July 7, 2022

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Coronavirus UK latest news – Brazilian Covid ‘variant of concern’ could ‘ruin June 21 lockdown lifting hopes’

THE Brazilian “variant of concern” that has been discovered in the UK could disrupt plans to lift all lockdown measures in the UK by June 21 an expert has suggested.

Asked about the variant on Times Radio, Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College said the public should be “somewhat worried but not total panic, perhaps.”

But he suggested the Brazilian variant could have a real impact on the UK’s jab rollout, saying “The way I think about it is it’s a bit like, and I think about the effect that the Kent variant had… it just slowed everything up.”

If the variant does slow the UK jab rollout, Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap will almost certainly be impacted as one of the key conditions for June 21 lifting of measures is vaccines continuing at their current pace.

Any slowing down of the rollout could potentially push the June 21 date back by weeks or even months, as the Prime Minister made clear when he first announced his plans on February 22.

The news comes as it was revealed more than 20 million people have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK.

Boris Johnson hailed the “huge national achievement” while praising the NHS, volunteers and armed forces for their work in the vaccine roll-out.

Meanwhile, vaccines for people over 40 will begin this month as Britain delivers jabs to more than 20 million adults, The Telegraph reported.

Health officials are about to send the last batch of invites to those over 60, the report added.

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

  • RED LIST SYSTEM FOR COVID QUARANTINE IS ‘INADEQUATE’, SAYS SCOTTISH HEALTH SECRETARY

    The red list system for quarantining international arrivals is “inadequate”, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said, following the arrival of the Brazillian Covid-19 variant in the UK.

    Six UK cases of the concerning P1 variant, first detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus, have been identified: three in England and three in Scotland.

    The three Scottish cases were found in asymptomatic passengers who flew into Aberdeen on the BA1312 flight from London Heathrow on Friday.

    They tested positive while self-isolating and contact tracing of other passengers on the flight is currently ongoing.

    Ms Freeman said there is no reason to believe that the Brazilian strain of Covid-19 is in circulation in Scotland but efforts to “identify and break any possible chains of transmission” are ongoing.

  • WOMAN, 101, COULD BE LIVING PROOF THAT COVID JAB REDUCES SYMPTOMS

    A 101-year-old who contracted coronavirus just days after getting the vaccine only felt tired and didn’t need hospital treatment or oxygen, she has revealed.

    Lore Lucas could be living proof that the jab reduces symptoms and she “only felt more tired than normal” after contracting Covid not long after receiving the Pfizer jab. She had to miss out on her 101st birthday celebrations on January 7 after being consigned to her bed for around two weeks as she recovered.

    Mrs Lucas was among a number of care home residents at Elton House in Bushey, Hertfordshire, to receive the jab on Christmas Eve, but in the new year, she tested positive for Covid-19.

    But in a sign the vaccine does prevent serious risk among elderly people, Mrs Lucas required no hospital treatment and only had a mild illness.

    She said she did not really suffer from any symptoms except tiredness and although she was prescribed oxygen at her bedside, it was not needed.

  • BRITAIN SHOULD BE A ‘FORCE FOR GOOD IN THE WORLD’ AS RAAB HERALDS START OF COVAX INITIATIVE

    Dominic Raab has said Britain should be a “force for good in the world” as he heralded the start of the rollout of vaccines under the Covax initiative.

    The Foreign Secretary told reporters: “What we are seeing today is the first mass rollout at Cote d’Ivoire – half a million doses – part of our strategy to get the most vulnerable people in 92 of the developing countries vaccinated by June.

    “And that’s because we believe Britain should be a force for good in the world but also because we recognise that we are not safe until everyone is safe.”

    Mr Raab also said border restrictions in the UK are “robust” despite the discovery of cases of a Brazilian coronavirus strain.

    He said: “The border restrictions, I think, are robust – we keep them under constant review. I think variants are the normal feature of any pandemic and any virus.”

  • BRAZIL VARIANT LEAVES VICTIMS SUFFERING FOR DAYS LONGER

    A new coronavirus strain ripping through Brazil has caused a fresh spike in deaths and brought overwhelmed hospitals to their knees.

    In a grim warning for the UK, patients with the P1 mutation from the Amazon have been found to suffer for days longer and have a viral load ten times higher than with other variants.

    Experts have warned the dangerous new Covid strain could be three times more infectious than other types, and vaccines might not be so effective.

