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Travel warning as WHO says world heading into ‘very dark period’ – follow live

G7 foreign ministers meet amid tight coronavirus restrictions

The majority of the world is heading into “a very, very dark period” of the coronavirus pandemic with cases accelerating at an alarming rate, a World Health Organisation (WHO) envoy has warned as the UK prepares to allow foreign travel again this month.

“This pandemic is fearsome and it’s accelerating faster than ever and it’s a global phenomenon,” Dr David Nabarro, a special envoy on Covid-19 for the WHO, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

“There are a few countries that are able to demonstrate that they’ve got much lower levels of disease and they’re actually feeling that they’re recovering, but the majority of the world is heading into a very, very dark period.”

Meanwhile, a member of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation warned on Wednesday that unregulated travel could be “very dangerous”, although there were ways to manage the risks.

Professor Adam Finn said plans needed to be “thought through carefully” to avoid losing the progress made over the last few months.

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Number of Covid patients in intensive care in France drops again

The number of Covid patients in intensive care in France has dropped again by 102 to 5,402, health ministry data shows.

France has also reported 244 new Covid deaths in hospitals, virtually unchanged from Tuesday’s 243.

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 17:40

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Girl loses High Court fight against school for ‘requiring’ pupils to wear masks

A 12-year-old girl has lost a High Court fight against her school for “requiring” pupils to wear face coverings.

The pupil brought legal action against the Tapton Academy School Trust, which runs a number of primary and secondary schools in the Sheffield area, to stop it from “requiring or encouraging” children to wear masks at school to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The schoolgirl, known only as AB and who has been exempted from wearing a mask at school, said mask-wearing could lead to “long-term” harm.

At a remote hearing last month, AB’s lawyers asked the High Court to grant an interim injunction preventing her school and the trust from making children wear masks.

But in a judgement today, Judge Roger ter Haar QC rejected the request for an injunction, as the pupil is not required to wear a mask and the injunction was not necessary to protect her health and safety.

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 17:30

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PM appears at G7 summit after Covid cases detected among Indian delegation

Boris Johnson has joined foreign ministers from the G7 group of industrialised nations as the UK hosted their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years.

The prime minister earlier denied the meeting was a mistake after India’s foreign minister was forced to pull out of attending in person after two positive coronavirus cases were detected in the country’s travelling delegation.

Mr Johnson arrived at the summit venue of Lancaster House in central London for a brief appearance this afternoon, where he was greeted by foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

When asked if it was a mistake to hold the meeting during a campaign visit to West Midlands earlier in the day, the PM said: “I think it’s very important to try to continue as much business as you can as a government.

“We have a very important relationship with India and with our G7 partners.

“As I understand it, what has happened is the individuals concerned are all isolating now.

“I will be seeing the Indian foreign minister later this afternoon and that will be a Zoom exchange, I’m given to understand.”

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 17:15

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Younger people filling up Covid intensive care wards in Americas

Coronavirus infections continue to spread fast across the Americas as a result of relaxed prevention measures and intensive care units are filling up with younger people, the director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has warned.

In Brazil, mortality rates have doubled among those younger than 39, quadrupled among those in their 40s, and tripled for those in their 50s since December, Dr Carissa Etienne said.

Hospitalisation rates among those under 39 years have increased by more than 70 per cent in Chile and in some areas of the United States more people in their 20s are now being hospitalised for Covid-19 than people in their 70s.

“Despite all we learned about this virus in a year, our control efforts are not as strict, and prevention is not as efficient,” Dr Etienne told a virtual briefing from Washington.

“We are seeing what happens when these measures are relaxed: Covid spreads, cases mount, our health systems become overwhelmed and people die.”

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 16:59

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127,000 more UK people receive first vaccine dose

Government data up to 4 May shows that of the 50,682,567 jabs given in the UK so far, 34,795,074 were first doses – a rise of 127,170 on the previous day.

Some 15,887,493 were second doses, an increase of 257,486.

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 16:49

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UK reports 27 new Covid deaths

The UK has reported a further 2,144 coronavirus cases and an additional 27 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

The total number of people to have received a first vaccine dose now stands at 34,795,074.

Chiara Giordano5 May 2021 16:17

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Canada’s regulator authorises Pfizer jab for children aged 12 and over

Canada’s health regulator has authorised Pfizer’s Covid-19 jab for people aged 12 and over in a move that could pave the way for vaccinating children this autumn.

Dr Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, confirmed on Wednesday that they had approved the vaccine for ages 12 to 15 following a Pfizer study of 2,260 US volunteers ages 12 to 15 that showed no cases of Covid-19 in those fully-vaccinated.

The jab was previously authorised for anyone 16 or older.

The US Food and Drug Administration is also expected to authorise Pfizer’s vaccine for older children by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year.

Conrad Duncan5 May 2021 15:52

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India will ‘inevitably’ face further waves of Covid-19, adviser warns

A top scientific adviser to the Indian government has warned that the country will “inevitably” face further waves of Covid-19, even after the current devastating surge has passed.

K. Vijay Raghavan, the government’s principal scientific adviser, warned that the country should still prepare for a third wave after high infection rates subside.

“Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” he told a news briefing.

“But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur… We should prepare for new waves.”

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became “super spreader” events.

Conrad Duncan5 May 2021 15:44

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With ministers set to unveil the new traffic light system for foreign travel rules this week, it is a great time to sign up to The Independent’s Travel Week newsletter from our esteemed travel correspondent Simon Calder.

You can find details on how to sign up below:

Conrad Duncan5 May 2021 15:27

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Nearly 400,000 new Covid-19 vaccinations have been registered in the UK over the past 24-hour period, with 127,170 first doses and 257,486 second doses:

Conrad Duncan5 May 2021 15:16

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