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oris Johnson has slammed anti-vaxxers for putting out “complete mumbo-jumbo” about Covid vaccines as he urged Britons to come forward and get their jab.
The prime minister said those opposing vaccination and spreading disinformation online were “totally wrong”.
“It’s time that I, government, call them out on what they’re doing, it is absolutely wrong,” he told ITV News.
Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday hinted that all international travel tests could eventually be scrapped in favour of vaccination status.
The cabinet minister suggested that Britons could soon travel abroad without having to take a test as the pandemic recedes.
Speaking to Times Radio Breakfast, he said: “I think I could see a world in which you didn’t need to do testing at all.
“I do imagine that we will, for the foreseeable future, be living in a world where vaccination status is something that countries are looking for.”
It comes as airlines reported a 150 per cent surge in bookings after the PM announced the requirement for pre-departure tests for inbound travel will be scrapped from Friday morning.
Hugh Jackman has praised the “next level” dedication of health workers around the world after his 10-day coronavirus isolation ended.
The Greatest Showman star thanked hospital employees for their ongoing work and acknowledged the “unimaginable” impact of the pandemic on both their mental and physical health.
In a video posted on Instagram, wearing a thick coat, hat and mask, he said his freedom felt “amazing and cold” and that he was “so excited” to return to the theatre to continue working.
“I know so many people are going through this but I just want to give a shout out again to our healthcare workers,” he said.
“I cannot imagine how you guys are coping after two years of this exhausting, never-ending story that is Covid.
“Hospitals are struggling again and you guys just continue day in day out to take care of so many people”.
Captioning the video, he added: “The mental and physical toll this pandemic must be taking on you and your families is unimaginable.
“Your dedication to help those in need is next level. I am grateful for all of you.”
The 53 year-old Wolverine actor revealed he had tested positive for the virus just before new year but was only suffering from “mild symptoms”.
He is currently performing in a Broadway revival of The Music Man which cancelled performances until the end of his isolation period.
The rate of new cases of Covid-19 among the very elderly in England is now higher than at the peak of the second wave of the virus last winter, new figures show.
A total of 640.9 cases per 100,000 people aged 80 and over were recorded in the week to January 2, up sharply from 286.7 the previous week.
The rate for this age group peaked at 620.4 during the second wave at the start of 2021.
People over 80 had previously been the only age group in England whose case rate during the current surge had remained below its second-wave peak.
All other age groups passed their peak in recent weeks.
Case rates are still lowest among those over 80, however.
The highest rates are for 20- to 29-year-olds, with 2,780.7 cases per 100,000 in the week to January 2.
The figures have been published by the UK Health Security Agency.
They also show that the highest rate of hospital admissions for Covid-19 in England is for people aged 85 and over, at 121.5 per 100,000 people. This is up week-on-week from 62.8.
Airlines have seen bookings take off by around 150 per cent after pre-departure Covid tests for travellers arriving in England were scrapped.
Boris Johnson also announced the requirement for flyers to self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test is being dropped, in a major boost for the beleaguered travel industry.
Jet2holidays and Jet2.com reported a massive surge in bookings following the easing of restrictions on Thursday.
Customers behind the 150 per cent daily spike are planning trips to Spain, the Canaries, the Balearic Islands, Turkey and Greece.
Virgin Atlantic said searches were up 150 per cent week on week, peaking at 8pm on Wednesday soon after Mr Johnson addressed the Commons.
The most popular destinations departing from the UK were Orlando, New York and Barbados, it said.
British Airways was delighted with data from its 2022 holidays website increasing by nearly 40 per cent with New York, Dubai and Barbados the most searched.
A total of 17,988 people were in hospital in the UK with Covid-19 as of January 5, Government figures show.
This is up 50 per cent week-on-week and is the highest number since February 18.
During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 39,254 on January 1, 2021.
There were 2,078 Covid-19 hospital admissions on January 2, the latest UK-wide figure available, up 37 per cent in seven days and slightly below the 2,585 admissions on December 29.
Admissions during the second wave peaked at 4,583 on January 12 2021.
The World Health Organisation has revealed a record 9.5 million cases of COVID-19 were tallied around the world last week, marking a 71 per cent weekly surge that amounted to a “tsunami” as the new Omicron variant sweeps worldwide.
However, the number of recorded deaths – 41,178 – was down on the 44,680 in the week before.
A total of 51,874,548 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by January 5, Government figures show.
This is a rise of 29,030 on the previous day.
Some 47,565,340 second doses have been delivered, an increase of 41,664.
A combined total of 34,834,288 booster and third doses have also been given, a day-on-day rise of 247,478.
Separate totals for booster and third doses are not available.
A further 179,756 coronavirus cases were reported in the UK in the last 24 hours, alongside 231 deaths.
The latest data compares to 189,213 daily infections which were confirmed a week ago on December 30.
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The boss of a care home group with 2,300 staff said people with Covid who are asymptomatic should not be required to isolate.
Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions (HCMS), which has around 60 care homes in the UK, said around 500 of its workers have had to isolate at some point during the pandemic, despite most having no symptoms.
The Birmingham firm, which owns some care homes and runs others for investors, currently has more than 100 staff isolating, a spokesman said.
Mr Stein said: “We now have had more than 500 team members – around a quarter of our workforce – who have tested positive for Covid.
“Most of them have been asymptomatic.
“The removal of the PCR element of the isolation period is welcome but we should go a step further and remove isolation periods entirely for these people.
“In a highly vaccinated population like the UK, where a drastically milder version of Covid is becoming prevalent, it is time for the Government and public to accept that asymptomatic people shouldn’t isolate.”
Fewer than half of all adults in some of the biggest cities in England have received a booster or third dose of Covid vaccine, new figures suggest.
Take-up of the extra dose of vaccine among all people aged 18 and over is estimated at 49.1 per cent in Liverpool, 46.9 per cent in Birmingham, 45.7 per cent in Manchester and 42.8 per cent in Nottingham.
The figures, which have been published by NHS England, are for vaccinations delivered up to January 2.
They also suggest that Newham in London is the local authority in England with the lowest take-up of booster and third doses among all adults (38.5 per cent), followed by the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (38.6 per cent), Barking & Dagenham (39.2 per cent) and Westminster (40.3 per cent).
Scientific studies on the impact of using face masks in schools to reduce the spread of Covid are “not conclusive”, the Government has admitted.
An evidence review published by the Department for Education (DfE) found that studies have provided “mixed results” on the effectiveness of face coverings in education settings.
All pupils must now wear face coverings in every area of schools, including the classroom.
Despite the findings, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said face masks in school will “help reduce transmission at a time when rates of infection are high”.
Secondary schools where face coverings were used saw their average Covid absence rate fall from 5.3 per cent on October 1 to 3.0 per cent on the third week of October – a drop of 2.3 percentage points.
In secondary schools that did not use face masks, the average Covid absence rate fell from 5.3 to 3.6 per cent- a fall of 1.7 percentage points.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort