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Lucy Saddler

Coronavirus Update - 12th February 2021

The good vaccine news continues...

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it would recommend the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for adults of all ages, in a move that backs up Britain’s vaccine strategy after weeks of speculation about its efficacy in older age groups.

The WHO confirmed that the vaccine was effective in people aged over 65, which some countries such as Germany and France had previously advised against. The WHO even went as far to say that is sees it as a “vaccine for the world”, due to its value for money and ability to be mass produced and then stored in standard fridges.

They added that it should still be used in countries where new variants - such as the Kent and South African variants - were emerging.

In a further endorsement of the UK’s vaccination strategy, the WHO also said that giving the two doses of the vaccines 8-12 weeks apart increased the vaccines effectiveness and provided greater protection.

The WHO’s report came as daily figures for the vaccine roll out in the UK showed that 13.5 million people have now received their first dose of the jab.

The latest daily Covid figures showed continued progress in the UK, with just under 13,500 new infections registered yesterday. That means that week on week there has been a decrease in infections of just under a third.

Image: Elizeu Dias from Unsplash

Summer holiday plans?

The long-awaited details on how the UK and Scottish governments planned to logistically manage and enforce the ‘managed quarantine’ in hotels of some international travellers coming into the UK were finally revealed this week.

Matt Hancock announced in Parliament that those coming into the UK from 33 ‘high-risk’ countries would have to pay £1,750 from Monday 15th February to quarantine in a hotel for ten days.

That will cover the cost of the hotel room, food transport and the tests that travellers will be required to take on days two and eight of their quarantine.

Travellers will be required to book a hotel room via an online portal that went live today - although there were reports that hotel rooms were only showing as available from the 17th February even though the policy should come into force on the 15th.

North of the border in Scotland, travellers from all international countries, not just the 33 that are considered ‘high-risk’, will be required to enter quarantine in hotels. The cost and system will be exactly the same as in the rest of the UK.

But the Scottish government’s divergence from the UK government’s policy leaves travellers able to fly into England and avoid managed quarantine before travelling on to Scotland. The Scottish government said they were speaking to the UK government about this issue and encouraging them to take a tougher stance.

You can expect to see Nicola Sturgeon ramping up the pressure on the UK government to enforce hotel quarantine on all travellers over the next few weeks.

All of this has left many Brits wondering if foreign holidays will be off the cards this summer. Government ministers were unable to give a clear answer to that question, with Matt Hancock having already booked his summer holiday but Boris Johnson advising that it would be too early still to make any assumptions about summer holidays.