, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI

More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, new figures show.

NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day.

It means the UK first dose total so far is now 33,496,293, with more recent figures still to be reported by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  

The UK population is estimated to be 66,796,807, so the latest figures show that more than half the population have now had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Experts have said vaccines should be able to control the Covid-19 pandemic as they published new real-world UK data showing that jabs slash infection and are likely to cut transmission. 

Just one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine leads to a two-thirds drop in coronavirus cases and is 74 per cent effective against symptomatic infection.

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2:37PM

More than half of UK population has had first Covid-19 jab, figures show

More than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, figures show.

NHS England data up to April 23 shows that of the 38,189,536 total doses given in England so far, 28,102,852 were first doses – a rise of 107,656 on the previous day.

It means the UK first dose total so far is now 33,496,293, with more recent figures still to be reported by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

2:22PM

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters descend on central London

Hundreds have descended into central London for an anti-lockdown and vaccine passports protest march. 

2:09PM

Israel records no daily deaths for the first time in 10 months

Israel has recorded no new daily Covid-19 deaths for the first time in 10 months, as the country pushes ahead with its speedy vaccination drive.

The country’s coronavirus death toll remained unchanged at 6,346 on Thursday, health ministry data showed.

The last time Israel reported zero Covid-19 deaths was at the end of June last year, after lockdown measures curbed a first wave of infections.

Israel’s outbreak has eased after hitting its peak in January this year.

The Israeli government started to relax lockdown restrictions a month later as vaccinations against Covid-19 were rolled out more widely.

Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world. On Thursday, the country reached the milestone of five million Covid-19 vaccinations.

1:56PM

Switzerland records first case of Indian variant

Switzerland has detected its first case of a coronavirus variant initially discovered in India, the public health authority said Saturday.

“The first case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Switzerland,” Switzerland’s federal office of public health tweeted.

he virus variant was found in “a passenger who was transiting through an airport,” it said.

India is facing a devastating rise in infections, recording another 346,786 cases on Saturday – the highest figure recorded by a single country since the start of the pandemic.

Countries have been on high alert for the variant, known as B.1.617, with several halting flights from India.

1:50PM

Mount Everest climber who tested positive for Covid-19 went during pandemic ‘because it was cheaper’ 

Norwegian climber Erlend Ness chose not heed his country’s advice not to leave the country amid a global rise in cases, flying to Nepal in his effort to scale the legendary peak.

But he became ill on the trek to the mountain’s base camp and eventually had to be evacuated by helicopter.

He said he had climbed six of the “Seven Summits” – the highest peaks in each of the world’s continents – but failed in his attempt to reach the top of Everest three years ago because he had “low energy”.

And asked why he had chosen to try again in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than three million people, he suggested it was because doing so would be cheaper now. 

1:38PM

India resorts to mass cremations as Covid deaths rise

1:24PM

Kuwait suspends flights to India

Kuwait suspends all flights from India until further notice as cases in India continues to break records, AFP reports.

The regions busiest international air hub, the United Arab Emirates, had already announced on Thursday that it would suspend flights to and from India from Sunday.

The Kuwaiti government tweeted late on Friday: “In view of the health situation, it has been decided to suspend direct commercial air links with India until further notice.”

It added that Kuwaiti residents would only be allowed to return via third countries if they stopped over for at least 14 days.

1:09PM

French volunteers leave cave after 40-day isolation trial 

A group of 15 French volunteers on Saturday left a cave where they had stayed for 40 days, in an experiment probing the limits of human adaptability to isolation.

Dazzled by the light and with pale faces but otherwise healthy, the group led by French-Swiss explorer Christian Clot emerged at around 10:30 am (0830 GMT) from the Lombrives cave in Ariege, southwest France.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Christian Clot (L) taking part in the ‘Deep Time’ study

Credit:
Human Adaptation Institute 

The underground isolation experiment saw the subjects, aged between 27 and 50, give up watches, phones and natural light, exchanging modern comforts for a cave system with a constant 12 Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) temperature and 95 percent humidity.

Members had to generate their own electricity with a pedal bike and draw water from a well 45 metres below the earth.

Clot, founder of the Human Adaptation Institute, had said the so-called “Deep Time” experiment would test humans’ ability to adapt to the loss of their frame of reference for time and space.

12:52PM

Couple who spent wedding anniversary in hospital thank staff 

 A couple who spent their eighth wedding anniversary in hospital together after they both contracted Covid-19 have thanked staff for saving their lives.

Peter and Sheila Kirkup were admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital within days of each other earlier this year.

“We just didn’t think we were going to come out, that’s how bad it was,” said Mr Kirkup, 67.

Mrs Kirkup, 58, spent three days in intensive care after her condition deteriorated.

“It was very emotional but I am just so happy that we are both here together and alive,” she said

The pair kept in touch via Facetime during their hospital stay and to celebrate their anniversary, staff arranged for the couple to have their hospital meals together.

Mr and Mrs Kirkup were discharged together six weeks ago.

12:34PM

Indian hospitals turn away patients in Covid-19 ‘tsunami’

Overwhelmed hospitals in India begged for oxygen supplies on Saturday as the country’s coronavirus infections soared again overnight in a “tsunami” of disease, setting a new world record for cases for the third consecutive day.

Max Healthcare, which runs a network of hospitals in north India, tweeted that it had less than two hours of oxygen left while Fortis Healthcare, another big chain, said it was suspending new admissions in Delhi.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Healthworkers in New Dehli treat a Covid-19 patient

Credit:
Reuters

“We are running on backup, waiting for supplies since morning,” Fortis said.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one Covid-19 death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital’s underfunded health system buckles.

The government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen to Delhi from the far corners of the country and overseas including Singapore.

12:23PM

Mallorca man arrested for infecting 22 people with Covid 

 Mallorca man who infected 22 people with Covid-19 has been arrested on suspicion of assault for going to work and the gym despite signs he had the virus, police said Saturday.

Police on the Spanish island began investigating at the end of January after an outbreak in the town of Manacor, following reports an employee had “become infected but hidden his illness”, a statement said.

Days before the outbreak was detected, he began to show symptoms causing his colleagues concern but did not want to go home.

At the end of the day, he went for a PCR test but didn’t wait for the result, returning the next day to his job and also attending his local gym.

At work, both the manager and staff insisted he go home because he could be infecting everyone, later telling police he had a temperature “of over 40 degrees Celsius” – more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

But he ignored them and spent the day walking around his workplace, deliberately lowering his mask when he coughed and taunting them by saying: “I’m going to infect you all with coronavirus,” police said.

12:09PM

Friend of Boris Johnson’s fiancee accused of leaking plans for second lockdown

A close friend of Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds has been accused of being the so-called “chatty rat” who leaked plans for a second coronavirus lockdown.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Henry Gove (L) pictured next to Michael Gove (R) in 2019 

Credit:
PA

In an explosive attack on the Prime Minister, his former top aide Dominic Cummings said Henry Newman, a special adviser, had been identified as the likely culprit.

Mr Cummings claimed Mr Johnson had been so alarmed when he was told, he wanted the inquiry into the leak halted as he would have “very serious problems” with Ms Symonds if it resulted in Mr Newman being fired.

Mr Johnson has denied the claim.

Over the past years, Mr Newman has risen steadily through the ranks of Tory special advisers having begun working in Whitehall in the coalition years under David Cameron.

12:01PM

Sri Lankan authorities crackdown on gatherings 

Sri Lankan authorities are urging people to avoid large gatherings and stay at home as much as possible as confirmed Covid-19 cases rapidly rise across the island nation.

Separately, prison authorities have banned visitors for two weeks starting Saturday due to the spike in infections.

The number of new confirmed cases in Sri Lanka has tripled in recent days. For several weeks, the number of cases reported daily stood below 300 and on Friday, it was 969.

The country is still in the midst of an outbreak that erupted in October after two infection clusters, one centered in a garment factory and the other in a fish market, emerged in the capital Colombo and its suburbs.

The number of confirmed cases from the two clusters had grown to 92,595 as of Friday. Sri Lanka has reported a total of nearly 99,000 cases and more than 630 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

11:42AM

Germany restricts travel from ‘high-risk’ India 

Germany will shut out all travellers arriving from India apart from its own citizens, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Saturday, as a new variant has made the South Asian country the latest coronavirus hotspot.

“We’re very worried about the new mutation of the virus discovered in India. So as not to endanger our vaccination programme, India travel has to be significantly limited,” Spahn told the Funke newspaper group.

