Travel news live: Latest updates as green and amber lists likely to be expanded


The government is “increasingly confident” that more countries will turn amber and green ahead of next week’s review of the traffic light lists for international travel.

The foreign secretary said that, although British travellers would have to wait to find out the updated lists, “the momentum forward is positive”.

Dominic Raab told Sky News that travel is expected to open up more as other countries progress with their vaccine roll-outs.

“We’ve done the job we had to do domestically and as we see other countries catch up if you like, I think we are increasingly confident that more countries will go either on amber or on to green,” he said.

The next review from the Department for Transport is expected on or around 4 August.

It follows the news that fully vaccinated US and EU travellers can swerve self-isolation when entering England from amber-list countries.

The update to the rules was announced yesterday, and will take effect from 4am on 2 August.

Travellers will follow the same protocol as double-jabbed Britons entering the UK from amber destinations: they can forgo quarantine but must take one pre-departure and one post-arrival Covid test.

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps. “The changes will apply to fully vaccinated people with an FDA or EMA vaccine.”

Follow the latest travel updates below:

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Fury grows at mandatory quarantine from France to UK

French politicians, the travel industry and prospective holidaymakers are expressing increasing anger at the country’s “amber plus” rating – which obliges all arrivals from France to go into quarantine.

On 16 July the special “traffic light” category was revealed by the UK government. Mandatory quarantine remains in place while fully vaccinated travellers from “regular” amber list countries can avoid self-isolation.

France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, tweeted: “The UK’s quarantine measures for France are excessive and incomprehensible in health terms.”

Simon Calder29 July 2021 13:59

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Holidaymakers should choose companies that offer protection, says Which?

I response to Dominic Raab commenting that the government is “increasingly confident” that more countries will soon be added to the amber and green travel lists, Which? has warned holidaymakers to remain cautious when booking.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said: “It’s positive to see the possibility of more countries being added to the government’s green and amber lists in the coming days. However, as we saw with France and now potentially Spain, countries with rising case rates can have further travel restrictions imposed on them with little or no notice.

“With the introduction of quarantine and expensive tests remaining a risk for some travellers, as well as thousands of people every day being told to self-isolate or testing positive, it’s vital that anyone considering a holiday chooses a provider that will let them rebook or claim a refund if coronavirus-related disruption prevents them from travelling.

“Holidaymakers should also get comprehensive travel insurance cover to protect them against these risks.”

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 13:50

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Pakistan to ban air travel for travellers without a Covid certificate

Pakistan will ban air travel for anyone without a Covid-19 vaccine certificate from 1 August and will require all public sector workers to get vaccinated by 31 August, the government announced on Thursday.

From 1 August, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants and shopping malls, said Asad Umar, who heads National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military-run body that oversees the pandemic response.

Teachers and students above 18, public transport and retail staff will also be required to get vaccinated by the end of August.

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 13:20

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Covid testing facility opens at St Pancras station

As anger grows over France’s unique “amber plus” category for travellers arriving to the UK, a new testing facility has opened at Eurostar’s St Pancras International rail station – London terminus for trains from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.

The Collinson facility offers rapid antigen tests starting at £32 and slower, more expensive PCRs for upwards of £66.

It is located on “The Grand Terrace” on the same floor as the champagne bar.

Simon Calder29 July 2021 12:05

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Aer Lingus restarts flights from Bristol to Dublin

Aer Lingus will resume flights to and from Bristol to Dublin airport from Sunday 1 August.

Previously operated by Aer Lingus Regional, the route from the West Country will operate five days a week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with fares starting from £39.99 each way, including all taxes and charges.

Ireland reopened its doors for travel earlier this month and is the first country in Europe where fully vaccinated British citizens can visit without the need for any Covid-19 tests into or out of the country. There will also be no requirement to self-isolate if fully vaccinated.

Peter O’Neill, Aer Lingus Chief Operations Officer, said: “We are delighted to recommence flights from Bristol and welcome back our British customers on board now that travel restrictions have been relaxed, reconnecting friends and families that have been kept apart for too long.

“We are looking forward to serving our customers once again and providing them with a warm Aer Lingus welcome from airports across the UK.”

