Coronavirus latest news: First 12- to 15-year-olds receive Pfizer vaccine in UK schools

·34-min read

Teenagers across the UK received a Covid-19 vaccine in school today as the mass vaccination programme was extended to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

Vaccinations have started in hundreds of schools, and will be delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services (SAIS) who work closely with schools to identify all eligible children.

Jack Lane, 14, received his vaccine earlier this morning at school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

He said: "I am proud to have had my vaccination so that I can remain in school and continue in my education - the jab was quick, easy, and painless."

Quinn Foakes, 15, also received his jab at Belfairs Academy and said he was happy to be able to "keep safe near my family and with my grandparents".

Children in the age group will be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it was “encouraging” to see 12- to 15-year-olds receiving their first doses and reflected the Government’s “ongoing commitment to protect young people from Covid-19 and minimise any disruption to their education”.

Schools will seek consent from parents or legal guardians for vaccinating the age group, with both the parent and child required to meet with a clinician to discuss receiving the jab if the two parties disagree.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:58 PM

Here's a recap of today's top news:

  • Teenagers across the UK received their Covid-19 vaccines in schools as the vaccination programme was extended to include 12- to 15-year-olds

  • Pfizer said trial results showed their coronavirus vaccine was safe and produced a robust immune response in children aged five to 11, and said they will soon seek regulatory approval

  • Trials started in Manchester of a new jab - GRT-R910 - to fight Covid variants, with medical professionals hopeful it will offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines

  • The US confirmed it will ease travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated foreign travellers, including those from the UK, from November

  • Vatican City will require all residents, workers and visitors to show a Covid 'Green Pass' from 1 October - including proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery - but an exemption will be in place for those attending mass

  • Huge crowds of construction workers gathered in Melbourne to protest against mandatory vaccination for tradesmen and the Victoria state-wide lockdown

05:46 PM

Travel experts react with joy to end of UK-US travel ban

Bosses of leading travel companies have reacted joyfully to today's news from the White House that the US will again welcome UK travellers from November.

Fully-vaccinated international travellers, including from China, India and many European countries, will be allowed to enter the US in a few months time after more than a year-long travel ban.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the "reopening of the transatlantic corridor" acknowledges the success of both nations' vaccination programmes and is a major step towards "boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues".

Mr Weiss added: "The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic."

Alan French, CEO of Thomas Cook, said: "Christmas has come early for everyone hankering for a holiday to the States. The announcement is great news for our customers who’ve been desperate to get to Disney or craving a trip to the Big Apple.

"We would expect to see an immediate spike in demand for pre-Christmas shopping trips to New York and some winter sun getaways in Florida in particular as people take advantage of the new rules."

Sean Doyle, CEO and chairman of British Airways, said the announcement marks an "historic moment" that will reassure holidaymakers that "the world is reopening to them and they can book their trips with confidence".

05:27 PM

Global vaccine rollout, in pictures

Siliguri, India

People camp overnight to get a Covid-19 vaccine at the government run district hospital in Siliguri, India on 20 September 2021 - Diptendu Dutta/AFP
People camp overnight to get a Covid-19 vaccine at the government run district hospital in Siliguri, India on 20 September 2021 - Diptendu Dutta/AFP

Essex, England

Quinn Foakes, 14, receives a Covid-19 vaccine at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 20 September 2021 - Gareth Fuller/PA
Quinn Foakes, 14, receives a Covid-19 vaccine at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 20 September 2021 - Gareth Fuller/PA

Bangkok, Thailand

A Thai schoolgirl cries while receiving a coronavirus vaccine in Bangkok, Thailand on 20 September 2021 - Rungroj Yongrit/Shutterstock
A Thai schoolgirl cries while receiving a coronavirus vaccine in Bangkok, Thailand on 20 September 2021 - Rungroj Yongrit/Shutterstock

05:19 PM

Boris Johnson praises vaccines to Brazil's unvaccinated president

Boris Johnson has praised Covid-19 vaccines while speaking to Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro, who claims to have refused a jab.

