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UK Covid live news: vaccinations to be rolled out to over-40s this week, says NHS chief

The Guardian - Mon Apr 12 12:45

08:54

The coronavirus pandemic has been a “death knell” for public transport, the former Top Gear presenter James May said on Monday.

May told PA:

Until coronavirus is completely banished, which seems to be some years off according to the experts, it’s a bit of a death knell for public transport, which is the thing that we were told would save our cities.

He said that “the whole landscape of movement, transport and working practices will change quite a bit” as a result of the pandemic.

May predicted people will walk, cycle and use electric scooters more often, but added:

We are certainly not going to be able to do without cars for some time yet and especially not in rural areas.

Youngsters can do without a car in cities for the most part, and I know a lot who do, but more out in the sticks, you don’t really have a great deal of choice for longer journeys.

You are really going to have to have a car and you are going to have to be able to drive, so it actually needs to be encouraged.

A man walks through a very quiet underground station during what would traditionally be a busy period for commuter travel, on 26 March, 2021 in London, England. A year after the first Covid-19 lockdown discouraged use of public transit, ridership on the London Underground, which recorded around 4 million rides every weekday pre-pandemic, was hovering around 20 percent of normal. Transport for London worries it will take two years before ridership - and hopefully the agency’s finances - returns to normal.
A man walks through a very quiet underground station during what would traditionally be a busy period for commuter travel, on 26 March, 2021 in London, England. A year after the first Covid-19 lockdown discouraged use of public transit, ridership on the London Underground, which recorded around 4 million rides every weekday pre-pandemic, was hovering around 20 percent of normal. Transport for London worries it will take two years before ridership - and hopefully the agency’s finances - returns to normal. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

08:45

City Hall on Monday said that the daily number of new people who tested positive for Covid-19 in London was 171.

“The latest reported number of patients in London hospitals was 561,” it said in a tweet.

As of Sunday 3,296,920 Londoners have received their first jab, with the total number of first and second doses given up to and including 10 April standing at 4,047,546.

Photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @theefer of the queue outside Walthamstow Library in east London, for a coronavirus vaccination, after it was announced people could walk in for surplus vaccine stock on 31 March, 2021.
Photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @theefer of the queue outside Walthamstow Library in east London, for a coronavirus vaccination, after it was announced people could walk in for surplus vaccine stock on 31 March, 2021. Photograph: Sébastien Cevey/PA

08:34

The shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, said the review risked kicking the issue into the long grass.

She said:

This has all the hallmarks of another cover-up by the Conservatives.

Just as with the inquiry into Priti Patel’s alleged bullying, this is another Conservative government attempt to push bad behaviour into the long grass and hope the British public forgets. The Conservatives can’t be trusted to yet again mark their own homework.

We need answers on Greensill now – that means key players in this cronyism scandal like David Cameron, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock appearing openly in front of Parliament as soon as possible to answer questions.

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08:30

Downing Street said Boris Johnson wanted the independent review into Greensill Capital to be completed “thoroughly” and “promptly”.

Asked about when the findings are expected to be reported back, the prime minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing:

We will set out the exact timescales. But as you would expect, the prime minister wants this to be done thoroughly and he wants it to be done promptly. So you can expect a prompt return on this.

Downing Street said Nigel Boardman, who will lead the probe, would have “access to the documents that he needs”.

Asked whether Johnson believed lobbying rules needed to be changed, the prime minister’s official spokesman said:

As you have seen from what we have announced today, the prime minister understands the significant public interest in this and wants to look at the issues raised and get more details.

But I think you can judge from his actions.

Updated

08:23

Footfall across all retail destinations in the UK was up 101% by midday on Monday compared with a week earlier, according to the most recent figures from Springboard.

Footfall at shopping centres rose 148%, while high street footfall rose 130%, the figures show. Meanwhile, retail parks saw a 12% drop in footfall.

Across all destinations footfall was still down 36% compared with Monday 15 April, 2019. It rose 346% compared with Monday 13 April 2020 – the height of the first lockdown.

