THE total lifting of lockdown measures WILL go ahead as planned on June 21, Boris Johnson suggested today.

After studying data on the current rate of coronavirus infections versus hospitalisations and deaths, the Prime Minister today declared he as yet hadn't seen anything to justify delaying the plan.

Boris did stop short of saying June 21 would definitely happen, however, and insisted on waiting "a little bit longer" before making a firm decision.

"I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can't go ahead with step four of the opening on 21 June," he said.

Yet he stressed a need to be "cautious" due to "ambiguous" data on how successful the UK's vaccine programme is in fighting a new infection surge.

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

  • Joseph Gamp

    SCIENTISTS PLEAD FOR DELAY TO ROADMAP OVER VARIANT HOTSPOT 'VOLCANOES'

    Scientists are pleading for a delay of the June 21 unlocking as Covid variant hotspots are like “volcanoes” set to explode.

    Government scientific advisers have repeated calls to wait a month to end all restrictions amid spread of the Indian strain.

    Dr Lisa Spencer, honorary secretary of the British Thoracic Society, told the BBC: “There are a few hotspots around the UK. These are areas where the variant first identified in India seem to be causing a majority of the infections, spreading quickly.

    “These areas of the country represent mini-Covid volcanoes, that’s the problem.

    “If we don’t handle these volcanoes carefully they could explode and send a massive gas plume across much more of the UK.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    HANCOCK HAILS UK’S VACCINE CONFIDENCE

    Confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines has been “sky high” in Britain, Matt Hancock has said.

    The Health Secretary told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: “Across the UK confidence in the vaccine programme has been sky high.

    “We continue to top the list of places where people are willing to take, or have taken, a Covid vaccine – around nine in 10 of us.”

    He added: “I am aware that this isn’t a vaccine world cup – different nations don’t compete for one prize, we know that when everyone is safe we’re all going to be the winners.”

    Mr Hancock added that when vaccine confidence in one country “takes a hit” then “word can spread, fake news travels fast”. "Vaccine confidence is an international challenge and one that takes international action,” he added.

  • Joseph Gamp

    12 MORE UK DEATHS FROM COVID-19

     The Government said a further 12 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,794.

    Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 4,330 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

  • Joseph Gamp

    75% OF BRITS HAVE NOW HAD THE FIRST DOSE OF THE JAB

    The UK has hit a milestone in its coronavirus vaccination programme as 75 per cent of Brits have now had a first dose of a jab.

    It comes the day after zero Covid deaths were reported, amid debate over lockdown restrictions ending.

    The next set of lockdown restrictions are due to end on June 21, but doubt had been cast over this date due to a rise in cases of the Indian variant – especially in the North West.

    Yesterday no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year – in a sign that vaccines are protecting people from severe infection.

    Extra jabs have been rolled out in hotspot areas and the UK was also given an extra boost last week after the Johnson & Johnson jab was approved for use.

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    POLICE OFFICERS FOUND AT PARTY IN BREACH OF COVID-19 REGULATIONS

    A group of police officers are being investigated by their force after being found at a party in contravention of Covid-19 rules.

    Police were called to the gathering at a property in Hove, East Sussex, on May 15, where the off-duty officers were found inside.

    A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: "Police officers were called to an address in Hove, following reports of a gathering inside on Saturday May 15 at 8.46pm.

    "They entered and found a number of off-duty officers present.

    "This incident, in breach of current lockdown restrictions, is being investigated by the force's Professional Standards Department."

  • Joseph Gamp

    CARE HOME DEATHS FALL BY 17% ON PREVIOUS WEEK

    Some 25 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to May 21, down 17% on the previous week.

    In total, 42,486 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

    The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

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    WATCH: BORIS JOHNSON SAYS THERE IS 'NO NEED' TO DELAY REOPENING

    Boris Johnson says still no need to delay June 21 roadmap but says SORRY for lockdown limbo

     

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    HANCOCK HAILS UK’S VACCINE CONFIDENCE

    Confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines has been “sky high” in Britain, Matt Hancock has said.

    The Health Secretary told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: “Across the UK confidence in the vaccine programme has been sky high.

    “We continue to top the list of places where people are willing to take, or have taken, a Covid vaccine – around nine in 10 of us.”

    He added: “I am aware that this isn’t a vaccine world cup – different nations don’t compete for one prize, we know that when everyone is safe we’re all going to be the winners.”

    Mr Hancock added that when vaccine confidence in one country “takes a hit” then “word can spread, fake news travels fast”.