Speaking at the British Consulate General's residence in New York, the Prime Minister said he was "delighted" to meet him, and said he had planned on visiting Brazil before the "bummer" of the pandemic.

Mr Johnson praised vaccines, and said: "AstraZeneca is a great vaccine. I have AstraZeneca."

He then turned to Mr Bolsonaro and said "I've had it twice".

The Brazilian leader pointed at himself and wagged his finger, saying "not yet" through an interpreter, before laughing.

The two leaders discussed their own Covid infections, before Mr Bolsonaro boasted that he had developed "excellent" immunity to the virus.

05:03 PM

Supermodel Doutzen Kroes sparks debate over refusal to get vaccine

Dutch supermodel Doutzen Kroes has said she will not be forced to receive a Covid-19 vaccine nor to comply with health pass requirements, sparking debate on social media.

Writing on Instagram, Kroes said: "I feel it is time to choose courage over comfort and speak my truth: I will not be forced to take the shot. I will not be forced to prove my health to participate in society. I will not accept exclusion of people based on their medical status.

"Freedom of speech is a right worth fighting for but we can only solve this united in peace and love!

"Pass on the torch of hope and love and speak your truth."

Fellow supermodel Gisele Bundchen leapt to her friend's defence and said Kroes is a "kind and loving person".

Gisele said she could not "believe the hate being directed at her [Kroes] because she expressed her feelings" and urged people to exercise "compassion and acceptance".

04:47 PM

Virus-hunters identify closest relative yet to Sars-CoV-2 in Laos bat cave

Virus-hunters have narrowed in on the closest relative yet to Sars-CoV-2, the pathogen behind the Covid-19 pandemic, in bat caves in Laos.

The research is the latest piece of evidence to point towards the pandemic having natural origins, rather than being caused by a laboratory leak, including a study last week which suggested tens of thousands of people may be infected by bat coronaviruses every year.

The new paper, published as a pre-print by the French Institute Pasteur and the University of Laos, studied coronaviruses found in bats in four different limestone caves in Laos between July 2020 and January 2021.

The team identified bats infected with a number of viruses with key features that are incredibly similar to Sars-CoV-2.

“Sequences very close to those of the early strains of Sars-CoV-2 responsible for the pandemic exist in nature, and are found in several Rhinolophus bat species,” the authors write. “These viruses may have contributed to Sars-CoV-2’s origin and may intrinsically pose a future risk of direct transmission to humans.”

The viruses found in the Laotian bats still differ from Sars-CoV-2, but they are particularly similar at the key part of the virus that allows it to bind to and infect human cells, the receptor binding domain (RBD).

Jennifer Rigby and Sarah Newey have more detail on this story here

04:30 PM

Majority of adults say they feel safe visiting hospitals and GP surgeries

A YouGov poll found 83 per cent of Britons say they feel safe visiting GP surgeries, compared to just 9 per cent who feel unsafe.

The survey also showed 74 per cent feel safe visiting hospitals, while 18 per cent say they feel unsafe.

04:19 PM

Grant Shapps: Vaccines give UK 'advantage to further liberalise travel'

Grant Shapps has welcomed news that the US will welcome fully-vaccinated Britons again from November and said countries including Japan, Canada and the UAE are set to become easier to travel to for people in the UK.

The Transport Secretary said: "We'll now expand the policy to an array of other countries including Canada and Japan from October 4 for those who can demonstrate their fully vaccinated status.

"That will bring the number of countries and territories in to scope to 50.

"The UK will now set out standards that it expects other countries to meet in terms of certification so that their citizens can benefit from this change.

"And I can tell the House today that we're in the final stages of doing this with our friends in the United Arab Emirates, because recovery is the best way to support the aviation sector.

"As one of the world's most-vaccinated countries we can now use our advantage to further liberalise travel while protecting public health."

Earlier today Mr Shapps insisted the UK's aviation industry would "absolutely" recover to its pre-pandemic status as we move towards a "more normal world of travel".

