Covid-19: Indian variant cases up by 1,000, as surge vaccination picks up pace


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

1. Indian variant cases up by 1,000 in UK

There are now 2,323 confirmed cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus in the UK - up from 1,313 last week. Of these, 483 were in Bolton and Blackburn where it is the dominant strain, the health secretary said. Matt Hancock told MPs there were 19 people in hospital with coronavirus in Bolton and eight in Blackburn. The vast majority had been eligible for the vaccine but had not taken it, he said, saying it showed the Indian variant was "not penetrating older, vaccinated groups". Bedford is the next most concerning area with regards to the Indian variant, with surge testing about to get under way there, he said. The UK has recorded five deaths on Monday and 1,979 new coronavirus cases. Here's what we know about the Indian variant so far.

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2. Surge vaccinations gather pace

The race to vaccinate people in areas experiencing a spike in the Indian variant is picking up pace. More than 6,200 people received their jabs in Bolton over the weekend and surge vaccination is due to start in Blackburn. Matt Hancock said vaccines would be prioritised for the over-50s, with this group offered second doses within eight weeks. The rollout will continue down the age groups as it is the "best way to save the most lives rather than jumping ahead with first doses for younger people", Mr Hancock said. Meanwhile, people in Glasgow between the ages of 18 and 39 are being invited to get jabs, to cope with a Covid upsurge in there. Glasgow and Moray have not moved to level-two restrictions with the rest of the Scotland. And there are now concerns for East Renfrewshire,where restrictions lifted today but cases are climbing steeply.

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3. Indian variant could delay lockdown review

There's been an air of cautious celebration across the UK as millions hugged their loved ones, spent time together at home or caught up for a drink inside at the pub. Our picture gallery captures people enjoying their much-missed freedoms. as coronavirus restrictions eased in England, Wales and most of Scotland. But it is not clear if step four of the UK government's roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead as planned on 21 June. A review of social distancing measures due at the end of May could be delayed because of the spread of the Indian variant, Downing Street says. Boris Johnson had hoped to give an update by the end of May. But No 10 said the government now could not be definitive about when this would happen.

image copyrightDanny Lawson / PA Media

4. Covid tests a price to pay for a holiday

Holidaymakers have jetted off for some early summer sun after the foreign travel ban was replaced with the traffic light system. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told us he was seeing the start of a strong rebound for travel. Bookings are up from 500,000 a week in early April to 1.5 million a week now, he said. Nellie and Jill flew to Portugal after scrambling through the "complicated" process of getting coronavirus tests over the weekend. But Jill said sunshine and a glass of wine on their balcony would make it all worth it. BBC business reporter Simon Browning said his Covid-19 tests for green-listed Portugal totalled £268. While Anna, who was flying to Cyprus - on the amber list - told us hers had cost £400.

5. Full house for bingo return

Lockdown easing across much of the UK means eyes down - bingo is back. Halls wasted no time in getting their balls rolling again and eager regulars were reunited, "dabbers" at the ready. Bob Lusher told us: "It is the biggest thing I've missed during lockdown." He and wife Margaret travel from Norwich to Great Yarmouth for their games. Mrs Lusher said: "We've missed it so much - our friends, the bingo, everything." Asked what he most wanted from his visit, Mr Rusher said: "A win. That would be nice." We've got more from bingo fans who say its return is top of the shop.

And there's more...

If you're tempted by the prospect of some summer sun here's everything you need to know about the new rules for foreign travel.

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

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