Coronavirus latest news: Decision on June 21 made ‘more difficult’ by Indian Variant, says Matt Hancock

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The decision to reopen on June 21 has been made “more difficult” by the Indian variant’s spread to the most dominant variant in the UK, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock told Sky News that the latest advice the Government has received is that the so-called Delta mutation first identified in India is 40 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Kent variant.

“That means that it is more difficult to manage this virus with the new Delta variant,” he said.

Mr Hancock told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme: “Ultimately it does make the calculation more difficult for June 21, but it doesn’t change our strategy, which is we all need to go and get vaccinated and that way we will break this link between the number of cases to the number of hospitalisations.”

He added that this week under 30s will be invited to come forward for their first vaccination, which will bring us “a step closer” to vaccinating all adults in the UK and “restoring our freedoms”.

“We are not saying no to the 21st of June at this point, we will keep watching the data for another week and critically watching that link from the number of cases to the number of people ending up in hospital,” he said.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

09:18 AM

Under 30s will be invited to book their vaccine this week, says Matt Hancock

Those aged under 30 will be invited to book their coronavirus vaccine jabs this week, the Health Secretary has confirmed.

Matt Hancock told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme that vaccines had “severed but not broken” the link between a rise in cases and an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital.

“The majority of people going into hospital right now are unvaccinated,” the senior Government minister said.

“This week we will be opening up vaccines to the under-30s and so we are getting a step closer to the point when we have been able to offer the vaccine to all adults in this country.

“Then, once we have got everybody having had their second dose, then you will get this protection that we are seeing at the moment among older people, you’ll get that protection throughout the whole adult population.”

UCL Students queuing for a vaccine at Bloomsbury Surgery, London, on Saturday after the university opened a walk-in clinic to students - Jeff Gilbert
UCL Students queuing for a vaccine at Bloomsbury Surgery, London, on Saturday after the university opened a walk-in clinic to students – Jeff Gilbert

09:03 AM

PM to urge G7 leaders to defeat pandemic by vaccinating world by end of 2022

Boris Johnson will call on fellow leaders at the G7 in Cornwall to pledge to vaccinate the world’s population against coronavirus by the end of 2022.

With the face-to-face gathering of leaders due to take place on Friday, the Prime Minister is planning to use the UK’s G7 presidency to implore his counterparts to “rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era” and put a stop to the pandemic by ensuring every person on the globe has access to a jab within the next 18 months.

“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating Covid and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values,” according to Mr Johnson.

“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.

“I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge will we never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.”

The Prime Minister hosting a virtual meeting of G7 leaders in the Cabinet Room at Downing Street - Geoff Pugh
The Prime Minister hosting a virtual meeting of G7 leaders in the Cabinet Room at Downing Street – Geoff Pugh

08:28 AM

‘Too early’ to confirm June 21 reopening, says Health Secretary

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the Government would lift all coronavirus restrictions on June 21.

Asked whether he had seen anything in the data that could delay reopening this month, the Cabinet minister told Sky News: “It is too early to make a final decision on that. The Prime Minister and I and the team will be looking at all of the data over this week.

“We have said that we will give people enough time ahead of the June 21 date which is pencilled in as the next step – which is to be not before June 21 – and the critical thing is to see whether the four tests we have set have been met.

“That’s in terms of the number of cases, and cases are rising slightly, the number of hospitalisations, which are much more flat.

“That’s because the third test, the rollout of the vaccine, is going incredibly well.

“Then, of course, we have to look at the impact of new variants and we have seen a very significant impact of a new variant – the Delta (also known as the Indian) variant – over the last month or so.”

Matt Hancock gestures before appearing on The Andrew Marr show on the BBC on June 6 - Hollie Adams/Getty Images
Matt Hancock gestures before appearing on The Andrew Marr show on the BBC on June 6 – Hollie Adams/Getty Images

08:12 AM

‘Moral and ethical balance’ on prioritising vaccines for children or rest of world

The UK faces a “moral and ethical balance” on prioritising the country’s children or the wider world when it comes to vaccination, Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said.

Prof Semple told BBC Breakfast: “If we haven’t got enough vaccine in the world and you want to do most to save lives, then sending the vaccine to Africa or to India, to places that need it, would actually have greater impact.

