Coronavirus news live: Latest UK travel green list and vaccine updates


‘Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet’, says Liz Truss

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to ministers.

The government is expected to announce a green list of destinations – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – shortly, and then review this list every three weeks.

While the public await the official list, the UK has amended its travel advice to show a list of low-risk nations ahead of the expected return to non-essential travel in mid-May.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has said he feels “fairly optimistic” there will be a return to “something which feels a lot more normal by the summer”.

The expert from Imperial College London, who advises the government, also said the UK data on deaths and cases was “very encouraging” and it was unlikely the NHS would be overwhelmed after an expected rise in Covid cases in late summer.

But Professor Stephen Reicher, another expert, has warned the public to take Boris Johnson’s comments suggesting social distancing could be scrapped in summer with a “pinch of salt”.

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No evidence Covid-19 vaccines affected by drinking alcohol, says health regulator

There is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines are affected by drinking alcohol after having had the jab, a UK regulator has said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was responding to reports on social media that people ought to avoid drinking for up to two weeks following a vaccine.

In January, advisers to Drinkaware, an alcohol education charity which is funded by the alcohol industry, said there was some evidence drinking, particularly heavy drinking, may interfere with the body’s ability to build an immune response to some vaccines.

There is no information on this in patient information leaflets from the NHS or the vaccine manufacturers however that would suggest a link of this kind.

A spokeswoman for the MHRA said: “There is currently no evidence that drinking alcohol interferes with the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“We would advise anyone concerned about this to talk to their healthcare professional,” PA reported.

Eleanor Sly4 May 2021 12:08

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Eight Asiatic lions at Indian zoo test positive for Covid

Eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for Covid-19 at a zoo in Hyderabad, India, in the first such case reported in the country.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India’s largest organisation for research and development, tweeted that one of its life science institutions in Hyderabad, The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), would carry out “detailed investigation of the samples for genome sequencing to find out if the strain came from human beings or not.”

Veterinarians at the Nehru Zoological Park reportedly noticed the lions showing Covid-like symptoms in the last week of April.

Vishwam Sankaran has more:

Eleanor Sly4 May 2021 11:58

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Most of Europe should be on ‘green list’ next month, ministers say

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to government ministers.

This “big bang” reopening for travel is due in large part to the UK’s successful rollout of the vaccination programme, which has seen one in four Britons receive both doses of the vaccine at the time of writing.

After the initial green list of countries – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – is announced, the list will be reviewed every three weeks.

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:39

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Key questions and answers on EU travel plans

Amid lots of talk about travel and the UK’s “green list” of destinations, the EU is proposing that travel restrictions are eased on their end.

But the new proposals can be implemented, modified or ignored by member countries.

Simon Calder takes a look at the key questions and answers:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:25

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85% following self-isolation rules after positive test – ONS

Around 85 per cent who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) findings – based on responses collected from adults in England between 12-16 April – found 15 per cent of people reported at least one activity during self-isolation that broke the rules, such as leaving home or having visitors for a reason not permitted under legislation.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:10

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What restrictions will ease by end of May?

A government adviser has predicted this summer will feel “a lot more normal” – if not “completely normal”.

On that note, here is a reminder of restrictions that will remain in place by the end of this month, and those that will have been lifted if all goes to plan:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:54

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‘Sensible and cautious precautions’

Professor Stephen Reicher said people will need to be careful in future, but not in a way that limits daily life.

The government scientific adviser said: “Even after restrictions go, it makes sense to have sensible and cautious precautions; not in a way that limit our everyday lives, not in a way that stops us seeing people or hugging people, but just realising, for instance, that on the whole, we are safer outside, don’t sit too close to people, open the windows.”

He added: “So we need to be sensible about this, we need to be cautious about this, and in that way I think we’re much more likely to get to a space where our lives are much more back to normal, much more tolerable, where we can meet and hug our loved ones, but don’t just hug anybody.”

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:21

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‘The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe’

Here is Portugal’s tourism minister explaining the EU’s plans to restart tourism.

“The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe,” she said.

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:13

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Iceland travel

In more travel news, a British tour operator has persuaded Iceland’s prime minister to permit UK holidaymakers to be admitted on production of an NHS vaccination card.

Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, reports:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:11

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‘The British market is really important to all Europe’

Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, said the country is “taking the lead” at the European Council in negotiations aimed at opening up the European Union to UK holidaymakers.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We are really pushing hard to open up to third countries like the UK.

