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Britain’s daily Covid cases rise by 90% in biggest week-on-week jump since BEFORE Christmas

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Britain’s daily Covid cases spiked to 6,048 today in a 90 per cent jump on last Tuesday and the biggest rise since before Christmas, as the rapid spread of the Indian variant sparked fears England’s June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ will be delayed.

Infections surged from 3,165 last week continuing an upwards trend. The last time the UK recorded such a jump was on December 22, when cases had almost doubled to 36,000 from the same day the previous week.

Department of Health bosses announced another 13 deaths from the virus, and said there were 126 Covid patients in hospitals on June 2, the latest available.

There were no fatalities from the virus recorded last Tuesday, but this was largely down to the bank holiday when fewer people were available to process paperwork to register a death. Britons are also less likely to get tested for the virus during a public holiday.

Covid hospitalisations have remained flat despite rising cases, figures showed. There were 127 patients admitted to hospitals on the previous Wednesday. 

Experts say jabs have broken the link between rising cases and hospitalisations and deaths. But ministers are waiting on further data to confirm that is the case before pressing ahead with any final unlocking.

More than 40.5million Britons have now received at least one dose of the vaccine —  or 77 per cent of adults — and 28.2million have got both jabs —or more than 53 per cent. The NHS yesterday administered a further 112,941 first doses and 206,068 second doses, ahead of the inoculation drive being opened to over-25s from today. 

In a warning sign June 21 easings may be pushed back, Matt Hancock today urged up to 4million people living in Lancashire and Greater Manchester not to leave their areas and avoid meeting people outdoors to stop the spread of the Indian variant.  

With little under two weeks before No10’s planned final unlocking, the two hotspots in the North West are being sent ‘enhanced support’ in a last-ditch attempt to try to contain the ‘Delta’ strain. 

The Army will be deployed to help carry out surge testing to flush out cases of the virus, while NHS boards in the area will be given extra help to ensure vaccine uptake is as high as possible. Residents are also being asked to get tested twice a week.

Both places were added to the ‘coronavirus restrictions’ page of Government guidance under the heading ‘If you’re in an area where the new Covid-19 variant is spreading’, alongside other parts of the North West, Leicester, Hounslow in London and North Tyneside. They cover a total of 5.7million people – around 10 per cent of England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We know that this approach can work, we’ve seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.’ 

Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham insisted the guidance was ‘not a lockdown’.  

But the move comes amid claims that No10’s top scientific advisers Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have spooked ministers into pushing back plans for June 21’s total unlocking, citing fears of a third wave.

The pair reportedly gave a ‘fairly grim’ update on the situation to ministers, underlining that jabs can never provide 100 per cent protection and that one dose is less effective against the B.1.617.2 strain, which is significantly more transmissible and will inevitably cause more cases.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics today showed Covid was behind less than one per cent of fatalities at the end of May, with the virus mentioned on 95 out of 9,600 death certificates.

Around four million people in the North West of England are now in the area with extra restrictions because of concerns about outbreaks of the Indian variant. Bolton, Burnley, Blackburn and Kirklees were already affected but now all of Lancashire and Greater Manchester have been added

New rules in the North West come amid claims that science chiefs Professor Chris Whitty (left) and Sir Patrick Vallance (right) have spooked No10 into pushing back plans for June 21’s ‘Freedom Day’ total unlocking citing fears of a third wave

DARK RED/PURPLE = MORE INDIAN VARIANT CASES. Variant-tracking data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows that the now-dominant Indian ‘Delta’ strain is hotly focused in the North West of England, where the new restrictions are coming into place

Whitehall sources said contingency plans are being drawn up for a possible delay of ‘between two weeks and a month’ to give scientists more time to consider data and allow the NHS to carry out more vaccinations. 

Mr Hancock also admitted that it is still likely to be another couple of weeks before advisers and ministers can fully understand how well the vaccines work against the now-dominant Delta strain. 

