Covid-19: Over-45s offered jabs and Scotland travel ban lifted

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

1. Over-45s being offered vaccine in England

People aged 45 or over in England will now be invited to get a Covid jab, after the vaccine rollout hit the government's target of offering a first dose to all over-50s and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by 15 April. The vaccination programme will then move on to everyone aged 40 or over "in line with supplies", Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the government on vaccine rollouts, has said the the programme should continue to be based on age. The committee said the rollout should continue with the 40 to 49 age group before moving to all those aged 30 to 39 and then adults aged 18 to 29. It has also suggested that the youngest age group are offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab after concerns about a possible link to rare blood clots. You can read more on when you might be called for your jab here.

media captionPM: Vaccine won't stop spread on its own

2. Variant outbreak appears to be from Africa travel

An outbreak of a Covid-19 variant in south London appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February, according to documents seen by the BBC. Surge testing has begun in Wandsworth and Lambeth after 44 confirmed and 30 probable cases were identified. The country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but it is now. The government said "strong measures" were in place to find new cases and the prime minister's official spokesman said the cluster was being taken "very seriously". If you want to read more about how surge testing works you can read our explainer.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPeople aged 11 and over are being urged to take a PCR test even if they have no symptoms

3. US call for Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

US health authorities are calling for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, after reports of extremely rare blood clotting cases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said six cases in 6.8 million doses had been reported and it was acting "out of an abundance of caution". Johnson & Johnson said it was also delaying vaccine rollout in Europe, where the jab is known under the name Janssen. The UK has ordered 30 million doses of the one-shot inoculation but has not yet approved its use. The blood clot concerns are similar to those surrounding the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

image copyrightReuters

4. Scotland to lift travel ban

The restriction on travelling around Scotland is to be lifted from Friday, when people will also be allowed to meet up in larger groups outdoors. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said measures were being eased earlier than planned to help people's mental health. The move was announced the day after pubs and restaurants were allowed to start serving customers outside in England, while non-essential shops and other businesses were also able to reopen. In Wales outdoor hospitality will not reopen until 26 April, a decision which intensive care consultant Dr Matt Morgan said "isn't a bad thing" as he urged caution.

image copyrightGetty Images

5. Celebrating a second Ramadan in restrictions

Normally the month of Ramadan, which starts this week, would see Muslims meet up with friends and families to eat and drink together. But, with coronavirus restrictions still in place, it means that for a second year Muslims are facing a very different holy month. Despite rules easing, people remain unable to meet indoors to break their fast together. One of those who is unable to mark the occasion in the usual way is Ansa Memon, who is living miles away from her mother in Cardiff. "The month is about community and people coming together so it is going to be difficult, but as Muslims we need to understand that we are still doing a good thing and we need to keep that in our heads," she said. Here is a reminder of the coronavirus rules on places of worship.

media captionMuslims celebrate a second Ramadan under Covid restrictions

And don't forget...

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

And with the UK's vaccine programme moving to the next age group it is worth reminding ourselves that vaccines alone may not be enough to end lockdown.

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