Coronavirus UK news – Indian variant 'stealth lockdown' plans abandoned after anger as cases surge despite vaccine push

THE Government has u-turned over travel advice for areas worst hit by the Indian Covid variant after a change in guidance led to confusion.

Yesterday, ministers warned people not to enter or leave areas where the Covid strain is spreading fastest "unless it is essential".

But advice updated this morning now asks people to "minimise" travel into and out of Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted communication over the advice could have been "clearer", telling BBC Breakfast: "This is not a new lockdown, this is not law, this is just some advice.

"You can do exactly as you can elsewhere in the country.

"Some additional advice was provided in order to remind people that they happen to be living in areas where the risk of transmission is higher."

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

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    There are "very few if any" care home residents being admitted to hospital with Covid-19, the chief executive of NHS Providers has said.

    Chris Hopson told Times Radio: "The vast majority of people who are in hospital are people who have not been vaccinated, either because they were eligible and they haven't come forward but also there are younger people who haven't been vaccinated – that's why you're getting 70% of people who are hospitalised under 45.

    He said the data showed that getting people their second jabs was a priority as there was "definitely a difference" in hospital admissions between people with one jab and two.

    "So what those chief executives are saying to us is that they think that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has made the right decision by effectively saying 'let's try and get those second jabs done as quickly as possible' because that definitely does give a kind of higher level of protection", he added.

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    DOCTORS URGED TO WATCH OUT FOR SIGNS OF STROKE FOLLOWING COVID VACCINATION

    Doctors are being urged to watch out for signs of stroke in people receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after three young patients were admitted to hospital and one died.

    Experts, including from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at University College London (UCL) Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told how two women in their 30s and a man in his 40s suffered clots in their large arteries, leading to ischaemic stroke, though they stressed the chances were small.

    The team said the NHS must look out for patients with ischaemic stroke (where blood clots block arteries) within about one month of vaccination, saying they should be “urgently evaluated” for a very rare syndrome called vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT).

    This condition needs to be rapidly diagnosed and managed by a team with a range of expertise, who have quick access to a range of drugs, they said. The experts stressed that the cases of stroke are very rare and that stroke is more common in people who catch Covid-19.

    There have been 309 cases of major thrombosis with low platelet count suggesting VITT from more than 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered, they said.

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    WATCH: GRANT SHAPPS ON DOMINIC CUMMINGS

    Grant Shapps thinks Dominic Cummings has ‘probably tweeted most of what he’s going to say already’

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    NEW DOMINIC CUMMINGS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST BORIS JOHNSON (CONTINUED…)

    Mr Cummings will make spurious allegations the PM wanted to be injected with Covid to show it wasn’t a serious risk to the public.

    He will even claim that he wanted chief medical officer Chris Whitty to jab him with the bug “so everyone can see it’s nothing to be scared of”.

    The PM caught Covid in April last year and spent a week in hospital with the virus – including several days in intensive care – and nearly died.

    Dominic Raab even had to step in as acting PM while he was in his darkest days.

    The scorned ex-adviser will point the finger directly at his former boss and said on Twitter ahead of the showdown that thousands of lives were needlessly lost by his “awful” leadership.

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    DOMINIC CUMMINGS ‘SET TO ALLEGE BORIS JOHNSON SAID “COVID WAS ONLY KILLING 80-YEAR-OLDS” IN A BID TO AVOID LOCKDOWN’

    Boris Johnson wanted to be injected with Covid live on telly to show it wasn’t a big risk, Dominic Cummings is set to sensationally claim.

    Downing Street is braced for “Domageddon” as the rogue aide spills lockdown secrets to MPs.

    ummoned to a bombshell Commons evidence session that could run for six hours, the former No10 adviser has vowed to lift the lid on how the PM was too slow to lockdown last March and the Health Sec’s “disastrous” pandemic planning.

    It was claimed Mr Cummings would make incendiary claims that Mr Johnson refused to order a second lockdown in September last year because “only 80-year-olds were dying” from the bug.

    The PM is also said to have called Covid ‘Kung Flu’ in a reference to the virus originating from China.

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    MINISTER SAYS DEFENCE OF No10 ADVISER 'UNDERMINED PUBLIC HEALTH MESSAGE'

     Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who defended Dominic Cummings after his trip to Country Durham during lockdown last year, admitted the former aide had undermined the Government's public health message.