Boris Johnson is expected to confirm by next Monday at the latest whether the June 21 plan will go ahead and he is running the roadmap timetable down to the wire, so far refusing to give any indication of what he will do. His spokesman said today: ‘We need to take the time as built into the roadmap to consider the data.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced the ‘enhanced package of support’ for the North West and said: ‘We know this approach can work’

Despite calls from top scientists to push back the final relaxation of restrictions, anti-lockdown Tory MPs have urged the Prime Minister to stick to the original plan. Steve Baker, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said: ‘Britain must meet again, must be reunited in every sense, and we must start healing the broken bonds of the last year with social contact and normal human interaction.’

One despairing senior Tory MP told MailOnline that the government had ‘deliberately terrified’ the public at the start of the crisis to helps lockdown and were now ‘stuck in a doom loop’. They suggested the PM was unwilling to come out and admit that the disease ‘is now endemic but we are protected by vaccines’. 

Covid intensive care survival rates DOUBLE with new drugs and jabs – and just FIVE patients are being admitted each day compared to 330-plus at the peak of the pandemic

An average of just six people per day were admitted to intensive care with Covid in May – a total of 169 patients across the UK.

The number marks a huge turn of fortunes since the winter when there were nearly 10,000 people taken into during January, the worst month of the UK’s epidemic.

The massive vaccine rollout, which has now given two doses to at least half of adults, the effects of lockdown and the use of potentially life-saving treatments have managed to force the virus into submission in many parts of the country.

While coronavirus patients made up three quarters of all critically ill patients in the UK in January, they now account for just one in five. 

Department of Health data show 3,493 people were admitted to hospital in May and the 169 in ICU means just 4.8 per cent of people admitted to hospital ended up in intensive care. The number of patients in hospital overall – including non-ICU – is now just 2.5 per cent of what it was at the peak, with 932 compared to 39,249.

The South West, South East, East of England and Wales all had fewer than 10 people go into intensive care across the entire month – four, eight, six and two, respectively. 

The percentage of people admitted to hospital who die has tumbled from almost half to just one in five

Covid patients (red) made up three quarters of all ICU patients in January but this has tumbled to just one in five

The discovery of drugs that can save people from dying of Covid have dramatically boosted survival rates in ICU, too, with the death rate halving to around 20 per cent from 45 per cent in the first wave, The Telegraph reports.

Medicines such as the steroid dexamethasone and arthritis drug tocilizumab have both helped to cut the risk of death for hospital patients since they were proven to work in June and January.  

And early figures suggest the vaccines are keeping people out of the life support units. The average age of patients is falling and is now below 50, down from 60, showing older double-jabbed age groups are benefiting from protection.  

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The Department of Health today confirmed surge testing would be rolled out across Greater Manchester and Lancashire meaning anyone can get a test right away if they want one.

Specific areas included are: 

In Lancashire: Rossendale, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, Pendle, Fylde, Lancaster, West Lancashire, Wyre, Burnley and Blackburn with Darwen.

In Greater Manchester: Manchester, Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Wigan, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford, Tameside and Bolton. 

The same rules and advice were already in place in Blackburn, Bolton and Burnley, along with Kirklees, North Tyneside, Bedford, Leicester and the London borough of Hounslow. 

The Army will go door-to-door in some areas to hand out swab kits, and schoolchildren will be helped to get tested. 

Labs will test as many of the positives as possible to identify outbreaks of the Indian variant – although almost all cases are now expected to be caused by it. More than eight out of 10 cases in most of the affected areas have already been linked to the strain.

Vaccinations will also be boosted with extra capacity and supplies and appointments opened up to all adults, as happened unofficially in Bolton when it was the country’s hotspot.

Mr Hancock said: ‘I want to encourage everyone in Greater Manchester and Lancashire to get the tests on offer. We know that this approach can work – we have seen it work in South London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.

‘This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Greater Manchester and in Lancashire, and of course, it is vital that people in these areas as everywhere, come forward and get the jab as soon as they are eligible.’

Dr Jenny Harries, chief of the UK Health Security Agency, added: ‘This variant is now the dominant strain of this virus across the UK, with cases continuing to rise in some areas.

‘The most important thing that people in these areas can do is remain cautious, work from home if possible and remember to practise hands-face-space and fresh air.

‘Getting the vaccine gives a strong level of protection against this variant and I strongly recommend that everyone gets the jab when the NHS invites you – it will protect you and your loved ones.’

