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Boris Johnson to hold Covid briefing – follow live

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out local lockdowns as ‘anxious’ about Indian variant

Boris Johnson will lead a press conference today, amid growing fears about the spread of the more virulent Indian variant of coronavirus.

Ministers must be prepared to delay relaxing lockdown if the variant of concern spreads out of control, NHS leaders warned as experts expressed doubt the government’s roadmap could go forward as planned.

The NHS Confederation, which represents more than 500 health and care organisations across the UK, urged the government not to delay taking action regardless of how unpopular such a move would be.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said step four was “in doubt” and there could be a “huge number of cases” by June at the current rate of increase.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has also suggested new local lockdowns or further national restrictions could be on the cards if necessary to stop the spread of the disease.

Asked whether local lockdowns as seen last year were being considered, Mr Zahawi told LBC radio: “We will take nothing off the table.”

Scientists are calling for “surge vaccinations” to be rolled out in areas of England that have seen a spike in cases linked to the coronavirus variant first detected in India.

The latest figures show the number of infections caused by B16172, which has been designated as a “variant of concern”, has nearly tripled in England over the past week.

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Portugal says it will welcome British tourists from Monday #ICYMI

The Portuguese foreign ministry has confirmed that British tourists will be allowed to enter Portugal from Monday 17 May, writes Travel Correspondent Simon Calder.

Visit Portugal said this decision will revoke the “essential travel” restrictions in place until 16 May.

The statement read: “The options are wide for the British Tourists to visit Portugal, from any point. People from the United Kingdom have visited Portugal and celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, history, and enjoyed our warm hospitality for decades.

“We look forward to welcome all travellers coming from the UK.”

Liam James14 May 2021 13:25

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Four dead from Indian Covid variant

Four people have now died from the Indian variant as of 12 May, according to Public Health England data.

Cases of the B1.617.2 variant more than doubled in the past week to 1,313, with most in the northwest of England and some in London.

Liam James14 May 2021 13:09

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Boris Johnson to give press conference today amid India variant fears

Boris Johnson will lead a press conference today, amid growing fears about the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19, particularly in some ‘hotspots’ in northwest of England.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, will join the prime minister at 5pm – as calls are made for “surge vaccinations” of all younger adults in areas with the highest numbers of cases.

Liam James14 May 2021 12:58

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Lockdown lifting should be delayed if Indian variant spreads out of control, says NHS leaders

The government must be prepared to delay relaxing lockdown if the Indian variant of coronavirus spreads out of control, NHS leaders have warned.

The NHS Confederation urged the government not to delay taking action regardless of how unpopular such a move would be.

Chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “With growing concern around the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19, the government must be guided by the data.

Our Health Correspondent Shaun Lintern has the details:

Liam James14 May 2021 12:43

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Indian variant detected in a number of England’s Covid hotspots

The Indian coronavirus variant has been detected in a number of areas in England which are reporting the highest rates of infection, data suggests.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows a rise in cases of the Indian variant of concern from 520 to 1,313 this week in the UK, with the agency saying infections were “rising in the community” and it was assessing the impact and severity.

Although the Indian variant is thought to be highly transmissible, vaccines are expected to be effective against it.

The majority of the 1,313 cases of the B16172 variant, which was first identified in India, are in England, with PHE reporting 35 in Scotland, 11 in Wales and 12 in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health and Social Care said most cases are in the North West of England, with some in London.

The variant has been detected in Bolton, Greater Manchester, Blackburn in Lancashire, and Sefton in Merseyside, which have all seen rates rise rapidly.

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 12:30

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What lies beyond the Covid crisis?

As we head towards more lockdown restrictions being lifted in coming weeks, we take the opportunity to look ahead at what our ‘new normal’ post Covid might look like during the latest in our virtual event series.

The free exclusive live stream will be led by our health correspondent Shaun Lintern and science correspondent Sam Lovett and will see them discuss the keys areas of interest that might emerge during the rest of 2021 and beyond.

To sign up, visit the link below:

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 12:17

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Simon Calder’s expert answers to 36 of your travel questions

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder answers 36 of your questions about England’s new traffic light system, including your chances of getting to America and when you might dream of New Zealand.

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 12:07

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Shaun Lintern’s exclusive weekly Health Check newsletter

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has a new exclusive Health Check newsletter which is delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 11:35

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All 270 charges brought under Coronavirus Act wrongful, official review finds

Every single prosecution brought using controversial powers introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic has been wrongful, an official review has found.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that all 270 charges under the Coronavirus Act had been withdrawn in court, or overturned after innocent people were convicted in England and Wales.

Our home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden explains more here:

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 11:25

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Extra Covid tests for holidaymakers returning to Wales

The first minister of Wales has urged people not to go abroad, even though the ban on international travel is lifted from Monday 17 May.

Mark Drakeford told BBC Breakfast foreign travel was “better avoided”.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more details below:

Chiara Giordano14 May 2021 11:14

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