“I’m not going to tell you how important is the British market to Portugal. I just want to tell you that the British market is really important to all Europe, and in that sense we are ready to welcome you when you are ready to come.”

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:00



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The Latest: Colo. Governor Extends Statewide Mask Mandate | Business News


DENVER — Colorado’s governor has extended a statewide mask mandate for another 30 days, but loosened face covering requirements for groups who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under Gov. Jared Polis’ new executive order, people gathering inside in groups of 10 or more are no longer required to wear masks if at least 80% of the group is vaccinated.

The order states people must show proof of vaccination, but his statement did not elaborate on what proof is considered acceptable.

Residents are still required to wear masks at schools, child care centers, public government facilities, prisons and health care centers.

About 1.9 million people in Colorado are fully vaccinated.

— India’s leader weakened by coronavirus crisis as nation sets record for daily cases

— U.S. public transit hopes to win back riders after crushing year

— Puerto Rico staggers under latest surge of the virus

— ‘London to Delhi’ stationary biking raises cash for India’s virus crisis

— Virus, technology, unrest make stressful year for U.S. teachers

Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

KALISPELL, Mont. — About 96% of Montanans who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine have been returning to get their second dose, state health officials said.

Jim Murphy, administrator of the health department’s Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Bureau, told Montana Public Radio he’s pleased that nearly all Montanans who get a first dose are following up and getting their second one.

Over 332,000 Montanans were fully immunized as of Saturday, or nearly 39% of the 865,000 people who are eligible, health officials said.

WASHINGTON — The White House says the U.S. trade representative will begin talks with the World Trade Organization on ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping critically needed COVID-19 vaccines from being more widely distributed.

The White House has been under intense pressure to join an effort to help waive patent rules for the vaccines so that poorer countries can begin to make their own generic versions.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be starting talks “on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared.”

Klain and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration would have more to say on the matter in the coming days.

LONDON — Britain rushed to increase aid for India’s teetering health care system on Sunday, promising more ventilators and expert advice as doctors grapple with a surge in coronavirus infections that is killing thousands of people a day.

The U.K. government said it will send an additional 1,000 ventilators to India. In addition, England’s National Health Service, which has battled one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Europe, is creating an advisory group to share its expertise with Indian authorities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans a video meeting with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on Tuesday to discuss further cooperation between the two countries, the U.K. government said in statement.

India recorded 392,488 new infections, down from a high of more than 400,000 in the previous 24 hours. It also reported 3,689 deaths, raising overall virus fatalities to 215,542. Experts believe both figures are undercounts.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s national body to control coronavirus decided Sunday to temporarily restrict the country’s borders to people coming in from Afghanistan and Iran.

Inbound pedestrian movement from those two countries will halt at midnight May 4 until May 20 with the exception of Pakistani citizens in Afghanistan and Iran who want to return home and extreme medical emergency cases.

The development comes after Pakistan reported another 113 deaths and 4,414 new cases amid the third wave of the virus, taking the country’s death tally to 18,070.

Authorities said the decision aimed to limit the spread of new COVID-19 variants. It said border terminals with both the countries will remain open seven days a week with increased health staff and there will be no restrictions on outbound passengers or cargo movement.

NEW DELHI — Preliminary voting trends released by India’s electoral body on Sunday indicate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party failed to make gains in four recent state elections, a sign his political strength may be slipping as the country struggles to contain an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

Health experts say the massive electoral rallies and marches held as voters cast their ballots in March and April are partly to blame for the subsequent spike in COVID-19 infections.

Public anger for allowing the elections to go forward despite the risk has been directed at both Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the independent Election Commission. The commission will release the final voting results later Sunday.

Following the disappointing results, Modi stands weakened but faces no threats to staying on as prime minister until his term ends in 2024.

WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser to President Joe Biden is suggesting that he still wears a mask outdoors because it has become a “matter of habit.”

Anita Dunn told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she still wore her mask outdoors after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people like herself and the president don’t need to, especially if they’re outside alone and away from other people.

Said Dunn: “I myself found that I was still wearing my mask outdoors this week because it has become such a matter of habit.”

Biden wore a mask outside several times last week as he approached the microphone for speeches.

The CDC recently said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they’re in a big crowd of strangers.

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico seemed to be sprinting toward herd immunity this spring before people began letting their guard down against COVID-19 and new variants started spreading across the U.S. territory.