The public health director in Lancashire said coronavirus cases there were rising at a ‘worrying pace’ and that the council there had been pushing for extra help since the issue began in Burnley weeks ago.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: ‘The Government has listened to our calls and has now agreed to provide Lancashire with enhanced support, which gives us more flexibility to fight this new wave of infections.

‘As such, asymptomatic PCR testing will be opened up to everyone in Lancashire.

‘Improving vaccination uptake is also going to be a crucial element in our efforts to contain this latest wave.

‘Anyone who is over 18, subject to eligibility, can book their jab now, over the coming weeks we will be offering the vaccine in more convenient locations.’  

There are fears the moves in the North West are the canary in the coal mine for the country as a whole as the Indian variant takes off, and they raise the risk that the end of lockdown will have to be delayed.

Moves are only changes to advice, however, and not yet enforced by law. 

Greater Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: ‘This is guidance, it is advice to the public. It is not a lockdown. 

‘It is not a ban… this is not about telling people to cancel their plans, it is about asking them to be careful in setting any new ones, to minimise non-essential travel.’

In a departure from his normal stance as a thorn in the Government’s side, Mr Burnham admitted it was a ‘sensible approach given the rise in cases that we’ve seen’ and hailed a ‘joint approach’ taken between local councils and Whitehall.

Speaking about areas affected by a rise in the Delta variant, Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: ‘It doesn’t mean that for people who have planned trips that they have to cancel their trips, or if they have planned family parties they have to cancel those. Go ahead.

‘This is guidance that says behave sensibly and that’s what we want people to do.’

On the national situation, a Government insider has cautioned: ‘No decisions have been taken but it is looking pretty challenging to go ahead on June 21 but I think people are leaning towards a short delay.

All over-50s could be fully vaccinated by July 1st – two weeks after ‘freedom day’ 

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal

All over-50s in England could be fully protected against Covid by July 1 — nearly two weeks after ‘freedom day on June 21 — but it will take until September for all adults to have had two jabs, MailOnline analysis can reveal.

The figures will boost calls for the Government to delay opening up all restrictions on June 21 for a fortnight in order to ensure the most vulnerable members of society have all had time for both doses to have had an effect.

And it comes amid claims that science chiefs Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have spooked No10 into pushing back plans for June 21’s ‘Freedom Day’ total unlocking citing fears of a third wave.

Experts say the vaccine forecast supports the case for a delay in reopening because one dose of vaccine can be as little as 30 per cent effective against the Indian coronavirus variant that is now dominant in the UK.

Cases are currently rising by around 40 per cent a week and new infections will be well above 15,000 a day by June 21, although it remains to be seen if the full vaccination of older Britons will keep hospital occupancy low.

But opponents of a postponement believe the vaccines have successfully broken the link between cases and hospitalisations, and argue the economic cost of a delay would be greater than that caused by a third wave this summer.

MailOnline analysis of official figures shows all people aged 50 and above could all of had their second vaccine dose by June 17, with a full immune response coming two weeks later.

But over-16s will not have received by their final inoculation until September 14, fueling concerns a surge in Covid infections caused by the Indian variant will result in a spike in deaths and hospitalisations among the unvaccinated. 

And experts today told MailOnline the figures suggest the Government would be right to delay by two weeks in order to ensure all over-50s have had their second dose and are protected.

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‘It would be a nightmare for the sectors affected, but – having said it is all about data not dates – it is difficult to go ahead with a reopening when the data is pointing the wrong way.’

An insider told The Times on the briefing from Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick: ‘They emphasised again that the vaccine did not provide 100 per cent protection and there were real concerns about the transmissibility of the new variants.

‘I think you’re looking at a delay of between two weeks and a month. As long as we have fully opened things up by the school holidays then I don’t think the political damage will be too great.’  

Mr Eustice said ‘critical test’ ahead of the planned lifting of restrictions on June 21 will be whether those who are vaccinated are being infected.

He told Sky News: ‘What we’re not seeing at the moment is that growth in hospitalisations associated with (infections) and that’s because we know that if people have the vaccine, particularly once they’ve had the second jab of the vaccine, it actually does give them immunity to this new strain that’s around.’  

