Coronavirus latest news: Second vaccines brought forward for over-40s

·68-min read

Boris Johnson said vaccinations for over-40s will be accelerated as he announced a four-week extension to the coronavirus lockdown today.

The Prime Minister said by July 19 around two-thirds of the adult population would have received two jabs, including all over-50s, the vulnerable and health and care workers, along with over-40s who had received a first dose by mid-May.

"To do this we will now accelerate the second jabs for those over 40, just as we did for the vulnerable groups, so they get the maximum protection as fast as possible,” Mr Johnson said.

"We will bring forward our target to give every adult in this country a first dose by July 19," he said, adding that 23 to 24-year-olds will be able to book jabs from Tuesday.​​

Follow the latest updates below.

05:52 PM

Objective of delay is to 'save thousands of lives', says Prime Minister

Boris Johnson finishes the press conference by saying: "I am accutely concsious that it's not just that nightclubs can't go ahead and the theatre industry.

"There are many businesses that need to move beyond social distancing, many jobs where we need to be able to do things in the way where we always used to do them.

"People are yearning to get back to that...I am confident that we will be, barring unforeseeable new variants, I am confident that we will get there."

"We want a roadmap that is irreversible and to achieve an irreversible roadmap you have to be cautious.""The objective of this short delay is to use these crucial weeks to save thousands of lives, of lives that would otherwise be lost...by vaccinating millions more people as fast as we can," he adds.

05:46 PM

Could the furlough scheme continue beyond September?

On furlough, Mr Johnson says "we always made sure the furlough scheme would continue until September...on the basis of what we can see now in the data, on the basis of the vaccine effectiveness we can see now, we don't think we will need to change that."

Asked about his advice on those wanting to travel abroad, he says: "On travel abroad, I think the most important thing is to follow the red, green, amber advice that we're giving."

05:43 PM

'I am confident that July 19 will be a terminal date', says Boris Johnson

Asked what he would say to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Boris Johnson says he has "collossal admiration" for the theatre sector, which he describes as "one of the great glories of this country".

He says people are "heart broken" about the new delay to the reopening of this sector but that he hopes some pilot events will be able to go ahead in the next few weeks.

"On the basis of what we can currently see I am confident that July 19 will be a terminal date, not a 'not before' date," he adds.

05:39 PM

'Can't see a reason' to go back into further lockdowns, PM says

Boris Johnson confirms a booster programme for vaccines that the Health Secretary will give more detail about when he appears in front of MPs later this evening.

He insists that "as things stand I can't see a reason" to go back into further lockdowns, even though there will be further surges of the disease.

Sir Patrick adds that the balance is always about "risk-benefit", which he says is up to JCVI to decide.

Prof Whitty adds: "The risk-benefit of the vaccines as currently laid out is very strongly in favour of vaccinations".

"The vaccines we have got are spectacularly more effective than we ever could have hoped for," Sir Patrick says.

05:38 PM

Four week delay 'should reduce the peak by 30 to 50pc', says Vallance

"This is a virus that's going to be with us forever", says Sir Patrick Vallance.

"If we didn't have the vaccinations we've got, we would be looking at what lockdowns would be needed," he says.

Luckily, Sir Patrick adds, "we're not in that position".

"The four week delay should reduce the peak by 30 to 50pc," he says.

Sir Patrick adds there are three benefits of this four week delay:

  1. Over 18s will have had their first doses

  2. Many more people will have had both their vaccine doses

  3. Reopening will be near to the school holidays when no mixing in schools will take place

05:33 PM

'We're not going backwards', the PM insists

On vaccinating children, Prof Whitty says that high-risk children should be vaccinated first and asks whether the multiple disruptions of not being in school will affect them more in negative ways.

"This is going to be a decision that will have to be based on the data that we have at the moment", but adds that we have to prioritise all the adults now.

Asked about the effect this delay could have on hospitalisations, Mr Johnson says "we're not going backwards... it means the businesses that are currently open and trading can still do that."

He adds that "the most important thing I can say to those businesses that are being asked to wait another four weeks" is that "I am confident that I will get there".

"The June 21 date was always a 'not before' date...but looking at the data I can see now, the scale of the vaccine rollout, I'm pretty confident that July 19 will be a terminus date," he says.

05:29 PM

PM fails to rule out extending lockdown past 19 July

Can the Prime Minister promise ongoing restrictions will not be extended beyond 19 July?

“At a certain stage we’re going to have to learn to live with the virus and to manage it as best we can," Boris Johnson says.

“At the end of that [four-week delay] ... we do think that we will have built up a very considerable wall of immunity around the whole of the population.”

"That of course does not exclude the possibililty that there is a new variant that is far more dangerous," he adds.

05:24 PM

Weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people from 21 June

Boris Johnson says that weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people from 21 June - providing social distancing is observed.

Mr Johnson adds: "I'm sorry for the disappointment that this will certainly bring to weddings, to many businesses," but he adds that the four-week delay will be "worth it".

05:22 PM

23 to 24-year-olds invited to book jabs tomorrow

By 19 July the Government will aim to have double jabbed two-thirds of the adult population, Boris Johnson said.

That's everyone over 50, all the vulnerable, all frontline health and care workers and over 40s who received their first dose by mid-May.

Over 40s will also have their second jabs accelerated, he says.

The Prime Minister added that he will bring forward the target to give every adult their first jab by 19 July, allowing 23 to 24-year-olds to book jabs from tomorrow.

05:20 PM

Link between infection and hospitalisation 'not completely stopped', says Prof Whitty

The rate of hospitalisations remain low "across all parts of the country", however we are seeing a "rapid rise" in cases, with Prof Whitty confirming a 64 per cent increase in cases in England since last week.

"The increase in the new variant is occuring across the whole country," he adds.

The link between infection and hospitalisation has been "substantially weakened" but "not completely stopped", he says, citing a 50 per cent increase in hospitalisations across the country in the last week.

He describes this as hospitalisations following the increase in cases in a delayed manner.

05:09 PM

Boris Johnson confirms delay until July 19

The Prime Minister says the link between cases and hospitalisations has been "weakened" but not completely severed.

Mr Johnson says the doubling of patients being hospitalised is very concerning for the Government.

Cases are growing by about 64 per cent per week and in the worst affected areas are doubling each week, he says.

The average number of cases is 50 per cent up week on week and 61 per cent up in the North West of England "which may be the shape of things to come", he says.

"We've obviously faced a very difficult choice", he says, "we can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those few remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them".

"I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer". He aims to double jab two-thirds of the population by July 19.

05:08 PM

We must learn to live with Covid, says PM

The Prime Minister has begun his speech by doubling down on his commitment to make progress that was "cautious but irreversible".

He says the UK has one of the most open economies in societies in Europe but it has "inevitably been accompanied by more infection and more hospitalisation".

He adds that we cannot simply eliminate Covid- we must learn to live with it.

05:06 PM

Covid briefing begins

The prime minister has just started his latest press conference in Downing Street in which he is expected to delay the next stage of England's lockdown easing.

Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have joined him.

Follow along for updates below.

04:59 PM

Seven in 10 in England support June 21 reopening delay, YouGov finds

A YouGov snap poll found that 71pc of English adults back a proposed delay to the June 21 lockdown end, including 41pc who said they would "strongly" support the delay.

Only a quarter of those living in England (24pc) said they would oppose the decision to delay the grand reopening.

YouGov reported widespread support for the delay across all social groups, but found that results differed by age.

Eight in ten of those aged 65 or older said they are supportive of the delay, whereas that fell to only 54pc of those aged 18 to 24 who said they would support it.

