Travel news live: Green list of safe countries to be announced as foreign holiday rules ease


Could UK travellers be given Covid screening tests to use abroad?

Holiday-makers will finally learn which destinations they can visit this summer without having to quarantine for coronavirus upon return to the UK, when the government publishes its travel “green list” today.

The new traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red, is expected to have a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, listed as travel locations which do not require self-isolation on return.

Assessments for the list will be based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

It came as concern rose over the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant in the UK after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

The Covid variant is likely to be elevated to a “variant of concern” as cases have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands – largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

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Deaths in England and Wales up 14 per cent in 2020, ONS says

The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in 2020 was 14.3 per cent above the average for the previous five years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed.

A total of 607,922 deaths were registered, compared with an average of 532,077 in 2015-19 – meaning there were 75,845 extra deaths, or “excess deaths”.

The ONS said Covid-19 was responsible for 97 per cent of these excess deaths.

Deaths in private homes in England and Wales, from all causes, were also one-third higher in 2020 than in the previous five years, according to ONS data.

The majority of deaths due to Covid-19 occurred in hospitals and care homes, while many deaths from other causes, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, happened in private homes.

The ONS added that many of these deaths at home were people who may have typically died elsewhere, such as in hospital, in normal times.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:30

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Indian variant ‘possibly as transmissible’ as Kent variant, expert says

High numbers of cases of the Indian variant around the world suggest it could be as transmissible as the Kent variant that fuelled the UK’s second wave of Covid-19 last year, an expert has said.

Jeff Barrett, director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute Covid-19 Genomics Initiative, said the high case numbers for the variant were “consistent with this one being more transmissible than older versions of the virus from last year”.

“[It’s] possibly as transmissible as the B.117 Kent variant that is very widespread in the UK,” Mr Barrett told the BBC.

However, he added that there had been reassuring evidence from real-world studies on the effectiveness of vaccines against the South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19.

“That paints a relatively positive picture that the vaccines are going to continue to have efficacy,” he said.

“So obviously for new variants like this one, we need to do additional experiments and really get the solid proof one way or the other about that”.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:16

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Get the latest updates from Simon Calder’s Travel Week

You can find a preview below of our travel correspondent Simon Calder’s weekly newsletter rounding up the latest developments for holiday-makers as the UK moves out of lockdown restrictions.

For the latest edition of the newsletter follow the link here.

To get Simon’s updates every week, you can sign up through The Independent’s newsletter service by clicking the link here.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:06

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Australia to lift ban on citizens returning from India next week, PM says

Australia will lift a ban on its citizens returning from India next week after heavy criticism from lawmakers, expatriates and the Indian diaspora.

The country’s prime minister Scott Morrison said he stood by his decision, arguing that the travel ban, which was backed by jail terms and financial penalties for those who attempted to fly via a third country, had prevented hotel quarantine systems from being overwhelmed.

“The order that we have put in place has been highly effective, it€’s doing the job that we needed it to do, and that was to ensure that we could do everything we can to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 here in Australia,” Mr€ Morrison told reporters.

Australia will charter three repatriation flights between 15 May and 31 May, prioritising about 900 people deemed most vulnerable, he added.

The government estimates about 9,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents are in India.

Prospective travellers will need to return a negative Covid-19 test and will be required to undertake the standard 14-day hotel quarantine imposed on incoming travellers.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:47

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‘Be ambitious’ on travel corridors to revive industry, BA owner says

The UK government should act with “ambition” and announce travel corridors as soon as possible to help to revive the aviation industry, the boss of British Airways owner IAG has said.

“We consider now is the time to start travelling again,” chief executive Luis Gallego said on Friday.

“We believe that the government needs to be a bit ambitious in getting global travel back on track and bring the benefits of all the efforts that the government and people have done with the vaccination rollout.

“I think they need to recognise that people who are vaccinated or have been tested can travel without restrictions.”

His comments came as the business revealed it had continued to rack up huge losses during the first three months of 2021, with the firm sinking to a pre-tax loss of 1.22 billion euros (£1.1bn).