Despite big hopes that the vaccine will protect people from the new variant, Matt Hancock said it will still take weeks to find out for sure whether it does.

He said evidence that they worked was ‘absolutely critical’ for Britain to be able to stop living under threat of lockdown rules.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons the Health Secretary said the jabs are breaking through the previously ‘rock solid’ link between infections and hospital admissions and deaths, but exactly how well they work still isn’t for certain.

Asked how effectively the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines cut the risk of hospitalisation for the Delta variant Mr Hancock said: ‘There is not yet a conclusive figure.

‘I spoke to Dr Mary Ramsay, who runs this research at Public Health England, this morning and she told me that this figure is currently being worked on and this analysis [is] being done scientifically, and should be available in the forthcoming couple of weeks.

‘It’s obviously an absolutely critical figure and I’ll report it to the House [of Commons] as soon as we have it.’ 

The Government is planning to offer second doses to all the vaccine priority groups before lockdown comes to an end on June 21, and the fact that a single dose appears less effective against the new variant could mean ministers will want to leave time for this second dose to kick in – around two weeks – before letting go of social distancing laws, ITV political editor Robert Peston wrote in the Spectator

But Tory MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told Times Radio he is ‘feeling quite optimistic that we are going to see the restrictions lifted’.

He said that ‘being double-jabbed works against this new variant, so, if Freedom Day ends up being put back a couple of weeks so we can get more people double-jabbed, I think it will only be a temporary setback. I think we are on the way to getting back to normal.’

Steve Baker MP, deputy chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, added: ‘As of today, according to announcements made by the Government, these [nine vaccine priority] groups should all have been offered a chance to have had a second dose…

‘If this brilliant milestone isn’t enough to convince ministers that we need to lift all remaining restrictions – especially social distancing requirements – on 21 June, nothing will ever get us out of this. 

‘Not only is this the last chance for all those industries that make life worth living like hospitality, live entertainment and tourism, it’s time for us to reconnect with family and friends and to regain our mental health. 

‘Being social is key to being well so by 21 June at the latest, Britain must meet again, must be reunited in every sense, and we must start healing the broken bonds of the last year with social contact and normal human interaction.’

Surge testing will now be offered to members of the public all over Greater Manchester and Lancashire in a bid to stamp out a rise in coronavirus cases. Pictured: A man has his temperature taken in the street outside a vaccine bus in Bolton yesterday

Business leaders Tory MPs warned any delay from June 21 would be devastating and could see thousands of pubs and restaurants go to the wall. Pictured: Chancellor Rishi Sunak (left) and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (right)

Matt Hancock said 4million people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire should minimise travel amid spread of Indian variant

Up to 4million people living in Greater Manchester and Lancashire were today urged not to leave the area and to avoid meeting people indoors to stop the spread of the Indian Covid variant, in the first sign that England’s ‘Freedom Day’ of June 21 will be pushed back.

With little under two weeks before No10’s planned final unlocking, the two hotspots in the North West are being sent ‘enhanced support’ in a last-ditch attempt to try to contain the ‘Delta’ strain.

The Army will be sent in to help carry out surge testing to flush out cases of the virus, while NHS boards in the area will be given extra help to ensure vaccine uptake is as high as possible. Residents are also being asked to get tested twice a week.

Both places were added to the ‘coronavirus restrictions’ page of Government guidance under the heading ‘If you’re in an area where the new Covid-19 variant is spreading’, alongside other parts of the North West, Leicester, Hounslow in London and North Tyneside. They cover a total of 5.7million people – around 10 per cent of England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We know that this approach can work, we’ve seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.’

Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham insisted the guidance was ‘not a lockdown’.

But the move comes amid claims that No10’s top scientific advisers Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have spooked ministers into pushing back plans for June 21’s total unlocking, citing fears of a third wave.

The pair reportedly gave a ‘fairly grim’ update on the situation to ministers, underlining that jabs can never provide 100 per cent protection and that one dose is less effective against the B.1.617.2 strain, which is significantly more transmissible and will inevitably cause more cases.

Whitehall sources said contingency plans are being drawn up for a possible delay of ‘between two weeks and a month’ to give scientists more time to consider data and allow the NHS to carry out more vaccinations. 