04:55 PM

UK aid cuts will result in the destruction of millions of doses of life-saving drugs

Almost 200 million doses of medicine for the treatment of neglected diseases in Africa are at risk of expiring because of foreign aid budget cuts, the Telegraph has learnt.

The bulk of the drugs, which will now have to be destroyed, would have been used to help children fight conditions such as intestinal worms which stunt their development and disrupt their education.

The drugs were donated by their manufacturers as part of a huge programme to help the world’s poorest. Under the partnership, pharmaceutical companies manufacture and ship the drugs for free whilst donors fund their distribution in-country.

But following the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s announcement in April that it would withdraw £150 million of funding to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), recipient countries now have stockpiles of medicines they are unable to distribute.

The situation is particularly dire for drugs with a shorter shelf life such as praziquantel, a drug manufactured by Merck and used for the prevention and treatment of bilharzia, a debilitating condition that affects the urinary and intestinal system.

Emilie Filou has more detail on this story.

04:07 PM

Delivery delays puts brakes on Thailand's vaccination efforts

Thailand's vaccination campaign has ground to a halt in some areas after at least 20 hospitals in Bangkok postponed appointments set for this week, citing delays in vaccine deliveries.

Hospitals made announcements on Facebook, while Bangkok's vaccination booking app sent messages stating that appointments after Tuesday would be delayed.

"There may have been confusion because private hospitals did not check with the Bangkok administration," Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said there had been "technical errors" in delivery of vaccines.

A total of 1.6 million people out of 66 million are fully vaccinated in Thailand.

A woman receives a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at a gymnasium turned vaccination center in Bangkok, Thailand - RUNGROJ YONGRIT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A woman receives a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at a gymnasium turned vaccination center in Bangkok, Thailand - RUNGROJ YONGRIT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

03:56 PM

End of restrictions in Wales to be guided 'by data, not dates'

The UK Government's plan to scrap coronavirus rules in England on June 21 was not "sensible", Wales's economy minister Vaughan Gething has said.

Mr Gething said Wales's plan was to be guided by "data, not dates" and that the so-called Delta variant meant the Welsh Government had to take a phased approach to lifting restrictions.

Speaking ahead of Boris Johnson's announcement of an expected four-week delay to the final lifting of lockdown restrictions in England, Mr Gething said Welsh ministers had no plans to indicate a date for ending measures in Wales.

There are now 315 cases of the Delta variant identified in Wales, with Public Health Wales also announcing it was now the most common variant in new cases following a rise of 131 cases since Thursday.

03:35 PM

Norway and WHO announce project to analyse public health interventions

Just 12 articles have been published on the effects closing different parts of society have on containing disease - compared to more than 2,000 on coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

That's according to Norway's Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, who announced a new $5.4 million initiative to research public health initiatives, alongside the World Health Organization, reports Global Health correspondent Sarah Newey.

Mr Høie told a press conference that the scheme had three tasks: to identify the maximum impact of interventions, alongside the social and economic costs to develop better tools, such as improved facemasks; and to develop methodologies to calculate the cost-benefit analysis of interventions to use in future outbreaks.

This will create "a toolbox that will be available at the beginning of the next pandemic", Mr Høie said, adding that the world needs to be prepared in case it takes longer to develop vaccines next time round.

03:32 PM

Extra coronavirus support rolled out to Midlands and North West

More support for surge testing, tracing, isolation and maximising vaccine uptake will be deployed in Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington, the Government has announced.

The support package, which is the same as was announced for Greater Manchester and Lancashire last week, is being provided after a number of cases of the Delta variant were detected in the areas, a spokesman said.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support in areas where cases of the variant are increasing.

"We know this approach has made a real impact in south London and in Bolton where we have seen it stall rising cases.

"I urge people living these areas to get tested, come forward for your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and make sure to get the all-important second jab - that is how we will beat this virus."

03:24 PM

Global cases drop for seven weeks in a row: WHO

Some positive news via our global health correspondent Sarah Newey: Worldwide, coronavirus cases have dropped for seven consecutive weeks – "the longest sequence of weekly declines during the pandemic so far", the World Health Organization has said.

But Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the UN Health Agency, warned that deaths are not falling as quickly, while a "steep increase" in new infections is concerning as the region has the "least access to vaccines, diagnostics and oxygen".

Dr Tedros also warned at a virtual press conference that more than 10,000 people are still dying every day, especially in the absence of vaccines.

"Right now, the virus is moving faster than the global distribution of vaccines," he said. And while he welcomed the G7's commitment to share close to 1bn doses, Dr Tedros added: "we need more, and we need them faster."

"There are enough doses of vaccines globally to drive down transmission and save many lives - if they're used in the right places for the right people. Health workers and those most vulnerable need to be given priority over those at low risk in G7 countries," he said.

Related: G7 vaccine largesse all hinges on timing, says Covax

03:10 PM

UK records 7,742 additional cases and three deaths

The UK recorded an additional 7,742 coronavirus cases on Monday, the latest data from Public Health England shows.

The Government also said a further three people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 127,907.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Meanwhile, further data shows that, 41.6 million people have now received the first dose of a vaccine and 29.9 million have received their second dose.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

03:05 PM

Furious Speaker claims he has been misled over roadmap announcement

The Speaker has said he wants to have a meeting with Boris Johnson over the "totally unacceptable" behaviour of Downing Street and ministers.

A furious Sir Lindsay Hoyle claimed he had been "misled" about the Prime Minister's announcement over the delay to the roadmap, saying he had been told no decision had been finalised and that as Mr Johnson is in Brussels for Nato, the earliest a statement could be made was 8:30pm. This statement is being given by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary.

Sir Lindsay said: "I have repeatedly made it clear that announcements should be made to this House first... the Government determines when ministers make statements, but in doing so they must show respect to the seat.

"They weren't going to make a statement [today] until I got involved with Downing Street. It was going to be left until tomorrow, which would have been totally unacceptable...

"I find it totally unacceptable that once again, once again, see downing street riding roughshod over members of Parliament. I am the stage where I am beginning to look for other avenues if they are not going to treat this House seriously. It is time for me to have a meeting with the Prime Minister."

03:04 PM

Tory MP 'astonished' at Boris Johnson Commons no-show

Sir Edward Leigh has also attacked Boris Johnson for "not coming to give this statement" about the delay to the roadmap ahead of this evening's press conference.

The Tory MP said he was "astonished" that the Prime Minister was not informing MPs first.

"I would have been perfectly possible for the PM to come to this chamber at 3:30pm, now, to inform parliament what was going on.

"I quite understand if you are Prime Minister it is much easier to have a few patsy questions from Laura Kuenssberg and her colleagues, than to sit here for a howl hour and be grilled by MPs.

"But we are a presidential system or are we the House of Commons? Who runs this country? Is it the media, or it is the House of Commons?"

03:03 PM

Tory MP accuses Government of 'clear breach' of ministerial code over roadmap delay

A senior Tory MP has attacked the Government for announcing the delay to roadmap in a press conference before it is announced to the Commons.

Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, said it was "a long-standing principle" to announce policy changes to the House first, adding: "I can think of no more policy announcements that changes to regulations that restrict the freedom of the British people."

It is "a clear breach" of the constitution and ministerial code, he adds.

"This is clearly very disrespectful to Parliament, and probably contempt of Parliament."

02:59 PM

Mexico to receive first J&J Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday

Mexican health officials has said that the country will receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday.

Mexico's health regulator authorized the vaccine's use last month and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the United States would donate 1 million J&J shots.

Mexico's state biological laboratory Birmex wrote on Twitter that Tuesday's J&J shipment would comprise 1.3 million doses.