04:07 PM

'Thanks to draconian travel rules I haven’t seen my parents in 18 months'

My parents – who are both British citizens – moved to Cape Town five years ago, hoping for a retirement filled with sunshine, trips to wine farms and morning walks on the beach with the dogs. My brother and I both live in London but we happily flew south each winter and looked forward to their annual two-month-long trips to the UK.

Covid changed everything.

Even if they have been double jabbed, the British government classifies all South African residents as unvaccinated, so they then have to quarantine at home in the UK for up to a further 10 days.

In some ways, I think this is more unfair than the red list. I understand we need to keep variants of concern out of the UK, and Beta – which originated in South Africa – can be problematic for those vaccinated with AstraZeneca. I assume it is why South Africa remains on the red list even when Delta is the predominant strain there and case rates are far below those of the UK.

But insisting that everyone who hasn’t been jabbed in either the EU, the US, Canada, or a handful of Asian and Caribbean countries is unvaccinated seems unnecessary and even xenophobic.

Read Melissa Twigg's full piece here

03:54 PM

Vatican to require Covid 'green pass' from October

The Vatican will require all residents, workers and visitors to show a Covid health certificate from 1 October.

All people entering the Vatican will have to carry the 'Green Pass' - that is already widely used in surrounding Italy - that shows that someone has been vaccinated against coronavirus, has tested negative or has recently recovered from the virus.

An exception will be made for those attending mass "for the time strictly necessary for the rite".

Pope Francis leads Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of his office overlooking Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on 19 September 2021 - Claudio Peri/Shutterstock
Pope Francis leads Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of his office overlooking Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on 19 September 2021 - Claudio Peri/Shutterstock

03:33 PM

Health Secretary praises rollout of vaccines to 12- to 15-year-olds

03:21 PM

White House confirms fully-jabbed Britons will be welcomed from November

The US has confirmed reports that it will ease travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated foreign travellers, including those from the UK, from November.

The White House's Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said that all foreign passengers flying to the US will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding.

They will also need to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of the flight.

Mr Zients said fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine.

Airlines will also be required to collect contact information from international passengers to facilitate contact tracing.

Boris Johnson said he is "delighted" about the news, calling it a "fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again".

Follow our travel live blog for the latest news

03:10 PM

UK records 36,100 new Covid cases and a further 49 deaths

The UK has recorded 36,100 new cases of Covid-19 and a further 49 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.

This compares to the 29,612 cases and 56 deaths reported yesterday (Sunday).

03:03 PM

Shielding adults less protected by vaccines should benefit from boosters, study finds

Vulnerable adults received lesser protection from two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine than healthy adults, so could benefit from a booster jab, a Scottish study has found.

The study, from Public Health Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, found that vulnerable individuals who were shielding were only 66 per cent protected against severe illness after two vaccine doses, compared with 93 per cent protection in those without any high-risk conditions.

Professor Helen Colhoun, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is clear that getting vaccinated with two doses is an effective way of reducing the risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19.

“However, our study did show that people who were previously asked to shield as a result of being clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 did have lower protection after two doses than those without their conditions.

“We found that out of over 3.5 million people who have had two vaccine doses in Scotland up to the 2nd of September 2021, there were just 330 cases of severe Covid-19. Almost half of these are in people designated as extremely vulnerable and most of the remainder have been in people with moderate risk conditions.

“The fact that we see an increase in protection from the first to the second dose gives hope that a third dose might increase protection further.”

02:48 PM

India to resume Covid vaccine exports in October

By Joe Wallen, India and Global Health Security Correspondent

India, one of the world's largest producers of Covid-19 jabs, will resume exports in October, prioritising the World Health Organization's vaccine sharing programme, Covax, according to its health minister.

As of July, only one percent of the 530 million vaccines pledged by wealthier nations to Covax have been delivered, resulting in many African nations having to scale back their vaccine rollouts.

Rather than sharing surplus doses, many developed countries have instead chosen to stockpile vaccines or administer third booster shots instead.

India announced it would send 240 million doses to Covax by July but only a fraction of these doses were sent before exports were suspended in March.

