Coronavirus UK news LIVE – Indian variant boost with daily covid deaths LOWEST in months as 'stealth lockdowns' slammed

DAILY coronavirus deaths are at their lowest levels in months despite fears over the Indian variant, it was revealed today.

Addressing the House of Commons, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says the number of people who are in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen by 9% with the number of daily deaths at its lowest point since March.

He said approximately 72% of all adults in the UK had received their first dose and 43% had received both.

It comes as the government was slammed for introducing 'stealth lockdowns' – quietly updating official websites to change rules on meeting indoors and travelling into and out of areas hit by the Indian strain.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

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    WATCH: MINISTER DENIES LOCAL TRAVEL ADVICE 'CAME OUT OF THE BLUE'

    Minister denies warning to avoid non-essential travel to and from areas of England worst affected by Indian COVID variant ‘out of the blue’

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    OPPOSITION MPs CRITICISE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the SNP’s Health spokeswoman Phillipa Whitford have challenged the government over its decision to “sneak out” local lockdowns in areas heavily affected by the Indian variant.

    Ashworth challenged Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi in the House of Commons, saying the government has let down people who had been planning for reopening. He asked why the Government did not do more to tell people about when the lockdown was imposed.

    Whitford accused the Government of updating the website during Eurovision on Saturday night to avoid heavy scrutiny and criticism.

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    SCOTLAND RECORDS TWO NEW DEATHS

    Scotland has recorded two coronavirus patient deaths and 318 new cases in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

    It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is 7,666.

    The First Minister told a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing the daily test positivity rate was 2%, down from 2.8% the previous day.

    She said 97 people are in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, up three on the previous day. Of these, six were in intensive care, up one.

    More than five million vaccine doses have now been administered in Scotland, with 3,138,366 first doses and 1,881,214 second doses.

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    COVID DISRUPTION COULD INCREASE CANCER MORTALITY FOR ‘NEXT DECADE’, MEDIC WARNS

    Delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment caused by Covid-19 could increase cancer mortality for the “next decade”, a consultant medical oncologist has warned.

    Professor Seamus O’Reilly, of Cork University Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital, said the pandemic has “enormous implications” for time-dependent cancer care.

    He added that the health service will struggle to cope with the backlog of patients without hiring additional oncologists and other medical specialists.

    The professor made the remarks on behalf of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) during European Week Against Cancer.

    “The Covid pandemic has impacted cancer services. Patients were concerned about coming into hospital. Services had to be curtailed due to social distancing and redeployment of staff. Our health service still has not returned to normal. This has enormous implications, and our concern as oncologists is of delayed cancer diagnosis occurring as a result.”

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    NUMBER OF PEOPLE WAITING MORE THAN A YEAR FOR HOSPITAL TREATMENT

    The number of Scots waiting a year or more for planned hospital treatment has almost doubled in just three months as the second wave of Covid-19 hit – with the latest figures showing 28,203 patients having spent 52 weeks or more on an NHS list.

    New waiting time figures showed "increasing" numbers experiencing longer waits for inpatient and day case treatment in NHS Scotland.

    At the end of December 2020 there were 15,128 patients who had been waiting a year or more for such treatment.

    But as the second wave of Covid-19 hit hospitals across Scotland, that total had increased to 28,203 by the end of March 2021 – a rise of 86.4%

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    ‘COVID WILL FIND US’

    Getting your second Covid jab is the best way to protect yourself against the Indian variant, experts have said.

    One dose may not be enough, the public have been warned.

    Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the Nervtag group advising the Government, said “a single dose is not particularly protective” against the Indian variant.

    The University of Cambridge professor told BBC Breakfast this is “the situation that many adults find themselves in during a period of easing of restrictions”.

    It comes after data this weekend revealed how protective jabs were against the Indian variant.

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    WATCH: BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS ANTI-LOCKDOWN PROTEST

    Maskless Brazil President Bolsonaro leads protest AGAINST lockdowns despite 500,000 dying from Covid

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    HELL NO

    Half-term and Bank Holiday plans are set to be ruined by new Covid rules rolled out to stop the spread of the Indian variant.

    Thousands of family getaways and long-awaited trips in the next few weeks will have been destroyed by the latest guidance, quietly brought in a few days ago.

    Locals in eight hotspots where the variant has become the dominant virus have been told to only meet outside and stay two metres apart.

    Ministers are warning people not to enter or leave these areas "unless it is essential" in the local lockdowns.

    The change in the rules effectively partially scraps the latest round of unlocking for people in the hotspots.

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    CROWD PILOT EVENTS 'A REAL SUCCESS' AS JUST 15 CASES OF COVID-19 REPORTED

    Pilot events involving 58,000 people have resulted in just 15 positive cases of Covid-19, according to the Culture Secretary.

    Oliver Dowden hailed the UK's Covid test events which included a reduced-capacity FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium and a nightclub opening in Liverpool, as a "real success".