    "I thought he was right at the time to stand by his family, to go into effective quarantine, and that's what he did," Mr Shapps told the BBC.

    "I accept it was a moment which actually in the public's mind undermined the wider messages and I accept that.

    "I thought he was doing what he thought was right by his family at the time."

    He dismissed the focus on Cummings as "Westminster bubble stuff" and "I do find this obsession about one single adviser a bit odd".

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    DOMINIC CUMMINGS TO GIVE EVIDENCE ON COVID RESPONSE

    Former Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings will give evidence on the early days of the Government's Covid-19 response.

    He is due to give evidence to the House of Commons' Health and Science select committee from 9.30am this morning.

    The adviser, who acrimoniously left No 10 last year, is expected to say the Government initially decided to pursue a policy of "herd immunity" rather than attempt to stop the virus spreading through the population.

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    MANCHESTER MAYOR ANDY BURNHAM HITS OUT AT ‘MASSIVE COMMUNICATION ERROR’ FROM GOVERNMENT

    Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told people to exercise their own judgement and hit out at a massive “communications error”.

    He fumed: “Schools are confused about whether trips can happen, amateur sport has been thrown into chaos, people also have plans for the bank holiday.”

    The Labour big beast demanded a minister issue an urgent statement today clarifying the situation. He also vowed to fight any future local lockdowns, with Mr Greenhalgh warning of public unrest if they were ever revived in the future.

    Answering a question from The Sun, he said: “There’s an underlying resentment that could lead to anger.

    “I don’t think I’m over-exaggerating, you only have to look at social media to see tensions that are rising.”

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    CANARY, BALEARIC AND GREEK ISLANDS ‘COULD BE ON GREEN LIST EVEN IF REST OF THE COUNTRY IS RATED AMBER’

    THE Canary, Balearic and Greek islands could be on quarantine-free green list for summer holidays, even if the rest of the country is rated amber. 

    Ministers have pledged to open up island destinations for UK tourists “where possible”, even if infection rates prevented an entire country from joining the green list.

    According to reports from the Telegraph, Robert Courts, the aviation minister, told MPs the Government would take this “where possible” as it prepares to reveal the next lot of destinations that could be added to the quarantine-free list.

    The second installment of countries to be added to the list was expected to be announced at the start of next month.

    This process would mean the Canary, Balearic and Greek islands could be rated green, separate from Spain and Greece. This could also pave the way for other tourists in the Carribean and Mediterranean to be declared open for UK tourists. 

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    OPPOSITION MPs CRITICISE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the SNP’s Health spokeswoman Phillipa Whitford have challenged the government over its decision to “sneak out” local lockdowns in areas heavily affected by the Indian variant.

    Ashworth challenged Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi in the House of Commons, saying the government has let down people who had been planning for reopening. He asked why the Government did not do more to tell people about when the lockdown was imposed.

    Whitford accused the Government of updating the website during Eurovision on Saturday night to avoid heavy scruntiny and criticism.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GOVERNMENT CHANGES INDIAN HOTSPOT ADVICE AND TELLS RESIDENTS TO ‘MINIMISE TRAVEL’ AFTER SAYING AVOID ENTERING & LEAVING

    THE Government has changed its controversial Indian hotspot advice – now telling residents to "minimise travel" in and out of affected areas.

    Local leaders were already in turmoil over the new rules today – which previously urged people to avoid entering or leaving the eight areas where the Indian variant is rife. Twenty-four hours of chaos raged after it was revealed last night the Government had quietly changed its online guidance to warn against travel to the hotspots.

    And in a screeching U-turn, a government spokesperson said officials will “updating the guidance" for the affected areas to "make it clearer we are not imposing local restrictions".

    The spokesperson said: "Instead, we are providing advice on the additional precautions people can take to protect themselves and others in those areas where the new variant is prevalent.