02:46 PM

Hospitals overwhelmed as Delta variant fuels increase in Covid around the world

A string of countries are warning hospitals are now full of Covid-19 admissions as new variants, particularly the Delta strain first found in India, threaten to swamp wards.

As the highly infectious strain spreads round the world, several countries have pleaded with citizens to abide by safety restrictions over fears their health systems buckle as they did in India.

Ben Farmer has the lastest here.

In Afghanistan, the two main hospitals treating people with Covid-19 have had to close their doors to new patients because of a lack of beds - WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP
In Afghanistan, the two main hospitals treating people with Covid-19 have had to close their doors to new patients because of a lack of beds - WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP

02:29 PM

Serco 'rewarded for failure', as Test and Trace giant raises profit forecast

Serco is "being rewarded for failure", Labour has said, after the the outsourcing giant raised its profit forecast by millions of pounds thanks to growing demand for Covid-19 test and trace provision.

The firm, which runs part of the NHS Test and Trace, said it now expects profits to be £15m higher than expected at £200m for the year.

But Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of Labour, said: "Under the Conservatives, taxpayers’ money has been handed out to line the pockets of big outsourcing companies in return for failure after failure.

"The public will be able to compare the failed Test and Trace – run for private profit, with the vaccine roll out – run by our NHS in the public interest, and ask why Serco and other outsourcing companies are being rewarded for their failure."

02:26 PM

Vaccines offer strong protection against hospitilisation with delta variant

Vaccines provide strong protection against being hospitilised with the Indian or delta Covid variant, a major study has shown, raising hope that Britain will soon be able to release restrictions.

New data from a nationwide study in Scotland shows that although the risk of being admitted to hospital is doubled for people catching the Indian mutation, the vaccines are still very effective.

Sarah Knapton has more details on this story here.

02:25 PM

Five times as many as estimated may have died of Covid-19 in India

As India’s devastating Covid-19 second wave continues to subside, data has emerged that suggests undercounting of its virus death toll by up to five times during the spring.

Officially, India has reported 374,000 fatalities from the virus but successive modelling studies by epidemiologists had already predicted the toll is much higher.

Now, new analysis of government mortality data from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh shows over 130,000 deaths in May, nearly five times the number of fatalities for the same month in 2018 and 2019.

Joe Wallen has more here.

A health worker in a newly introduced 'Vaccination on Wheels' vehicle in Kolkata -  DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AP
A health worker in a newly introduced 'Vaccination on Wheels' vehicle in Kolkata - DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AP

02:12 PM

Vaccine booster study begins in Cambridge

Clinical trials have begun in Cambridge to see which Covid-19 vaccine works best as a third "booster" jab.

Researchers at the Addenbrooke's Hospital site are recruiting about 180 participants for a national trial, which will test seven vaccines.

The Cov-Boost study will give people a third dose of a vaccine to see whether it offers better protection against the virus than the standard two injections.

The government-funded trial, led by the University of Southampton, is taking place at 18 sites across the UK and is potentially the first study in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients' immune responses.

It will look at seven Covid-19 vaccines - Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Valneva, Janssen and Curevac - as potential boosters, given at least 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose.

02:09 PM

Delta variant-woes casts shadow over Toyko games

The spread of the Delta coronavirus strain is accelerating in Japan, according to the Japanese health ministry, our correspondent in Toyko, Danielle Demetriou, reports.

Experts have forecast that the more aggressive variant, first detected in India, will account for as many as 50 per cent of Japan’s coronavirus cases by mid-July and 80 per cent by the end of July - when the Olympics is due to begin.

“Now is the time to find (variant cases) quickly and control the spread by taking measures against clusters of infections and through active epidemiological surveys,” Takaji Wakita, head of National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told Jiji Press agency.

Faced with growing Covid-19 concerns among both health experts and the general public, the Japanese government said on Monday it was considering imposing a quasi-state of emergency during the Olympics, which are due to start next month on July 23.

Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since late April in a bid to stem a fourth wave of cases. The state of emergency was expected to end on June 20 following a slight abatement in cases.

The government’s plans to switch to a quasi-emergency will reportedly involve smaller fines for non-compliance, with restaurants and bars able to serve alcohol but with shortened opening hours.

02:03 PM

Delta variant doubles risk of Covid hospitalisation

The Delta coronavirus variant doubles the risk of hospitalisation compared with the previously dominant variant in Britain, but two doses of vaccine still provide strong protection, a Scottish study has found.

The study said early evidence suggested the protection from vaccines against the Delta variant, first identified in India, might be lower than the effectivessness against the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, southeast England.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to delay the ending of Covid-19 restrictions in England on Monday, following a rapid rise in cases of the Delta variant, which is also more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

The study, published in a research letter in the Lancet, looked at 19,543 community cases and 377 hospitalisations among 5.4 million people in Scotland, 7,723 cases and 1234 hospitalisations of which were found to have the Delta variant.

Chris Robertson, Professor of Public Health Epidemiology, University of Strathclyde, said that adjusting for age and comorbidities, the Delta variant roughly doubled the risk of hospitalisation, but vaccines still reduced that risk.

"If you test positive, then two doses of the vaccine or one dose for 28 days roughly reduces your risk of being admitted to hospital by 70%," he told reporters.

01:58 PM

'Record-breaking enthusiasm' sees England pass 60m Covid vaccinations

More than 60 million Covid vaccinations have been given out in England, NHS figures show, as younger people clamber to get their jab.

There were more than one million bookings through the NHS website in just 24 hours - a record high figure - on the first day it was open to over-25 year-olds.

More than half of adults are now fully vaccinated - however this morning Edward Argar, the health minister, suggested the Government is now targeting 81 per cent before restrictions are relaxed (see 9:01am and 8:49am).

Dr Emily Lawson, NHS England’s lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: “Hitting 60 million vaccinations is an incredible achievement for the NHS Covid vaccination programme...

"The biggest vaccination drive in history, fastest in Europe and most precise in the world has entered the home straight, as we last week opened up bookings to people aged 25 to 29, and it was fantastic to see the offer was received with record-breaking levels of enthusiasm."

01:58 PM

Zambia's first president hospitalised amid Covid surge

Zambia’s first president and leader of the campaign for independence from British rule Kenneth Kaunda, 97, has been admitted to hospital amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

He was democratically elected in 1964 and then led the country under a one-party state until 1991, when he was defeated in elections.

According to the statement issued by Kaunda’s administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo, the former president has asked for “all Zambians and the international community to pray for him as the medical team is doing everything possible to ensure that he recovers."

The short statement did not specify the cause of Kaunda’s illness, but Zambia is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases and the country’s founding president was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a treatment center for the disease in the capital, Lusaka.

Zambia’s 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen dramatically over the past two weeks from 1.44 new cases per 100,000 people on May 30 to 8.91 new cases per 100,000 people on June 13.

Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda (C) walks with children in Ganze village - Reuters
Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda (C) walks with children in Ganze village - Reuters

01:50 PM

Scotland records 761 new cases

Scotland has recorded 761 new coronavirus, and no new deaths, according to the Scottish government’s latest daily update.

Cases and hospitalisations have been rising in the country since May.

As of Monday, 128 people were in hospital in Scotland yesterday with coronavirus.

Related: Scottish Covid lockdown timetable pushed back to September

01:42 PM

Taj Mahal to reopen as India eases Covid-19 restrictions

India's top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal will reopen this week two months after it was shut as a deadly surge in coronavirus infections swept the country.

Cases and deaths in the vast nation of 1.3 billion people soared to record levels in April and May, with state and national authorities imposing lockdowns and other restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

Infections have declined in recent weeks, with major cities including the capital New Delhi and the financial capital Mumbai lifting some curbs on movement and activities.

