Coronavirus latest news: Thousands queue for ‘Super Saturday’ vaccines as ‘race is on’ to beat delta variant

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Thousands are queuing up for vaccines at 'super pop-up' stadiums with Indian/delta variant cases rising - Jamie Lorriman
Thousands are queuing up for vaccines at ‘super pop-up’ stadiums with Indian/delta variant cases rising – Jamie Lorriman
  • Analysis: Hospitalisations rising at one third the rate of second wave

  • Exclusive: Asthma inhalers speed up Covid recovery by three days

  • AstraZeneca declares victory in vaccine battle with Brussels

  • Rumours swirl that China’s top spycatcher has defected to the US

  • A ‘new level of baffling’ as Scots are banned from Manchester

Thousands of people have flocked to Covid-19 vaccination hubs across the UK in a “Super Saturday” drive to beat the Indian/delta variant.

Football has made way for giant jab clinics at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre.

Lengthy queues have also formed outside local community venues as officials try to vaccinate as many Londoners as possible at “super pop-up” clinics.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “delighted” to visit Chelsea FC’s ground at Stamford Bridge, where 6,000 doses were available. More than 10,000 doses were booked at the Olympic Stadium.

It comes after the rollout extended to all over-18s on Friday.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “This is an incredible effort by the whole London team. Happening across the City at Spurs, Arsenal, Charlton and West Ham too. Come on London let’s get vaccinated!”

Earlier, Prof Adam Finn, a Government vaccine advisor, expressed “catious optimism” about the July 19 unlocking going ahead but warned “the race is on” to get second doses into arms as the “third wave…is definitely under way”.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:33 PM

‘Risk-averse’ NHS 111 algorithm piling pressure on ambulances amid Covid backlog

NHS 111 is piling the pressure on ambulances because medically untrained call handlers and “risk-averse” algorithms are sending paramedics to patients suffering with minor ailments such as period pain.

Patients struggling to get through to GPs are instead ringing 111, which uses an algorithm – a series of questions – to identify what is wrong with a patient and where to direct them.

Emergency doctors have warned that callouts for ambulances are up “20 to 30 per cent” up on normal, at a time when the NHS is trying to clear the backlog of care caused by the Covid pandemic.

Adrian Boyle, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the problem was largely being driven by the NHS 111 algorithm that is “too risk-averse”.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told hospitals this week to brace for a flood of up to 12.2 million people in need of elective procedures such as hip, knee and eye operations as lockdown eases.

  • Here’s more on this story

05:19 PM

Israel says vaccines Palestinians rejected are ‘completely valid’

Israel’s health ministry insisted Saturday that a shipment of Covid-19 vaccine doses the Palestinians rejected as about to expire were “completely valid”.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday called off a deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million jabs in exchange for doses from Pfizer that the Palestinians are scheduled to receive later this year.

PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said an initial delivery of some 90,000 Pfizer doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement”.

“The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,” Melhem said, in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.

The Israeli health ministry said the vaccines it delivered were “completely valid”, although the prime minister’s office acknowledged Friday that they were “about to expire”, without specifying the use-by date.

Israel has shot ahead of most countries its vaccination campaign, but the West Bank and Gaza have a far slower rollout.

05:05 PM

Watch: Thousands queue for ‘Super Saturday’ vaccines at London stadiums to beat Delta variant

Or head over to the Telegraph YouTube channel here.

04:49 PM

Smiles and cheers as Queen returns to Royal Ascot

After missing the first four days, the Queen returned to her beloved Royal Ascot on Saturday.

Royal Ascot was held behind closed doors last year but was being staged this time round as part of the reopening of society following the Covid lockdowns.

There was delight when Her Majesty arrived at 2pm. She was welcomed with waves, cheers and applause by the crowd, overjoyed to see her after a two-year absence.

The Queen was not wearing a face mask due to the meeting being held as a Government test event.

