Coronavirus UK news LIVE – Boris Johnson to hold press conference on Indian Covid variant amid fear red list 'too late'

Coronavirus UK news LIVE – Boris Johnson to hold press conference on Indian Covid variant amid fear red list 'too late'

April 20, 2021

THE Prime Minister is expected to hold a press conference at Downing St at 5pm today to update the nation on the fight against the pandemic.

Boris Johnson' speech will come a day after he cancelled his trip to India and slapped the country on the travel red list over concerns about the spread of a "double mutant" variant.

Although it is not yet classified a variant of concern like Brazil or South African strains , the fact the Indian variant contains multiple mutations from the original SARS CoV-2 makes it much less easy to predict.

Two of the mutations seen in the India strain could make dodge vaccines much easier than earlier variants, while a third mutation could make it much easier to transmit.

So far there are at least 73 documented cases of the Indian strain in the UK but there is criticism that the decision to place India on the travel red list was made too late to prevent it taking hold over here.

The Government's former chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport, told BBC Breakfast: "These decisions are almost inevitably taken a bit too late in truth, but what's absolutely clear is that this variant is more transmissible in India.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Patrick Knox

    TWO DEATHS RECORDED IN WALES

    There have been a further 53 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 210,978.

    Public Health Wales said there were another two deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,542.

  • Patrick Knox

    SCOTLAND RECORDS TWO DEATHS

    There were also 178 positive tests in the past 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

    It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,644.

    Giving a Covid-19 update, the First Minister said 224,092 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 223,914 the previous day.

    The daily test positivity rate is 1.4 per cent, down from 2.5 per cent.

    There are 106 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up two in 24 hours, and 13 patients are in intensive care, down one.

  • Patrick Knox

    DEATHS IN ENGLAND AND WALES NOW BELOW FIVE YEAR AVERAGE

    This has been the case for the fifth consecutive week, the ONS said.

    Some 9,098 deaths were registered in the week to April 9, 11.7 per cent below the average for the corresponding period in 2015-19.

    Prior to the five most recent weeks, the last time deaths had been below average was in the week to September 4 2020.

  • Patrick Knox

    MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION URGES KING TO END CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY

    The lawmakers led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad submitted a petition to the country's king on Tuesday seeking an end to a coronavirus emergency so Parliament can resume.

    The king approved Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's plan for an emergency in early January to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but critics said it was a political ruse to help the embattled leader stay in power amid challenges to his leadership.

    The emergency involves no curfew or military powers but Parliament is suspended until Aug. 1. Muhyiddin's government remains in control and has extraordinary powers to introduce laws without parliamentary approval.

    Mahathir, 95, accused Muhyiddin of using the king's name as a shield against critics, making many Malays angry with the monarch instead. He told reporters outside the palace gate that he hopes the king will heed the people's voices.

    More than 39,000 Malaysians have signed an online petition since March for the king to end the emergency.

  • Patrick Knox

    ‘UK WON’T FACE THIRD WAVE THANKS TO JAB SUCCESS’

    Philip Thomas, professor of risk management at Bristol University, said that the UK is “beating the pandemic” – after the number of Brits who received their second dose of the jab passed 10 million yesterday.

  • Patrick Knox

    CAN THE INDIAN VARIANT EVADE VACCINES?

    The new strain has “two mutations which… may make the vaccines less effective, and may make the virus more transmissible”, Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), told the BBC.

    These two mutations sometimes are called “escape mutations” because of their ability to dodge some antibodies in the blood.

    Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: “Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine."

    “But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.”

  • Patrick Knox

    WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE INDIAN VARIANT?

    Public health officials have not noted that the symptoms of this variant are different to other strains.

    The key signs of Covid to look out for are a high temperature, a new and continuous cough and loss of smell and/or taste.

    People who have suffered coronavirus may also report headaches, fatigue and skin rashes during their illness.

  • Patrick Knox

    COVID CAUSES RISE IN JOBLESSNESS

    The total number of workers who don't have a job now stands at 1.67million, reports the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    But overall, the rate of unemployment dropped from 5% in February, to 4.9% compared to the previous quarter.

    It's the second month in a row that unemployment has fallen.

  • Patrick Knox

    COVID DEATHS IN PATIENTS 80 AND OVER PLUMMET BY 97%

    This is since the second-wave peak, the latest ONS figures suggest.

    A total of 172 Covid-19 deaths in the 80-and-over age group occurred in England and Wales in the week ending April 2, down from 5,361 deaths in the week ending January 22.