“There’s a really interesting moral and ethical balance here between doing most for most people on a global benefit and doing most for society, the wellbeing, in our country. That’s why there are some really difficult decisions for our policymakers to make.

“Here, we would be vaccinating children mainly to protect the public, which we do for other infections as well.

“We do it for influenza. The main reason for vaccinating children against influenza is actually to protect granny and grandpa.”

Asked if it was time for the UK to start jabbing teenagers, he added: “I’m not sure it is. Although a large proportion of the infections currently are in children, the overall number of infections is vastly reduced on what it was during wave one and wave two.”

07:44 AM

Vaccines for children could start in August under plans being discussed by ministers

Covid vaccines would be rolled out to children from as early as August under plans being drawn up in Whitehall, The Telegraph can disclose.

A Government source said that under current modelling “we would be ready” to begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds by the second half of August, or early September at the latest.

Ministers are awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which insiders expect will recommend the jab for younger teenagers, before they make a final decision.

However, writing in The Telegraph, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, warns that “a huge proportion of the latest cases are in children”, as he urges secondary school pupils to take a coronavirus test on Sunday before returning to school on Monday.

  • Read more from Edward Malnick, our Sunday Political Editor: Vaccines for children could start in August

07:39 AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Sunday Telegraph for June 6.

sunday tel
sunday tel

06:32 AM

Reminder for second jab to combat variant

People who have been contacted to bring forward their second vaccine appointment are being urged to rebook as soon as possible.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended in May that the second dose interval should be reduced from 12 weeks to eight for those aged 50 and over, as well as the clinically vulnerable.

The move aims to combat the spread of the Covid-19 variant first detected in India, also known as the Delta variant.

Since then, the NHS has sent texts to more than 1.7 million people inviting them to rebook their appointment.

05:31 AM

Cruise ships’ return to Venice since pandemic reignites tensions

The MSC Orchestra cruise ship sailed across the basin as it left Venice yesterday - MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP
The MSC Orchestra cruise ship sailed across the basin as it left Venice yesterday – MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

Saturday saw the first cruise ship cast off from Venice since the pandemic hit Italy, reinflaming a war of words between supporters and opponents of the massive floating hotels.

With the MSC Orchestra looming over St Mark’s square, demonstrators in small motorboats waved banners reading “no to cruise ships”.

Activists of the No Grandi Navi committee protest in Venice - Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency
Activists of the No Grandi Navi committee protest in Venice – Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency
Activists of the No Grandi Navi committee - Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency
Activists of the No Grandi Navi committee – Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency

However, fans of the massive vessels say stopoffs by tourist cruises create jobs in a city dependent on tourism – itself massively undermined by the pandemic.

Around 650 people boarded the MSC Orchestra in Venice after showing a negative coronavirus test less than four days old and passing another on the spot.

A crew member of the MSC Orchestra cruise ship undergoes a swab test as part of health measures applied prior to departure - MARCO SABADIN/AFP
A crew member of the MSC Orchestra cruise ship undergoes a swab test as part of health measures applied prior to departure – MARCO SABADIN/AFP

04:45 AM

Latest coronavirus figures from around the world…

  • The United States will donate 750,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan as part of the country’s plan to share shots globally, offering a much-needed boost to the island’s fight against the pandemic. Taiwan is dealing with a spike in domestic cases but has been affected by global vaccine shortages. Only around 3pc of its 23.5 million people have been vaccinated, with most getting only the first shot.

  • The Australian state of Victoria today reported two new locally acquired Covid-19 cases, with the low number raising hopes that a hard lockdown in the state’s capital of Melbourne will be eased on June 10. The two new local infections bring Victoria’s total recent cases to 72.

  • The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 2,440 to 3,700,367, with the death toll rising by 74 to 89,222.

  • Mexico reported 2,649 cases of coronavirus infections and 186 fatalities on Saturday, bringing total cases to 2,432,280 and the death toll to 228,754.

  • Markets and shopping malls in New Delhi will be allowed to partially reopen from Monday in a further easing of its lockdown, as infections fall in major Indian cities after weeks of restrictions. Delhi Metro will resume services at 50pc capacity.

  • Brazil had 66,017 cases in 24 hours and 1,689 deaths, with the South American country registering 16,907,425 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 472,531. It is the world’s third worst outbreak outside the United States and India and the second deadliest.