Now, a spike in cases and hospitalizations has put medical experts at odds with the government, which is struggling to protect people’s health while also trying to prevent an economic implosion on an island battered by hurricanes, earthquakes and a prolonged financial crisis.

“The difficulty here is how do you find a Solomonic decision … to give people the opportunity to work and be responsible and also maintain health as a priority,” said Ramón Leal, former president of Puerto Rico’s Restaurant Association. “These are hard conversations.”

It’s a delicate balance for an island that imposed a lockdown and mask mandates ahead of any U.S. state and has some of the strictest entry requirements of any American jurisdiction.

Overall, the land of 3.3 million people has reported more than 115,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,000 deaths.

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania will ease coronavirus-control measures in the capital of Bucharest beginning Monday, after its COVID-19 infection rate dropped below three per 1,000 residents for three straight days.

This will allow restaurants, cafes, cinemas and performance halls to reopen inside to 30% capacity after they were forced in late March to close indoor spaces to help curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. A 10 p.m. curfew will remain in place.

Bucharest prefect Alin Stoica said if the COVID-19 infection rate drops below 1.5 per 1,000 residents some venues could ramp up capacity to 50%, and that up to 300 people could be allowed at outdoor events. Authorities will review the epidemiological situation on May 13.

Since the pandemic started, Romania — a country of more than 19 million — has recorded more than 1 million infections and 28,282 deaths.

WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden urges more federal spending for public transportation, transit agencies decimated by COVID-19 are trying to figure out how to win back passengers scared away by the pandemic.

It’s made more urgent by the climate change crisis. Biden has pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade. That aggressive target will require Americans to ditch gas-guzzling cars for electric vehicles or embrace mass transit.

“We have a huge opportunity here to provide fast, safe, reliable, clean transportation in this country, and transit is part of the infrastructure,” Biden said at an event to promote rail and public transportation.

With fewer transportation alternatives, lower-income people are more reliant on public transportation for commuting and their daily lives.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan banned Shiite mourning processions on the martyrdom day of the fourth caliph of Islam due to the high risk of spreading coronavirus and asked aviation authorities to cut inbound international flights to 20% to avoid new virus variants.

The developments came after health authorities reported the presence of U.K., Brazilian and South African variants in patients who recently tested positive.

Authorities will allow congregations of Shiite mourners to gather on Ali Day on Tuesday if they follow social distancing rules and wear masks.

An increase in infections prompted authorities to lock down in most parts of its capital Lahore for the second day, as well as weekend lockdowns in the future.

NEW DELHI — India has opened vaccinations to all adults in hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections.

The world’s largest maker of vaccines is still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages. Those factors delayed the rollout in several states.

Only a fraction of India’s population likely can afford the prices charged by private hospitals for the shot. That means states and the federal government will be in charge of immunizing 900 million Indian adults.

India set another global record Saturday with 401,993 daily cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million. There were 3,523 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 211,853, according to the Health Ministry.

BEIJING — Chinese tourists are expected to make a total of 18.3 million railway passenger trips on the first day of China’s international labor day holiday.

That’s according to an estimate by China’s state railway group. The start to the five-day holiday on Saturday included tourists rushing to travel domestically now that the coronavirus has been brought under control in China.

May Day is offering the first long break for Chinese tourists since the start of the year. A domestic outbreak of the coronavirus before the Lunar New Year holidays in February cancelled travel plans for many after the government advised people to refrain from traveling.

Border closures and travel restrictions mean tourists are traveling domestically. China in recent weeks reported almost no cases of locally transmitted infections.

BRUSSELS — Police have detained 132 people who took part in an illegal party in a Brussels park to protest COVID-19 restrictions, authorities said Sunday.

About 15 people, including protesters and police, were injured in clashes, police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said.

About 2,000 revelers and protesters had massed in the park Saturday for the second time in a month, and police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them, clashing for hours.

The government and police had warned people for a week to stay away from the party to no avail. Clashes erupted after big crowds started gathering late in the afternoon.

Belgium still has strict rules banning major gatherings and insists on people wearing face masks in large crowds.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led a special prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday evening to invoke the end of the pandemic.

Francis, wearing white robes, sat in a chair and fingered the beads of a rosary, while about 200 people, including young children, sat spaced apart according to coronavirus safety protocols and recited the prayers aloud.

The pope prayed that “this hard trial end and that a horizon of hope and peace return.”

Every day, for the rest of the month, various Catholic sanctuaries in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary will take turns holding a similar rosary service. The initiative ends on May 31, when Francis will lead the rosary recitation in the Vatican Gardens.

