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Coronavirus live news: UK chancellor pushes Boris Johnson to relax holiday rules, reports say Coronavirus live news: UK chancellor ‘pushes PM to relax holiday rules’; mass testing amid China outbreak
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: Rishi Sunak says restrictions ‘out of step’ with international rivals, according to media reports Latest updates: Rishi Sunak says restrictions ‘out of step’ with international rivals, according to media reports; China battling worst caseload in months
Cheap taxi rides and discounts from the biggest takeaway companies are to be deployed by the government in a desperate effort to boost Covid vaccination rates among the young, amid growing legal and political pressure on Boris Johnson over the use of vaccine passports.
With figures inside the cabinet concerned about the plans already in place to enforce vaccine passports in some settings, the government’s focus has turned to using incentives to drive up vaccination rates over the summer to head off another Covid wave as offices, schools and universities reopen.
Car-hailing companies Uber and Bolt, as well as delivery service Deliveroo, are all involved in plans to offer consumers discounts. Latest take-up figures suggest that 60% of 18- to 25-year-olds have received at least one jab, but ministers are concerned that demand from younger age groups is levelling off.
It comes as Johnson backed away from making full vaccination a condition for allowing students to live and be taught on their university campuses, amid Tory unrest.
The Observer has learned that the government was last week delivered a stark briefing from university lawyers, outlining a series of legal obstacles to the plan that would leave them open to a slew of cases, many of which could apply to other sectors should passports be considered in other areas.
Johnson has already set out plans to make vaccine passports mandatory in some indoor venues such as nightclubs. However, companies are warning that they could face legal action should they implement “no jab, no job” policies.
Ministers have so far rejected calls to pay the young to have a vaccine, after US president Joe Biden called for $100 payments to be offered to the newly vaccinated in the United States. However, ministers are now working with popular cab-hailing and takeaway companies to introduce incentives, though the firms will not ask for or hold any health data.
Under the scheme, Uber will offer discounted rides and meals on Uber Eats for young adults who get the jab. Bolt will offer free ride credit to vaccination centres. Other incentives being discussed could include vouchers or discount codes for people attending pop-up vaccine sites . Sajid Javid, the health secretary, called on the young to “go out and take advantage of the discounts” when they become available.
Incentives are desperately being sought by ministers amid growing concern over attempts to force the young into being vaccinated. After universities were privately warned early last week that the use of vaccine certificates was an option being examined by the government, a detailed memo was delivered to the cabinet office warning that institutions risked breaching consumer law by effectively changing the terms of the contract handed to students who had already received an offer of a place in September. Lawyers also warned that legislation would need to be changed to allow universities to compel students to take a vaccine – a vote the government could struggle to win.
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Newly reported Covid-19 cases in Tokyo came in at 3,058 on Sunday, the metropolitan government announced, as infection spreads in the Olympic host city.Newly reported Covid-19 cases in Tokyo came in at 3,058 on Sunday, the metropolitan government announced, as infection spreads in the Olympic host city.
Cambodia will begin offering a booster shot against Covid-19, switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.Cambodia will begin offering a booster shot against Covid-19, switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.
Prime minister Hun Sen, launching the vaccination campaign for 12-17 years old, said on Sunday that the third dose will be offered to between 500,000 to one million frontline workers as a priority, Reuters reports.Prime minister Hun Sen, launching the vaccination campaign for 12-17 years old, said on Sunday that the third dose will be offered to between 500,000 to one million frontline workers as a priority, Reuters reports.
Hun Sen said in a speech which was broadcast on social media:Hun Sen said in a speech which was broadcast on social media:
Hun Sen also said the country will purchase more AstraZeneca vaccines through Covax for the booster shots and the recent U.S funded Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be used to vaccinate indigenous peoples in northeastern Cambodia.Hun Sen also said the country will purchase more AstraZeneca vaccines through Covax for the booster shots and the recent U.S funded Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be used to vaccinate indigenous peoples in northeastern Cambodia.
Cambodia has launched a lockdown in eight provinces bordering Thailand this week in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.Cambodia has launched a lockdown in eight provinces bordering Thailand this week in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that the Delta variant has been detected amongst migrants returning from Thailand through land borders and is now in the local community.The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that the Delta variant has been detected amongst migrants returning from Thailand through land borders and is now in the local community.
Li Ailan, WHO Representative to Cambodia said in a statement:Li Ailan, WHO Representative to Cambodia said in a statement:
Cambodia managed to largely contain the virus for most of last year, but an outbreak first detected in late February has driven up total cases to 77,919, with 1,420 deaths.Cambodia managed to largely contain the virus for most of last year, but an outbreak first detected in late February has driven up total cases to 77,919, with 1,420 deaths.
Health authorities in China are battling to contain the country’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months and several Chinese cities have rolled out mass testing of millions of people and imposed fresh travel restrictions.Health authorities in China are battling to contain the country’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months and several Chinese cities have rolled out mass testing of millions of people and imposed fresh travel restrictions.
