Covid news: Hotel quarantine set to begin as PM claims England has hit vaccine target

Covid news Hotel quarantine set to begin as PM claims England has hit vaccine target
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UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Boris Johnson has hailed a ‘significant milestone’ after confirming more than 15 million people in the UK have received a dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The prime minister also said England had hit its target of offering a jab to those in the top four priority groups most at risk from Covid-19.

In a video message, he said that the country had “achieved an extraordinary feat”, adding: “It has been a truly national, UK-wide effort. We have done it together.”

However not all of the most at risk have actually received their jabs yet and The Independent has reported concerns that some housebound over-80s have not even been contacted yet.

The announcement was made hours before the government’s hotel quarantine plan came into effect on Monday, with travellers arriving from 33 “red list” countries to England required to self-isolate for ten days at chosen hotels at a cost of £1,750.

And foreign secretary Dominic Raab has rejected an “arbitrary” demand by lockdown-sceptic Tories for a lifting of all legal restrictions in England by the end of April.

The prime minister has come under pressure from lockdown-sceptic Tories to lift England’s national lockdown restrictions entirely by the end of April.

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More than 60 MPs in the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) have written to Mr Johnson, insisting he commit to a firm timetable for ending controls but Mr Raab on Sunday said it was essential to ensure the disease was first under control.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll be bringing you updates on the latest news and statistics throughout the day.

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 08:47

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Boris Johnson under pressure to lift lockdown by end of April

Lockdown-sceptic Tories have piled pressure on Boris Johnson, calling on him to commit to a timetable for lifting coronavirus restrictions with a complete end to controls by the end of April.

In a letter to the prime minister, the leaders of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) said the “tremendous pace” of the vaccination rollout meant restrictions in England should begin easing from early March.

They said ministers must produce a cost-benefit analysis to justify any controls that remain in place after that date, with a “road-map” stating when they would be removed.

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 08:49

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Boris Johnson ‘cautiously optimistic’ ahead of lockdown easing roadmap

Boris Johnson has said he is cautiously “optimistic” as he prepares to unveil a roadmap later this month for the easing of lockdown.

Speaking on a visit to the northeast of England, the prime minister confirmed the unlocking would likely start with education and end with pubs and restaurants.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more details:

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 08:55

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No 10 refuses to be drawn on reports surrounding outdoor recreation restrictions

Downing Street has refused to be drawn on reports suggesting restrictions on meeting friends in a park could be among the first to be lifted once schools are back.

The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday reported all schoolchildren in England will be back in the classroom on 8 March, although the Sunday Telegraph said the return of secondary schools could be delayed by a week.

While it is thought restrictions on outdoor recreation are likely to be among the first to be eased once schools are back, government sources stressed ministers will only start to seek the data which will determine the pace of any relaxation this week.

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 09:01

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Talk of pubs reopening is ‘premature’, says expert

Talking about pubs reopening in April is “premature” and pub bosses need to realise there is a danger of going “back to square one”, an expert has said.

The warning came after pub giant Young’s said there was no reason pubs could not open in April, as its boss expressed exasperation at the government’s “lack of interest”.

The chain called on Boris Johnson to “do the right thing” and show strong leadership when the industry “needs it most”.

But Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school, told the PA news agency: “It’s premature because we don’t know what the state of cases will be in the country at that point in time.”

“It may be that the cases are low and that we have regained control because we are now managing to keep the case numbers down and our immunisation levels have been sufficiently high to have a majority of the vulnerable population immunised and therefore protected,” he added, highlighting the “criteria” required.

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 09:19

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PM to use G7 meeting to push vaccine distribution to ‘every single country’

Boris Johnson will use Britain’s G7 presidency to push for Covid-19 vaccine distribution in “every single country” around the world.

In his first meeting as chair of the international forum the prime minister will urge world leaders to work together to defeat the “common foe” of coronavirus.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more details:

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 09:41

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Dominic Raab rejects calls for ‘arbitrary commitment’ to lift lockdown by April

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has rejected calls by Tory lockdown sceptics for an “arbitrary commitment” to lift all coronavirus restrictions by the end of April.

More than 60 MPs on the Covid Recovery Group have backed a letter to Boris Johnson demanding he commits to a strict timetable for ending controls in England.

Mr Raab said the prime minister would be setting out his “roadmap” out of lockdown on 22 February as promised, but that any decisions would depend on the data.

“We do need to be very careful how we proceed. We have made good progress. We don’t want to see that unravel because we go too far too quick,” he said.

“We are not making what feels to me like a slightly arbitrary commitment without reviewing the impact that measures have had on the transmission and the hospital admissions of the virus.

“I don’t think you can set though an arbitrary target and not be evidence-led, which is why the review point on 22 February is so important.”

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 09:46

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First vaccine jabs providing 67% protection after three weeks

Single jabs of Covid-19 vaccinations are providing 67 per cent protection against infection, according to data from the Covid Symptom Study App, epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector has said.

He also told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday Covid-19 cases have dropped by 80 per cent since the start of January and hospital admissions have reduced by 60 per cent with a 50 per cent decrease in people in hospital with the virus.

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 10:05

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Schools and outside meetings set to return from March

Some welcome news could be on the horizon as the government is reportedly thinking people will be able to meet one friend from outside their household for a coffee on a park bench or picnic outdoors from 8 March as children are also sent back to school.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone explains:

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 10:10

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Johnathan Ashworth shows support for schools reopening on 8 March

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, has supported plans for schools to reopen on 8 March.

He pointed to comments made by Professor Neil Ferguson, who advises the government as part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, in which he stated infection rates are halving every 17 days.

When asked whether schools should open next month, Mr Ashworth told Andrew Marr on BBC One: “I think we have to get our children back in school.

“If Professor Ferguson says infection rates are halving every 17 days that does seem a reasonable aspiration.

“But you need to put in place measures to mitigate against the virus taking off again.”

Chiara Giordano14 February 2021 10:33