‘Red list’ countries ‘under constant review’ amid variant concerns
So far 77 of cases of the variant have been found in the UK, including some in London. The variant, known as B.1617, carries two mutations in the spike protein that experts fear may help it evade the body’s immune response.
Meanwhile, senior government officials are said to have raised “urgent” concerns over the mass use of rapid Covid testing, with fears over accuracy prompting suggestions that the program could be scaled back.
England: Over 34.7 million vaccinated
A total of 34,762,728 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and April 15, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 456,589 on the previous day.
NHS England said 27,345,006 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 93,587 on the previous day, while 7,417,722 were a second dose, an increase of 363,002.
4.2 million jabs administered to Londoners
NHS England data shows a total of 4,266,670 jabs were given to people in London between December 8 and April 15, including 3,351,883 first doses and 914,787 second doses.
This compares with 5,311,651 first doses and 1,319,851 second doses given to people in the Midlands, a total of 6,631,502.
The breakdown for the other regions is:
– East of England: 3,262,765 first doses and 916,925 second doses, making 4,179,690 in total
– North East and Yorkshire: 4,329,191 first and 1,245,544 second doses (5,574,735)
– North West: 3,482,048 first and 1,011,338 second doses (4,493,386)
– South East: 4,447,855 first and 1,175,594 second doses (5,623,449)
– South West: 3,011,459 first and 806,392 second doses (3,817,851)
Families hit out at ‘barbaric’ care home isolation requirement
Relatives of care home residents say their loved ones are being “held captive” by guidance requiring them to isolate for 14 days after leaving their facility, as they hit out at “outrageous deprivations of liberty”.
The Government guidance has been described as “barbaric” by the sister of a disabled woman who lives in the grounds of a large residential care home.
The daughter of another care home resident described her mother’s situation as akin to “being under house arrest”.
The Department of Health and Social Care guidance says the rule aims to ensure residents who may become unknowingly infected do not pass coronavirus to other residents and staff.
John’s Campaign claims it encourages care homes to act unlawfully by “falsely imprisoning” residents, and has threatened the Government with legal action.
It has also sent the Government testimony from seven families describing the impact of the isolation requirement.
Japan raises covid alert after insisting Olympic games will proceed
Japan decided to raise the coronavirus alert level in the capital’s three neighboring prefectures and a fourth area in central Japan on Friday to allow tougher measures as a more contagious coronavirus variant spreads and adds to doubts about whether the Tokyo Olympics can go ahead.
The government approved the alert status for Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures in the capital region and Aichi in central Japan. The measure will allow heads of the prefectures to mandate shorter hours for bars and restaurants, along with punishments for violators and compensation for those who comply.
The measures are to begin Monday and continue through May 11 after the end of Japan’s “golden week” holidays.
“We must keep the infections from spreading further and causing a big nationwide resurgence,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said, asking the people to avoid traveling during the holidays.
Scotland has 3 deaths from Covid in past 24 hours
Scotland has recorded three deaths of coronavirus patients and 204 positive tests in the past 24 hours, according to the latest daily figures.
It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,640.
Australia reports first AstraZeneca related death
Australia reported its first death linked to the AstraZeneca shot.
The 48-year-old woman was injected with the vaccine on April 8. That was hours before Australian authorities recommended people under the age of 50 take the Pfizer shot instead because of the small risk of rare blood clots associated with AstraZeneca, Therapeutic Goods Administration, the vaccine regulator, said in a statement.
She was admitted with blood clots to a Newcastle hospital in New South Wales state four days later and died on Thursday, the statement said.
The woman is the third case of blood clots in Australia officially linked to the vaccine since the national rollout began in early March. About 885,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the nation.
R Rate falls slightly
The coronavirus reproduction number, or R value, in England is between 0.7 and 1, according to the latest Government figures.
Last week, the figure was between 0.8 and 1.
R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially, but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.
An R number between between 0.7 and 1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 7 and 10 other people.
EU Commission urges Ireland to rethink hotel quarantine
The European Commission urged Ireland on Friday to pursue less restrictive measures than the mandatory hotel quarantine regime introduced last month.
Ireland is the only one of the EU’s 27 countries that forces arrivals from certain countries to pay almost 2,000 euros each to quarantine for up to 14 days in a secure hotel and this week added Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg to its list of designated states that initially also included Austria.
The EU executive wrote to the Irish government on Friday in relation to the criteria used to determine the list, a spokesman said.
“The Commission has concerns regarding this measure in relation to the general principles of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination,” the spokesman said.
“The Commission believes that the objective pursued by Ireland, which is the protection of public health during the pandemic, could be achieved by less restrictive measures.”
Exemptions should also be made for essential travel, he added.
Infection rates decreased in most groups except secondary school pupils – ONS
When modelling the level of infection among different age groups in England, the ONS said rates have decreased in most groups except secondary school pupils (school years 7 to 11) and people aged 50 to 69, where the trend is uncertain.
Percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in Yorkshire
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in Yorkshire and the Humber and also in south-east England, the ONS said.
The trend was uncertain for all other regions.
North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to April 10: around one in 260.
South-west England had the lowest estimate: around one in 1,150.