    Deaths for those aged 75-79 and 70-74 also dropped 97 per cent in the same period, compared with falls of 95 per cent for those aged 65-69 and 93 per cent for those aged 60-64.

    Deaths that occurred in the most recent week of reporting — the week to April 9 — are still being registered.

  • Patrick Knox

    DAILY COVID DEATHS NOW LOWER THAN ROAD CRASHES

    Yesterday saw just four Brits die within 28 days of a positive test – the lowest daily figure since September 7.

    In a shocking comparison, figures from the Department of Transport show there are roughly five deaths from road accidents every day. 

    This means daily Covid deaths are now lower than road crash deaths – as the tide begins to turn against the bug.

    Cases and deaths continue to fall and the huge milestone brings more good news for the already record-breaking vaccine rollout.

  • Patrick Knox

    WHY IS TRAVEL BANNED WITH INDIA?

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision to add India to the travel ban list was backed by the latest data and is necessary to ensure "we don't lose our hard-won progress on the vaccine rollout," in a tweet.

    Boris Johnson said "everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India" due to "the shape of the pandemic there" – as cases continue to climb.

    The country is now recording more than 200,000 confirmed infections per day.

  • Patrick Knox

    EU TO RULE ON J&J SHOT SAFETY AS VIRUS WAVE GRIPS INDIA

    Europe's drug regulator was expected to rule today on the safety of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after fears it could be linked to extremely rare blood clots.

    But India said it will make shots available to all adults as it battles a terrifying wave of infections.

    The United States is also expected to announce its decision on the single-shot J&J vaccine by Friday, as nations around the world try to accelerate their rollouts and revive their pandemic-ravaged economies.

    The European Medicines Agency was due to hold a press conference from Amsterdam on Tuesday, after reviewing four cases — one fatal — of rare blood clots reported among people who got the J&J shot.

  • Patrick Knox

    MORE THAN 1,500 A DAY POURING INTO UK FROM INDIA

    Over 1,500 people PER DAY are expected to arrive before the travel ban comes into force at 4am at the end of the week, after Matt Hancock announced the "difficult but vital decision" to add India to the red list on Monday.

    The usual £400 rate for an economy flight back to the UK now costs five times as much, due to most planes being on the brink of capacity.

    Tickets are now going for £2,000, travel agents managing the madness told the Telegraph.

    Chairman of Indra Travel Suresh Kumar said: "There was concern India was going to be added but it was still quite a shock. People are concerned and desperate to get back and in a frenzy.”

  • Patrick Knox

    PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY AMID CONCERNS OVER INDIAN VARIANT

    The PM is expected to appear in Downing St at 5pm to update the nation on the latest about the jabs drive and the fight against the pandemic.

    His speech will come after ministers slapped India on the travel red list over concerns about the spread of a "double mutant" variant.

    The UK has now fully vaccinated more than 10m people, but there are concerns the new strain could be resistant to the current set of jabs.

    And ahead of the press conference, Boris urged Brits to stick with the Covid rules so the planned reopening of pubs indoors on May 17 can go ahead.

  • Patrick Knox

    US ISSUES ‘DO NOT TRAVEL’ WARNINGS TO 80% OF COUNTRIES

    An official statement stated the Covid-19 pandemic "continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers" and urged citizens to reconsider international traveling.

    "This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80 per cent of countries worldwide," the statement reads.

    "This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC's existing epidemiological assessments," it continued.

    The State Department has already listed 34 countries as "Level 4: Do Not Travel (Credit: The U.S. Department of State)
  • Joseph Gamp

    MPS ‘TO BE BARRED’ FROM STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT TO PROTECT THE QUEEN

    PATRIOTIC politicians must take Covid tests and may have to self-isolate to protect the Queen at next month’s State Opening of Parliament.

    The Sun can reveal parliamentary bosses have been working on a battle plan to overhaul the 500 year-old tradition because of the pandemic.

    Insiders said that, like Prince Philip’s funeral, the event will be “pared back” to comply with restrictions.

    Most MPs and peers are expected to be barred from the ceremony on May 17 so strict social distancing rules can be stuck to.

    Those who do get a much-coveted invite – including Boris Johnson and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle – will need a negative lateral flow test to attend.

    Read more here.

  • Alex Winter

    COST OF FLIGHTS HOME SKY-ROCKET AS INDIA GOES ON 'RED LIST'

    More on that last blog post.

    A one-way flight in economy from India to the UK is usually £400.

