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- Rise in stillbirths linked to lack of face-to-face appointments
- Scrap pre-departure Covid tests now, travel chiefs urge
- Why triggering Plan B is a problem
- Teachers told to call police if anti-vaxxers protest outside schools
- Zahawi moves up a grade after victorious vaccine rollout
The traffic light system for travel is expected to given as major shake-up on Friday ahead of the October half-term.
Many parents have resisted taking their families abroad amid the pandemic due to the tight quarantine policies affecting a number of holiday destinations.
The Government is now expected to axe the traffic light system, with the green and amber lists of countries simplified into a single category, as revealed last week by The Telegraph, guaranteeing quarantine-free travel there for double-jabbed Britons.
Ministers also plan to replace expensive PCR tests, which travellers have to take on day two of their arrival in the UK, with cheaper lateral flow tests, although there are fears this proposal could be derailed by last-minute objections by health chiefs.
Industry sources have said the the plans are expected to be finalised Thursday and Friday to ensure the changes are in place in time for the autumn half-term break at the end of October.
Follow the latest updates below.
Care homes could be forced to shut over due to refuseniks
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said care homes may be forced to shut because of staff shortages as the deadline for care workers to get vaccinated looms on Thursday.
Mr Green told Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s a real crisis around recruitment in the social care sector which has, in the pandemic, gotten a lot worse.
“Lots of things the Government has done, including the mandatory vaccination process, hasn’t helped.
“We are also going to see millions of pounds going out of the sector because of the national insurance contributions rising and we won’t see that extra money coming in until about 2023.”
He added: “We all accept we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated. But I do feel the Government has gone forward with the social care compulsion without understanding the implications. Without having a thought-out plan on how they are going to deal with staff shortages.
“Care homes are now in a difficult position, facing the reality of do they have enough staff to maintain safety and quality of care?
“They are in the position of either having to transgress the law or expose people they support to levels of staffing that are not going to deliver the safety you’re required to.
“There’s the inevitability that in some areas, if you can’t get the staff, then there will be care homes that close.”
Dozens of Putin’s entourage fall ill with Covid
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would have to spend “a few days” in self-isolation after dozens of people in his entourage fell ill with Covid-19, the TASS news agency reported.
Putin was speaking through a video link at a summit of a Russia-led security bloc which was held in Tajikistan. He had planned to attend in person before the news of the virus outbreak in his inner circle this week.
It was previously unclear how big the outbreak was and how long Putin would remain isolated.
“This is not just one person or two people, there are dozens of people,” he said.
“And now I have to remain in self-isolation for a few days.”
Putin, 68, who has had two shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, said this week he was now personally testing its efficiency while the Kremlin said the president himself was healthy.
Rise in stillbirths linked to lack of face-to-face appointments
A lack of face-to-face appointments during the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to stillbirths in the first wave, investigators have found.
The study by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) into 37 cases found that remote consultations may have driven down the ability to carry out key pregnancy checks, with some doctors unable to access medical records.
The review was prompted by an increase in stillbirths after the onset of labour referred to the HSIB between April and June 2020 – 45 compared with 24 in the same period in 2019.
None of the women were recorded as having Covid, but the report found the pressures and changes as a result of the pandemic may have affected the care they received.
Care home boss considering defying rules on unvaccinated staff
A care home boss in Scarborough has admitted he has considered keeping hold of unvaccinated staff and “just see what happens” due to a chronic shortage of carers.
Thursday is the final day for care home staff to get their first vaccinated in time to be fully jabbed in line with Government policy for the sector.
Under the compulsory vaccination policy, they will lose their jobs if they do not get jabbed – like four carers at St Cecilia’s in Scarborough who are afraid of the side effects.
Asked if he would defy the Government and keep them on, their boss Mike Padgham told the BBC’s Today programme: “I’m considering what I might do in the future because to my mind there’s a risk of not having sufficient staff. But I’m not saying I’m going to do it – it’s just in my thought process at the moment.”
The care group held an open day in a desperate attempt to fill gaps, offering new starters a £500 cash bonus and a meal for two at a local restaurant.
White House offers call to Nicki Minaj about Covid vaccine
The White House is willing to set up a call for American rapper Nicki Minaj about the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine after she said she wanted to do more research on vaccines before getting one.
“As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” said a White House official.
Minaj had said in a tweet that she had not been able to complete enough research of her own on the COVID-19 vaccines to get one in time for the Met Gala, a star-studded fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Later, Minaj added that she will get vaccinated to be able to tour.
Australia Covid-19 cases rise but vaccination surge gives hope
The state of Victoria has reported its biggest daily rise in Covid-19 cases of the year.
Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, detected 514 new infections on Thursday, exceeding the year’s previous daily high of 473 on Monday.
Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest cities, have ramped up their immunisation drives as the country struggles to contain a third wave of infections fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant, putting nearly half of the 25 million population under strict stay-at-home orders.
Los Angeles bars to require Covid vaccines
Drinkers in Los Angeles will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 starting next month, authorities said on Wednesday, as mandates spread across the United States.
Bars and nightclubs in Los Angeles county will be required to check that patrons have had the shot, the health department said, in the same way they demand proof of age.
The county, home to around 10 million people, joins New York City in making jabs compulsory for swathes of the entertainment industry, in a country that has not yet fully embraced the life-saving vaccines.
Full-time return to office work unlikely, poll suggests
Seven in ten Britons do not feel a return to full-time office working is on the cards post-pandemic, a survey suggests.
The majority of those questioned by YouGov said they would favour to either work from home full-time, or have a hybrid arrangement.
But the poll, commissioned by the BBC, also found concern from senior leaders that creativity and collaboration could suffer if employees were staying at home.
Today’s top stories
Ministers were on Wednesday night urged to ditch pre-departure tests for double-jabbed holidaymakers amid fears the plans could be derailed by last-minute objections by health chiefs.
Headteachers have been told to call the police if anti-vaxxers plan protests outside the school gates, as the NHS said all children aged 12 to 15 years old should receive their Covid-19 jab by half term.
Nadhim Zahawi, the new Education Secretary, is reaping the political reward of organising a triumphant vaccine rollout. But his promotion will see him propelled from one highly sensitive Covid battleground to another.
The next travel update from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected this week, and there’s hope that the traffic light system for travel could be scrapped, under plans to simplify holidays.
As many as 400,000 people are infected by coronaviruses carried by bats every year, according to an analysis mapping the risk of exposure across southern China and southeast Asia.