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 12:00

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Airlines report surge in US-UK bookings

Airlines have reported a surge in bookings on flights from the US to the UK after the announcement that fully vaccinated travellers can forgo quarantine on entry into Britain.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We know there’s pent up demand to travel and our surge in bookings for US-UK travel reflect this.  The news that self-isolation for fully vaccinated US citizens arriving into the UK will be removed from 2 August has increased consumer confidence, allowing our customers to finally plan a much-needed reunion with family, friends and business colleagues.” 

Flight bookings are up by more than 100 per cent week on week, with bookings from New York to London increasing by nearly 250 per cent, compared to the previous week. 

He added: “We now urge UK Government to go further and move the US to the UK’s ‘green list’ and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers. The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:46

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Six airports in Scotland closed due to strike

Six airports in Scotland have been closed to all but emergency flights due to a strike by air traffic controllers.

Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh airports are all closed due to an ongoing dispute about plans to introduce remote airport control towers.

The Prospect union said Thursday’s walkout marks an escalation in the industrial action which has been going on since January.

Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this day of strike action will cause.

“The disruption will impact our passengers, airline partners and the communities we serve at a crucial time in the recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

“It is extremely disappointing that strike action is going ahead despite months of work with Prospect to agree a number of policies to support our colleagues’ transition to our Air Traffic Management programme.

“We are still in talks with the union on a commuting policy and appeal to Prospect to conclude those discussions before considering any further escalation of industrial action.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:28

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Scotland and Wales to relax quarantine rules for jabbed US and EU travellers

Fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU will no longer have to quarantine when entering Scotland or Wales from an amber country.

The Scottish government announced the move hours after the UK government confirmed the rule change for England, and Wales also confirmed it would also follow suit.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said it would be “very hard” not to introduce the same relaxed measures.

The new rules will come into effect from 4am on 2 August.

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:13

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Heathrow to give away free flights and experiences

Heathrow is celebrating the safe reopening of international travel and its 75th anniversary by giving away thousands of pounds worth of free flights and experiences to passengers travelling from the airport.

The airport has teamed up with more than 10 industry partners, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, to launch its “Come Fly Again” promotion.

Other partners involved in the initiative include Blue Air, Fortnum & Mason, Leon, WH Smith, Macallan Whiskey and Cignpost Diagnostics, which will enhance the flight experience with free meals, gifts and travel essentials.

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 10:41

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Minister rejects suggestion that rapid testing could release travellers from quarantine

The foreign secretary has rejected suggestions that rapid testing alone could be used to release travellers from quarantine once they’ve entered the UK.

Government adviser and immunologist Professor Sir John Bell said yesterday that data from January demonstrated that testing could be used to allow arrivals to forgo self-isolation.

But Dominic Raab told Sky News: “We are doing daily testing, but I think the answer to your question ‘why do it now not in say, two-and-a-half weeks’ time?’ is we know and we can project how many people broadly we’ll have double vaccinated and that is the level of reassurance we want to get to.

“I know it has been frustrating, I know it has been an inconvenience, there’s been lots of things in this pandemic that have been inconvenient.

“But the truth is the whole tide – whether it is domestic restrictions, international – is going in the right direction of opening but we do need to just be careful, make sure we are doing it at the right time.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Helen Coffey29 July 2021 10:32



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Green list news live: Latest travel updates


Fully jabbed Britons may not have to quarantine when they return home from amber destinations this summer, according to reports.

Ministers are working on plans to allow quarantine-free holidays this summer.

Meanwhile, Malta and the Balearic islands of Spain are slated for the green list, which is due to be updated tomorrow.

There are currently 11 countries on the green list, most inaccessible to British tourists.

It comes as the travel industry lobbies the government in a Travel Day of Action, putting pressure on the government to support the beleaguered travel industry.

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Want to keep up to date with everything travel?

The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, writes a free must-read weekly email covering the biggest travel stories of the week and his unique take on them. Full of insider tips and the best travel deals, the newsletter arrives at 7am every Friday.

To sign up to his newsletter, click here and scroll down to Simon Calder’s Travel Week.