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British tourists yesterday scrambled to leave Portugal ahead of its move to the travel amber list this morning while the UK’s daily Covid cases rose to 5,683, with nearly three-quarters of local areas recording week-on-week increases – the highest proportion since January 6.

Mr Hancock yesterday told MPs the Indian or Delta variant was now thought to be at least 40 per cent more transmissible than the Kent or Alpha variant.

He said it now accounted for the ‘vast majority’ of new cases, but evidence from Bolton suggested vaccines were working.  

Of the 12,383 UK cases of the Indian variant, 126 have been admitted to hospital. Of these, just three had been fully vaccinated. 

Variant-tracking data from the Sanger Institute in London shows that, by the end of May, it was dominant in 201 authorities in England as infections are now rising in more parts of Britain than at any point since the peak of the second wave in early January.

Surveillance data showed the mutant strain was responsible for more than half of infections in two thirds of England over the two weeks to May 29, after spreading from hotspots in the North West and London.

This was double the number the previous week, when it was dominant in 102 areas, and eight times more than at the start of May when it was the main strain in just 23 areas. 

The ‘Delta’ variant — dubbed B.1.617.2 — was also spotted in 272 of 317 council areas in England, or more than 85 per cent of the country.

It was behind 10,477 infections over the 14-day period. For comparison, the previously dominant Kent variant was blamed for just 3,171 infections in the same time, fewer than a third of those blamed on the Indian variant.  

Cambridge microbiologist Professor Ravi Gupta, who sits on a sub-group of the Sage committee, said ‘a few more weeks rather than months’ may be needed before a full exit from lockdown.

Former chief scientist Professor David King also called for a delay, saying there was ‘evidence of another wave appearing’.

But former health minister Steve Brine warned there was a growing perception that ministers were ‘writing Covid a blank cheque and just continually delaying’.

Kate Nicholls, of industry group UK Hospitality, said a delay to the unlocking would result in ‘business failures and insolvencies very quickly’. 

She warned: ‘You are going to have long Covid for the economy if you are not very careful.’

The PM’s spokesman said data on hospital cases over the next few days would be ‘crucial’ to the final decision. 

Ministers have considered a compromise plan, which would see some restrictions lifted on June 21 while others remain in place.

But multiple sources said the Government was more likely to delay the whole package than try to split it up. 

Matt Hancock warns holidaying abroad will be ‘challenging’, fuelling fears for foreign holidays

The Health Secretary said the importation of new variants could derail plans to fully unlock domestically on June 21

Matt Hancock warned yesterday that rebooting international travel will be ‘challenging’, renewing fears foreign holidays will be off limits this summer.

The Health Secretary said the importation of new variants could derail plans to fully unlock domestically on June 21 and that the ability to do this must ‘be protected at all costs’.

The hardline stance came in the Commons as MPs demanded to know why Portugal was downgraded to amber last week and why more countries weren’t added to the quarantine-free green list.

Huw Merriman MP, Tory chairman of the transport committee, asked for a concrete ‘milestone’ for when international travel can be unlocked. But Mr Hancock replied: ‘It is going to be challenging, it’s going to be hard, because of the risk of new variants and new variants popping up in places like Portugal which have an otherwise relatively low case rate.

‘But the biggest challenge, and the reason this is so difficult, is that a variant that undermines the vaccine effort obviously would undermine the return to domestic freedom and that has to be protected at all costs.’

Portugal was downgraded from green on Thursday with ministers citing a near doubling of its infection rate within three weeks and the detection there of the new ‘Nepal’ mutation.

Former transport secretary Chris Grayling demanded to know why Malta was not added to the green list despite the Joint Biosecurity Centre saying it would be safe to do so. JBC data is used by ministers to decide whether countries should be ranked green, amber or red under the Covid traffic light travel system.

But Mr Hancock would only say: ‘There’s a number of balanced cases that are put forward before ministers and we always look at the pros and cons of each one.’

Malta yesterday announced it had recorded no new Covid cases in the latest 24-hour period for the first time since last summer. The Mediterranean island nation has also given 75 per cent of its population at least one dose of vaccine.

