Coronavirus news – live: Vaccinated travellers ‘could avoid quarantine’ as care homes to allow two visitors
Coronavirus in numbers
Britons who have had both doses of a Covid vaccine could be allowed to avoid quarantine measures when returning from international travel, reports have said.
Travelling abroad for holidays is currently banned, but The Telegraph reports that when restrictions are eventually lifted in England, fully-vaccinated holidaymakers may not have to quarantine for 10 days following stay in medium-risk countries.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to signal on Monday that foreign travel will return with restrictions based on a traffic light system, which will rate countries as red, amber or green based on coronavirus infection rates, vaccination levels and prevalence of variants.
Meanwhile, the government has announced that care home residents can have two regular indoors visitors, instead of one, form 12 April. Babies and young children will be allowed to attend visits and will not count as one of the two visitors.
This means care home residents in England will be allowed to see small bubbles of loved ones for the first time in months.
Australia to continue AstraZeneca rollout despite clotting case
Australia will keep pushing forward with its vaccination programme using the AstraZeneca vaccine, health officials confirmed on Saturday.
It comes after a 44-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Melbourne with blood clotting, days after receiving the jab. He suffered serious thrombosis, a condition that prevents normal blood flow through the circulatory system.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulator and a panel, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) met on Friday and Saturday to discuss further guidance on the vaccine.
Michael Kidd, Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, told a televised briefing on Saturday: “We have not been advised at this time by ATAGI or the TGA to pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.”
Kidd said, however, that the blood clotting case is “likely” related to the vaccine.
“The risks of serious side effects remain very low, but safety is paramount and that is why TAGI and the TGA are continuing to do due diligence on this case,” Kidd said, adding that further announcements would come next week.
Cleanup begins at Cardiff Bay after large crowds breach Covid rules
Large numbers of people who gathered in Cardiff Bay on Friday have left behind piles of rubbish and litter, drawing ire from the council and local residents.
Cardiff Council said the garbage was left by “large groups of people intent on breaking Covid-19 restrictions”.
A spokesperson for the council said: “Once again our teams have been faced with the huge task of cleaning up a significant amount of rubbish left behind by large groups of people intent on breaking Covid-19 restrictions.
“Last night, bins were left unused and the ground was littered with rubbish. Council staff have been on site since the early hours of the morning, working hard to clear and clean the area.
“Despite the preventative measures put in place by the council, in partnership with South Wales Police, the Welsh Government’s coronavirus regulations were again broken by a significant number of people illegally gathering in Cardiff Bay.
“The rules are clear, six people, from two households are allowed to meet outdoors, maintaining two-metre social distancing.
“Breaking these rules significantly increases the chances of Covid-19 cases rising in the city. We urge everyone to follow the advice, maintain social distance, and to keep Cardiff safe.”
Almost 190,000 retail jobs lost since first lockdown
Almost 190,000 jobs have been lost in the retail bloodbath since shops were first forced to shut their doors a year ago, according to new figures.
In exclusive data for the PA news agency, the Centre for Retail Research has revealed that 188,685 retail jobs have vanished between the start of the first lockdown on March 23 2020 and March 31 this year.
The figures come less than two weeks before non-essential shops reopen their doors to customers in England after the lengthy third lockdown.
However, shoppers will visit high streets and town centres that have been hit hard by the pandemic, with thousands of stores shutting their doors for good.
The figures revealed that 83,725 jobs lost in the period were due to administrations, including major collapses by Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
Meanwhile, around 11,986 jobs were cut during Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring processes.
Another 92,974 jobs were axed through rationalisation programmes, which included supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda cutting thousands of roles.
The devastating impact of the pandemic resulted in 15,153 store closures in shopping destinations across the UK, the figures also revealed.
According to real estate adviser Altus Group, up to 401,690 shops are currently shuttered around the country and could reopen in the next stage of Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown.
No evidence of AstraZeneca vaccine uptake slowing in UK, says expert
There is no evidence that uptake of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is slowing in the UK despite some countries pausing its rollout, a public health expert has said.
Professor Linda Bauld, from Edinburgh University, said all studies indicated the jab was safe and effective, while the fact different countries were reviewing their position was a sign that the system was working.
She told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show that reports of blood clots were “very rare” and a direct link to the vaccine was very unlikely.
She said: “These kinds of pauses and reviews are a sign that the system is working.
“Because when you see either deaths or unlikely adverse events that you wouldn’t anticipate or you didn’t see in the trials it’s reasonable for regulators to look at this.
“The MHRA is still consistently saying there’s no cause for concern and that is absolutely the message to people.”
She added: “It doesn’t look from the behavioural response, the surveys I’ve seen, that it’s affecting uptake in the UK and that’s really important.”
Prof Bauld said she had recently received her blue letter inviting her for vaccination and she was “really looking forward” to it.
‘More work needs to be done’ to investigate rare blood clots among people who received AstraZeneca jab
Evidence is growing that the occurrence of a number of rare blood clot events among people who have had the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “causally related”, a scientist has said.
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday that it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events among people in the UK who had received the AstraZeneca jab, following similar reports from Germany.
Professor Paul Hunter, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “It is not uncommon to get clusters of rare events purely by chance.
“But, once you find that cluster in one population and it then crops up in another – such as previously in the German and now in the English – then I think the chances of that being a random association is very, very low.
“Clearly more work needs to be done, but I think the evidence is shifting more towards it being causally related at the moment.”
However he said that the risks of taking the AstraZenca vaccine were still far outweighed by the risks of not getting the jab.
“The chance of dying if you don’t have the vaccine is many times greater than the risk of dying from CVT (cerebral venous thrombosis) after the AstraZeneca vaccine, even if it does turn out, as I suspect it will, that this link is causal,” he said.
Joy as Leicester’s long lockdown begins to ease – one year and six days on
Leicester has been in some form of lockdown since the very first nationwide lockdown on 23 March last year.
As restrictions were eased across the rest of the country, stubbornly high coronavirus rates meant the city remained largely closed throughout. Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby told The Independent that Leicester became “a footnote”.
My colleague Colin Drury finds out how people in Leicester are making the most of restrictions finally being eased:
Britons with both jabs ‘could avoid quarantine after international holidays’
It has been reported that travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 could avoid quarantine measures when returning from abroad.
Boris Johnson is expected to signal on Monday that foreign travel will return with restrictions based on a traffic light system.
Countries will be rated as red, amber or green based on risk factors including Covid infection rates, vaccination levels and the prevalence of variants.
According to The Telegraph, those returning to the UK will be expected to have pre-departure Covid tests no matter what their vaccination status is.
But travellers who have received both jabs of a Covid vaccine could need fewer tests after returning from low-risk countries, and may not have to quarantine for 10 days after staying in medium-risk countries, the paper said.