HERE'S everything you need to know about the pandemic. 

  • The Government said a further 12 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,794. Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 4,330 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
  • Three-quarters of adults in the UK are estimated to have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, latest figures show. A total of 39,585,665 first doses have now been delivered since the vaccination rollout began almost six months ago. This is the equivalent of 75.2 per cent of all people aged 18 and over
  • Boris Johnson has insisted there is “nothing in the data at the moment” to prevent ending Covid-19 restrictions later this month, as the proportion of deaths involving the virus fell to the lowest level in eight months. But the Prime Minister warned there is a need for caution, saying there is “no question” of an increase in infection rates. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 9,860 deaths from all causes registered in the week ending May 21, and of these, 1.1 per cent (107 deaths) had “novel coronavirus” mentioned on the death certificate.
  • Asked if the Government was considering keeping some restrictions such as mask wearing and work-from-home guidance after June 21, Mr Hancock said further decisions would be made in the coming weeks. “There is nothing in the data to suggest we are definitively off track but it is too early to make the decision about June 21, step four in the road map,” he told a press conference at the Jenner Institute in Oxford. We’ll make that decision based on more data in the next week to 10 days, ahead of June 14, as we’ve set out.”
  • Plans to offer pupils up to 100 million hours of tuition as part of a catch-up programme for children whose education has been disrupted due to Covid are a ‘monumental failure’ according to a North-East union representative. The Department for Education (DfE) has announced an additional £1.4 billion of funding – on top of the £1.7 billion already pledged for catch-up – to help pupils make up for lost learning following months of school closures. As part of the recovery package, some Year 13 students will be given the option to repeat their final year if they have been badly affected by Covid.
  • The Government has started commercial negotiations with AstraZeneca to secure a “variant vaccine” adapted to tackle the variant first identified in South Africa, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. In a speech delivered at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, he said: “There is yet more to do, the work isn’t over yet – we’re still procuring all the time and planning what we need to keep this country safe, including new vaccines specifically targeted at variants of concern. I can tell you today that we’ve started commercial negotiations with AstraZeneca to secure a variant vaccine – future supplies of the Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine that have been adapted to tackle the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa. Once again, we’re leading the way and backing projects with potential, so we can keep our vaccination programme one step ahead of the virus and protect the progress that we’ve all made.”
  • Boris Johnson said the Government will have “no hesitation” in moving countries around the red, amber and green lists of travel restrictions. Asked whether there may be more countries added to the green list soon, where there are no requirements to quarantine on returning to the UK, the Prime Minister said: “You’ve got to wait and see what the Joint Biosecurity Centre say and what the recommendations are about travel. We’re going to try … to allow people to travel, as I know that many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary. I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so. The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout, to protect the people of this country.”