From Monday, only German citizens will be allowed to enter the country when arriving from India, he added.

As Spahn plans to designate India a “virus variant zone”, travellers will have to be tested before departure for Germany and immediately enter a 14-day quarantine on arrival.

Berlin had already dubbed India a “zone with particularly high risk of infection” with effect from Sunday.

11:28AM

Nearly one billion Covid jabs now given

On December 8, 90-year-old British woman Margaret Keenan, resplendent in her Christmas T-shirt, received the Western world’s first Covid vaccination – a chink of light at the end of the tunnel for humanity after a devastating pandemic year.

Six months on, nearly one billion Covid jabs – both first and second shots – have been administered globally, according to AFP’s database.

The unprecedented inoculation drive is seen as the world’s ticket out of the coronavirus disaster, despite concerns about rare side effects, worries over supply, and a glaring inequality between rich and poor.

With new Covid variants sparking a worrying fresh spike of cases and uncertainty over the vaccines’ effectiveness against them, the planet is now racing to inoculate as many people as possible before being overwhelmed by yet another wave of a pandemic that has already killed three million people.

11:20AM

Police in Wales pledge to break up crowds at hotspots 

Police in Wales have pledged to clamp down on anyone causing anti-social behaviour at hotspots over the weekend.

Dispersal orders have been put in place in Cardiff Bay, Swansea, Ogmore-by-Sea and Barry Island, giving South Wales Police powers to break up crowds.

Action is also being taken in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, due to concerns about possible anti-social behaviour.

From Saturday, six people from six different households can meet outdoors under revised Covid rules.

The action comes after criticism of people gathering in large numbers in Cardiff Bay and other locations.

11:09AM

Comment: Lockdown proponents can’t escape the blame for the biggest public health fiasco in history

Shutting down society did not save the vulnerable so advocates of such measures are seeking scapegoats, writes Jay Bhattacharya &  Martin Kulldorf. 

Lockdowns have, nevertheless, generated enormous collateral damage across all ages.Depriving children of in-person teaching has hurt not only their education but also their physical and mental health.Other public health consequences include missed cancer screenings and treatments and worse cardiovascular disease outcomes.Much of this damage will unfold over time and is something we must live with – and die with – for many years to come. 

Read the full commentary here 

11:02AM

Doctors welcome Sage advice for higher grade masks for NHS staff 

Healthcare workers have welcomed a change in scientific advice on how to protect them from coronavirus.

A document by the government’s scientific advisory group (Sage) says higher grade masks may be needed when caring for Covid patients.

Current guidance says that thinner surgical masks are adequate, outside of intensive care units.

A long list of healthcare unions and professional bodies has been making increasingly desperate appeals for what are called FFP3 respirators.

These are designed to filter out infectious aerosols that may be lingering in the air, particularly in close proximity to patients.

Growing evidence of the risks of airborne transmission has led the government to emphasise the importance of ventilation – with the words “fresh air” now added to the public messaging.

10:57AM

Merkel urges Germans to stick to coronavirus rules 

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called on Germans to stick to tighter coronavirus restrictions imposed in areas with high infection rates over the weekend, saying the step was needed to break a third wave of infections.

Both chambers of parliament approved the amendments to the Infection Protection Act earlier this week to give the federal government more powers to fight the third wave in the pandemic.

Merkel drew up the law after some of the 16 federal states refused to implement tougher measures despite a surge in Covid-19 cases and in defiance of a lockdown agreement reached in March.

This is something new in our fight against the pandemic. And I am convinced that it’s urgently neededIt serves the goal of first slowing down the third wave of the pandemic, then stopping it and finally reversing it.

10:50AM

AstraZeneca vaccine doses in U.S. should go to hard-hit countries

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday called on the Biden administration to release millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from storage for shipment to India, Brazil and other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

“The vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it’s estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able to produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American,” Myron Brilliant, the chamber’s vice president and head of international affairs, said in a statement.

Shipping stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries struggling with the coronavirus “would affirm U.S. leadership, including in COVAX” he said.

“No one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it.”

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage – as well as other life-support equipment – for shipment to India, Brazil and other nations hard hit by the pandemic,” he said. 

