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Headlines
• 11 variants on UK watch list
• Belgium & Australia ban flights from India
• Hong Kong is to reopen bars and restaurants
• City of London to convert offices into homes
• 96% of UK primary schools concerned about pupils’ speech development

World news

• The UK has 11 variants on its watch list. Link

• The Civil Aviation Authority has rejected a request for funding from Heathrow, which would have increased airport charges by 10%.

• About one in five people infected with coronavirus have symptoms of long Covid five weeks later, with one in seven still sick after 12 weeks, a survey by the ONS found. Link

• The NHS vaccine booking system has been extended for the second time in two days to allow people aged 42 and over to book vaccines.

• The ONS has announced that 402 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in the UK in the week to 16 April. This is the lowest figure since the start of October, and down by more than 95% from January’s peak.

• All fixed penalty notices issued for lockdown breaches should be reviewed, MPs and peers on the Joint Committee on Human Rights say. More than 85,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued in England and 8,000 in Wales.

• Data from 50,000 pupils and a survey of schools across England by The Education Endowment Foundation has shown an increase in the number of four- and five-year-olds needing help with language. Of 58 primary schools surveyed across England: • 76% said pupils starting school in September 2020 needed more support with communication than in previous years.

• 96% said they were concerned about pupils’ speech-and-language development.

• 56% of parents were concerned about their child starting school following the lockdown in the spring and summer.


• Data from The Publishers Association shows UK consumer book sales climbed 7% to £2.1bn last year.

• The City of London Corporation, which looks after the Square Mile, is aiming for at least 1,500 new homes by 2030, including at least 35% affordable housing.

• Approximately 123m doses of the vaccine were administered across the EU by 23 April. Link

• The first shipment of medical supplies, ventilators and oxygen equipment from the UK has arrived in India.

• Australia has suspended direct flights from India.

• The US will share up to 60m doses of its AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries as they become available. The doses will be exported in the coming months after a federal safety review.

• Belgium has today banned travel from India, Brazil and South Africa.

• France now has more than 6,000 people being treated in intensive care.

• Portugal has reported no deaths in the past 24 hours.

• Moscow has begun to reward those over 60 who take a vaccine. Vaccinated locals over the age of 60 will be able to claim 1,000 roubles in gift cards or discount codes to be used in shops, pharmacies and cafes.

• France is to send eight oxygen production units as well as oxygen containers and respirators to India.

• The WHO said it is sending oxygen, mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies and has transferred more than 2,600 experts from various programmes, including polio and tuberculosis, to work with Indian health authorities.

• Japan is to open a mass vaccination centre in central Tokyo in May.

• Brazil’s health regulator has denied a request from several states to import Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, saying it did not have the data needed to verify its safety and efficacy.

• Hong Kong will reopen bars and nightclubs from 29 April for people who have been vaccinated and who use a government mobile phone app.

• Athletes representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics and their support staff will be prioritised for vaccination ahead of the July Games.

• The Irish government has agreed to allow the use of both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines for people over 50 years old.