Covid-19: Starmer's NHS pay call and Cyprus to welcome vaccinated Brits

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

1. Starmer wants bigger rise for NHS 'heroes'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is calling on the government to give the NHS's "Covid heroes" a bigger pay rise than the 1% increase for NHS staff in England recommended by the Department of Health. Unions are calling the suggested rise a "kick in the teeth" for staff who have given "absolutely everything" during the pandemic. But ministers say the economy is under "huge pressure".

image copyrightPA Media

2. Asthma patients refused Covid vaccine

Anyone who has "ever had an emergency asthma admission" to hospital is currently eligible for a Covid vaccine, according to NHS England, but some are being refused jabs unless they have been admitted in the last 12 months. Among them is Sonja Chenier, 47, who was told her three hospital admissions in 15 years weren't "relevant" and that she should expect a call in June. GPs say factors including age, ethnicity and "some degree of clinical judgement" are taken into account when prioritising patients.

image copyrightSonja Chenier
image captionSonja says she's "scared witless" to go back to working in schools

3. Covid deals still unpublished despite PM's claim

Dozens of Covid contracts had not been published when Boris Johnson told MPs they were "on the record for everyone to see", campaigners say. The Good Law Project says the PM's assurance last month was "not true" because government lawyers had said 100 contracts were yet to be revealed. The government says remaining contracts will be published as soon as possible.

image copyrightReuters

4. 'He gets really frustrated'

Like many people with dementia, Michael Benyo hasn't been able to properly see his family for a year because of Covid-19 restrictions in his care home. Ahead of a relaxation in the rules, his daughters tell us how lockdown has affected him, and why they are apprehensive about their next visit.

media captionSisters Gillian and Jaqueline haven't been able to properly visit their father for a year.

5. Cyprus to welcome vaccinated UK tourists

Are there signs of light for those desperate to get away from it all? Cyprus says from 1 May it will open its borders to Britons who have had both vaccine doses. However, there's a catch: that date is more than a fortnight before government travel restrictions allow those in England to head overseas, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to put a date on the resumption of foreign holidays.

image copyrightScience Photo Library

And don't forget...

Trying to plan a holiday? Check out the latest rules.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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