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas has increased its casino capacity and more pandemic-weary tourists are arriving at the entertainment city.

Casino capacity on the Strip increased to 80% and person-to-person distancing drops to 3 feet on Saturday. The boom began in mid-March when casino occupancy went from 35% to 50% under state health guidelines.

Among the first arrivals were people ages 60 and older who were recently vaccinated. Analysts said pent-up demand, available hotel rooms and $1,400 pandemic recovery checks have contributed to the rush.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority tallied more than 2.2 million visitors in March. The figure was down 40% from March 2019. Casinos closed from mid-March to early June last year, helping to drive the Nevada jobless rate in April above 30% — the highest in any state. The current state rate is 8.1%.

GENEVA — The World Health Organization has given the go-ahead for emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The mRNA vaccine from the U.S. manufacturer joins vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson in receiving the WHO’s emergency use listing. Similar approvals for China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are expected in the coming days and weeks, WHO has said.

The greenlight for Moderna’s vaccine, announced late Friday, took many months because of delays WHO faced in getting data from the manufacturer.

Many countries without their own advanced medical regulatory and assessment offices rely on the WHO listing to decide whether to use vaccines. U.N. children’s agency UNICEF also uses the listing to deploy vaccines in an emergency like the pandemic.

The announcement isn’t likely to have an immediate impact on supplies of Moderna’s vaccine for the developing world. The company struck supply agreements with many rich countries, which have already received millions of doses.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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The Latest: UK increases aid to India’s health care system


LONDON — Britain rushed to increase aid for India’s teetering health care system on Sunday, promising more ventilators and expert advice as doctors grapple with a surge in coronavirus infections that is killing thousands of people a day.

The U.K. government said it will send an additional 1,000 ventilators to India. In addition, England’s National Health Service, which has battled one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Europe, is creating an advisory group to share its expertise with Indian authorities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans a video meeting with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on Tuesday to discuss further cooperation between the two countries, the U.K. government said in statement.

India recorded 392,488 new infections, down from a high of more than 400,000 in the previous 24 hours. It also reported 3,689 deaths, raising overall virus fatalities to 215,542. Experts believe both figures are undercounts.

The new round of government aid comes in addition to the 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units the U.K. said it was sending to India last week.

Private fundraising efforts are also taking place throughout Britain, where 1.4 million people have Indian roots.

———

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

India’s leader weakened by coronavirus crisis as nation sets record for daily cases

U.S. public transit hopes to win back riders after crushing year

Puerto Rico staggers under latest surge of the virus

— ‘London to Delhi’ stationary biking raises cash for India’s virus crisis

— Virus, technology, unrest make stressful year for U.S. teachers

———

Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

———

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s national body to control coronavirus decided Sunday to temporarily restrict the country’s borders to people coming in from Afghanistan and Iran.

Inbound pedestrian movement from those two countries will halt at midnight May 4 until May 20 with the exception of Pakistani citizens in Afghanistan and Iran who want to return home and extreme medical emergency cases.

The development comes after Pakistan reported another 113 deaths and 4,414 new cases amid the third wave of the virus, taking the country’s death tally to 18,070.

Authorities said the decision aimed to limit the spread of new COVID-19 variants. It said border terminals with both the countries will remain open seven days a week with increased health staff and there will be no restrictions on outbound passengers or cargo movement.

———

NEW DELHI — Preliminary voting trends released by India’s electoral body on Sunday indicate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party failed to make gains in four recent state elections, a sign his political strength may be slipping as the country struggles to contain an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

Health experts say the massive electoral rallies and marches held as voters cast their ballots in March and April are partly to blame for the subsequent spike in COVID-19 infections.

Public anger for allowing the elections to go forward despite the risk has been directed at both Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the independent Election Commission. The commission will release the final voting results later Sunday.

Following the disappointing results, Modi stands weakened but faces no threats to staying on as prime minister until his term ends in 2024.

———

WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser to President Joe Biden is suggesting that he still wears a mask outdoors because it has become a “matter of habit.”

Anita Dunn told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she still wore her mask outdoors after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people like herself and the president don’t need to, especially if they’re outside alone and away from other people.

Said Dunn: “I myself found that I was still wearing my mask outdoors this week because it has become such a matter of habit.”

Biden wore a mask outside several times last week as he approached the microphone for speeches.

The CDC recently said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they’re in a big crowd of strangers.

