Covid-19: Hancock admits breaching guidelines, and travel bookings surgeon June 25, 2021 at 4:19 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted breaking social distancing guidance with a close aide, after pictures of him kissing Gina Coladangelo – whom he appointed – were published in the Sun. In a statement, he acknowledged the breach and said he was “very sorry” he had “let people down”. Labour has urged the prime minister to sack Mr Hancock – calling his position “hopelessly untenable”. But the health secretary insists he will stay “focused” on dealing with the pandemic. Downing Street said Boris Johnson accepted Mr Hancock’s apology and “considers the matter closed”.

Travel operators are reporting a surge in bookings to many of the 16 destinations added to the UK’s green list on Thursday. The destinations, which include Malta and the Balearic islands, will be added to the green list from 04:00 BST on 30 June, meaning UK visitors will not have to quarantine on return. Prices of flights and hotels on the green list have swung sharply in both directions since the destinations were announced, with Jet2Holidays reporting bookings for Malta and Madeira up by almost 1,500%. But the travel industry insists the latest developments do not go far enough – while the EU is considering imposing tougher quarantine measures on UK arrivals amid concerns over the Delta variant.

Case rates in selected countries
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Data from the Office for National Statistics show coronavirus cases have risen to their highest level since early April, but experts say vaccines have “begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations”. The study estimated around 153,000 people had Covid in the week to 19 June – almost 30% more than the week before. The biggest increase in positive tests was found in older teenagers and younger adults – aged 17-24 – who are most likely to mix with lots of other people, while being the least likely to be vaccinated. Friday saw another 15,810 new infections reported – and a further 18 coronavirus deaths in the UK.

A man receives a Pfizer vaccine at a mass vaccination centre for those aged 18 and over in London last weekend

image copyrightReuters

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More than one million people in the central and eastern suburbs of Sydney are in lockdown for a week, following a rise in Covid cases. Australia’s biggest city is trying to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, with a further 17 new cases reported on Friday – taking the cluster to 65 cases. It is the first lockdown in Sydney since December, where residents have enjoyed almost no restrictions on daily life for the past six months. Australia has consistently maintained very low rates of Covid transmission, which has been attributed to the government’s strict border control. The current outbreak has been linked to a driver who transported international arrivals from the airport.

Commuters wear protective face masks on a train platform at Central Station in Sydney

image copyrightReuters

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Tours of Arsenal’s famous Emirates Stadium are being offered as part of a mass Covid vaccination clinic in north London. From this Friday until Monday, advance or walk-in appointments are available to anyone over 18 who has not yet had a first dose of the vaccine – with all those who receive a jab offered a free behind-the-scenes tour. The Gunner Get Jabbed event – a pun on Arsenal’s nickname – follows similar events at the Tottenham and Charlton Athletic football stadiums last weekend – and is part of a concerted push to get Londoners vaccinated.

Arsenal mascot Gunnersaurus (left) gets his Covid vaccination from an NHS frontline worker

image copyrightIslington Council

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With the traffic-light list of overseas travel destinations being updated, here are the rules about visiting green and amber countries. You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Chart showing the UK's latest Covid data
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