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Covid travel news: Government to introduce charges for tests, as bookings surge after rules eased

Catch up on Saturday’s developments

Liam James
Saturday 18 September 2021 13:07 BST
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explains the new travel rules as restrictions are eased

The government will end free provision of lateral flow tests within months in a move that has been criticised as “reckless” by public health chiefs.

Plans to introduce charges for the tests were buried in the government’s Covid winter plan, which was unveiled earlier this week by Sajid Javid, the health secretary.

The relaxation of travel rules is expected to fuel a surge in holiday bookings this weekend, as the amber list was scrapped in favour of a single list of places which will require hotel quarantine on return to England.

Meanwhile, a new tool has found certain groups remain more vulnerable to the virus after vaccination.

The QCovid tool developed by scientists at the University of Oxford shows that immunosuppressed people, and those with dementia, Parkinson’s or chronic disorders such as kidney disease are still at a greater risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid when vaccinated compared to the rest of the population.


‘Be tolerant’ of other parents’ decisions on jabs for their children, says JCVI adviser

People should be tolerant of parents who have their children vaccinated and of those who decide not to, a government jabs adviser said.

Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the University of Bristol, said he is concerned some parents and children could be stigmatised according to what they decide when it comes to coronavirus vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds.

He told Times Radio: “I absolutely do fear that... I've had a lot of people contact me with very strong views.

”Either that they insist that they wish their children to be immunised without delay, or that they would rather die than have their children immunised, so there are plenty of people out there with very strong views, and those could easily translate into quite aggressive attitudes, one way, in one direction or the other.

“I think people should be tolerant of each other. Parents who have their children immunised should be tolerant of those that decide not to and vice versa because the stakes are not high on either side.”

Liam James18 September 2021 10:27

‘Uncertain times’ coming in pandemic

Professor Finn warned that the coming months will be “very uncertain times” and urged people to continue taking precautions such as mask wearing.

The JCVI adviser told Times Radio: “With people interacting and behaving more normally, we are going to see the circulation of infections that more or less disappeared last winter, and they are going to provide an additional burden.

“We don't really know what's going to happen with the trend in cases of Covid but it's certainly still circulating. So I think we're entering very uncertain times.

“I would strongly encourage people to go on taking precautions, even though they're not being required to. I certainly am. On a personal basis I use a mask when I'm inside with other people and I'm avoiding social contact beyond a fairly low level, and I think if everybody continues to do that we can bring down the risk to some extent.”

Liam James18 September 2021 10:43

Covid treatment given to Donald Trump to be rolled out to vulnerable patients on NHS

Ronapreve, a treatment for Covid that was given to Donald Trump, will be available to vulnerable NHS patients in hospital from next week.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the drug could be used to prevent infection, treat symptoms of serious infection, and cut the likelihood of being admitted to hospital.

The government said it had the potential to benefit thousands of patients, with its rollout initially targeting those who have not build an antibody response to Covid.

More on this from Zaina Alibhai:

Covid treatment given to Donald Trump to be rolled out on NHS

Ronapreve will be used to treat patients who do not have antibodies against the virus

Liam James18 September 2021 11:01

Where else is vaccinating children?

A few other countries besides the UK have approved vaccines for children. Here, the plan is to start vaccinating those aged 12-15 from next week.

Elsewhere, there are much younger children being vaccinated.

In Cambodia and Chile, jabs are being administered to children six and above. Israel has approved jabs for children aged five and above.

United Arab Emirates has approved vaccinations for three-year-olds.

Cuba has begun mass vaccination of children as young as two.

In China, a government disease control expert on Thursday said the country should consider vaccinating children under 12.

In the United States, top health officials believe the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could be authorised for children aged 5 to 11 next month.

Liam James18 September 2021 11:22

Australian police clash with anti-lockdown protesters as violence flares in Melbourne and Sydney

More than 260 people have been arrested in Melbourne and Sydney as police clashed with anti-lockdown protestors, Colin Drury reports.

Violence broke out as 700 people gathered in Melbourne despite some 2,000 officers securing the city centre with check points, barricades and the suspension of all public transport.

Stones, bottles and traffic cones were thrown as the trouble flared on Saturday in the city’s Richmond and Hawthorn neighbourhoods.

Australian police clash with anti-lockdown protesters as violence flares

Stones, bottles and traffic cones thrown as more than 260 people arrested

Liam James18 September 2021 11:40

Pictures from the scene in Melbourne

Victoria Police clash with protesters during ‘The Worldwide Rally for Freedom’ in Melbourne
Victoria Police clash with protesters during ‘The Worldwide Rally for Freedom’ in Melbourne (EPA)
Police fire pepper spray at protesters during clash
Police fire pepper spray at protesters during clash (EPA)
Protesters sat in the road en masse in front of officers
Protesters sat in the road en masse in front of officers (AFP/Getty)
A protester who was pushed to the ground by the police after being pepper sprayed
A protester who was pushed to the ground by the police after being pepper sprayed (AFP/Getty)
Liam James18 September 2021 11:55

There is also some footage from Melbourne here on Independent TV:

Watch: Anti-lockdown protesters attack police officers in Melbourne

Crowds broke through the police line and assaulted officers during “Freedom Rally” anti-lockdown protests in Australia, shocking video shows.Ten officers have been injured, six taken to hospital and 235 demonstrators arrested after crowds surged through police lines near Richmond.Dozens mob the police line, push officers down and trample over them, shocking video captures.Officers dispersed pepper spray over the crowds in a bid to ward them off.In the moments leading up to the mobbing, advocates for peace pleaded with the crowd to calm down as tensions brewed.Other clips capture protesters hurling projectiles and abuse while squaring up to officers.

Liam James18 September 2021 11:59

Epidemiologist says Scotland right to stick with tests for travellers

One of Scotland's leading epidemiologists has backed the Scottish government's decision to keep PCR testing for international travellers or returning residents.

Professor Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, told BBC Radio Scotland: “Letting go of PCR testing is letting go of one of the main ways we would identify new variants, and be able to even know if it was coming in, if it was being seated.

“And secondly, to be able to catch positive cases that we have tried to control and keep the numbers as low as we can and the pressure off the NHS.”

Liam James18 September 2021 12:18

India passes 800 million Covid vaccinations

India’s health ministry said that more than 800 million people have now been vaccinated in the country, 10 million since the figure reported a few hours ago.

Liam James18 September 2021 12:30

Pacific island reports first case of Covid

American Samoa has reported its first ever case of coronavirus.

The governor of the US Pacific Ocean territory said the case was in a fully vaccinated resident who returned from Honolulu in Hawaii earlier in the week.

The traveller had tested negative for the virus before boarding the return flight, officials said.

Around 55,000 people live on the tiny island territory, which sits more than 5,000 miles from the nearest continental landmass.

Liam James18 September 2021 12:49

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