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Coronavirus live: second pandemic year to be deadlier than first, warns WHO; Germany to mark UK as risk area Coronavirus live: second pandemic year to be deadlier than first, warns WHO; Germany to mark UK as risk area
(32 minutes later)
WHO chief asks countries to donate jabs instead of vaccinating children; India variant behind Germany decision; France adds more countries to high-risk listWHO chief asks countries to donate jabs instead of vaccinating children; India variant behind Germany decision; France adds more countries to high-risk list
The B.1.617.2 variant first found in India will, over time, surpass the variant first discovered in Kent and become dominant in the UK, Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said on Friday.
“This is more transmissible than the B.1.1.7 (Kent variant), and we expect over time this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK, in the way that B.1.1.7 took over,” Prof Whitty told a news conference.
The Scientific Advisory Group for emergencies (SAGE) has also published their report on the Indian variant of the virus and said that there is a possibility that the variant is “50% more transmissible” than the current dominant Kent variant.
From the BBC’s Health and science correspondent, James Gallagher
My colleagues Tobi Thomas and Ashley Kirk have reported which countries have the highest infection rates from the variant discovered in India.My colleagues Tobi Thomas and Ashley Kirk have reported which countries have the highest infection rates from the variant discovered in India.
Outside India, the UK has recorded the highest number of cases of the Indian variant, at 1,587 cases to date. The US, Singapore and Germany are the only other countries to have sequenced more than 100 cases of the B.1.617+ variant, according to the Gisaid Initiative.Outside India, the UK has recorded the highest number of cases of the Indian variant, at 1,587 cases to date. The US, Singapore and Germany are the only other countries to have sequenced more than 100 cases of the B.1.617+ variant, according to the Gisaid Initiative.
The report in full can be found here:The report in full can be found here:
France will have administered at least one Covid-19 vaccine injection to 20 million people by Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on his Twitter feed.France will have administered at least one Covid-19 vaccine injection to 20 million people by Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on his Twitter feed.
The government had previously set itself a target to give one dose to 20 million people by mid-May and has stepped up its vaccination campaign in recent days to meet that goal.The government had previously set itself a target to give one dose to 20 million people by mid-May and has stepped up its vaccination campaign in recent days to meet that goal.
Veran added that on Friday nearly 600,000 vaccinations were administered.Veran added that on Friday nearly 600,000 vaccinations were administered.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) puts Great Britain and Northern Ireland back in the lowest-level risk category, nearly a month after they were taken off the list following a decline in new infections, thanks to widespread vaccinations.Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) puts Great Britain and Northern Ireland back in the lowest-level risk category, nearly a month after they were taken off the list following a decline in new infections, thanks to widespread vaccinations.
In a statement, the RKI said, “The classification is due, despite (a low incidence rate), to the at least a limited occurrence of the B.1.617.2 variant in the United Kingdom.”In a statement, the RKI said, “The classification is due, despite (a low incidence rate), to the at least a limited occurrence of the B.1.617.2 variant in the United Kingdom.”
The variant, first detected in India, is believed to be more contagious than the original strain and classified by the WHO as a “variant of concern”.The variant, first detected in India, is believed to be more contagious than the original strain and classified by the WHO as a “variant of concern”.
On Friday, the British government said the variant was spreading “increasing rapidly” in parts of England, with identified cases doubling from 520 last week to 1,313 this week.On Friday, the British government said the variant was spreading “increasing rapidly” in parts of England, with identified cases doubling from 520 last week to 1,313 this week.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will shortly begin his Downing Street press conference alongside Professor Chris Whitty.UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will shortly begin his Downing Street press conference alongside Professor Chris Whitty.
My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be liveblogging the event on the UK Covid news liveblog that you can follow along here:My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be liveblogging the event on the UK Covid news liveblog that you can follow along here:
France records 173 new coronavirus deaths in hospital and there were 4,352 people in intensive care units with Covid-19 on Friday, 90 fewer than on Thursday. Meaning that this is the 11th consecutive day that this key metric has fallen.France records 173 new coronavirus deaths in hospital and there were 4,352 people in intensive care units with Covid-19 on Friday, 90 fewer than on Thursday. Meaning that this is the 11th consecutive day that this key metric has fallen.
The French health ministry also reported that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 fell by a further 250 to 23,406.The French health ministry also reported that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 fell by a further 250 to 23,406.
