Boris Johnson covid announcement – Huge holiday boost as ALL travel tests may be ditched as vaccines hold key to freedom

HOLIDAYS abroad could soon be made much easier with jabbed Brits able to avoid expensive testing on their return, the Transport Secretary has said.

Grant Shapps said changes could be made very soon, with vaccinations now seen as the key to opening up restriction-free travel.

Speaking to Times Radio Breakfast, he said: "I think I could see a world in which you didn't need to do testing at all.

"I can't guarantee it will be the same the other way around because that depends on what other countries around the world decide to put in place

"I do imagine that we will, for the foreseeable future, be living in a world where vaccination status is something that countries are looking for.

"Certainly when I speak to a lot of my opposite numbers around the world. That's what they ask about".

Boris Johnson yesterday announced new rule changes, which include the end to the pre-departure test required by all arrivals.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    The days you are most contagious when you have Covid

    THE days when people with Covid-19 are at their most contagious have been revealed.

    "It is taking less time from when someone is exposed to Covid to potentially develop an infection," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday, NBC Chicago reports.

    "It is taking less time to develop symptoms, it is taking less time that someone may be infectious and it is, for many people, taking less time to recover… Because many more people are vaccinated."

    CDC data shows that after seven days, the risk of transmission is drastically reduced.

    "In that five-to-seven-day window, you know, there's some depending on whether people have been vaccinated, underlying conditions, etc., but the risk drops a lot and the feeling is that in the general population, combined with masking, etc. the risk really is very low," Arwady explained.

  • Louis Allwood

    The two ‘strange’ Omicron symptoms

    Two strange symptoms that have popped up for sufferers are pink eye or conjunctivitis and hair loss.

    Eye trouble can appear alongside other symptoms, which is within about two days for Omicron, and hair loss is more likely near the end of an illness.

    According to Healthline, the virus enters the body's cells through receptors for the enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) by tricking it into thinking it's the enzyme rather than Covid.

    And although hair loss is not a typical Covid symptom, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association hair shedding is quite common after a high fever.

  • Louis Allwood

    Holiday boost as pre-departure tests scrapped

    BRITS have been given a holiday boost as Government confirmed yesterday that pre-departure tests will be scrapped – and day two tests can be swapped for cheaper lateral flow tests.

    Holidaymakers will no longer need to take Covid tests before they return to the UK, which risked travellers being stranded abroad if they tested positive.

    Day two test rules will also change, with Brits no longer forced to pay for expensive PCR tests, and can instead have a cheaper lateral flow.

    This means families could save hundreds of pounds on their holidays, with the £22 pre-departure scrapped – saving £88 for a family of four.

    And lateral flows cost around £60 on average less than PCR tests – saving £240 per family.

    Brits who are fully vaccinated also won’t have to isolate on their return – currently they have to wait for the results of their day two test.

    The new rules will be in place from 4am on Friday.

  • Louis Allwood

    How can you avoid catching bird flu?

    UKHSA has said that bird flu “is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low”.

    If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 – select option 7).

    All bird keepers, even those of pets, must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease, and it is a legal requirement to register poultry, such as chickens or pheasants.

    If you visit a country that has had an outbreak of bird flu, you should:

    • wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before and after handling food, in particular raw poultry
    • use different utensils for cooked and raw meat
    • make sure meat is cooked until steaming hot
    • avoid contact with live birds and poultry

    The NHS also says to avoid visiting markets where live animals are sold in countries that have had bird flu outbreaks.

    Can humans die of bird flu?

    Bird flu has caused serious outbreaks in the past, namely in 2016-2017 when almost 300 people were killed by the H7N9 strain in China.

    The country had already dealt with several waves of the strain since 2013.

    A total number to 759 infections and 281 deaths were reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC.

    In total around 1,200 people have been diagnosed with H7N9 since it first cropped up.

    Around 40 per cent have died, giving it a high fatality rate.

    The WHO has identified H7N9 as "an unusually dangerous virus for humans”.