  • Here’s more on the day from Patrick Sawer

The Queen was beaming on return to Royal Ascot - The Queen was beaming on return to Royal Ascot
The Queen was beaming on return to Royal Ascot – The Queen was beaming on return to Royal Ascot
The Queen attends Royal Ascot on Saturday, where she received a warm welcome from the crowds - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The Queen attends Royal Ascot on Saturday, where she received a warm welcome from the crowds – Chris Jackson/Getty Images

04:33 PM

US risks inflaming Beijing tensions as it ships millions of vaccines to Taiwan

The United States announced Saturday that 2.5 million Covid vaccine doses were on their way to Taiwan in a move likely to draw disapproval from Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island.

China expressed fury earlier this month when US senators visited Taiwan and announced the vaccine donation amid simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“Wheels up! Our donation of 2.5 million vaccine doses is on the way to Taiwan,” State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in a tweet.

The number of shots is about three times as many as announced during the US delegation visit to Taiwan. Taipei has accused Beijing of hampering its efforts to secure enough doses.

China’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled Taiwan but it views the island as part of its territory.

04:31 PM

Jabs by the pitch as stadiums open for mass vaccination drive

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04:11 PM

More queues across the UK for ‘Super Saturday’ jab drive

Thousands have flocked to stadiums across London - Jason Alden/Bloomberg
Thousands have flocked to stadiums across London – Jason Alden/Bloomberg
People are turning out in droves for vaccines on 'Super Saturday' - Jamie Lorriman
People are turning out in droves for vaccines on ‘Super Saturday’ – Jamie Lorriman
Huge numbers of doses are being administered today - Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Huge numbers of doses are being administered today – Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

04:06 PM

Ready, set, jab

Thousands of Covid-19 jabs are being administered after stadiums and football grounds in London were transformed into mass vaccination centres.

Chelsea FC had 6,000 Pfizer vaccines to administer on Saturday, with the jab being offered to all adults over the age of 18 yet to receive a first dose, as well as those awaiting a second Pfizer dose.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Chelsea FC, West Ham at the London Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, are hosting large-scale pop-up clinics, and there are a huge number of events taking place in local community centres, so that as many people as possible get convenient access to the life-saving Covid jabs.

“You do not need to be registered with a GP to get vaccinated.

“We are seeing the big difference that the vaccine is making in our fight against the virus, so I strongly urge all adult Londoners to book their appointments or attend a walk-in centre as soon as possible, and to ensure you get your second dose.”

Here’s out it’s looking out there:

Thousands of people are queuing for jabs to prevent another delay to lockdown easing - Jamie Lorriman
Thousands of people are queuing for jabs to prevent another delay to lockdown easing – Jamie Lorriman

03:43 PM

US diplomats isolated as Afghanistan’s Covid wave tears through embassy in Kabul

The US embassy in Kabul has been placed under strict quarantine restrictions after a spike of infections has torn through staff and the country reels from an out of control third wave of cases.

Embassy chiefs have ordered staff into nearly complete isolation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which has already killed at least one, sent 114 into quarantine and forced several people to be medically evacuated.

Afghanistan is in the grip of a fierce wave of cases, with infections rising 2,400 per cent in the past month, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned this week.

The wave comes as the country already faces uncertain months ahead with a full withdrawal of American troops by September and an intense nationwide Taliban offensive underway.

  • Ben Farmer in Islamabad has the full story

A family member comforts a patient at Muhammed Ali Jinnah hospital in Kabul - Mushtaq Mojaddidi
A family member comforts a patient at Muhammed Ali Jinnah hospital in Kabul – Mushtaq Mojaddidi

03:26 PM

Latest UK Covid figures: 14 deaths and more than 10,000 cases

A further 14 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 127,970.

Government figures show that as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 10,321 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

Meanwhile, the latest vaccination data up to June 18 shows that of the 73,766,593 jabs given in the UK so far, 42,679,268 were first doses – a rise of 218,636 on the previous day.

Some 31,087,325 were second doses, an increase of 188,858.

03:16 PM

The race is on: Super Saturday football makes way for army of vaccinators

People have turned out in droves for their Covid vaccines at Stamford Bridge stadium, the home of Chelsea FC.

In a “Super Saturday” push to get more Londoners vaccinated,

More than 6,000 first and second doses of Pfizer are available at the centre, which has been set up because of increased cases in west London.

By Friday afternoon, all 5,000 pre-booked slots had been taken but about 1,500 walk-in jabs were available, the Evening Standard reported.

