Is it safe to eat or drink on a flight during covid? Experts warn against it, even vaccinated.


“When [planes] turn into a flying restaurant, the dynamics of spread become very different,” Wachter says. “I would not eat at an indoor restaurant at this point, even being fully vaccinated, and so the time during which the plane is, in fact, an indoor restaurant is a time when it is somewhat less safe.”



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Experts Eye More Travel Testing to Contain COVID in Hawaii | Political News


By CALEB JONES, Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials are facing pressure to increase COVID-19 testing for travelers as the islands weather a record surge and federal guidelines change to require negative virus tests from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people coming to the U.S.

State leaders have resisted implementation of a two-test policy for arriving travelers, despite evidence that more COVID-19 testing would help reduce the spread of disease, especially in an isolated destination like Hawaii.

Earlier this summer, the state removed all testing requirements for vaccinated people.

And even with a single pre-flight test for unvaccinated travelers, experts say infected passengers can easily slip through the cracks.

Political Cartoons

Because of the incubation and latency periods of COVID-19, using just one test to prevent spread among tens of thousands of daily visitors is akin to using a chain link fence to keep out mosquitos, said Dr. Darragh O’Carroll, an emergency and disaster physician in Honolulu.

“There are a lot of holes,” O’Carroll said. “The science has been fairly conclusive since probably June of 2020 that a single test system was no more effective than 30 to 40% in catching a population of infected people.”

New federal rules announced Monday require all foreign travelers flying to the U.S. to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated American citizens will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.

O’Carroll and a number of his colleagues have been pushing state leaders to do the same, he said.

“Nobody really seemed to listen,” he said. “No matter what we said and how conclusive the science looked.”

After months of mandatory quarantines, business closures and virtually no tourists, Hawaii had among the lowest infection rates in the nation. Then, in October 2020, the state allowed travelers to skip quarantine with a single pre-flight test.

Infection rates increased, but they remained low compared to other states. Some of that has been attributed to a severely crippled tourism industry and a lack of participation in leisure travel. And some believe visitors do not see the incentive to test after arrival when facing quarantine away from home.

But when travel numbers increased this summer, so too did infection rates.

In July, Hawaii lifted its quarantine and testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. A month later the state was in the throws of a record surge of delta variant cases that were filling hospitals and leaving more people dead than at any other time in the pandemic.

Before July, Hawaii reported a seven-day average of 46 daily cases. In the first week of September, that number was up to nearly 900. Case rates have slowly begun to decline since, but experts say it’s unclear if that will hold.

Much of that was community spread fueled by the delta variant — which was introduced through travel.

Scientists say implementing additional testing measures could help.

A study published in March in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases showed that the risk to an overall population is reduced by only 36% through a single pre-flight test. But a two test system coupled with a short quarantine period catches a much higher rate, in excess of 70% of infected travelers, according to the study.

Lee Altenberg, an adjunct full professor in the mathematics department at the University of Hawaii, wrote that the paper “is one of very few studies available to inform policy makers in Hawaii.”

But, he said, the research was mischaracterized as proof that Hawaii’s single test system was highly effective at preventing spread. State officials said the study proved their single test system would catch 88% of all infected travelers.

“The public had the wrong impression about how much protection we were getting from the Safe Travels pretest program, and you can’t make good policy if you don’t have accurate information,” Altenberg said.

“We need to get absolutely serious about our travel protocols,” Altenberg added. “And if we’re laboring under the misimpression that (Safe Travels) is preventing 90% of infections, we’re not going to get serious about those protocols.”

The authors of the study said that the 88% figure represents the percentage of contagious people that would be detected on the day of travel, not the overall reduction of risk to a destination population.

The difference between “infected” and “infectious” is important, said one of the study’s co-authors.

“There obviously are people that … will develop an infection but are not yet infectious,” said Dr. Nathan Lo, faculty fellow in infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco and co-author of the study. “And those people will not be detected necessarily.”

Gov. David Ige did not respond to an interview request, but the state did announce Monday that 1 million free rapid tests are being provided for routine testing of Oahu residents.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green told The Associated Press that decisions about testing are ultimately up to the governor, but noted that Hawaii’s single test policy is more than other states in the U.S. have done, helping keep the islands safe.

“If the mayors want to do additional testing, I absolutely support that,” Green said. “Offering voluntary take-home antigen tests upon arrival for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers could offer additional protection given the delta variant’s highly infectious nature.”