    Can humans catch bird flu?

    Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious flu that spreads among birds but in rare cases can affect humans.

    There are four strains that have caused concern in recent years, the NHS says, which are:

    1. H5N1 (since 1997)
    2. H7N9 (since 2013)
    3. H5N6 (since 2014)
    4. H5N8 (since 2016)

    Humans can catch bird flu when they have close contact with an infected bird (dead or alive), the NHS says. 

    Boosters provide the most protection

    It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    Full list of 20 Omicron symptoms

    • Headache
    • Runny nose
    • Fatigue
    • Sneezing
    • Sore throat
    • Persistent cough
    • Hoarse voice
    • Other
    • Chills or shivers
    • Fever
    • Dizzy
    • Brain fog
    • Altered smell
    • Eye soreness
    • Unusual muscle pains
    • Skipped meals
    • Loss of smell
    • Chest pain
    • Swollen glands
    • Feeling down

    ‘Mumbo jumbo’ anti-vaxxers

    The PM insisted ministers were doing everything possible to make sure that the people most likely to get ill are getting vaccinated, as he again urged everyone to come forward and get jabbed now.

    And he defended pouring more money into the NHS through the National Insurance hike planned for later this year – after one of his own Cabinet ministers urged him to consider ditching it over cost of living fears.

    Boris today said he wanted people to "understand the pressures that omicron is causing" and "recognise the vital importance of a vaccination".

    In his strongest blast at anti-vaxxers yet, the PM lashed out at them for "putting this mumbo-jumbo on social media – they are completely wrong".

    But he insisted he had no plans to follow other nations and force people to get their vaccines, saying "we're going to keep a voluntary approach".

    The PM said on a visit to Northampton today: "What a tragedy that we've got all this pressure on the NHS, with difficulties that our doctors and nurses are experiencing.

    "And you've got people out there spouting complete nonsense about a vaccination, in that they are totally wrong.

    "And I think it's time that I, that government, call them out.

    "What they're doing is absolutely wrong, is totally counterproductive. And the stuff they're putting out on social media is complete, mumbo jumbo.

    "The NHS is under huge pressure."

    • Louis Allwood

      Man City suffer HUGE Covid outbreak

      PEP GUARDIOLA has tested positive for Covid and will miss Friday night’s FA Cup tie at Swindon after a massive 21-person outbreak at Man City.

      The City boss and his right hand man Juanma Lillo are both isolating at home after catching the virus.

      They are among 21 cases at the Etihad – with seven of those affected understood to be players who might have played against the League Two side.

      However as things stand, City want the tie to go ahead and are not currently planning to request a postponement.

      It is just the latest Covid outbreak to strike the football world.

      Liverpool's Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal tonight has been postponed after the Merseyside club were forced to close their training ground due to a number of cases – including that of manager Jurgen Klopp.

      Meanwhile Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has tested positive while away at the Africa Cup of Nations and Burnley manager Sean Dyche has also been struck down.

    • Louis Allwood

      New outbreak

      A BRIT is being treated for deadly bird flu in a UK first.

      The disease – also known as avian flu – is often found in poultry and wild fowl but rarely spreads to humans.

      Until now, there have been no documented cases of the particular strain in Britain.

      According to the World Health Organisation, fatality rates are around 53 per cent in humans.

      A source said the case in a man from the South West was picked up after routine surveillance testing was triggered by infection in his flock.

      Lab tests show the man is infected with an H5 strain of bird flu, most likely the H5N1 type.

      He is currently isolating at home, with a source saying contact tracing has been completed and there is no evidence of onward transmission.

      They added: “The risk to the public is very low. The case was detected as part of our surveillance systems in place around avian flu as it is something we need to take very seriously.”

    • Louis Allwood

      X-rated voicemail (Continued…)

      He told BBC Essex radio: “I think you get a call from Track and Trace to make sure you are staying indoors.

      “They rang me quite early, but I was still asleep as I was ill, but then I woke up to a voicemail from a number I did not recognise.