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 13:06

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Airlines join legal action

More airlines on Wednesday joined legal action against the Britain over its travel curbs, adding to pressure on the government to relax restrictions that are putting businesses and jobs on the line.

EasyJet and tour group TUI said they had joined the action led by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) aimed at challenging the government for an alleged lack of transparency over travel rules.

The two airlines join the country’s other biggest travel firms Ryanair, British Airways-owner IAG and Virgin Atlantic as interested parties in the case.

A spokesman for MAG, the claimant in the case, said the court had accepted its application for an expedited hearing and the government, specifically the transport minister and the health minister, had until Monday to file a defence.

“We cannot comment on legal proceedings,” said a government spokesperson.

A date for a hearing is likely to be set either later next week or for the following the week, added the spokesperson.

The travel industry remains effectively closed as rules require 10 days quarantine for arrivals from all European Union countries and the United States. Government advice also warns against travelling to most countries.

British pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other workers are urging politicians to reopen foreign routes with protests and demonstrations across the country on Wednesday.

The government said in an emailed response its travel rules sought to balance the reopening of international travel with safeguarding public health and protecting the country’s vaccine programme.

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No quarantine for double jabbed tourists this summer?

Government ministers have confirmed they are “working on” plans to facilitate holidays in “amber list” countries.

The move would see the mandatory 10-day quarantine for travellers upon their return to the UK scrapped in favour of testing – but only for those who are fully vaccinated.

He claimed he is “in favour of moving forward in this area”, and swapping the current quarantine restrictions for some sort of daily testing instead.

Read the full report here.

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 12:49

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What the loosening of restrictions for vaccinated travellers could mean for your holiday

The move, confirmed by the health secretary, would mean tourists and business travellers could visit amber destinations without having to self-isolate for 10 days on their return to the UK.

Matt Hancock said he is “in favour of moving forward in this area” and replacing quarantine with daily testing.

“This hasn’t been clinically advised yet – we’re working on it,” he told Sky News.

What could this relaxation of restrictions mean for you summer holiday?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Helen Coffey23 June 2021 12:19

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More Brits feel safe to travel in next six months, says new poll

There has been a six-fold increase in the number of British travellers who would feel “safe” going on a beach holiday in the next six months, compared to how they felt last October.

Research from AllClear Travel Insurance found that 30 per cent of more than 2,000 British respondents would feel safe travelling, up from 5 per cent last autumn.

The insurer also found that southern Europe emerged as the top destination that British travellers would feel safest in within the next six months, despite the fact that almost all of Europe is graded “amber” by the UK government and requires 10 days of self-isolation.

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 12:11

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Poland tightens curbs on British travellers

It’s not all good news for UK travellers today, as Poland tightens curbs on Britons.

British travellers to Poland must quarantine for seven days in a bid to try to curb the spread of the Delta variant, the country’s health ministry announced.

“The decisions made on quarantine for travellers arriving from Great Britain are intended to reduce the risk of transmission of the Delta coronavirus variant from the endangered area,” health minister Adam Niedzielski was quoted as saying by state news agency PAP, reports Reuters.

“We must take care of our citizens and their security.”

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 12:05

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Pilots’ union Balpa comments

Commenting on Travel Day of Action, Brian Strutton,  acting general secretary of the pilots’ union Balpa, said:

“The government has to decide if this summer it will make or break the UK travel industry. Pilots are meeting politicians across the UK today to urge them to put pressure on the government to act now and save not only the summer but the future of UK aviation and travel.  

“With a robust and open approach to the data we should be able to use the science to open-up safe travel routes with the US and many European destinations, just as other European countries have done. This would give the travel industry and passengers a chance to make something the best of the summer and start to stem the decline. Extending the furlough scheme and direct support to airlines and airports would save jobs and companies as we head into the winter, so that we have a leisure and business travel industry ready to bounce back quickly post-pandemic.” 

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 11:59

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The full amber list

If the government does drop the requirement to self-isolate after visiting an amber country, which nations would they be?

As it stands currently, every territory in Europe bar Gibraltar and Iceland are rated amber. The US is also graded amber.