People queue outside a Hermes store in Mayfair in London, Monday, on 12 April, 2021.
People queue outside a Hermes store in Mayfair in London on Monday. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/AP
Shoppers queue outside Primark in Norwich on 12 April, 2021.
Shoppers queue outside Primark in Norwich. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA
People are seen waiting to be seated in outdoor entertainment venues on 12 April, 2021 in Manchester, England.
People are seen waiting to be seated in outdoor entertainment venues. Photograph: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

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08:16

Downing Street said Boris Johnson had called for the independent review to be launched into Greensill Capital due to “significant interest” in the matter.

The prime minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing:

The Cabinet Office is commissioning an independent review on behalf of the prime minister, to establish the development and use of supply chain finance and associated activities in Government, and the role Greensill played in those.

As you know, there is significant interest in this matter, so the prime minister has called for the review to ensure government is completely transparent about such activities and that the public can see for themselves if good value was secured for taxpayers money.

This independent review will also look at how contracts were secured and how business representatives engaged with government.

The spokesman said the independent review would be led by the legal expert Nigel Boardman and that the Cabinet Office will set out further formal details in due course, PA Media reports.

Updated

08:10

Many young people non-compliant with social distancing rules, ONS study says

Many young people showed lower levels of concern over the risks of catching coronavirus and did not comply with social mixing guidance, a new study by the Office for National Statistics has shown.

Responses gathered by the ONS showed that some felt that they were “missing out” on their social life because of the pandemic. Others said that the increased isolation and lack of socialising caused by lockdown restrictions had also had a negative effect on their mental health.

The ONS said there was an underlying assumption among some participants that they were less at risk to Covid-19 because they were young. Few respondents knew someone who had had the virus and so concluded it was unlikely they would catch it themselves.

The survey also found that many young people felt that social mixing rules were confusing because of the changes around where and how many people a person could meet.

Students in particular were concerned about missing out on the “university experience” by not being able to go to parties or clubs. Many said it was harder to comply with guidance around student areas because of the behaviour of others and temptations to be social in a university environment.

Some also thought recovery from the virus would be quick, so were not concerned about catching it by mixing in large groups.

Few mentioned putting any steps in place to safely manage the transition from campus to family home. Some said that while they had taken steps to limit contact with strangers, they had made personal assessments about the safety of meeting up with friends, the ONS said.

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08:07

While UK resort locations are witnessing an unprecedented boom in summer bookings, data from hotel technology provider Avvio suggests that bookings at major city hotels are over 80% down from a couple of years ago.

Avvio’s chief commercial officer, Michael De Jongh, said:

There’s virtually no international tourism in the UK right now and that’s hitting city hotels hard. On the whole people really don’t want to spend their summer staycation in a UK city, which means the current boom is almost exclusively around resort locations.

While there has been some growth in city hotel bookings this year – July is 74% up on last year and August is 49% up – last year many were 90% down on 2019 levels. This means that most are still over 80% down on 2019.

However, Avvio is forecasting a stronger recovery for city hotels later in the summer.

De Jongh added:

In time, big hospitality events will be commonplace once again. There’ll be major sporting events, conferences and concerts, resulting in significant bookings for city hotels.

Many of them have world-class restaurants as well, which will also give them much-needed revenue when people return to city centres to work and socialise. Until then, if they’re to survive, many of them will have to think of some really creative ways to attract guests.

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07:59

People who receive a Moderna Covid-19 jab will be asked to wait for 15 minutes of observation after they receive their vaccine, PA reports:

Details about the vaccine have been published by the government as it prepares for the vaccine to be rolled out across England.

The Department of Health and Social Care reiterated that the jab will be rolled out from mid-April after first doses have already been delivered in Wales and Scotland.

A 24-year-old carer from Wales was the first Briton to receive the jab last week.

Elle Taylor, from Ammanford, got the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen on April 7.

Now more details about the vaccine have been published on the Public Health England website including information on the dose, the interval between first and second jab, the storage temperature and whether people who receive the jab will need to be observed afterwards.

The jab needs to be stored at -25C to -15C, which is not quite as cold as the ultra low temperature needed for the storage of the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be stored at -80C to -60C.

Once it has been thawed it can be stored for 2C to 8C for up to 30 days, giving it a slightly longer shelf life than the Pfizer jab which can only be stored for five days after it has been thawed.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does not need to be frozen and can be stored at 2C to 8C for six months or “until expiry”.

