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21st June lockdown exit date in doubt – follow live

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Covid Delta variant 40% more transmissible, Hancock says

NHS staff are urging Boris Johnson to proceed with caution as England nears the final step of his roadmap out of lockdown, currently scheduled for 21 June.

Health service workers and frontline workers in particular say they are “close to burnout” and “terrified” about the weeks ahead.

“Everyone in the NHS at the moment is kind of terrified,” Dr Megan Smith, legal and policy officer for campaign group EveryDoctor, said.

Emily Ball, a GP in the northwest, said doctors are “pretty broken and close to burnout”.

“The NHS is still in crisis and we cannot cope as it is. Unlocking poses a real threat to it just collapsing, and my biggest concern is patient safety,” she added.

Meanwhile, an expert has warned that the latest coronavirus figures suggest a third wave is emerging in the UK.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government and chair of Independent Sage, told Sky News that there is “evidence of another wave appearing”.

“(There are) 5,300 new cases of the disease per day in the United Kingdom and we’re up about 2,000 on last week,” he said.

“It will be wise for the government to announce right away a delay in opening, just so that we can all plan for the post June 21 period.”

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Pakistani and Bangladeshi elderly least likely to be fully vaccinated, ONS figures show

Over-70s from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds have the lowest rates of full vaccination among all ethnic groups in England, new figures suggest.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 82 per cent of Pakistani over-70s who had received their first vaccine dose were likely to have received their second by 9 May, compared to 96 per cent among that age group nationwide.

The equivalent figure for Bangladeshi over-70s is 83 per cent, and for those identifying as Black African it is 84 per cent. For people identifying as white British, the figure rises to 96 per cent.

The ONS data also suggests second dose rates differ slightly among the elderly of different religious groups.

The lowest uptake was among Muslim over-70s (84%), below Buddhists (93%), Hindus and Sikhs (both 95%), Christians (96%) and Jewish people (97%).

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 11:20

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Airport chaos in Portugal amid rush to return

Portugal’s main holiday airport, Faro, is the location for chaotic scenes as holidaymakers end their trips early to avoid quarantine.

More than 40 flights from the Algarve airport are scheduled to operate to the UK, carrying an estimated 7,000 passengers.

British Airways is deploying its biggest jet, the Boeing 777, to boost capacity in the evacuation.

Continue reading our travel correspondent Simon Calder’s coverage as holidaymakers rush home on the final day before Portugal is moved to the amber list:

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PM faces rebellion after cutting aid spending during pandemic

Boris Johnson is facing a Tory revolt over his decision to cut Britain’s aid spending.

Senior party members, including Theresa May, Andrew Mitchell and David Davis, are pushing to reverse his decision to cut spending from 0.7 per cent of national income.

The 0.7 per cent target is written into law and was a Tory manifesto commitment in 2019, but the prime minister reduced it to 0.5 per cent during the pandemic.

Around 30 Tory MPs are hoping that an amendment – which could see a vote taken in parliament – will push the percentage back up.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 10:09

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make a statement at around 3:30pm to update the Commons about the government’s response to coronavirus.

This will be followed by a statement from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on “education recovery” after the pandemic.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 09:56

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Waterloo and City line opens for first time since March 2020

The Waterloo and City line has reopened as commuters return to the London Underground.

The line, which links Waterloo to Bank, closed at the beginning of the pandemic and was due to reopen on 21 June.

But it has reopened early amid a surge of demand. Use of the tube has risen 20 per cent since 17 May, Transport for London say.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 09:42

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Returning to normality ‘not in everyone’s best interests’

Returning to normality by ending the remaining coronavirus restrictions on 21 June may not be in everyone’s best interests, an expert has warned.

Ravi Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University, told BBC Breakfast that measures such as continued mask wearing and working from home should be considered even after the end of the roadmap out of lockdown is reached.

“I think that to go completely back to normal may not be in everyone’s best interests,” he said.

“We are not achieving the limitation of new infections in the way that we need to remain fully open as a society in the long term.

“We are in a situation where we could obtain huge gains just by a little bit more work.”

Dr Gupta added that “a few more weeks rather than months” are needed to make those gains.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 09:25

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The Independent Health Check newsletter: Sign up for weekly updates

Don’t miss an update as pressure mounts on the prime minister to delay his 21 June lockdown exit date, and sign up to The Independent’s Health Check newsletter.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, receive weekly briefings on the virus, variants and vaccination from our Health Correspondent Shaun Lintern.

Delivered straight to your inbox, every Thursday.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 09:14

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NHS workers haven’t been ‘properly compensated’ during pandemic, ex-PM says

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has said that NHS workers haven’t been properly compensated for their work during the pandemic.

His comments came as he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that it should be possible to vaccinate British children while still supporting the global vaccine drive.

“If children need to be vaccinated and that’s the medical advice, we must do it … and of course we’ve got to fund the NHS properly”, he said.

“I feel very sad that the nurses and the health workers have not been properly compensated for the work they did over the last year, but we can do both and it’s in our interest to do both.”

Mr Brown added that failing to support vaccination around the globe would “come back to haunt” the UK, but that there should be enough money to vaccinate everyone, including children, in the nation.

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 08:54

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Third wave emerging in the UK, expert says

Current coronavirus figures are “evidence of another wave appearing”, an expert has said.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government and chair of the Independent Sage Group, said: “(There are) 5,300 new cases of the disease per day in the United Kingdom and we’re up about 2,000 on last week.

“Now we’ve been discussing whether or not we’re going into a serious third wave and I don’t think we can possibly wait any longer. This is the evidence of another wave appearing.”

Speaking to Sky News, he added that one in 25 new Covid-19 cases are people who have had two jabs – amounting to around 400 new cases a day.

Reacting to the figures, he said: “I’m very reluctant to say that we should not go out of lockdown on June 21, but I think the figures are in now, and it will be wise for the government to announce right away a delay in opening, just so that we can all plan for the post June 21 period.

“I would give a few weeks’ delay and see how the figures are emerging.”

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 08:39

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Dating apps to offer perks to users who have been vaccinated

The government has partnered with a host of popular dating apps to try to boost vaccination uptake.

Users of Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, Match, Plenty of Fish, Our Time and Muzmatch will be able to add badges and stickers to their profiles to indicate they’ve been vaccinated and gain perks including free “super likes”.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that providing vaccination status is optional, but that data suggests people are more likely to accept a date with someone who has had their jabs.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I am thrilled that we are partnering up with dating apps to boost vaccine uptake across the country.

“This is another incredible asset to our vaccination programme – the biggest and most successful in our history.”

Joanna Taylor7 June 2021 08:26

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