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 11:47

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Independent travel businesses show support for Travel Day of Action

Speaking as part of the Travel Day of Action, Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, which represents 1,200 independent travel businesses, said:

“Our industry employs over 221,000 people and contributes £37.1 billion to the economy but our calls for sector-specific financial support and clarity on the roadmap towards free international travel have not been met. Over the last 14 months we have seen our members’ revenues drop to a fraction of 2019 levels and a number of our members have sadly closed their doors for good.

“While much of the of the economy reopens, businesses in the outbound travel sector have been left out in the cold with a lack of financial support and ambiguity about a safe route to international travel. Alongside colleagues across the travel industry we’re asking the government to allow international travel to return safely in a risk-managed way, implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a traffic-light system. This should see the green list expanding in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.

“We are also asking for a package of tailored financial support, including extension of the furlough scheme, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.

“Time is running out for UK travel businesses and we hope that the government will listen and respect the contribution we make to the UK economy.”

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 11:32

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And what about the Greek islands?

Covid data expert Tim White has crunched the numbers for the Greek islands, and analysed the possibility of a handful of them being added to the green list tomorrow.

Here are the current 7-day infection rates/100k for the Greek islands:

#Crete 25.1
#Corfu 13.7
#Andros 10.8
#Chios 0
#Ikaria 83.1
#Kalymnos 6.2
#Karpathos 0
#KeaKythnos 0
#Kefalonia 2.8
#Kos 92.8
#Lefkada 0
#Lemnos 0
#Lesbos 21.8
#Milos 0
#Mykonos 78.9
#Naxos 21.0
#Paros 87.5
#Rhodes 44.2
#Samos 12.1
#Santorini 25.9
#Sporades 0
#Syros 4.6
#Thassos 14.5
#Tinos 0
#Zakythos 0

His prediction is: “But #Corfu seems certain to me. I am also hopeful for #Chios #Kefalonia #Milos #Samos #Santorini #Sporades #Syros #Tinos #Zakynthos.”

Read his full thread below.

Cathy Adams23 June 2021 10:42



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Latest Dorset travel updates for A35, A354, A31, A37 as roads expected to be busy – Bridport and Lyme Regis News



Latest Dorset travel updates for A35, A354, A31, A37 as roads expected to be busy  Bridport and Lyme Regis News



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The Latest: No travel by Colo. man suggests variant spread


In this photo provided by Turkish Health Ministry, officials unload the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, a so-called inactivated vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, at Esenboga Airport, in Ankara, Turkey, early Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Turkey has signed a deal for 50 million doses of the vaccine with Sinovac Biotech.(Turkish Health Ministry via AP)

In this photo provided by Turkish Health Ministry, officials unload the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, a so-called inactivated vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, at Esenboga Airport, in Ankara, Turkey, early Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Turkey has signed a deal for 50 million doses of the vaccine with Sinovac Biotech.(Turkish Health Ministry via AP)

AP

ATLANTA — U.S. health officials say the lack of reported travel history in a Colorado National Guardsman with a more contagious version of the coronavirus suggests the new variant is already spreading in the United States.

Dr. Henry Walke of the CDC says the arrival of the variant known as B.1.1.7 “was expected” given travel patterns between the U.S. and England, where the variant was first seen.

Walke says it’s still unclear how widely the variant has spread in the United States, or whether another concerning variant first seen in South Africa may have arrived.

Dr. Greg Armstrong of the CDC says he’s aware that several states, including California, Massachusetts and Delaware, are analyzing suspicious virus samples to look for the variant. He says the CDC is working with a national lab that gets samples from around the country to broaden that search, with results expected within days.

The U.S. lags behind other nations in performing full genome sequencing on the virus, but CDC officials on Wednesday mentioned several efforts to ramp up that type of complicated lab analysis, which can track and spot genetic changes in the virus that causes COVID-19.

CDC officials called for renewed commitment to wearing masks, avoiding crowds and washing hands.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— A Colorado National Guardsman who has a new variant of the coronavirus that may be more contagious says he had not traveled.

— Internal documents obtained by The AP show that top Chinese officials quietly ordered strict controls on all COVID-19 research in the country, cloaking the search for the origins of the virus in secrecy.

— Newly elected Congressman Luke Letlow dies from COVID-19 complications at age 41, just days before swearing into office.