———

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico seemed to be sprinting toward herd immunity this spring before people began letting their guard down against COVID-19 and new variants started spreading across the U.S. territory.

Now, a spike in cases and hospitalizations has put medical experts at odds with the government, which is struggling to protect people’s health while also trying to prevent an economic implosion on an island battered by hurricanes, earthquakes and a prolonged financial crisis.

“The difficulty here is how do you find a Solomonic decision … to give people the opportunity to work and be responsible and also maintain health as a priority,” said Ramón Leal, former president of Puerto Rico’s Restaurant Association. “These are hard conversations.”

It’s a delicate balance for an island that imposed a lockdown and mask mandates ahead of any U.S. state and has some of the strictest entry requirements of any American jurisdiction.

Overall, the land of 3.3 million people has reported more than 115,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,000 deaths.

———

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania will ease coronavirus-control measures in the capital of Bucharest beginning Monday, after its COVID-19 infection rate dropped below three per 1,000 residents for three straight days.

This will allow restaurants, cafes, cinemas and performance halls to reopen inside to 30% capacity after they were forced in late March to close indoor spaces to help curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. A 10 p.m. curfew will remain in place.

Bucharest prefect Alin Stoica said if the COVID-19 infection rate drops below 1.5 per 1,000 residents some venues could ramp up capacity to 50%, and that up to 300 people could be allowed at outdoor events. Authorities will review the epidemiological situation on May 13.

Since the pandemic started, Romania — a country of more than 19 million — has recorded more than 1 million infections and 28,282 deaths.

———

WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden urges more federal spending for public transportation, transit agencies decimated by COVID-19 are trying to figure out how to win back passengers scared away by the pandemic.

It’s made more urgent by the climate change crisis. Biden has pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade. That aggressive target will require Americans to ditch gas-guzzling cars for electric vehicles or embrace mass transit.

“We have a huge opportunity here to provide fast, safe, reliable, clean transportation in this country, and transit is part of the infrastructure,” Biden said at an event to promote rail and public transportation.

With fewer transportation alternatives, lower-income people are more reliant on public transportation for commuting and their daily lives.

———

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan banned Shiite mourning processions on the martyrdom day of the fourth caliph of Islam due to the high risk of spreading coronavirus and asked aviation authorities to cut inbound international flights to 20% to avoid new virus variants.

The developments came after health authorities reported the presence of U.K., Brazilian and South African variants in patients who recently tested positive.

Authorities will allow congregations of Shiite mourners to gather on Ali Day on Tuesday if they follow social distancing rules and wear masks.

An increase in infections prompted authorities to lock down in most parts of its capital Lahore for the second day, as well as weekend lockdowns in the future.

———

NEW DELHI — India has opened vaccinations to all adults in hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections.

The world’s largest maker of vaccines is still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages. Those factors delayed the rollout in several states.

Only a fraction of India’s population likely can afford the prices charged by private hospitals for the shot. That means states and the federal government will be in charge of immunizing 900 million Indian adults.

India set another global record Saturday with 401,993 daily cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million. There were 3,523 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 211,853, according to the Health Ministry.

———

BEIJING — Chinese tourists are expected to make a total of 18.3 million railway passenger trips on the first day of China’s international labor day holiday.

That’s according to an estimate by China’s state railway group. The start to the five-day holiday on Saturday included tourists rushing to travel domestically now that the coronavirus has been brought under control in China.

May Day is offering the first long break for Chinese tourists since the start of the year. A domestic outbreak of the coronavirus before the Lunar New Year holidays in February cancelled travel plans for many after the government advised people to refrain from traveling.

Border closures and travel restrictions mean tourists are traveling domestically. China in recent weeks reported almost no cases of locally transmitted infections.

———

BRUSSELS — Police have detained 132 people who took part in an illegal party in a Brussels park to protest COVID-19 restrictions, authorities said Sunday.

About 15 people, including protesters and police, were injured in clashes, police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said.

About 2,000 revelers and protesters had massed in the park Saturday for the second time in a month, and police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them, clashing for hours.

The government and police had warned people for a week to stay away from the party to no avail. Clashes erupted after big crowds started gathering late in the afternoon.

Belgium still has strict rules banning major gatherings and insists on people wearing face masks in large crowds.

———

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led a special prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday evening to invoke the end of the pandemic.

Francis, wearing white robes, sat in a chair and fingered the beads of a rosary, while about 200 people, including young children, sat spaced apart according to coronavirus safety protocols and recited the prayers aloud.

