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Covid: Get the jab plea as Army deployed in hotspots Covid: Get the jab plea as Army deployed in hotspots
(32 minutes later)
People eligible for a vaccine in areas where the Indian virus variant is circulating are being urged to get the jab.People eligible for a vaccine in areas where the Indian virus variant is circulating are being urged to get the jab.
Health Minister Edward Argar said there had been a "minor increase" in hospital presentations mainly among 35-65 year olds who were unvaccinated in Bolton.Health Minister Edward Argar said there had been a "minor increase" in hospital presentations mainly among 35-65 year olds who were unvaccinated in Bolton.
Meanwhile, the Army will be deployed on the streets of Bolton and Blackburn to help surge testing efforts. Meanwhile, the Army will be deployed in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen to help mass testing efforts.
Cases of the Indian variant have nearly tripled in the past week, data showed.Cases of the Indian variant have nearly tripled in the past week, data showed.
Surge testing is taking place in 15 areas across England, including London, Sefton and Nottingham. Surge testing is taking place in targeted areas across England, including postcodes within several London boroughs, Sefton, Worcester, Lancashire and Nottingham.
Prof Anthony Harnden, who advises the government on vaccinations, said there were still "lots of unvaccinated people in at-risk groups in these areas".Prof Anthony Harnden, who advises the government on vaccinations, said there were still "lots of unvaccinated people in at-risk groups in these areas".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The worry is that those unvaccinated vulnerable individuals, those over-50, unvaccinated will develop Covid from this more transmissible [variant] and end up in hospital."He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The worry is that those unvaccinated vulnerable individuals, those over-50, unvaccinated will develop Covid from this more transmissible [variant] and end up in hospital."
Prof Harnden said the Indian variant was "clearly more transmissible" than the current dominant virus type - but vaccines should still protect against severe disease.Prof Harnden said the Indian variant was "clearly more transmissible" than the current dominant virus type - but vaccines should still protect against severe disease.
"That's why we're imploring [local authorities] to get out there and vaccinate their unvaccinated people," he added."That's why we're imploring [local authorities] to get out there and vaccinate their unvaccinated people," he added.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the new variant could affect the timing of the last step in England's roadmap out of lockdown from 21 June. Second doses will also be speeded-up for older age groups in affected areas - in a move described by Prof Harnden as providing "better short-term protection" in an "urgent situation".
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the new variant - first discovered in India - could affect the timing of the last step in England's roadmap out of lockdown from 21 June.
Mr Johnson said he did not believe that the "present evidence" showed a need to delay the next stage in the easing of lockdown in England on Monday.
Why is the India variant causing concern in the UK?Why is the India variant causing concern in the UK?
What is the India Covid variant?What is the India Covid variant?
What are the latest changes to lockdown?What are the latest changes to lockdown?
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing alongside the UK's chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, Mr Johnson said first Covid vaccine doses will also be prioritised "for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward". Currently, England's vaccination rollout is open to people over the age of 38. Mr Argar told BBC Breakfast the government was acting "coolly" and "calmly" in response to new research on the potential increased transmissibility of the Indian variant.
The prime minister said he did not believe that the "present evidence" showed a need to delay the next stage in the easing of lockdown in England on Monday - when pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers indoors and six people or two households can meet in a private home. He said: "All the evidence so far suggests there is no evidence of increased severity of illness or that it evades the vaccine.
But Mr Johnson warned: "I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June." "So, at the moment, on the basis of the evidence we are doing the right thing, coolly, calmly continuing with Monday, but keeping everything under review."
Mr Argar admitted some arrivals from India may have used public transport to travel home from the airport in the days before the country was placed onto the UK's travel red list on 23 April.
He told Today: "I do think we have the right border controls in place to do everything we can to minimise the risk not just this variant but other variants in the future."
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Mr Johnson added that there was "no evidence to suggest that our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation". There will be an acceleration of the vaccine rollout in Bolton, including longer opening hours at vaccination centres.
There will be an acceleration of the vaccine rollout in Bolton, Mr Johnson said, including longer opening hours at vaccination centres. Speaking on Friday at a Downing Street briefing alongside the UK's chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, Mr Johnson said first Covid vaccine doses will be prioritised "for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward".
Prof Whitty said delays to the vaccination programme for younger people were not expected with the prioritisation of second doses for older age groups, as he warned the new variant was likely to dominate the UK in the way the Kent variant did. Currently, England's vaccination rollout is open to healthy people over the age of 38, as well as adults with underlying conditions, and health and social care workers.
Prof Whitty said it was not expected that the vaccination of younger adults would be delayed due to the prioritisation of second doses for older people.
There were long queues at vaccination centres across Bolton on FridayThere were long queues at vaccination centres across Bolton on Friday
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said there is a "realistic possibility" that the variant could be as much as "50% more transmissible" than the Kent strain.The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said there is a "realistic possibility" that the variant could be as much as "50% more transmissible" than the Kent strain.
Cases of the Indian variant found in the UK to date have nearly tripled in the past week to 1,313, Public Health England said.Cases of the Indian variant found in the UK to date have nearly tripled in the past week to 1,313, Public Health England said.
Most of the cases - 1,255 - are in England, while there are 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and 11 in Wales, according to PHE.Most of the cases - 1,255 - are in England, while there are 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and 11 in Wales, according to PHE.
It said four people have now died with the Indian variant of concern as of 12 May.It said four people have now died with the Indian variant of concern as of 12 May.
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Mobile testing units have been set up in Bolton, PHE said, and door-to-door PCR testing had been offered to 22,000 residents. A PCR test is the most accurate way to check for Covid.Mobile testing units have been set up in Bolton, PHE said, and door-to-door PCR testing had been offered to 22,000 residents. A PCR test is the most accurate way to check for Covid.
More doses have been delivered to the town, which has also set up a vaccine bus to increase uptake among those who are eligible.More doses have been delivered to the town, which has also set up a vaccine bus to increase uptake among those who are eligible.
A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers has also been sent in.A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers has also been sent in.
Extra clinics will open in Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire from next week to offer the vaccine to those who are eligible under national guidelines. The vaccination capacity of local pharmacies will also be increased.Extra clinics will open in Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire from next week to offer the vaccine to those who are eligible under national guidelines. The vaccination capacity of local pharmacies will also be increased.
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