Vaccines for over-40s to start this month

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Over-40s will start being called for jabs this month, The Telegraph understands, as it emerged that more than 20 million people – almost four in 10 adults – have now had the vaccine.

Health officials are about to send the last batch of invitations to those over the age of 60.

NHS England said the latest batch of invitations will mean that everyone in the first seven priority groups, including everyone over 60 and younger people with underlying health conditions or factors that make them clinically vulnerable, will have been offered a jab.

As soon as next week, the programme will then move to offer jabs to around five million people in their 50s, which should take around two weeks to deliver if supplies remain constant.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:38 AM

China accused of using pandemic to limit media freedom

China used coronavirus-prevention measures, intimidation and visa curbs to limit foreign reporting in 2020, ushering in a “rapid decline in media freedom”, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said today.

For the third year in a row, no journalists told the group that working conditions had improved, the FCCC said in an annual report based on 150 responses to a survey of correspondents and interviews with bureau chiefs.

“All arms of state power – including surveillance systems introduced to curb coronavirus – were used to harass and intimidate journalists, their Chinese colleagues, and those whom the foreign press sought to interview,” it said.

Authorities cited public health concerns to deny reporters access to sensitive areas and threatened them with enforced quarantine, the FCCC said. Visa restrictions were also used to put pressure on reporting.

05:35 AM

‘Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives’

The Philippines launched a vaccination campaign today to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials.

Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials received 600,000 doses on Sunday of vaccine donated by China.

At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, hospital director Dr Gerardo Legaspi was inoculated first by a nurse in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials.

“Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after health workers had been immunised.

04:57 AM

NZ PM frustrated by family of Covid rule-breakers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has urged New Zealanders to “call out” Covid-19 rule-breakers, as public anger builds over a series of infringements that forced the country’s largest city back into lockdown.

A frustrated Ms Ardern said the breaches that led to Auckland being shut down for the second time in a month were intolerable.

She said some people involved in the latest outbreak had ignored clear instructions to remain in isolation and failed to fully disclose their movements to contact tracers.

“Those individuals are facing the judgement of the entire nation, there are consequences, undoubtedly,” she said.

Jacinda Ardern is urging people to be honest and do the right thing to avoid infecting others – Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Ms Ardern said everyone needed to cooperate to keep the virus in check.

“If that means calling a family member or colleague out for not following the rules then we should do that. Do it with kindness, but do it,” she said.

Concerns centred on a family where the chain of transmission was unclear, although it has since emerged they had contact with infected members of another family in defiance of isolation orders.

One of those involved visited a doctor, a college and the gym while awaiting the results of a test that eventually showed he had the virus.

Ms Ardern said “we’re all paying the price” for their actions.

“Everyone is angry… I totally get that,” she said.

“At the same time, how do we make sure people tell us the truth because there is nothing more valuable to us than knowing, in these scenarios, where contact has occurred?”

04:52 AM

Mexico’s coronavirus chief recovering from Covid

Mexico's deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell  - REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico’s deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell – REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico’s coronavirus chief has been hospitalised over the past five days for Covid treatment but is recovering well, a health official said on Sunday, as the country marks the one-year anniversary of its first confirmed infection.

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the face of Mexico’s response to the pandemic, has drawn criticism for downplaying the need for masks and for spearheading a strategy of limited testing.

Mexico has registered 185,715 fatalities from coronavirus, giving it the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the pandemic.

Mr Lopez-Gatell, an epidemiologist, was admitted for “early hospitalisation” last Wednesday after his medical team determined he required supplemental oxygen, said Ruy Lopez, head of the National Centre of Preventative Programs and Disease Control.

“He has progressed well and we hope he can be released from the hospital unit tomorrow,” Lopez told a news conference.

04:12 AM

PM Modi first in line for Indian vaccine

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inoculated with the first dose of a home-grown coronavirus vaccine today, kicking off an expansion of the country’s immunisation campaign that began in mid-January with healthcare workers.

People above the age of 60, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from certain medical conditions, are now eligible for the vaccinations.

India, which has reported the highest number of Covid cases in the world after the US, has so far vaccinated more than 12 million health and frontline workers.

“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against Covid-19,” Modi said on Twitter, posting a picture of him getting the shot at a government hospital in New Delhi.

02:11 AM

What you need to know about the Brazilian variant

Hot on the heels of the UK variant and the South African variant, coronavirus mutated again – this time morphing into an even more worrying version of the virus known as the Brazilian variant.

Ministers were so concerned that they banned travel from Portugal and South American countries in January.

However, officials said last night that six individuals infected with the “variant of concern” had been detected in the UK – three in England and three in Scotland.

READ MORE: Brazilian variant: what is the new Covid strain and should I be worried?

02:09 AM

Hunt for UK patient with Brazilian mutation

Health officials are hunting for a mystery Covid patient thought to be one of the first in the UK to have a Brazilian variant that may spread more rapidly and respond less well to vaccines.

Six individuals infected with the “variant of concern” have been detected in the UK, officials said on Sunday night.

Public Health England has admitted it has no idea who one of them is, nor where the person was tested.

Health officials have begun a scramble to try to find the person and track down hundreds of passengers on a series of connecting flights into the UK from Brazil earlier this month.

READ MORE: Scramble to hunt down patient with Brazilian Covid variant

02:02 AM

New Zealand’s latest positive case made ‘multiple mistakes’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the country’s latest Covid-19 case had made “multiple mistakes” including making contact with an infected family.

The country is in a seven-day lockdown prompted by the case of a person who had been infectious for a week but not in isolation.

The person is said to have visited public venues even after taking a Covid test.

“It has had devastating consequences, no question,” Ms Ardern said.

She said it was up to police to decide if any action would be taken against the person.

People do dumb things but we’re not going to get through this if people pillory them to the point they do not tell the truth,” she said.

01:58 AM

Auckland mayor fears for city’s future

The mayor of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, said on Monday that its residents should be prioritised for vaccines after it was thrown into its fourth lockdown over the weekend, costing millions of dollars a day.

The seven-day lockdown of the population of nearly two million was prompted by the case of a person who had been infectious for a week but not in isolation.

Mayor Phil Goff said: “We need the vaccine roll-out to be prioritised in Auckland to help avoid future lockdowns, protect jobs and incomes, and ensure Auckland can play its role in supporting the national economic recovery.”

01:44 AM

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