— Britain approves vaccine by Oxford-AstraZeneca. The UK-based vaccine allows easier storage and the rollout is expected Jan. 4.

— Pan Cluckers: Coronavirus pandemic feeds demand for backyard chickens.

— Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — The Irish government says the country must go back into lockdown for at least a month to curb a resurgent coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin says a new, fast-spreading strain of the virus may make “the numbers will deteriorate further over the coming days” and “we must apply the brakes to movement and physical interaction across the country.”

He says starting Wednesday people should stay at home except for work, education, exercise or “other essential purposes.” Non-essential shops and gyms will close at the end of business on Thursday.

Ireland has extended a ban on air travel from the U.K., where the new variant was first identified, until at least Jan. 6.

Ireland, with a population of almost 5 million, has recorded more than 2,200 coronavirus-related deaths.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged schools to resume in-person education next year, starting with the youngest students, and promised $2 billion in state aid to promote coronavirus testing, increased ventilation of classrooms and personal protective equipment.

The recommendation was driven by increasing evidence that there are lower risks and increased benefits from in-person instruction particularly for the youngest students, he says.

Newsom called for a phased approach focusing first on those in transitional kindergarten through second grade, as well as children with disabilities, those who have limited access to technology at home and those who he said “have struggled more than most with distance learning.”

Other grades would be phased in during the spring. But remote learning would continue if parents and students wish and for those who have health issues.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution locations in the state as it moves into phase 2 of vaccinations that will begin with first responders and health care workers who are not in a hospital setting.

The department will establish “PODS,” or Points of Dispensing Sites, at places such as schools, community centers and fairgrounds statewide for those in the second tier, which also includes people 65 and older, according to a statement from the department on Tuesday.

The vaccines are currently being administered to frontline health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and pharmacy staff who administer the vaccine in long-term care facilities.

The health department says 29,725 vaccine doses have been administered as of Saturday.

State health officials reported 3,249 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Wednesday and 48 deaths. That brings the total number of confirmed infections to more than 287,000 and the confirmed death toll to 2,453.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi is reporting more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases. The figures Wednesday are a daily high in the state. State epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers is urging people to avoid large social gatherings for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Byers says Mississippi has distributed about 120,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and about 17,000 vaccinations have been given. The department says it is working with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to open drive-thru sites to give COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers starting Monday. Appointments are required, and the department’s website shows which counties will have sites open on certain days.

The state Health Department reported Wednesday that Mississippi had 3,023 new confirmed cases. The department also reported 29 deaths, which occurred between Dec. 22 and Tuesday.

Mississippi has reported 213,055 confirmed cases and 4,747 confirmed deaths from it since the start of the pandemic.

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DES MOINES, Iowa – The positivity rate of the coronavirus has ticked higher in Iowa.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the seven-day average of the positivity rate in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks from 35% on Dec. 15 to 36% on Monday.

Iowa has the 12th-highest per capita death rate at 120.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

The state reported about 1,600 new cases and 10 deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations fell slightly, though the number of people in intensive care was up.

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TORONTO — The Canadian government is requiring passengers arriving to Canada to have a negative coronavirus test taken within three days before arriving into the country.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc made the announcement Wednesday. Canada already requires those entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair noted just 2 percent of coronavirus cases in Canada have originated outside Canada.

The announcement comes as the premier of Ontario said he ordered his finance minister to end a Caribbean vacation, saying he is “extremely disappointed” the official went abroad as the government urged people to avoid nonessential travel.

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DENVER — A Colorado man in his 20s has been reported as the first in the U.S. with the more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

He’s from a mostly rural expanse outside the Denver area and recovering in isolation, according to state officials. His condition was not disclosed.

The new, mutated version was first identified in Britain and found in several other countries.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says officials will “closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.”

The variant is probably still rare in the U.S., but the lack of travel history in the first case means it is spreading, perhaps seeded by visitors from Britain in November or December, said scientist Trevor Bedford, who studies the spread of COVID-19 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

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MILAN — Italy added 575 coronavirus deaths and 16,202 new positives in the last 24 hours.