The pope prayed that “this hard trial end and that a horizon of hope and peace return.”

Every day, for the rest of the month, various Catholic sanctuaries in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary will take turns holding a similar rosary service. The initiative ends on May 31, when Francis will lead the rosary recitation in the Vatican Gardens.

———

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas has increased its casino capacity and more pandemic-weary tourists are arriving at the entertainment city.

Casino capacity on the Strip increased to 80% and person-to-person distancing drops to 3 feet on Saturday. The boom began in mid-March when casino occupancy went from 35% to 50% under state health guidelines.

Among the first arrivals were people ages 60 and older who were recently vaccinated. Analysts said pent-up demand, available hotel rooms and $1,400 pandemic recovery checks have contributed to the rush.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority tallied more than 2.2 million visitors in March. The figure was down 40% from March 2019. Casinos closed from mid-March to early June last year, helping to drive the Nevada jobless rate in April above 30% — the highest in any state. The current state rate is 8.1%.

———

GENEVA — The World Health Organization has given the go-ahead for emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The mRNA vaccine from the U.S. manufacturer joins vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson in receiving the WHO’s emergency use listing. Similar approvals for China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are expected in the coming days and weeks, WHO has said.

The greenlight for Moderna’s vaccine, announced late Friday, took many months because of delays WHO faced in getting data from the manufacturer.

Many countries without their own advanced medical regulatory and assessment offices rely on the WHO listing to decide whether to use vaccines. U.N. children’s agency UNICEF also uses the listing to deploy vaccines in an emergency like the pandemic.

The announcement isn’t likely to have an immediate impact on supplies of Moderna’s vaccine for the developing world. The company struck supply agreements with many rich countries, which have already received millions of doses.



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The latest update on summer holidays as hopes are high foreign travel is set to resume


No date for the resumption of foreign travel has been set in Wales but there are likely to be some big announcements from the UK Government this week that will influence summer holidays for people living here.

UK Government ministers are expected to decide if foreign holidays can resume from May 17, the date given in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown in England, and the list of countries on the so-called ‘green list’ are expected to be announced in “early May”.

In practice the governments in Wales and Westminster have overlapping responsibilities which will determine how practical foreign travel is. As foreign affairs is largely not devolved and the UK’s biggest airports are in England decisions made by the UK Government and its relationships with the governments in popular holiday destinations will play the biggest role in shaping what holidays will look like this year.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has sounded a very cautious note about the resumption of foreign travel and even if the blanket ban on travel is removed quarantine-free travel will only be possible to a ‘tiny handful’ of countries, with recent reports suggesting fewer than 24 destinations will initially be included.

Here is what we know so far.

When will the safe countries to travel to be announced?

A deadline for grading countries under the new traffic light system for international travel has seemingly been missed by the UK Government.

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee issued a report last week which stated that the green, amber, and red lists of destinations must be published by Saturday “at the latest” but this has not happened.

Instead the Department for Transport (DfT) has only said the lists will be made public in “early May”.

The traffic light system will be risk-based with different rules for people returning to the UK depending on which list their destination is on.

Many people are eager to discover what countries are on the green list to avoid the need to self-isolate.

Those returning from ‘green list’ countries from May 17 may also be fast-tracked through passport control under plans proposed to combat queues at airports, the Times reported.

What countries are likely to be on the green list?

People travelling to ‘green’ countries will not need to quarantine on their return unless they test positive for coronavirus while arrivals from ‘amber’ countries will need to quarantine for 10 days.

Travellers from ‘red list’ countries will be required to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense. Most European countries are expected to be on the ‘amber list’ when the categories are confirmed in the coming days.

Countries expected to be on the ‘green list’ from May 17 include Portugal, Malta, and Morocco.

Industry experts have also predicted Israel, Jamaica, Barbados, Gibraltar, and Grenada may also be immediately open to British holidaymakers after taking into account vaccine rates, infection rates, evidence of variants, and data quality.

They added that Iceland, Finland, and the Cayman Islands could be among a 24-strong list of ‘green’ countries. This could also include the US.

Spain is also pushing for the UK’s digital vaccine passport to be “mutually recognised”. Tourism minister Fernando Valdes Verelst said this week: “June will be the start of the recovery of tourism in Spain. By then we will have a digital vaccination certificate in place and we will be able to re-open our borders.”

What criteria is used for the traffic light system?