      “I didn't recognise the number so I listened to it and I was disgusted with what I heard on the voicemail.

      "I looked up the number to see who it was and it came back with the Test and Trace number.

      “It was like someone was having a good time, on a professional call. I was quite shocked.

      "I had to listen to it three or four times and sent it to some friends to see if I was hearing it right.

      “Everyone I sent it to said ‘yes definitely it is what you're saying it is'’.”

    • Louis Allwood

      X-rated voicemail of steamy SEX session from NHS Test & Trace

      William Ryan was shocked when he listened to the raunchy sex session from the government service.

      The dad, from Basildon, Essex, had contracted covid when he missed a call from Test and Trace.

      He claims that he could hear two people talking and moaning in the background of the call, and believed they were engaging in a steamy romp at the time.

      William added that he looked up the number to ensure that it was a legitimate Government contact before lodging his complaint.

    • Louis Allwood

      Lateral flow tests instead of PCR

      From Sunday, Brits will be able to take a lateral flow day two test instead of a PCR test – saving families hundreds of pounds.

      Travel bosses have praised the move towards restriction-free travel, with many previously calling for them to be scrapped to help the industry.

      Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: "This is a hugely welcome move at a critical time in the booking season for passengers, and will provide a massive boost to those wanting to travel abroad or come to the UK this year.

      "People will now be able to book knowing that – for the fully-vaccinated – all emergency testing restrictions have been removed. 

      “Today marks an important step towards learning to live alongside the virus, helping passengers and the travel sector look ahead to what will be an all-important spring and summer season.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic trapped in quarantine hotel until MONDAY

      The anti-vax World No 1 has been trapped in the Melbourne hotel after being held at the city’s airport for nine hours.

      Serbian Djokovic, 34, sparked a major backlash after he was granted a vaccine exemption to play in the contest.

      He has not openly spoken about his vaccination status, but last year did admit that he was “opposed” to vaccination.

      The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced that he was travelling to Australia with an “exemption permission” on January 4.

      But Australia's Border Force confirmed Djokovic's visa had been revoked after he landed to take part in the Australian Open at around 11.15pm local time yesterday.

      Djokovic's injunction request against the visa cancellation was listed for hearing later today in the Federal Circuit and Family Court.

    • Louis Allwood

      345 places where Covid cases are still rising

      Covid cases are still rising in 345 places in the UK and this interactive map reveals if your local area is on the list.

      While cases have climbed in 92 per cent of places, they have now started to fall across London, which had been the Omicron capital.

      Infections have fallen in eight per cent of areas in the last week and the map above shows current infection rates.

      Omicron is now responsible for the majority of cases in the UK and has taken over from the Delta variant.

      Experts have however this week said that Omicron cases may have peaked, after three million Brits had Covid on New Year's Eve.

    • Louis Allwood

      Education Secretary will do everything to keep schools open

      Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has admitted that facemasks in schools make it more “challenging” for pupils and teachers.

      He insisted he would do everything possible to keep schools open, but could not rule out closing them entirely if it were deemed necessary.

      Despite self-isolation rules being changed, teachers might be forced to stay at home for 10 days after testing positive.

      It means parents could find themselves plunged into the chaos of last year’s spring term, with pupils and teachers repeatedly being sent home unnecessarily.

    • Louis Allwood

      Kids aged 5 to 11 could get Covid vaccines in weeks

      Speaking to the i Professor Russell Viner said: “Five to 11s are probably the group least affected by Covid disease.

      “The thing about Covid is it’s got the most extraordinary age risk profile… to be honest, five to 11 is the healthiest time of our life.

      “It’s the time when we’re least likely to die or get sick from almost anything, and that is true of Covid.

      “However, I expect and I would like the Government to include educational disruption and mental health issues in the decision, which is what happened with teenagers.

      “I think it’s a very marginal medical decision, but if you include those broader issues.

      “I think given the extremely promising safety profile in children– but I think the balance of risks is towards vaccination.

      “We can be fairly sure that this is really a very safe vaccination for the five to 11-year-olds."

