Covid-19: Care home staff in England may have to get jab, and long airport queues

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

1. Care home staff may be forced to get jab

Care home staff in England could be required to receive a coronavirus vaccine, as part of new plans under consultation by the government. Scientific advisers have estimated that 80% of staff and 90% of residents need to be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks of the virus. NHS England figures show 78.9% of older adult care home staff have had a jab. A year on from the peak of the pandemic, care home staff have been recalling what it was like to see the death rate almost treble.

2. Heathrow Airport queues 'untenable'

Some travellers to Heathrow Airport are facing waits of up to six hours because of extensive Covid checks, the airport has said. Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow, told MPs that long queues were becoming "untenable". Foreign travel is only permitted for certain reasons at the moment and Mr Garton said the queues would become a "much bigger" problem if rules on foreign travel were relaxed on 17 May, as the government is planning. Meanwhile, one Covid test firm - Randox - has cut the price of a PCR test for holidaymakers from £100 to £60 amid growing criticism over the cost.

media captionGrant Shapps: "The tests are coming out too expensive, we are trying to drive that down."

3. Denmark stops using AstraZeneca jab

Denmark has become the first European country to fully withdraw the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over possible links to extremely rare blood clots. Drug watchdog the European Medicines Agency last week announced a possible link with clots but said the risk of dying of Covid-19 was much greater. Some other European countries have limited the jab's use to older age groups. Here we take a closer look at whether the vaccine is safe.

image copyrightEPA

4. Surge testing extended in London

Surge testing will take place in two more London boroughs after cases of the Covid-19 South African variant were found in both areas. Residents in "targeted areas" within the SE16 postcode in Southwark and N3 postcode in Barnet are being urged to get tested. The outbreak of the variant in south London, where there have been 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases, appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February.

image copyrightReuters
image captionPeople aged 11 and over in the four boroughs are being urged to take a PCR test even if they have no symptoms

5. 'It feels like there's hope now'

More than eight million people in the UK have had two doses of a Covid vaccine. One of those is Elham Afzal, who was shielding because of her asthma. Here's a glimpse of how she, and others, feel after being fully vaccinated.

media captionCovid vaccine: "It feels like there's hope now"

And don't forget...

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

As lockdown eases across the UK, we have examined what risks there are in catching Covid-19 on public transport.

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