    The P1 mutation was first detected in jungle city Manaus, where it spread like wildfire as cemeteries filled with hundreds of new graves.

    You can read the full story here.

  • EU BOOST FOR SUMMER HOLS WITH VACCINE PASSPORT PLAN

    Brussels has raised hopes that vaccine passports will save the summer holidays – but warned that Brits will be behind Europeans in the queue for a beach getaway.

    EU boss Ursula von der Leyen announced the bloc will draw up plans for jabs certificates within weeks and aims to have them in place by June.

    Under the plan EU citizens will be able to travel again within the bloc if they can show proof of vaccination, negative test, or antibodies.

    A European Commission spokesman added: “We’re of the view that in collaboration with the WHO there should be a way to scale this up globally.

    “We work on a European solution now – this is where we start – and then anything else would need to come after.”

  • COVID JAB ROLLOUT WILL ‘GO AT TWICE THE SPEED IN MARCH’

    The UK’s Covid jab rollout will go at twice the speed in March, the government’s vaccine minister has claimed.

    Nadhim Zahawi today said that “March will be a big month” when it comes to the UK’s coronavirus jab programme.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning Mr Zahawi said: “We’ll probably going to be twice the rate over the next 10 weeks as we have done over the past 10 or 11 weeks.”

    He added: “We have already been reserving second doses. You have seen the numbers tick up of second doses.

    “And in March you will see that number increase even more.”

  • SCHOOL STAFF AT ‘NO GREATER RISK’ OF COVID-19 INFECTION THAN WORKING-AGE ADULTS

    School staff are not at a higher risk of Covid-19 infection than other working-age adults in their local communities, new figures suggest.

    Around 14.99% of school staff tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in December, which indicate a past infection, lower than the estimate of 18.22% for working-age adults, according to a small study of schools.

    The survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also suggests the proportion of staff who tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies was 14.61% of primary staff, compared with 15.72% of secondary staff.

    The findings come a week before all pupils in England are set to return to class after months of remote learning.

    School leaders and teachers have been left “disappointed” after Government advisers decided against prioritising school staff in “crowded” classrooms in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

  • DOWNING STREET SAYS SCHOOLS WILL REOPEN ON MARCH 8 AS PLANNED

    Downing Street has said schools in England will reopen on Monday as planned despite the discovery of a number of cases of a Brazilian variant of the coronavirus.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Schools will reopen on March 8 as we set out in the road map.”

    The spokesman said that included South Gloucestershire where two cases had been found.

    “We have deployed the extra surge testing in Gloucestershire to ensure that if there are any other cases in that local area we can identify then and ensure those people are isolated,” he said.

  • JEREMY HUNT CALLS FOR TIGHTER BORDER CONTROLS FOLLOWING SIX CASES OF P.1 VARIANT

    Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the discovery of six cases of the Brazilian P1 variant of the coronavirus in the UK showed the need for tighter controls.

    “Absolutely we have got to look at what has gone wrong,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme.

    “It shows that it needs to be tightened up still further because if we are going to protect the road map out of lockdown then the name of the game is going to be stop new variants coming in, some of which may end up being immune to the new vaccines.

    “Where we need to get to is a much, much more thorough combination of test and trace and genetic sequencing so we are not just testing the people who have been near someone who tested positive, but we also are working out where the original infection happened and which variant it is.

    “You can only do that if you bring the cases right down.”

  • WOMAN ENJOYED TWO MONTH CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY BY DOING ODD JOBS FOR STRANGERS

    A woman has enjoyed a TWO MONTH holiday in the Caribbean for just £2,000 – by doing odd jobs for strangers like feeding the chickens or weeding.

    Jean Draxler, 61, had enough of the cold weather and bad news, so booked a flight to the picture-postcard paradise island Guadeloupe in December.

    She toured around the island over the Christmas period and, despite staying in luxury beachfront apartments with rainforest views and palm trees, she has barely spent a penny.

    Jean, from Peeblesshire, Scotland, believes she has saved £4,500 by staying in wealthy locals’ homes and second apartments for free, in exchange for doing simple odd jobs. She walked dogs, scrubbed floors, dropped toddlers off at nursery and even acted as an ‘agony aunt’ as a swap for a bed for a week or two.

    And thanks to a lack of tourists, she mostly stayed in unused holiday lets in exchange for a couple of hours of work.

