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Coronavirus UK news – NHS Covid backlog ‘could take 5 years to clear’ amid calls for ‘urgent analysis’ of Indian strain


The NHS’ backlog of Covid patients could take ‘up to FIVE YEARS’ to clear as ministers called for an urgent analysis of a new strain from India.

Health chiefs at NHS Providers – which represents every NHS hospital, and mental health, community and ambulance service in England – said tackling the problem in the worst affected areas could take three to five years.

Meanwhile a Government minister said is “too early to say” whether all hospitality businesses can reopen on May 17, a minister has said.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday, environment minister George Eustice said: “Well, it is too early to say. But I think we are on track in the sense that we are on track with the rollout of the vaccination programme.

“We have now vaccinated everybody over the age of 50 and this week they are offering vaccinations as well to those under the age of 50, starting with the 45 to 59-year-olds – so that bit is on track.”

Meanwhile, the global death toll from Covid-19 has topped three million as cases continue to spiral in countries across the world.

The number of lives lost – as compiled by Johns Hopkins University – is almost equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal.

It is bigger than Chicago (2.7million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • HALF OF ALL US ADULTS GET JAB

    Good news from America, where half of all adults have now had at least one vaccine dose.

    From today, all over-18s will be eligible to get their shot.

    The US has been worst-hit globally by the pandemic.

    But other countries are struggling as cases soar.

    In India, authorities are scrambling to free up hospital beds and secure additional supplies of oxygen and treatment drugs as the vast nation reported a record daily caseload.

    HOLI-YAY

  • COVID TESTS FOR HOLIDAYMAKERS (CONTINUED…)

    While holidays are yet to be given the go-ahead by the government, it is hoped that overseas travel will resume from May 17 through a traffic light system.

    Countries will be placed on green, amber or red lists depending on how high or low risk their Covid situation.

    However, even “green” countries, which will be able to skip quarantine, will require two tests when returning to the country.

    Last week testing firm Randox confirmed that they would be working with major UK airlines to allow travellers to pay just £60 per test instead of £120.

    They have already partnered with easyJet to offer the £60 PCR rests, while previously working with Thomas Cook to offer discounted tests for £85.

  • COVID TESTS FOR BRIT HOLIDAYMAKERS COULD FALL BELOW £50 IN NEW TREASURY PLANS

    Covid tests for British holidaymakers could fall below £50 in new plans considered by the Treasury, it has been revealed.

    The HMRC is looking to exempt private tests for summer holidaymakers from VAT – saving families hundreds of pounds.

    Gold standard PCR tests administered or overseen by a registered nurse will be exempt from VAT, the Telegraph reported.

    Senior sources told the media outlet that the Treasury could go further and full exempt the tests from the tax which can add 20 percent to the price which ranges from £60 to £300 per test.

    This means that holidaymakers could save roughly £40 and £240 for a family of four for a single test each.

    Read more here.

  • IRELAND CONFIRMS ONE COVID DEATH AND 269 NEW CASES ON SUNDAY

    One more death linked to Covid-19 was recorded in Ireland, the Department of Health said.

    Another 269 cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday.

    Of the cases notified on Sunday 70% were in people under the age of 45.

    On Sunday morning there were 181 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 47 in intensive care.

    There were six additional hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

  • BEN SHEPHARD SAYS ‘SUN SEEMS BRIGHTER’ AS HE GETS COVID-19 JAB

    Ben Shephard has said the “sun seems a bit brighter” after he got his Covid-19 jab.

    The Good Morning Britain star, 46, revealed he got his first vaccination at the stadium of the Harlequins rugby club.

    He shared a photo on Instagram of himself getting the jab, and another of himself and his wife Annie wearing their stickers in the stadium.

    He wrote: “#JabbyMcjabface First one done! thanks to all the team @harlequins wonderfully efficient friendly staff, and a cracking setting too.

    “I’d say the sun seems a bit brighter today! #grateful.”

  • US: HALF OF ALL ADULTS HAVE HAD AT LEAST ONE COVID VACCINE

    Half of all adults in the US have received at least one Covid-19 jab, the government announced Sunday.

    Almost 130 million people 18 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

    Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

    The US reached the halfway mark just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering three million, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.

    However, the actual number is believed to be significantly higher.

  • MEXICO REPORTS 1,506 NEW CASES OF COVID-19 AND 111 MORE DEATHS

    Mexico’s health ministry on Sunday reported 1,506 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 111 more fatalities.