But Green said the single test system is more than any other state, except for Alaska, has done in terms of travel testing. Alaska is also dealing with a record surge of COVID-19 that has crippled the state’s health care system.

“We’ve done more than everyone else, we’ve done a better job than everyone else,” Green said.

Dr. Mathew Kiang, an epidemiologist and professor at Stanford University, was the lead author on the Lancet study. He worries about the lack of routine travel testing as well as so-called breakthrough infections for those who are vaccinated. Experts say the shots help reduce the severity of the illness, but people who get infected could spread it to others.

“There’s a lot we still aren’t quite sure about for … breakthrough infections, especially in terms of asymptomatic spread,” Kiang said. But “we know delta is one of many variants of concern and this is going to keep evolving over time.”

Kiang said additional testing “allows you to bring in more visitors and it allows you to ramp up the economy.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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US Travel Reaches All-Time High Amid Rise in Covid Variants


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A spike in US travel has coincided with rapidly spreading coronavirus variants.

Pent up demand for travel – combined with rescheduled trips and historically busy summer months – led to the highest number of American travelers in recent history. Travel insurance comparison site, squaremouth.com, reported record sales in August, with an increase of over 120% from 2019.

By September, at least two new major variants had already impacted countries across the world. That same month, Squaremouth reported 40% of its travelers were heading to Europe, the location that currently leads the world in Delta variant cases.

The parallel may have travelers wondering what to do if history repeats itself. Squaremouth answers travelers’ top questions about insurance coverage as Covid variants evolve.

Can I buy coverage for new coronavirus variants?

  • Travel insurance can still be purchased to cover concerns surrounding Delta, Mu, and other variants of the coronavirus
  • Most travel insurance policies on squaremouth.com provide cancellation and medical benefits for contracting Covid-19, including all variants

What if I no longer want to travel because of the new variants?

  • Not wanting to travel due to a concern of getting sick is not a covered reason to cancel a trip under the standard Trip Cancellation benefit
  • Travelers who want this flexibility must have purchased a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policy
  • Travelers who haven’t booked yet, or who have booked a trip within the past 2 weeks, may be eligible for this upgrade. Trips booked several weeks or months ago are likely ineligible for CFAR

What if the new variants cause my destination to close its border?

  • Border closures are not covered under standard Trip Cancellation coverage
  • The Cancel For Any Reason upgrade is also the best option for travelers who want cancellation coverage should their destination close their border to US tourists

What if I contract Covid-19 while traveling?

  • Most travel insurance policies on squaremouth.com provide medical benefits for contracting Covid-19, including any of its variants
  • Most policies can also provide additional travel-related benefits for travelers who are quarantined and unable to return home as scheduled

Notes to editors
Available Topic Expert: Megan Moncrief, Chief Marketing Officer, is available for comment and interview. [email protected]

Squaremouth maintains a list of country insurance requirements here: https://www.squaremouth.com/destinations

Other Relevant Research:

ABOUT SQUAREMOUTH
Squaremouth.com, and their multi-award winning customer service team, has helped over 2 million travelers save time and money to find the best travel insurance policy for their trip.

Leveraging decades of travel expertise, and industry-leading technology, Squaremouth.com hosts the most intuitive travel insurance quoting and comparison engine on the market today.

Coupled with verified customer reviews and the largest portfolio of products, Squaremouth allows travelers to instantly purchase a travel insurance policy from every major provider in the US.

SOURCE Squaremouth

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When COVID cancels the school holidays, is more independence the answer to keeping kids happy?


The text came out of the blue: “We’ve been giving James a bit more freedom,” my mum friend wrote. “He’s been heading to the park on his bike without us. He rides on the paths, climbs a tree, goes to the playground. He knows once he’s in the park, he has to stay in the park and we agree on when he must be home.” 

Like my son, James is 10, but I confess the text pulled me up short. Even though the park in question is barely 200 metres from my friend’s front door, and busy with families and children doing their best to socially distance, 10 is young these days to be heading off alone. And depending on what state you live in, it’s important to know it can also be illegal to leave a child under 12 unsupervised.

Yet with school holidays upon us, and options for juggling childcare and work-from-home limited in some states as COVID lockdown drags, on my social media feeds are full of versions of one fraught question: “I’m having a cold sweat thinking about the school holidays coming up. What ideas have you?”.

A close up of a girl's hands looking on a phone.
Limiting screen time during school holidays can be tough for parents to negotiate.(

Unsplash: Tim Mossholder

)

The fear of watching their kids’ childhood disappear behind a digital matrix, that not only sucks up their free time but now their school time as well, has left many parents with a sinking feeling. Surely screens can’t steal the holidays too? And as lockdown smashes up against modern “helicopter” parenting, parents are filled with nostalgia for the sense of freedom they grew up with a generation ago.

