Coronavirus live news: US death toll nears 500,000; UK roadmap out of lockdown revealed
- Fauci laments ‘historic’ Covid toll as US nears 500,000 deaths
- UK roadmap out of lockdown revealed
- UK: changing events could put brakes on recovery roadmap, says minister
- Israel’s use of Covid vaccines in prisoner swap deal sparks row
- See all our coronavirus coverage
Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia has resumed ahead of a downgraded alert level expected in Auckland today. Australia reopened the one-way travel bubble this morning following a cluster of coronavirus cases in Auckland. The prime minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to downgrade the alert level in the city from level 2 to level 1 this afternoon after the outbreak was contained to officials’ satisfaction.
Auckland spent three days last week in a level 3 lockdown after Covid-19 was detected in a family of three in the community. Extra conditions for arrivals in Australia from New Zealand will be effective until 1 March, with anyone who has been in Auckland in the past fortnight (excluding the airport) required to show proof of having returned a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of departure. These rules will be reviewed by the end of the month.
More now on the UK accelerating its vaccination plan:
The British government declared Sunday that every adult in the country should get a first coronavirus vaccine shot by July 31, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as it prepared to set out a “cautious” plan to ease the UK’s lockdown, AP reports.
The previous aim was for all adults to get a jab by September. The new target also calls for everyone 50 and over and those with an underlying health condition to get their first of two vaccine shots by April 15, rather than the previous date of 1 May.
The makers of the two vaccines that Britain is using, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have both experienced supply problems in Europe. But U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign.
Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first, rather than three to four weeks, in order to give more people partial protection quickly. The approach has been criticized in some countries — and by Pfizer, which says it does not have any data to support the interval — but it is backed by the UK government’s scientific advisers.