    The new data brings Mexico’s total to 2,305,602 infections and 212,339 deaths.

    The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher.

    Separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

  • BRAZIL REPORTS 42,980 NEW COVID CASES AND 1,657 DEATHS IN 24 HOURS

    Brazil recorded 42,980 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

    The South American nation also confirmed a further 1,657 Covid deaths, the Health Ministry said today.

    Brazil has registered more than 13.9 million cases since the pandemic began.

    The country’s official death toll has risen to 373,335.

  • CHART: COVID VACCINATIONS IN THE UK TO DATE

  • LABOUR ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF NOT DOING ENOUGH TO KEEP COVID MUTATIONS OUT OF THE UK

    Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said almost 100,000 people had flown between India and the UK during January and February, as he accused the Government of not doing enough to keep out coronavirus mutations.

    The Opposition party said that, according to data from the Civil Aviation Authority and other international air passenger sources, 631,500 air travellers arrived in the UK in January, with only around 1% undertaking a hotel quarantine.

    Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “This UK Government is putting lives at risk by failing to protect our borders against Covid. Now we are seeing the results of a disastrous policy that has let thousands of people enter the UK without a proper quarantine system.

    “Large numbers of cases of two deeply worrying variants, first discovered in South Africa and India, have been discovered in the UK. We are at a critical moment in the fight against the pandemic, as the sacrifices of the British people and the vaccine give us hope of reopening large parts of life.

    “This British reopening is being put at risk by ministers’ reckless refusal to protect our borders against Covid.”

  • FOOTBALL FANS SPEAK OF ‘SURREAL’ ATMOSPHERE AT FA CUP SEMI-FINAL

    Football fans have spoken of the “surreal” atmosphere while watching a game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday as part of a Government programme to ensure the safe return of live entertainment.

    An audience of 4,000 were present at the ground in north-west London to witness the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton.

    Spectators said that although the atmosphere was noticeably different to normal, it was “amazing” to watch live football again.

    It comes as part of a large research project looking at how audiences can safely attend venues again, with music events to follow in the coming weeks.

    Before the football match, spectators had to test negative for coronavirus in a lateral flow test (LFT) – supervised where possible – taken in the previous 36 hours.

    They were also asked to conduct a PCR coronavirus swab test.

    The FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15 will see 21,000 spectators.

  • LATEST COVID FIGURES

    The Government said a further 10 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 127,270.

    Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,882 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

    It brings the total to 4,387,820.

  • IN PICTURES: GERMANY MOURNS 80,000 COVID DEATHS IN NATIONAL SERVICE

    Germany held a national memorial service on Sunday for its nearly 80,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic, with the president urging the country to put aside deep divisions over Covid restrictions to share the pain of grieving families.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier joined an ecumenical service in the morning at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a memorial against war and destruction, before attending a ceremony later at the capital’s Konzerthaus concert hall.

    Germany held a national memorial service on Sunday for its nearly 80,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic
    Germany held a national memorial service on Sunday for its nearly 80,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemicCredit: EPA
    Angela Merkel joined a service in the morning at Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
    Angela Merkel joined a service in the morning at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial ChurchCredit: EPA
  • IRELAND: DECLINE IN COVID SPREAD IS DOWN TO PEOPLE’S ‘ENORMOUS EFFORTS’, DEPUTY CMO SAYS

    Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer has attributed the decline in the spread of Covid-19 to people’s “enormous efforts” to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines.

    Dr Ronan Glynn said the reduction in the incidence of the virus was thanks to people keeping themselves and their families safe rather than the rollout of the vaccination programme.

    His comments come as one more death linked to the virus and another 269 cases were confirmed by the Department of Health on Sunday.

    Of the cases notified on Sunday, 70% were in people under the age of 45.

    On Sunday morning there were 181 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 47 in intensive care. There were six additional hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

  • NO NEED TO PANIC

    Imported coronavirus variants are unlikely to push lockdown measures back to “square one”, a leading expert has said.

    Professor Adam Finn said concerns about 77 cases of a mutation from India being identified in the UK had been “a bit pessimistic”.

    The immunology expert, who sits on the UK’s immunisation committee, told Times Radio: “We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start.”

    “I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

    “It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened.”

  • TURKEY REPORTS RECORD DAILY NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS

    Turkey on Sunday reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Health Ministry data.

    The 318 deaths confirmed in 24 hours took the countrys total pandemic death toll to 35,926. The Health Ministry also reported 55,802 new confirmed cases, pushing Turkey’s total closer to 4.3 million.

