Covid news – live: Young offered takeaways and taxis to get vaccine as Sunak ‘urges’ PM to ease holiday travel
UK begins delivery of nine million Covid-19 vaccines overseas
Companies including ride-sharing app Uber and food delivery service Deliveroo have been recruited to drive vaccine uptake among younger age groups.
Ministers are hoping the push will help overcome hesitancy in 18-29 year-olds in England after it was revealed that just 67 per cent of the age bracket have received a first dose, compared with the UK total of 88.5 per cent of all adults.
As part of the campaign, Uber will send reminders to users to get the jab in August, along with discounts on rides and Uber Eats meals for those who get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are offering discounts and incentives to customers who protect themselves from Covid-19.
It comes as Rishi Sunak reportedly wrote to Boris Johnson – who is said to be “raging” with the latest vaccine figures – advising him to ease holiday travel restrictions in order to boost the economy and save thousands of families’ summer travel plans, according to The Sunday Times.
His warnings come ahead of a crucial meeting on Thursday to decide the country’s travel rules for August.
It’s no secret that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – being held in 2021 – have seen athletes endure unprecedented conditions, including tight quarantine rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, though, that hasn’t stopped cases cropping up among athletes and other people involved with the games.
Here’s a look at the state of infections in Tokyo over the last seven days.
1 August: Some 18 people, including one athlete staying at the Olympic village, tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total games-linked number since 1 July to 259, Tokyo 2020 organisers said.
31 July: Trinidad & Tobago long jumper Andwuelle Wright and 400 metres hurdler Sparkle Ann McKnight withdrew from the games after testing positive for Covid-19. Meanwhile, 14 contractors and seven members of the games personnel tested positive for the coronavirus on the same day, Tokyo organisers said.
30 July: Twenty-seven people, including three athletes and four volunteer workers, tested positive.
29 July: Pole vaulters Sam Kendricks of the US and Argentina’s German Chiaraviglio are ruled out of the Olympics after testing positive. A further 24 people tested positive for the virus on the same day, Tokyo organisers said.
28 July: Sixteen people, including two members of the media, tested positive for the virus.
27 July: One athlete and five other Games-related people tested positive for the coronavirus.
26 July: The Dutch men’s tennis doubles team withdrew after one of the pair, Jean-Julien Rojer, tested positive for Covid-19, according to the International Tennis Federation. Fifteen others, including three athletes, tested positive too.
25 July: Dutch rowing coach Josy Verdonkschot tested positive for coronavirus and went into a 10-day quarantine, the Netherlands Olympic Committee said. Meanwhile, 10 others, including two athletes and one member of the media, also tested positive for coronavirus.
Children aged between 12 and 17 have begun receiving their Covid vaccines in Cambodia’s capital today, with premier Hun Sen’s grandchildren among the first to receive the jab.
Phnom Penh and three other provinces – Kandal, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk – are the first to offer vaccines to their younger residents.
“The vaccination for children today is a key step to herd immunity in communities,” Mr Sen said. “Children are like bamboo shoots. If the health of children is damaged now, we won’t have good bamboos.”
His grandchildren, who received the Chinese-made Sinovac jab, will be among the total two million teenagers expected to be vaccinated.
The kingdom is also apparently considering extending vaccination to children aged ten and eleven.
Govt could pay young people to get vaccine, says Lib Dem leader
In case you missed this from last night. Forget about offering young people discounted taxi rides and cheap takeaways – just pay them to get a vaccine, says the Liberal Democrats’ leader.
Sir Ed Davey suggested the UK government took a leaf out of Joe Biden’s rulebook, after the US president this week promoted financial rewards of $100 (£72) for people who get inoculated.
Insisting that using vaccine passports for nightclubs was the “wrong approach”, Sir Ed said: “Look at what President Biden’s doing. He’s taking an incentivising approach … should we not be looking at that?” Pressed by LBC presenter Iain Dale that he was “surely not suggesting that we should be paying people to be vaccinated”, Sir Ed responded: “I think we should look at that model – why has he done that? Why has Biden done that?”
‘At least six people’ kicked out of Olympics for breaking rules
Tokyo 2020 organisers are said to have kicked at least six people out of the Olympics, including two silver medalists from Georgia, the country, for breaking designated coronavirus rules.
Judokas Vazha Margvelashvili and Lasha Shavdatuashvili were caught sightseeing near Tokyo Tower on Tuesday after their events were finished.
Toshiro Muto, the games chief executive, said this was a “clear and serious violation” of the so-called playbooks of health and safety rules designed to protect competitors and staff from contracting coronavirus.
The Georgian embassy in Tokyo has apologised for the incident, Mr Muto added.
The other four people asked to leave the games were accredited contractors from Britain and the United States, arrested for allegedly using cocaine before the Olympics opened.
Mr Muto says there have been eight cases of games credentials being temporarily suspended. In four cases, organisers collected a “signed pledge” from people suspected of breaking rules. In all, ten strict warnings have been issued so far, he told reporters over the weekend.
China surge tests millions of people as Covid cases surge
Chinese cities have rolled out mass testing on millions of people and imposed fresh travel restrictions, as health authorities battle to contain the country’s most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months.
On Sunday, the country reported 75 new cases with 53 local transmissions, including a cluster linked to an eastern airport now reported to have spread to over 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.
