#AceHealthReport – July.25: We’ve had an oxygen shortage since July 14 and it’s getting critical by the day because of a surge in new cases,” Ketut Suarjaya, the head of Bali’s health agency, said as quoted by Antara state news agency as saying on Friday.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says there’s an oxygen crisis in Bali.” As Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has had more than 3 million #COVID19 infections and 80,598 deaths according to official data the spread being driven by the Delta variant, has shown no sign of slowing acording to Telegram Reuters Wires…
Reuters Wire News, [Jul 24, 2021 at 09:19:
Research organisation Our World in Data said the country had a death rate three times higher than the global average.
The debate over coronavirus restrictions has pitted health experts, who say it is premature to ease curbs during the surge of infections, against employer groups that have warned of mass layoffs unless the curbs are relaxed.
Suarjaya said patients in Bali needed 113.3 tonnes of oxygen on Thursday, while hospitals only had 40.5 tonnes. He was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.
Oxygen shortages have also been seen on Java. The government has begun to import oxygen supplies from countries such as the United States and China.
#AceHealthReport – July.25: Infections are rising, particularly in Europe and the western Pacific region. Some Western countries have started to ease restrictions as death rates have dropped. But those without access to vaccines or with a slower vaccine rollout are facing a deadlier threat…
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – #Covid19 Delta variant spreads globally as cases soar across 124 terrortories worldwide and its expected to become the dominant variant globally in the coming months, with the WHO predicting that there could be more than 200 million confirmed cases within a matter of weeks Read More Here:
Reuters/BBC/Indonesia Media: Indonesia has seen cases soar in recent weeks after the Delta variant arrived in the country
Here, BBC journalists around the world give a sense of the toll the Delta variant is taking and what impact its spread could have:
Valdya Baraputri, BBC News Indonesia: Demand for funerals soars with more than 1,300 deaths in a day, Indonesia has become Asia’s new Covid epicentre. Hundreds of people have died in self-isolation – possibly because they could not get immediate treatment or were turned away by overwhelmed hospitals.Wirawan, a firefighter in the capital city of Jakarta, sees the worsening crisis first-hand. He and his team are tasked with picking up bodies from homes before finally delivering them for burial. Before the latest spike in cases, he arranged two or three funerals a day. Now, he gets calls for up to 24 funerals a day.That’s more than he can handle, so the bodies need to wait.
Dying alone in Indonesia’s grim battle with Covid-19 that is recording more than 50,000 new daily cases, and the government is keeping emergency restrictions until at least the end of this week. It is likely to extend the measures on Monday.As the new highly transmissible Delta variant, which was first detected in India, continues to ravage the country, Indonesia is racing to vaccine its people. From 208 million people eligible for vaccines, only around 16 million have received both doses.What is the Delta variant?
By Michelle Roberts, BBC Health Editor: First cases were identified in India, but it has been reported in lots of countries around the world It is a variant of concern, meaning it has undergone some genetic changes that are potentially worrying in terms of transmissibility and vaccine escapeIn some countries, including the UK, Delta has become the dominant type of Covid circulatingExperts say vaccines still work well to protect against severe disease caused by this variantTunisia – Pizza offers for vaccine registration.
By Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent: Tunisia is now witnessing the most devastating impact of Covid since the global pandemic took hold. It’s not known whether most of the new infections are the Delta variant specifically, but case numbers grew after its known arrival here. Hospitals across the country are completely overwhelmed, with some medics filmed crying over a shortage of oxygen concentrators as they are forced to decide who lives and who dies. Getty ImagesIn July a health ministry spokeswoman described the Covid situation in Tunisia as “catastrophic”Infection rates are soaring, and the vaccination campaign has been very slow with less than 8% of the population fully jabbed. Rights organisations have accused the government of mismanaging the crisis, and on Tuesday the health minister was sacked. In recent days, Tunisia’s national telecoms agency has offered 1GB of free internet for those who follow a mobile text prompt to register for a vaccine. At least one known pizza place in Tunis offered a 10% discount if customers showed proof of vaccine registration.The situation could turn a corner next month after Tunisia received donations of vaccines, oxygen tanks and other medical supplies from European and Arabic countries, with several countries pledging to deliver more aid.Mexico – People tire of the crisis.
By Marcos González Díaz, BBC Mundo correspondent: Mexico is facing its third wave of the pandemic. The number of infections has risen to more than 15,000 a day, reaching the peak we saw at the beginning of the year.Authorities are concerned about the advance of the Delta variant, which in the capital Mexico City already accounts for around 60% of cases.The government admitted that the spread of this variant in Mexico and the US is the reason they have extended the closure of the land border between the two countries to non-essential travel.Most of those affected in Mexico are young and unvaccinated people. Only one in four over 18 year-olds in the country are fully vaccinated: The Mexican villages refusing to vaccinate but with 65% of beds available, hospitals do not show for now the collapse seen in the worst moments of the pandemic.In the streets, the feeling is almost of apparent normality among a population exhausted by this crisis. Many of them must leave home daily to work selling food or in other informal jobs, in order to earn the money they need to survive.This is why the government does not plan to increase restrictive measures or shut down economic activities once again, despite the risk of Delta.
Samba Cyuzuzo, senior digital journalist for BBC Great Lakes recently, Rwanda had been praised for its swift and strong measures to contain the virus.But since mid-June, the virus has hit harder. Cases and deaths have spiked to record highs week after week. By early July, all Covid treatment centres were said to be full.”We have never been here before in this pandemic,” the health minister told the state broadcaster on 6 July. Two days later he confirmed the arrival of the faster spreading and deadlier Delta variant.On 17 July, the country announced a 10 day lockdown in the capital Kigali and eight districts to try to halt virus. Cases and casualties, however, remain relatively high.More than 400,000 people are fully vaccinated – around 3% of Rwanda’s population.
#AceNewsReport – July.25: This report was provided. By BBC Trending on the effort to use disinformation on vaccines with public, do what’s right in your heart always ….
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot and the The BBC reports they have made multiple attempts to contact AdNow by phone, email and even a letter couriered to their Moscow headquarters, but they have not responded.
By Charlie Haynes and Flora Carmichael BBC Trending
“It started with an email” says Mirko Drotschmann, a German YouTuber and journalist.
Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other.
An influencer marketing agency called Fazze offered to pay him to promote what it said was leaked information that suggested the death rate among people who had the Pfizer vaccine was almost three times that of the AstraZeneca jab.
The information provided wasn’t true.
It quickly became apparent to Mirko that he was being asked to spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in vaccines in the middle of a pandemic.
“I was shocked,” says Mirko “then I was curious, what’s behind all that?”
Mirko DrotschmannMirko Drotschmann was offered money to spread disinformation on his social media accounts
In France, science YouTuber Léo Grasset received a similar offer. The agency offered him 2000 euros if he would take part. Fazze said it was acting for a client who wished to remain anonymous.
“That’s a huge red flag” says Léo.
Both Léo and Mirko were appalled by the false claims.
They pretended to be interested in order to try to find out more and were provided with detailed instructions about what they should say in their videos.
In stilted English, the brief instructed them to “Act like you have the passion and interest in this topic.”
Léo GrassetLéo Grasset was horrified by the attempt to recruit him
It told them not to mention the video had a sponsor – and instead pretend they were spontaneously giving advice out of concern for their viewers.
Social media platforms have rules that ban not disclosing that content is sponsored. In France and Germany it’s also illegal.
Fazze’s brief told influencers to share a story in French newspaper Le Monde about a data leak from the European Medicines Agency.
The story was genuine, but didn’t include anything about vaccine deaths. But in this context it would give the false impression that the death rate statistics had come from the leak.
The data the influencers were asked to share had actually been cobbled together from different sources and taken out of context.
It presented the numbers of people who had died in several countries some time after receiving different Covid vaccines. But just because someone dies after having a vaccine doesn’t mean they died because they had the vaccine. They could have been killed in a car accident.
In the countries the statistics were from, greater numbers of people had received the Pfizer vaccine at that time, so a higher number of people dying after having a Pfizer jab was to be expected.
“If you don’t have any scientific training, you could just say, ‘oh, there are these numbers, they are really different. So there must be a link.’ But you can make any spurious correlation as you want really,” Léo says.
The influencers were also provided with a list of links to share – dubious articles which all used the same set of figures that supposedly showed the Pfzer vaccine was dangerous.
When Léo and Mirko exposed the Fazze campaign on Twitter all the articles, except the Le Monde story, disappeared from the web.
By any measure the disinformation campaign was bungled.
Since Léo and Mirko blew the whistle at least four other influencers in France and Germany have gone public to reveal they also rejected Fazze’s attempts to recruit them.
But German journalist, Daniel Laufer, has identified two influencers who may have taken up the offer.
Indian YouTuber Ashkar Techy usually makes jokey videos about cars and dating and Brazilian prankster Everson Zoio, has more than three million Instagram followers.
Each of them posted uncharacteristic videos in which they pushed the same message as the Fazze campaign and shared the fake news links from the agency’s brief. Both had also participated in previous Fazze promotions.
After Daniel Laufer contacted them, Everson Zoio and Ashkar Techy removed their videos but didn’t answer his questions. The BBC tried to contact both influencers, but they didn’t respond.
Ashkar TechyAshkar Techy shared the dubious data in his video
We tried emailing the people who approached Mirko and Léo. The emails bounced back, not from Fazze, but from the domain of a company called AdNow.
Fazze is a part of AdNow, which is a digital marketing company, registered in both Russia and the UK.
Eventually we managed to contact Ewan Tolladay, one of two directors of the British arm of AdNow – who lives in Durham.
Mr Tolladay said he had very little to do with Fazze – which he said was a joint venture between his fellow director – a Russian man called Stanislav Fesenko – and another person whose identity he didn’t know.
He said that he hadn’t been a part of the disinformation campaign. He said he hadn’t even known Fazze had taken on the contract before the story broke. He couldn’t enlighten us on who the mystery client was.
He said that in light of the scandal “we are doing the responsible thing and shutting down AdNow here in the UK”. He said Fazze was also being shut down.
We have tried to get Mr Fesenko to talk to us but had no success.
Both the French and German authorities have launched investigations into Fazze’s approaches to influencers.
But the identity of the agency’s mystery client remains unclear.
There has been speculation about the Russian connections to this scandal and the interests of the Russian state in promoting its own vaccine – Sputnik V.
Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for the German Green party has suggested looking to Moscow for the motivation behind the Fazze campaign.
He said: “Bad-mouthing vaccines in the West undermines trust in our democracies and is supposed to increase trust in Russia’s vaccines, and there is only one side that benefits and that is the Kremlin.”
But in a statement the Russian embassy in London said: “We treat Covid-19 as a global threat and, thus, are not interested in undermining global efforts in the fight against it, with vaccinating people with the Pfizer vaccine as one of the ways to cope with the virus.”
While Fazze’s campaign was a flop, Léo Grasset believes it won’t be the last attempt to use the power of social influencers to spread disinformation.
“If you want to manipulate public opinion, especially for young people, you don’t go to TV” says French YouTuber Léo Grasset.
“Just spend the same money on TikTok creators, YouTube creators. The whole ecosystem is perfectly built for maximum efficiency of disinformation right now.”
#AceHealthReport – July.23: He dismissed the lab leak idea as a rumour that runs counter to common sense and science….
#AceHealthDesk says WHO’s plan to probe Wuhan lab leak theory ‘impossible’ for China to accept, says Chinese health official ………Zeng Yixin, the vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said on Thursday he was “rather taken aback” that the plan includes further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.
“It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan,” he said at a news conference called to address the COVID-19 origins issue.
The search for where the virus came from has become a diplomatic issue that has fuelled China’s deteriorating relations with the US and many American allies.
The US and others say that China has not been transparent about what happened in the early days of the pandemic.
China accuses critics of seeking to blame it for the pandemic and politicising an issue that should be left to scientists.
#AceHealthReport – July.19: Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the #coronavirus…
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says PARIS: Thousands of people marched around France to protest mandatory vaccinations for health care workers and #COVID19 passes that will be required to enter restaurants and other venues acording to AP
ABC News By CONSTANTIN GOUVY Associated Press: 17 July 2021, 21:47
CDC director: COVID-19 spreading among unvaccinated
In Paris, separate protest marches by the far-right and the far-left wound through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in Strasbourg in the east, Lille in the north, Montpellier in the south and elsewhere.
Thousands of people answered calls to take to the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician and former right hand of Marine Le Pen who announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election. Gathered a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum, protesters chanted “Macron, clear off!”, “Freedom,” and banged metal spoons on saucepans.
While Philippot has organized small but regular protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Saturday’s demonstration drew a larger and more diverse crowd of people broadly disaffected with politics: yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff and royalists.
They denounced the government’s decision on Monday to make vaccinescompulsory for all health care workers, and to require a “health pass” proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in order to access restaurants and other public venues. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is presenting a draft law Monday to enshrine the measures.
“I will never get vaccinated,” Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councilor who lives on the outskirts of Paris. “People need to wake up,” he said, questioning the safety of the vaccine.
While France already requires several vaccinations to enter public school, Auquier pledged to take his two children out of school if the coronavirus vaccine became mandatory. “These new measures are the last straw,” Auquier said.
The government warned of the continued spread of the delta variant, which authorities fear could again put pressure on hospitals if not enough people are vaccinated against the virus. The pandemic has cost France more than 111,000 lives and deeply damaged the economy.
During a visit to a pop-up vaccination center in the southwest, Prime Minister Jean Castex exhorted the French to stick together in order to overcome the crisis.
“There is only one solution: vaccination,” he said, stressing it “protects us, and will make us freer.”
At the Paris protest, a manual worker in his sixties expressed bitterness about jobs in his sector sent offshore. A 24-year-old royalist said he was there to demand “the return of God and the King.”
Lucien, a 28-year-old retail shop manager, said he wasn’t anti-vaccine, but thought that everyone should be able to do as they please with their own body. “The government is going too far,” he said. His 26-year-old friend Elise said, “I am vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. But the COVID vaccine is just too experimental.”
While a majority of French health care workers have had at least one vaccine dose, some are resisting the government’s decision to make vaccination compulsory for all staff in medical facilities.
At Saturday’s Paris protest, a 39-year-old green party supporter and hospital laboratory worker said she might resort to buying a fake vaccination certificate to avoid losing her job. A health care worker dressed as the Statue of Liberty called it “act of violence” to force people to get vaccinated.
In Montpellier, more than 1,000 people marched to the train station, chanting “Liberty!” and carrying signs reading “Our kids aren’t Guinea pigs.” Security officials closed the main entrance to travelers and a dozen police officers took posts in front.
The Interior Ministry said 114,000 people took part in protests nationwide.
Overnight on Friday, vandals ransacked a vaccination center in the southeast. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asked prefects and police chiefs to reinforce security for elected officials, after several complained they had received threats in recent days over the latest anti-COVID measures.
Vaccine hesitancy is considered widespread in France, though appears to have faded somewhat as 36 million French people have gotten coronavirus vaccine doses in recent months. Millions more have gotten injected or signed up for vaccinations since Monday’s announcement.
French health care workers have until Sept. 15 to get vaccinated. The requirement for COVID passes for all restaurants, bars, hospitals, shopping malls, trains, planes and other venues is being introduced in stages starting Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the French government announced tightened border controls starting Sunday, but also said it would allow in travelers from anywhere in the world who have been fully vaccinated.
That now includes people who received AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine. The move came after a global outcry over the fact that the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate only recognizes AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe.
Elaine Ganley in Montpellier and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – PM statement at coronavirus press conference: 12 July 2021 as he confirms ending England lockdown on July 19 with #COVID19 cases estimated to rise to 100,000 but are as of todays date 14th July standing at …..
Today's update to the #COVID19 Dashboard is experiencing a delay.
On 14 July 2021, 42,302 new cases and 49 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK.
46,037,090 people have now received the 1st dose of a #vaccine. 35,155,767 have received a 2nd dose.
On July 19 a raft of #Coronavirus restrictions are set to be lifted including legal requirements on wearing masks and the ‘rule of six’ for meeting indoors and signatories said in the statement that the planned relaxation ‘involves recklessly exposing millions to the acute and long-term impacts of mass infection.’
A ban on nightclubs opening is also set to be scrapped.
It comes amid a surge in new infections with the highest daily rate seen since January, when the nation was once again plunged into lockdown.
With just days to go before the relaxation of more restrictions a group of doctors and health experts wrote to medical journal The Lancet to raise their concerns over the planned changes.Most lockdown restrictions will end on Monday(
The group said: “We believe this is a terrible mistake.
“This strategy is already putting intense pressure on struggling healthcare services and will lead to many avoidable deaths and long-term illness.
“The narrative of ‘caution, vigilance and personal responsibility’ is an abdication of the government’s fundamental duty to protect public health.
“‘Personal responsibility’ does not work in the face of an airborne, highly-contagious infectious disease.The group warned easing restrictions now was ‘a mistake'(Image: Getty Images)
“Infectious diseases are a matter of collective, rather than individual responsibility.”
