities to its remotest corners.
Read more here.

Coronavirus reaches world's tallest peak


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At least one climber on Mount Everest has tested positive for Covid-19, just weeks after the world's tallest peak reopened to climbers following a year of closure.
Norwegian climber Erlend Ness was isolated in hospital for eight nights due to the virus, he tells the BBC.
Reports say a sherpa in his party has also tested positive for the virus.
The outbreak is a blow to Nepal, which relies heavily on income generated from Everest expeditions.
Ness is unsure where he could have caught the virus, but raises the possibility of having caught it while in one of the tea houses along the Khumbu Valley.
He adds he could have "done more" to protect himself, such as being more diligent with handwashing, and wearing a mask all day.
"Not many people used masks on the trek," recalls Ness, who had been feeling sick for about six days in the mountains before being evacuated on 15 April by helicopter.
He was taken to two different hospitals in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, and tested positive for the virus three times.
The climber has since recovered - testing negative yesterday - and is now staying with friends in the city.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 11:36

Perth goes into snap lockdown


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Australia has implemented a snap three-day lockdown in the city of Perth after Covid-19 escaped from a quarantine hotel housing international travellers infected with the virus.
Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan said a man who was allowed to leave the hotel on 17 April after testing negative for the virus after a two-week quarantine period, but tested positive days later.
Someone in close contact with the man then tested positive today. It is the first case of community transmission of the disease in the state in a year.
Officials are tracking people who came into contact with the man during five days he spent in Perth before flying to Melbourne, where he tested positive on Wednesday.
Australia has avoided the worst of the pandemic, with under 30,000 cases and more than 900 deaths for a population of 25 million.

Fire at hospital in India kills 13 coronavirus patients

A fire has killed 13 coronavirus patients in a hospital in western India early Friday.
The fire, at a hospital in the Virar area on the outskirts of Mumbai, occurred two days after 24 coronavirus patients on ventilators died due to an oxygen leak in a hospital in Nashik, in Maharashtra.
The fire on the second-floor intensive-care unit was extinguished and some patients requiring oxygen were moved to nearby hospitals, said Dilip Shah, CEO of Vijay Vallabh hospital.
Shah said there are 90 patients in the hospital, about 70 kilometers north of Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, he said.
An explosion in the air conditioning unit of the intensive care unit preceded the fire, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 11:51

Prisoners in Indonesia sentenced to death over Zoom

The Guardian
In Indonesia, scores of prisoners have been sentenced to death over Zoom and other video apps during the pandemic in what critics say is an “inhumane” insult to those facing the firing squad.
Virtual court hearings are becoming more prominent in the south-east country as coronavirus restrictions shut down most in-person trials, including murder and drug trafficking cases, which can carry the death penalty.
In Amnesty International ’s annual report on capital punishment, Indonesia has pressed on with the virtual hearings, despite the number of executions and death sentences dropped globally last year, with coronavirus disrupting many criminal proceedings
“Virtual hearings degrade the rights of defendants facing death sentences - it’s about someone’s life and death,” said Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid.
“The death penalty has always been a cruel punishment. But this online trend adds to the injustice and inhumanity,” he added.
Virtual hearings leave defendants unable to fully participate in cases that are sometimes interrupted in countries with poor internet connections, including Indonesia, critics say.
“Virtual platforms … can expose the defendant to significant violations of their fair trial rights and impinge on the quality of the defence,” NGO Harm Reduction International said in a recent report on the death penalty for drug offences.

Indonesia issues travel ban to India over coronavirus variant

Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday.[/h3]
It comes as India faces its worst outbreak of the virus, recording the world’s highest single-day increase in cases on Friday for a second day, surpassing 330,000 infections.
“Based on these observations, the government has decided to stop issuing visas for foreigners who have lived or visited India in the past 14 days,” chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto said on Friday.
Indonesians arriving from India will be allowed to enter, however, but must follow stricter health protocols and quarantine.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous nation, has among the worst COVID-19 epidemics in Asia, with over 1.62 million cases and 44,000 death, according to most recent statistics.