    Weekly data also released Sunday showed the northwest province of Canakkale with Turkey’s highest infection rate at 962.98 cases per 100,000 people.

    Turkey has seen rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the government eased virus-control restrictions at the beginning start of March, when daily confirmed cases averaged below 10,000. The government has blamed the rising numbers on coronavirus variants.

    A partial closure was re-introduced on April 13, including an extended evening curfew on weekdays, a return to online education and a ban on unnecessary intercity travel.

  • UK RECORDS SECOND LOWEST DAILY COVID DEATHS SINCE START OF SEPTEMBER AS 10 PEOPLE DIE AND ANOTHER 1,882 TEST POSITIVE

    UK records second lowest daily Covid deaths since start of September as 10 people die and another 1,882 test positive
  • SCIENTISTS URGED TO SPEED UP INDIAN VARIANT ANALYSIS AMID TRAVEL BAN CALLS

    British scientists must urgently learn as much as possible about the Indian Covid-19 variant, a leading epidemiologist has warned, as calls mount for the country to be added to the Government’s “red list”.

    Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), which provides evidence on coronavirus to the Government’s Sage committee, said as much information about the new variant must be gathered “as quickly as possible”.

    But while confirming that there are “around 70 cases” of the new Indian variant in the UK, George Eustice defended the Government’s decision not to further restrict travel to the country.

    He added that the situation is being kept “under regular review”.

  • AMBULANCE BLUNDER SEES WOMAN TAKEN TO WRONG HOUSE AND TUCKED UP IN STRANGERS BED AFTER COVID BATTLE

    An 89-year-old woman was taken to the wrong house and tucked up in a complete stranger’s bed in an ambulance blunder.

    Elizabeth Mahoney had been battling Covid-19 at Pontypool’s County Hospital, in Wales, for 10 weeks before she was discharged on Friday, March 12.

    Her family was relieved to hear she was on the way home, but began to get concerned when she failed to show up at her home in nearby New Inn, at the scheduled time.

    After a frantic few hours it transpired she’d instead been taken by ambulance to an address in Newport – more than eight miles away from where she lived – and left in the bed of a total stranger.

    More on the story here.

  • GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • RAVE REVIEW 

    Five thousand music lovers will be allowed to attend a concert in Liverpool in just two weeks time as lockdown measures continue to ease.

    The pilot event – at Sefton Park on May 2 – will have no social distancing and attendees will not have to wear masks and could pave the way to more outdoor events, ministers revealed today.

    Indie band Blossoms will headline the gig which will also feature The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he hoped the Events Research Programme (ERP) test event would mean the wait for gigs to return would not be “too much longer”.

  • LATEST COVID FIGURES

    The Government said a further 10 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 127,270.

    Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,882 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

    It brings the total to 4,387,820.

  • VARIANTS ‘EXPECTED’

    Imported coronavirus variants are unlikely to push lockdown measures back to “square one”, a leading expert has said.

    Professor Adam Finn said concerns about 77 cases of a mutation from India being identified in the UK had been “a bit pessimistic”.

    The immunology expert, who sits on the UK’s immunisation committee, told Times Radio: “We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start.”

    “I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

    “It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened.”

  • EU HINTS IT MIGHT NOT ORDER AZ JAB AGAIN

    The EU’s internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton hinted Sunday that the bloc might decide not to order AstraZeneca’s coronavirus jab again following delays in delivering the first batches of the vaccine.

    “We’re pragmatic. My priority, as far as the vaccines are concerned, is to ensure that the firms we have contracts with deliver them punctually,” Breton told BFMTV television.

    Brussels had originally ordered 120 million doses of the Anglo-Swedish group’s jab for the 27 member states in the first quarter and 180 million in the second quarter.

    But the drug maker “only delivered 30 million, thus creating the problems that everyone has seen,” Breton said.

    And only another 70 million will be delivered in the second quarter, he continued, but added: “Nothing is decided. Talks are still ongoing”.

  • ‘NOT ENOUGH DATA’

    Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said that whilst there is not yet enough data to officially classify the new Indian strain as a “variant of concern”, investigations are ongoing.

    “We have seen a couple of cases (of the Indian variant) that haven’t arisen from travel but we’re still trying to undergo the investigations to look in great detail at where they might have acquired it from.

    “To escalate it up the ranking we need to know that it is increased transmissibility, increased severity or vaccine evading, and we just don’t have that yet,” she told the BBC.



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