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal was shut down in March last year as India imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns at the start of the pandemic.

A worker welds a gate near the ticket booking counter at the Taj Mahal -  Anindito Mukherjee / Bloomberg
A worker welds a gate near the ticket booking counter at the Taj Mahal - Anindito Mukherjee / Bloomberg

01:27 PM

Sir Charles Walker: Roadmap restrictions could be reversed over autumn and winter

Sir Charles Walker has said he believes Boris Johnson's roadmap could be reversed and the country will "probably end up with some form of lockdown" over the autumn and winter.

"Eventually, if you say you are going to live with Covid-19, ultimately at times you are going to have to tough it out. Existing isn't living," the Conservative MP and vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme.

"We were told we were going to live with Covid-19 and it now looks like most of the remaining of this year, and certainly the first half of next year, will probably end up with some form of lockdown."

Asked if he thought the easing of restrictions could be reversed he said: "Yes I do."

01:25 PM

Norway to receive fewer vaccine doses in Q3, health minister says

Norway now expects it will receive 900,000 fewer Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses in the third quarter compared to what authorities had earlier expected, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Monday.

The country of 5.4 million people will at the same time get a higher number of vaccine doses from Moderna, but will still see a delay in its vaccination campaign, Hoeie told a news conference.

01:15 PM

G7 vaccine largesse all hinges on timing, says Covax

To much fanfare, the G7 nations have committed to make 870 million coronavirus vaccines available for low and middle income countries across the next year.

But while the headline numbers sound impressive, vaccine exports from China – which currently account for more than the rest of the world combined, at more than 323m – still dominate.

And the small print on the western pledges may not bode well for bridging the gap in Covax’s short term supply. The UK will only donate 25m doses before Christmas and, while US exports will start in August, only 200m of its shots will arrive with Covax this year.

As things stand today, more people have been vaccinated in Cornwall than in the world’s 22 poorest nations combined.

“What the world needs is vaccines now, not later this year,” says Alex Harris, director of government relations at Wellcome. “The new US and UK commitments are a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough, fast enough.”

Sarah Newey and Paul Nuki have more details here.

01:09 PM

Sir Charles Walker: We face further lockdowns if roadmap is delayed today

Sir Charles Walker said he fears "further lockdowns" could be ahead, when asked if he would vote against any delay to the final lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.

The vice chairman of the 1922 Committee, and a long-time sceptic of the lockdown, told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "I just have an overwhelming sense of pessimism now.

"If you can't lift restrictions at the height of summer, and we are in the height of summer, then you almost certainly are looking at these restrictions persisting and tightening into the autumn and winter.

"I don't think the July 19 date will be met. If it is, it will be met for weeks before we enter further lockdowns."

01:08 PM

South Africa to dispose of 2 million contaminated J&J vaccines

South Africa will dispose of 2 million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines following a US ruling that ingredients for the country’s doses may have been contaminated during production in a plant in Baltimore, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The news marks a major setback in the country’s vaccine rollout just as a third wave of infections is gathering pace. However, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, Africa largest drugmaker, is set to begin the production of new J&J vaccines by mid-week, Ramaphosa told reporters Sunday after he participated in the G-7 summit.

South Africa is heavily reliant on the J&J vaccine to meet a target of inoculating two-thirds of its 60 million people this year, having ordered more than 31 million of the single-dose shot. Aspen has a contract to fill and package the doses at a factory in the coastal town of Gqebherha, until recently known as Port Elizabeth.

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination program for the elderly at a drive-thru vaccination center in Johannesburg, South Africa -  Themba Hadebe / AP
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination program for the elderly at a drive-thru vaccination center in Johannesburg, South Africa - Themba Hadebe / AP

12:59 PM

Phasing out furlough will put businesses in a precarious position, Welsh Minister warns

Any phasing out of current furlough arrangements will cause businesses to "make choices" such as whether to continue operating and how many staff they employ, Wales' Economy Minister has warned.

Vaughan Gething told a press conference in Cardiff: "As we get to each decision point, that will mean that changes will be made so we can expect some businesses to make choices and to have less workers and that's going to be a real challenge."

He said that delaying the easing of restrictions in England for four weeks may have a "material impact on the world of business" in the country.

12:54 PM

France to double Covid vaccine sharing to developing nations to 60M doses

France will double its contribution in sharing Covid-19 vaccines with developing countries to 60 million doses, President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday at the conclusion of the G7 summit in the UK.

“The G7 is committed to sharing one billion doses of vaccines by the end of the year. France is doubling its commitments, which represents 60 million doses. Solidarity together,” Macron said in a tweet.

On the last day of the summit, the leaders of the world’s richest countries agreed to pledge a billion doses through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX vaccine program and achieve herd immunity by vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the world's population by next year.

France's President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall - LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP
France's President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall - LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

12:38 PM

Business leaders call for financial support extension for Covid-hit firms

Business leaders have called on the Treasury to extend financial support measures as they warn that Government plans to stall the lifting of lockdown restrictions will be a "blow" for Covid-hit firms.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell the nation that the road map easing earmarked for June 21 in England will be delayed for four weeks to July 19.

It is likely to mean that pubs, restaurants, cinemas and many other venues will continue to face limits on numbers and distancing restrictions, while nightclubs will remain shut.

Dr Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "Clearly this is a blow for many businesses, particularly those in the retail and hospitality sectors.

"We are now approaching a cliff edge, with Government support for business ending or beginning to taper off.

"It is vital that this support is pushed out commensurately with the lockdown extension.

"Economic support and public health measures must be aligned."

12:29 PM

Boris Johnson braced for backlash over expected June 21 delay

Boris Johnson is on a collision course with his backbenchers today, as the Prime Minister prepares to delay his roadmap by a month.

The much-heralded ‘freedom day’ scheduled for June 21 is now due to be pushed back until July 19, with health minister Edward Argar telling the BBC this would allow authorities time to “close the gap” in the number of adults who have had their second jab.

Conservative MPs are pushing back strongly on this last-minute extension of the lockdown, with some threatening to rebel amid fears it is the thin end of the wedge.

Stephen Hammond said it was "extraordinary that we have more restrictions in place now than when we did not have the vaccine".

He called for a weekly assessment of delays based on hospitalisation rates and "a pledge to reconsider all travel restrictions" on June 28, with those who have been double vaccinated or a clear test being allowed to travel.

Caroline Nokes said clarity on the number of people double jabbed was "what has been lacking all along - what's the equation?"

12:22 PM

Iran approves first home-grown vaccine

Iran's state TV is reporting that the country has issued emergency use approval of its first home-grown coronavirus vaccine that could bring the hardest-hit country in the Middle East closer to inoculating its citizens against Covid-19.

The emergency authorization was approved after the country faced with problems from importing enough vaccines.

The TV quotes the health minister, Saeed Namaki as saying, "Permission to use the Iranian vaccine COVIran Barekat was issued yesterday."

Iranian pharmaceutical company Shifafarmed made the vaccine based on deactivated virus, and the first study of the safety and effectiveness began in late December.

Iran has also said it is working on a vaccine with cooperation from a foreign country. Namaki said that another vaccine, produced jointly by Iran and Cuba, will join the country's vaccine package in the next week.

An elder woman receives her Covid-19 vaccination at the Tehran Shopping Center in Tehran, Iran -  Anadolu Agency
An elder woman receives her Covid-19 vaccination at the Tehran Shopping Center in Tehran, Iran - Anadolu Agency

12:10 PM

All adults in Wales have been offered their first vaccine dose

All eligible adults in Wales have been offered their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Wales' economy minister has confirmed.