More than 1,200 scientists have signed a letter to the Lancet setting out why they believe allowing mass infection in the summer is a ‘dangerous and unethical experiment’.
Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, called a strategy of letting infection spread through a population “moral emptiness and epidemiological stupidity”.
Latest government figures reveal that more than 36,000 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, with daily cases numbers topping 30,000 every day over the last week.
It’s the highest tally since January. There were 50 deaths recorded yesterday, which is a relatively lower figure than from earlier this year.
Confirming the planned relaxation earlier Health Secretary Sajid Javidtold MPs there will “never be a perfect time” to lift the restrictions, and added: “To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?'”
Despite admitting cases could soar to 100,000 per day later in the summer, Mr Javid said the vaccine programme would prevent a surge in deaths and hospitalisations.
Nearly 46 million first doses of a Covid vaccine have so far been administered, as well as nearly 35 million second shots.
#AceHealthReport – July.11: Starting on Monday, #coronavirus curbs will be tightened to the strictest level possible in Seoul and neighbouring regions for the first time:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that Seoul is preparing for strictest measures and lockdown starting on Monday after the country reported 1,378 new #COVID19 cases as of midnight on Friday, up from Thursday’s record of 1,316 and rising for the first time in neighbouring regions with about 11% of 52 million people having completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for vaccines requiring two doses, while 30% have received one dose, KDCA said in a statement according to Telegram Reuters Wire report
People wait in line for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site which is temporarily set up at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2021. REUTERS/ Heo Ran
South Korea has so far fared better than many industrialised nations in infections and deaths, with a mortality rate of 1.22% and the number of severe cases at 148 as of Friday, which is much lower than the previous peak in late December.
However the rising trend has prompted a warning that new case numbers may nearly double by the end of July.
That has led to tougher curbs by the government including people being advised to stay home as much as possible and social gatherings restricted to two people after 6pm from four earlier in the day.
The country aims to reach herd immunity before November by inoculating 70% of the public with at least one shot by September.
South Korea’s total Covid-19 infections to date stand at 166,722 with 2,038 deaths.
#AceHealthReport – July.06: I want to set out what our lives would be like from the 19th of this month – which is only a few days away – if and when we move to step 4 – a decision we will finally take on the 12th – and I want to stress from the outset that this pandemic is far from over and it will certainly not be over by 19th.
#AceHealthDesk reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement at the #coronavirus press conference and said as we predicted in the roadmap we’re seeing cases rise fairly rapidly – and there could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th and again as we predicted, we’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from #COVID19.
In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there is only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step 4 – in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further – and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine roll-out.
When we paused step 4 a few weeks ago, we had two reasons. First, we wanted to get more jabs into people’s arms – and we have, with over 45 million adults now having received a first dose and 33 million a second. That is a higher proportion of the adult population of any European country except Malta, and our expectation remains that by July 19 every adult will have had the chance to receive a first dose and two thirds will have received their second dose.
And second, we wanted a bit more time to see the evidence that our vaccines have helped to break the link between disease and death. And as the days have gone by it has grown ever clearer that these vaccines are indeed successful with the majority of those admitted to hospital unvaccinated, and Chris and Patrick will show the data highlighting the greatly reduced mortality that the vaccines have achieved.
So, as we come to the fourth step, we have to balance the risks. The risks of the disease which the vaccines have reduced but very far from eliminated. And the risks of continuing with legally enforced restrictions that inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods – on people’s health and mental health. And we must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?
And to those who say we should delay again; the alternative is to open up in the winter when the virus will have an advantage or not at all this year. And so again without pre-empting the decision on 12th July, let me set out today our five-point plan for living with Covid in the hope that it will give families and businesses time to prepare.
First, we will reinforce our vaccine wall, reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to 8, so that everyone over 18 should be double jabbed by mid-September, in addition to our Autumn programme of booster vaccines for the most vulnerable.
Second, we will change the basic tools that we have used to control human behaviour. We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus. From Step 4, we will remove all legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors. We will allow all businesses to re-open, including nightclubs. We will lift the limit on named visitors to care homes, and on numbers of people attending concerts, theatre, and sports events. We will end the 1 metre plus rule on social distancing, and the legal obligation to wear a face covering, although guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so, especially when cases are rising, and where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed places, such as obviously crowded public transport.
It will no longer be necessary for government to instruct people to work from home, so employers will be able to start planning a safe return to the workplace.
There will be no Covid certificate required as a condition of entry to any venue or event, although businesses and events can certainly make use of certification and the NHS app gives you a Covid pass as one way to show your Covid status.
Third, we will continue from Step 4 to manage the virus with a test, trace and isolate system that is proportionate to the pandemic. You will have to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace. But we are looking to move to a different regime for fully vaccinated contacts of those testing positive, and also for children. And tomorrow the Education Secretary will announce our plans to maintain key protections but remove bubbles and contact isolation for pupils.
Fourth, from Step 4 we will maintain our tough border controls – including the red list – and recognising the protection afforded by two doses of vaccine, we will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country and the Transport Secretary will provide a further update later this week.
Last, we will continue to monitor the data and retain contingency measures to help manage the virus during higher risk periods, such as the winter. But we will place an emphasis on strengthened guidance and do everything possible to avoid re-imposing restrictions with all the costs that they bring. As we set out this new approach, I am mindful that today is the 73rd anniversary of our National Health Service and there could not be a more fitting moment to pay tribute once again to every one of our NHS and social care workers.
And the best thing we can do to repay their courage and dedication right now is protect ourselves and others and to get those jabs whenever our turn comes.
#AceHealthReport – July.06: Mr Speaker, I’m extremely grateful to you for accommodating the timing of this statement today. I’d like to update the House on the pandemic, and our roadmap to freedom.
#AceHealthDesk reports ….Update on the #pandemic and the roadmap to freedom and oral statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on step 4 of the roadmap and the vaccine roll-out.
Mr Speaker, this morning I joined some of the remarkable people who have been at the heart of our pandemic response at a service to mark the NHS’s 73rd Birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral. Together we reflected on a ‘year like no other’ – for the NHS and for our country.
I know Honourable Members on all sides of this House will join me in celebrating the decision by Her Majesty the Queen to award the NHS the George Cross. I can think of no more fitting tribute to the NHS. I know that everyone in this House – indeed, everyone in this country – will celebrate this award.
Mr Speaker, there’s no greater demonstration of our high regard for the NHS than the manner in which we all stepped up to protect it. Now it is thanks to the NHS and many others that we are vaccinating our way out of this pandemic – and out of our restrictions.
86% of UK adults have had at least one jab, and 64% have had two. We’re reinforcing our vaccine wall of defence further still.
I can tell the House we are reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to 8… which will mean every adult should have the chance to be double jabbed by mid-September.
And those vaccines are working. The latest data from the ONS shows that 8 in 10 adults have the COVID-19 antibodies that are so important in helping our body fight the disease. When we look at people over 50 — the people who got the jab earlier in the programme — that figure rises to over 9 in 10.
Mr Speaker, allow me to set out why all of this is so important. Before we started putting jabs in arms, whenever we saw a rise in cases, it would inevitably be followed by a rise in hospitalisations and, tragically, a rise in deaths too. Yet today, even though cases are heading upwards in line with what we expected, hospitalisations are increasing at a much lower rate and deaths are at a low level at just 1% of the figure we saw at the peak.
Our vaccines are building a wall of protection against hospitalisation – and jab by jab, brick by brick – that wall is getting higher.
And for those people who sadly do find themselves having to go to hospital, we have better treatments than ever before. Last week, on my visit to St Thomas’ Hospital, clinicians were telling me just how transformative dexamethasone has been for their live-saving efforts. Taken together, the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is being severely weakened – and this means we can start to learn to live with COVID-19.
As we do that, Mr Speaker, it’s important we’re straight with the British people. Cases of COVID-19 are rising – and will continue to rise significantly. We can reasonably expect that, by the 19th of July, the number of daily cases to be far higher than today.
Against this backdrop, I know that many people will be understandably cautious about easing restrictions. After many months of uncertainty, this is entirely natural.
But we can now protect the NHS without having to go to the extraordinary lengths we’ve needed to in the past. That’s not to say this is going to be easy, Mr Speaker. Of course the pandemic is not over. The virus is still with us, it hasn’t gone away – and the risk of a dangerous new variant that evades vaccines remains real.
We know that with COVID-19, the situation can change – and it can change quickly. But we cannot put our lives on hold forever.
My responsibility as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care includes helping to us turn and face the other challenges that we know we must also address, from mental health to social care to the challenges of long-COVID.
I’m also determined to get to work on busting the backlog this pandemic has caused – a backlog we know is likely to get worse before it gets better.
As I set out to this House last week, Mr Speaker, I remain confident we can move to Step 4 in England on the 19th of July and the government will make its final decision on this on the 12th of July.
Today, Mr Speaker, I wish to set out further details of what Step 4 will look like.
In essence, our national response to COVID-19 will change, from one of rules and regulations, to one of guidance and good sense. We will revoke all social distancing guidance, including the 2-metre rule, except for in some specific settings, such as ports of entry and medical settings, where it makes sense for those to continue.
It will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings in any setting, including on public transport – although we advise this as a voluntary measure for crowded and enclosed spaces.
It will no longer be necessary to work from home. There will be no limits on the number of people you can meet. There will be no limits on the number of people who can attend life events, like weddings and funerals – and no restrictions on communal worship and singing.
We will remove legal requirements on how businesses operate. Capacity caps will all be lifted, and there will no longer be a requirement to offer table service. All businesses forced to close their doors because of the pandemic will be able to open them once again.
And we will lift the cap on named care home visitor numbers, so that families can come together in the ways they want to once again.
Mr Speaker, ministers will provide further statements this week on self-isolation for fully vaccinated people, including for international travel, and on restrictions in education settings – including the removal of bubbles and contact isolation.
Today, I can also confirm to the House that we have completed our review of certification. While already a feature of international travel, we have concluded that we do not think using certification as a condition of entry is the way to go.
For people who haven’t been offered a full course of vaccination, and for businesses, we felt the impact outweighed the public health benefits.
Of course, Mr Speaker, businesses can use COVID-status certification at their own discretion…… and from Step 4 onwards, the NHS Covid Pass will be accessible through the NHS app and other non-digital routes.
This will be the main way people can prove their COVID-19 status – a status they will achieve once they have completed a full vaccine course, a recent negative test, or by some other proof of natural immunity.
Mr Speaker, taken together, Step 4 is the biggest step of all. A restoration of so many of the freedoms that make this country great.
We know that as a consequence, cases will rise – just as they have done at every step on our roadmap. But this time, our wall of protection will help us. While Step 4 will be the moment to let go of many of restrictions, we must hold on to those sensible everyday decisions that can keep us all safe.
The responsibility to combat COVID-19 lies with each and every one of us. That means staying at home when you’re asked to self-isolate. It means considering the guidance that we’re setting out. And it means getting the jab – both doses – when you’re offered it, something that is still the single biggest contribution anyone can make to our national effort.
And it may even mean three jabs in a single year for some of us. Last week, the JCVI provided interim advice on who to prioritise for a third dose – and our most vulnerable will be offered booster COVID-19 jabs from September, in time for the winter.
And preparing for the winter ahead is not just about COVID-19, but flu as well.
Because of the measures in place this winter, almost nobody in the UK has had flu for 18 months now. That’s obviously a good thing, but it means our immunity will be down.
This winter’s flu campaign will be more important than ever – and we’re currently looking at whether we can give people their COVID-19 booster shot and the flu jab at the same time.
Mr Speaker, Step 4 is the next step on our country’s journey out of this pandemic.
I know that after so many difficult months, it is a step that many of us will look upon with a great deal of caution. But it is one we will take together, with a growing wall of defence against this virus – a wall that each and every one of us can help to build higher.
It’s vital that each of us plays our part – to protect ourselves and to protect others – into better days ahead.
#AceHealthReport – July.04: Moments after the Prime Minister called to ask me to become Health and Social Care Secretary last Saturday night, I spoke to my teenage daughter in the kitchen: You won’t have much to sort out then, dad,’ she said sarcastically….
When I came back to Westminster on Sunday morning, I found the biggest in-tray I’ve had at any department – and I’ve run 5.
I’ve spent the last year working with Harvard University on how governments can learn from this pandemic and be better prepared for future challenges, now I’m the one faced with so many of those tough choices.
I feel both the heavy responsibility and urgency that comes with this job.
My first video call on vaccine progress had to be at the same time as the England-Germany match. It was all going well until JVT (Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England) suddenly took off his headphones because he didn’t want to hear the score before he watched a recording of the match.
It was an honour to start the meeting by thanking the team who have delivered the rollout, including everyone in the NHS, the Vaccines Taskforce and the officials in my department.
Amid the endless policy memos and reams of data, I see 2 immediate challenges. The first is how we restore our freedoms and learn to live with (coronavirus) COVID-19. The second is to tackle the NHS backlog – something that we know is going to get far worse before it gets better.
We are on track for 19 July and we have to be honest with people about the fact that we cannot eliminate COVID-19.
We are going to have to learn to live with Covid and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu.
We also need to be clear that cases are going to rise significantly. I know many people will be cautious about the easing of restrictions – that’s completely understandable. But no date we choose will ever come without risk, so we have to take a broad and balanced view. We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of COVID-19 and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu.
The economic arguments for opening up are well known, but for me, the health arguments are equally compelling. The pandemic has hit some groups disproportionately hard. Rules that we have had to put in place have caused a shocking rise in domestic violence and a terrible impact on so many people’s mental health. All the progress we have made is thanks to the sacrifices of the British people – and our phenomenal vaccine programme. The jabs are working. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that 8 in 10 UK adults have the COVID-19 antibodies that help the body fight the disease. The implications of this are huge.
Tragically, the last time we had 28,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a day, we saw about 500 people die each day. On Friday, we had almost 28,000 cases a day, but 24 times fewer people lost their lives.
There will always be the possibility that we have to deal with dangerous new variants that evade the vaccine but I encourage everyone to get their jabs now if they haven’t already done so. It is the single biggest contribution you can make to this national effort.
We have many other crucial health challenges that we need to confront. We protected the NHS to make sure it was there for everyone who needed care. The steps we took saved countless lives but also led to the build-up of a vast ‘elective’ backlog – checks, appointments and treatments for all the less urgent, but often just as important, health issues.
Because of the pandemic, we estimate that about 7 million fewer people than normal came forward for healthcare. Even if only some of that demand returns, we will see enormous pressure on the NHS.
To help meet this demand, build a better NHS and bust the backlog, we need to build on the changes we’ve all embraced through the pandemic, such as using NHS 111 to direct patients to the most appropriate setting to receive care, expanding the use of our pharmacies and encouraging more people to use the NHS app.
We have to keep doing all of that, and more.
Of course, if you are feeling unwell, you need to come forward. The NHS is always there for you – and now in many different ways.
We’re putting record levels of funding into the NHS. In March, we committed a further £7 billion of funding – including £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog and about £500 million for mental health services and investment in staff.
And we’re bringing so many more talented colleagues into the workforce. We have record numbers employed in the NHS, with more than 58,300 more staff in hospital and community health services since March last year, including over 5,600 more doctors and 10,800 nurses.
We’re also embracing technology to help staff spend less time on paperwork and more on patients.
It’s time to build on the spirit of innovation we’ve all embraced and use it for the other challenges we face: from finally fixing social care and putting it on a sustainable footing, to tackling the health inequalities that the pandemic has brought to the fore.
I’m determined we get that right.
There’s a lot of work ahead, but if we hold on to the spirit that has seen us through these difficult days, we will have a country that is not just freer, but healthier, too.
#AceHealthReport – July.01: The president announced new restrictions to stem the rise in cases: These include extending a night-time curfew and stopping movement between the country’s regions: Addressing the nation, Mr Geingob said that 513 Namibians had died from the virus in the last 15 days.
This is a huge blow for a country of just 2.5 million.
South Africa, which has the continent’s highest number of total deaths from coronavirus – just over 60,000 – has a daily death rate of three per million.
Everyone in Namibia has either buried a close relative who has died from Covid or knows someone who has, said the health minister, who was speaking after the president.
“Our country is literally in an existential struggle against this pandemic. We are in a fight for our very lives,” Dr Shangula added.
Coronavirus cases have trebled since the beginning of June and the situation is likely to continue to get worse until mid-August at the earliest, the president told Namibians.
Hospital capacity has been increased and the country is taking steps to boost the supply of medical oxygen. Last week, Dr Shangula told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the country’s oxygen reserves had been exhausted………….Less than 5% of Namibians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine…………The vials that the country received have almost all been used up but more deliveries are expected in July and August, the health minister said.The country has now set aside $34m (£25m) to buy more doses……..Grim game of dominos.