Latest coronavirus statistics from Russia

The Guardian
via Reuters:
Russia reported 8,840 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, including 2,502 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,744,961 since the pandemic began.
The government coronavirus taskforce said that 398 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking its death toll to 107,501.
The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February.
Russia reported 8,840 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, including 2,502 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,744,961 since the pandemic began.
The government coronavirus taskforce said that 398 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking its death toll to 107,501.
The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 13:36

Travellers from India not permitted to enter Wales

The Welsh government says travellers from India will not be permitted to enter and must quarantine in a hotel in England or Scotland for 10 days.
As there are currently no international flights to Wales, any travellers taking this route would have to travel indirectly via ports in England or Scotland.
It comes as India is added to the UK's so-called red list for travel restrictions amid rising Covid case numbers.
Wales is making an exemption for healthcare professionals or those transporting human blood, tissues and organs.
Currently, people are allowed to travel to Wales from other parts of the UK - but foreign travel is banned without a reasonable excuse.
First Minister Mark Drakeford will be giving the final coronavirus briefing before the Welsh elections shortly.
You can follow all the updates here .

Breaking News 

UK infections down to 1-in-610 people

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Estimates from the Office for National Statistics survey suggest that about 105,000 people in the UK would test positive for coronavirus in the week to 16 April, down from 130,000 people the previous week.
This is 0.16% of the population – or one in 610 people.
The fall is mainly driven by declines in England.
The ONS also says infections “decreased” in Scotland, but the week-on-week trend is less certain in Northern Ireland or Wales.
The estimates for the UK nations compared with last week are:
England: 1-in-610 are estimated to be testing positive for coronavirus compared with 1-in-480 last week.
Wales: 1-in-840 compared with 1-in-920 last week
Northern Ireland: 1-in-660 compared with 1-in-710 last week
Scotland: 1-in-560 compared with 1-in-500 the week before.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 13:41

Putin agrees to public holiday next month to stop Covid spread


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Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed a non-working period next month to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The population will have 1 to 9 May off.
Putin agreed to a proposal to this effect by the head of Russia's health and consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova.
"If you think that it's necessary, let's do it. Today I'll sign the relevant decree," Putin said in a televised meeting with Popova.
She had suggested that Russians be given the four working days between the three-day weekend for 1 May and the three-day weekend for Victory Day on 9 May as additional days off.
She said that it was hoped that by only going on one larger trip away from home rather than two, citizens would avoid making additional journeys on crowded public transport and thus increasing the risk of the coronavirus infection.

The bad news in India is unrelenting

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
Every morning, for the past few days, I have been waking up to my phone buzzing with desperate messages for help.
People are seeking hospital beds, life-saving drugs, oxygen and plasma for their infected and sick friends and relatives. Often, after a period of silence, the same people announce the deaths of their "patients". My Twitter timeline is India's Covid-19 war-room, as the state appears to have largely withered away.
Every essential to save a life is in shortage or available on the black market. Then there's the fear of the virus literally "at your door". Over the past week, three buildings in the gated complex where I live have become "containment zones", with entire skyscrapers sealed because of too many infections. The days and nights are filled with helplessness, anxiety and fear. The bad news is unrelenting.
The Supreme Court of India has called this a "national emergency". This is beyond an emergency. It is a "complete collapse of the goddamn system", as one of India's leading virologists says. In hotspots like Delhi and Mumbai, life, itself, is now a privilege.
Read more: India Covid crisis: Hospitals buckle under record surge
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 13:45

Pandemic inspires escape to the country


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Many of us have seen the daily commute replaced by working from home over the last year.
That experience has prompted some people to reassess where they live and to swap the city for the countryside.
Last summer, Claire and Owen Whitford, along with their three boys, upped sticks from Belfast and moved to Fermanagh, to the south-west of Northern Ireland.
"I had logged on one day and realised I could do it anywhere," Claire explains.
"That was on a Thursday and I said to Owen on Friday 'we're moving down to Fermanagh'."
She says if it hadn't been for the pandemic, they would never have made the move.
And they are not the only ones escaping the rat race of the city, with a Enniskillen estate agent Nick Finlay saying he has seen a surge in demand for property.
Read more here.

