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UK Covid live: Lockdown restrictions ease on ‘manic Monday’ as vaccine for under 50s in England could begin imminently

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ub gardens and restaurants with outdoor dining have opened as further lockdown restrictions were eased on Monday.

From April 12 shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, gyms and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens were allowed to reopen.

Most outdoor attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, can reopen, and funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise from six to 15.

It comes as vaccines for under 50s in England could begin imminently as the deadline to offer the jab to highest risk group approaches.

Reports suggest that some healthy adults in their 40s could be offered the jab as soon as Tuesday after the Government has met its target for offering the vaccine to over 50s and those deemed clinically vulnerable.

Live updates

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Turkey to tighten restrictions

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday that the coronavirus science council will recommend a tighter set of measures against the Covid-19 outbreak spread as the outbreak reached what the minister called “a third peak.”

In a news conference, Koca also said further shipments of coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and Pfizer and BioNTech in the coming months.

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Irish health authority cancels all AstraZeneca vaccination clinics

The HSE has cancelled all AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination clinics planned for Tuesday in light of NIAC’s latest recommendation.

In a statement the HSE said it had written to hospital groups and community healthcare organisations on Monday evening to advise them that all AstraZeneca clinics planned for Tuesday “should be cancelled in light of updated guidance received from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, and the Department of Health”.

“Anybody due to attend an AstraZeneca clinic is therefore advised not to do so,” the HSE said.

It added it will be in contact with patients in due course to rearrange their appointments.

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India approves Russian vaccine

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said on Monday the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus in the country.

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Surge testing in south London as cases of South African variant found

Surge testing is being deployed in parts of south London after cases of the South African Covid-19 variant were found.

Additional testing and genomic sequencing will take place predominantly in Wandsworth and Lambeth, where 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were found.

All identified cases are isolating or have completed their isolation, and their contacts have been traced and asked to isolate.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said the cluster of cases is “significant”.

“It’s really important people in the local area play their part in stopping any further spread within the local community,” she said.

“PCR testing is now available for all and I would strongly encourage everyone, whether they live, work or travel through the boroughs, to get tested even if they don’t have any symptoms of coronavirus.”

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Ireland says AstraZeneca should not be given to under-60s

The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should not be administered to people under the age of 60, the Irish National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said.

In a statement NIAC said the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine “is not recommended for those aged under 60 years including those with medical conditions with very high or high risk of severe Covid-19 disease”.

The advisory body added the vaccine should be limited to those “aged 60 years and older”.

It later added that anyone under the age of 60 who had had their first dose of the vaccine with a “very high-risk or high-risk medical condition” should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.

But anyone aged under 60 who is not considered to be high risk should have the second dose of the vaccine extended to 16 weeks “to allow for further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available”.

Anyone aged 60 and older should receive their second dose of AstraZeneca 12 weeks later as scheduled.

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‘Joyous day’ as coronavirus restrictions lifted

A scientist has described “a joyous day” as people flocked to high streets and pubs after coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, said a decline in cases was indicative of a successful vaccine rollout and lockdown, but warned people should remain cautious.

He said: “It’s a joyous day after all that we have sacrificed over the last few months.

“The current reduction in cases and hospitalisations is not only due to the success of the vaccine rollout but also the impact of lockdown in preventing virus spread.

“So while taking the opportunity to enjoy shopping and outside hospitality, we must remain cautious – the virus is still out there and very infectious.

“We can’t ignore what’s going on in the rest of the world – every other day new variants are being reported and infection is rife.”

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Russia restricts flights from Turkey

Russia will restrict flights to and from Turkey from April 15 to June 1 due to a rise in Covid-19 cases in Turkey, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Monday, amid growing political tensions between the two countries.

The decision to drastically cut the number of flights to Turkey, which is heavily reliant on foreign tourists as a source of income, comes against the backdrop of tensions over Ukraine.

Golikova, speaking on the Russia-24 TV Channel, did not mentioned politics in the decision to restrict flights to Turkey, a popular destination for millions of Russian tourists.

She said the number of Covid-19 cases in Turkey had been on the rise.

A senior government official said earlier on Monday that Turkey’s daily coronavirus infection numbers had soared above 50,000, and President Tayyip Erdogan was likely to order a tightening of restrictions this week ahead of the vital tourism season.

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Football has risen by 146 per cent

Footfall at all the UK’s retail destinations had risen 146% by 5pm on Monday compared to the same time a week ago, according to figures from Springboard.

Shopping centre footfall rose 217%, while high street footfall rose 174%, the figures show.

Across all destinations footfall was still down 16% compared to Monday April 15, 2019. It rose 481.5% compared to Monday April 13, 2020 – the height of the first lockdown.

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Close to 40m Covid jabs given in UK

Government data up to April 10 shows that of the 39,846,781 jabs given in the UK so far, 32,190,576 were first doses – a rise of 69,223 on the previous day.

Some 7,656,205 were second doses, an increase of 189,665.

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UK records 13 more deaths

The Government said a further 13 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 127,100.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 150,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Government also said that, as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 3,568 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

It brings the total to 4,373,343.

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