  • WATCH: BORIS JOHNSON DEFENDS BORDER REGIME AS HUNT CONTINUES FOR MISSING BRAZILIAN COVID CASE

    Boris Johnson defends border regime as hunt continues for missing person with Brazilian Covid strain
  • SCHOOLS WILL REOPEN ON MARCH 8 AS PLANNED SAYS DOWNING STREET DESPITE NEW VARIANT

    Downing Street has said schools in England will reopen on Monday as planned despite the discovery of a number of cases of a Brazilian variant of the coronavirus.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Schools will reopen on March 8 as we set out in the road map.”

    The spokesman said that included South Gloucestershire where two cases had been found.

    “We have deployed the extra surge testing in Gloucestershire to ensure that if there are any other cases in that local area we can identify then and ensure those people are isolated,” he said.

  • DOWNING STREET DEFENDS UK BORDER CONTROLS FOLLOWING P1 VARIANT DISCOVERY

    Downing Street has defended the UK’s coronavirus border controls following the discovery of a number of cases of a highly transmissible variant from Brazil.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have had for a long time the requirement for people to isolate when they arrive in the UK. We now ensure that people have a negative test before they enter the UK.

    “That is why we had those border policies to try and reduce the number of variants that enter the UK and stop the reimportation of cases. The important thing is that when people arrive they follow the border restrictions.”

    The spokesman said that it was very unusual for people not to fill in their details correctly after taking a coronavirus test, as happened in the case of one of those with the Brazilian variant who is now being sought .

    “In a very, very few rare cases individuals do not complete that information, which means that extra action has to be taken to track them down. That is what we are currently doing with regards to the Brazil variant,” the spokesman said.

  • ALL PASSENGERS ON LONDON-ABERDEEN FLIGHT WHERE P1 VARIANT DISCOVERED WILL BE CONTACTED

    All passengers on the flight from London to Aberdeen which the three people in Scotland confirmed to have the Brazilian variant of coronavirus were on will be contacted, the Health Secretary has said.

    They travelled on flight BA1312, which left Heathrow Airport on Friday January 29.

    Jeane Freeman told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing: “If you were on that flight and have not yet been contacted, you will be contacted shortly, so please wait for that.”

    She said there is currently no reason to believe the variant is in circulation in Scotland but the Government is doing “everything that’s necessary” to check whether it could have been transmitted in Scotland and to identify and break any chains of transmission.

    She added: “We know that current vaccines are effective against the strains of the virus which have already been established in the UK. However, more work is required to determine that this remains the case for emerging strains of the virus, such as the one we are highlighting today from Brazil.”

  • BORIS SAYS BUDGET 2021 ‘WILL BUILD ON EVERYTHING WE’VE DONE’

    Boris Johnson said he was confident the Budget would “build on everything we have done” to look after businesses and the public throughout the coronavirus crisis.

    “I’m not going to anticipate what the Chancellor is going to say on Wednesday,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

    “But I am absolutely confident that it will be a Budget that builds on everything we have done to look after the businesses and the people of this country throughout the pandemic.

    “But that also paves the way for a strong, jobs-led recovery. That’s what our focus is going to be on.”

  • PM: NO REASON TO THINK VACCINES INEFFECTIVE AGAINST COVID VARIANTS

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday there was no reason to think that COVID-19 vaccines were ineffective against new variants of the coronavirus.

    “We don’t have any reason at the present time to think that our vaccines are ineffective against these new variants of all types,” Johnson told broadcasters.

    Health authorities said on Sunday that up to six cases had been detected in Britain of the “P.1” variant identified in the Brazilian city of Manaus, against which current vaccines appeared to be less effective.

  • PM STILL BELIEVES ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN WILL BE IRREVERSIBLE

    Boris Johnson said he still expected the road map for easing England’s restrictions would be irreversible.

    He told reporters at a school in Stoke-on-Trent: “What we are doing is embarking now on a journey, a one-way road map to freedom and it is designedly cautious in order to be irreversible.

    “That is what we are hoping to achieve. Some people say we should go faster, some people say we should be more hesitant.

    “I think we are going at the right pace, education is the priority, getting all schools open on March 8 is something that we have set our hearts on for a long time and I am confident we will be ready.”

    Mr Johnson defended the testing regime for schools, insisting “people do understand how to use them and we are very confident that they will be of use in helping to keep the disease under control, keep it going down as we get schools back open”.

