UK Covid news LIVE: Montenegro, Thailand added to red list as 7 locations added to green

·15-min read
Phuket, Thailand. The country will be put on the red list from 4am on 30 August  (Getty Images)
Phuket, Thailand. The country will be put on the red list from 4am on 30 August (Getty Images)

Montenegro and Thailand have been added to the UK travel red list while seven locations have been moved to the green list.

The change means those arriving from the two destinations will have to isolate at a managed quarantine facility for 10 days while Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Azores will be added to the green list.

A statement from the Department of Transport said: “The high rates combined with lower levels of published genomic surveillance in Thailand and Montenegro than other countries, mean that an outbreak of a new variant or existing variants of concern (VOC) or variants under investigation (VUI) cannot be easily identified before it is imported and seeded across the UK.”

The changes will come in to force from 4am on August 30.

The traffic light system is reviewed by the government every three weeks.

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Key Points

Grant Shapps tweets about UK travel changes

17:57 , Lizzie Edmonds

The Transport Secretary has tweeted about the changes to the UK’s travel lists:

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More than a third of young adults have not been jabbed in most England cities

17:32 , Lizzie Edmonds

More than a third of young adults in most cities in England have not had a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, new analysis shows.

These include Liverpool, where an estimated 47.2% of 18 to 29-year-olds are still unjabbed, Manchester (44.0%), Leicester (42.4%), and Leeds (39.1%).

In two cities more than a half of young adults have not received any vaccine: Birmingham (52.1%) and Coventry (50.2%).

The figures have been calculated by the PA news agency based on the latest data from NHS England, which covers vaccinations delivered up to August 25.

£1.5m funding for research into why Covid jabs work better in some than others

17:26 , Lizzie Edmonds

New research is to be carried out into how long immunity lasts after a coronavirus vaccine, with scientists hoping this could help inform the design of future jabs.

Some £1.5 million is being invested in understanding why some people get Covid-19 despite being jabbed or having had the virus before, while others do not.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new research will “help us gain valuable insights”, while public health leader Dr Susan Hopkins said the findings will be “essential” in concluding who is most at risk post-jab and for vaccine developers in designing boosters.

Warning of sickness bug as schools prepare to reopen post-Covid

16:57 , Lizzie Edmonds

Teachers and families have been urged to take precautions to reduce outbreaks of the winter sickness bug as schools prepare to reopen their doors to pupils next week.

As coronavirus restrictions have eased, health officials have been alerted to a surge in norovirus outbreaks, particularly in nurseries and child care settings.

A report by Public Health England (PHE) warns that further rises could be seen in coming months.

Now schools in England are preparing to return for the autumn term, PHE has urged people to follow simple steps to reduce the risk of getting the bug.

Dr Lesley Larkin, surveillance lead for the Gastrointestinal Pathogens Unit at PHE, told the PA news agency: “We have seen increases in norovirus cases as Covid-19 restrictions have eased and people mix more.

“As children head back to school next week, it’s important to remember simple steps we can all take to limit the spread of this unpleasant bug and reduce the chances of outbreaks.

“Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.

“As with Covid-19, handwashing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and water is best.”

Vaccine data now in

16:40 , Lizzie Edmonds

Government data up to August 25 shows that of the 90,095,045 Covid jabs given in the UK, 47,860,628 were first doses, a rise of 68,076 on the previous day.

Some 42,234,417 were second doses, an increase of 161,705.

Latest Covid figures are in

16:31 , Lizzie Edmonds

The Government has said a further 140 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 132,003.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 156,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 38,281 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

WHO begins shipping Chinese vaccines despite some misgivings

16:19 , Tom Ambrose

The World Health Organization's pandemic programme plans to ship 100 million doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 shots by the end of next month, mostly to Africa and Asia, in its first delivery of Chinese vaccines, a WHO document shows.

The Chinese shipments will help the sputtering global COVAX vaccine sharing programme which is far behind its pledge to deliver 2 billion doses this year following supply problems and export curbs imposed by major producer India.

It could also boost Beijing's vaccine diplomacy efforts despite concerns over the efficacy of the Chinese shots, which have been turned down or paired with boosters from Western manufacturers by some of the recipient countries.

Of the 100 million Chinese vaccines, half will be provided by Sinopharm and half by Sinovac, with deliveries planned for "July to September 2021", a WHO document dated July 29 says.

About 10 million Sinopharm shots had been shipped by mid-August, a spokesperson for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which co-leads COVAX along with the WHO, told Reuters.