10:37AM

London’s luxury shops and restaurants try to lure customers back after lockdown

Covid wiped £56bn off the value of the luxury goods market last year and sales for 2020’s spring season were 70pc lower than the year before.

As lockdown ends, luxury brands, bars and restaurants are doing everything they can think of – up to and including putting the verse into Versace – to lure us back out into the light and down to the shops. 

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Pavilion Road in Chelsea has been permanently pedestrianised to allow more alfresco dining 

Credit:
William Barton

Dame Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and fashion seer, has predicted a huge pent up demand for luxury goods is about to be unleashed. “People have been locked up for a long time and they are going to go out and want to spend,” she told the Financial Times.

For evidence, she pointed to “lines around the block” at reopened Gucci and Dior shops in London. There is no doubt that Brits collectively have plenty of cash to splash.

The Bank of England recently estimated households had saved roughly £125bn more than they would normally by the end of December. 

10:23AM

Contaminated batch of AstraZeneca vaccines sent to Mexico from US ‘safe’, says minister

Millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured at a U.S. plant that had a contamination issue and then shipped to Mexico are safe and have been approved by two regulators, Mexico’s deputy health minister said on Friday.

The doses were sent to Mexico as part of an agreement with the administration of President Joe Biden for 2.7 million shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to help supplement Mexico’s vaccination campaign amid global delays and shortages.

“They were produced in the Baltimore plant,” Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell wrote on Twitter. “The product is safe and of quality, it was evaluated by the FDA and (health regulator) COFEPRIS.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) halted production at the U.S. plant in Baltimore which produced the vaccines while it investigated an error that led to millions of doses being ruined last month.

10:08AM

Iran to bar travellers from India over variant, officials say 

Iran said on Saturday that it would bar travellers from India over a Covid-19 variant to avert its spread in the already stricken country.

Officials, however, did not say if any cases of the variant first identified in India in late March had been detected in Iran, the epicentre of the pandemic in the Middle East.

“The Indian coronavirus is a new threat we face,” President Hassan Rouhani said in remarks broadcast on state TV.

“The Indian virus is more dangerous than the English and Brazilian variants,” he added.

“All the eastern provinces should make sure people infected with the virus do not cross the borders into the country,” Rouhani said. Iran’s eastern provinces border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Visitors can also travel Iran by way of the Gulf.

9:57AM

Russia reports 8,828 new cases and 399 deaths

 Russia reported 8,828 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 2,541 in Moscow, which took the national tally to 4,753,789 since the start of the pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis centre said 399 more deaths of patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 107,900.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February. 

9:50AM

Pakistan reports highest daily death toll

Pakistan on Saturday reported its highest Covid-19 death toll in a single day.

Authorities reported 157 deaths, bringing the overall fatalities to 16,999. A total of 5,908 additional cases pushed the toll to 790,016, as authorities complain of routine violations of social distancing and mask-wearing rules.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced that military troops will be called to help police enforce the restrictions in public places. 

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Senior citizens in Pakistan receive doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine at a vaccination centre

Credit:
AFP

Authorities also decided to keep educational institutions closed until the situation improved.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a talk show Saturday that despite the increasing cases and deaths, Pakistan’s situation was better than in neighboring India. He said a planeload of 500,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines arrived on Friday.

9:38AM

Cambodia closes markets to curb virus as thousands plead for food 

Cambodia closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh on Saturday to contain a spike in coronavirus infections as thousands of families plead for food during a two-week lockdown.

The Southeast-Asian country has one of the world’s smallest coronavirus caseloads, but an outbreak that started in late February has seen overall cases spike to 8,848 and 61 deaths.

Phnom Penh went into lockdown on April 15 and has declared some districts “red zones,” banning people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Customers buy some foods from a motor-cart’s mobile market during  lockdown,

Credit:
Heng Sinith/AP

In a new order issued on late Friday, Phnom Penh City Hall said all markets are to be closed from Saturday till May 7, saying that they have seen rising infections in markets and urged vendors and guards to get tested for Covid-19.

“During the implementation of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s lockdown measures, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has been paying close attention to the evolving status of COVID-19 epidemic,” the City Hall said in a statement.

9:24AM

S.Korea signs with Pfizer for extra 40m vaccine doses 

South Korea said on Saturday it signed a contract with Pfizer Inc to purchase an additional 40 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine amid fears of spiking infections at home.