The minimum interval between first and second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days, the same as the AstraZeneca jab.

07:54

Vaccines 'due to be rolled out to the over-40s this week', NHS chief says

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that doses of the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out in England from “mid April” after first doses were already delivered in Wales and Scotland, while an NHS chief said jabs would be offered to the over-40s as early as this week, PA reports.

A DHSC spokesperson said:

Our vaccination programme continues at pace with over 32 million people having now received a first dose. Our target is to offer a jab to over-50s by April 15 and all adults by the end of July, and we are on course to meet that. We will be setting out more details later this week.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said:

It is an incredible achievement that more than 32 million people have received their first vaccine, with over 7 million receiving their second jab.

While there is still a way to go with our vaccination programme, we welcome the progress being made, with the jabs due to be rolled out to the over-40s this week and all priority groups now offered a first dose.

Sir David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government, told Sky News:

The rate of vaccination of over 55-year-olds is over 90%. It’s really incredible how the vaccination has been rolled out through the National Health Service.

Updated

07:41

Government to open investigation into David Cameron's lobbying for Greensill

Here’s more on the breaking news that the government is opening an official investigation into the Greensill scandal from my colleague Jessica Elgot:

The government is set to a launch an independent investigation into former prime minister David Cameron’s lobbying for the now-collapsed Greensill and the role of the scandal-hit financier Lex Greensill in government.

Details of the inquiry are set to be announced on Monday afternoon, the Guardian understands, amid growing calls for rules to be toughened. The decision to launch the inquiry, first reported by the Sun, was made by No 10 on Monday morning.

Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP who chairs the powerful liaison committee of MPs, had called for an immediate inquiry into Greensill’s influence in government during the Cameron administration, when he was brought in as an adviser, as well as changes to the ministers’ code of conduct to force them to declare when they have conversations about possible employment after their time in government.

Jenkin said the issue should be looked at immediately by the new adviser on ministerial interests. Boris Johnson is yet to replace Alex Allan, who quit before Christmas after the prime minister backed the home secretary, Priti Patel, despite a highly critical report into bullying.

The former prime minister Gordon Brown has said lobbying rules should be tightened, as Labour called for Cameron to answer questions from MPs.

Full story here:

Updated

07:36

The government has opened an official independently run investigation into former prime minister David Cameron’s lobbying activities for financier Lex Greensill, the Sun newspaper reports.

My colleague Nicola Slawson has put together a handy timeline of the key moments in the saga about the former PM’s lobbying attempts.

Updated

07:27

An update to England and Wales’s NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app has been blocked for breaking the terms of an agreement made with Apple and Google.

The BBC reports:

The plan had been to ask users to upload logs of venue check-ins – carried out via poster barcode scans – if they tested positive for the virus. This could be used to warn others.

The update had been timed to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown rules.

But the two firms had explicitly banned such a function from the start.

Under the terms that all health authorities signed up to in order to use Apple and Google’s privacy-centric contact-tracing tech, they had to agree not to collect any location data via the software.

As a result, Apple and Google refused to make the update available for download from their app stores last week, and have instead kept the old version live.

When questioned, the Department of Health declined to discuss how this misstep had occurred.

Updated

07:24

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to under-50s in England could begin imminently as the deadline to offer the jab to the nine groups most at risk approaches.

This from PA:

Reports suggest that some healthy adults in their 40s could be offered the jab as soon as Tuesday after the government has met its target for offering the vaccine to over-50s and those deemed clinically vulnerable.

But supply constraints could mean that many may have to wait a little longer to be offered the jab.

In March the NHS in England warned of a “significant reduction in weekly supply” throughout April meaning volumes for first doses will be “significantly constrained”.

It said people “aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccination” unless they are in a higher priority group, such as being clinically vulnerable.

It is understood that the guidance still stands. Throughout April the health service has prioritised second doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and a record 475,230 people received their second jab on Saturday.

So far almost 40m vaccinations have been delivered across the UK. This includes 32m first doses and almost 7.5m second doses.

Sonia Akbar administers the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to patients at a pop-up vaccination centre at the Pakistani community centre in Derby on 9 April.
Sonia Akbar administers the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to patients at a pop-up vaccination centre at the Pakistani community centre in Derby on 9 April. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

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