The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has not ruled out the possibility of banning people crossing the border from England if cases of the Covid variant first detected in India continue to rise there.The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has not ruled out the possibility of banning people crossing the border from England if cases of the Covid variant first detected in India continue to rise there.
Drakeford announced on Friday a string of relaxations to Covid restrictions coming into force on Monday, including the reopening of indoor hospitality and the restart of foreign holidays.Drakeford announced on Friday a string of relaxations to Covid restrictions coming into force on Monday, including the reopening of indoor hospitality and the restart of foreign holidays.
But he also revealed the Welsh cabinet had discussed the possibility of allowing more people to mix and giving the go-ahead for some small public events such as food festivals – and decided against this because of the variant.But he also revealed the Welsh cabinet had discussed the possibility of allowing more people to mix and giving the go-ahead for some small public events such as food festivals – and decided against this because of the variant.
Drakeford said there were 26 cases of the variant in Wales but added that there was more concern about the “significant spread of that India variant across our border” in England, including a “significant cluster in the north-west of England”.Drakeford said there were 26 cases of the variant in Wales but added that there was more concern about the “significant spread of that India variant across our border” in England, including a “significant cluster in the north-west of England”.
He said: “We know that the border between the north-east of Wales and the north-west of England is a porous one, so we’re keeping a particular watch on developments there. Should it be necessary to take action, we will do so.”He said: “We know that the border between the north-east of Wales and the north-west of England is a porous one, so we’re keeping a particular watch on developments there. Should it be necessary to take action, we will do so.”
More on Wales possibly banning travel into England here:More on Wales possibly banning travel into England here:
Italy has reported 182 coronavirus deaths, and 7,567 new cases.Italy has reported 182 coronavirus deaths, and 7,567 new cases.
Mainland China has reported 12 new Covid-19 cases today, inluding its first local transmissions in more than three weeks.Mainland China has reported 12 new Covid-19 cases today, inluding its first local transmissions in more than three weeks.
Reuters reports:Reuters reports:
The UK has reported a further 17 coronavirus deaths, and 2,193 new cases of the virus.The UK has reported a further 17 coronavirus deaths, and 2,193 new cases of the virus.
Government data also shows that 36.1 million people have received their first coronavirus vaccination dose.Government data also shows that 36.1 million people have received their first coronavirus vaccination dose.
Turkey is to ease coronavirus restrictions, emerging out of a full lockdown, president Erdogan has said today.Turkey is to ease coronavirus restrictions, emerging out of a full lockdown, president Erdogan has said today.
The country has been in a lockdown for two weeks after the number of daily new cases rocketed to above 60,000, the highest rate globally, and with deaths reaching almost 400 a day.The country has been in a lockdown for two weeks after the number of daily new cases rocketed to above 60,000, the highest rate globally, and with deaths reaching almost 400 a day.
The number of daily new cases has fallen to 11,000, sharply down from last month but still above the target of 5,000 set at the start of the lockdown. Around 10.7 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 13% of the population.The number of daily new cases has fallen to 11,000, sharply down from last month but still above the target of 5,000 set at the start of the lockdown. Around 10.7 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 13% of the population.
Reuters reports:Reuters reports:
Tobi here, taking over while my colleague Edna has a break. If you would like to get in touch please email tobi.thomas@theguardian.com. Thanks!Tobi here, taking over while my colleague Edna has a break. If you would like to get in touch please email tobi.thomas@theguardian.com. Thanks!
The World Health Organization (WHO) added that local conditions needed to be considered if a country is planning to allow vaccinated people not to wear masks in public.The World Health Organization (WHO) added that local conditions needed to be considered if a country is planning to allow vaccinated people not to wear masks in public.
WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, told a virtual briefing in Geneva: “In the instance of a country that wishes to take away a mask mandate … that should only be done in the context of considering both the intensity of transmission in the area and the level of vaccine coverage.”WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, told a virtual briefing in Geneva: “In the instance of a country that wishes to take away a mask mandate … that should only be done in the context of considering both the intensity of transmission in the area and the level of vaccine coverage.”
In the United StatesUS, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks outdoors and could avoid wearing them indoors in most places.In the United StatesUS, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks outdoors and could avoid wearing them indoors in most places.