• 53% of people with ‘strong’ positive test were asymptomatic, ONS
• Seven European countries limit AZ vaccine use
• New Zealand blocks travel from India
• French Open postponed by a week
• Spain extends furlough scheme beyond 31 May
• Data from the ONS has found 53% of people who had a "strong" positive test for Covid-19 reported having no symptoms. The strength of the test is measured by a cycle threshold (Ct) value and the lower the Ct value, the higher the viral load and stronger the positive test.
• The number of weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales has fallen by 92% from the second wave peak roughly two months ago, the latest ONS figures suggest.
• A study commissioned by the government and run by Imperial College London has said there is strong evidence that the UK's vaccination programme is breaking the link between cases and deaths.
• Moderna’s chief medical officer has said the company should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants by the end of this year.
• New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks.
• Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the South African variant. The Federal University of Minas Gerais said in a statement that two samples taken in the city included a previously unseen set of 18 mutations.
• Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has said she would ask the central government to impose emergency measures in the capital region.
• Hungary has said it expects to have more than 4m people vaccinated by the end of this month, and to further ease lockdown measures in five or six days.
• Northern Ireland expands vaccination programme to include those aged 40- 44.
• The Spanish government will extend its ERTE furlough scheme beyond 31 May.
• Research house Springboard predicts a 48% rise in non-essential sales in the UK when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
• The French Open tennis tournament has been postponed by a week and will now run from 30 May to 13 June, with qualifying the week before.
• Cambodia is closing its most popular tourist destination, the Angkor Wat temple complex, for two weeks.
AstraZeneca vaccine developments
• European countries limit AstraZeneca use, citing EU & UK blood clot findings: • Belgium (55 and over), Finland (65 and over); France (55 and over); Germany (60 and over & high priority); Italy (60 and over); the Netherlands (60 and over); Spain (55-65, plus essential workers over 65) and Sweden (65 and over).
• Demark’s and Norway’s suspension continues.
• Mexican and Brazilian health regulators said today they would not limit the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to any age group.
• The Australian government announced it had accepted expert advice that Pfizer should now be the preferred vaccine for those aged under 50.