“Can we go retro and keep them outside until the street lights turn on?” joked one parent.

“The good old days,” was the conclusion from others. “Best times ever”.

My friend’s text and these social media exchanges got me thinking: is COVID forcing us to rethink entrenched parenting norms? Could encouraging kids to be a little more independent add a spark of adventure to lockdown’s Groundhog Days?

In short, could allowing our kids to take on more responsibility help them to be more resilient in lockdown, and take a load off parents too?

A little bit of independence

Rachael Sharman, a psychologist and academic who specialises in child and adolescent mental health, says research shows that when kids are allowed to be independent and make their own decisions most take the responsibility seriously. Rather than being dangerous, it often leads to a drop in injuries and rise in reasoned judgements.

“The research shows very clearly that if you give kids a little bit of independence most of them in fact did better than when adults were attempting to control them and helicopter parent them,” she says. “The kid feels responsible, they feel like the parents trust them and they take that trust seriously. They don’t want to squander it.”

A boy climbs a big tree with many branches and a girl sits on a branch in the distance
Research suggests that when kids get more independence they step up and act more responsibly.

The way we raise our children in the West is not necessarily the style of parenting you see elsewhere in the world. In Japan, for example, children are expected to take themselves to school and to the local shop for errands from as young as five, and special parks allow Japanese kids freedom to light fires and build things with hammers and nails with relatively little supervision.

In the West, the “helicopter parent” model is rarely challenged and when it is, all hell can break loose. Who can forget the criticism that faced Lenore Skenazy when she wrote about allowing her son to ride the New York subway alone at nine years old.

Skenazy’s experience ultimately gave rise to the Free Range Kids movement and notwithstanding the absolute requirement of every adult to ensure the safety of children in their care, helping children to build independence has strong links to confidence and self-esteem.

It can especially be an issue for tweens – too old to need or want to be constantly under their parents’ control and yet too young to be left completely to their own devices.

A bit of biology can help strike the right balance, says Sharman. Her tip is to try hacking brain chemicals to help kids feeling excited about their lockdown vacay.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that creates feel good emotions when something goes well for us, says Sharman. That’s in part why online games are so addictive. Did you make it through level one and win 1000 bonus points? Bam – dopamine hit. You’re welcome.

But Sharman says anticipatory dopamine, released when we are looking forward to something, is even stronger than the dopamine we receive when we achieve it.

In the absence of a school routine, recreating a purpose to the day helps to create a sense of achievement and prevent the malaise that can come with endless unstructured hours. It is a healthier way to achieve that same hit of dopamine. One of the reason traditional holidays make us feel so good is that most of us structure our vacation days and wake each morning anticipating a fun activity ahead.

But the same principles can be used for a lockdown holiday. Planning activities to take place at certain times of the day helps generate anticipation and deliver dopamine alongside it.

Just anticipating the reward and having something to look forward too is more powerful than actually receiving it, Sharman says.

“If parents are looking to give their kids a dopamine hit then a really fun, pleasant surprise is the way to do it,” Sharman says. “Kids love a routine and if parents can tell their children before they go to bed at night ‘right, here’s something new we could do tomorrow’, that anticipatory dopamine will kick in and give them a bit of a lift.”

If the planned activities contain a sense of novelty then that kick is even more powerful which is why allowing your tweens a little extra independence or something a little naughty, within safe parameters (cricket in the hallway, perhaps? A pillow fight? Or a short solo trip to a nearby park?) can be deeply motivating and uplifting.

So as the school holidays get started in locked down NSW and Victoria and the rest of Australia, here are 10 ideas for creating a sense of adventure even when your holiday plans can’t go much further than your own backyard.

Backyard camping

Set up a tent in the backyard (or the balcony, or the living room, if you are in an apartment) and spend a few nights camping. The idea is to create a sense of novelty.

For outside campers, buy a fire pit: I’m yet to meet a tweenager who doesn’t get a kick out of building and lighting a fire (and a few adults too if we’re honest).

Keep it rustic. Spear some sausages onto a stick and cook them over the flame. Finish off with a few toasted marshmallows and then crowd together in the tent for a scary movie after the sun goes down.

a child's hand holds a stick with a marshmallow with black edges from being toasted on an open flame.
What about having a campting adventure in the backyard.(

Unsplash: Hanna Morris

)

Create a restaurant at home

Nominate a night or two a week when the kids do the cooking. Hand over responsibility for researching a menu (and keep your expectations moderate).