Italy’s death toll remains high two months into restrictive measures, which included a modified nationwide lockdown during most of the holiday period.

The scientific director of the Spallanzani hospital for infectious diseases in Rome, Giuseppe Ippolito, says the number of coronavirus deaths has been three times higher than seasonal flu deaths, and hospitalizations are at least double. Even with the vaccine campaign getting under way, Ippolito says citizens should expect to live under restrictions through the first quarter of 2022.

A total of 73,604 coronavirus deaths have been confirmed since February, the highest number in Europe.

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PHOENIX — Arizona reported more than 5,000 coronavirus cases and 78 deaths on Wednesday, while hospitalizations statewide continued to set records.

The Department of Health Services reported 5,267 cases. The statewide totals reached 512,489 confirmed cases and 8,718 confirmed deaths.

Hospitalizations for the coronavirus reached a record 4,526 on Tuesday, the latest in a string of records set this month and more than 1,000 higher since the summer peak.

The 1,076 COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds also reached a record and occupied 61% of all ICU beds, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Some Arizona hospitals with a crush of COVID-19 patients this week resorted to turning down patients through ambulance runs or transfers from other hospitals while accepting walk-in patients needing emergency care

Arizona had the third-highest coronavirus diagnosis rate in the past week, behind California and Tennessee.

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LONDON — The British government has extended its highest tier of restrictions to three-quarters of England’s population, saying a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus has reached most of the country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the top Tier 4 would be extended beyond London and the southeast to large swaths of central, northern and southwest England.

Under the measures, people are advised to stay home, household mixing is banned, nonessential shops are closed and restaurants and bars can only offer takeout.

Hancock says the authorization of a new vaccine for use in the U.K. was good news, but “sharply rising cases and the hospitalizations that follow demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading.”

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BEIJING — China is encouraging tens of millions of migrant workers not to travel home during February’s Lunar New Year holiday to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

The call issued by the National Health Commission is extraordinary because the Lunar New Year is China’s most important traditional holiday. It’s the only time of the year when many workers can travel home to see their families.

China has limited local transmission of the coronavirus, but authorities remain on high alert about a possible resurgence. Already, schools are scheduled to begin the Lunar New Year vacation a week early and tourists have been told not to visit Beijing during the holiday.

Millions of Chinese use the occasion to take vacations at home and abroad. During the roughly six-week travel period, Chinese can take upward of 3 billion trips. Also, Chinese authorities are carrying out a campaign to vaccinate 50 million people before the Lunar New Year holiday.

China has recorded 4,634 deaths among 87,027 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a figure considered likely far lower than the actual number.

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LONDON — The British regulatory agency that approved the rollout of a second coronavirus vaccine says it and a previously approved vaccine can be given to pregnant and breastfeeding women, in consultation with their doctors, and people with food allergies.

That changes its previous guidance thanks in part to feedback from the growing numbers of people already inoculated. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had previously recommended against the use of the first vaccine, made by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also had said that vaccine should not been given to people who have allergic reactions to food, other vaccines or medicines.

But as it green-lighted a second vaccine, developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, the regulator also indicated that both vaccines are now considered suitable for people with food allergies.

June Raine, who heads the regulatory agency, says people with known allergies to any of the ingredients in the vaccines should not use them.

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BERLIN — The head of the World Health Organization says a program to help get coronavirus vaccines to all countries needs $4 billion “urgently” to buy vaccines.

In a video message marking Thursday’s anniversary of the first report of a cluster of cases of “pneumonia of unknown cause” that turned into the coronavirus pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says “we must ensure that all people at risk everywhere, not just in countries who can afford vaccines, are immunized.”

The Geneva-based WHO is co-leading the COVAX initiative. Tedros says in Wednesday’s message “there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will get there by taking the path together.”

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LONDON — Britain has authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.”

The government says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has made an emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot says “today is an important day for millions of people in the U.K. who will get access to this new vaccine. It has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.”

Britain has purchased 100 million doses of the vaccine. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told told Sky News the “rollout will start on Jan. 4” and will “accelerate into the first few weeks of next year.”

Hundreds of thousands in the U.K. have already received the vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German firm BioNTech.





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