Extend jabs rollout to children aged 12-15, urges public health expert

15:56 , Tom Ambrose

The vaccine rollout should be extended to 12 to 15-year-olds as the dominant and more transmissible Delta variant is “flying through schools”, a public health expert has said.

It comes amid reports the NHS in England has drawn up plans to start jabbing this age group as pupils return to class after the summer break.

The Department of Health has insisted no decisions have yet been made to extend the vaccine programme to younger people, but said they “continue to plan for a range of scenarios”.

NHS trusts in England have been told to prepare for the possible rollout of vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds from September 6, The Telegraph reported.

The newspaper said trusts are being told they must have plans ready by 4pm on Friday.

Pubs to serve six million less pints this bank holiday than pre-Covid

14:36 , Laura Sharman

Pubs will serve an estimated six million fewer pints this bank holiday than the same period in 2019, an industry body has said.

The British Beer and Pub Association said its members expect to lose out on £25 million in revenue from pint sales, down 10% on revenue for the same bank holiday two years ago before coronavirus.

The group is urging the government to invest in the sector to help it bridge the gap in revenues now the majority of restrictions have been lifted.

It says the UK brewing and pub sectors are “grossly overtaxed” and the Downing Street must reform or cut taxes on the sector.

Earlier this week, the trade association said pubs will overpay on business rates by £570 million a year from March 2022 unless the system is reformed.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Teens likely to be fed up with regular Covid tests

14:33 , Laura Sharman

Teenagers are likely to be fed up with taking Covid-19 tests twice a week but parents should encourage them to do so to enable greater “freedoms”, an executive headteacher has said.

Andrew Truby, who runs two primary schools in Sheffield and one in Rotherham, has urged youngsters to get tested to stop coronavirus spreading and minimise disruption to lessons in the autumn term.

It came as ministers launched a campaign to persuade returning secondary school students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic Covid testing.

A school leaders’ union has warned that the take-up of twice weekly testing at home has been “patchy” despite efforts by school staff.

Mr Truby said: “I imagine that teenagers might be fed up of testing twice a week, but I think parents can really encourage them to do that.”

England’s vaccine rollout has prevented almost 110,000 deaths

14:32 , Laura Sharman

The Covid vaccine programme in England is estimated to have prevented between 102,500 and 109,500 deaths, according to figures from Public Health England.

Previous estimates had put the number between 91,700 and 98,700 deaths.

Estimates for the number of hospital admissions directly averted by the programme are unchanged at more than 82,100.

Bereaved families lose bid for further evidence in Covid care homes case

11:29 , Laura Sharman

Two women bringing a legal challenge over what they describe as a failure to protect those living in care homes from Covid-19 have lost a bid for the government to provide further evidence.

Dr Cathy Gardner and Faye Harris, whose fathers both died in care homes from coronavirus, are suing the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England.

The pair claim there was a failure to implement “adequate” measures to protect residents from the “ravages” of the virus and this was “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures of recent times”.

They say certain key policies and decisions led to a “shocking death toll” of care home residents, estimated at 20,000 people between March and June, including an alleged policy of discharging patients from hospital into care homes without testing and suitable isolation arrangements.

The women argue that the decisions and policies under challenge were a breach of duties under human rights, including the right to life and right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment, and equality legislation.

Plane arrivals down 87% on pre-Covid levels

11:27 , Laura Sharman

Air travel to the UK continues to be severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Just 1.4 million airline passengers arrived in the country last month, according to Home Office data.

That was up 14% on the figure of 1.3 million in July 2020, but 87% lower than the 11.2 million arrivals during the same month in 2019.

Some 54% of arrivals last month were British nationals.

The total number of arrivals between April 2020 and July 2021 was 90% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Pure Gym members flock back as Covid restrictions ease

09:37 , Laura Sharman

Around 220,000 people have signed up to a Pure Gym since March as indoor sites began to reopen following lockdown.

The business said it now has around 1.6 million members, which is 94% of the level it was at in December 2019 - before the pandemic started - and an increase from the 81% seen in March this year.

The business said on Thursday that it opened 15 new gyms during the first half of 2021, all but two of them in the UK.

People have been signing up to these new sites at a faster rate than the pre-pandemic average.

All of Pure Gym’s 506 sites are now up and running with “minimal” Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Japan suspends 1.63m doses of Moderna over contamination

09:07 , Laura Sharman

Japan has suspended use of around1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine after contamination was found in unused vials.

The move raised concerns of a supply shortage as the country tries to accelerate vaccinations amid a Covid-19 surge.

Contamination was reported from multiple vaccination sites, according to the health ministry.

