Coronavirus latest news: Residents urged to ‘minimise travel’ in further Indian variant hotspots amid local lockdown row

Residents in Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been urged to “minimise travel” to stem rising cases of the Indian/Delta variant.New guidance for more hotspots says travel should be reduced in and out of the areas and people should meet outside where possible. It comes as military personnel and rapid response teams are being drafted into the parts of northern England as part of a “strengthened package of support” for councils.

Announcing the fresh measures earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to come forward for weekly tests and public health officials can re-introduce masks to schools.

This is “the next stage of tackling the pandemic” in Manchester and Lancashire, Mr Hancock said, based on “what’s working in Bolton”. The June 21 unlocking would be a “challenging decision”, he added.

But Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, called for “a sense of proportion”, adding: “This is guidance, it is advice to the public, it is not a lockdown, it is not a ban.”

He wants ministers to go further by “bringing forward” vaccine supplies for Greater Manchester to run a “surge vaccination programme” over the next three weeks.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

What happened today?

Good evening, that’s all from us here on the live blog for today. Here’s your evening Covid roundup:

People were told to avoid travel in or out of Greater Manchester and Lancashire as fresh measures including military and rapid response teams were rolled out in more Indian/Delta variant hotspots
Organisers confirmed England’s Euro 2020 group games at Wembley Stadium will be the first time UK sports fans will be asked for “Covid passports”, showing proof of full vaccination or that they have had a recent negative test
Covid now accounts for the lowest proportion of deaths in the UK since before lockdown began last March, Office for National Statistics data showed
The Foreign Office declared Portugal safe for holidays despite the Government axing it from its green list, forcing 30,000 people to cut short their breaks
Children in Scotland between 12 and 15-years-old will be vaccinated as quickly as possible if experts recommend it, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed
The NHS website for booking Covid vaccinations crashed as hundreds of thousands of over-25s queued to book nearly half a million slots in a “Glastonbury-style” rush

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
A passenger bounds for Shenzhen, China, puts on PPE before queuing for a plane at the Soekarno Hatta international airport in Tangerang Credit: ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images
England’s Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance walk in Westminster Credit: Cracknell Wright/LNP
In Navi Mumbai, India, a pedestrian walks past a wall mural depicting a frontline medical worker holding back Covid-19 Credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images

Portugal is still safe for travel despite being axed from green list, Foreign Office declares

The Foreign Office has declared Portugal safe for holidays despite the Government axing it from its green list, forcing 30,000 people to cut short their breaks.

As Environment Secretary George Eustice urged Britons on Tuesday to holiday in the UK, the Foreign Office appeared to have broken ranks by refusing to ban non-essential travel to Portugal and its islands of Madeira and the Azores.

It will confirm suspicions that the Government went further than the recommendations of its scientific advisers on the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) when it moved Portugal onto the amber list, requiring anyone returning to the UK to quarantine for 10 days and have at least two PCR tests.

Charles Hymas has more on FCO’s move not to ban non-essential travel to Portugal

Show leadership like WW2 and pull off a Churchillian moment, PM urged

Boris Johnson has been urged to use his chairmanship of the G7 meeting to pull off a “Churchillian moment” to lead the world out of the worst crisis in a century

Global health leaders said that G7 leaders must take swift action to deal with the “shocking lack of access” to Covid-19 vaccines around the world.

World leaders, hosted by the Prime Minister, are gathering at the G7 this weekend in Cornwall for the annual summit.

Speaking at a Wellcome summit on what is needed from the G7 to end the pandemic, Dr Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the Africa Union’s Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, said: “Boris Johnson, who is chairing or leading the G7 this year, this could very well be his Churchillian moment.

“For the UK, which has had some relatively poor press in the last year, this is a moment to grab with both hands and show some significant leadership, as was done during the World War, and help pull the world out of one of the worst crises that we have seen in 100 years.”

At a separate Chatham House briefing on the same issue, Dr Mike Ryan, who leads the World Health Organisation’s emergencies programme, said: “Donating vaccine now is great, delivering vaccine late is bad. We need donations and delivery now – the gap is now.

‘Glastonbury-style’ rush for over-25s vaccine slots on NHS website

The NHS in England reported a “Glastonbury-style” rush on its website this morning as over-25s were invited to book their coronavirus jab for the first time.

It said almost half a million jabs were booked on Tuesday morning at a rate of around 1,600 per minute or 100,000 an hour.

It comes after a number of people reported issues with the booking website as appointments were opened to the latest cohort.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This encouraging Glastonbury-style rush for appointments has already now seen hundreds of thousands of people between 25 and 29 book in for their NHS Covid jabs, as more vaccine supplies continue to come on line.

“Pleasingly this suggests strong enthusiasm for vaccination amongst people in their 20s, following hard on the heels of the millions of others who’ve already taken up our offer.”

NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said: “It’s great that young people are so keen to get vaccinated as this remains our best defence against Covid, and so we would urge anyone receiving an invitation today, or this week, to book in and get protected.”

Mike Wright has more on this story

Fans at England’s Euro games are first to use vaccine passports

Fans attending England’s opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on Sunday will be the first at a sporting event in Britain to use coronavirus vaccine passports.

European governing body UEFA has confirmed that ticket holders based in Britain can gain entry either by providing proof of a negative lateral flow test or by showing proof of full vaccination – both doses received at least 14 days before the match.

There will around 22,500 spectators for England’s first two group games, against Croatia and Scotland at Wembley, with the stadium running at 25 percent capacity.