Passenger numbers also remained at record low levels due to the pandemic, at just 19.6 per cent of the pre-Covid levels in 2019.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:35

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Scottish students now able to access rapid coronavirus tests

Students and staff in Scotland are now able to access rapid coronavirus testing through their local college, with more than 100,000 lateral flow testing kits distributed to help detect cases of Covid-19 in people with no symptoms.

Authorities are urging people to take part in voluntary testing twice a week using the at-home kits.

“The college testing programme is voluntary, and I encourage all eligible staff and students to take part regularly to help protect themselves, and keep their friends, families and colleges safe,” Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said.

“Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms. Rapid lateral flow testing helps to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can transmit the virus to others.

“These easy-to-use, at-home kits offer extra reassurance so it’s important that students continue to make use of them regularly as restrictions are lifted.”

The Scottish government recommends two tests are taken each week, ideally three days apart.

A limited number of students are currently allowed on to college campuses at any one time in line with current public health guidance, with safety measures such as social distancing in place.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:15

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Our expert Simon Calder has given his advice below on how to manage foreign travel ahead of the release of the holiday “green list” later today:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:03

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Call for changes to vaccination bookings as pregnant women unable to find jab

Pregnant women are struggling to access Covid-19 vaccinations nearly three weeks after the government made them eligible for the jab, sparking calls for changes to the official booking system.

Official guidelines say they should be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines if possible, but the NHS National Booking Service says it does not have any information on how these can be accessed.

Our Whitehall editor, Kate Devlin, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:48

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Concern rises over Indian variant as ‘clusters of cases’ found in England

The coronavirus variant first detected in India is likely to become a “variant of concern” this week after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

Cases of the variant are thought to have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands, largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

This change would spark an escalation in response from Public Health England (PHE), with surge testing being used to clamp down on cases of the variant (known as B1617.2).

There are three related variants first seen in India which have been detected in the UK and designated “under investigation” by PHE – B1617.2, B1617.1 and B1617.3.

According to internal documents from PHE, dated to 5 May and seen by The Guardian, the ongoing risk to public health from the variant subtype B1617.2 is “high”.

However, early data suggests that it does not fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:39

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Under-40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca jab over increased blood clot risk

People under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as evidence showing younger people are more likely to be affected by rare blood clots linked to the jab has grown, The Independent can reveal.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to recommend raising the age threshold for offering a different jab from under-30s to under-40s following further reports of rare clots last week.

Our science correspondent, Samuel Lovett, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:30



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IAG narrows losses in first quarter – calls for travel to reopen | News


International Airlines Group has reported a loss of €1 billon for the first quarter of 2021 as airlines struggle against government restrictions on travel.

The figure compared to a loss of €1.9 billion for the same period last year, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe.

The group, however, said it had €8 billion in cash on hand at the end of March.

IAG is currently flying around one fifth of the capacity it offered in earl 2019, with an expectation that this will increase to around 25 per cent over the second quarter.

Announcing the results, Luis Gallego, IAG chief executive, called on government to safely reopen travel.

He said: “We’re doing everything in our power to emerge in a stronger competitive position.

“We’re absolutely confident that a safe re-start to travel can happen as shown by the scientific data.”

Gallego said, to ensure safe travel, governments must open travel corridors without restrictions among safe vaccinated destinations, replace quarantine with testing and roll out digital passes for testing documentation.

“These measures will enable a safe re-opening of our skies,” he added.

“Travel underpins a global industry that supports 13 million jobs in Europe alone.

“There’s a high level of pent-up demand and aviation will play a critical role in reconnecting people and getting economies back up and running again.”





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Covid travel news live: ‘Green list’ to be announced as concerns rise over Indian variant


Could UK travellers be given Covid screening tests to use abroad?

Holiday-makers will finally learn which destinations they can visit this summer without having to quarantine for coronavirus upon return to the UK, when the government publishes its travel “green list” today.

The new traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red, is expected to have a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, listed as travel locations which do not require self-isolation on return.