It has had just 419 deaths out of a population of more than 440,000 and sequences a high proportion of positive tests for the detection of variants, a key criteria for making the green list.

It came as the cost of flights from Portugal soared yesterday as up to 10,000 UK holidaymakers scrambled back to Britain before Portugal went amber today at 4am, meaning ten-day home quarantine now applies.

At least 64 flights, around double the daily number in recent weeks, were due to land in the UK from Portugal yesterday. Planes were largely full, according to travellers, with remaining seats being sold at inflated prices.

A seat on one Ryanair flight from Faro to Bournemouth was available for £285, nearly 17 times the £17 cost of a similar flight on Wednesday. A seat on one easyJet flight was going for £227, compared with one today for £53.

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The devastating cost of diverting from the roadmap

Analysis by Mario Ledwith

When it was unveiled in February, the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown promised to ‘restore freedoms sustainably, equitably and as quickly as possible’.

Announcing the plan, Boris Johnson said: ‘We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental wellbeing, and the life-chances of our children.’

The roadmap set out a plan to end legal limits on social contact by June 21.

The ultimate decision will be based on four tests, including the success of the vaccine rollout, current pressure on the NHS and the risk posed by new variants.

As ministers inch closer to making the call on whether to stick to the roadmap, we look at what rules could finally be lifted – and the impact if they are not.

ONE-METRE RULE

If the ‘one-metre rule’ advice remains in place, there will still be significant impacts on everyday life

Only last week, Mr Johnson said there was a ‘good chance’ the Government could ditch its ‘one-metre plus’ social distancing guidance.

If the advice remains in place, there will still be significant impacts on everyday life.

The advice would make it difficult for the Government to overturn its guidance that everyone who can work from home must do so, while posing a further obstacle to the retail and hospitality sectors. 

It could also prevent an end to enforced table service at pubs and bars. Kate Nicholls, of UK Hospitality, said lifting the one-metre rule is ‘vital’ for firms to operate viably.

LIMITS ON WEDDINGS

Failure to lift restrictions will mean that those getting married will have to keep the number of attendees at the current limit of 30.

Couples risk losing tens of thousands of pounds, while businesses already on the brink have warned that failure to allow big ceremonies to go ahead will be disastrous.

Couples risk losing tens of thousands of pounds, while businesses already on the brink have warned that failure to allow big ceremonies to go ahead will be disastrous

Industry body the UK Weddings Taskforce warned the wedding sector faces estimated revenue losses of more than £1.3billion.

RULE OF SIX (INSIDE)

Continuing to limit indoor gatherings to six people or two households would curtail sections of the hospitality sector reliant on large- scale events.

It would also prove an impediment to larger families who have spent months waiting for the opportunity to meet indoors, rather than in gardens.

Continuing to limit indoor gatherings to six people or two households would curtail sections of the hospitality sector reliant on large- scale events

Ministers have not dismissed the possibility of ditching the rule of six while keeping social distancing guidance in place, due to the higher risk of transmission inside.

UK Hospitality has predicted that a two-week delay to easing restrictions could cost the industry £1.5billion. Pub retailer Greene King has warned it would lose £1million during every England football game that takes place without the easing of the rules.

RULE OF 30 (OUTSIDE)

The hospitality sector is once again likely to bear the brunt of the refusal to scrap the 30-person cap on out- door gatherings.

The improving summer weather and lifting of restrictions was expected to coincide with a wave of large-scale gatherings that may now have to be cancelled.

NIGHTCLUBS

Already on their knees after being hit hardest of all by Covid restrictions, an extended ban could be a fatal blow for the country’s nightclubs and indoor music venues.

Failure to give the green light to capacity crowds could prove a hammer blow to the music festival sector, which is worth £1.1billion. Pictured: Dua Lipa performs at the 2021 BRIT Awards

A recent report found that clubs, which have been closed for 15 months, have already made 51 per cent of staff redundant.

The Night Time Industries Association, which represents nightclubs and other venues, has warned MPs that venues are facing an estimated £2.5billion rent crisis.

LARGE EVENTS

Failure to give the green light to capacity crowds could prove a hammer blow to the music festival sector, which is worth £1.1billion.

It is also likely to stand in the way of the UK’s summer of sport, with the European Football Championship the most high-profile victim. 