The country had endured a devastating second wave of Covid-19, driven by the Delta variant and the government bowed to increasing public pressure to keep doses for its own, largely unvaccinated, population.

Now, exports to Covax and neighbouring South Asian countries will resume again from October - but it is unclear in what quantity.

Only 15 per cent of Indians 1.38 billion citizens are fully vaccinated and the Indian government has said only surplus doses will be exported. It is likely exports will not resume in large quantities until domestic production is again scaled up in early 2022.

02:39 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

Tokyo, Japan

Visitors in yukatas or Japanese traditional summer kimonos wear face masks as they draw a fortune-telling paper strip at the Sensoji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo on 20 September 2021 - Eugene Hoshiko/AP
Visitors in yukatas or Japanese traditional summer kimonos wear face masks as they draw a fortune-telling paper strip at the Sensoji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo on 20 September 2021 - Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Bangkok, Thailand

Anti-government protesters, one wearing an animal head as another wears protective gear, walk together after police fire tear gas during a demonstration to mark the 15-year anniversary since the 2006 military takeover in Bangkok on 19 September 2021, as they urge the resignation of the current administration over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic - Jack Taylor/AFP
Anti-government protesters, one wearing an animal head as another wears protective gear, walk together after police fire tear gas during a demonstration to mark the 15-year anniversary since the 2006 military takeover in Bangkok on 19 September 2021, as they urge the resignation of the current administration over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic - Jack Taylor/AFP

Washington D.C., US

People visit the 'In America: Remember' art installation - to commemorate Americans who have died from Covid-19 - conceptualised by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg near the Washington Monument on 18 September 2021 - Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
People visit the 'In America: Remember' art installation - to commemorate Americans who have died from Covid-19 - conceptualised by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg near the Washington Monument on 18 September 2021 - Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

02:12 PM

US 'to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November'

The United States plans to relax travel restrictions on vaccinated passengers from the UK and European Union from November.

The new rules are part of a broader US policy for international travel.

It came after Boris Johnson was set to push Joe Biden to change Covid-19 travel rules and let Britons fly to America when they meet on Tuesday in the White House.

Follow this breaking news story here

01:44 PM

Expert says he 'cannot imagine' jabs will be approved for younger children

Pfizer announced earlier today that the results of a trial of their Covid-19 vaccine on five to 11-year-olds found the jab is both safe and effective in the age group.

However, an expert has said this does not mean vaccines are likely to be rolled out among young children.

Dr David Elliman, a consultant paediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said he "cannot imagine" the UK's JCVI approving the jabs for younger children.

He said: "The Pfizer and BioNTech press release giving results from their Phase 2/3 trial looking at safety and antibody responses in children aged five to 11, is just that – a press release.

"There is little data to allow one to make any assessment of what the manufacturers claim. The raw data should be made available.

"We do not know how commonly the rare side effect of myocarditis/pericarditis occurs at this age, though we do know that the incidence is commoner in younger people than in the elderly.

"We don't know how severe it might be in this age group. Covid infection is rarely serious in this group."

01:41 PM

Pfizer to apply for UK approval of jabs for young children

By Nick Allen in Washington D.C.

Pfizer will apply soon to British regulators for approval for its Covid-19 vaccine to be given to five-to-11-year-olds.

It will apply to the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use, followed shortly afterward by applications to European and British regulators.

On Monday Pfizer announced it had established that its vaccine works, and is safe, for children ages five to 11.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is already available for those 12 and older.

For five-to-11-year-olds Pfizer tested a much lower dose, one third of the amount that is in each shot given now.

After their second shot of the lower dose children ages five to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Pfizer said.

The child dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects such as sore arms, fever or achiness that teenagers have experienced.

01:29 PM

Grant Shapps says UK aviation sector will 'absolutely' reach pre-pandemic status

The UK's aviation sector will "absolutely" reclaim its pre-pandemic status, Grant Shapps has said.

When asked if the aviation sector would recover, the Transport Secretary replied: "It will. Absolutely."

He added that the new international travel rules would bring the UK towards "the more normal world of travel, which is that when you're fully vaccinated you will be able to travel".