Police issue gathering warning ahead of sunny weekend


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Police had to disperse a large crowd which gathered in Kelvingrove Park on 17 March

Scottish police chiefs are urging people not to breach Covid restrictions by gathering in large groups in public parks to enjoy the weekend sunshine.
It comes after about 400 people were refused entry to Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park last weekend in a crackdown on drinking alcohol in public.
Nine of the park's 16 gates will be shut on Friday and Saturday.
The Meadows in Edinburgh has also been the scene of recent trouble - including a mass brawl over the Easter weekend.
Under current Covid restrictions , people in Scotland are only allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 16:58

What is the India Covid variant and will vaccines work against it?

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
A coronavirus variant identified in India is being investigated by scientists across the world.
However, it is not yet known how far it has spread or whether it is driving the deadly second wave of Covid in India itself.
What is the India variant?
Viruses mutate all the time, producing different versions or variants of themselves.
Most of these mutations are insignificant - and some may even make the virus less dangerous - but others can make it more contagious and harder to vaccinate against.
This variant - officially known as B.1.617 - was first detected in India in October.
How far has it spread?
Sample testing is not widespread enough across India to determine how far or quickly the variant is spreading.
It was detected in 220 out of 361 Covid samples collected between January and March in the western Indian state of Maharashtra .
Meanwhile, it has been spotted in at least 21 countries, according to the GISAID global database.
International travel appears to have brought the variant to the UK, where 103 cases have been identified since 22 February.
Most travellers from India have now been banned from coming to the UK .
And Public Health England has listed the India variant as one of several "variants under investigation" but does not so far consider it serious enough to be classified as a "variant of concern".
Read more here.

In charts: How coronavirus is spreading around the world

As vaccine rollouts continue, the number of daily cases in many parts of the world is stable or falling.
In Asia, however, cases are rising rapidly, mostly due to India's recent surge in cases.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:05

Breaking News

England's R number rises slightly

The R number in England has risen slightly from between 0.7 and 1 to between 0.8 and 1, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies estimates .
The R value is a way of rating the speed at which a virus spreads, with a range of 0.8 to 1 meaning that on average every 10 people infected with Covid-19 will infect between eight and 10 other people.
Sage also says there is a growth rate of between -5% and -1% per day - which means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1% and 5% every day.

Delhi doctor tells of 'huge surge'

India's healthcare system is buckling as a record surge in Covid-19 cases puts pressure on hospital beds and drains oxygen supplies.
Families are left pleading for their desperately ill relatives, with some patients left untreated for hours.
Crematoriums are organising mass funeral pyres.
On Friday, India reported 332,730 new cases of coronavirus, setting a world record for a second day running. Deaths were numbered at 2,263 in 24 hours.
Dr Atul Gogia, a consultant at the Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi, tells the BBC there has been a "huge surge" in patients, leaving no space in the emergency room.
"We do not have that many oxygen points. Whatever oxygen points are there, they're full. Patients are coming in with their own oxygen cylinders or without oxygen. We want to help them but there are not enough beds and not enough oxygen points even to supply them oxygen if it is there," he says.
"All our telephone lines are jammed. People are continuously calling the helpline. There is a big rush outside the hospital: there are ambulances parked, patients wanting to get deboarded, but the problem is, there is no space.
"We try to mobilise, we try to discharge patients who become stable as early as possible so that we can increase the turnaround, but things are difficult right now."
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:09

Wembley gets extra Euro 2020 game due to Covid issues


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Wembley has been given an extra Euro 2020 last-16 tie after Dublin lost its four fixtures because of Covid-19 issues.
The delayed tournament, which was due to be hosted by 12 European cities, will - after Dublin's removal - now take place across 11 venues in Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville and St Petersburg.
European football's governing body, Uefa, previously told host cities that stadiums must be able to hold at least 25% capacity to be allowed to keep their fixtures.
However, Munich keeps its fixtures after assuring Uefa that a minimum of 14,500 fans will be allowed at its games at the 70,000-capacity Allianz Arena.
Euro 2020, delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will take place between 11 June and 11 July.
Read more here .