    In an interview with the Evening Standard, Mr Dowden said he hopes that by June 21 stadiums will be full and the lights will be back on in the West End.

    He told the newspaper he is "very hopeful" that theatres will be allowed to sell all seats instead of keeping some empty.

    The Brit Awards on May 11 took place as part of the Government's live events pilot scheme and was the first large-scale indoor music event of the year.

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    COVID-19 DEATHS RISE SLIGHTLY AS BANK HOLIDAY SLOWS REGISTRATIONS

    Weekly registrations of deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales have risen slightly, new figures show – but the numbers are likely to have been affected by the early May bank holiday.

    A total of 151 deaths registered in the week ending May 14 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    This is up from 129 in the previous week – a rise of 17%.

    Many register offices will have been closed for the bank holiday on May 3, however.

    This is likely to have led to fewer deaths being registered in that week and slightly more deaths being registered in the following week.

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    EU LEADERS TO DONATE 100 MILLION DOSES OF VACCINES

    EU leaders have agreed to donate at least 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations by the end of the year as supplies steadily rise across Europe.

    Gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit, on Tuesday the 27 leaders backed a text in which they pledged to continue efforts "to increase global vaccine production capacities in order to meet global needs".

    Leaders also called "for work to be stepped up to ensure global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines" and reiterated their support for the UN-backed COVAX programme.

    COVAX aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 jabs for low-and middle-income countries.

    The programme suffered a major setback last week when its biggest supplier, the Serum Institute of India, announced it would likely not export any more vaccines until the end of the year due to the crisis on the subcontinent.

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    ANGER SIMMERS IN MALAYSIA AS COVID-19 SURGE STRAINS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

    Five medical workers in white protective gear battle to resuscitate a coronavirus patient in a quarantine centre on the edge of the Malaysian capital, but eventually fail.

    The struggle, caught in a minute-long video clip on social media, exemplifies for many Malaysians their government’s latest misstep in its efforts to combat the pandemic, as daily infections and deaths hit a record high in the past week.

    “Our boat is sinking. The captain is out of touch,” one Twitter user commented on last weekend’s video that used the hashtag #KerajaanGagal, or ‘failed government’, which has been employed for weeks by Malaysians to voice their anger.

    Despite a state of emergency imposed in January, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government has been seen as struggling to rein in the infections, triggering public fury.

    The health ministry and Muhyiddin’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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    FLIGHTS TO SPAIN EXPECTED TO SOAR TO 80% A DAY

    Flights to Spain are now expected to soar to 80 per cent a day – meaning an estimated 16,000 passengers are set to fly to the popular holiday destination.

    Despite the surge in flights, the PM and government have warned Brits not to travel to Spain as it remains on the amber list.

    Return to the UK from amber-listed countries means travellers will need to self-isolate for ten days and will also have to take a PCR test on day two and day eight of self-isolation. 

    The advice remains for Spain, according to the Foreign Office website today: “We continue to advise against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands, but excluding the Canary Islands.”

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    OPPOSITION MPs CRITICISE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the SNP’s Health spokeswoman Phillipa Whitford have challenged the government over its decision to “sneak out” local lockdowns in areas heavily affected by the Indian variant.

    Ashworth challenged Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi in the House of Commons, saying the government has let down people who had been planning for reopening. He asked why the Government did not do more to tell people about when the lockdown was imposed.

    Whitford accused the Government of updating the website during Eurovision on Saturday night to avoid heavy scruntiny and criticism.

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    VACC TO THE START

    Fully vaccinated Brits will reportedly still need to self-isolate if they come into contact with people infected with Covid – even after lockdown ends on June 21.

    Plans for 10-day quarantines for those who are exposed to the bug after getting both jabs will impact plans for a return to normality next month.

    Brits could be put off from going to crowded places if there’s a risk they will have to self-isolate.

    Employers may also be reluctant for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers to mix together for the same reason.

    Fully vaccinated people in the United States only need to quarantine if they show symptoms after coming into contact with someone who has Covid.

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    MODERNA VACCINE SAFE FOR KIDS

    Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine was shown to be effective in adolescents aged 12-17 and showed no new or major safety problems in a clinical trial, the developer said on Tuesday, potentially setting the stage for a second vaccine for school-aged children to be authorized in July.

    Moderna Inc, whose vaccine is authorized for adults 18 and older, said it will submit the findings of its adolescent study to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators for emergency use authorization in early June.

    U.S. regulators took about a month to review a similar study from Pfizer/BioNtech, which was authorized for ages 12-15 on May 10. If Moderna gets the same treatment, its authorization would come in early July.

    Most children with Covid-19 develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms. Yet children remain at risk of becoming seriously ill, and they can spread the virus. Widely vaccinating 12- to 18-year olds could allow U.S. schools and summer camps to relax masking and social distancing measures suggested by the CDC.