Here’s how it’s looking on the ground:

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03:05 PM

Video: Scottish fans celebrate across the UK after 0-0 draw with England

Thirty people have been arrested as police dealt with football fans when England took on Scotland in a much-anticipated Euros match.

Crowds thronged into Leicester Square in central London after the scoreless draw at Wembley on Friday night.

Red flares were set off as fans, many wearing kilts and draped in Scotland flags, sang and cheered in the popular tourist spot.

Others kicked footballs, some held aloft bottles of alcohol and many belted out the Scottish national anthem and chanted “No Scotland, no party”.

Here’s a clip of last night’s action

02:58 PM

Scrapping self-isolation for fully vaccinated is ‘interesting proposal’

The idea of scrapping 10-day self-isolation for doubly-jabbed people who come into contact with those infected with the virus is an “interesting” proposal, a vaccine advisor has said. .

Prof Adam Finn, who sits on the UK’s JCVI vaccine advisory board, told Times Radio: “We know that the vaccine, particularly after two doses, is highly effective at stopping you from getting seriously ill, 20 times less likely to end up in hospital.

“We also know that it will reduce your chances of getting milder illness and infecting other people, but it’s probably less good at doing that than it is preventing you getting seriously ill, so it’s a kind of balance of risk thing.”

Asked if it would be safer to properly support people as they self-isolate rather than reduce the quarantine time, he said: “Yeah, difficult calculation, because I think in practice, for whatever reason that doesn’t happen reliably, so that people are being penalised by self-isolating and that probably results in some people not self-isolating and others suffering financial hardship as a result.

“This is one way to avoid that, and presumably at somewhat lower risk than just letting everybody circulate when they potentially may have been exposed.”

02:35 PM

Brazil set to pass half a million Covid-19 deaths

Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll is expected to pass 500,000 on Saturday as experts warn that the world’s second-deadliest outbreak may worsen due to delayed vaccinations and leniency around social distancing measures.

Only 11 per cent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated and epidemiologists warn that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere, deaths will continue to mount even if immunisations gain steam.

Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths from 17,801,462 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to Health Ministry data on Friday, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.

Covid continues to devastate countries around the region with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reporting 1.1 million new cases of Covid-19 and 31,000 deaths in the Americas last week. PAHO noted upticks in six Mexican states, Belize, Guatemala, Panama and some places in the Caribbean.

Experts see the toll in Brazil, already the highest in Latin America, climbing far higher.

02:21 PM

A ‘new level of baffling’ as Scots are banned from Manchester

An SNP ban on travel to two English cities has been branded “a new level of baffling” after it was imposed despite no restrictions being placed on journeys to parts of Scotland with near-identical coronavirus rates.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that Scots would be breaking the law if they visited Manchester or Salford from Monday for non-essential reasons, with the First Minister citing the “high levels of Covid” as justification for the move.

However, Scots remain free to travel in and out of Dundee, even though there has been a similar surge in cases and experts predict the situation on Tayside is set to get worse.

Opponents questioned why there appeared to be different rules applied depending on whether an area was in England or Scotland.

  • More on this story from our Scottish Correspondent

01:53 PM

What’s the latest on the Indian/Delta variant in the UK?

Here are some charts on the latest data.

01:28 PM

India ask states to ‘carefully calibrate’ lockdown easing

India’s central government on Saturday urged states to be careful in reopening from Covid-19 lockdowns to prevent a resurgence of infections in the hard-hit country.

Indian states are easing restrictions as a second wave of coronavirus infections appears to abate. The country is second only to the United States in confirmed infections at 29.82 million, with 385,137 deaths.

States and territories “must ensure that the whole process is carefully calibrated,” Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote in a letter to top provincial bureaucrats.

“A system should be in place at the micro level to ensure that whenever cases are rising in a smaller place it gets checked there itself through local containment measures,” he wrote.

01:13 PM

Latest vaccination figures

A total of 61,964,858 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and June 18, according to NHS England data.

This included first and second doses, which is a rise of 358,276 on the previous day.

NHS England said 35,704,162 were first doses, a rise of 196,246.

Some 26,260,696 were a second dose, an increase of 162,030.

12:57 PM

Analysis: Hospitalisations rising at a third of the pace of September’s second Covid wave

The data is clear: cases across the UK are increasing once again at an alarming rate.