Get them to write a shopping list and then if COVID-safe to do so, hand over some cash and drop them to the supermarket or corner store to gather the ingredients.

Encourage them to present the meal with a dash of formal flourish, proper table settings, candles and music.

Explore your 5km

The limits on travel in Sydney where I live has forced us to re-imagine our neighbourhood, something Melbournians know all about.

But even if you are not locked down, visiting familiar, mundane places with the eyes of an explorer can bring them back to life.

While my family no longer has access to the beach, we are lucky to have other rivers and waterways where overlooked shorelines have now become valued spots to paddle and explore.

It’s surprisingly invigorating to discover that with a shift in perspective forgotten places close to home can become magical new destinations.

Kid launching mountain bike off jump
Look for magical new adventures close to home.(

ABC Tropical North: Melissa Maddison

)

Set up a social distanced street stall

Get your tween to sort out unused toys, books or clothes and set up a stall in the driveway to sell or give away their bits and pieces.

It’s a great way to encourage socially distanced interaction with the neighbours, teach the kids about the emotional and financial value of things and creates a great framework for a chat about wants, needs and equity.

Depending on how much plastic is in their giveaway stash, it’s a good time for a conversation about the environment, too.

Make public art

In a park close to us, a local child has created a fairy garden and put up a sign inviting others to add to it. Every day trinkets and miniature artworks appear building a sense of wonder and also community.

Another local paints rocks with inspirational messages and leaves them around our suburb. On the back is an Instagram address and when you discover a rock, the idea is to post a photo of where you found it and then hide it again for the next person to discover.

Volunteer 

It’s no secret that many families are doing it tough. Get in touch with local charities or Pay It Forward groups on social media and get the kids involved.

Some charities are collecting toiletry packs for the homeless, or pre-loved football boots in good nick to send to disadvantaged communities. Collect cans and bottles for a 10c refund and donate the money.

Find out if any neighbours are living alone and feeling lonely: get the kids to bake them a cake or ask if they need some groceries picked up.

Activities like this are also valuable for shifting a child’s focus away from themselves and their own troubles and helping them zero in on what they have to feel grateful for.

Start a holiday business

Do any of the neighbours need dogs walked or gardens weeded?

Tweens are old enough to take on these jobs with a bit of guidance. Feeling useful builds their self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

Set an exercise goal

Keeping active lifts our spirits. Decide on a fitness goal, maybe running 5km, 50 sit ups or holding plank position for a few minutes.

Get the kids to train towards their goal every day. Organise a family relay or biathalon.

A child's legs and feet, wearing Converse hi-tops, walks along a concrete breakwall with the ocean in the distance
What about encouraging your child to set a school holiday fitness goal?(

Unsplash: PixPoetr

)

Money to spend in a $2 shop

Hand over an agreed amount that’s large enough to get some bang for your buck, but small enough to force the kids to feel their financial limitations and enact a bit of strategy.

Then let them loose in the local $2 shop or variety store. If you are in lockdown most of these remain open. These stores usually stock loads of art and craft materials, some snacks and toys.

More than enough to fill up a locked down afternoon.

Oh OK, binge

When all else fails, a day on screens may be just what the kids need this holiday.

Theme your viewing — maybe you can work through the entire Star Wars series or revisit Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, or the Dark Knight Trilogy. Maybe Groundhog Day or the movie Contagion should be on the list, too. Let’s face it, options are endless.

Make some popcorn, thrown down every cushion, pillow, doona and beanbag in the house and create a giant soft, comforting place to slob out. Dim the lights and forget about lockdown and COVID-19, for a while.

After all, that may be the greatest vacation of all.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

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Covid: Anger over Australian travel restrictions


In Australia, cases so far total over 82,000, and total deaths at just over 1,000. But about half the population is currently in lockdown due to outbreaks in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with the Delta variant causing cases to rise more rapidly and the government has been criticised for a slow rollout of the vaccine.



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Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Police dealing with multiple breaches of Aucklanders fleeing lockdown city


Police making checks at the boundary. Photo / File

Aucklanders are escaping the city’s Covid-19 level 4 boundaries by using unmanned back roads, false documents and other methods that are the subject of ongoing investigation.

Police continue to tackle a slew of lockdown breaches by Aucklanders travelling south at a time when the Ministry of Health is tightening restrictions on cross-boundary travels.