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    COVID DEATHS UP BY 17% ON LAST WEEK

    A total of 151 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 14 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – up 17% on the previous week.

    The bank holiday on May 3 will have affected the number of deaths registered in the previous week, when registry offices were likely to be closed, the ONS said.

    Around one in 66 (1.5%) deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to May 14 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.

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    COMMONS CONTINUED

     Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs that the Government was taking "rapid action" in areas with high case numbers of the Covid variant first identified in India.

    He told the Commons ministers are "staying alert to new variants that can jeopardise the advances we've made".

    He added: "We've come down really hard on the variant first identified in India wherever we have found it, surging in testing capacity and vaccine for those who are eligible.

    "Over the past few days we've extended this rapid approach to even more areas. So as well as Bolton and Blackburn and Darwen which the Prime Minister spoke about in his press conference on the 14th of this month we are taking rapid action in Bedford, Hounslow, Burnley, Leicester, Kirklees and North Tyneside.

    "As the Prime Minister set out two weeks ago we're urging people in these areas to take extra caution when meeting anyone outside their households or support bubble, including meeting outside rather than inside where possible, keeping two metres apart from people you don't live with and that people should try to avoid travelling in and out of the affected areas unless it is essential."

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    OPPOSITION MPs CRITICISE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the SNP's Health spokeswoman Phillipa Whitford have challenged the government over its decision to "sneak out" local lockdowns in areas heavily affected by the Indian variant.

    Ashworth challenged Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi in the House of Commons, saying the government has let down people who had been planning for reopening. He asked why the Government did not do more to tell people about when the lockdown was imposed.

    Whitford accused the Government of updating the website during Eurovision on Saturday night to avoid heavy scruntiny and criticism.

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    MINISTER SAYS NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL WITH COVID FALLS BY 9%

    Addressing the House of Commons, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says the number of people who are in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen by 9% with the number of daily deaths at its lowest point since March.

    He said approximately 72% of all adults in the UK Had received their first dose and 43% had received both.

     

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    SCOTLAND RECORDS TWO NEW DEATHS

    Scotland has recorded two coronavirus patient deaths and 318 new cases in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

    It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is 7,666.

    The First Minister told a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing the daily test positivity rate was 2%, down from 2.8% the previous day.

    She said 97 people are in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, up three on the previous day. Of these, six were in intensive care, up one.

    More than five million vaccine doses have now been administered in Scotland, with 3,138,366 first doses and 1,881,214 second doses.

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    HALF OF WEEKEND VACCINE APPOINTMENTS MISSED AT GLASGOW’S SSE HYDRO

    Around half the coronavirus vaccine appointments at a major concert venue and vaccination centre this weekend were missed, it has emerged.

    The PA news agency understands there were many cancellations and non-attendances on Saturday and Sunday at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow amid rising case numbers in the city.

    The concert venue originally formed part of the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital, which closed at the end of March having opened in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) last year, and has the capacity to administer up to 10,000 jabs per day.

    A statement from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said: “We want to thank everyone who has come forward for a vaccine so far.

    “We’ve had incredible success to date and this is a testament to the hard work of all those staff from across NHSGGC who have been involved in the rollout of the programme.

    “We have now vaccinated over 98% of people over the age 50 with their first dose.

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    BRAZIL NEARS 450,000 COVID-19 DEATHS

    Brazil’s Healthy Ministry on Monday registered 790 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours and 37,498 new cases of coronavirus.

    The country has confirmed 449,858 deaths from the virus out of more than 16 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, according to ministry data.

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    COVID DISRUPTION COULD INCREASE CANCER MORTALITY FOR ‘NEXT DECADE’, MEDIC WARNS

    Delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment caused by Covid-19 could increase cancer mortality for the “next decade”, a consultant medical oncologist has warned.

    Professor Seamus O’Reilly, of Cork University Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital, said the pandemic has “enormous implications” for time-dependent cancer care.

    He added that the health service will struggle to cope with the backlog of patients without hiring additional oncologists and other medical specialists.

    The professor made the remarks on behalf of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) during European Week Against Cancer.

    “The Covid pandemic has impacted cancer services. Patients were concerned about coming into hospital. Services had to be curtailed due to social distancing and redeployment of staff. Our health service still has not returned to normal. This has enormous implications, and our concern as oncologists is of delayed cancer diagnosis occurring as a result.”

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    'COVID WILL FIND US'

    Getting your second Covid jab is the best way to protect yourself against the Indian variant, experts have said.

    One dose may not be enough, the public have been warned.

    Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the Nervtag group advising the Government, said "a single dose is not particularly protective” against the Indian variant.

    The University of Cambridge professor told BBC Breakfast this is “the situation that many adults find themselves in during a period of easing of restrictions".

    It comes after data this weekend revealed how protective jabs were against the Indian variant.

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