Coronavirus latest news: Third wave could be later and less damaging, Government adviser says

·17-min read

Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the government on the vaccine rollout told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:

“We’ve been tremendously successful with our speed of rollout with the vaccination programme which has contributed to infection rates being quite low at the moment, he

On the suggestion that coronavirus will no longer be circulating in the UK by August, Professor Harnden said: “I’m not optimistic. Certainly the modelers suggest there will be a third wave at some point, but hopefully that third wave will be very low and perhaps very in the distance.

“The summer is good, it’s a seasonal virus and we will be more outdoors in the summer. But we still all need to be cautious, we’ve only got to India to see how the pandemic can take off very quickly.”

It comes after senior experts close to the Government said last month that any new wave would be more likely to arrive in the autumn, following the pattern of other seasonal respiratory infections.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

04:18 PM

Vaccination in the UK continues apace

Government data up to May 7 shows that of the 52,403,417 jabs given in the UK so far, 35,188,981 were first doses - a rise of 119,340 on the previous day.

Some 17,214,436 were second doses, an increase of 449,716.

12:23 PM

NHS medics 'felt under pressure to work extra shifts'

Thousands of NHS workers are experiencing "unacceptable levels of exhaustion", a health chief has warned, after a survey found some doctors worked extra unpaid shifts during the pandemic.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said more than half of doctors (58pc) surveyed in the UK had worked extra shifts as part of the Covid-19 response, of which 28pc were unpaid.

The BMA's Covid-19 tracker survey in April also revealed 44pc of doctors felt pressured by their employer to work additional hours.

Of the 5,500 doctors who responded to the survey, more than a third (36pc) said they had either skipped taking full breaks or taken them on rare occasions, with nearly 60pc reporting a higher than normal level of fatigue or exhaustion.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said: "To learn that an already depleted and now exhausted workforce feels forced into doing more and more hours, with many reporting higher levels of fatigue than ever, is extremely worrying.

"It is putting them at risk and their patients.

"Working 'flat out' without a change to rest and recuperate is simply unsustainable and unsafe.

"The results from the latest BMA's Covid-19 tracker survey show that far too many colleagues across the NHS are experiencing unacceptable levels of exhaustion while being pressured to work extra shifts, and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

"Governments should be doing all they can to ensure staff have an opportunity to rest and reset - no-one should feel pressured to take the NHS backlogs on a goodwill basis."

11:31 AM

Bumper day for travel firms

Travel firms have hailed the "best day" for holiday sales in months following the Government's green list announcement.

Tui, the UK's largest holiday company, spoke of seeing a rise in customer demand in the wake of the announcement, particularly for trips to Portugal.

A spokeswoman said: "We've had the best day of sales for summer 2021 holidays since the initial road map announcement in February.

"Sixty per cent of all holidays sold yesterday were to Portugal."

The firm said new flights and extra holidays have been added for people who want to "get away as quickly as possible".

Hays Travel, the UK's largest independent travel agent, said the earlier speculation around the announcement prompted its "busiest" week since the pandemic began.

Dame Irene Hays, chair of Hays Travel, said: "This week, Hays Travel branches all over the UK have been at their busiest since the pandemic began, helping our customers to book a holiday for when and where it's safe to do so.

"More customers are now booking for this year to make sure they don't miss out on choice or price."

But other smaller firms labelled the green list announcement a "damp squib", saying there are not enough destinations to spark a real surge in bookings.

Mark Pollard, managing director of Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead, said: "One of the problems with this list is it's very limiting, the only major tourist destination is Portugal, this is all too little and too early to say.

"It's a damp squib announcement, there isn't enough there to prompt the kind of interest the industry is desperate for.

11:00 AM

It is the 'right time' to be opening up hospitality

A Scottish public health expert said it is the "right time" to gradually open up hospitality venues.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said cases in Scotland, where indoor hospitality has already reopened, are at similar levels seen in early September 2020.

Commenting on the risks of indoor and outdoor dining, she told Times Radio that the risk outdoors "are really very low" and at least 20 times less than indoor hospitality.

She said: "Indoors is more risky, where households are mixing - now that doesn't mean that hospitality is more risky as a venue than a number of other indoor environments.

"But we're in a very good position now, the vaccines are assisting us and it is the right time to gradually open up, I do support doing that in stages."

10:44 AM

The Big Green List Holiday Guide: Everything you need to know

It's official: international holidays are back on from May 17.

The Telegraph has put together a comprehensive guide to explain where you can go and what to do when you're there.

You can read our full guide to your summer and beyond here.

Praia San Raphael is a popular beach near Albufeira on the Algarve, Portugal.
Praia San Raphael is a popular beach near Albufeira on the Algarve, Portugal.

10:18 AM

Public urged to be patient over travel unlocking

Virologist Dr Chris Smith has encouraged the public to be patient after the Government faced criticism over its cautious approach to unlocking international travel.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "There are lots of cases of viruses spreading among people at the moment, and I'm thinking of India.

"We are seeing in our country right now imported cases of a variant from India which is spreading.

"What we don't want to do is send people who have been vaccinated overseas, because if you think about it the only case of a virus coming back with one of those people is going to be one that can bypass the protection conferred by their vaccine.

"So they could potentially bring that back and start it spreading across the country.

"These are all measures that will work for now, they're not going to be here forever, I think we just have to sit tight for a little bit longer."

10:04 AM

Exhausted doctors felt pressured to take extra shifts, says BMA

Thousands of NHS workers are experiencing "unacceptable levels of exhaustion", a health chief has warned, after a survey found some doctors worked extra unpaid shifts during the pandemic.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said more than half of doctors (58%) surveyed in the UK had worked extra shifts as part of the Covid-19 response, of which 28% were unpaid.

The BMA's Covid-19 tracker survey in April also revealed 44% of doctors felt pressured by their employer to work additional hours.

Of the 5,500 doctors who responded to the survey, more than a third (36%) said they had either skipped taking full breaks or taken them on rare occasions, with nearly 60% reporting a higher than normal level of fatigue or exhaustion.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said: "To learn that an already depleted and now exhausted workforce feels forced into doing more and more hours, with many reporting higher levels of fatigue than ever, is extremely worrying.

"It is putting them at risk and their patients.

"Working 'flat out' without a change to rest and recuperate is simply unsustainable and unsafe.

09:43 AM

Britain to be Covid-free by August, says vaccine taskforce chief

Departing chairman Clive Dix says UK will be safe this winter without booster shots and calls on Britain to help other countries beat virus, writes Hannah Boland:

In an interview with The Telegraph a week after stepping down as interim head of the vaccine taskforce, Clive Dix said the population would be safe from the disease in a matter of months. "Sometime in August, we will have no circulating virus in the UK," he said.

The UK remained on track to meet its target of giving all adults at least one Covid jab by the end of July, he said.

Mr Dix said this should give adequate protection against both the original Covid strain and all known variants of the disease, meaning booster vaccinations could be delayed from autumn until next year.

He also urged Britain to lead the crusade against vaccine nationalism by sharing millions of spare doses with countries most in need.

You can read the full story here.

Clive Dix at his home in Hertfordshire. - Fiona Hanson
Clive Dix at his home in Hertfordshire. - Fiona Hanson

09:24 AM

Italy disappointed by not being on green list

Maria Elena Rossi, marketing director of the Italian Tourist Board, said the nation being on the UK Government's amber travel list is a "pity".

Ms Rossi told BBC Breakfast she was "disappointed" by the announcement, but that it was "expected".

She said: "The fact we are on the amber list is a pity because for us the UK market is a very, very important source market.

"Before the pandemic we had more than 12 million overnights coming from the UK but we are very confident the situation might change."

Ms Rossi added: "Italy is developing several Covid-free zones, especially in islands, which is a policy that has been enforced in other countries.

"We are working together with the UK tourism industry in order to be ready as soon as possible."

09:08 AM

Popular holiday destinations do meet criteria to be on green list, says travel boss

More European holiday destinations should be added to the Government's green travel list, the chief executive of EasyJet Holidays has said.

Garry Wilson told BBC Breakfast: "The good news is travel is reopening and our customers can look forward to those well-earned breaks in the summer that they've been waiting many months for.

"I think the very disappointing news is just the number of countries that are on the list, and if you look at European countries there's very few, and of those European countries the major holiday destination is Portugal.

"So we did think it was very cautious and it is really not aligning with the approach the Government has taken to open up domestic travel and we don't think it is backed up by the science or the data.

"So we're really expecting to see very soon a lot of the other major European holiday destinations opening up."

He added: "We believe, looking at the science and looking at the data, that places like the Greek Islands, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, very popular holiday destinations, actually do meet those criteria and should be on that list."

08:47 AM

Travel reopening must be 'cautious' says expert

A public health expert supported a cautious approach in opening up international travel following the Government's announcement of quarantine-free green list countries.

Speaking to Times Radio, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh said: "We've had more cases of Covid-19 last week globally than we've had at any point of the pandemic.

"I know people are disappointed that they can't go to France or Spain, but at the moment if I could point to one area that I'd be most anxious about it would be variants and importation of infection.

"I think that's the territory we have to be most cautious and move most slowly."

08:37 AM

Could football be coming home?

Ministers are in discussions with Uefa over hosting the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City in the UK following the decision to add Turkey to the "red list" of hotel quarantine countries, the Environment Secretary has said.

George Eustice told BBC Breakfast: "I understand that discussions are ongoing with Uefa.

"It is a decision I think that Uefa would take, but I think that Oliver Dowden in the department for culture and media is looking at this issue.

"The UK has, I think, made this offer that we could host it here but it will ultimately be a decision for Uefa.

"It is regrettable that we have had to put Turkey on the 'red list' but we do have to make these judgments based on the science and the risk in individual countries."

07:20 AM

Lockdown’s hidden toll on children

More than a million children a year will be given mental health help at school, amid concerns about soaring levels of anxiety fuelled by lockdown.

The head of the NHS said the service would urgently expand its services to help young people cope with the significant disruption caused by the pandemic.

Research shows that one in six children in England aged five to 16 reported having a probable mental health disorder last year – up from one in nine in 2017.

READ MORE: Lockdown’s hidden toll: million schoolchildren a year will need mental health help

06:56 AM

Experts want people to keep working from home

Government scientists want people to work from home indefinitely, even though the latest data suggests the roadmap out of Covid lockdown is on track.

The latest figures show infection levels are now the lowest they have been for eight months, with just one in 1,180 people in England having Covid.

Government scientists are understood to be concerned that progress could be undermined if people return to work in significant numbers, increasing social contact.

Read the full story here.

06:12 AM

Bar owner arrested over fake vaccination cards

The owner of a California bar where authorities say made-to-order fake Covid vaccination cards were sold to undercover state agents for $20 (£14) each was arrested in what officials call the first such foiled operation they are aware of nationwide.

The plainclothes agents from California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control alleged they were told at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements to write their names and birth dates on Post-it notes and then watched as employees cut the cards, filled in identifying information and bogus vaccination dates and laminated the finished products.

The fake cards - California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control via AP
The fake cards - California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control via AP

Vaccination cards are being used in some places as a pass for people to attend large gatherings. The European Union is considering allowing in tourists who can prove they have been vaccinated.

Acting on an anonymous tip to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, four undercover agents went to the bar several times in April and allegedly bought four fake laminated vaccination cards, officials said.

04:28 AM

More than 4,000 deaths in India - in only one day

A man runs to escape heat emitting from the multiple funeral pyres of Covid-19 victims at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India - Amit Sharma/AP
A man runs to escape heat emitting from the multiple funeral pyres of Covid-19 victims at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India - Amit Sharma/AP

India has recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time, the government said today.

The 4,187 new deaths took India's overall toll to 238,270 since the pandemic started.

It added another 401,078 new cases in 24 hours, taking its caseload to nearly 21.9 million.

03:32 AM

Travel industry calls for more 'green list' countries

The travel industry has responded to the Government's "green list" of quarantine-free travel...

  • EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: "The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy."

He added: "So, we call on Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer."

  • Airlines UK, an industry body which represents UK carriers, said the Government must make "major additions" to the green list at the next review point in three weeks.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: "This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.

"By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States."

  • Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, accused the Government of an "excess of caution", adding that it is "extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business".

"Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerned, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return," he said.

Mr Strutton added: "Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The Government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can."

03:26 AM

Unlock more international holiday destinations, travel bosses say

Industry bosses have urged further clarity on when other holiday destinations could be added to the quarantine-free "green list" amid criticism the Government has been too cautious in its approach to unlocking international travel.

Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are among 12 destinations that will be on the green list from May 17 - with some countries on the list still not accepting holidaymakers.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the removal of the ban on international leisure travel was necessarily cautious, but sector leaders warned it could delay the industry's recovery.

03:16 AM

Duchess of Cambridge sparks treasure hunt

The Duchess of Cambridge visits the National Portrait Gallery archive to mark the publication of the lockdown book Hold Still - Dominic Lipinski
The Duchess of Cambridge visits the National Portrait Gallery archive to mark the publication of the lockdown book Hold Still - Dominic Lipinski

They were hidden the length and breadth of the country, on cafe chairs and park benches, in woodland, city squares and train stations.

To celebrate the publication of Hold Still, a book of photographs taken during lockdown, the Duchess of Cambridge spearheaded a national treasure hunt, helping to hide 150 copies for members of the public to find.

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The initiative, as revealed on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Instagram feed on Friday morning, sparked a flurry of curiosity as copies were pictured in random locations and others were found by delighted passers by.

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READ MORE: Duchess of Cambridge sparks treasure hunt to find hidden lockdown picture books

02:58 AM

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