On Thursday, spurred on by the delta variant and the gradual easing of restrictions, daily reported cases crossed the 10,000 mark for the first time since February.

The rise in cases prompted the Government to delay easing social distancing restrictions until July 19. And on Saturday, scientists advising the Government were again painting a gloomy picture.

But whilst some analysis suggests a “mini wave” with the potential for a flattening in the coming weeks, the Government’s main focus will be what is happening in our hospitals.

Currently, the data suggests that hospitalisations are not increasing with the same speed as they were in the previous, second wave.

  • Ben Butcher and Alex Clark delve into the latest official data

12:35 PM

Moscow sees Covid cases and hospitalisations surge again

Russia’s capital Moscow has reported its record high for new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day, as the city’s hospitals are flooded with new patients due to the Delta variant.

The city registered 9,120 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours, according to government figures, topping the previous day’s record of 9,056 cases.

Those figures have ballooned from just 3,000 daily just two weeks ago, with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin saying that the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India represents nearly 90 percent of new cases.

The new wave of infections come as Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, the country’s worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is slated to host seven Euro 2020 matches drawing thousands of European football fans.

Having claimed the worst of the pandemic had passed over winter, officials are now scurrying to reintroduce pandemic restrictions and roll out new beds dedicated to coronavirus patients after months of near-normal life.

12:19 PM

Covid hospital inpatients ‘slightly less sick’, says scientist

People going to hospital with Covid currently tend to be slightly younger and “slightly less sick”, a Government scientist has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley told BBC Breakfast: “Currently we’re seeing slightly younger people are becoming infected, and actually the people going to hospital tend to be slightly younger, and therefore also slightly less sick, which is again quite a good sign that even if we’re starting to see more people going into hospital they tend to be younger people who have higher likelihood of recovering successfully.

“I realise I’m being slightly cautious here. All of these are cautiously good signs but, of course, we do need to keep an eye on this over the next couple of weeks so that we can give as much information as we can to the Government prior to the 19th of July reopening.”

12:00 PM

Cautious optimism that hospitalisations will not surge

We can be “cautiously hopeful” that the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions over the next few weeks will not be like last January’s surge, an epidemiologist advising the Government has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the SPI-M modelling group, said: “We are now in a situation where if we sort of wind back a month ago we were starting to see signs of cases creeping up, and they have been creeping steadily for the last four weeks, but we haven’t yet seen that reflected in hospital admissions and deaths, which makes me sort of cautiously optimistic about the situation.

“Hospital admissions are starting to rise a little bit, and of course there’s always a lag when cases rise that we see any signal in hospital admissions, but of course the vaccination campaign is doing very, very well, and so we’re not in the same situation we were back in October.”

He told BBC Breakfast: “There’s still a little bit of work to do for us over the next couple of weeks to really firm up the link between cases and hospital admissions, but I’m, at the moment, cautiously hopeful that whilst we probably will expect some sort of wave of hospital admissions over the next few weeks, it won’t be the same scale that we saw back in January.”

11:48 AM

Asthma inhalers speed up Covid recovery by three days

Puffing on an asthma inhaler cuts three days off the length of time people are taking to recover from a bout of Covid-19, boosting hopes that lockdown restrictions will end for good on July 19.

The findings have led to doctors prescribing inhalers to Covid sufferers on “a case-by-case basis, ministers disclosed to MPs late last week.

The news came as Matt Hancock told MPs that people who catch coronavirus are now spending 20 per cent less time in hospital beds as the vaccine roll-out continues.

MPs hailed the double boost as further evidence that hospitals can cope with any surge in cases caused by the spread of the Indian or Delta variant.

  • More from Christopher Hope on this story

11:33 AM

People who have had both jabs may no longer need to isolate

People who have had both of their coronavirus vaccines may no longer have to isolate as long as they take a test every day.

Current Government rules mean that anyone who has tested positive for the virus, or is a close contact of someone who has, must self-isolate for 10 days.

Any changes to this policy will depend on the results of a study involving 40,000 people, which will be scrutinised by Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told Times Radio that regular testing could replace self-isolation among schoolchildren.