A number of criteria will be used to determine which category a country falls into when travel restrictions are loosened on May 17 including vaccination data and infection levels.

Some airports have already created separate lines for ‘red list’ passengers, who need to quarantine in a hotel, but this could develop further into ‘green’ and ‘amber’ lines when international travel resumes.

Will you need a vaccine passport?

An NHS app will be used as a vaccine passport once overseas travel restarts, it has been reported.

Speaking to Sky News the UK Government’s transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed an NHS app will be used to allow people from the UK to demonstrate whether they have had a vaccination or tested negative for the virus before they travel. It is understood this scheme could be ready by June.

But it is not immediately clear how this affects Wales and whether the same app will be used here. At the moment the NHS app the UK government is saying it will use cannot be downloaded in Wales.

Greece, which is opening its borders to holidaymakers from May 15, has insisted the handwritten paper NHS card handed out with a jab will be enough.

The EU is closing in on a deal with the US for Covid passports with officials also saying they are open to a similar policy with the UK.

How will it work at Cardiff Airport?

Wales’ biggest airport has opened a coronavirus testing centre for passengers to get tested ahead of their flight as international travel prepares to re-open.

Working with Nuffield Health the testing centre at the airport will be used by customers travelling through the airport but will also be available for members of the public who want to take a test for non-travel-related purposes.

The testing centre, located in the arrivals hall of the terminal, offers PCR tests with results available in four or 48 hours and lateral flow antigen tests with results in one hour with all tests analysed at an on-site laboratory.

All tests required for international travel are also available and customers can book via the Nuffield Health online booking portal.

What is the current situation in Europe?

For the first time in two months new cases in the WHO European region fell significantly last week. Yet infection rates across the region remain extremely high.

To date around 215m doses of vaccine have been administered. Approximately 16% of the region’s population has had a first vaccine dose and 81% of health workers in 28 countries in the region have had a first dose.

Where vaccination rates in high-risk groups are highest admissions to hospitals are decreasing and death rates are falling.

Dr Hans Henri Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “In the context of the pandemic it is a combination of vaccines and strong public health measures that offer us the clearest path back to normal. It is vaccines that bring us closer – closer to ending this pandemic.”





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COVID news live – latest updates: Australia criminalises travel from India – as uncertainty over holidays remains | World News


South Asian communities hardest hit by pandemic

A new study of more than 17 million adults in England has found that those in South Asian communities suffered the worst outcome of COVID during the pandemic’s second wave.

According to the paper, which was published in The Lancet, the communities experienced greater levels of infection, severe disease and death during the second spike when compared to other minority ethnic groups.

Most groups saw disparities in hospital admissions and deaths improve between the first and second wave, but it widened for those with a South Asian background.

Dr Rohini Mathur, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Despite the improvements seen in most minority ethnic groups in the second wave compared to the first, it’s concerning to see that the disparity widened among South Asian groups.

“This highlights an urgent need to find effective prevention measures that fit with the needs of the UK’s ethnically diverse population.”

Health factors including body weight, blood pressure and underlying conditions – as well as other factors like household size – could be key reasons for the disparity, the scientists said.

Researchers analysed data from 17,288,532 people in the partially anonymised OpenSAFELY database.

Ethnicity was self reported into five main categories: white, South Asian, black, other, and mixed.

Scientists are calling for more to be done about reports of increased vaccine hesitancy in minority ethnic groups.



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Coronavirus latest: Osaka and Tokyo seek state of emergency decrees as variants fuel surges


The Canadian government said on Tuesday its border containment measures were effective, as a travel ban with the US was extended.

Justin Trudeau, prime minister, defended Ottawa’s protection efforts, but warned bans could be imposed on incoming flights from specific countries, such as India.

The ban on nonessential travel between the US and Canada has been extended until at least May 21, as Canadian provinces consider internal travel curbs to halt a Covid-19 surge, including new variants of the disease.

“As cases rise and variants of concern continue to emerge across the country, we will continue to do what it takes — for as long as it takes — to keep Canadians safe,” Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety minister, said on Tuesday.

Canada’s top doctor said that more than 66,000 “variant of concern cases” have been reported across Canada. Most are the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the UK.

“These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many thousands more Covid-19 cases that have screened positive for problematic mutations,” Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, said on Tuesday. 

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,131,773 cases of Covid-19, including 88,327 active cases, and 23,667 deaths reported in the country. 

