Covid live: UK opposition fear vaccine passport could force jab on people; Italy cuts quarantine for people from 30 countries

1 week ago 12

That is me done for the day. But my colleague Harry Taylor is taking over the blog for the rest of the evening, so feel free to send any story tips to him.

Thailand’s capital Bangkok will close 196 entertainment venues for two weeks, the city’s governor has said, following a new surge in Covid cases, Reuters reports.

The venues will be closed from Tuesday until 19 April as they are located in three districts where some venues are linked to a new cluster of more than 100 people who tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, said Asawin Kwanmuang, governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Haiti does not have a single vaccine to offer its more than 11 million people over a year after the pandemic began, raising concerns among health experts that the wellbeing of Haitians is being pushed aside as violence and political instability across the country deepen.

Read the full story here:

In the UK, 26 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, and there has been 2,762 new cases, according to government data.

Both marked a rise from the figures released on Sunday, although the data was distorted over the long Easter weekend.

You can read the official release here.

Public Health England (@PHE_uk)

The #COVID19 Dashboard has been updated:

On Monday 5 April 2021, 2,762 new cases and 26 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK

A total of 31,581,623 people have now received the first dose of a #vaccine.

April 5, 2021

Updated at 11.25am EDT

A total of 31,090,290 Covid vaccinations took place in England between 8 December and 4 April, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 66,108 on the previous day.

NHS England said 26,746,039 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 26,617 on the previous day, while 4,344,251 were a second dose, an increase of 39,491, PA Media reports.

Pfizer has withheld a delivery of 700,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines to Israel after the country failed to pay for a previous shipment, the Jerusalem Post reports.

According to the paper, the company halted the delivery, which was expected to arrive on Sunday, after Israeli officials failed to approve transfer of payment for the last 2.5 million doses supplied to the country.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

Senior officials at Pfizer have said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay up and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. They said that they do not understand how such a situation can occur in an organised country.

Israel has been hailed for conducting one of the world’s fastest coronavirus mass vaccination campaigns.

Italy shortens quarantine to five days for visitors from 30 countries

Italy has shortened quarantine requirements for visitors from 30 countries, including the UK, under regulations taking effect from Tuesday.

Instead of the two-week quarantine previously in force, travellers from the countries on the list, most of which are in the European Union, need only spend five days in isolation, according to the AFP news agency.

Italians enjoy the quiet beaches at Lungomare di Ostia, Rome, on Monday.
Italians enjoy the quiet beaches at Lungomare di Ostia, Rome, on Monday. Photograph: Emanuele Valeri/EPA

People from countries on the list with fewer restrictions still have to submit a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival in Italy, and take a second test following their five-day quarantine.

In January, Italy banned travellers who had stayed in, or passed through the UK as a new, more infectious coronavirus strain first detected in Kent spread.

Italians spent Easter under lockdown after the whole country was made a restricted “red” zone. From Tuesday, some regions will return to “orange”, with slightly loosened restrictions on movement, but bars and restaurants remain shut, with only takeaway service allowed.

Updated at 10.49am EDT

Healthcare authorities in Rwanda have issued an important corrective to a businesswoman who claimed on Twitter that she would no longer need to be tested for coronavirus after receiving her vaccine.

After receiving her second dose of vaccine yesterday, Lina Higiro, the chief executive of NCBA Bank Rwanda, had tweeted: “Got my Covid certificate! No more tests … Gift of a lifetime.”

In response, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Rwanda’s integrated healthcare agency, told her:

Rwanda Biomedical Centre (@RBCRwanda)

#COVID19 vaccine won't exempt you from:
1. #COVID19 tests whenever required;
2. observing #COVID19 preventive measures.

Vaccines keep you from severe illness and death but you can still catch the virus and transmit it to those who are yet to receive the vaccine. #Sindohoka

April 5, 2021

So there you go.

Updated at 10.41am EDT

Greece allows some shops to reopen

Greece allowed shops to reopen under controlled conditions on Monday, despite heavy pressure on its health services, Reuters reports.

Last week, the government announced the easing of some restrictions, allowing small retail shops selling non-essential goods to reopen.

Under the rules, consumers must make appointments and comply with a three-hour limit for shopping, and retailers cannot allow in more than one customer per 25 sq metre.

The measure excludes shopping malls and department stores in the Athens area, which will remain closed. Shops will also remain closed in three regions with severe infection levels, including the major northern city of Thessaloniki.

Customers wearing protective face masks queue outside a clothing store in Ermou street, central Athens, on Monday, April 5, 2021.
Customers wearing protective face masks queue outside a clothing store in Ermou street, central Athens, on Monday. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Updated at 10.41am EDT

Reuters reports:

Oman will only allow citizens and residents to enter the Gulf Arab state from 8 April following an increase in Covid-19 cases that is pressuring the health care system, the country’s coronavirus committee said on Monday.

The committee also extended an evening ban on all commercial activities until the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is due to start in mid-April this year, according to a statement on state media.

A curfew imposed on 28 March on movement of vehicles and people outdoors between 8 pm and 5 am would be lifted, as scheduled, on 8 April but would be reinstated during the month of Ramadan from 9 pm to 4 am, the statement added.

Updated at 9.46am EDT

Calls are growing in Germany for the introduction of nationwide coronavirus restrictions amid confusion and frustration over patchwork arrangements across the country as the infection rate continues to rise, my colleague Kate Connelly writes.

The majority of Germans are in favour of a more unified approach to tackling the virus, now in its third wave, according to a poll, ahead of an expected tightening of rules after the holiday weekend.

Fifty-three per cent of Germans have said they would like to see the government setting the rules without the support of the 16 states, according to a poll by YouGov, in order to introduce more clarity.

The chancellor, Angela Merkel, has persistently called for tighter, more unified rules across the country, but has frequently been overruled by the leaders of the states, leading to a weakening of her standing.

Here is the full story:

A further 15 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 86,422, NHS England said on Monday.

Patients were aged between 51 and 90 and all had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths occurred between 21 March and 4 April, with the majority being on or after 1 April, PA Media reports.

Scotland recorded 248 new Covid cases and no deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data.

Updated at 9.21am EDT

UK opposition fear vaccine passport could force people into having jab

In the UK, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he worried that introducing vaccine passports would make people feel they were being forced into having a jab.

The senior Labour MP told BBC Radio 4’s World at One:

My concern is that if you want to drive up vaccination rates further – and to be fair, vaccine hesitancy has fallen in this country and we are doing very well. But all the evidence has always suggested that if you want to maintain confidence in vaccination, that you don’t make it compulsory, don’t force people to be vaccinated – you encourage people, you persuade people. And my worry with what the government are suggesting is they are effectively trying to force people into taking a vaccine and I think in the end that will be counterproductive.

Updated at 10.50am EDT

Cruise operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd has said it would require mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew when it restarts trips from US ports from July, Reuters reports.

The company’s announcement follows the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance last week to the cruise ship industry, including the need for Covid vaccinations.

This is from Susan Michie, who is on the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioural science:

Susan Michie (@SusanMichie)

Until we get adequate financial and practical support for people to isolate when symptomatic or testing positive, there is little point ‘ramping up’ testing. Just because Govt has bought millions of lateral flow tests, doesn’t mean they need to be used if ineffective.

April 5, 2021
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