Tunisia death toll passes 10,000 as beds run out

Tunisia's death toll has passed the 10,000 mark.
The health ministry reported 70 deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total known figure to 10,063.
There have been 2,305 new infections, with 2,630 patients still hospitalised and 498 people in intensive care, the official TAP news agency reported.
Hospitals in Tunisia are reported to have run out of intensive care beds as the country struggles to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.
A member of a scientific committee that advises the government, Amenallah Messadi, said on Thursday that the situation was critical, and that health workers were exhausted.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:17

Scientist warns of concerns about foreign holidays

The World at One - BBC Radio 4
A leading scientist says there are concerns about the prospect of holidays abroad resuming this summer.
Sir John Bell, Oxford University's Regius Professor of Medicine, tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One programme: "I think you have to say, really? Do we want people flying around the world and getting exposed to those sorts of issues?
"Just to be clear, things are great here, they are not so great in Europe. There are quite a lot of variants circulating in Europe, they have got a lot of disease in this current wave.
"And then you get to the developing economies - India, Africa, central and south America - where they have terrible disease, with lots of variants."

Outbreak sees 61 people flown ashore from North Sea platform


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More than 60 people have been flown ashore from a North Sea platform after an outbreak of coronavirus .
Four people tested positive on a floating hotel platform next to Shearwater, 140 miles (225km) east of Aberdeen.
Following an investigation into close contacts, a total of 61 people have been flown ashore.
Shell says it is taking "all appropriate precautions" in line with coronavirus protocols. Production is not affected.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:31

Japan announces emergency restrictions

Japan has announced emergency coronavirus restrictions to curb rising infections - just three months before the Olympic Games.
Restaurants and bars serving alcohol will be asked to close, as will shopping centres. People are being urged to stay at home.
The measures will be in force for two weeks from Sunday, and cover major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has insisted the Olympics will go ahead. But polls show a majority of Japanese people believe they should be postponed or cancelled.
Tokyo has reported 759 new infections, down from 861 on Thursday - the highest number since 29 January, during the previous state of emergency.

Trial outdoor cinema screenings postponed


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Outdoor cinema screenings that are part of a national pilot scheme exploring how mass events can take place safely have been postponed .
The Luna Cinema in Liverpool was due to host the viewings, without social distancing, for the next three days.
It was recently targeted by anti-vaccine activists for taking part in the trial, even though attendees do not have to show proof of vaccination.
Organisers say the delay is due to "circumstances beyond our control".
Three screenings will now take place near the city's Exhibition Centre between 14 and 16 May.
They are part of the nationwide Events Research Programme , through which scientists will examine the risk of coronavirus transmission from attendance at stadiums and venues.
A Liverpool comedy club previously pulled out of a pilot event after it received abuse following inaccurate reports that it was to be a trial for vaccination certification.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:38

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Breaking News 

Further 40 Covid deaths reported in UK

A further 40 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test in the UK, the latest government figures show .
It takes the total by that measure to 127,385.
There has also been an increase of 2,678 cases.

UK passes 45 million vaccine doses given

The UK vaccination programme has now given more than 45 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
As of Thursday 33,388,637 first doses had been given across the UK, a daily rise of 139,986.
There have also been 11,623,671, a daily increase of 431,070, according to the latest figures .

