UK begins delivery of nine million Covid-19 vaccines overseas
Rishi Sunak has told the prime minister he must ease travel restrictions to boost the economy and save thousands of families’ summer holiday plans, reports first published in The Sunday Times suggest.
The chancellor has written to Boris Johnson warning him that the UK’s border rules are damaging the economy and tourism. In the letter, seen by the newspaper, Mr Sunak also said that the country’s border policy was “out of step with our international competitors”.
Labour has accused the government of being “in chaos” over its confusing Covid travel policies, with shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon saying today: “[Mr] Sunak’s latest self-promotion campaign will just create more anxiety for people. Rather than brief the Sunday newspapers against each other, the Tories need to get a grip and bring this summer of chaos to an end.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Bridgen, one of the 43 Tories who previously signed a declaration opposing vaccine passports, earlier accused the Conservative Party of “trying to aggressively coerce young people” into getting coronavirus jabs. He made the remarks while talking about the controversial plans to enforce vaccine passports at nightclubs and other venues.
First of 9 million UK Covid vaccines sent overseas, says Raab
The foreign secretary said the UK’s spare donated vaccine doses were starting to be used after being shipped out last week.
Dominic Raab tweeted the following:
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 15:44
Khan reminds Londoners to wear a mask around the capital
The Mayor of London has tweeted a new campaign video to commemorate the capital’s reopening after almost all coronavirus restrictions last month.
In the post, Sadiq Khan reminded residents to “#WearAMask” after taking the decision to continue making face coverings mandatory on all Transport for London services.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, previously did the same on the northern city’s public transport links.
Some shops and supermarkets are also continuing to ask customers to wear coverings to keep staff members as safe as possible.
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 15:21
No lockdown for US but ‘things will get worse,’ Fauci admits
Dr Anthony Fauci has said he does not think the US will return to lockdown restrictions despite risks posed by the Delta variant.
Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser told ABC’s This Week that he believes “we have enough of the percentage of people in the country – not enough to crush the outbreak – but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter”.
He did, however, warn that “things are going to get worse” as the more infectious Delta variant – first identified in India – continues to spread.
“We have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated,” he explained, when asked what the US could do to improve its chances of staying safe.
The average number of new US cases reported each day has nearly doubled in the past 10 days and the number of hospitalised patients in many states is surging, according to analysis by the Reuters news agency.
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 14:47
Scotland records 3 Covid deaths and more than 1,000 cases
A further three coronavirus-related deaths and 1,034 new cases have been recorded in Scotland over the past 24-hour period, the latest government figures show.
It brings the death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,942.
Meanwhile, the daily test positivity rate is 5.4 per cent, down from 4.9 per cent the previous day.
A total of 422 Scots were in hospital on Saturday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 23 on the previous day – with 62 patients in intensive care, a drop of two.
So far, 4,011,060 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,197,899 have received their second dose.
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 14:30
Government ‘in chaos’ over travel rules, says Labour
Labour shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon has accused the government of being “in chaos over their border policy”, following reports the chancellor has written to Boris Johnson to call for holiday restrictions to be eased.
“The Tories are in chaos over their border policy with families stuck between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor who are in open disagreement,” said Mr McMcahon. “Rishi Sunak’s latest self-promotion campaign will just create more anxiety for people.”
He added: “Rather than brief the Sunday newspapers against each other, the Tories need to get a grip and bring this summer of chaos to an end.”
Mr McMcahon blamed the government not only for failing to secure borders earlier, and prevent Covid cases, but for also issuing confusing travel guidance ever since. “[Ministers] refuse to be straight with the public and give them the information they need to book travel with confidence, with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country,” he said.
“Families who have booked holidays in good faith now risk losing out – 10-day quarantine is simply not an option for many people who are already struggling financially thanks to the pandemic.”
