More than 10 million people in the UK have now received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to government figures, amid growing concerns about the threat posed by the Covid-19 variant first discovered in India.
Boris Johnson cancelled his planned trip to the country on Monday as health secretary Matt Hancock announced that India would be added to the UK’s travel ban “red list” this week.
In a joint statement, the two governments said: “In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week.
“Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India. They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.”
The variant of Covid-19 that first emerged in India and was detected in the UK last week is expected to be named as a “variant of concern”, according to scientists.
Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told Good Morning Britain on Monday that escalating the Indian variant of the virus to a “variant of concern” would lead to India being placed on the government’s “red list” of hotel quarantine countries.
India reported 273,810 new infections on Monday, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic. Deaths rose a record 1,619 to 178,769.
Video footage of Matt Hancock’s statement to the Commons this afternoon can be found below:
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 16:04
Hancock on India travel ban decision
Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs this afternoon: “We’ve recently seen a new variant first identified in India. We’ve now detected 103 cases of this variant, of which again the vast majority have links to international travel and have been picked up by our testing at the border.”
He added that samples of the variant had been analysed to see if it had any “concerning characteristics”, such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines.
“After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list,” he said.
“This means anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen cannot enter the UK if they’ve been in India in the previous 10 days.
“UK and Irish residents and British citizens who have been in India in the past 10 days before their arrival will need to complete hotel quarantine for 10 days from the time of arrival.
“These rules will come into force at 4am on Friday.”
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 16:02
India to be added to travel ban ‘red list’ over Covid variant fears
India will be added to the UK’s “red list” of countries where travel is banned under coronavirus regulations, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Our policy correspondent, Jon Stone, has more on this breaking story below:
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 15:52
Covid-19 is ‘diminished but not defeated’, Hancock says
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the country is on track to meet the road map set out by Boris Johnson earlier this year as Covid-19 is “diminished but not defeated”.
“Cases, hospitalisations and deaths are back to the levels we saw in September,” Mr Hancock told the Commons.
“Throughout the crisis we’ve protected the NHS and there are now 2,186 people in hospital with Covid across the UK, down 94 per cent from the peak. And the average number of daily deaths is 25, down 98 per cent.”
“And now, with fewer Covid patients in hospital, the NHS is already turning to focus on the work to tackle the Covid backlog.”
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 15:49
Starmer clashes with anti-lockdown landlord on campaign trail
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been thrown out of a pub by an anti-lockdown landlord this afternoon while campaigning in Bath.
The party’s press office said the landlord had been spreading “dangerous misinformation” about the pandemic.
Our reporter, Eleanor Sly, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 15:31
Health secretary Matt Hancock on the UK’s latest Covid vaccination milestone:
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 15:22
PM hails ‘fantastic’ news as 10 million people receive second vaccine dose
Boris Johnson has said it is “fantastic” that more than 10 million people in the UK have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
“This is another remarkable milestone in our vaccination programme, which has already saved thousands of lives,” the prime minister said.
“I want to thank the brilliant staff and volunteers involved in the rollout, and urge all those who are called to keep coming forward.”
Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has more details on this breaking story below:
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 15:02
More than 10 million people in the UK have now received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to government figures.
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 14:48
A travel ban for arrivals to the UK coming from India is “imminent”, according to The Times’ political editor Steven Swinford.
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 14:41
‘Very tough’ measures are still needed to fight Covid-19, PM says
Boris Johnson has said “very tough” measures are still necessary to fight Covid-19 following ongoing surge testing to trace cases of the so-called South African variant of the virus.
When asked during a visit to Wednesbury, West Midlands, if he could go back on his word that the easing of restrictions would be irreversible, the prime minister said: “Our programme, our road map is deliberately cautious with the intention of being irreversible.
“At the moment we don’t have conclusive evidence that it [the South Africa variant] does escape the vaccines in a very dangerous way but we have to be cautious, so wherever it appears… we have to do the surge testing, the door-to-door testing, and make sure that we clamp down on it as much as we can.”
He added: “We have also got to maintain a very tough regime, a very tough international travel regime for the time being so that we don’t reimport the disease into this country as we’re stamping it out in the UK.
“People worked incredibly hard with the lockdowns over the last few months. The vaccination programme is really helping. But we have to be cautious.”
Conrad Duncan19 April 2021 14:26