    But travel companies are now charging five times as much as planes reach capacity, with tickets going for £2,000.

    Many travellers had gone out on emergency visas to attend family funerals, weddings, or business trips, while students are also struggling to get back to their studies in the UK.

    Here's what you need to know.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WATCH: BRITAIN PASSES 10MILLION SECOND COVID VACCINES IN HUGE MILESTONE

    Britain passes 10MILLION second Covid vaccines in huge milestone as almost one in five adults now fully protected

     

  • Alex Winter

    1,500 A DAY FLYING HOME TO UK FROM INDIA

    More than 1,500 people are expected to arrive from India to the UK every day until the new hotel quarantine requirements begin on Friday.

    The country was put on Britain's travel 'red list' yesterday after cases surged.

    And the cost of a plane ticket has skyrocketed as people try to get home.

    More on this next.

  • Joseph Gamp

    JASON MANFORD’S NEW BBC GAMESHOW UNBEATABLE THROWN INTO CHAOS BY COVID TRACK AND TRACE ALERT

    Sun Exclusive by Andy Hall

    TELLY producers have been doing their utmost to keep shows on air during the pandemic, trying to keep outbreaks contained and to a minimum without halting production.

    But it’s a bit trickier if it’s the programme’s host who gets the dreaded alert from the NHS.

    Funnyman Jason Manford has revealed how his new BBC gameshow Unbeatable was thrown into chaos by an isolation order.

    He said: “I got track and traced. I’m one of the few people in the country who’ve downloaded the ‘grass yourself up’ app, and it’s somebody that I’ve been in contact with the weekend before last.

    “In the middle of the week I get a phonecall. I’m already in the make-up chair. I’m just about to go and record four episodes of this new show Unbeatable. We’re 20 episodes in of 50. There’s 60 people on set waiting – contestants have flown up from all over the country.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    OUTDOOR HOSPITALITY TO REOPEN IN WALES NEXT WEEK

    Six people from different households will be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday and outdoor hospitality can reopen from the following Monday, the First Minister has announced.

    Mark Drakeford said cases of new coronavirus infections continued to fall, but people making use of the eased restrictions would still need to socially distance from those from other households or support bubbles.

    A number of other measures are also expected to be announced by Mr Drakeford on Friday. Current rules allow up to six people – excluding children under 11 – to meet outside but only from a maximum of two different households.

    From Saturday any six people can meet up outdoors, but meeting people from other households indoors is still not allowed unless in a limited number of circumstances.

    Then from Monday April 26, pubs, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses will be allowed to offer outdoor service once again.

  • Joseph Gamp

    TEN MILLION GET SECOND JAB

    MORE than 10 million Brits have now received their second Covid vaccine, it was revealed yesterday.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the milestone ahead of his 3.30pm Commons statement.

    Mr Hancock said: “Over 10 million second vaccine doses have been administered across the UK.

    “This milestone shows how far we’ve come in our fight against this virus & I want to pay tribute to the whole team involved.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    UNIVERSAL CREDIT LOOPHOLE MEANS THOUSANDS OF KEY WORKERS COULD LOSE £500 BONUS

    THOUSANDS of key workers in Wales could lose out on a £500 Covid bonus if they are claiming Universal Credit.

    Frontline healthcare workers in the country have been promised a one of payment from the Government to thank them for their hardwork throughout the pandemic.

    The bonus is worth £735 but most people will receive £500 after national insurance and tax deductions, the Welsh Government said.

    But now officials have admitted those who claim Universal Credit might not benefit from the boost by as much as they should.

    This is because the welfare payments are means tested, so the amount you receive every month is based on your income.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ISRAEL DITCHES MASKS

    ISRAEL has ditched its mask mandate after 81 per cent of adults have received both coronavirus jabs.

    The country has become the envy of the world thanks to its trail-blazing Pfizer-BioNTech powered vaccine rollout.

    Approximately 81 per cent of over 16’s have received both vaccine doses, which has brought a sharp decrease in hospitalisations and outbreaks.

    The results offer a boost to Brits as the UK enjoys similar success with the vaccine rollout.

    In Britain, almost 10 million second doses have been administered.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRAZIL SEES MORE THAN 30,000 COVID CASES AND 1.347 DEATHS IN 24 HOURS

    Brazil recorded 30,624 new coronavirus cases on Monday according to data released by the country's health ministry.

    The South American nation, which is clocking high numbers of incidents and fatalities also confirmed a further 1,347 deaths yesterday.

    Source: Read Full Article