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 14:07
Thailand extends lockdown as rioters demand PM leaves
Thailand has extended tighter lockdown measures in Bangkok and beyond, probably until the end of August, in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus as the country deals with its biggest outbreak to date, officials reported today.
Thailand recorded 18,027 infections and 133 deaths on Sunday, bringing the cumulative total to 615,314 cases and 4,990 fatalities, mostly from an outbreak since April that is being fuelled by the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants.
The restrictions, including travel curbs, mall closures and curfews, will be expanded to 29 provinces classified as “dark red zone” from 13, Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the government’s Covid-19 task force, told a televised news briefing.
The measures will start on Tuesday for 14 days and will be reviewed on 18 August, she added, though she said this could be extended further to 31 August.
It comes as anti-government protesters in Thailand took to the streets in cars and motorcycles over the weekend, demanding the resignation of their prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha over his handling of the virus’ spread.
“We can barely make a living now, all of my family members have been affected,” one 47-year-old demonstrator told Reuters. “The government failed to provide vaccines on time and many of us haven’t had any vaccine yet,” he said. “If we don’t come out to make our calls, the government will simply ignore us.”
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 13:27
Care home deaths could be ‘thousands higher than official figures’ – reports
The total death toll in England’s care homes is likely to be thousands higher than official figures show, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
Official figures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last month show 39,017 coronavirus-related deaths across care homes.
But care providers told the paper that only people who died with Covid between 10 April last year and 31 March this year were counted.
They believe that “thousands of elderly residents are likely to have died” in the days leading up to last 10 April, as just eight days earlier a policy was signed off allowing Covid-positive patients to be discharged from hospitals into care homes, reports Lamiat Sabin.
Leonie Chao-Fong1 August 2021 12:55
Demonstrations held across Italy in protest of ‘green pass’ scheme
Similar scenes have been seen in Italy, where thousands have taken to the streets in cities across the country in opposition to the “green pass” scheme for accessing indoor venues.
One protester told AP: “We are creating a great inequality between citizens. We will have first-class citizens, who can access public services, the theater, social life, and second-class citizens, who cannot. This thing has led to apartheid and the Holocaust.”
The comparison with the Holocaust has been widely condemned and rejected by Holocaust survivors who describe it as a distortion of history.
Holocaust survivor and Italian senator Liliana Segre said: “They are madness, gestures in poor taste that intersect with ignorance. It is such a time of ignorance, of violence that is not even repressed any more, that has become ripe for these distortions.”
Leonie Chao-Fong1 August 2021 12:43
France anti-vax and anti-health pass protests take aim at Macron
It’s a battle over numbers, writes Chris Bockman in France.
Last weekend 160,000 took to the streets across the country against the Covid vaccination programme and looming restrictions on those without the jabs.
At the same time President Macron, 16,000 kilometres away in French Polynesia, sent a self-congratulatory tweet promoting his ‘tough-love’ approach.
He said a new milestone had been reached with 40 million French citizens having received at least one Covid-19 vaccine and a month ahead of schedule.
That represents around 60 per cent of the French population and the government has now set a target of 50 million people being vaccinated by the end of August.
Leonie Chao-Fong1 August 2021 12:24
Former senior Tory suggests influencers used to spread vaccine encouragement
More vaccine passport controversy now. Sir David Lidington, who was de facto deputy prime minister under Theresa May, has said introducing the domestic documents would set a “dangerous precedent”.
“I’m much more cautious about the government laying down a law that people should actually have access to particular events in civil society only if they’ve got some sort of government certificate of approval,” the former MP told Times Radio on Sunday.
“I think that’s a pretty dangerous precedent and it also raises all sorts of really difficult practical problems about implementation. I mean, whose responsibility is it to actually carry out these checks? What sanctions do they have against an individual who resists having a check?”
He added that he thought there were “better ways of persuading young people to take up the vaccine” than denying them entry to nightclubs, and suggested the government instead recruited sports stars and YouTube influencers to spread the uptake message.
Sam Hancock1 August 2021 12:02