China reported 75 new coronavirus cases with 53 local transmissions, with a cluster linked to an eastern airport now reported to have spread to over 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.China reported 75 new coronavirus cases with 53 local transmissions, with a cluster linked to an eastern airport now reported to have spread to over 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.
The outbreak is geographically the largest to hit China in several months after the country’s successes in largely snuffing out the pandemic within its borders last year, AFP reports.The outbreak is geographically the largest to hit China in several months after the country’s successes in largely snuffing out the pandemic within its borders last year, AFP reports.
That record has been thrown into jeopardy after the fast-spreading Delta variant broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province in July.That record has been thrown into jeopardy after the fast-spreading Delta variant broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province in July.
Authorities have now conducted three rounds of testing on the city’s 9.2 million residents and placed hundreds of thousands under lockdown, in an effort to curb an outbreak Beijing has blamed on the highly-contagious Delta variant and the peak tourist season.Authorities have now conducted three rounds of testing on the city’s 9.2 million residents and placed hundreds of thousands under lockdown, in an effort to curb an outbreak Beijing has blamed on the highly-contagious Delta variant and the peak tourist season.
Officials are now scrambling to track people nationwide who recently travelled from Nanjing or Zhangjiajie, a tourist city in Hunan province which has locked down all 1.5 million residents and shut all tourist attractions.Officials are now scrambling to track people nationwide who recently travelled from Nanjing or Zhangjiajie, a tourist city in Hunan province which has locked down all 1.5 million residents and shut all tourist attractions.
Fresh cases were reported Sunday in Hainan island - another popular tourist destination - as well as Ningxia and Shandong provinces, authorities said.Fresh cases were reported Sunday in Hainan island - another popular tourist destination - as well as Ningxia and Shandong provinces, authorities said.
The country is also battling a separate rise in cases in the flood-ravaged city of Zhengzhou in Henan province after two cleaners at a hospital treating coronavirus patients coming from abroad tested positive.The country is also battling a separate rise in cases in the flood-ravaged city of Zhengzhou in Henan province after two cleaners at a hospital treating coronavirus patients coming from abroad tested positive.
27 locally transmitted cases have been detected, with authorities Sunday ordering mass testing of all 10 million residents. The head of the city’s health commission has also been sacked.27 locally transmitted cases have been detected, with authorities Sunday ordering mass testing of all 10 million residents. The head of the city’s health commission has also been sacked.
And after reports that some people sickened in the latest cluster were vaccinated, health officials have said this was “normal” and stressed the importance of vaccination alongside strict measures.And after reports that some people sickened in the latest cluster were vaccinated, health officials have said this was “normal” and stressed the importance of vaccination alongside strict measures.
Feng Zijian, virologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said:Feng Zijian, virologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said:
More than 1.6 billion vaccine doses have so far been administered nationwide as of Friday, Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) said. It does not provide figures on how many people have been fully vaccinated.More than 1.6 billion vaccine doses have so far been administered nationwide as of Friday, Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) said. It does not provide figures on how many people have been fully vaccinated.
Rishi Sunak has warned the prime minister that the UK’s travel restrictions are “out of step” with its international rivals as he pushes for holiday rules to be relaxed, according to reports.Rishi Sunak has warned the prime minister that the UK’s travel restrictions are “out of step” with its international rivals as he pushes for holiday rules to be relaxed, according to reports.
The Sunday Times reported that Rishi Sunak has written to Boris Johnson about the damage that the current border rules are doing to the country’s economy, particularly its tourism and hospitality sector.The Sunday Times reported that Rishi Sunak has written to Boris Johnson about the damage that the current border rules are doing to the country’s economy, particularly its tourism and hospitality sector.
He is said to be calling for Britain to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further.He is said to be calling for Britain to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further.
The No 11 Downing Street incumbent has reportedly told Johnson that the UK’s entry and exit rules are “out of step with our international competitors”.The No 11 Downing Street incumbent has reportedly told Johnson that the UK’s entry and exit rules are “out of step with our international competitors”.
The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: “Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions.”The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: “Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions.”
The report comes before ministers are due to meet next week to set the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.The report comes before ministers are due to meet next week to set the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.
Treasury sources did not deny Sunak had written to his Downing Street neighbour but said the communication was not related to next week’s review.Treasury sources did not deny Sunak had written to his Downing Street neighbour but said the communication was not related to next week’s review.
The UK government has faced criticism over changes to its border policy during the coronavirus pandemic, with France the latest to be irked after it was placed on a newly-created “amber-plus” list as part of the so-called traffic light system.The UK government has faced criticism over changes to its border policy during the coronavirus pandemic, with France the latest to be irked after it was placed on a newly-created “amber-plus” list as part of the so-called traffic light system.
The fresh designation, in response to suggestions of growing cases of the Beta variant that was first discovered in South Africa, saw the quarantine exemption for the fully vaccinated scrapped, meaning those returning from France had to quarantine for 10 days.The fresh designation, in response to suggestions of growing cases of the Beta variant that was first discovered in South Africa, saw the quarantine exemption for the fully vaccinated scrapped, meaning those returning from France had to quarantine for 10 days.