  • Belgium plans to start vaccinating people between the ages of 16 and 17. Ministers said: “Starting in the month of July, they will start receiving an invitation concerning the first dose.” They will receive the Pfizer jab.

04:21 AM

‘Grannycore’ the new lockdown trend we can’t get enough of

You know you’ve become totally ancient when an evening with the sofa and a primetime drama feels like a big night.

Blame the pandemic (what else?) – aka the Great Acceleration – which, over the course of one very long year, has fast-forwarded the ageing process, stealthily converting us into one big pipe-and-slipper brigade.

When it comes to interiors, cosy nostalgia is in - Andreas von Einsiedel
When it comes to interiors, cosy nostalgia is in – Andreas von Einsiedel

Who isn’t spending all day in their slippers and shawl, turning down events that might require a change into “real” clothing? Whose skin, hair and body hasn’t aged at warp speed? Who hasn’t started to resemble their parents in shape and weight after a year of quiet hobbies; moving less, sitting more and eating absolutely everything in sight?

The past 16 months have given rise to “Grannycore” – and the trend has hit our homes too.

A rush on chintz, doilies and tea sets is all part of a bid to make our homes as cosy and familiar as possible.

Read the full story here.

03:55 AM

Police attacked at illegal rave

Police have broken up an illegal rave in a field attended by around 200 people, with one man arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus legislation.

Essex Police said officers were called to Theydon Bois at around 11pm on Saturday after reports of the music event.

Objects were thrown at police as the force engaged with people at the unlicensed music event off Forest Drive.

The music was turned off at around 1am and decks, speakers and a generator were seized by police.

Chief Superintendent Tom Simons said: “Essex Police does not tolerate attacks, no matter how minor, upon officers who are just doing their job by responding to incidents reported to them by the public.

“In this instance, thankfully, no officers were injured and the attendees did eventually disperse when they were asked to do so and that is a credit to the officers who attended the scene and worked under very difficult circumstances.

“As a result of our initial investigations, we have seized a number of items of musical equipment and one man has been arrested.”

03:46 AM

Tony Blair: End restrictions for vaccinated people

Tony Blair has called for vaccinated people to be released from lockdown restrictions and says businesses should have the right to admit only jabbed customers.

In a report called “Less Risk, More Freedom”, the former prime minister’s think tank lays out a vision for how the country could remain open if the virus persists in the population.

Mr Blair says he is keen to see the target to end social distancing by June 21 maintained, but adds: “We surely now know enough about this disease to know that every time we think it’s over, it finds a way of bringing back uncertainty.”

READ MORE: Tony Blair calls for vaccinated people to be released from lockdown restrictions

03:22 AM

PM to urge G7 leaders to vaccinate world to end pandemic

Boris Johnson will call on fellow leaders at the G7 in Cornwall to pledge to vaccinate the world’s population against coronavirus by the end of 2022.

With the face-to-face gathering of leaders due to take place on Friday, the Prime Minister is planning to use the UK’s G7 presidency to implore his counterparts to “rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era” and put a stop to the pandemic by ensuring every person on the globe has access to a jab within the next 18 months.

“Next week the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies will gather at an historic moment for our countries and for the planet,” according to Mr Johnson.

“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating Covid and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values.

“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.

“I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge will we never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.”

02:53 AM

Today’s top stories

  • Covid vaccines would be rolled out to children from as early as August under plans being drawn up in Whitehall, The Telegraph can disclose.

  • The venture capitalist behind Britain’s vaccines success is to be rewarded with a damehood, The Telegraph can reveal, as Boris Johnson urges a worldwide inoculation drive to end the pandemic “for good” by next year.

  • Tony Blair has called for the vaccinated to be released from lockdown restrictions and said businesses should have the right to only admit jabbed customers.

  • Former president Donald Trump has sharply attacked US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, demanded reparations from China and denounced an investigation into his finances in a speech in North Carolina.

  • Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has been accused of stifling “rational criticism” of the response to Covid by labelling scepticism about Britain’s approach to the pandemic as “misinformation”.

  • Thousands of University College London students were left disappointed on Saturday after supplies ran out halfway through a four-hour vaccination clinic.

  • Tens of thousands of British holidaymakers scrambling to return from Portugal were forced to queue for hours in the hope of getting Covid tests before trying to board planes to the UK.

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