    “Vaccine confidence is an international challenge and one that takes international action,” he added.

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    TESTING STEPPED UP IN BID TO HALT RISING COVID CASES IN BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN

    Testing for Covid-19 will be stepped up in Blackburn with Darwen as health chiefs hope to control its rising infection rates “in the next week or so”.

    The East Lancashire borough has recently overtaken Bolton as England’s top Covid hotspot area as cases rise in parts of the north-west region amid concerns over the spread of the Indian variant.

    The rate in Blackburn with Darwen currently stands at 436.2 cases per 100,000 people, with 653 new cases in the seven days to May 28.

    This is up from 303.3 in the seven days to May 21.

    Bolton in Greater Manchester has the second highest rate, down from 452.8 to 375.2, with 1,079 new cases.

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    ON THE BRINK

    Scientists are pleading for a delay of the June 21 unlocking as Covid variant hotspots are like “volcanoes” set to explode.

    Government scientific advisers have repeated calls to wait a month to end all restrictions amid spread of the Indian strain.

    Dr Lisa Spencer, honorary secretary of the British Thoracic Society, told the BBC: “There are a few hotspots around the UK. These are areas where the variant first identified in India seem to be causing a majority of the infections, spreading quickly.

    “These areas of the country represent mini-Covid volcanoes, that’s the problem.

    “If we don’t handle these volcanoes carefully they could explode and send a massive gas plume across much more of the UK.”

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    EU PUTS JAPAN ON THEIR GREEN LIST – BUT BRITS ARE STILL BLOCKED

    European Union governments agreed on Wednesday to add Japan to their small list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, while holding off until at least mid-June for British tourists, EU sources said on Tuesday.

    Ambassadors from the EU’s 27 countries approved the addition of Japan at a meeting on Wednesday, with the change to take effect in the coming days.

    EU countries are recommended gradually to lift travel restrictions for the current seven countries on the list – Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

    Individual EU countries can still opt to demand a negative Covid-19 test or a period of quarantine.

    The EU last month eased criteria for adding new countries to the list, by changing to 75 from 25 the maximum number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.

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    12 MORE UK DEATHS FROM COVID-19

     The Government said a further 12 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,794.

    Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

    The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 4,330 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

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    BORDER BONUS FOR BRITS IN AIRPORTS

    Sunseekers returning to the UK will face shorter queues at the border as Covid data can now be processed by eGates.

    Arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to use the ultra fast gates when landing in the UK after government techies synced them up with passenger locator forms which carry Covid details.

    Trials have been ongoing for the past few months, but now Home Office officials are confident in the technology.

    It means people will be able to swiftly pass into the UK while Border Force officials can still monitor 100 per cent of arrivals.

    It will ease pressure on staff.

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    75% OF BRITS HAVE NOW HAD THE FIRST DOSE OF THE JAB

    The UK has hit a milestone in its coronavirus vaccination programme as 75 per cent of Brits have now had a first dose of a jab.

    It comes the day after zero Covid deaths were reported, amid debate over lockdown restrictions ending.

    The next set of lockdown restrictions are due to end on June 21, but doubt had been cast over this date due to a rise in cases of the Indian variant – especially in the North West.

    Yesterday no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year – in a sign that vaccines are protecting people from severe infection.

    Extra jabs have been rolled out in hotspot areas and the UK was also given an extra boost last week after the Johnson & Johnson jab was approved for use.

     

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    CARE HOME DEATHS FALL BY 17% ON PREVIOUS WEEK

    Some 25 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to May 21, down 17% on the previous week.

    In total, 42,486 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

    The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

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    VACCINE MISINFORMATION A 'DEADLY THREAT', SAYS HEALTH SECRETARY

    The speed of misinformation about vaccines is a "deadly threat", the Health Secretary has said.

    Matt Hancock told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: "The speed of misinformation is a deadly threat.

    "So we've had some of our best people on the case from the beginning, long before there was a licensed vaccine, countering the myths, countering the lies, treating people with respect, taking respectful hesitancy and giving respectful answers.

    "A crucial component of that confidence, which is openness and honesty.

    "Because it's not just been about getting all those positive facts to people but being honest and transparent about the difficult ones too – being upfront and completely transparent, for instance, about side effects, levelling with people that our supply will be lumpy and changing from week to week.

    "And being open, when we haven't known the answer, like for instance we took time to find out the impact of new variants. So we didn't jump on the answers people wanted to hear."