    “This includes, wherever possible, trying to meet outdoors rather than indoors, keeping 2m apart from anyone you don’t live with and minimising travel in and out the area. These are not new regulations but they are some of the ways everyone can help bring the variant under control in their local area.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    COVID NEWS ROUND UP

    • Brits were told not to travel in & out of 8 Indian variant hotspots, only meet outside and stay 2m apart
    • Fully vaccinated Brits ‘will STILL need to self-isolate if they come into contact with people with Covid after June 21’
    • Up to 8,700 patients ‘died after catching Covid while in hospital being treated for something else’
    • Indian doctors now warn of yellow fungus seen in Covid patient after deadly black fungus fears

    MANCHESTER MAYOR ANDY BURNHAM HITS OUT AT ‘MASSIVE COMMUNICATION ERROR’ FROM GOVERNMENT

    Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told people to exercise their own judgement and hit out at a massive “communications error”.

    He fumed: “Schools are confused about whether trips can happen, amateur sport has been thrown into chaos, people also have plans for the bank holiday.”

    The Labour big beast demanded a minister issue an urgent statement today clarifying the situation. He also vowed to fight any future local lockdowns, with Mr Greenhalgh warning of public unrest if they were ever revived in the future.

    Answering a question from The Sun, he said: “There’s an underlying resentment that could lead to anger.

    “I don’t think I’m over-exaggerating, you only have to look at social media to see tensions that are rising.”

    MINISTER DENIES WARNING TO AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO AND FROM AREAS OF ENGLAND WORST AFFECTED BY INDIAN COVID VARIANT 'OUT OF THE BLUE'

    WHAT DOES THE NEW GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE STATE?

    New government guidance states: “The new Covid-19 variant spreads more easily from person to person. To help stop the spread, you should take particular caution when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble.

    “In the areas listed, wherever possible, you should try to meet outside rather than inside where possible, keep two metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with, [and] avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education.”

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman stressed that the new guidance affecting eight Indian variant hotspot areas was "not statutory".

    The spokesman said: "It is important to emphasise that this is guidance, these are not statutory restrictions placed on those local areas.

    "We have talked before about where we are at this stage in the pandemic in the UK, where we are able to move away from top-down edicts from the Government and start transitioning to a position where we have moved back to where the public are able to exercise their good judgment, as they have done throughout. We will continue to monitor the situation."

    • Joseph Gamp

      ‘THERE ARE NO LOCAL LOCKDOWNS’ (CONTINUED…)

      It comes as figures showed Covid-19 case rates in Bolton are at their highest level for more than six months.

      A total of 1,300 new cases were recorded in the seven days to May 21 – the equivalent of 452.1 per 100,000 people. This is up from 300.8 the previous week and is the highest since the seven days to November 12.

      Bolton continues to have the highest rate of new cases in the UK.

      Blackburn with Darwen has the second highest, up week-on-week from 130.9 to 301.9, with 452 new cases.

      Bedford is third highest, up week-on-week from 128.1 to 193.9, with 336 new cases.

    • Joseph Gamp

      ‘THERE ARE NO LOCAL LOCKDOWNS’, SAY PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTORS IN VARIANT HOTSPOTS

      Residents in eight Indian variant hotspot areas have been told “there are no local lockdowns” after the Government was accused of bringing in new Covid-19 restrictions “by stealth”.

      Guidance urging people in areas with high levels of the strain to restrict their socialising and travel was added to the Government website on Friday, but local leaders said they had not been made aware.

      In a joint statement on Tuesday the directors of public health in Burnley, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside effectively said the advice could be disregarded, saying it had been confirmed there is no restriction on travel in and out of the areas.

      The statement said: “Following the national coverage of recently revised guidance we have met with national officials and confirmed there are no restrictions on travel in or out of each of our areas: there are no local lockdowns. In areas where the new Covid variant is spreading we are all working together to boost testing and vaccination and to support self-isolation.

      “There are sensible public health precautions people can take as individuals in line with the sorts of advice we have all been following throughout the pandemic. We will keep sharing that and working with national officials to make sure people understand what they need to think about as they go about their daily lives.”

    • Joseph Gamp

      GRAPH: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

    • Joseph Gamp

      DOCTORS URGED TO WATCH OUT FOR SIGNS OF STROKE FOLLOWING COVID VACCINATION

      Doctors are being urged to watch out for signs of stroke in people receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after three young patients were admitted to hospital and one died.

      Experts, including from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at University College London (UCL) Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told how two women in their 30s and a man in his 40s suffered clots in their large arteries, leading to ischaemic stroke, though they stressed the chances were small.