Assessments for the list will be based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

It came as concern rose over the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant in the UK after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

The Covid variant is likely to be elevated to a “variant of concern” as cases have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands – largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

1620373140

Concern rises over Indian variant as ‘clusters of cases’ found in England

The coronavirus variant first detected in India is likely to become a “variant of concern” this week after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

Cases of the variant are thought to have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands, largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

This change would spark an escalation in response from Public Health England (PHE), with surge testing being used to clamp down on cases of the variant (known as B1617.2).

There are three related variants first seen in India which have been detected in the UK and designated “under investigation” by PHE – B1617.2, B1617.1 and B1617.3.

According to internal documents from PHE, dated to 5 May and seen by The Guardian, the ongoing risk to public health from the variant subtype B1617.2 is “high”.

However, early data suggests that it does not fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:39

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Under-40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca jab over increased blood clot risk

People under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as evidence showing younger people are more likely to be affected by rare blood clots linked to the jab has grown, The Independent can reveal.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to recommend raising the age threshold for offering a different jab from under-30s to under-40s following further reports of rare clots last week.

Our science correspondent, Samuel Lovett, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:30

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Holiday-makers to learn where they can travel this summer without quarantine

Holiday-makers in England will learn later today which destinations they can visit this summer without needing to quarantine for Covid-19 when they return to the UK.

The government’s new travel rules will be based on a traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

People arriving from a green location will not need to quarantine on their return and will have to take one post-arrival test, while those returning from an amber list country must self-isolate for at least five days and take two tests.

The red list requires an 11-night stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

It is expected that only a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, will make it on to the “green list” and avoid quarantine requirements.

However, no plans for the resumption of foreign holidays have been announced by the UK’s devolved administrations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps

(PA)

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:12

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Indian states say international Covid aid not reaching those in need

Several Indian states have claimed that they have not received any information about consignments of Covid-19 relief material, such as oxygen cylinders and concentrators.

The country has so far received aid from almost a dozen countries, including the US and the UK, to help with its deadly second wave.

Our reporters, Adam Withnall and Stuti Mishra, have the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 07:41

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Court orders Indian government to supply oxygen to Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday told the central government that it has to supply 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to the national capital Delhi daily till further orders.

Several hospitals in Delhi have been grappling with a shortage of medical oxygen and sent SOS messages in recent weeks.

The city government had said it was getting roughly half the quantity of oxygen it has been officially allocated, according to NDTV. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said his administration “won’t let anyone die” of oxygen shortage if it got the earmarked 700 tonnes supply every day.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 07:26

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India to get another batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines

Russia is sending 150,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines to India in the next two days. Another three million doses are expected to land in Hyderabad by the end of May.

The first consignment of the Sputnik V vaccine landed in Hyderabad on 1 May.

Meanwhile, the developers of Sputnik Light Covid-19 vaccine — the single shot version of Sputnik V — said India will be among the countries where the vaccine will be produced in the coming months, according to Hindustan Times.

India has administered at least 157 million vaccine doses, but its rate of inoculation has fallen in recent days, according to a Reuters analysis.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 07:23

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Australia to start repatriation flights from India for vulnerable citizens

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the country will charter three repatriation flights between 15 May and 31 May, prioritising around 900 people deemed the most in need.

Mr Morrison’s government had imposed a temporary ban on its citizens returning home from India, which has been hit by a deadly second wave of the virus. Defending the ban, Mr Morrison had said it was necessary to protect the country from a third wave of coronavirus.

A group of Australian cricket players from the Indian Premier League left the country for the Maldives on Thursday after the competition was suspended, while their fellow sportsmen from other nations were largely able to return home.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 06:38

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Covid-triggered black fungus cases in Delhi hospital

Doctors at a hospital in the national capital Delhi have said they are witnessing a rise in the number of Covid-triggered black fungus, or mucormycisis, cases.

Dr Manish Munjal, ENT surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, told news agency Press Trust of India that they have admitted six cases of mucormycisis in the last two days. He said the infection caused a high mortality last year.