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    HELP VACCINATE THE WORLD OR IT WILL COME BACK TO ‘BITE US’

    The UK could be “slammed” by new coronavirus variants unless more is done to help poorer nations vaccinate their populations, an expert has warned.

    Although vaccines have been effective against the Delta variant first identified in India, protection against future variants is “not guaranteed forever”, Professor Sir John Bell said.

    As the disease rages in other parts of the world, new variants could emerge which will come back to “bite us”, the regius professor of medicine at Oxford University warned.

    He said that if the UK “scampers down the rabbit hole” every time a new variant emerges the nation will be “huddled away” for a long time.

    The comments came as academics debate whether the final easing of restrictions in England should proceed on June 21.

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    SCOTLAND RECORDS ANOTHER COVID DEATH

    Scotland has recorded one death of a coronavirus patient and 677 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest figures.
    The death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7,670.

    The Scottish Government data indicates the daily test positivity rate is 2.8%, down from 3.1% the previous day.

    A total of 114 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up from 106 the day before, with 10 patients in intensive care – no change.

    So far, 3,286,26 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 2,106,177 have received their second dose.

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    WATCH: EXPERT SAYS INDIAN VARIANT ISN'T DRIVING SURGE

    Indian variant ISN’T driving NHS surge as jabs ‘break the chain’ raising hopes for June 21

     

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    MODERNA PLANS MIX OF VACCINES

    Moderna is gearing up to halve the dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, the U.S. drugmaker said on Wednesday, so that it can also be used to combat variants and inoculate children.

    It has agreed a deal with Swiss-based drugmaker Lonza which said a new drug substance production line in Geleen, Netherlands, will have capacity to make ingredients for up to 300 million doses annually at 50 micrograms per dose.

    “We’re assuming that as of 2022, we are going to have a mix of dose levels on the market,” a spokeswoman for Moderna said.

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    SEEING RED – FOUR MORE COUNTRIES TO JOIN BAN LIST

    Four more countries look set to be added to the red alert holiday list over high infection rates and Covid variant fears.

    British holidaymakers are likely to be banned from flying to Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait, predicts an analyst.

    Robert Boyle, a former BA strategist, said that he had looked at which countries might be added to the red list, based purely on Covid infection rates.

    After delving into the seven-day average reported cases per million, Boyle then drew up a chart of the countries with the highest coronavirus infections.

    He noted that while “most of them are already on the red list, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait are not. So expect those to be added shortly.” All four are currently on the amber list, which Brits also shouldn’t travel to.

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    VIRAL LOAD

    A third wave of Covid-19 could already be underway in the UK as infections continue to rise in some parts of the country, experts have warned.

    The next round of lockdown restrictions are set to be lifted on June 21 but an increase in cases has raised doubts that the relaxation will still go ahead.

    Cases are still rising in areas where the Indian variant is dominant and the North West has seen a rise in infections in areas such as Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale.

    In some areas, surge testing has been rolled out and increased vaccine capacity has also been deployed.

    Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that out of the 380 local areas in the UK 61 per cent recorded a week-on-week rise in Covid-19 case rates as of May 26.

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    HANCOCK HAILS UK'S VACCINE CONFIDENCE

    Confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines has been "sky high" in Britain, Matt Hancock has said.

    The Health Secretary told the Global Vaccine Confidence Summit: "Across the UK confidence in the vaccine programme has been sky high.

    "We continue to top the list of places where people are willing to take, or have taken, a Covid vaccine – around nine in 10 of us."

    He added: "I am aware that this isn't a vaccine world cup – different nations don't compete for one prize, we know that when everyone is safe we're all going to be the winners."

    Mr Hancock added that when vaccine confidence in one country "takes a hit" then "word can spread, fake news travels fast".

    "Vaccine confidence is an international challenge and one that takes international action," he added.

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    PUPILS TO BE OFFERED EXTRA TUITION AND OPTION TO REPEAT YEAR UNDER £1.4bn PLAN

    Pupils will be offered up to 100 million hours of tuition as part of the Government’s multimillion-pound catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption to schooling due to Covid-19.

    The Department for Education (DfE) has announced an additional £1.4 billion of funding – on top of the £1.7 billion already pledged for catch-up – to help pupils make up for lost learning following months of school closures.

    As part of the recovery package, some Year 13 students will be given the option to repeat their final year if they have been badly affected by Covid.

    Schools and colleges will be funded by the DfE to help accommodate the additional student numbers.

    But education unions have described the £1.4 billion funding package as “hugely disappointing” and a “damp squib”, with one school leaders’ union boss warning that the announcement “lets down the nation’s children”.

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