UK coronavirus latest: Turkey prepares to welcome tourists as Portugal ‘will be taken off red list’ – Evening Standard

It means direct flights to the UK can resume and those travelling from Portugal will not be expected to endure 11 days of hotel quarantine.

It comes as Turkey prepares to welcome British tourists as early as May so long as international travel is permitted by the UK government.

Turkey has had a successful vaccine rollout with more than 10 million locals vaccinated.

Britons who have not had a jab will be allowed to travel there as long as they can provide a negative coronavirus test.

PCR tests are expected to be provided by the big resorts to allow safe travel.

Live updates

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Tunisia launches Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Tunisia has launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign, a month later than planned, with health professionals first in line, AFP reports.

Around 300 nurses, doctors and other health personnel who are heavily exposed to the virus received jabs at El Menzah vaccination centre in the capital, Tunis.

The country received 30,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on March 9. This initial delivery is being used to vaccinate 15,000 health professionals, said Abdelmoumen Samir, a doctor who is part of the country’s coronavirus taskforce.

A further 94,000 vaccines, this time provided by Pfizer/BioNTech, are due to arrive from next week, while jabs produced by AstraZeneca are also to arrive soon, Samir said.

A new variant of the virus is circulating in Tunisia, but initial analysis does not show it to be more dangerous or virulent than the original strain, according to the Pasteur Institute. Tunisia, which has a population of 11.7 million, is the last country in the Maghreb region to launch its vaccination campaign.

Confirmed deaths from the virus in Tunisia are currently running in the dozens per day, while total detected cases since the start of the pandemic stands at over 240,500, of whom more than 8,300 have died.

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Mexico’s confirmed Covid-19 detah toll rises to 193,851

Mexico has registered 6,743 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 709 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 2,157,771 cases and 193,851 deaths, Health Ministry data showed on Friday.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

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Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 12,674

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 12,674 to 2,558,455, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

The reported death toll rose by 239 to 73,301, the tally showed. 

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Jordan’s health minister quits after hospital deaths

Jordan’s health minister has stepped down after at least six patients died at a hospital near the capital Amman due to a shortage of oxygen supplies, state media reported.

Jordanian prime minister Bisher al-Khasawneh ordered an investigation into the incident at the government hospital in the town of Salt, 13 miles north of Amman, and asked health minister Nathir Obeidat to resign, according to the reports.

The Al-Rai newspaper, a government mouthpiece, confirmed that Mr Obeidat had resigned.

Jordan, home to 10 million people, is grappling with surging coronavirus infections and deaths, and is struggling to secure vaccines.

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Greater Manchester Police reminds public of Covid restrictions amid Sarah Everard vigil plans

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has reminded the public that meeting in large groups is currently illegal but said “if you plan on joining events this weekend, please do so in a Covid-safe way”.

“We, along with the rest of the country, are shocked and saddened about what has happened to Sarah Everard and the thoughts of everyone at GMP are with her family and friends at this horrendous time,” the force said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Women should never have to live in fear or change their behaviour to keep themselves safe on our streets, and GMP stands with this message and understands why events were planned in support of it.”

The force said it “absolutely supports” the doorstep vigils that have been arranged in place of in-person events and “encourages our communities to join them”.

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China aims to vaccinate up to 80 per cent of population by mid 2022

China is aiming to vaccinate 70-80 per cent of its population against coronavirus by the end of this year or mid-2022, the head of the country’s Centre for Disease Control has said.

With four approved vaccines, China will vaccinate 900 million to 1 billion people, Gao Fu said in an interview with Chinese state media broadcaster CGTN.

“We hope that China can take the lead in achieving herd immunity in the world,” he said.

Herd immunity occurs when enough of the population has immunity, either from vaccination or past infection, to stop the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease like Covid-19.

China had administered 52.5 million vaccine doses by the end of February. It has been slower in its vaccination campaign than many other countries, including the US, government health experts have acknowledged. China has committed roughly 10 times more doses abroad than it has distributed at home.

Although emergency vaccinations have been under way in China since at least last summer, the country has been slow to announce whether it had any plans to achieve herd immunity.

China has approved four domestically made vaccines: two from state-owned Sinopharm, one from Sinovac, and another from CanSino. None of the four vaccines have publicly released their final stage trial data.

China currently has 17 Covid-19 vaccine candidates for clinical trials.

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AstraZeneca announces shortfall in planned EU vaccine delivery

AstraZeneca has announced a shortfall in planned vaccine shipments to the European Union, citing production problems and export restrictions.

“AstraZeneca is disappointed to announce a shortfall in planned Covid-19 vaccine shipments to the European Union (EU) despite working tirelessly to accelerate supply,” it said in a statement.

The company had previously warned it was facing shortfalls from its European supply chain due to “lower-than-expected output from the production process.”

It was hoping to compensate for part of the shortfall by sourcing vaccines from its global network, with half of the EU’s supply in the second quarter and 10 million doses in the first quarter due to come from its international supply chain.

“Unfortunately, export restrictions will reduce deliveries in the first quarter, and are likely to affect deliveries in the second quarter,” it added.

AstraZeneca started delivery of the vaccine to the EU in February, and still aims to deliver 100 million doses in the first half of 2021.

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Pensioners could get third ‘booster’ jab in August, JCVI chief suggests

A Covid-19 booster vaccine could be rolled out in the autumn to avoid another winter surge of cases, a top government vaccination adviser has said.

Anthony Harnden, acting chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told the BMJ that the booster would be needed either to protect against a new variant or as a safety net as the duration of protection is unknown.

“We certainly don’t want to see a winter like we’ve seen this winter,” he said. “And if we’ve got new variants circulating and we’ve got dropping levels of immunity due to the vaccination, then that becomes an imperative to do a booster.”

Mr Harnden suggested that the booster could be rolled out in August or September “rather than later in the year, because of this worry about a large third wave affecting the elderly”.

He added: “I think we’re likely to make a bold decision to recommend a booster dose, even if we haven’t got all the evidence of the necessity, just because I think the consequences of not immunising with the booster doses are so big.

“If it’s proved that it’s needed months later it may be too late.”

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Poland reports 21,049 daily coronavirus cases, most since November

Poland reported 21,049 daily coronavirus cases on Saturday, health ministry data showed, the highest figure since November 2020.

The health ministry said there were a further 343 coronavirus-related deaths. In total, Poland has reported 1,889,360 cases and 47,068 deaths. 

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Australia records first local Covid-19 case in 2 weeks

On Saturday, Australia recorded the first local Covid-19 case in more than two weeks after a doctor tested positive for the coronavirus.

Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the unnamed doctor last week treated two patients who had recently returned to Australia and had tested positive for the UK variant.

“We know this doctor, who assessed these two Covid-positive patients was at the hospital at the time. Now, she developed symptoms,” Palaszczuk told reporters in the state capital, Brisbane.

It was Australia’s first local infection since Feb 24.

The doctor, whose name was not released, treated patients, forcing authorities into urgent contact-tracing, Palaszczuk said. The authorities have yet to determine how many people the doctor treated.

As officials seek to determine the size of the outbreak, Palaszczuk said, all hospitals in the state capital will be closed to visitors.