Dr Ajay Swaroop from the hospital said one of the reasons behind the increase in such cases can be the use of steroids in the treatment of Covid-19 coupled with the fact that many coronavirus patients have diabetes, according to PTI.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 06:12

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What happens to children who lose their parents to the virus?

With India pounded by a second wave of the virus that appears to be increasingly affecting young people, there is a growing awareness of the haunting phenomenon of the “Covid orphan”, with activists, NGOs, and child rights workers fielding a deluge of calls every day about new cases.

These are calls for help for children whose lives will never be the same, even after this wave is over and the world for most people returns to normal.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights says that so far there have been 11 confirmed cases where a child has lost either one parent or both to Covid, and the number is increasing with each passing day.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 05:52

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Record rise in India’s Covid-19 cases

India reported a record daily rise in Covid-19 cases of 414,188 in the 24 hours ending Friday morning, while deaths rose by 3,915, according to health ministry data.

The country has added 1.57 million cases and nearly 15,000 deaths this week alone, as the second wave of the pandemic continues to overwhelm its healthcare system.

Total infections have crossed 21 million, while total fatalities have reached 234,083. These numbers are widely viewed as an under-statement given chronic issues with under-reporting of cases in India.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 05:27



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Washington files suit against travel insurance company – KIRO 7 News Seattle


Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s biggest travel insurance companies.

He’s alleging deception and discrimination against people with mental health issues.

That’s what Ashley Oman, who bought travel insurance from Allianz, experienced when she planned two plane trips to Detroit to visit art schools.

Oman told us she lives with anxiety and depression from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It turns out that I was having some issues when I was out there, and I wasn’t going to be able to make the second trip out,” she said.

Allianz refused to pay her claim for the second plane ticket she couldn’t use.

“You aren’t covered for any loss that results directly or indirectly from any mental or nervous health disorders like anxiety, depression, and others,” it stated in a letter, denying the claim.

Oman lost $424. She said she didn’t know about the mental health exemption.

“No, I did not. That was not clear when I purchased the policy,” she said.

The alleged deception is just one of the reasons Ferguson has just filed a lawsuit against Allianz.

“If you get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis after you bought this insurance and after you bought your plane ticket, and you have a doctor proving you should not travel because you have that Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they won’t refund your money. You know, I don’t know what kind of a company does that, but it’s not right,” Ferguson said.

And whether it’s travel insurance or anything else, Ferguson said Washington Civil Rights law bans discrimination on the basis of mental health.

That’s why Oman supports the lawsuit.

“It’s so important because with, with these types of loopholes in these companies, that is, it’s just unfair, and it’s a scam,” she said.

Allianz has yet to respond to our request for comment.





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Couple reunites just in time for their child’s birth after Biden lifts travel ban


Danah Habri found love in the most unlikely of places five years ago: a refugee camp in Lebanon. An optometrist from Virginia, she was volunteering there when she met Mishaal Hammoud, a Syrian relief worker. They stayed in touch via WhatsApp. 

She wanted him to come to the U.S. so they could get married but the Trump administration’s ban on travel from some Muslim majority countries prevented that. So she left her job and almost sold her house to move to Lebanon. 

“It needed to be done because we wanted to be together,” Habri said. 

Months later, they found out they were expecting a baby. Habri left Lebanon to deliver their child in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic and better healthcare at home. Hammoud stayed behind and she mentally prepared to be alone during their child’s birth in April. 

But President Biden’s reversal of the ban answered the couple’s prayers. Habri contacted the State Department and her congressional representatives to help secure a visa for her husband — though she still wasn’t sure he’d be granted one. Months later, he was given a visa and he jumped on a plane. 

He arrived in the U.S. just in time. Habri started having contractions less than six hours later. “I woke up and I was like, I’m cramping up. And literally less than 12 hours later Adam was born,” Habri said. “It’s all still like a dream.” 

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Mishaal Hammoud and Danah Habri with their son, Adam. 

CBS News


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