11:05 AM

Rumours swirl that China’s top spycatcher has defected to the US

Rumours abounded on Friday night that China’s top spycatcher had defected to the US, amid a growing focus in Washington on the theory that Covid-19 escaped from a Wuhan laboratory.

Dong Jingwei, vice minister of state security, was reported to have flown from Hong Kong to the US in February with his daughter. There was no confirmation of the rumoured development from either the US or China.

Dr Han Lianchao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official who is now a pro-democracy activist in the US, claimed Dong had defected.

Dr Han, of the Citizen Power Initiative for China in Washington, claimed the situation was discussed by senior Chinese and US officials when they met in Alaska in May.

Nicholas Eftimiades, a former CIA and Pentagon expert on China, told the SpyTalk newsletter, which first reported the alleged development, that Dr Han was “trusted for his integrity”.

However, he said the suspected defection was “exactly what it is, a rumour”. He said such rumours about Chinese officials defecting “happen all the time” and were not necessarily correct.

  • Full story: Dong Jingwei could aid Wuhan lab leak investigations

  • Top Chinese virologist denies leak theory in rare interview

10:48 AM

Andrew Lloyd Webber backs down over threat to reopen theatres at full capacity

Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed down over his threat to reopen his theatres without social distancing after being warned his entire staff and the audience could have been fined hundreds of pounds each.

In a broad swipe at the Government’s dithering over the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, Lord Lloyd-Webber also said on Friday he was declining an offer made to him by Boris Johnson to take part in a pilot scheme that would have allowed opening at full capacity.

Andrew Lloyd Webber previously said he was prepared to be arrested to fully reopen his theatres on June 21 - Nigel French/PA Wire
Andrew Lloyd Webber previously said he was prepared to be arrested to fully reopen his theatres on June 21 – Nigel French/PA Wire

Snubbing the Prime Minister’s offer, the composer and impresario said it was unfair to be singled out for special treatment by Downing Street.

Lord Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Cinderella, will now begin previews on June 25 “at the Government’s arbitrary 50 per cent capacity”, with disappointed theatre-goers given either refunds or a new date to see the show.

Lord Lloyd Webber said he would “personally bear the losses” while it remained economically unviable.

Our chief reporter Robert Mendick has the story.

10:23 AM

Surge testing rolled out in Lambeth and Cumbria

Surge testing is being rolled out in parts of south London and Cumbria amid a rise in cases of the more transmissible Delta variant, first identified in India.

People who live in Lambeth are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test, whether or not they have symptoms.

The enhanced testing will begin on Saturday in Clapham, Brixton, Stockwell, West Norwood and Vauxhall.

So far, all the confirmed cases have been instructed to self-isolate and their contacts have been identified, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Surge testing will also begin in Cumbria where everyone aged 12 to 30 who lives, works or studies in the area is strongly encouraged to take a PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

Those of school age will be offered testing at school.

The DHSC said people in these areas should continue to make use of free twice-weekly lateral flow tests alongside the PCR test as part of surge testing.

09:45 AM

Change of guidance mooted

People who have had two Covid-19 jabs and come into contact with someone infected with the virus may soon be spared 10 days of self-isolating, according to Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh.

She told Times Radio: “It’s already in place in the US. The Centre for Disease Control changed their guidance a while ago to say that people who had had both doses of the vaccine and about 10-14 days after the second dose didn’t have to self-isolate, so I think we are moving in that direction.”

She added: “As we’ve heard repeatedly from Chris Whitty and others, this virus isn’t going to disappear.

“We’re going to have to live alongside it, means we are going to have infections in future, so being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility.”

06:39 AM

‘Being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility’

People who have had two Covid jabs and come into contact with someone infected with the virus may soon be spared 10 days of self-isolating, according to Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh.

She told Times Radio: “It’s already in place in the US. The Centre for Disease Control changed their guidance a while ago to say that people who had had both doses of the vaccine and about 10-14 days after the second dose didn’t have to self-isolate, so I think we are moving in that direction.”

Prof Bauld said: “As we’ve heard repeatedly from Chris Whitty and others, this virus isn’t going to disappear.

“We’re going to have to live alongside it, means we are going to have infections in future, so being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility.”