Significant developments with China’s vaccination drive

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
China has now administered 211 million vaccine doses, only eight million fewer doses than the US. There is some expectation by next week, China will have surpassed the US and have administered more vaccine doses than anywhere else in the world.
Four different vaccines have currently been approved in China for public use , all of which have been developed within the country.
However, others are on the way; it is possible that another vaccine co-developed by German’s BioNTech may become available within the country “before July”.
According to the national Global Times newspaper, “the Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccine will be the first foreign-developed Covid-19 vaccine that China will import”.
Meanwhile, Chinese firm CanSino is set to begin vaccine trials next week using an inhaled vaccine candidate. Global Times said last month an inhaled vaccine would “be a less painful and more accessible” alternative to an injection, “especially for children and vulnerable people”.
China’s main vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac also may soon receive authorisation from the World Health Organization to be included in the Covax global vaccine distribution programme.
According to the independent South China Morning Post, Chinese vaccines are in the “final stage of the WHO approval process”. Review meetings to discuss both are set for 3 May. They have been hindered to date by insufficient data on the elderly and people with underlying health condition, given that China has prioritised vaccination among people aged 18 to 59.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:44

Canada cases could double by end of April, experts warn

New daily cases of coronavirus in Canada could almost double to more than 15,000 from 8,600 by the end of the month unless stricter measures are put in place, health officials say.
The warning comes as new coronavirus variants spread through the country.
"Elevated case counts and severe illness trends remind us we are still in a right race between vaccines and variants and our actions matter," says Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.
Provinces including Ontario are battling a third wave of the virus. Critics have accused the government of not acting quick enough to deal with the new variants and of taking too long to roll out vaccines.

India arrivals begin UK hotel quarantine

The first people to arrive in the UK from India since the country was placed on the travel "red list" have entered hotel quarantine.
British and Irish nationals and those with residency rights must isolate in approved accommodation for 10 days after rules changed overnight.
India has seen a second wave of infections, with shortages of medical oxygen, and a new virus variant. Amid desperate scenes, some patients have been left untreated for hours .
On Friday, India reported 332,730 new cases of coronavirus, setting a world record for a second day running. Deaths were numbered at 2,263 in 24 hours as crematoriums organise mass funeral pyres.
Passengers from one of the first scheduled commercial flights to land in the UK from India since the red list changed were seen being escorted to government-approved hotels at London's Heathrow Airport on Friday afternoon.
TV chef Romy Gill returned from India before the travel rules changed on Thursday and is isolating in a hotel in Bristol. She praised the UK government's handling of the rules for those returning from the country.
"I was in India last November and what has been done now is completely different," she said. "I think the [UK] government is doing what they should have done ages ago."
But some have spoken of their struggle to leave India amid restrictions on travel and widespread flight cancellations.
Mukti Mulligan, from London but currently in Goa, told BBC Asian Network: "Even now a number of my friends are isolating, stuck in bed, most of them are not tested," he said. "Almost certainly a vast majority have got Covid.
"We're talking about under 40s, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Pretty much everyone is affected in some way or another."
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 17:49

Austria to reopen restaurants and hotels next month

Austria plans to ease its Covid restrictions on 19 May, allowing restaurants, hotels and theatres to reopen their doors for the first time in almost half a year.
The government announcement comes despite concerns about high infection rates.
"The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tells a news conference.
Kurz accepts the loosening of lockdown will increase infections, but adds accelerating the vaccination drive means hospitalisations will not necessarily increase.
There are currently more than 2,000 infections a day in Austria, which has a population of eight million. More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to the virus nationally.

Many Italian restaurants and bars to reopen next week

Restrictions on many businesses, including restaurants, bars and cinemas will be relaxed in most Italian regions from Monday.
The move comes as the government slowly rolls back Covid restrictions in less-affected areas.
Fourteen of Italy's 20 regions, including Lazio, centred on Rome, and Lombardy centred on Milan, will be made moderate-risk yellow zones, the health ministry says. Orange and red are the strictest levels.
Bars and restaurants will now be able to offer service outside, while cinemas, theatres and concert halls will also be able to reopen with strict rules on attendance. They have been closed since last October.
Italy, which has registered the second highest number of Covid deaths on the continent, reintroduced tough restrictions late last year when a second wave of cases spread through the country.

