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Coronavirus news – live: Seven UK post-jab blood clot deaths as vaccinated travellers ‘could avoid quarantine’

Coronavirus in numbers

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed that seven people in the UK have died from rare blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab – but stressed that this is out of 18.1 million doses administered up to and including 24 March.

The agency is urging people to continue taking the AstraZeneca jab, adding that it was unclear if the shots are causing the clots and that its “rigorous review into the UK reports of rare and specific types of blood clots is ongoing”.

Meanwhile, Britons who have had both doses of a Covid vaccine could be allowed to avoid quarantine measures when returning from international travel, reports have said.

Travelling abroad for holidays is currently banned, but The Telegraph reports that when restrictions are eventually lifted in England, fully-vaccinated holidaymakers may not have to quarantine for 10 days following stay in medium-risk countries.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to signal on Monday that foreign travel will return with restrictions based on a traffic light system, which will rate countries as red, amber or green based on coronavirus infection rates, vaccination levels and prevalence of variants.

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UK regulator confirms 7 blood clot deaths after AstraZeneca jab

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed that seven people in the UK have died from rare blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid jab – but stressed that this is out of 18.1 million doses administered up to and including 24 March.

The agency is urging people to continue taking the AstraZeneca jab, adding that it was unclear if the shots are causing the clots and that its “rigorous review into the UK reports of rare and specific types of blood clots is ongoing”.

In total, MHRA said it had identified 30 cases of the rare blood clot cases.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 13:47
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ICYMI: Cardiff Bay party-goers break Covid rules and leave huge piles of rubbish

Groups of revellers who left litter after gathering outdoors in Cardiff bay, Wales, have been criticised for ignoring Covid-19 restrictions.

Photos posted to social media showed rubbish left on the ground outside the Senedd after Friday night’s impromptu public party, which follows similar gatherings in recent days.

My colleague Bethany Dawson has the full story:

Kate Ng3 April 2021 13:45
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China reports 26 new Covid cases, up from 9 a day earlier

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a woman registers information for COVID-19 vaccination at the Jingcheng Hospital in Ruili city in southwestern China's Yunnan Province
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a woman registers information for COVID-19 vaccination at the Jingcheng Hospital in Ruili city in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province

Mainland China is moving quickly to deal with a new outbreak of coronavirus, as the country’s national health authority reported 26 new cases on 2 April – up from nine a day earlier.

The National Health Commission said seven of the new cases were from a local outbreak in the Yunnan province, where a cluster has emerged in the city of Ruili which bordered with Myanmar.

State media reported that genetic analysis of the cases there suggest they originated from infections from Myanmar and are not related to other recent localised outbreaks in China.

The city has imposed home quarantine, travel restrictions and mass testing, and aims to vaccinate its entire population within five days.

The other 19 new infections in mainland China were imported, said the health authority. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed cases, rose to 24 from 20.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 13:15
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Germany faces ‘crisis of trust’ in pandemic, president says

Germany’s president says the country is enduring a “crisis of trust” and urged them to “pull together” as they weather a second Easter amid pandemic restrictions and dissatisfaction over the government’s response.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an address that will be broadcast today that “there were mistakes” regarding testing, digital solutions and vaccinations.

Read more below:

Kate Ng3 April 2021 12:45
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Covid vaccination programme is ‘blueprint for future’ of NHS, says Simon Stevens

The head of NHS England has said that the successful coronavirus vaccination programme will be used as a “blueprint fo the future” of the UK’s health service.

Sir Simon Stevens told The Times that he is “determined to apply the lessons” learned from the rollout to the NHS’s efforts to combat cancer, heart disease and other fatal illnesses.

He said the immunisation drive “has, under the worst of circumstances, shown the NHS at its best”. To date, more than 30 million people across the UK have received a Covid vaccine.

According to Sir Stevens, making use of local services to keep a closer eye on the public’s health will be one of the ways the NHS can improve. For instance, refuse collectors can alert GPs when residents become too weak or ill to put out their rubbish and councils can contact people who miss cancer screenings to encourage them to get checked.

As the pandemic forced parts of the NHS to work closer with councils, charities and the army to manage the mass vaccination rollout, the health service will be able to “identify and tackle the causes of ill health, from poor housing to lifestyle”.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 12:12
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Argentine president tests positive for Covid-19

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez has tested positive for coronavirus, but is in good spirits despite having a light fever, he tweeted on Saturday.

The 62-year-old leader said: “I am in good physical condition. I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, but I am in good spirits.”