Some doses might have been administered, but no adverse health effects have been reported so far, officials said.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, a Japanese drug maker in charge of sales and distribution of the vaccine in Japan, said it decided to suspend use of doses manufactured in the same production line as a safety precaution.

Vaccine rollout should be extended to 12 to 15s amid delta variant, says expert

09:03 , Laura Sharman

A public health expert has said the vaccine rollout should be extended to 12 to 15-year-olds, with the delta variant “flying through schools”.

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I think right now, if we know the options with delta, given how infectious it is, is that either you’re going to be exposed to Covid without any protection or you can be exposed and have a vaccine.

“And we should be offering teens that vaccine so they have that protection before going back into schools.”

Qantas: UK to Australia flights could return by Christmas

08:58 , Laura Sharman

Qantas aims to restart flights to and from Britain in mid-December, in plans linked to the Covid vaccine rollout in Australia and in several of the airline’s major destinations.

The carrier’s initial focus, pending Australian government acceptance, will be on countries with high vaccination rates including the UK, Japan, Singapore, Canada and the US, the airline said in a statement.

Australia’s government has drafted a plan to begin the gradual reopening of international borders once the country reaches a vaccination rate of 80%, which looks likely to be achieved in December.

Flights to countries with low vaccination rates are expected to be delayed until next April, including Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam, Qantas said.

Qantas said its ability to fly non-stop between Australia and London was expected to be in strong demand post-Covid.

The airline said it was investigating using Darwin as a transit point, instead of its existing Perth hub, due to tight border control policies in Western Australia amid the pandemic.

“The prospect of flying overseas might feel a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of the vaccine rollout means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time,” Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said.

Edgar Ramirez urges people to get vaccinated after family Covid deaths

08:54 , Laura Sharman

Hollywood actor Edgar Ramirez has called for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 after revealing his aunt, uncle and a family friend all died over the weekend after testing positive for the virus.

The Venezuelan star, known for roles in Zero Dark Thirty, Carlos and Jungle Cruise, said “at times I feel like it is a nightmare from which I am going to wake up, but I know it is not”.

He said his aunt, named Lucy, died on Saturday while his uncle, Guillermo, collapsed and died on Sunday.

A family friend also died after months of battling complications from the virus, Ramirez told his almost four million Instagram followers.

Ramirez said the deaths came a month after Covid took the life of his grandmother and four months since his Venezuelan agent died as a result of the virus.

All four were unvaccinated as they did not have access to the jab, the 44-year-old said.

Edgar Ramirez (PA)
Edgar Ramirez (PA)

Jabs on the line-up at Reading and Leeds festivals

08:28 , Laura Sharman

Revellers will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine as they soak up the atmosphere at the Reading and Leeds festival this weekend.

It comes as NHS England said more than half a million 16 and 17-year-olds have had their first dose.

The pop-up clinics across the two sites this bank holiday weekend mean music lovers will be able to grab a jab as easily as a beer or a burger, health officials said, but they added that people under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be given the vaccine.

Some music festivals have hit the headlines recently after Covid-19 cases were linked to attendees.

Health officials said they are investigating 4,700 cases of coronavirus which are suspected to be linked to the Boardmasters festival, which took place in Cornwall nearly two weeks ago.

People arrive at Reading Festival (PA)
People arrive at Reading Festival (PA)

Prime Minister urged to hold quarterly meetings with devolved leaders

07:36 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister should hold at least four meetings each year with the leaders of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, a think tank has suggested.

Our Scottish Future made the plea as a report examining how the different governments had worked together during the coronavirus pandemic commented on the “seemingly dire personal relationship” between Boris Johnson and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The paper, based on interviews with senior figures in both the London and Edinburgh governments, argued the close working relationships that have now been built up between health ministers across the UK need to be replicated and become a permanent feature of politics.

It insisted a “fundamental review of relations” is needed in an attempt to “examine the root causes which lay behind the failure to co-operate during the Covid crisis”.

Secondary school children urged to have regular Covid tests

07:35 , Laura Sharman

Returning secondary school pupils are being urged to get tested and vaccinated where possible to stop coronavirus spreading and minimise disruption to lessons over the autumn term.

Ministers are launching a campaign to persuade parents, secondary school and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic Covid-19 testing.

Olympic gold medalist Matthew Richards, 18, and TV presenter Dr Ranj Singh are backing the campaign.

Attendance advisers are being recruited to work with local authorities and multi-academy trusts where absence rates are higher than average.

This comes as an expert advising the government warned that music festivals and schools returning will lead to a “significant surge” in infections.

Unions have called for more action to ensure schools are kept as safe as possible and education is not disrupted further.

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