Isle of Man over-18s urged to come for vaccine

Isle of Man residents who are 18 and over are being told they risk waiting up to two months to receive the first dose of a Covid vaccine if they do not register for one by 10 May.
From that date, the vaccination programme will be strongly focused on delivering second doses.
A slow-down in vaccine deliveries means the roll-out of first doses will be "severely restricted" during the period, the health department says.
Health Minister David Ashford says take-up in younger age groups is currently "a concern".
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 18:03

When can I go on holiday abroad?

As we've reported throughout the day, surging Covid cases in India mean travel between it and the UK has now effectively been banned.
And while travelling to anywhere outside the UK for the purposes of tourism is also still banned, the rules will be easing in the near future.
So, when can people in the UK go on holiday and where will you be allowed to go?
The BBC explainers team has compiled this handy guide for anyone dreaming of warmer climes.

Woman fined £500 for Covid-breach balloon launch


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Vicki Hutchinson admitted organising the event in breach of lockdown rules

A woman who organised a balloon launch in memory of her father-in-law in November has been fined £500 for breaching coronavirus rules.
Vicki Hutchinson had refused to pay a £10,000 fixed penalty for holding the gathering of more than 30 people.
She was summonsed before Peterlee magistrates, where she admitted the offence, and had to pay £135 costs.
The launch in Horden, north-east England, was held in memory of Ian Stephenson, 58, who died with coronavirus.
Outside the court Hutchinson says: "Yes I did break the law, yes I did release balloons, but at the time, when you lose someone, you don't think, do you?"
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Apr 23 2021, 18:10

Friday's UK headlines round-up

We'll be bringing our live coronavirus coverage to a close shortly, but here is a reminder of what has been happening across the UK today:

  • The first people to arrive in the UK from India since the country was placed on the travel "red list" have entered hotel quarantine
  • British and Irish nationals, as well as those with residence rights, may still enter the UK but must isolate for 10 days
  • People in Wales will be able to have a drink inside a pub or restaurant from 17 May after First Minister Mark Drakeford brought forward the relaxation of rules amid falling cases
  • In Northern Ireland close contact services, such as hairdressers, have reopened and driving lessons have resumed as restrictions begin to ease
  • More surge testing is to begin in the Highgate and Bordesley area of Birmingham after a case of the South Africa variant was discovered, the Department of Health says
  • The chances of becoming infected by Covid fall sharply after a first dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, a UK study finds
  • It comes as the UK vaccination programme passes the 45 million doses given mark, with more than 11.6 million people so far receiving both jabs
  • Amid the Covid pandemic UK government borrowing has reached its highest level since World War Two, reaching £303.1bn last year.


Round-up from around the globe

We're wrapping up our coverage for the day, thanks for joining us. Here's a round-up of some of the latest developments from around the world:


  • It has reported 332,730 new cases, setting a world record high for a second day running. Deaths were numbered at 2,263 in 24 hours
  • Families are left pleading for their relatives who are desperately ill, with some patients left untreated for hours. Crematoriums are organising mass funeral pyres
  • Japan has announced emergency Covid measures in Tokyo and three other areas in a bid to curb rising infections, just three months before the country is set to host the Olympics
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed a non-working period next month to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the country
  • Australia has implemented a snap three-day lockdown in the city of Perth after Covid-19 escaped from a quarantine hotel housing international travellers infected with the virus
  • Bollywood composer Shravan Rathod has died shortly after testing positive for Covid-19 .


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That's all from us today.

Today's coverage has been brought to you by James Clarke, Becky Morton, Hamish Mackay, Doug Faulkner and George Wright.
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    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:17