In figures released to the Herald last week, a Ministry spokeswoman said just 170 of the 3900 exemption applications had been approved for Aucklanders to leave the city.

There have been at least seven incidents, involving 16 people leaving the region over the last few days.

In the latest case, two people – a 24-year-old woman and a 41-year-old man – were arrested on Saturday in Wellington after allegedly travelling from Auckland in breach of alert level restrictions.

Police checkpoint north of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Police checkpoint north of Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

They pair been charged with failing to comply with Covid-19 order and are expected to appear in Wellington District Court on Monday, a police spokeswoman said.

In another case, a high-profile Aucklander allegedly crossed the boundary and made onward travel to Queenstown.

A person who contacted the Otago Daily Times alleged this Aucklander was staying at a Queenstown Airbnb and had attended a gathering at the resort last weekend.

The tipster who wanted to remain anonymous said the Aucklander wasn’t isolating and was spending time with two other Queenstown residents.

A police spokeswoman said they were aware of the complaint, and were following up with the person involved to determine if any breach of the Health Act has occurred.

On Friday, two Aucklanders were arrested after they used false documents to visit Taupō, police say.

Three Auckland students have also been referred to health authorities after they travelled from Auckland to Tauranga last week.

The Herald received a tip that a student – part of the group – had reportedly travelled to Tauranga to attend a class at a tertiary education provider.

A police spokesperson said officers spoke to the group and no further action from police was required.

Officers had to also address three university students from Auckland after they allegedly crossed the alert level border illegally on their way to Gisborne. They were found on Thursday at residences in Gisborne and Te Karaka.

According to police, the trio had been self-isolating at their homes since they travelled to Gisborne on September 8.

Three essential workers who last week escaped Auckland for the Turoa ski field were arrested last Thursday in Ohakune.

Then there was William Willis, 35, and his lawyer partner Hannah Rawnsley, 26, who used their essential work exemptions to get to Hamilton before flying to Wanaka. The pair has since apologised after declining to continue pursuing name suppression.

The Herald had also received tips claiming people are bypassing the southern border by using two dirt roads unmanned by police.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman said travel into and out of Auckland was highly restricted.

“We appreciate this can be very distressing for some people…but the highly transmissible Delta variant means strong precautions are necessary,” she said.

“We are taking a very cautious approach to applications for personal travel exemptions to travel across or within the Alert Level boundaries. Exemptions are only granted in the most exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case basis, and only where this is consistent with the public health response to Covid-19.”

The spokeswoman said the boundary controls remained crucial to minimising further spread of the virus.

“They reflect the highly transmissible nature of the Delta variant, and are designed to minimise the spread of the virus to other parts of New Zealand – ultimately to keep the whole country safe,” she said.

“The Ministry acknowledges the inconvenience and concern caused by Auckland’s Alert Level boundaries.”

Police said as of 5pm Friday, 78 people from Auckland have been charged with a total of 82 offences since lockdown, most for failing to comply with the Covid-19 order.

Others include failing comply with direction, prohibition and or restriction, two for assaulting, threatening and/or hindering and enforcement officer and one for failing to stop at a checkpoint.

Health officials say they are “cautiously optimistic” that Auckland will be able to move out of alert level 4 this week despite a smattering of few unlinked cases.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week indicated an in-principle decision that Auckland would move to level 3 at 11.59pm on Tuesday, September 21.



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Covid travel news live: Government to introduce charges for tests


Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explains the new travel rules as restrictions are eased

The government will end free provision of lateral flow tests within months in a move that has been criticised as “reckless” by public health chiefs.

Plans to introduce charges for the tests were buried in the government’s Covid winter plan, which was unveiled earlier this week by Sajid Javid, the health secretary.

The relaxation of travel rules is expected to fuel a surge in holiday bookings this weekend, as the amber list was scrapped in favour of a single list of places which will require hotel quarantine on return to England.

Meanwhile, a new tool has found certain groups remain more vulnerable to the virus after vaccination.

The QCovid tool developed by scientists at the University of Oxford shows that immunosuppressed people, and those with dementia, Parkinson’s or chronic disorders such as kidney disease are still at a greater risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid when vaccinated compared to the rest of the population.

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That’s the end of The Independent’s live coverage of the pandemic for today, thank you all for following.

Make sure to check our site for more Covid stories as the day goes on. They will mostly be published on our health page.

Liam James18 September 2021 13:06

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Travel surge expected, as firms see bookings spike

Holiday bookings are expected to soar after the Government announced a relaxation of international travel rules, but concerns have been raised over a changed approach to Covid-19 testing.