The outbreak is geographically the largest to hit China in several months after the country’s successes in largely snuffing out the pandemic within its borders last year.
That record has been thrown into jeopardy after the fast-spreading Delta variant broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province in July.
Authorities have now conducted three rounds of testing on the city’s 9.2 million residents and placed hundreds of thousands under lockdown, in an effort to curb an outbreak Beijing has blamed on the delta variant and the peak tourist season.
Businesses threaten to axe jobs as furlough support is cut
Around one in five businesses have said they are likely to make staff redundant in response to the changing furlough rules, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said.
From Sunday, companies are being asked to contribute 20 per cent of their furloughed staff’s wages, up from 10 per cent in the previous month, reports Tom Batchelor.
Of 250 businesses with employees still on furlough surveyed by the BCC, 18 per cent told the chamber they were considering axing jobs because of the changes, while a quarter said they would aim to reduce hours or move staff to part-time shifts. On the other hand, almost 40 per cent said the change would have no impact on the business.
Scientists warn UK ‘could see thousands of Covid deaths every year’
There is a chance Britain will experience thousands of annual Covid deaths for years to come, according to a report in which scientists said they believe waves of cases are likely to crop up every winter as Covid-19 joins other seasonal viruses, including the flu.
The warning comes as Covid case numbers look set to stabilise through the summer, but with researchers saying incidence could rise again in autumn as vaccination rates falter and schools return. This could lead to a fourth wave this winter – one that could become an annual occurrence, The Observer reports.
“We are going to see problems with Covid for a long time,” Prof Adam Finn of Bristol University told the Sunday paper. “The virus has shown itself to be genetically more nimble than we expected, though not as much as the influenza virus. So I would envisage Covid being a continuing problem for some time, with annual death tolls reaching thousands and possibly tens of thousands.”
This view was supported by Prof James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford. “We won’t see Covid-19 spread like wildfire again. There will be enough herd immunity in the population to ensure it will never kick off like that again,” he said.
“But everything will not be hunky dory. We will have waves of illness similar to flu, I think. And they will kill. The issue is: how many? That is difficult to assess but if you look at current Covid deaths, these are occurring at about 100 a day. So a wave that kills a few thousand seems a reasonable measure of what you might expect in a future winter wave. And then, you might get a bad wave one year and have the tens of thousands of deaths.”
Most of those who will die will probably be the old and the seriously ill, as is the case every winter when older people succumb to influenza and other respiratory diseases. However, the experts stressed Covid will not always “bring society to a halt” as it has done since last March.
“And we can minimise the problems it poses – through careful use of vaccines, for example,” Prof Finn explained to the paper.
Cambodia to mix vaccines as booster shots to fight Covid
Health officials in Cambodia have decided to begin offering a booster coronavirus shot, switching between the AstraZeneca and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to fight the virus spreading.
PM Hun Sen, launching the vaccination campaign for 12-17 years old, said on Sunday that the third dose will be offered to between 500,000 to one million frontline workers as a priority.
“People who have already been vaccinated with Sinopharm and Sinovac should be given AstraZeneca as the third booster dose,” Mr Sen said in a speech which was broadcast on social media. “For Cambodians who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Sinovac should be given as the third dose,” he added.
The prime minister also said the country will purchase more AstraZeneca vaccines through Covax for the booster shots and the recent US funded Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be used to vaccinate indigenous peoples in northeastern Cambodia.
Cambodia has launched a lockdown in eight provinces bordering Thailand this week in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant. “We are racing against new variants. We must act today, and we must act fast to have no regrets tomorrow,” said Li Ailan, the southeast Asian country’s WHO representative, over the weekend.
Sky News Australia ‘suspended from YouTube’ over Covid misinformation
Sky News Australia said on Sunday it has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after violating its medical misinformation policies, by posting numerous videos which denied the existence of Covid-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.
YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News programme the videos were from but said there were “numerous” offending clips which have now been removed.
“Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube’s right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content to its subscribers shortly,” the broadcaster said in a statement on its website.
The 24-hour cable and television channel, which claims to have 1.85 million YouTube subscribers, is operated by Australian News Channel Pty Ltd and is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia.
Meanwhile, Sky News Australia said it “expressly rejects” claims that any hosts ever denied the existence of Covid-19 and that “no such videos were ever published or removed”. However, it admitted “a review of old videos published to the channel” had uncovered material that did not comply with YouTube’s policies.
One such video, with 4.6m views, is thought to be presenter Alan Jones’ “Australians must know the truth – this virus is not a pandemic”, which was posted to Sky News’ YouTube channel at the height of the pandemic last year.
The week-long ban was reportedly imposed by the video-sharing giant on Thursday afternoon, so will end this coming Thursday.
Sunak calls on Johnson to ease holiday travel rules – report
Rishi Sunak has urged Boris Johnson to ease holiday travel restrictions in order to boost the economy and save he summer travel plans of thousands, it has been reported.
The chancellor has written to the prime minister warning that the UK’s border rules were damaging the economy and tourism, according to The Sunday Times. In the letter, Mr Sunak said that the country’s border policy was “out of step with our international competitors”, adding that the restrictions had a detrimental effect on jobs
His warnings come ahead of a crucial meeting of ministers on Thursday to decide the travel rules for August and amid growing concern that Britain has saddled travellers with more “draconian” rules than other countries, writes Leonie Chao-Fong.