he NHS coronavirus vaccine booking system has opened to healthy people aged 42 and over.
People in England who are aged 42 and over, or those who will turn 42 before July 1, can now arrange their appointment through the national booking website.
It comes as the clinically vulnerable, healthy adults aged 35 and over in Northern Ireland have been invited to book their vaccine appointment.
In Scotland, preparations are ongoing to extend the vaccine rollout to healthy adults in their 40s.
Meanwhile, people aged 30 and over are being called for their appointments across Wales.
Deaths below the five-year average for the sixth consecutive week
The total number of deaths registered in England and Wales was below the five-year average for the sixth consecutive week, the ONS said.
Some 10,438 deaths were registered in the week to April 16, 0.8% below the average for the corresponding period in 2015-19.
Prior to the six most recent weeks, the last time deaths were below average was in the week to September 4 2020.
362 deaths registered in England and Wales
A total of 362 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 16 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the lowest number since the week ending October 2.
The figure is down 4 per cent on the previous week’s total, although the ONS said the number of deaths registered is likely to have been affected by the recent Easter bank holidays.
Around one in 29 (3.5 per cent) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to April 16 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
Boris-Dom war: Minister hits back with Cummings’s Barnard Castle trip
A cabinet minister stepped up the retaliatory war against Dominic Cummings today by reminding the public of his infamous trip to Durham and Barnard Castle during the first lockdown.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey highlighted the journey which the then No10 senior aide defended in an extraordinary press conference in the No10 Rose Garden.
Mr Cummings was widely condemned for the trip. But Boris Johnson stood by his then top adviser at the time as he argued that he took a 25-mile drive to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight before driving back to London.
The controversial aide had earlier driven his family from London to Durham, at the end of March 2020, to stay at his father’s farm after his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus.
France’s Macron expected to announce easing of COVID rules in coming days
French President Emmanuel Macron will probably make an announcement on plans to relax COVID-19 restrictions in the next few days, employment minister Elisabeth Borne told BFM TV on Tuesday.
France, the euro zone’s second biggest economy, started its third national lockdown at the end of March after suffering a spike in COVID-19 deaths and case numbers.
Macron is hoping the effects of that lockdown, along with an accelerated vaccination campaign, will improve France’s COVID-19 figures, which would then allow certain businesses and leisure activities – such as outdoors dining – to reopen in mid May.
French schools reopened on Monday after a three-week closure. Macron has said that while open-air bar and restaurant terraces may reopen in mid-May, indoor venues will not re-open before June, and only in regions where the COVID-19 figures have dropped sufficiently to allow this.
UK regulator rejects Heathrow request for pandemic cushion
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has rejected Heathrow’s request for an increase to its regulatory asset base of £2.6 billion, instead offering the country’s biggest airport a £300 million adjustment to cover pandemic losses.
Heathrow’s passenger numbers have plunged over the last year and remained more than 80 per cent lower in recent months at levels last seen in the 1970s, pushing its losses to around 3 billion pounds.
The airport asked the CAA for an increase in its regulatory asset base (RAB), part of a funding model set by the regulator that maintains an appropriate level of risk and reward for investors while setting the charges paid by passengers.
But the CAA said on Tuesday that a RAB adjustment on such a scale would not be in the interest of consumers.
It agreed a 300 million pound interim adjustment and said the issues raised by Heathrow would be considered as part of the next regulatory settlement which comes into effect from January 2022.
NHS Covid vaccine booking system opened to people 42 and over
The NHS coronavirus vaccine booking system has opened to healthy people aged 42 and over.
The national booking system has extended for the second time in a week to allow more healthy adults in their forties to book their jab.
People in England who are aged 42 and over, or those who will turn 42 before July 1, can now arrange their vaccine appointment through the national booking website.
Australia temporarily halts flights from India
Australia has announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India, as the South Asian nation grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the suspension would remain in place until at least May 15 due to “clearly present” risks of travel from India, leaving thousands of Australians – including high-profile cricketers – stranded.
Mr Morrison said Australia would send medical aid – including oxygen tanks, ventilators and personal protective equipment – to India as its health system strains under the growing caseload.
Review of all coronavirus fines urged
Coronavirus fines are “muddled, discriminatory and unfair”, according to a group of MPs and peers who have called for a review of all of those issued under lockdown laws.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said the system “criminalises the poor over the better-off” and no Covid-19 fine should result in a criminal record.
“Significant concerns” about the validity of the fines, the inadequacy of the review and appeal process, the size of the penalties and the criminalisation of those who cannot afford to pay, were set out in a report.
Committee chairman Harriet Harman said: “Swift action to make restrictions effective is essential in the face of this terrible virus.
“But the Government needs to ensure that rules are clear, enforcement is fair and that mistakes in the system can be rectified.
NHS ‘heroes’ to feature in Royal Society of Portrait painters exhibition
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is to showcase paintings of NHS workers in its annual exhibition.
The show, which features around 200 works, opens at London’s Mall Galleries next month.
A painting of a doctor outside London’s Nightingale Hospital by Melissa Scott-Miller is among the paintings that will go on display.
Kate Newington’s painting of a medic in PPE, titled Amanda, will also feature.
The exhibition “celebrates the diversity” of the genre of portraiture, according to a statement from the society.
A new £20,000 Wiliiam Lock Portrait Prize will be awarded to one of the artists featured in the exhibiiton, in addition to the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture.
The exhibition runs from May 6 to 15.
Shift workers more likely to test positive for Covid-19 in hospital
People who work shifts are more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
Shift work was associated with higher odds for Covid-19 regardless of job sector type, according to the study in the journal Thorax.
They examined data from the UK Biobank study and cross-matched this with data on positive Covid-19 test results from patients in hospital.
Between March and the end of August 2020, more than 6,000 participants of the Biobank study had a Covid-19 test performed in hospital, with 498 of these giving a positive test result.
Of these, 316 did not work shifts while 98 worked irregular shifts and 84 worked permanent shifts.
Dr John Blaikley, of the University of Manchester, said: “This study shows quite a strong association between shift working and being hospitalised for Covid-19, even after controlling for existing Covid-19 risk factors.”
Co-author Dr Hannah Durrington, from the University of Manchester, said: “We do believe it should be possible to substantially mitigate these risks through good handwashing, use of face protection, appropriate spacing and vaccination.”