Alan French, chief executive of travel firm Thomas Cook, said October half-term bookings were up 200 per cent compared to August and he expected this figure to increase as a result of the changed system.

“Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel,” he said.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of holiday company TUI UK, said he had already seen “an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October” and expected a boost in customer confidence with the new rules.

Online travel agency Skyscanner said it saw a 133 per cent spike in traffic in the 30 minutes following Mr Shapps’s announcement, while there had been “huge increases” in searches for destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives in anticipation of Friday’s news.

Liam James18 September 2021 07:49

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New tool identifies groups most at-risk from Covid after vaccination

Scientists at Oxford university have developed a new tool that predicts which groups are most at risk from Covid-19 after vaccination.

The QCovid tool found that immunosuppressed people and those with dementia, Parkinson’s or chronic disorders such as kidney disease were found to be at a greater risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid after vaccination compared to the rest of the population.

Age and ethnicity also factored into risk outcomes.

Samuel Lovett, Science Correspondent, has the details:

Liam James18 September 2021 08:08

1631949959

Travel rule change ‘will make it much easier for customers to understand’

Chris Parker, director of capacity and commercial performance at DFDS ferries, said his company welcomed the change to the travel rules system.

“It will make it much easier for customers to understand what they need to do,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

There was a spike in visitors to the DFDS website yesterday, Mr Parker said, and an “uptick” in bookings for October onwards.

Mr Parker estimated the ferry company had this year seen only 20 per cent of the number of bookings seen in 2019.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:25

1631950679

UK aviation much slower to recover than rest of Europe, says industry chief

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said UK aviation was recovering from the pandemic far slower than in most other European countries.

Passenger numbers in the UK were only around 20 per cent of a normal summer, while the rest of Europe was seeing around 50-60 per cent, Ms Dee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That’s all down to the complexities we’ve built in the UK in the testing system,” she said.

Ms Dee also said this summer had been worse than last year’s for aviation.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:37

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Singapore pauses reopening amid rise in Covid cases

Singapore reported 935 new Covid cases on Friday, the country’s highest daily total since last April.

The city state has paused the lifting of restrictions as cases have risen. More than 80 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:55

1631952816

New travel changes: What are they, and what are the effects?

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent, has put together a guide to the new travel system.

In his opinion, there are two “modest positives” to the changes:

Liam James18 September 2021 09:13

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Scotland won’t ditch pre-flight tests

The Scottish government has said it will also be making changes to travel rules.

The traffic light system will be dropped but Scotland will not follow England in removing the pre-departure test requirement for the fully vaccinated returning from non-red list countries, the government said.

Michael Matheson, the transport secretary, said there were “concerns” that dropping the test would “weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities”.

Liam James18 September 2021 09:32

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Charges to be introduced for Covid lateral flow tests within ‘months’ in ‘reckless’ move

The free provision of lateral flow tests will end within months, the government has announced.

No date has been set for the introduction of charges, but the winter plan unveiled by Sajid Javid, the health secretary, says the tests will only remain free for “the coming months”.

Public health chiefs and school leaders have united in criticising the “reckless” move.

More on this from Rob Merrick here:

Liam James18 September 2021 09:50

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India has vaccinated more than 790 million

More than 790 million people in India have now been vaccinated, a figure higher than the total population of Europe.

A vaccination drive in the country to mark prime minister Narendra Modi’s birthday saw 25 million doses administered on Friday alone, according to the Indian Health Ministry.

Officials say they aim to have administered more than one billion doses by the middle of next month.

Liam James18 September 2021 10:09



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Covid: Anger over Australian travel restrictions


In Australia, cases so far total over 82,000, and total deaths at just over 1,000. But about half the population is currently in lockdown due to outbreaks in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with the Delta variant causing cases to rise more rapidly and the government has been criticised for a slow rollout of the vaccine.



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UK Covid live news: cases rates rising in England’s secondary schools, latest ONS figures show | Politics


This is another disappointing U-turn from Labour’s first minister who told me in July he was against the idea of people having to show a Covid passport to enter a venue or event in Wales.

Welsh Conservatives have been against the introduction of such documentation from the outset, due to the wide-ranging ethical, equality, privacy, legal, and operational ramifications.

The inclusion of the lateral flow test element eases one area of concern but a whole host remain, particularly regarding the overall effectiveness of this measure and the impact it will have on businesses, jobs and Wales’ economic recovery.



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