People queue outside a vaccination centre in Edmonton
People queue outside a vaccination centre in Edmonton © AP

Canada has extended restrictions on travellers flying to the country that require them to be tested for Covid-19 and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

In February, the Trudeau government said air passengers landing in Canada would be tested for Covid-19 and then have to undergo a three-day hotel quarantine, at their own expense, while they wait for results. That is in addition to showing a negative coronavirus test before boarding.

Health Canada, a federal agency, said about 1 per cent of air travellers are testing positive while in a quarantine hotel. 

The agency said 117 flights have arrived at Canadian airports in which at least one passenger tested positive, with 20 arriving from the US. Another 24 came from Europe, while 29 originated from Delhi. 

British Columbia is imposing travel restrictions within the province to ensure only essential travel between the province’s five health regions. “We’re in a serious situation,” said John Horgan, the provincial premier.

Separately, Manitoba commercial truck drivers who regularly travel into the US will now be able to get a jab in adjacent North Dakota.

The deal, believed to be the first such cross-border vaccine agreement, could eventually expand to include other essential workers such as health-care providers.

“The US has got a lot of vaccines and Canada’s got less,” Doug Burgum, North Dakota governor, said on Tuesday. “We want to do our part to help those essential workers from Canada who are frequently travelling through our state.”



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New York Updates Travel Restrictions – Latest Entry Requirements For Tourists


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As most people have realized by now, traveling during a pandemic is difficult. As well as travelers having to navigate the constantly changing restrictions and entry requirements to visit other countries, they must also be aware of changes that impact travel on a domestic level.

An update to New York State’s travel advisory brought about several key changes that both domestic and international travelers should be on top of. Here’s everything you need to know about the changes, plus a reminder of the current Covid-19 restrictions in the state.

New York State Updates Its Travel Advisory – What You Should Know

Travel Advisory Updated – Information For Travelers

Much like different countries around the world, states across the US have constantly been updating their travel advisories and entry restrictions throughout the course of the pandemic, reflecting the situation and perceived threat of the spread of Covid-19 in their borders.

new york subway mask

On Saturday, New York State made key changes to its travel advisory, which were bound to welcomed by international travelers keen to visit the Big Apple. According to the updated guidance released by the state, asymptomatic travelers from another country, U.S. state, or territory are no longer required to quarantine, building on their previous update which removed the need for domestic quarantine. However, those who are as yet unvaccinated are still recommended to quarantine.

hope sculpture manhattan

The guidance states:

Asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another country, U.S. state, or territory are no longer required to test or quarantine as of April 10, 2021. Quarantine, consistent with the CDC recommendations, is still recommended for all travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from laboratory confirmed COVID-19 during the previous 3 months. Symptomatic travelers must immediately self-isolate and contact the local health department or their healthcare providers to determine if they should seek COVID-19 testing.

Note: International travelers must comply CDC requirements, which currently include proof of negative test or recent COVID recovery in order to board airplanes headed to the US. 

manhattan skyline

Unvaccinated domestic travelers are still recommended to be tested for the virus 3 to 5 days after arriving in the state, and are asked to consider self-quarantine and avoiding high-risk individuals for 14 days. International travelers must still comply with CDC requirements, such as showing a negative test result of proof of recovery in order to be able to fly. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated international travelers are recommended to be tested between 3-5 days after arriving in the state.

museum art new york

Travelers must still complete the Traveler Health Form, unless they have only left for a time period shorter than 24 hours, or are coming from a state that’s contiguous to New York. Contiguous states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

New York statue of liberty

Whilst quarantine is not required, the guidance still requests that travelers adhere to specific health-related behaviors after arriving in the state. Such behaviors are listed as monitoring symptoms, continuing to wash hands and wear a mask, and immediately self-isolating if any symptoms start to develop.

New York Right Now – What Restrictions Are In Place?

As cases continue to decline, and vaccine figures keep on rising, more and more states are gradually beginning to ease their Covid-related restrictions. In New York, indoor event capacity limits have increased to 100, with outdoor capacities capped at 200 – though events with attendee testing can see these limits increase to 150 and 500. Indoor dining is back on the menu with 50% capacity allowed, whilst bars and restaurants are permitted to open until 11PM. Nonessential retail stores are open, whilst most museums require pre-booking to visit. Masks are still required to be worn in public spaces, and social distancing should still be maintained where possible.

new york sign

Read more:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19

10 Summer Vacation Ideas In The U.S. For 2021

These U.S. States Will Vaccinate Foreign Travelers For Covid-19

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories



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