Samantha Granville, BBC News, Windhoek: Walking around the capital, Windhoek, I see a tale of two cities. Half of the people I encounter are conscientious about hygiene and social distancing, while the other half act as though the virus doesn’t exist. And even though the government has implemented restrictions, there’s some confusion. You have to use sanitiser before going into the shops, but there is no limit on how many people can enter. You can’t buy or be served alcohol in shops or cafes on certain days, unless the restaurant is in a hotel. So these rules are baffling some and they are getting worried. I spoke to one woman whose family lost six members in the past two weeks, leaving her and her two-year-old nephew alone. She says the virus is treating her community like a game of dominos: once one person is knocked down, you are just waiting for your time.Another man told me he doesn’t believe the vaccine will actually work, despite scientific evidence that it does. He is refusing to let his family get the shot, even though he knows several people who have died from the virus.While there are mixed feelings on how to stop the spread of the virus in Namibia’s capital, one thing is for sure: people are angry about further lockdown restrictions and wish the government would have done more, sooner.
The Times reported German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to designate the UK as a “country of concern” because the Delta variant of the coronavirus is so widespread.
Germany also wants the European Union to restrict UK travellers: The plans will be discussed by senior European and national officials on the EU’s integrated political crisis response committee.
Mrs Merkel previously told Germany’s parliament: “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see as she is set to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Chequers next week.
EPA: French President Emmanuel Macron has also talked about his concern at the spread of the variant.
Last week, Mr Macron said: “We should all be vigilant because the Delta variant is coming.
“We see that it affects people who have not yet been vaccinated or who have only had one dose, which means we have to be even faster in this vaccination campaign.”
Currently, fully-vaccinated UK visitors to France can enter without quarantining.
In Portugal, the legislation is in force until 11 July, but the Portuguese authorities stated it could be reviewed “at any time, depending on the evolution of the epidemiological situation”.
The new quarantine measures only apply to those travelling to mainland Portugal and not Madeira.
Brazil, South Africa, India and Nepal were already on Portugal’s quarantine list, but the exception for people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to avoid isolating only applies to the UK.
For all countries on the list, an exception is also made for participants in specified sporting competitions being held in June and July.
#AceHealthReport – June.26: More than 90 countries are using Covid shots from China: Experts say recent infections in those places should serve as a cautionary tale in the global effort to fight the disease.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – More Than 90 Countries Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Major Outbreaks after medical and delivery problems according to New York Times
By New York Times: June. 24, 2021
A funeral in Kudus, Indonesia, in May. Many of the countries that are experiencing fresh coronavirus outbreaks despite high inoculation rates relied on Chinese-made vaccines.
Mongolia promised its people a “Covid-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychellesaimed to jump-start its economy.
But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.
China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.
Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a postpandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.
In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World in Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst Covid outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
“If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”
A vaccination on Chiloé Island, Chile. In Chile, the Seychelles, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50 to 68 percent of the populations have been fully vaccinated.Credit…Alvaro Vidal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities. But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences.
In the United States, about 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94 percent over six months.
Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after the Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million in Israel is now around 4.95.
In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.
Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partly protected.
China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come. Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, persuading unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.
One month after receiving his second dose of Sinopharm, Otgonjargal Baatar fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19. Mr. Otgonjargal, a 31-year-old miner, spent nine days in a hospital in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. He said he was now questioning the usefulness of the shot.
“People were convinced that if we were vaccinated, the summer will be free of Covid,” he said. “Now it turns out that it’s not true.”
Beijing saw its vaccine diplomacy as an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic as a more influential global power. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, pledged to deliver a Chinese shot that could be easily stored and transported to millions of people around the world. He called it a “global public good.”
Mongolia was a beneficiary, jumping at the chance to score millions of Sinopharm shots. The small country quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions. It has now vaccinated 52 percent of its population. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, a quadrupling from a month before.
In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent outbreaks, and that countries needed to continue to maintain controls.
“Relevant reports and data also show that many countries that use Chinese-made vaccines have expressed that they are safe and reliable, and have played a good role in their epidemic prevention efforts,” the ministry said. China has also emphasized that its vaccines target severe disease rather than transmission.
No vaccine fully prevents transmission, and people can still fall ill after being inoculated, but the relatively low efficacy rates of Chinese shots have been identified as a possible cause of the recent outbreaks.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90 percent. A variety of other vaccines — including AstraZenecaand Johnson & Johnson — have efficacy rates of around 70 percent. The Sinopharm vaccine developed with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products has an efficacy rate of 78.1 percent; the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy rate of 51 percent.
The Chinese companies have not released much clinical data to show how their vaccines work at preventing transmission. On Monday, Shao Yiming, an epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said China needed to fully vaccinate 80 to 85 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity, revising a previous official estimate of 70 percent.
Data on breakthrough infections has not been made available, either, though a Sinovac study out of Chile showed that the vaccine was less effective than those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at preventing infection among vaccinated individuals.
A representative from Sinopharm hung up the phone when reached for comment. Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.
William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, said the efficacy rates of Chinese shots could be low enough “to sustain some transmission, as well as create illness of a substantial amount in the highly vaccinated population, even though it keeps people largely out of the hospital.”
Mongolia now ranks among the top countries that have fully vaccinated its population, inoculating about 52 percent of its people. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, quadrupling from a month before.Credit…Khasar Sandag for The New York Times
Despite the spike in cases, officials in both the Seychelles and Mongolia have defended Sinopharm, saying it is effective in preventing severe cases of the disease.
Batbayar Ochirbat, head researcher of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies at Mongolia’s Ministry of Health, said Mongolia had made the right decision to go with the Chinese-made shot, in part because it had helped keep the mortality rate low in the country. Data from Mongolia showed that the Sinopharm vaccine was actually more protective than the doses developed by AstraZeneca and Sputnik, a Russian vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.
The reason for the surge in Mongolia, Mr. Batbayar said, is that the country reopened too quickly, and many people believed they were protected after only one dose.
“I think you could say Mongolians celebrated too early,” he said. “My advice is the celebrations should start after the full vaccinations, so this is the lesson learned. There was too much confidence.”
Some health officials and scientists are less confident.
Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Australia, said that with all of the evidence, it would be reasonable to assume the Sinopharm vaccine had minimal effect on curbing transmission. A major risk with the Chinese inoculation is that vaccinated people may have few or no symptoms and still spread the virus to others, he said.
“I think that this complexity has been lost on most decision makers around the world.”
In Indonesia, where a new variant is spreading, more than 350 doctors and health care workers recently came down with Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated with Sinovac, according to the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association. Across the country, 61 doctors died between February and June 7. Ten of them had taken the Chinese-made vaccine, the association said.
The numbers were enough to make Kenneth Mak, Singapore’s director of medical services, question the use of Sinovac. “It’s not a problem associated with Pfizer,” Mr. Mak said at a news conference on Friday. “This is actually a problem associated with the Sinovac vaccine.”
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were the first two countries to approve the Sinopharm shot, even before late-stage clinical trial data was released. Since then, there have been extensive reports of vaccinated people falling ill in both countries. In a statement, the Bahraini government’s media office said the kingdom’s vaccine rollout had been “efficient and successful to date.”
Still, last month officials from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would offer a third booster shot. The choices: Pfizer or more Sinopharm.
Reporting was contributed by Khaliun Bayartsogt, Andrea Kannapell, Ben Hubbard, Asmaa al-Omar and Muktita Suhartono. Elsie Chen and Claire Fu contributed research.
#AceNewsReport – June.07: Investigators with the U.S. National Security Council, researching the origins of the pandemic, determined that the mice referenced in the study were created in the summer of 2019 – just months before the emergence of the pandemic.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – CHINA: The mice, developed using CRISPR gene-editing technology, were mentioned in an April 2020 study which researched their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the #COVID19 illness, Vanity Fair revealed in its bombshell investigation: Of the study’s 23 co-authors, 11 of them worked for the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the medical research institute for the Chinese army.
The National Security Council investigators also reportedly believed they had ‘uncovered important evidence’ supporting the theory that COVID-19 had leaked from a lab and began reaching out to other federal agencies, Vanity Fair reported.
‘We were dismissed. The response was very negative,’ said Anthony Ruggiero, the a senior director at the National Security Council.
Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan Institute of Virology lead researcher on coronaviruses known as the ‘Bat Woman’ for her research on bat viruses, appears to have tested at least two novel coronaviruses on humanized mice in the last three years, Vanity Fair also revealed – citing comments she made to a scientific journal and grant information.
Shi has refuted claims that COVID-19 leaked from a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that the facility conducts military research.
However, Shi was interviewed in a Scientific American article, first published in March 2020, in which she recounted how she ‘frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal.’
Shi was relieved when none of the genetic sequences from patients with COVID-19 matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves.
‘That really took a load off my mind. I had not slept a wink for days,’ Shi told the outlet.
In January, the State Department released a fact sheet slamming the Chinese Communist Party of ‘systematically’ preventing a ‘transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.’
The State Department acknowledged in the fact sheet at the time that the virus ‘could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals.’
‘Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection,’ the fact sheet reads.
The State Department noted that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has ‘collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military’ while ‘presenting itself as a civilian institution.’
‘The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017,’ the sheet reads.
Bloomberg reported that China later denounced the State Department’s fact sheet as ‘full of fallacies’ and the ‘last madness’ of ‘Mr. Lies’ Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State.
The Vanity Fair report also detailed in-length other evidence that supports the lab-leak theory while detailing how U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin have been impeded from investigating that theory.
Claims that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been laughed off as conspiracy theories – but even researchers at a number of top universities like Harvard and Cambridge have suggest in a letter that the ‘hypotheses’ cannot be ruled out until there is more evidence.
Last February, during the emergence of the pandemic, The Lancet published a letter from a group of 27 prominent public health scientists that pushed back on suggestions that the virus had come from the Wuhan lab.
‘The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,’ that letter reads.
Gilles Demaneuf, a data scientist with the Bank of New Zealand in Auckland, discovered four SARS-related lab leaks since 2004, two of them happening at a top laboratory in Beijing, and detailed them in a blog post on Medium.
Rodolphe de Maistre, a Paris-based laboratory project director, revealed the Wuhan Institute of Virology housed a number of coronavirus laboratories – but only one required researchers to wear full-body pressurized suits with independent oxygen.
Other Wuhan Institute of Virology labs have the lower safety designations of BSL-3 and BSL-2, which Vanity Fair described as ‘roughly as secure as an American dentist’s office.’
Vanity Fair noted that the lab leak theory was first posited by social media users in China as early as January 2020.
The following month, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, two scientists working at separate universities in Wuhan co-authored a preprint paper that expanded on the theory. Their study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
‘We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus,’ the scientists wrote.
They noted that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, known to have collected more than 600 bat samples, is housed just 280 meters from the Huanan wet market believed to be where the first cases spread.
The other, housed about 12 kilometers away, was the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has dismissed revelations that he was warned at the start of pandemic that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’ and played down a grant the Wuhan Institute of Virology received amid claims the grant may have funded the gain-of-function research.
He said his emails are ‘ripe to be taken out of context’ but he ‘can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab’.
In an interview with NewsNation Now anchor Leland Vittert on The Donlon Report, Fauci also explained why scientists focused their theories on the natural transmission from bats to humans through an intermediary species.
The interview comes after a trove of 3,200 of Fauci’s emails from January to June 2020, obtained by Buzzfeed, showed leading virus experts warned him COVID-19 may have been created in a lab while he publicly played them down.
‘The only trouble is they are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an email without showing the other emails, and say ‘based on an email from Dr. Fauci, he said such and such’ where you don’t really have the full context,’ Fauci told Vittert.
Another trove of emails, published by the Washington Post, also revealed his cozy relationship with China’s top infectious disease expert Dr. George Gao – the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – during the early days of the pandemic in March and April of last year.
‘Let’s put things in context … We’re not talking about the Chinese Communist Party. We’re not talking about the Chinese military. We’re talking about scientists that we’ve had relationships for years,’ Fauci said.
Fauci then defended his relationship with Gao, a colleague of Fauci’s ‘for many years’ and a member of the United States National Academy of Scientists.
‘The scientists there, and others that we dealt with the original SARS, with the influenza virtually every year, the scientists are experienced,’ Fauci said.
The National Institute of Health awarded a $3.7 million grant to EcoHealth Alliance, which is based in the United States, to study the risk of coronaviruses emerging from bats in 2014. EcoHealth Alliance in turn distributed nearly $600,000 of that funding to its collaborator, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Sen. Rand Paul claimed during an interview with Fox News on Wednesday that Fauci’s emails show he was worried the NIH funded gain-of-function research as early as last February during the emergence of the pandemic.
‘In his email, in the subject line, he says ‘gain of function research.’ He was admitting it to his private underlings seven to eight months ago,’ Paul said.
In gain-of-function research, scientists alter organisms and diseases to study how they could become deadlier or more transmissible. The field of virology widely relies on such studies.
Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under the umbrella of the NIH, has denied that the NIH directly funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan.
In a February 1, 2020 email obtained by Buzzfeed News, Principal NIAID Director Hugh Auschincloss wrote to Fauci to discuss a paper the top infectious disease expert had sent him appearing to question if NIH grants funded gain of function research relating to coronaviruses.
In the email to Fauci, Auschincloss noted that a colleague would ‘try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad.’
Fauci then defended thegrant the United States had provided the Wuhan lab.
‘The Wuhan lab is a very large lab to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. The grant that we’re talking about was $600,000 over five years for an average of about $125,000 to $140,000 a year,’ Fauci said.
He added: ‘I can’t guarantee everything that is going on in the Wuhan lab, I can’t do that. But it is our obligation as scientists and public health individuals to study the animal-human interface’ in the aftermath of the original SARS virus in 2002.
Fauci explained that SARS-CoV-1 ‘was clearly a jumping of species from a bat, to a civet cat, to a human.’
‘So it was incumbent upon us to study the animal-human interface and to understand what potential these viruses have of infecting humans which then might damage the United States,’ Fauci said.
‘So you don’t want to go to Hoboken, New Jersey or to Fairfax, Virginia to be studying the bat human interface that might lead to an outbreak. You go to China.’
Scotland’s Papers: #Covid19 freedom ‘uncertain’ as Delta variant spreads & First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions and a return to normality are all “subject to change” because of the spread of the variant that first emerged in India, reports the i.
The Daily Mail says that Scotland is taking another “major step” back to normality on Saturday as Glasgow moves into level two, but the paper also warns of fears of a “looming third wave” of Covid.
The roll-out of second doses of the Covid vaccine will be sped up with the gap between jabs reduced to eight weeks in an effort to lift restrictions, reports The Daily Telegraph.”
“Cheers for fears” is the headline on the front page of The Sun, as Glasgow pubs reopen but Ms Sturgeon also warns that Scotland is at a “critical” Covid crossroads with cases rising.
The Times says the first minister has said she is “optimistic” that Scotland remains on course to “shake off” most of its pandemic controls by the end of the month, despite logging the highest number of daily cases in several months.
The Herald says pupils face being reported as “radicalised” if they are heard criticising public health advice around Covid-19, with the “slating” of health messages to be judged the same as anti-Semitic conspiracies.
Unions are fighting against a bid by the BBC in London to take control of studios at BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Pacific Quay, according to The National.
The Daily Record says a machete attack in an Edinburgh retail park which left a 31-year-old man in a critical condition is being linked to “gang war”.
Scots are being urged to take shorter showers and leave hoses alone amid fears that staycations will lead to water shortages over the summer, reports the Daily Star.
The Glasgow Times says communities in Pollokshields are rallying to support those affected by a fatal blaze in a flat this week.Prayers are being offered to the families of a boy and two girls who were hit by a car on the A82 near Inverness, leaving two of the children in a critical condition and the other with serious injuries, reports
The Press and Journal.The Courier leads with a story of a man who drowned his pet dog in the bath and then sent a picture of the body to his former partner.
The Evening Express says a stalker who contacted assisted suicide clinic Dignitas to report that her victim needed end-of-life care has appeared in court.
A semi-naked teenager attacked a young girl and bit through a police officer’s boot, reports the Weekend Telegraph.
The Edinburgh Evening News says a “heartbroken” community is rallying around a family after a new father was electrocuted at work.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
#AceNewsReport – May.30: The city’s streets were largely deserted after clashes late on Friday (local time) pitted police against armed civilians. The country is in the second month of protests against the government of President Ivan Duque:
There, as across the country, poverty and the pandemic have sparked widespread anger and resentment.
The month of protests has left at least 59 people dead, officials say, including the 13 who died in Cali. More than 2,300 civilians and uniformed personnel have been injured, according to the Defence Ministry.
Human Rights Watch cited “credible reports” of at least 63 deaths nationwide. It called the situation in Cali “very serious”.
The dead in Cali included an off-duty employee of the prosecutor’s office who had fired his gun at two protesters blocking a street, killing one of them.
Video on social media shows a crowd then pouncing on the shooter and lynching him.
Mr Duque, who has been in Cali since Friday, said he was deploying military troops to support the police there and elsewhere as rallies have morphed into a broad anti-establishment mobilisation.
The President ordered 7,000 troops to help clear and patrol blockaded roads, while a total of 1,141 soldiers were deployed in Cali.
‘Almost an urban war’
One witness, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, told AFP that a group of protesters in Cali were celebrating the one-month anniversary of the anti-government rallies when “shots rang out”.
“They started massacring people,” the 22-year-old said. He said the shots came from “five guys in civilian clothes behind the trees”.
Videos that went viral supported his account. Police said in a statement they were investigating.
“In the south of the city we had a real scene of confrontation and almost an urban war where many people not only lost their lives, but we also had a significant number of injuries,” said Cali’s security secretary, Carlos Rojas.
Mr Duque, who on Friday chaired a security meeting in the city, afterwards announced “the maximum deployment of military assistance to the national police” would begin immediately.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Human Rights Watch executive director for the Americas, urged Mr Duque to take “urgent measures to de-escalate, including a specific order prohibiting agents of the state from using firearms”.
The police in Colombia are under the command of the military.
Protests over poverty, disease, resentment
People in Cali’s poorer neighbourhoods told AFP the military deployment makes them more fearful, not less.
“We feel threatened, we feel more in danger,” said Lina Gallegas, a 31-year-old social leader.
“If something happens we cannot call the police because they are the ones who are killing.”
Luis Felipe Vega, a political scientist at Javeriana University, likened the deployment to “putting out a fire with gasoline.”
Government mediation attempts have been largely futile, unable to contain the fury of increasingly politicised youth battered by the pandemic and angered about the country’s deep inequalities.
An estimated one third of those aged 14 to 28 are jobless and not in school.
Mr Duque’s attempts at negotiation have been further frustrated by forces in his rightist Democratic Centre party, who prefer an iron-fist approach with elections a year away.
Economists say more than 42 per cent of the country’s 50 million people live in poverty, and the pandemic has plunged many of the vulnerable into penury.
Analysts link the government’s militarised history to its response to the protests.
#AceNewsReport – May.24: Rouhani was speaking in the economic coordination headquarters, where the Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade gave a report on auto industry situation that showed a growth in the industry despite all the pressure from economic war by the US and the #coronavirus#pandemic impact.
Tehran, May 23, IRNA – President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran would move on with the talks in Vienna until a final agreement is reached, noting that US maximum pressure proved to be ineffective given Iran’s production growth in different industrial sectors.
Emphasizing the triumph of the Iranian nation in the economic war, the President said that figures suggesting production growth in different industrial sectors present the best proof that the US maximum pressure policy has been ineffective.
This has caused Americans, according to Rouhani, to admit the failure of the policy and explicitly declare their readiness to lift sanctions in the ongoing talks in Vienna.
Iran will continue the talks until a final agreement, the President asserted.
He further said that the auto industry that has managed to resist and increase its production in the harshest situation can experience better environment if sanctions are removed, adding that the administration support the industry and improve its competitive capacity.
#AceNewsReport – May.21: Andrew Doyle, aged 35, from North End Road, Hammersmith, had a previous conviction for drugs and was identified along with three others, through messages on the platform.
Operation Venetic: Drug dealers planned to dress up like key workers to dodge lockdown restrictions: Officers from the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP), a joint NCA and Metropolitan Police Service unit, launched an investigation last year after their activities came to light through Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted messaging platform EncroChat’
Using the alias ‘Neighbourhoodhero’, Doyle was linked to messages that showed he played a leading role in buying and selling cocaine across London.
Messages in April last year showed Doyle discussing the increased risk of being stopped by police whilst lockdown restrictions were in place.
In one message, he asks another Encro user, “Mate, do you have a high vis and stuff for the Van? And like builder clothes? We need to look official in times like this.”
Doyle was speaking with associate Derrick Canning, 50, from Linkfield Road in Isleworth, whose role was to transport the drugs.
In other messages, Doyle mentions that he has a friend working for the NHS who has an NHS pass if he is stopped and “driving through London, old bill are everywhere…pulling people.”
Regular messages were also exchanged with mother and son duo, Catherine and Joe Roche, from Fulham.
Using the handle ‘Diamondsareforever’ Catherine Roche, 63, mainly handled the cash side of the operation and was aided by her 29 year-old son Joe, AKA ‘Cremebrulee’ in cutting and transporting it.
Joe Roche swapped messages regularly with Doyle and joked about clapping for dealers during the height of the first lockdown.
Doyle, and his counterparts were all arrested at their homes in June last year, where nearly 50,000 MDMA pills, cash, a cash counting machine, encrypted phones and Rolex watches were seized.
Today, all four appeared at Kingston Crown Court were they were sentenced to a combined 33 and a half years in prison, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
Matt McMillan, OCP Manager, said: “We believe this group distributed huge amounts of drugs across parts of London and the Home Counties: “ Evidence showed that they plotted to continue their operation during the first and strictest UK lockdown. A risk that didn’t pay off in the end: “ The trade in class A drugs fuels violence and exploitation and today’s sentences are yet another example of the NCA and Met Police working together to protect the public from this threat.”
#AceNewsReport – May.17: The governor spent much of 2020 on the defensive for whipsaw decisions during the depths of the pandemic that angered many business owners and residents. But more recently he has appeared to steady his stride with the all-but-certain election looming this fall:
LOS ANGELES: ‘Cash windfall helps Newsom shake California recall election allowing Democratic Gov. Gavin Newscom to talk about an end to most #COVID19 restrictions and propose billions in new spending as he looks to fend off Republicans who depict him as a foppish failure’
The first-term Democrat unleashed a torrent of new spending after the state’s budget was blessed with a $76 billion surplus and $27 billion in federal pandemic aid. This week, he crisscrossed the state to unveil a string of proposals sure to bring smiles from many voters: $12 billion to fight homelessness; checks up to $1,100 for millions of low and middle-income earners who struggled during lockdowns; $2.7 billion to pay for all of the state’s 4-year-olds to go to kindergarten for free; and hundreds of millions to help small businesses recover from the economic downturn.
His budget released Friday was studded with initiatives favored by his progressive base, including $7.2 billion to pay off people’s outstanding rent and utility bills and $300 million to forgive traffic and other fines for lower-income residents. There also was $35 million to encourage local universal basic income programs and money to give Medicaid benefits to people 60 and older living in the country illegally.
As the virus threat diminishes, the economy rebounds and Californians return to familiar routines, Republican candidates will need to emphasize policy differences on issues like taxes and homelessness, rather than banking on lingering resentment from lockdowns and the pandemic, said Tim Rosales, a veteran GOP strategist who is sitting out the recall.
With conditions in the state improving “it’s harder and harder to maintain that level of … anger” during the worst days of the pandemic, he said, conceding Newsom is “on the right trajectory in terms of his approval ratings.”
The goal for Newsom’s team is not just surviving the recall. They are looking to position the governor for an expected 2022 re-election campaign that will kick off immediately following the recall election and, as importantly, restore his name to the national discussion about potential White House contenders.
Under a best-case scenario for the governor, a comeback story line from the recall might even help Newsom discredit the image popularized by his GOP gubernatorial rivals of a preening lightweight.
Republican businessman John Cox mocks Newsom as a “pretty boy.” Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says the race is about “genuine versus phony.”
Faulconer rolled out his own attention-grabbing proposal Wednesday: Ending the state income tax for individuals making up to $50,000 and households up to $100,000, which could find wide appeal with voters in a state where taxes seem to go relentlessly in one direction: higher.
Newsom was elected in a 2018 landslide over Cox, but his popularity tumbled as he contended with public unrest over long-running school and businesses closures during the pandemic, fallout from a multibillion-dollar unemployment benefits scandal and embarrassment over his decision to attend a lavish birthday dinner at an exclusive restaurant in November while lecturing residents to stay home for safety.
Look for the Republicans to continue to attack his image — he remains shackled to the French Laundry debacle. In one night at that restaurant with lobbyists and friends, he managed to reinforce a trifecta of loathsome stereotypes about politicians – hypocrisy, elitism and the whiff of improper backroom deal-making. He later apologized for what he called a “bad mistake.”
While Newsom dominated the narrative of the race all week — the economy is “roaring back,” he told reporters in Los Angeles — a sudden spike in virus cases or another epic season of wildfires would test him again. And schools could also be a vulnerable flank. California badly trailed other states in getting children back into classrooms, a reality Republicans repeat at every turn.
The leading GOP candidates in the race start at a disadvantage in heavily Democratic California, where registered Democrats outnumber GOP voters by nearly 2-to-1. A Republican candidate hasn’t won a statewide race since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election after gaining office in a recall election.
Newsom’s team has worked for months to tie the recall to national Republicans and supporters and operatives of former President Donald Trump, who is broadly unpopular in California outside his GOP base.
For Newsom, one of his advantages as a candidate was on vivid display this week: He used the power of his office to dominate the public stage as he made appearances in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland and the Central Valley, among other locations.
Cox, meanwhile, has been campaigning with a bear in a bid to attract publicity. He criticized Newsom Friday for the surge in spending: “We should be slashing taxes and making California more affordable and not ballooning the size of our government,” he said.
Reality TV personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner so far has appeared more curio than contender, barely registering in recent polling. She tweeted Friday that “California should already be fully open!”
Faulconer’s biggest challenge is becoming known outside his hometown area in San Diego. He said he intends to take his campaign to communities around the state, where voters are looking for “somebody who actually has the experience … who can bring positive change and reform.”
Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, said a lot will change by the time voters go to the polls. Will the massive investment in homelessness make a change? Will Newsom suffer another self-inflicted wound like his trip to the French Laundry?
“Right now the recall is not in the hands of the governor or its backers. This is all about the direction of the state,” he said. “What really matters is where we are in the fall.”
These are countries on GREEN LIST: Portugal, Israel. Singapore , Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, South Georgia, Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Tristan de Cuna, & Accension Islands and the list will be reviewed every three weeks. Countries can be added or removed at short notice.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of holiday firm TUI, said: “While we were expecting to see just a handful of destinations on the green list, this is an overly cautious start.”
Airlines UK, representing UK carriers, described it as “a missed opportunity” and “a reopening of air travel in name only” which left the UK “at risk of falling behind”.
And Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science, and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy.”
UK citizens risked missing out on bookings for hotels if other European tourists were permitted to travel, he added.
Making the announcement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the easing of restrictions was “necessarily cautious” in the light of the threat from new variants of Covid-19.
He said the UK’s success in combating the virus was not matched in many other countries.
However he said the list would be reviewed every three weeks by the Joint Biosecurity Centre – the team set up last year to monitor the threat from the virus.
Some firms had hoped the rapid roll out of the vaccination programme in the US would allow summer travel to resume there more quickly.
“There is no reason for the US to be absent from the green list. This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the UK’s successful vaccination programme,” a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic – one of the airlines which relies heavily on UK-US traffic – said.
“A transatlantic travel corridor is vital to deliver a much-needed boost to economic recovery,” the spokesperson added.
But British Airways predicted that more countries would be included before the summer.
“What’s clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going ‘green’ before the end of June,” BA chief executive Sean Doyle said.
“We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries like the US, to re-start the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.”
‘A happy moment’
Meanwhile, Ryanair, Easyjet, Tui and British Airways all said they would be increasing their flights to Portugal and other destinations on the green list.
Tourist-dependent firms in Portugal were quick to welcome the news.
“No-one enjoys a holiday more than the British people,” said Miguel Campino, owner of Maria’s Restaurant – a beach venue on Praia do Garrão Poente.
“They bring a colourful atmosphere to all the restaurants, bars and hotels. This is a happy moment for everyone, for Portugal, for England… it’s great news.””No-one enjoys a holiday more”: A restaurant owner in Portugal is excited to welcome back tourists from England
João Fernandes, president of the Algarve Tourism Bureau, also said the region was ready to welcome UK visitors back.
“We are obviously delighted with the news,” he said. “It’s a recognition of the remarkable work Portugal has done in reducing levels of Covid to be able to restart the economy safely.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast that the UK had offered to host the match but that it would “ultimately be a decision for Uefa”.
However, the UK consumer body Which? warned that practical difficulties over taking a holiday abroad would remain.
“Travellers will have an expectation that these new government rules should protect their health and their money, yet serious issues around lengthy airport queues and a broken testing system remain unresolved,” Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said.
Although international travel has been heavily restricted since January, returning travellers have experienced long delays at border control when arriving at Heathrow, sometimes waiting for up to six hours.
Private firms offering Covid tests to returning travellers have been criticised for failing to deliver tests and results on time.
“Travellers should also be aware that there is still some financial risk involved in booking travel plans, depending on how you book and which company you choose,” said Mr Boland.
“In a summer when further disruption can be expected, travel companies must be honest about the risks holidaymakers may be taking on. Crucially, holidaymakers also need to do their research before booking, as choosing the right provider could be the difference between getting hundreds of pounds back or just getting the run-round.”
A further 15 deaths in the UK within 28 days of a positive test were reported on Friday, bringing the total to 127,598. There were 2,490 new cases.
More than 35 million first doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been given and more than 16.7 million second doses.
Which countries are on the green list for foreign holidays?
18 hours ago
From 17 May, people in England will be allowed to take holidays abroad in a small number of countries.
Portugal and Israel are among the permitted destinations on the government’s green list, which tourists will be able to visit without having to quarantine on their return.
What’s been announced?
Countries are in three categories – green, amber and red. Green countries have the fewest rules.
Their status depends partly on the number of Covid-19 cases in each country and the success of their vaccine rollout.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet announced plans to restart foreign holidays.
Which countries are holidaymakers allowed to visit?The government advises that not all the green list destinations are currently open to UK tourists and it is travellers’ responsibility to check. For example, travel to mainland Portugal and the Azores is currently for essential purposes only. This could change, as in March the Portuguese government said it hoped to welcome UK tourists in May.The 12 countries and territories on the green list are:
What are the rules for visiting a green country?
Take a private Covid test in their holiday destination before returning home – this can be a lateral flow or PCR testFill in a passenger locator form online before leaving their destinationTake a private PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in EnglandThere will be no need to quarantine when back home, or take additional tests, unless the post-arrival test is positive.The cost of private PCR tests vary between suppliers, but the transport secretary said he hoped prices could come down to less than £50 per person. Tui Group is offering test packages for between £20 and £90.People should not be travelling to amber countries for leisure.Take a private Covid test before returning to EnglandFill in a passenger locator form online before heading homeSelf-isolate at home for 10 daysTake a private PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in England and again on day eightThey could end self-isolation early by taking an optional PCR test on day five, under the existing test to release scheme.You should not be travelling to red countries for leisure.Forty-three countries are now on the red list, including Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, Brazil and South Africa.People can only enter the UK if they are a UK or Irish national (or UK resident).Take a private Covid test before returning to EnglandFill in a passenger locator form online before they head homeBook a 10-day hotel quarantine and testing package for each member of their group before departureTake a private PCR test on or before day two of their arrival in England and again on day eightCountries can be added to the red list at short notice. If a country’s status changes while you are visiting, you would have to follow the stricter rules on your return.What have other countries said about holidays?The European Commission has recommended allowing travel for anyone who has received the last dose of an EU-approved vaccine at least two weeks beforehand. Vaccines used in the UK would qualifyGreece’s tourism minister tweeted that tourism will reopen on 14 May, but with five security levelsPortugal and Cyprus hope to welcome UK tourists from mid MaySpain hopes to open up from JuneFrance says tourists with a French Covid-19 “health pass” (TousAntiCovid) will be allowed from 9 JuneHow can travellers prove they’ve been vaccinated?From 17 May, the main NHS app will include a feature allowing users to demonstrate they have had two vaccine doses.It’s hoped the app can be used as proof of vaccination when people holiday abroad. A letter can also be requested.The app is not the same as the NHS Covid-19 one – currently used for contact tracing.What are the vaccine passport plans for holidays? What about UK holidays?Getty ImagesHolidaying in England, Scotland and Wales is now possible, but there are still rules to follow. When, where and how can I go on holiday in the UK?What are the current international arrival rules?At the moment, people in England face a £5,000 fine for having a holiday abroad and must fill in a travel declaration form with a valid reason for their journey.You must take a Covid-19 test (in the three days before your departure). You must book and pay for two PCR tests for your UK quarantine, unless you are exempt and complete a passenger locator form.You must travel directly to your home/place you’re staying and not leave for 10 days.Only use public transport if you have no other option.Day one of quarantine is your first full 24-hour day in the UK. Rule-breaking fines are £10,000.Common Travel Area arrivals (Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man) do not have to arrange tests, fill out the locator form or quarantine.There is separate advice for quarantining in:ScotlandWalesNorthern IrelandWhen would I need to quarantine in a hotel?Anyone allowed to enter England from a red list country (or who has passed through one in the previous 10 days) must quarantine for 10 full days in a managed facility, rather than a private address.You will need to agree to book and pay for a quarantine package in advance.10-day (11-night) rate for one adult in one room is £1,750Additional rate for one adult (or child over 11) is £650Children aged five to 11 are charged £325You can be fined £10,000 or jailed for not providing accurate details of countries you visited.Please upgrade your browser
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.