      The team said the NHS must look out for patients with ischaemic stroke (where blood clots block arteries) within about one month of vaccination, saying they should be “urgently evaluated” for a very rare syndrome called vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT).

      This condition needs to be rapidly diagnosed and managed by a team with a range of expertise, who have quick access to a range of drugs, they said. The experts stressed that the cases of stroke are very rare and that stroke is more common in people who catch Covid-19.

      There have been 309 cases of major thrombosis with low platelet count suggesting VITT from more than 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered, they said.

    • Joseph Gamp

      OPPOSITION MPs CRITICISE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

      Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the SNP’s Health spokeswoman Phillipa Whitford have challenged the government over its decision to “sneak out” local lockdowns in areas heavily affected by the Indian variant.

      Ashworth challenged Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zawahi in the House of Commons, saying the government has let down people who had been planning for reopening. He asked why the Government did not do more to tell people about when the lockdown was imposed.

      Whitford accused the Government of updating the website during Eurovision on Saturday night to avoid heavy scruntiny and criticism.

    • Joseph Gamp

      NEW DOMINIC CUMMINGS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST BORIS JOHNSON (CONTINUED…)

      Mr Cummings will make spurious allegations the PM wanted to be injected with Covid to show it wasn't a serious risk to the public.

      He will even claim that he wanted chief medical officer Chris Whitty to jab him with the bug "so everyone can see it's nothing to be scared of".

      The PM caught Covid in April last year and spent a week in hospital with the virus – including several days in intensive care – and nearly died.

      Dominic Raab even had to step in as acting PM while he was in his darkest days.

      The scorned ex-adviser will point the finger directly at his former boss and said on Twitter ahead of the showdown that thousands of lives were needlessly lost by his "awful" leadership.

      He will also say that the reason he was late to lock the country down was because he was on an extended holiday with his partner Carrie Symonds.

    • Joseph Gamp

      DOMINIC CUMMINGS 'SET TO ALLEGE BORIS JOHNSON SAID "COVID WAS ONLY KILLING 80-YEAR-OLDS" IN A BID TO AVOID LOCKDOWN'

      Boris Johnson wanted to be injected with Covid live on telly to show it wasn't a big risk, Dominic Cummings is set to sensationally claim.

      Downing Street is braced for “Domageddon” as the rogue aide spills lockdown secrets to MPs.

      ummoned to a bombshell Commons evidence session that could run for six hours, the former No10 adviser has vowed to lift the lid on how the PM was too slow to lockdown last March and the Health Sec's “disastrous” pandemic planning.

      It was claimed Mr Cummings would make incendiary claims that Mr Johnson refused to order a second lockdown in September last year because "only 80-year-olds were dying" from the bug.

      The PM is also said to have called Covid 'Kung Flu' in a reference to the virus originating from China.

    • Joseph Gamp

      MAPPED: NEW LOCAL ‘LOCKDOWNS’ IN ENGLAND’S INDIAN VARIANT HOTSPOTS

    • Joseph Gamp

      MANCHESTER MAYOR ANDY BURNHAM HITS OUT AT 'MASSIVE COMMUNICATION ERROR' FROM GOVERNMENT

      Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham told people to exercise their own judgement and hit out at a massive "communications error".

      He fumed: "Schools are confused about whether trips can happen, amateur sport has been thrown into chaos, people also have plans for the bank holiday."

      The Labour big beast demanded a minister issue an urgent statement today clarifying the situation. He also vowed to fight any future local lockdowns, with Mr Greenhalgh warning of public unrest if they were ever revived in the future.

      Answering a question from The Sun, he said: "There's an underlying resentment that could lead to anger.

      "I don't think I'm over-exaggerating, you only have to look at social media to see tensions that are rising."

    • Joseph Gamp

      COVID NEWS ROUND UP

      • Brits were told not to travel in & out of 8 Indian variant hotspots, only meet outside and stay 2m apart
      • Fully vaccinated Brits ‘will STILL need to self-isolate if they come into contact with people with Covid after June 21’
      • Up to 8,700 patients ‘died after catching Covid while in hospital being treated for something else’
      • Indian doctors now warn of yellow fungus seen in Covid patient after deadly black fungus fears

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