    • Louis Allwood

      Kids aged 5 to 11 could get Covid vaccines in weeks

      Experts believe that the roll out of jabs for kids aged five to 11 may be key to stop disrupting education because of staff shortages.

      Professor Russell Viner believes that the “balance of risks” indicates that schoolchildren should be vaccinated.

      Prof Viner, from University College London, is an expert in child and adolescent health and is a member of SAGE.

      He believes that while the age group are the least affected by covid sickness, but if they were jabbed then it could stop the spread of the virus to staff.

    • Louis Allwood

      Covid round up

      • The PM visited a vaccination centre as he urged people to get boosted
      • Pre-departure and PCR tests for travel were axed in a boost for holidays
      • Grant Shapps said ALL travel tests could soon be scrapped in a win

      Brits could be ‘back to normal’ by February

      Thanks to the booster rollout, the PM said the country will be in a stronger position to fight Omicron when Plan B measures expire in three weeks.

      His upbeat outlook in the Commons yesterday fuelled optimism that working from home, mandatory masks and vaccine passports won't continue next month.

      Tory MPs praised the PM for resisting doomster demands for more restrictions and urged him to throw off the remaining curbs.

      Mr Johnson said: "As Omicron blows through and it is is very much my hope and belief that it will, I do believe we will get back to something much closer to normality."

      While infections hit 194,000 yesterday, ministers are encouraged by growing evidence that Omicron is far milder than previous strains.

      • Louis Allwood

        Fourth jab could be on the way

        Mr Johnson hinted NHS and social care staff would be given fourth jabs as the effect of boosters might be waning.

        He hopes the UK can follow the US and cut isolation from seven to five days if scientists can show there is a low infection risk.

        The ONS found one in ten young people were infected in the week to December 31, with nine out of ten being Omicron.

        Another 194,747 infections were confirmed yesterday, a drop from Tuesday but the second highest figure so far. There were 334 more deaths, with figures still affected by the bank holiday.

      • Louis Allwood

        ALL travel tests could soon be ditched

        Grant Shapps confirmed that he hopes for test-free travel in the near future, with vaccinations being the key to opening up travel without restriction.

        Speaking to Times Radio Breakfast, he said: "I think I could see a world in which you didn't need to do testing at all.

        "I can't guarantee it will be the same the other way around because that depends on what other countries around the world decide to put in place

        "I do imagine that we will, for the foreseeable future, be living in a world where vaccination status is something that countries are looking for.

        "Certainly when I speak to a lot of my opposite numbers around the world. That's what they ask about".

        The Prime Minister announced the new rule changes yesterday, which include the end to the pre-departure test required by all arrivals.

      • Louis Allwood

        Omicron cases may have peaked

        Sarah Crofts, from the ONS, said: “There are early signs of a potential slowing but we continue to see infections increase, with Omicron now the dominant variant across all four nations.”

        Relieved MPs heaped praise on Boris Johnson for “standing firm” against lockdown.

        The PM says he does not believe the country needs to be plunged into further restrictions — but he admitted the NHS would again come under huge strain.

        Mr Johnson, addressing the Commons for the first time this year, said: “I know some may ask the opposite question whether we should go even further and move towards a full lockdown but lockdowns are not cost free. They impose a devastating toll on our physical and mental well-being, on businesses, jobs and livelihoods — and worst of all, on the life chances of our children.

        “So this Government does not believe we need to shut down our country again. We simply cannot go on by reaching endlessly for lockdowns.”

      • Louis Allwood

        Hospital struggles

        Health bosses revealed 17 Greater Manchester hospitals could no longer provide priority services.

        Hundreds of other patients have also had major operations cancelled, with many more expected in the coming weeks.

        Three hospitals under the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust have reduced operations thanks to their "extremely busy" urgent care services and number of staff off sick.

        And Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is facing similar issues, with almost 500 staff absences.

        Extra beds are being used at an emergency Nightingale hospital in Manchester to help deal with wards at capacity.

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