That brings the current amount of Pfizer vaccines to 66 million doses, it said in a statement.

It added that it had secured a total 192 million doses of vaccines, including those from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson’s and Novavax.

9:14AM

Side effects of vaccines more likely the younger you are, says expert

Prof Finn was asked if there is evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines are a risk to under-16s, and he told BBC Breakfast: “There is evidence for more or less all of the vaccines against Covid that the side-effect rate, the reactogenicity that we see, basically goes up the younger you are.”

Asked how we can ever know what the risk factor is when children are not being given the jabs, Prof Finn said: “Well the way we do that is to run trials in younger people. 

First of all teenagers and then younger children, to monitor very closely their immune responses, and the rates of side effects in order to provide MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) with the data that they would need in order to authorise the use of the vaccines in younger people.”

He said a study with the Oxford vaccine has been temporarily suspended while the concerns around blood clots are investigated.

“The Pfizer vaccine has been trialled in teenagers and they’ve press released the results but we’ve not seen the full data yet, and we’re just tooling up to start doing studies in some of the other vaccines as well in kids,” he said.

9:02AM

Children ‘left behind’ in trials for Covid-19 vaccines, says JCVI

Children have been frustratingly “left behind” in trials for Covid-19 vaccines, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, told BBC Breakfast: “I’m a paediatrician and in my normal life I spend my time doing vaccine trials in children.

“And children are very much prioritised for most vaccines, so it’s a very weird and unusual situation we’re in now because I and other colleagues have spent the last year doing vaccine trials in adults and mostly in older adults, because of the nature of the problems that Covid presents.

So the children have really got very much left behind in this programme really because the children for the most part have not been affected by Covid in any serious way.

8:56AM

Two million in Western Australia under snap lockdown

More than two million people in the state of Western Australia on Saturday began their first full day of a snap three day lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak in a hotel quarantine facility led to community transmission.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said on Saturday there were no new community transmissions from the outbreak, although contact tracing and testing were still underway.

McGowan called on the national government to establish designated quarantine facilities after the latest leakage of the virus from hotel quarantine .

“I have been calling for the commonwealth’s assistance with quarantine for many months now,” McGowan said.

8:44AM

Germany suffers surge in cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 23,392 to 3,268,645, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

The reported death toll also rose by 286 to 81,444.

8:34AM

India’s daily cases climb to new world record as hospitals buckle 

India’s  covid infections rose by 346,786 overnight, the health ministry said on Saturday, setting a new world record for the third consecutive day, as overwhelmed hospitals in the densely-populated country begged for oxygen supplies.

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one Covid-19 death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital’s underfunded health system buckles.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Hospital staff transports a coronavirus patient in a hospital complex in New Delhi

Credit:
AFP

The government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen from the far corners of the country to Delhi. Television showed an oxygen truck arriving at Delhi’s Batra hospital after it issued an SOS saying it had 90 minutes of oxygen left for its 260 patients.

“Please help us get oxygen, there will be a tragedy here,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a conference on Friday.

The crisis is also being felt in other parts of the country, with several hospitals issuing public notices that they don’t have medical oxygen. Local media reported fresh cases of people dying in the cities of Jaipur and Amritsar for lack of the gas.

8:03AM

Experts recommend ‘smell training’ to combat scent loss 

People who have experienced smell loss as a result of Covid-19 should try “smell training”, scientists have recommended.

Smell training involves sniffing at least four different odours, twice daily for several months.

Smell loss expert Prof Carl Philpott, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said that the method “aims to help recovery based on neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise itself to compensate for a change or injury”.

Research by an international group of smell experts, published in the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, advised against using steroids to treat smell loss.

7:55AM

Why a holiday in Jersey could be your first family trip

Itching to fasten your seat belt for take-off and disembark to the leisurely lunches, balmy beach days and plush hotel linens of a proper normal holiday?

You needn’t bide your time ’til May: on Monday the Bailiwick of Jersey reopens to UK tourists, and with the island pretty much back to business as usual (and requiring visitors from UK Green Zones to quarantine for a mere 12 hours), you could be sipping sauvignon blanc inside a chic restaurant (that’s right, inside), checking in to a seaside hotel and working on your tan – sans mask – before you know it.