“All ticket holders aged 11 and older must present evidence that they are at a low risk of transmitting Covid-19 to enter Wembley Stadium. Failure to do so will mean you’re unable to attend the match,” UEFA said in a statement on its website.

If the vaccine passport system proves successful, it could pave the way for bigger crowds when Wembley hosts matches later in the tournament.
Workers put finishing touches to Wembley Stadium ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament Credit: NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

What are the new measures for Indian/Delta variant hotspots?

Additional measures including surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake, are being deployed rapidly across Greater Manchester and all Lancashire County Council areas, it was announced earlier.

It is designed to tackle rising cases of the Indian/Delta variant of Covid-19.

The full measures include:

Surge Rapid Response Teams, a specialist team, can be deployed to support local authorities with logistics, planning and workforce to support measures such as testing, door-to-door visits to engage with residents and other activities
Military support to help local areas with testing, door-to-door community engagement, planning and logistics with decisions made based on local needs, including support from the nationally funded Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA);
supervised in-school testing
wastewater testing samples prioritised for sequencing
specialist communications support to increase awareness and focus engagement with disadvantaged groups
maximising vaccine uptake by expanding existing assets, developing new capacity and increasing local and targeted communications
supervised in-school testing and discretion to reintroduce face coverings in communal areas in schools if Directors of Public Health decide it is appropriate;
surge testing and enhanced contact tracing
and enhanced monitoring (genomic sequencing, genotype assay testing).

‘Unravel the mess of travel testing and get the Covid-hit tourism sector back’

Current travel testing is broken in three ways: cost, speed and sustainability. Fixing all three will reduce risk and increase freedom, writes Daniel Sleat from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

The UK’s travel system is in chaos. Until it is put on a long-term sustainable and cost-effective footing the travel and tourism sector will remain crippled. The categorisation of countries remains opaque and confusing. Within the red category alone are countries like the UAE, which have less than 2,000 cases per day, Rwanda, with less than 100 cases per day and India, which has over 100,000 per day. Portugal’s reallocation from green to amber status last week, leaving thousands of holidaymakers in chaos, has become the latest sign of a broken process.

Bring back masks in class, unions demand

Ministers should reinstate face masks in classrooms in England immediately to limit the spread of Covid in schools, a coalition of education unions representing teachers and support staff has demanded.

A joint statement, from the National Education Union (NEU), Unison, GMB and Unite, has warned more pupils are “likely to be off self-isolating and missing out on face-to-face education” in the weeks to come.

Face coverings should be reintroduced in secondary schools and colleges in England and outdoor lessons should be encouraged to minimise any further disruption to education, the “deeply concerned” unions have urged.

The plea came after Government figures showed that the proportion of pupils attending state schools in England dropped in the week before half-term as more children were forced to self-isolate.

The unions are also calling for the rollout of vaccinations for pupils, if approved by the vaccine advisory board, following the UK regulator’s view that the Pfizer jab is safe for those aged 12 and over.
Unions want masks to return to class Credit: Scott Heppell/PA Wire

Covid patients in intensive care in Northern Ireland hits zero

Tribute has been paid to healthcare workers as the confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Northern Ireland dropped to zero.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said it is the first time the number has been zero in ten months.

On Tuesday there were 15 confirmed Covid-positive patients in the region’s hospitals. None were described in Department of Health data as being confirmed in ICU beds. No further deaths of patients who had tested positive were reported on Tuesday.

Ms O’Neill expressed her thanks to healthcare workers and also encouraged the public to continue playing their part:

Latest UK Covid figures: 13 deaths and just over 6,000 cases

Another 13 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 127,854.

Government also show that, as of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 6,048 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

Official data up to June 7 shows that of the 68,800,879 jabs given in the UK so far, 40,573,517 were first doses – a rise of 112,941 on the previous day.

Some 28,227,362 were second doses, an increase of 306,068.

$1.3bn injection for Africa vaccine rollout

One of the world’s largest foundations will spend $1.3 billion over the next three years to acquire and deliver Covid-19 vaccines for more than 50 million people in Africa, Sarah Newey writes.

It’s a first-of-its-kind effort for a Western nonprofit to bolster Africa’s lagging vaccination campaign amid widespread fears of a third wave of infections on the continent.

The announcement from the Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation, which has more than $39 billion in assets, comes days after the World Health Organization said Africa was encountering an alarming mix of a spike in virus cases and “a near halt” of vaccine shipments.

The delays have been tied to India’s halt on vaccine exports, among other things. The foundation will purchase single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the discounted rate negotiated by the African Union during its 220 million dose deal with the vaccine manufacturer.

Those vaccines will begin to be delivered to the AU’s 55 member states from July to September, with an option to purchase an additional 180 million doses through next year.
Patients await their vaccinations in Soweto, South Africa Credit: Themba Hadebe/AP

Pfizer to test Covid-19 vaccine in larger group of children below 12

Pfizer has confirmed it will begin testing its Covid-19 vaccine in a larger group of children aged under 12.

The study will enrol up to 4,500 children at more than 90 clinical sites in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain, the company said.

Based on safety, tolerability and the immune response generated by 144 children in a first phase study of the two-dose shot, Pfizer said it will test a lower dose of 10 micrograms in children aged between five and 11, and 3 micrograms for those aged six months to five-years-old.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab- has been authorised for use in children as young as 12 in Europe, the United States and Canada. They receive the same dose as adults: 30 micrograms.

Nearly 7 million teens have received at least one dose of the vaccine in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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