The tournament’s semi-finals and final are being played at Wembley and limits could dash hopes of seeing the stadium filled with cheering England fans.

Just 15 people out of 60,000 tested positive for Covid at nine trial events staged by the Government, including the FA Cup Final and Brit Awards last month.

Ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, have said that restrictions over wearing masks could be kept after freedom day

FACE MASKS

At present, you can be fined up to £200 for failing to wear a mask in indoor areas such as shops or on public transport, unless they are exempt. 

Last month, the Government dropped a requirement for schoolchildren to wear masks amid concerns they were affecting learning.

But ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, have said that restrictions over wearing masks could be kept after freedom day.

Surveys have shown people are largely in favour of retaining indoor mask-wearing, while studies show they can be successful at reducing transmission when combined with other measures.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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US government purchases 200 million additional COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna 

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The U.S. government has purchased 200 million additional doses of Moderna‘s COVID-19 vaccine.

With the 300 million doses already purchased from the biotechnology company, that brings America’s total order up to 500 million.

Under the terms of agreement, Moderna will deliver 110 million doses by the end of 2021 and 90 million in the first quarter of 2022.

What’s more, the Biden administration will also have the option to purchase any future coronavirus immunizations that Moderna is working on.

‘We appreciate the collaboration with the U.S government for these additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which could be used for primary vaccination, including of children, or possibly as a booster if that becomes necessary to continue to defeat the pandemic,’ said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement.

‘We remain focused on being proactive as the virus evolves by leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform to stay ahead of emerging variants.’   

It comes as the rate of vaccinations in the U.S. has slowed significantly to an average of 1.1 million shots per day, down from an average of 3.3 million in early April – making it highly unlikely the U.S. will meet President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of all U.S. adults by July 4.

The U.S. government has purchased an 200 more million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total order to 500 million. Pictured: A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in New York City, January 29

It is not exactly clear what the future doses will be used for but there are a few theories.

One is that the shots sitting in the U.S. stockpile may have expiration dates that are approaching and the new doses will replace those.

Another is that, because scientists believe COVID-19 is going to become an endemic disease – meaning it is always circulating at low rates – all future generations will have to be vaccinated against it, and the doses are in preparation for when the vaccine is authorized in kids.

A third option could be that the doses are used as part of Biden’s plan to deliver at least 80 million shots for about 100 countries.

The new doses will not be used as boosters, which Moderna is currently testing in clinical trials with the National Institutes of Health.

The company has developed two different types of boosters,  one with a new formula called mRNA-1273.351, and another called mRNA-1273.211, which combines Moderna’s original vaccine and the booster shot in one dose.

Two-thirds of participants different doses of mRNA-1273.351 and the remaining third will get the combination booster. 

Less than one week ago, Moderna asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine to Americans between ages 12 and 17.

When the vaccine was originally authorized for use by the FDA in December 2020, it was only for those aged 18 and older. 

However, recent Phase III clinical trial data showed no children who were given the immunization fell ill with the virus within 14 days of their second dose, while four children given the placebo later tested positive.

According to Moderna, this is ‘consistent with a vaccine efficacy of 100 percent.’ 

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Truck drivers with poor nutrition are more likely to have fatigue and be dangerous drivers

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Having a poor diet may increase the risk of dangerous driving for truck drivers, a new study suggests. 

A Beijing-based team of researchers looked at the diets of nearly 400 male truck drivers in Suzhou, China – a city west of Shanghai in the Jiangsu province.

They determined that drivers who ate more more junk food, snacks and animal proteins were more likely to be fatigued and drive dangerously, which could lead to car crashes.

Conversely, truck operators who ate vegetable-rich diets were more likely to be safer and more alert on the road.

Truckers with poor diets are more likely to be fatigued, make errors and be aggressive drivers. A study in Germany found that many truckers eat poor diets as they eat a large portion of their food at truck stops, where there are not as many healthy options

Most of the drivers were between the ages of 31 and 60, with between six to 10 years experience as a driver, and between 31,000 to 62,000 miles (50,000 and 100,000 kilometers) on the road in an average year.