Vaughan Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that the incidence rate in Wales was now 18.1 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people - the lowest rate of the UK nations.

Mr Gething said the vaccination programme was making "excellent progress", with 1.4 million people in Wales having received both jabs, equivalent to 54.9% of the country's adult population.

"Over recent weeks, as restrictions have gradually been lifted, we have been able to reconnect and enjoy more aspects of life before Covid in a safe way. That progress is obviously good news for the economy," Mr Gething said.

"However, we do know that despite our success in controlling rates of Covid-19 and rolling out the vaccine programme, the Delta variant continues to present real challenges."

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

12:05 PM

China producing millions of doses but questions over vaccine efficacy remain

A Mongolian official has insisted that Chinese-made vaccines are effective as it – and other countries using vaccines made by the People’s Republic – see rising cases despite high vaccination rates.

On Wednesday Mongolia reported 1,312 new cases of the disease and an analysis by the New York Times showed that daily infections have risen by more than 70 per cent in the last two weeks.

Mongolia has outdone many more developed nations with its swift vaccine roll out – by June 8 half its scattered population was fully vaccinated and nearly two thirds had received one dose.

Related: ‘Warrior spirit’ and sheep diplomacy: how Mongolia is sprinting ahead in vaccine race.

The country has leveraged its position between China and Russia to secure 4.3 million doses of vaccine, with the bulk of supply made up of China’s Sinopharm jab.

Bolormaa Enkhbat, an economic and development policy adviser to the Mongolian prime minister, told the Telegraph that the rise in cases was due to the country coming out of lockdown, not because the vaccines were ineffective.

Anne Gulland has more details here.

11:48 AM

WTO head says pandemic-related trade barriers are rising

The head of the World Trade Organization said on Monday that trade barriers related to medical supplies used against Covid-19 had risen and urged member states to drop them, as it intensified efforts to reach a deal on vaccine-sharing.

"The trend is going in the wrong direction," WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a virtual U.N. forum, referring to barriers on goods trade related to the pandemic.

"We need to bring those restrictions down so we can move...medical goods and supplies and vaccines (faster)."

She said the number of trade restrictions was 109 at the start of the pandemic early last year, and had later fallen to 51 but had since risen again to 53.

At the same event, she called on WTO members to reach a deal by July on improving access to Covid-19 vaccines after months of talks on waiving drug firms' intellectual property rights. Most developing countries support the waiver but several wealthy countries remain strongly opposed, saying it will deter research that allowed Covid-19 vaccines to be produced so quickly.

"It's going to be tough because there are still differences but we hope we can get to a pragmatic approach," Okonjo-Iweala said. "I'm in a hurry and I want us to get some agreement by July because lives are important."

The former Nigerian finance minister also commented on a WTO ministerial conference next month that will aim to strike a deal on cutting fisheries subsidies, saying she still saw "serious differences" between countries.

RELATED: Vaccinating the world: the obstacles hindering global rollout – and how to overcome them

11:29 AM

'Barking mad': Hospitality will 'disintegrate' if roadmap delayed, warn small businesses

Small businesses around the UK have said Boris Johnson is "barking mad" to delay the final stage in his roadmap by a month, and warned that the hospitality industry will "disintegrate" as a result.

Karen Watkins, founder of Somerset-based Rowan Consulting: "There's a chance some businesses will throw in the towel if the easing of restrictions is further delayed. After a rollercoaster year, I wouldn’t blame them."

Ali Fleming, an independent celebrant at Derbyshire-based Cariad Personal Ceremonies, added: "This Government is barking mad... Boris Johnson needs to listen to the sobbing I hear over the phone daily, as people once again have to reschedule their big day."

Jo Ferreday, director of Market Harborough-based events company, Sheer Edge warned the delay would cause "countless problems for businesses up and down the country", adding: "At the current rate, big parts of the hospitality sector could disintegrate before our eyes."

11:18 AM

Indonesia warns Covid-19 cases may not peak until July as hospitals fill

Indonesia expects a new wave of coronavirus infections will peak in early July, as the highly transmissible delta variant becomes more dominant in some areas and with the occupancy of hospitals in Jakarta hitting 75 per cent, officials said.

Covid-19 infections in the world's fourth most populous country have been on the rise in recent weeks since holidays at the end of the Muslim fasting month, when millions flouted restrictions to travel across the archipelago.

The delta variant was now "more dominant" in areas like Jakarta and other parts of Java, Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a news conference on Monday.

At least 60 cases of the variant had been detected in Kudus, Central Java, where hospitals were more than 90 per cent full, said Wiku Adisasmito, spokesperson for the country's Covid-19 task force.

A government official sprays disinfectant at a kindergarten school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia - HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A government official sprays disinfectant at a kindergarten school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia - HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

11:10 AM

Euro 2020 host Saint Petersburg tightens virus restrictions

Authorities in Saint Petersburg, which is hosting a series of Euro 2020 matches, said Monday they were tightening anti-coronavirus restrictions in an effort to curb a new spike in infections.

Russia's second city is the country's worst hotspot after Moscow and is expected to host thousands of football fans from Europe.

The new restrictions will be introduced from Thursday, after Russia play Finland in the city on Wednesday.

Officials in Saint Petersburg have earlier said that all necessary measures will be taken to protect fans and players during Europe's biggest football extravaganza.

Coronavirus infections are once again on the rise in Russia as a vaccination campaign is stalling. At the weekend authorities in Moscow announced a "non-working" week in the Russian capital, with non-essential workers told to stay home.

On Monday, Russian authorities reported 13,721 new cases including 6,590 in Moscow and 865 in Saint Petersburg.

Belgium supporters inside the stadium during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group B match between Belgium and Russia on June 12 - Victor Boyko - UEFA
Belgium supporters inside the stadium during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group B match between Belgium and Russia on June 12 - Victor Boyko - UEFA

10:44 AM

Matt Hancock to give Commons statement at 8:30pm

Matt Hancock will be giving a statement to MPs at 8:30pm tonight, Labour's whips office has announced.

It is expected he will tell the Commons about the four-week delay to the Prime Minister's roadmap.

The Speaker is likely to make his displeasure clear because the Health Secretary will be speaking after Boris Johnson has addressed the nation.

 Matt Hancock arrives in Downing Street - Anadolu Agency
Matt Hancock arrives in Downing Street - Anadolu Agency

10:34 AM

Analysis: We face a third wave of Covid-19 and the die may already have been cast

Today, headlines are abuzz with the expected announcement that Boris Johnson will delay full unlocking by four weeks.

Paul Nuki, our Global Health Security Editor, takes a look at what the future may hold in this analysis. Here's an extract:

Once burned twice shy? It would be nice to think so but wave two of the pandemic was predicted by the Government’s own “reasonable worst case scenario” published in July last year, and still we walked straight into it, recording a further 90,000 deaths.

Now that we face a third wave of Covid-19, we must hope for “twice burned thrice shy” – but there are reasons to think that die may already have been cast.

It makes sense not to pour fuel on the nascent wave of the new delta variant which arose in India, but can a fire that is already spreading exponentially really be stopped without reversing course and cutting new fire breaks?

This is the real question occupying minds across Whitehall at the moment. Will we get lucky and see the third wave briefly flare up before petering out as vaccines douse it? Or will it grow and threaten to consume us like the others because we failed to stamp out the first sparks?

Read the full piece here.

10:23 AM

Novavax vaccine proves to be more than 90% effective in US trial

Novavax Inc on Monday reported late-stage data from its US-based clinical trial showing its vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective against Covid-19 across a variety of variants of the virus.