  • PM SAYS GOVERNMENT MOVED ‘AS FAST AS WE COULD’ WITH QUARANTINE HOTEL MEASURES

    Boris Johnson said that the Government moved “as fast as we could” with introducing hotel quarantine measures, calling it a “very tough regime”.

    Asked if the Government was too slow to implement quarantine hotel measures, the Prime Minister told reporters: “I don’t think so, we moved as fast as we could to get that going.

    “It’s a very tough regime – you come here, you immediately get transported to a hotel where you are kept for 10 days, 11 days.

    “You have to test on day two, you have to test on day eight, and it’s designed to stop the spread of new variants while we continue to roll out the vaccination programme.

    “We don’t have any reason at the present time to think that our vaccines are ineffective against these new variants of all types.”

  • BORIS JOHNSON DEFENDS GOVERNMENT MEASURES TO PREVENT VARIANTS ENTERING BRITAIN

    Boris Johnson has defended the Government’s measures to prevent new variants being imported into the country, despite the detection of cases of the Brazilian strain of coronavirus.

    The Prime Minister told reporters: “We have got one of the toughest border regimes anywhere in the world for stopping people coming in to this country who may have variants of concern.”

  • MORE THAN 300,000 STUDENTS RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM AS RESTRICTIONS EASE

    More than 300,000 students have returned to classrooms across the country for the first time since December after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

    After 33 lost school days, 60,000 Leaving Cert Students and another 260,000 junior primary have returned to in-person learning.

    Special needs schools, having returned on a limited basis two weeks ago, are returning to full capacity on Monday.

    Ronan Mac Grianna, a principal at Scoil Naomh Lorcan in Omeath, Co Louth said his pupils were overjoyed to be back.

    He told the PA News Agency: “When the children arrived, the vast majority of them literally ran up the hill to the school here. Our school is located on a hill overlooking Carlingford Lough here, and they just literally ran up. Everyone’s very happy, everyone’s delighted. It’s joy, even more so than relief. I’d say there’s a lot of relief among parents though.”

  • LABOUR DEMANDS STRICTER MEASURES AT BORDER IN LETTER TO PRITI PATEL

    Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds said he has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for stricter measures at the border, in light of the Brazilian variant being discovered in the UK.

    The shadow home secretary said in the letter that “people in the UK are being put at risk” as he asked what measures were being taken to contact those who had been on the same flight as one of the cases.

    “This is unforgivable incompetence from the UK Government,” Mr Thomas-Symonds said.

    “Despite being warned time and time again, they have failed to act to protect our borders against emerging Covid variants and could put at risk the gains from the vaccine.

    “People will be appalled to hear someone with the Brazilian variant cannot be identified, raising questions about how many others may have been missed by quarantine measures. There is no excuse for continuing to ignore Labour’s call for a comprehensive hotel quarantine system.”

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

  • CALL FOR ICU BEDS REVIEW AMID CONCERNS SOME REGIONS HAVE ‘INSUFFICIENT CAPACITY’

    The NHS in England has “insufficient” intensive care beds, hospital leaders have said.

    NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the pandemic has highlighted that there is not enough critical care capacity in the health service.

    It said that England is “towards the bottom” of the league table for critical care beds, falling behind Germany, the US, France, Italy, Australia and Spain.

    The organisation’s chief executive said that it is “neither safe nor sensible” to increase capacity of intensive care beds “at the drop of a hat” as he called for a review into the critical care system going forward.

    Chris Hopson also drew attention to regional disparities, with the East of England, South West and South East in particular falling short.

  • CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL FOR CAP ON WORSHIPPERS TO BE SCRAPPED

    The Catholic Church in Scotland wants a planned 20-person limit on congregations when churches can reopen for worship to be dropped.

    Instead, they believe each church should be able to allow a congregation in relation to its size, while maintaining measures to limit the spread of coronavirus such as social distancing.

    Churches and other places of worship have been closed to communal services since Scotland re-entered lockdown in January.

    As part of the Scottish Government’s road map out of the lockdown revealed last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to reopen communal worship in time for the Easter weekend and Passover on April 4.

    Services will be limited to congregations of 20.

  • DISTRIBUTION OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON’S COVID-19 VACCINE BEGINS

    Drug distributor McKesson Corp said on Monday it had begun distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.