Each of the drivers in the study, which is available Tuesday in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, was given a survey, asking how often they ate each of 25 different types of food over the past 12 months.

Drivers were placed into categories according to their reported diets: vegetable rich, staple foods (like eggs, milk and other common items), animal proteins and snack foods. 

They also completed Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory surveys, which judge physical and mental fatigue, and they were surveyed on their behaviors and attitudes while on the road.

Those who ate vegetable rich or staple food diets were found to have less fatigue and be safer drivers.

They were more attentive, made fewer errors while driving and were less aggressive with their driving. 

Meanwhile, drivers with animal protein-based diets and those who were on snack food diets were more likely to be unsafe drivers.

All truckers in these two groups were likely to make more errors and be more aggressive than their peers, with drivers on snack food diets being especially unlikely to exhibit positive driving behaviors. 

‘The results of this study support a relationship between dietary patterns and driving behavior in a sample of professional truck drivers,’ the researchers wrote.

‘Moreover, through the pathway analysis reported, it is possible to conclude that positive driving behavior can be predicted by prudent dietary patterns such as vegetable-rich diets, while some dangerous driving behaviors (errors, lapses and violations), can be predicted by unhealthy dietary patterns characterized by high intake of fats and [sugars].’

Drivers dietary pattern effects both their level of fatigue and driving behaviors, while fatigue can likely effect drivers behaviors as well

Both of the latter two categories were also associated with higher levels of fatigue. 

There have long been links between eating a healthier diet and having more energy throughout the day, and being more attentive. 

Truckers often eat at truck stops, and do not have time to cook for themselves, instead eating the food available to them at these stops. 

About 37 percent of the truckers in the study either ate all of their meals or a lot of their meals at truck stops.

Truckers who brought food from home were often eating healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts rather than the meats, snack foods and sugary foods those who ate on the roads did. 

The researchers also note that there are demonstrable links between making unhealthy life choices and also living a more dangerous lifestyle, as people who eat more unhealthy food are more likely to take unneeded risks. 

Because fatigued drivers were more likely to be dangerous, and fatigued drivers were more likely to make the poorer diet choices, researchers believe the fatigue played a role in less attentive and error prone driving as well.

They can not be 100 percent certain, though, according to their report.  

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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NHS to give artificial pancreas to 1,000 diabetics to test if it prevents life-threatening attacks

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A thousand diabetes patients will be given an artificial pancreas as part of a pilot scheme, the head of the NHS said yesterday.

Patients with type 1 diabetes will be able to use the devices, which continuously measure a person’s glucose levels and deliver insulin directly to the bloodstream – automatically balancing blood sugar levels.

Chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told the NHS Confederation’s conference up to 1,000 patients will benefit from a test of the innovative technology.

A thousand diabetes patients will be given an artificial pancreas as part of a pilot scheme, the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens (pictured) said

The devices could help eliminate finger prick diabetes tests and help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks.

Sir Simon said the technology was just ‘one example of a whole fizz of innovation which continues across the Health Service’. 

He added: ‘Living with diabetes is a daily challenge for millions of people across England and this technology has the potential to make a remarkable difference to their lives. This innovation is a prime example of the NHS’s continued progress in modern medicine and technology.’

The devices could help eliminate finger prick diabetes tests and help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks

Professor Partha Kar, NHS national speciality adviser for diabetes, added: ‘One hundred years after the discovery of insulin, the ‘artificial pancreas’ is a potentially revolutionary development in the treatment of diabetes.

‘The NHS has long been at the forefront of clinical advances in care for major diseases, including diabetes, which have allowed patients to live longer and healthier lives.’

Sir Simon also hailed other medical advances in the health service, from new cancer treatments to drugs for spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Meanwhile, other innovations mean there is a “realistic prospect” that HIV would be eliminated in this country by 2030, he said.

And ‘ground-breaking’ deals with drug companies could mean that the nation is ‘well on track to eliminating hepatitis C, ahead of the 2030 goal set by the World Health Organisation’.

Sir Simon also praised the clinical trails which have taken place in the NHS during the pandemic.

‘The latest estimate is that as a result of those, over a million lives have been saved worldwide thanks to research done in the NHS, over the course of months not years,’ he added.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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