The study of nearly 30,000 volunteers in the United States and Mexico puts Novavax on track to file for emergency authorization in the United States and elsewhere in the third quarter of 2021, the company said.

Novavax's protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate was more than 93 per cent effective against the predominant variants of Covid-19 that have been of concern among scientists and public health officials, Novavax said.

Protein-based vaccines are a conventional approach that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response and vaccines again whooping cough and shingles employ this approach.

During the trial, the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom became the most common variant in the United States, it said.

Novavax also detected variants of Covid-19 first found in Brazil, South Africa and India among its trial participants, Novavax's head of research and development, Dr. Gregory Glenn, told Reuters.

The vaccine was 91 per cent effective among volunteers at high risk of severe infection and 100 per cent effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of Covid-19. It was roughly 70 per cent effective against COVID-19 variants that Novavax was unable to identify, Glenn said.

10:17 AM

Series of studies point towards natural coronavirus spillover event, scientists suggest

Scientists say the world is “getting warmer” in terms of finding the natural origins of the coronavirus pandemic, after a host of studies suggested the coronavirus did not escape from a lab but jumped from animals to humans.

The papers, published in the last few weeks, have provided what experts described as “many smoking guns” for the theory that the Sars-CoV-2 virus spilled over from bats to humans via an as-yet-unidentified animal.

Researchers are also believed to be heading back to caves where similar viruses have been found previously, as well as combing through old viral samples, to find any connections with the virus that causes Covid-19.

The papers come after a flurry of interest in the “lab leak” hypothesis, which suggests that Sars-CoV-2 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first identified. There is a general consensus that the possibility needs to be explored.

However Professor David Robertson, head of viral genomics at the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow, and an author of one of the papers, told The Telegraph: “If you follow the data, the smoking guns are there [to suggest natural origins].”

Sarah Newey and Jennifer Rigby have the full details here.

10:09 AM

Starmer blames Government's 'pathetic' border policy for Freedom Day-delay

Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the Government's "pathetic" border policy for a delay to lockdown easing that is widely predicted to be announced later.

The Labour leader made the comments in response to threats from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to open his theatres to a full house on June 21 regardless of lockdown rules.

Speaking to LBC, Sir Keir said: "June 21 was supposed to be 'Freedom Day', and why are we not going to hit it? It looks like we're not because of the Government's pathetic borders policy."

Sir Keir criticised the Government for delays to introducing hotel quarantine, the confusing traffic light system for foreign travel, and the decision to delay putting India on the red list until late April.

"The net result of (the Prime Minister's) pathetic approach is that we're going to have four weeks more of this."

When pressed on Lord Lloyd Webber's claims he is ready to be arrested, Sir Keir said: "I have to tell him to obey the rules and obey the law, of course I do. But I do understand the frustration."

10:04 AM

Britons heading to Italy may be forced to quarantine

Here's the latest from our Rome Correspondent Nick Squires.

British tourists coming to Italy could be made to quarantine amid alarm over the growing number of Delta variant cases in the UK, Italy’s prime minister says.

British and other European visitors currently just have to show a negative Covid-19 test or proof they have been vaccinated when they arrive at the country’s borders.

But that could change if the number of Delta variant infections continues to rise in Britain, said Mario Draghi.

“If the number of cases increases, we will have to reimpose quarantine for those who arrive from Britain. But we are not there yet,” he said at the end of the G7 summit in Cornwall.

Meanwhile, 40 million Italians – around two thirds of the population – are from today living in low-risk “white” regions, meaning that night-time curfews and other stringent anti-coronavirus measures have been lifted.

The rest of the country is designated a moderate-risk yellow zone.

During the pandemic, Italy’s 20 regions were classed red, orange, yellow or white depending on the rate of infection.

For the first time in nine months, there were no deaths in the last 24 hours in Veneto, the northern region which includes Venice, or Lazio, the central region around Rome.

Face masks and social distancing in public places are still compulsory.

Italy’s vaccination programme has been thrown into confusion after the government ruled on Friday that AstraZeneca jabs should no longer be given to people under the age of 60.

Millions of people under 60 have already had a first AstraZeneca jab but are now being told that their second jab will be Pfizer or Moderna.

09:50 AM

Theatre industry will suffer 'significant damage' with delay

Theatre impresario Sir Howard Panter, co-founder of theatre operator Trafalgar Entertainment, said the industry will suffer "significant damage" if the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England is put on hold.

He said: "The reality is we have marched the troops up the hill. We have mobilised a whole industry in order to get going because we have been keeping the industry going for the last 15 months.

"It costs money. We haven't had Government help. We have kept it going. And now, surprise, surprise, the industry needs some income. People need work.

"Thousands of people have been mobilised in order to work in the theatre industry, to start work from next Monday and now we are being told, apparently, 'Oh no, it's not that date. It may be some other date, we don't really know'."

He said he is clear about the "significant damage to the theatre industry and all related industries".

09:38 AM

Johnson joined by Whitty and Vallance

As expected, it's the big guns tonight.

Boris Johnson will announce the delay to the June 21 easing of restrictions at a press conference at 6pm on Monday evening, Downing Street has confirmed.

The Prime Minister will be joined by England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

09:32 AM

Ex-chief scientific adviser: 'It buys time if we prolong the current state of social distancing'

Former chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The more people we get vaccinated, the better chance we have of not having serious hospitalisations and deaths.

"The vaccine isn't perfectly effective and a lot of younger people, in whom the infection is very much milder but nevertheless occasionally it does put people in hospital... there are a lot of people still to vaccinate - 50% of the adult population hasn't had their second dose.

"So it buys time if we prolong the current state of social distancing."

He added: "Well, it is a race between the vaccination and virus, and another four weeks makes a significant difference,

"But I think it also will help us to really establish the extent to which the vaccination breaks or weakens the link between getting infection and getting the sort of serious effects of ending up in hospital, or potentially dying.

"Also, we'll get a lot more information - we'll see what's happening with hospital admissions, which, of course, lag infections."

09:19 AM

Hospital numbers rising, but not like first wave

Former chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport said the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is rising, but not with the intensity seen in previous waves of the virus.

"Sadly we are in the grip of the early stages of a third wave of the virus and it is this Delta variant, the so-called Indian variant, which has a very significant transmission advantage over the previous Alpha variant, the so-called Kent variant - it's about 60% more transmissible," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We've got 7,000 cases on average per day at the moment, and a doubling time which is somewhere around a week.

"More than 90% of the new infections in the UK are of this variant, and it is rising in most parts of the country, though not all.

"The good news is we would be in real trouble if not for the enormous success of the vaccination programme and so we have got 75% of all adults have had the first dose and 50% who've had a second dose."

He added: "This variant shows some partial escape, particularly from the first dose - so first dose of vaccine is about 30% effective compared to 50% with the previous variant.

"We are starting to see hospital numbers rise, though fortunately with nothing like the intensity we saw previously."

09:13 AM

Myanmar's ex-vaccine chief facing charges of high treason

The former head of Myanmar's Covid-19 vaccination programme faces charges of high treason for colluding with opponents of the military authorities, state media reported on Monday, writes Ben Farmer.

Htar Htar Lin was arrested on June 10 and also accused of working with an underground National Unity Government (NUG) set up by supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi and other opponents of military rule.

Myanmar's healthcare system and coronavirus prevention measures have collapsed since the army seized power on February 1 and overthrew Ms Suu Kyi.

Doctors and other medical workers have been at the forefront of a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), leading strikes that have paralysed official and private business, Reuters reported.

Dozens have been arrested and hundreds more are wanted. "According to her confession, she not only joined the CDM and formed the CDM Core Group together with other CDM doctors and staff but also colluded with terrorist NUG," the state media report said.