Airlines and airports claim the Government's quarantine and testing rules have restricted their recovery from the virus crisis.

Heathrow has gone from being Europe's busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind rival cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

01:09 PM

Dame Joan Collins receives 'life saver' booster jab

Dame Joan Collins has received her Covid-19 booster jab, calling vaccines a "life saver".

The 88-year-old Dynasty actress received her Covid and flu jabs simultaneously and said she had experienced no side effects.

She said: "Delighted to have received the flu jab and booster vaccine at the same time, and have had no side effects. I encourage everyone to turn up when called.

"Diamonds may be forever, but the vaccine is a life saver. Thank you Drs Ammara Hughes and Raj Gill."

She received her first dose – of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine - at London's Bloomsbury Surgery in January.

Dame Joan Collins attends the National Television Awards at London's 02 Arena on 9 September 2021 - Ian West/PA
Dame Joan Collins attends the National Television Awards at London's 02 Arena on 9 September 2021 - Ian West/PA

12:31 PM

Thailand to try alternative Covid jabs to stretch supplies

Thai doctors will start administering Covid-19 booster vaccines under the skin rather than injecting them into muscles, officials said, in an effort to strengthen immunity and stretch vaccine supplies.

Chalermpong Sukonthaphon, director of the Vachira Hospital in Phuket, said his hospital had been given the green light to use the technique from Friday, as trials had showed it triggered a similar immune response to the regular method.

"One vaccine dose can be used for five intradermal injections," Chalermpong told Reuters.

So far, only 21 per cent of the country's estimated 72 million population has been fully-vaccinated.

12:09 PM

Boris Johnson insists boosters take priority over vaccine donations

Boris Johnson has insisted that the booster programme must be "our priority" rather than sending more Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income nations.

The Prime Minister defended the "huge contributions" the UK has made by donating vaccines to poorer countries, as booster invites were being sent out to 1.5 million people in England this week.

Speaking to reporters on the way to New York for the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson added: "But if you ask me, should we interrupt the booster programme for elderly and vulnerable people in this country?

"Well, I've looked at the evidence for what boosters can do, I've looked at the extra protection it can give people, and I have to say I think that that has to be our priority and we're going to continue to do that.

"But that doesn't mean we're not making also a massive commitment to the rest of the world, because we fundamentally agree that nobody's safe until everybody is safe."

11:59 AM

UK booster vaccination programme, in pictures

Covid-19 booster vaccines have started being administered across the UK to people aged over 50, health and social care workers, younger people at a higher risk from coronavirus and to those with underlying health conditions.

A woman receives a Covid-19 booster vaccine at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Carl Recine/Reuters
A woman receives a Covid-19 booster vaccine at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Carl Recine/Reuters
A health worker speaks to a woman as healthcare staff receive Covid-19 booster jabs at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Carl Recine/Reuters
A health worker speaks to a woman as healthcare staff receive Covid-19 booster jabs at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Carl Recine/Reuters
A man receives a Covid-19 booster vaccine at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Joe Giddens/PA
A man receives a Covid-19 booster vaccine at Midland House in Derby on 20 September 2021 - Joe Giddens/PA

11:50 AM

Pandemic sees 50pc rise in children with mental health issues in A&E

The number of children who go to A&E with serious mental health issues has jumped by more than 50 per cent since the coronavirus pandemic began, after school closures pushed youngsters to crisis point, a Telegraph investigation has revealed.

More than 2,243 children in England were referred for specialist mental health care from emergency departments in May this year, compared with just 1,428 in May 2019.

Experts say children have struggled with schools being closed and without face-to-face interaction with their peers.

NHS data reveal that nearly 27,000 children are being prescribed antidepressants each month, up more than eight per cent from 2019. While most are teenagers, 25 a month are aged six or under, and more than 1,000 are aged seven to 11.

Waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have jumped by more than a third in some regions, according to NHS England Trusts.

Read the full story

11:35 AM

Pfizer trial results show Covid jab is safe for children aged five to 11

Pfizer said trial results showed their Covid-19 vaccine was safe and produced a robust immune response in children aged five to 11, and said they would seek regulatory approval shortly.