And if a dose of normality isn’t enough to tempt you (and it really should be), perhaps the island’s dramatic hilltop castles, 45 miles of windswept coastline, spectacular beaches and 1,882 hours of yearly sunshine can tip the balance.

Read the full story

Read more: When can I go on holiday? Latest advice on travelling

7:40AM

Gig goers to wait months for refunds 

Customers face having their cash locked up for months with tickets remaining on sale for events that can’t legally go ahead as planned.

Over the past year ticket firms have received a flood of complaints after thousands of live music and sports events were cancelled because of lockdowns.

Despite this, the firms have continued to sell tickets for concerts and shows scheduled to take place before the Government lifts restrictions on full-capacity events.

Read the full story

7:02AM

Pakistan records highest death toll in a single day

Pakistan on Saturday reported its highest Covid-19 death toll in a single day.

Authorities reported 157 deaths, bringing the overall fatalities to 16,999. A total of 5,908 additional cases pushed the toll to 790,016, as authorities complain of routine violations of social distancing and mask-wearing rules.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced that military troops will be called to help police enforce the restrictions in public places.

Authorities also decided to keep educational institutions closed until the situation improved.

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

A boy sells protective masks on a road as Pakistan government makes face masks mandatory in public place amid third wave of coronavirus, in Peshawar

Credit:
ARSHAD ARBAB/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

6:31AM

India reports new record death toll

India’s daily coronavirus death toll passed a new record on Saturday as the government battled to get oxygen supplies to hospitals overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of new daily cases.

Queues of Covid-19 patients and their fearful relatives are building up outside hospitals in major cities across India, the new world pandemic hotspot which has now reported nearly one million new cases in three days.

Another 2,624 deaths, a new daily record, were reported in 24 hours, taking the official toll to nearly 190,000 since the pandemic started.

More than 340,000 new cases were also reported, taking India’s total to 16.5 million.

Read more: Now hunger stalks India as country’s Covid crisis deepens

, Coronavirus latest news: Child vaccine trials should start to help protect ‘left behind’ youngsters, says JCVI, The Nzuchi Times

Family members mourn after a man is declared dead outside the coronavirus casualty ward, at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital

Credit:
Reuters

5:33AM

Australian state begins snap lockdown

More than 2 million people in the state of Western Australia on Saturday began their first full day of a snap three day lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak in a hotel quarantine facility led to community transmission.

People in the state capital Perth and the neighbouring Peel region have been asked to stay home except for essential work, and medical and shopping purposes.

Ceremonies to honour Australia’s military personnel on the Anzac Day holiday on Sunday have been cancelled. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced most traditional memorials to be cancelled across Australia for the first time in decades.

4:29AM

News in brief from around the world

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 23,392 to 3,268,645, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. 
  • Thailand reported 2,839 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a record number of new cases in the country’s third wave of infection, bringing total infections to 53,022 cases.
  • Millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured at a US plant that had a contamination issue and then shipped to Mexico are safe and have been approved by two regulators, Mexico’s deputy health minister said on Friday.
  • The latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in Wales sees six people from six households allowed to gather outside from Saturday.
1:50AM

US urged to give AstraZeneca doses to hard-hit countries

The US Chamber of Commerce on Friday called on the Biden administration to release millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from storage for shipment to India, Brazil and other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The vaccine doses will not be needed in the United States, where it’s estimated that vaccine manufacturers will be able to produce enough doses by early June to vaccinate every American,” Myron Brilliant, the chamber’s vice president and head of international affairs, said in a statement.

Shipping stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries struggling with the coronavirus “would affirm US leadership, including in COVAX” he said, referring to an international partnership to ensure broad access to vaccines. “No one is safe from the pandemic until we are all safe from it.”

Read more: Indian hospitals forced to turn away Covid patients 

1:06AM

US ends J&J vaccine pause

The US can immediately resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s  vaccine, top health regulators said on Friday, ending a 10-day pause to investigate the vaccine’s link to extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration said in a joint statement that they would warn of the risk of a potentially fatal syndrome involving severe blood clots and low platelets in a fact sheet given to recipients.

Top US FDA officials said the decision was effective immediately, clearing the way for shots in arms as early as Saturday.

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