Covid-19: Concern over India variant and holiday costs could jump

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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. Concern increases over India variant in UK

Public health experts have recommended that a version of the Indian Covid variant found in the UK be declared a "variant of concern", the BBC has been told. It's believed more than 500 cases of the variant known as B.1.617.2 have been detected across England, which would represent a sharp rise from the 202 recorded in the UK by Public Health England (PHE) as of 28 April.

Image source, Reuters

2. Holiday costs could jump

If you're desperate to get away on an overseas holiday, industry figures warn it could prove costly this year. Uncertainty over the relaxation of travel rules is making it hard for airlines to plan when to bring planes back into service which, combined with pent-up demand, means holiday prices are "already going up", according to's Glenn Fogel.

Image source, EPA

3. Pregnant women struggling to get Covid jab - MP

It's recommended that pregnant women are given the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jabs when they are vaccinated because there is more safety data available about these drugs. But the online booking system in England does not allow users to specify a vaccine, meaning some women are struggling to get their jab, Labour MP Stella Creasy says. Giuditta Fontana, 36, tells us the process is proving "incredibly stressful".

Media caption,

Explainer: Should you get the Covid vaccine if you're pregnant?

4. Lockdown hits poor pupils' maths

Poor pupils have fallen further behind in maths as a result of the pandemic, according to research. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) study suggests primary-school pupils eligible for free school meals have fallen another month behind their classmates since the first lockdown. The government has made £1.7bn in catch-up funding available in England.

Image source, Getty Images

5. Eurovision welcomes back fans despite pandemic

The Netherlands might be struggling to control a third wave of coronavirus - but the Eurovision Song Contest venue in Rotterdam is nonetheless ready to welcome thousands of screaming fans later this month. Anna Holligan explains why.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The stage is almost set at Rotterdam's Ahoy arena for the 2021 contest

And don't forget... can pick up free rapid Covid tests. Here's how.

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

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