The vaccine would be administered at a lower dosage than for people over 12, they said.

In a joint statement with partner firm BioNTech, Pfizer said: "In participants five to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralising antibody responses."

They plan to submit their data to regulatory bodies in the EU, the US and around the world "as soon as possible".

The trial results are the first of their kind for children under 12, with a Moderna trial for six to 11-year-olds still ongoing.

Pfizer/BioNTech are also trialling their vaccine on babies aged six months to two years, and on children aged two to five.

11:29 AM

Further restrictions in Ireland eased

Workers in Ireland have started returning to offices for the first time since March 2020 after the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The government also allowed indoor group activities, such as dance and yoga, to resume for up to 100 people who are fully-vaccinated or are naturally immune from the virus.

Bowling alleys and amusement arcades can also reopen.

The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said the full vaccination of 90 per cent of the population has enabled the relaxation of rules.

He said: "If we continue this progress, we can look forward to the further removal of public health restrictions, to be replaced by guidance and advice."

Leo Varadkar, the deputy prime minister, suggested remote working should become a permanent fixture of Irish life.

11:23 AM

Trials begin in Manchester of new vaccine to fight Covid variants

Trials have started in Manchester of a new jab to fight Covid-19 variants, with medical professionals hopeful it will offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines.

Initially involving participants aged 60 and over, its creators hope the new drug - GRT-R910 - can boost the immune response of first-generation Covid vaccines to a wide array of variants of Sars-Cov-2, which cause Covid-19.

First to receive the trial jabs were retired NHS nurse Helen Clarke, 64, and her husband Andrew, 63, from Bolton, with Ms Clarke saying the quick development of vaccines "couldn't happen without volunteers".

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, of Manchester University, one of the clinical leads of the study, said: "We think GRT-R910 as a booster vaccination will elicit strong, durable and broad immune responses, which are likely to be critical in maintaining protection of this vulnerable elderly population who are particularly at risk of hospitalisation and death."

The research is being done through collaboration between US pharmaceutical company Gritstone, The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, with results set to be released early next year.

Trials are under way in Manchester of a new jab to fight Covid-19 variants in the hope it can offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines.  - University of Manchester/PA
Trials are under way in Manchester of a new jab to fight Covid-19 variants in the hope it can offer longer-lasting immunity than current vaccines. - University of Manchester/PA

10:57 AM

Universal Studios' Beijing opens to public following pandemic delays

Universal Studios' Beijing resort opened its doors to the public on Monday after a two-decade wait, including delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The park will be Universal's largest and its fifth resort globally, featuring areas dedicated to franchises like Kung Fu Panda and Harry Potter, and grants Beijing a major branded theme park to rival the Disney resorts in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

One Universal Studios employee told Reuters that visitor numbers were being capped at around 10,000 on Monday because of the pandemic, but said the park has the capacity for many more.

A family wearing face masks take selfies at the entrance of the Universal Studios Beijing theme park on 20 September 2021 - Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg
A family wearing face masks take selfies at the entrance of the Universal Studios Beijing theme park on 20 September 2021 - Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg

10:37 AM

Teenage pregnancies fell by a quarter during first lockdown

The number of girls becoming pregnant in England and Wales fell by more than a quarter during the first Covid-19 lockdown, figures show.

There were 2,600 conceptions to under-18s between April and June 2020, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the lowest number of conceptions in a single quarter in more than 20 years.

It marks a fall of 27.7 per cent from the first three months of 2020, which saw 3,597 conceptions, and is down 31.3 per cent from the same quarter in 2019.

The North West had the highest number of conceptions to under-18s in the period (466), followed by the South East (340) and Yorkshire and the Humber (292).

The figures cover pregnancies that result in a live birth, stillbirth or an abortion. They do not include miscarriages or pregnancies terminated through illegal abortions.

10:14 AM

Thailand trials robot nurses to treat Covid patients

A robot nurse is helping to deliver medicine and record the condition of patients in a Covid-19 field hospital in Khon Kaen province, Thailand.

The KIC Robot 2 is a mobile robot with wheels that is able to carry medication, and allows doctors and patients to communicate through a built-in camera and speaker.

Doctor Wirot Lertpongpipat said: "The robot allows us to communicate with our patients easily. The robot also reduces the chances of Covid-19 transmission to our paramedics.

"Sometimes announcing on the speaker is not clear, so this robot can get closer to the patient and inform them better."

The robot nurse was developed by Thai researchers in response to the pandemic and could be rolled out in other hospitals across the country if the trial is successful.

09:48 AM

NHS workers join royalty for James Bond premiere

The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to attend the world premiere of the new James Bond film No Time to Die next week.

Charles, Camilla, William and Kate will meet 007 star Daniel Craig, and other cast members including Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux and Lashana Lynch, at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday September 28.

A number of health care workers and members of the armed forces will join the royals in the auditorium to watch the movie as a thank you for their work during the Covid pandemic.

09:04 AM

Laos locks down capital and bans travel

Reclusive Laos has locked down its capital Vientiane and barred travel between Covid-hit provinces, as cases soared to a record high.

The communist country appeared to have escaped the brunt of the pandemic in 2020, and by March this year had reported fewer than 60 cases - though the low number was due in part to limited testing.

But a surge since mid-April has seen its caseload steadily increase, and on Saturday the country reported 467 new cases of community infection, its highest ever single-day tally.

The mayor of Vientiane, where the bulk of the cases were detected, declared a strict lockdown on Sunday for two weeks, ordering residents to stay in their homes unless obtaining food, medicine or making their way to a hospital.

Travel between seven other hard-hit provinces is banned, while entry into Vientiane requires a quarantine of 14 days.

06:49 AM

Anti-vaccine riots in Melbourne

Huge crowds have gathered in the Australian city to protest against the state-wide lockdown in Victoria.

A large proportion of the crowd are construction workers, and the protest is understood to be against the Covid vaccine being made mandatory among the tradesmen from Friday.

Footage shows workers chanting "F--- the jab" and "freedom" while fist-pumping outside the CFMEU - the union which represents the construction workers.

The union has condemned "outside extremists" for what they say has been the "manipulation" of workers.

06:42 AM

Body launched to self-regulate Covid testing companies

An organisation aiming to ensure accurate, timely and competitively priced services are provided by Covid-19 testing companies has been launched.

Founders of the Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO) said the body will represent and self-regulate providers who can demonstrate they offer "trustworthy testing services" to businesses and the public.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said the cost of PCR testing can be "a barrier" to people and insisted consumers and families need to be protected from "exploitative practices".

Earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it found travellers do not have the means to find the best deals and are at risk from providers who breach consumer law when it comes to travel testing.

Only providers which accept a code of conduct based on a CMA letter recently sent to all Covid-testing providers and which score 3.5 or above on the independent Trustpilot rating website will be accepted as members, the LTIO said.

06:16 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Monday, Sep 20.

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05:49 AM

Vietnam capital Hanoi to ease curbs this week

Vietnam's capital Hanoi will further ease its coronavirus restrictions from this week, the government said, with new cases on the decline and the majority of its adult population partially vaccinated.

Most construction projects can resume from Wednesday, authorities said late on Sunday, adding further easing would follow, with average new daily cases down to just 20.

So far 94pc of Hanoi's adult population of 5.75 million has received one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with the aim of completing second doses by the end of November, said deputy chairman of Hanoi's ruling People's Committee, Duong Duc Tuan.

"We can't maintain the social distancing measures indefinitely," Tuan said in a statement.

Hanoi has escaped the brunt of a fierce wave of coronavirus infections in Vietnam since late April, recording less than 50 of the more than 17,000 deaths nationwide, and just 4,414 of the country's total 687,000 cases.

 A man receives the AstraZeneca vaccine in Hanoi - AFP
A man receives the AstraZeneca vaccine in Hanoi - AFP

05:40 AM

Third of staff would refuse full-time job in an office

One in three workers would not take a job that required them to be in the office full time, research has found.

The Government's official work-from-home guidance was removed on July 19, and in recent weeks a growing number of employees have returned to their offices full time.

The London Underground recorded its busiest morning since March 2020 two weeks ago.

But a poll of 1,000 workers carried out last month for IWG, which provides serviced offices, found that 33 per cent of those surveyed said they would not consider applying for a new job that did not offer flexible or hybrid working.

Read the full story

05:22 AM

Sturgeon accused of ‘going into hiding’ while Scotland’s NHS faces crisis

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “going into hiding” while Scotland’s NHS faces the gravest crisis in its history.

Opponents claimed that the nationalist administration at Holyrood had put up a “wall of silence” over recent days, with ministers refusing several media invitations to publicly address a growing emergency.

Paramedics on Sunday called for temporary field hospitals to be set up in major Scottish cities, as questions mounted over why the NHS Louisa Jordan in Glasgow, which had the capacity for more than 1,000 beds, was allowed to close in July without being replaced.

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04:56 AM

New Zealand NBL team release player after vaccine refusal

The New Zealand Breakers basketball team released guard Tai Webster on Monday after he decided not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Breakers play in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL) and were based on the other side of the Tasman Sea for most of last season because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

They look set to relocate to Australia for at least the beginning of the 2021-22 season and Webster's decision not to be vaccinated would complicate travel arrangements.

"I fully support each player's freedom of choice in regards to the vaccine," Breakers owner Matt Walsh said in a news release. The club will keep the door open for Tai but unfortunately we are living in extraordinary times and without being vaccinated he will not have freedom of travel which would allow him to play for us this season."

04:28 AM

Virus-hit Fiji to reopen borders for tourists

Fiji plans to reopen for international tourists by November, aiming to rebuild a pandemic-devastated economy while battling a delta-variant outbreak.

"Our goal is to free our country - and our economy - from the rut of the pandemic," Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a statement last week.

Once 80 per cent of Fiji's eligible population is vaccinated, it will offer quarantine-free travel to visitors from a "green list" of locations.

Of Fiji's eligible population, 66 per cent is now fully vaccinated and Bainimarama predicts the country's target will be met by November 1.

Fiji's green list includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore and parts of the United States.

Visitors would need to be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure.

Read more: Which countries are on the UK's green list for travel

02:43 AM

Sydney cases fall as curbs ease in virus hotspots

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state on Monday reported its lowest rise in daily Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks as some lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney, the state capital, amid higher vaccination levels.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been detected in NSW, the lowest daily tally since Aug. 27, and down from 1,083 on Sunday. The state reported four more deaths.

Nearly half of Australia's 25 million people is in lockdown after the delta variant spread rapidly in Sydney and Melbourne forcing officials there to abandon a Covid-zero target and shift to rapid vaccinations to ease curbs.

With 53pc of NSW's adult population now fully vaccinated, some restrictions on gatherings were relaxed on Monday in 12 of the worst-hit suburbs in Sydney's west. Time limits for outdoor exercise were lifted, while the fully vaccinated people can gather outside in groups of five.

Neighbouring Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, logged one new death and 567 new infections, its biggest daily rise this year, a day after revealing its roadmap back to freedom when vaccinations reach 70pc, expected around Oct. 26.

People relax at Circular Quay after picnic restrictions were lifted in Sydney - JOEL CARRETT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
People relax at Circular Quay after picnic restrictions were lifted in Sydney - JOEL CARRETT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

01:37 AM

Jabs rolled out to children aged 12 to 15 across the UK

Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out to children aged between 12 and 15, with three million youngsters eligible across the UK.

The programme is expected to be delivered primarily within schools, and guidance has been issued to headteachers to contact police if they believe protests could be held outside their buildings.

Children will be offered jabs at some schools in England from Monday. The rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.

Young people in this age bracket in Scotland can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment. Jabs for children in Wales will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.

In Northern Ireland, the head of the region's vaccination programme said jabs are likely to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.

Read more: Testing children without Covid-19 symptoms disrupts their education, schools warned

11:04 PM

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