06:29 AM

Chinese airport requests virus tests from passengers

The airport in China’s southern city of Shenzhen announced on Saturday that anyone entering the premises must show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours before entry.

The instruction posted on the airport’s official WeChat page follows the outbreak of new cases in southern China since late May which has seen lockdowns in certain neighbourhoods and flights cancelled.

China reported 30 new Covid cases – six of which were local infections in southern Guangdong province.

05:48 AM

BioNTech has stronger antibody response than Sinovac: study

People who are vaccinated against Covid-19 with BioNTech’s vaccine were found to have “substantially higher” levels of antibodies than those who received Sinovac’s jab, the South China Morning Post reported today.

Some who received the Sinovac vaccine might need a third booster shot as well, the newspaper stated according to lead researcher Professor Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist with the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The government-commissioned study was conducted by HKU’s school of public health and involved tracking the antibody responses of 1,000 people who received either vaccine.

Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia warned that more than 350 medical workers had Covid despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens were hospitalised, raising concerns about its efficacy against more infectious variants of the virus.

05:33 AM

Private school families ‘tighten purse strings’

Private schools have seen the biggest drop in pupil numbers for five years, official data show, as the pandemic has led to families “tightening their purse strings”.

In 2019/20, there were 576,857 students at private schools but the most recent figures for 2020/21, published by the Department for Education, show this has decreased to 569,366.

Melanie Sanderson, managing editor of the Good Schools Guide, said that it was “likely that parents are having to tighten their purse strings” in the wake of the pandemic.

When family finances come under strain, private school fees are often one of the first household costs to be cut back.

Read the full story by The Telegraph‘s Education Editor, Camilla Turner, here.

05:01 AM

Amber safer for fully jabbed than green for unvaccinated

Fully vaccinated travel to amber list countries is much safer than non-vaccinated holidaymakers visiting green list destinations, new research has revealed.

Analysis of Public Health England data shows that double vaccinations reduce the risk by nearly two-thirds compared with someone unvaccinated returning from a green list country.

The research will strengthen calls for the Government to go ahead with plans to allow fully vaccinated holidaymakers to visit amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return.

READ MORE: Fully vaccinated amber list travel ‘less risky than the unvaccinated going to green destinations’

04:53 AM

India records more than 60,000 cases in 24 hours

A health worker collects a Covid swab sample from a traveller at a train station in Mumbai, India - Rajanish Kakade/AP
A health worker collects a Covid swab sample from a traveller at a train station in Mumbai, India – Rajanish Kakade/AP

India today reported 60,753 new Covid cases and 1,647 deaths over 24 hours, according to a government statement.

The total number of cases in India have risen to 29.82 million, while 385,137 have succumbed to infections.

03:33 AM

Australian cases back on the rise

Australia’s largest state, New South Wales, recorded two locally acquired coronavirus cases today, as concerns grow over the spread of infections amid an increase in exposure sites.

The point of transmission of the new infections has not been determined, but authorities believe they are linked to the first case of the Sydney cluster of the highly infectious Indian variant, which now stands at six cases.

The latest cluster in NSW, which is home to more than eight million people, was traced back to a driver who occasionally transports overseas airline crew.

The state of Victoria, which battled a small outbreak of the variant earlier this month, recorded one new locally acquired case.

12:36 AM

Today’s top stories

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed down over his threat to reopen his theatres without social distancing after being warned his entire staff and the audience could have been fined hundreds of pounds each.

  • Rumours abounded on Friday night that China’s top spycatcher had defected to the US, amid a growing focus in Washington on the theory that Covid-19 escaped from a Wuhan laboratory.

  • Fully vaccinated travel to amber list countries is much safer than non-vaccinated holidaymakers visiting green list destinations, new research has revealed.

  • An SNP ban on travel to two English cities has been branded “a new level of baffling” after it was imposed despite no restrictions being placed on journeys to parts of Scotland with near-identical coronavirus rates.

  • AstraZeneca has claimed victory in its bitter legal spat with Brussels over jab supplies after a court ruled that it did not need to speed up vaccine deliveries.

  • Every adult in Scotland is set to be fully vaccinated by mid-September, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday, raising hope that an acceleration of the jabs rollout will mean a return to near-normality within weeks.

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