Mr Fernandez had received Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine early this year.

He will continue working while in isolation.

The Gamaleya Institute, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, said in response to Mr Fernandez’s tweet: “We are sad to hear this. Sputnik v is 91.6 per cent effective against infection and 100 per cent effective against severe cases.

“If the infection is indeed confirmed and occurs, the vaccination ensures quick recovery without severe symptoms. We wish you a quick recovery!”

Kate Ng3 April 2021 11:40
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Australia to continue AstraZeneca rollout despite clotting case

Australia will keep pushing forward with its vaccination programme using the AstraZeneca vaccine, health officials confirmed on Saturday.

It comes after a 44-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Melbourne with blood clotting, days after receiving the jab. He suffered serious thrombosis, a condition that prevents normal blood flow through the circulatory system.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulator and a panel, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) met on Friday and Saturday to discuss further guidance on the vaccine.

Michael Kidd, Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, told a televised briefing on Saturday: “We have not been advised at this time by ATAGI or the TGA to pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.”

Kidd said, however, that the blood clotting case is “likely” related to the vaccine.

“The risks of serious side effects remain very low, but safety is paramount and that is why TAGI and the TGA are continuing to do due diligence on this case,” Kidd said, adding that further announcements would come next week.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 11:20
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Cleanup begins at Cardiff Bay after large crowds breach Covid rules

Large numbers of people who gathered in Cardiff Bay on Friday have left behind piles of rubbish and litter, drawing ire from the council and local residents.

Cardiff Council said the garbage was left by “large groups of people intent on breaking Covid-19 restrictions”.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Once again our teams have been faced with the huge task of cleaning up a significant amount of rubbish left behind by large groups of people intent on breaking Covid-19 restrictions.

“Last night, bins were left unused and the ground was littered with rubbish. Council staff have been on site since the early hours of the morning, working hard to clear and clean the area.

“Despite the preventative measures put in place by the council, in partnership with South Wales Police, the Welsh Government’s coronavirus regulations were again broken by a significant number of people illegally gathering in Cardiff Bay.

“The rules are clear, six people, from two households are allowed to meet outdoors, maintaining two-metre social distancing.

“Breaking these rules significantly increases the chances of Covid-19 cases rising in the city. We urge everyone to follow the advice, maintain social distance, and to keep Cardiff safe.”

Kate Ng3 April 2021 10:55
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Almost 190,000 retail jobs lost since first lockdown

Almost 190,000 jobs have been lost in the retail bloodbath since shops were first forced to shut their doors a year ago, according to new figures.

In exclusive data for the PA news agency, the Centre for Retail Research has revealed that 188,685 retail jobs have vanished between the start of the first lockdown on March 23 2020 and March 31 this year.

The figures come less than two weeks before non-essential shops reopen their doors to customers in England after the lengthy third lockdown.

However, shoppers will visit high streets and town centres that have been hit hard by the pandemic, with thousands of stores shutting their doors for good.

The figures revealed that 83,725 jobs lost in the period were due to administrations, including major collapses by Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.

Meanwhile, around 11,986 jobs were cut during Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring processes.

Another 92,974 jobs were axed through rationalisation programmes, which included supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda cutting thousands of roles.

The devastating impact of the pandemic resulted in 15,153 store closures in shopping destinations across the UK, the figures also revealed.

According to real estate adviser Altus Group, up to 401,690 shops are currently shuttered around the country and could reopen in the next stage of Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 10:36
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No evidence of AstraZeneca vaccine uptake slowing in UK, says expert

There is no evidence that uptake of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is slowing in the UK despite some countries pausing its rollout, a public health expert has said.

Professor Linda Bauld, from Edinburgh University, said all studies indicated the jab was safe and effective, while the fact different countries were reviewing their position was a sign that the system was working.

She told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show that reports of blood clots were “very rare” and a direct link to the vaccine was very unlikely.

She said: “These kinds of pauses and reviews are a sign that the system is working.

“Because when you see either deaths or unlikely adverse events that you wouldn’t anticipate or you didn’t see in the trials it’s reasonable for regulators to look at this.

“The MHRA is still consistently saying there’s no cause for concern and that is absolutely the message to people.”

She added: “It doesn’t look from the behavioural response, the surveys I’ve seen, that it’s affecting uptake in the UK and that’s really important.”

Prof Bauld said she had recently received her blue letter inviting her for vaccination and she was “really looking forward” to it.

Kate Ng3 April 2021 10:17