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Covid UK news – live: ‘Bulk of pandemic behind us’ by October as ‘pingdemic’ quarantine exemptions expanded

Coronavirus in numbers

A top government adviser has predicted that coronavirus will be “mostly behind us” by late September or October – at least in the UK.

Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said the course of the pandemic had fundamentally changed in Britain thanks to the vaccine rollout. However, he warned that it would be some weeks yet before the impact of ending restrictions in England on 19 July would be felt.

Meanwhile, ministers have created some 1,200 new coronavirus testing sites in workplaces amid economic disruption caused by high infection levels.

It comes in response to the “pingdemic” which has seen hundreds of thousands of people told to self-isolate by the NHS app, as the Delta variant of Covid-19 ravages the country. New categories of worker who can submit to daily tests instead of quarantining include bin men, police officers, firefighters and supermarket depot staff.

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New UK Covid-19 death toll

A total of 154,661 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the ONS.

The highest number of fatalities to occur on a single day was 1,483 on 19 January.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on 8 April, 2020.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 10:15
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Tory party could split over vaccine passports

A senior Conservative has warned that the party could “irretrievably” split if Boris Johnson introduces compulsory vaccine passports, writes Lamiat Sabin.

Some crowded indoor venues would be required to deny access to people who have not had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, prime minister Mr Johnson announced on Monday.

It was a change from health secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement on 12 July that businesses and large events would be “encouraged”, but not required, to make attendees to a “high risk setting” prove that they are double-jabbed.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 10:05
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Opinion: Severe disease, not mild infection, makes a pandemic – vaccines still offer our best hope

Following “freedom day” and the relaxing of social distancing and mask-wearing rules, in the face of our third coronavirus wave, there is some trepidation, write Andrew Pollard and Shabir A. Madhi.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 09:46
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UK disappointed at lack of US travel corridor, minister says

The UK government is disappointed that no travel corridor with the US has been opened, according to a minister.

Last week American health authorities warned against visiting Britain because of high Covid-19 infections.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse was responding to the overnight announcement from the US government that it does not plan to loosen travel restrictions across the Atlantic due to the number of infections in the UK and the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Mr Malthouse told Sky News: “Obviously that is for them to assess and we are assessing the likelihood of variants coming in from other countries as well. So, it doesn’t surprise me that they are doing similar. It is obviously disappointing.”

He added: “We want to get back to international travel as soon as possible. I have got lots of family overseas who I would love to go and visit, particularly in Canada.

“I am afraid that the tail-end of this virus, and lets hope it is the tail-end, we are still coping with some of that uncertainty across the world and people will have to bear that in mind as they decide their travel plans or otherwise.”

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 09:27
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Expert warns of possible ‘resurgence’ in Covid cases after unexpected six-day decline

The government adviser who warned that daily Covid cases would almost inevitably hit 100,000 has warned of a “resurgence” in the virus in the coming weeks, following six days of falling numbers, writes Andrew Woodcock.

But he said that the vaccination campaign had “fundamentally changed” the course of the outbreak, leaving him “positive” that by late September or October, the bulk of the pandemic in the UK will be “behind us”.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 09:17
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Tokyo reports record daily Covid cases as virus spreads in Olympic host city

Tokyo reported a record daily number of Covid cases on Tuesday as the virus spreads in the Olympic host city, writes Tom Batchelor.

The number of new infections hit a record high of 2,848 on day 4 of the games, official figures showed.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 08:58
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Travel rules for trips overseas may change, says minister

Britons considering a trip abroad this summer should be aware that “things may change” in terms of the rules for travel, a government minister has warned.

Kit Malthouse was speaking amid speculation that popular destinations with rising Covid-19 infections like Italy, Spain and Greece could be added to the “amber plus” list requiring self-isolation on return to England – while restrictions on travel from France could be eased as fears about the Beta variant of coronavirus decline, writes Andrew Woodcock.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 08:42
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Germany to tighten entry rules

Germany is preparing to tighten requirements for people entering the country by making travellers from any country provide a negative coronavirus test in an effort to curb a rapid rise in cases, the Funke media group reported on Tuesday.

The health ministry wants “an expansion of test requirements upon entry as quickly as possible”, the newspapers cited a document as saying.

Until now, only air passengers and those entering from high-risk areas have to provide a negative coronavirus test unless they are fully vaccinated or have recovered.

Figures from Tuesday showed new coronavirus infections in Germany had risen by 1,545, with 38 new deaths.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 08:32
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Exclusive: Pingdemic leaves nurseries in ‘chaos’ with many forced to suspend provision

Nurseries and childminders are in “chaos” with many forced to temporarily suspend their provision due to the sector being excluded from coronavirus self-isolation exemptions, services have warned.

The government recently announced a list of “critical sectors” in which workers can be exempt from self-isolating after coming into contact with someone with Covid but early years staff were not included in the list, writes Maya Oppenheim.

In a letter to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, seen exclusively by The Independent, three leading early years and childcare sector organisations in the UK warned: “The recent spike in the number of adults being ‘pinged’ by the NHS app, or asked to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive case, is having a significant impact on many settings’ ability to support the families who rely on them.”

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 08:22
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Exclusive: ‘Confused messaging’ around Oxford vaccine helping fuel Covid spread, says scientist behind jab

Misinformation about the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab has helped fuel the spread of Covid-19 – and still risks undermining the fight against rising infections, one of the scientists behind the vaccine has warned.

French president Emmanuel Macron wrongly claimed the jab was “quasi-ineffective” for over-65s earlier this year, while misleading reports from Germany said it was only 8 per cent effective in this age group.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that “confused messaging” about the vaccine in protecting against Beta and other variants threatens to erode confidence in the jab, at a time when millions of people around the world remain unvaccinated, writes Samuel Lovett.

Jon Sharman27 July 2021 08:03