The paper said she and 11 other doctors would face charges that included high treason, incitement and colluding with an illegal organisation.

08:56 AM

Haiti bearing brunt of new wave

Away from the UK's lockdown - Haiti appears to be bearing the brunt of a fierce wave of coronavirus infections, even as it has yet to administer a single dose of vaccine, writes South Asia Correspondent Ben Farmer.

The country had appeared to fare well during the coronavirus waves of 2020, but has seen cases leap in recent weeks.

Official numbers are thought to be a significant undercount of the true situation and overstretched hospitals are having to turn away patients, while the country's newspapers are full of obituaries, the New York Times reported.

The arrival of new variants has seen infections climb sharply in the Carribean nation of 11 million.

The upward trend could prove "catastrophic," Laure Adrien, general director of Haiti's health ministry warned last week.

08:17 AM

Minister doesn't rule out shortening vaccine dose gap

Health minister Edward Argar said he does not rule out shortening the gap between coronavirus vaccine doses for younger adults in England.

"We have shortened the gap for the over-50s from 12 to eight weeks," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But we will be guided by the advice of JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and the scientists on this.

"At the moment, we believe the right thing to do is to shorten the gap for the over-50s, but we are always open to scientific advice.

"If that is the scientific advice, of course we will look at it very carefully - but at the moment the advice we are getting is the approach that we are following, which is the over-50s, and we have got the supplies to do that."

08:05 AM

'We're really trying to break that chain between cases and hospitalisations'

Professor Devi Sridhar, from the University of Edinburgh, said a third wave of cases largely in younger age groups was already happening "but the worry is that this will slowly move, like it has in previous waves, into older groups", some of whom are not yet fully protected.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the goal was to "make this a manageable health issue" and use vaccines and testing to "keep the burden off health services".

She added: "We're really trying to break that chain between cases and hospitalisations and severe disease and maintain NHS capacity when burnout is already an issue within the NHS."

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told the programme: "We're still very worried about the small numbers percentage wise, but probably large numbers of people, that are still unvaccinated in the higher risk groups."

He added that the JCVI was "looking carefully at what the Scottish Government has done" with regards to urging over-40s to have their second dose at eight weeks, adding that "it seems to be a sensible strategy, and we will advise the Government accordingly".

07:52 AM

Boris Johnson to address the nation at 6pm

The Prime Minister will be hold a Downing Street press conference at 6pm on Monday.

07:48 AM

Delay would mean 10million extra second doses

Health minister Edward Argar said that if the June 21 lockdown easing were to be delayed for one month, another 10 million second coronavirus vaccine doses would go into arms in this time.

"Were there to be a delay, were that to be what the Prime Minister announces, we will see what he says and he will make a judgment if he were to delay it on how long by," he told BBC Breakfast.

"If we are going at a run rate of about 250,000 to 300,000 second jabs being done each day, a month gives you roughly that 10 million, which closes the gap... 10 million you have got to do to get from 29 million to 40 million, so that all 40 million have had their second jabs."

07:45 AM

Covid around the world, in pictures

Anti-Covid mediators deliver hydroalcoholic solutions to customers on a bar terrace in Strasbourg, eastern France - Frederick Florin/AFP
Anti-Covid mediators deliver hydroalcoholic solutions to customers on a bar terrace in Strasbourg, eastern France - Frederick Florin/AFP
A man wears a face mask reading "Bolsonaro out", as Indigenous Brazilians protest their country hosting the Copa America football tournament amid the pandemic  - Adriano Machado/Reuters
A man wears a face mask reading "Bolsonaro out", as Indigenous Brazilians protest their country hosting the Copa America football tournament amid the pandemic - Adriano Machado/Reuters

07:33 AM

Wedding restrictions could be eased, minister suggests

Health minister Edward Argar suggested that England's restrictions on weddings are set to be eased, as he said couples waiting to wed are "very much" in the mind of Boris Johnson at the moment.

"There will be a lot of couples who planned, hoped, to do it, put a line through it, done it again and rescheduled again," he told Sky News.

"Not only does that cost money, but emotionally that is incredibly difficult for couples who want to have their special day and want to get married.

"Again, I'm not going to pre-empt what the Prime Minister will say later, but I know that weddings and people in that particular situation will be very much in his mind at the moment, it's one of the things he has been looking at."

07:31 AM

Proportion of people in hospital half of what it was in 2020, says scientist

Professor Linda Bauld, from the University of Edinburgh, told LBC that the variant first identified in India now accounted for the majority of UK cases, but the death rate among people with this infection was low.

"You can see amongst people who were infected with this variant, the mortality rate was 0.7%, just 12 people," she said. We think they are all the people who had underlying health conditions and died with Covid, not from Covid necessarily.

"So the proportion of people in hospital now is half of what it was, if we were in the previous situation in 2020 and 2021."

She added: "We have weakened that link between infections and hospitalisations and death but we haven't broken it. And I think we can break it or certainly have it at a much higher level, if more people have both doses."

Prof Bauld continued: "We have increasing evidence the vaccines reduce transmission so what we're trying to head towards is population immunity, where the virus just has less chance to move between individuals and that will involve not only reducing severe infections but even mild infections where long Covid might occur."

07:16 AM

South African president says Africa needs more vaccine assistance

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said the country needs "more assistance" as it faces a third wave of coronavirus.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Hospital beds are becoming shorter, we don't have enough hospital beds, ICU beds, and deaths are increasing so we are really in a desperate situation."

He said former British prime minister Gordon Brown was "absolutely right" to brand the gap in vaccinations between rich and poor nations a "moral failure" following the G7 summit.

Mr Ramaphosa added: "I think I should say that there has been great assistance but we need more. We need more assistance, but we also need more demonstration of solidarity. Those who are more well-endowed, who are more capable, should help those who are less capable."

07:14 AM

PM to urge Britons to stick to the rules now to avoid future lockdown

Sticking to the rules now is worth it to avoid a future lockdown. That is expected to be the Prime Minister's message to the nation at a Downing Street press conference this evening.

Well-placed figures across Whitehall expect Boris Johnson to announce a four-week delay in the final step of reopening, taking the new date from June 21 to July 19, with a review after two weeks.

However, there are fears the delay could last even longer if the third wave of Covid cases continues to soar.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister did not rule out further future delays when asked by The Telegraph at the end of the G7 summit in Cornwall, raising fears of the lockdown stretching into August.

Downing Street’s argument for the extension is that it buys the country more time to monitor the Indian variant and deliver millions more vaccine doses.

07:01 AM

There cannot be a 'zero-Covid approach', insists minister

Health minister Edward Argar said that there cannot be a "zero Covid approach" and that vaccination was the key to living with the virus.

On those admitted to hospital with the virus, he told Sky News: "We are seeing some really positive news on that, although with the Delta variant we are seeing the numbers in hospital creeping up a bit, I think they were just over 1,000 at the weekend.

"But when you look back, it was something like 38,000 at the peak in January. So we are seeing that severing of the link between the disease and hospitalisations and death.

"I think that on that basis, everyone will recognise that there comes a point where we do have to live with this disease and recognise that you cannot go for a zero Covid approach, you have to live with it, and vaccination is the key to that.

"So I think once we have got those second doses in people's arms, once we have got that level of protection up to around that 81%, then I think people will be more comfortable with it."

06:58 AM

Delay 'proportionate' to stop further lockdown, says scientist

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said that a delay to lockdown easing is "proportionate" to prevent further lockdowns.

She told LBC: "We need to buy some more time to have more people receive a vaccine.

"We've just got about half of people with a second dose and we know that in the face of this Delta variant, that second dose is really important to provide the protection that is needed to avoid more people going into hospital."

She added: "If we can provide more protection to the population through vaccines, then it means that we won't have to take a step back again.

"If you look around the world, in Latin America, Chile, which has a great vaccination programme, they've had to lock down Santiago again with quite strict measures.

"And that's really something we don't want to have to do heading into, for example, later in the summer or the autumn.

"So this is why an additional four weeks, which is what we expect will be announced, I think is proportionate."

06:51 AM

Minister defends delay on adding India to red list

Health minister Edward Argar defended the Government's action on when India was added to the travel red list, amid the spread of the variant first identified there within the UK.

He told Sky News: "We have some of the toughest border regimes in the world when it comes to tackling coronavirus and I think we acted swiftly and decisively when that was put on the list of variants of concern."

06:44 AM

Tory MP: Delay should not happen 'without really good reason'...and he can't see evidence

Conservative MP Peter Bone said a delay to the lifting of restrictions should not happen "without really good reason" and that currently he "can't see the evidence why we should be postponing our freedom".

Asked if he would vote against a delay if put to a vote in Parliament, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I would do is listen to what the Prime Minister says, listen to the arguments, and if I'm not convinced that these restrictions are necessary then I would of course vote against it and I hope every member of the House of Commons will listen to the argument and make their minds up.

"There has to be a vote in the House of Commons. This can't be decided by a few ministers sitting behind closed doors. It has to be an open and transparent decision."

He said there should only be restrictions "if there is a very clear danger to society".

06:43 AM

Council leader warns of 'devastating' impact if lockdown is delayed

The leader of a central London council has warned of the "devastating" effects on the West End if the end of lockdown is delayed.

Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said: "We are all braced for a delay today in the lifting of social distancing rules - while that will be extremely disappointing and devastating for some sectors, the Government's priority has got to be to protect people's health.

"But central London cannot afford any slippage in the fight to revive our economy. Footfall numbers are still down, office workers are staying away in significant numbers and central areas of the city are hurting.

"That makes the case for action now even more compelling. In the West End we continue to support al fresco dining, we are preparing to launch a new campaign to attract visitors to Westminster and we will soon be putting the finishing touches to the new Marble Arch Mound tourist attraction."

06:21 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph front page.

dt
dt

05:38 AM

Olympic social distancing includes plan for 150,000 condoms

Tokyo Olympic organisers plan to give away about 150,000 condoms at next month's Games, but are telling athletes to take them home rather than use them in the Olympic village where social distancing rules and coronavirus measures are the top priority.

Athletes have been told to keep their distance from each other, meaning fewer opportunities to mingle and more.

Dining has become another issue. Organisers were originally planning to feed residents of the village in vast dining halls – the largest one with a capacity to seat 4,500 people at once. But now, the organisers will ask athletes to dine alone, maintain social distancing with others, and wipe down surfaces after eating.

05:30 AM

Military authorities arrest Myanmar medics

The former head of Myanmar's Covid immunisation programme has been arrested and faces charges of high treason for colluding with opponents of the military authorities, state media reported today.

Myanmar's healthcare system and coronavirus prevention measures have collapsed since the army seized power on February 1 and overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose government had successfully stopped two waves of the virus.

On Sunday, reported cases surged to their highest since shortly after the coup.

Doctors and other medical workers have been at the forefront of a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), leading strikes that have paralysed official and private business. Dozens have been arrested and hundreds more are wanted.

The Global New Light of Myanmar said Htar Htar Lin was arrested on June 10 and accused of working with the underground National Unity Government (NUG).

The paper said she and 11 other doctors would face charges that included high treason, incitement and colluding with an illegal organisation.

The junta has branded the NUG set up by supporters of Suu Kyi and other opponents of military rule as a terrorist group.

05:01 AM

PM will urge public to accept 'one last heave' to freedom

Boris Johnson is set to urge the public to accept “one last heave” to freedom as he delays the final step of lockdown reopening.

On Sunday night the Prime Minister was finalising his plan to push back the June 21 reopening in England by up to four weeks owing to a surge in Covid cases. Earlier in the day he had refused to rule out further delays in the future.

It means rules ordering the wearing of masks, limiting groups to six people indoors and 30 outdoors, and keeping nightclubs shut are set to remain in place.

Mr Johnson's message to the nation at a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening is expected to be that sticking to the rules now is worth it to avoid a future lockdown.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson will urge public to accept ‘one last heave’ to freedom as he gets set to delay June 21

04:52 AM

Coronavirus figures from around the world...

  • India has reported 70,421 new infections over the past 24 hours; its total now reaching 29.51 million. The total number of fatalities is 374,305 - with 3,921 deaths overnight.

  • Peru has passed two million cases, with 188,443 deaths, according to the health ministry.

  • Lebanon administered more than 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine over the weekend. Nearly 50 centres offered jabs on a walk-in basis to anyone over the age of 55 who had not yet received a single dose.

  • Paris police have detained three people after officers used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths gathered for a street party in defiance of social distancing limits and an 11pm curfew. The so-called Project X gathering on Saturday, on the vast lawns in front of the Invalides war museum, was the third party at the site since Thursday.

  • The coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 3.8 million lives worldwide since it emerged in December 2019. There have been 175,910,592 cases and 2,342,590,899 vaccine doses administered.

04:29 AM

Factory outbreaks affect Thai exports

A series of coronavirus outbreaks in Thai factories is raising concerns that the export sector could be hit hard, threatening to further undermine the country's economy as it struggles to recover from the pandemic's crippling blow to its crucial tourism industry.

The virus has swept through more than 130 factories, including those supplying international brands, with more than 7,100 cases across 11 provinces.

Manufacturing is now one of the country's top sources of infections along with prisons and construction camps.

The affected plants are just a fraction of about 63,000 factories in Thailand that employ 3.4 million people, government data shows, but officials worry about the impact on exports that have kept the struggling economy moving as income from tourism has collapsed.

Electronics, rubber gloves, and food are among the export sectors hit by infections.

Some manufacturers affected by the outbreak have had to curtail production; for example one instant noodle maker closed a factory. Overseas sales accounted for about a third of the company's semi-finished food sales.

03:27 AM

Nurse refusing Covid jab will 'need to work somewhere else'

A federal judge in the United States has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 workers at a Texas hospital over its requirement that they be vaccinated against Covid.

District Judge Lynn Hughes upheld Houston Methodist Hospital's policy mandating employees be vaccinated, in a ruling issued on Saturday.

Jennifer Bridges, a nurse and the lead plaintiff in the case, had argued that if she was fired for refusing a vaccine, it should be considered wrongful termination. She also said the vaccines are experimental and dangerous.

Jennifer Bridges, left, led a protest against the hospital's rule - Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle
Jennifer Bridges, left, led a protest against the hospital's rule - Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle

The judge did not find merit in either argument.

"Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus," the judge wrote in a five-page decision. "It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.

"Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a Covid-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else."

03:19 AM

Positive news for South Korean treatment for Covid

South Korean drugmaker Celltrion has announced positive results for its experimental antibody Covid-19 treatment that it said was safe and reduced the treatment period by nearly five days in Phase 3 global clinical trials.

The trials, which involved 1,315 participants, have taken place since January in 13 countries, including in South Korea, the United States, Spain and Romania, Celltrion said.

The treatment slowed severe symptoms in more than 70pc of patients, including the high-risk group with underlying conditions. It also cut the recovery period by 4.9 days, the company said.

In February South Korea, granted conditional approval to the antibody treatment, making it the first locally made coronavirus treatment in the country to win such approval.

01:10 AM

Today's top stories

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting