Boris Johnson urged to tackle Covid cancer backlog as PM prepares for ‘era of recovery’ lockdown roadmap plan next week

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20 Feb 2021, 23:57Updated: 20 Feb 2021, 23:57

BORIS Johnson could reshuffle his Cabinet as soon as May as he plans an "era of recovery" after Covid .

The Prime Minister is being urged by allies to rejig his top team after the local elections.

It would coincide with a major speech Mr Johnson has started to write to herald life returning to normal after the pandemic.

One scenario discussed in No10 would see Matt Hancock move to Education and Michael Gove replace him at Health.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could be on his way out, sources say.

But Mr Johnson is said to be not keen on changing any of the Great Offices of State jobs.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest UK politics news...

BORIS VOWS 'TO MAKE SURE THE WHOLE WORLD IS VACCINATED' AT G7 SUMMIT

Boris Johnson, this year's chair of the G7, vowed to free up any surplus UK vaccines for poorer countries at a future date, and underlined the need for collective action to recover from the pandemic.

"We've got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it's no use one country being far ahead of another, we've got to move together," he said in opening remarks at the online summit, the G7's first since last April.

LABOUR CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITISE PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS IN NEXT PHASE OF VACCINE ROLLOUT

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "The success so far of the vaccination rollout shows the true value of our incredible health service, and my thanks goes out to our NHS staff, armed forces and volunteers working hard to make this happen.

"Ensuring people are vaccinated as quickly as possible is the right thing to do. All adults getting a first dose by July is welcome, though if supplies increase this could be achieved earlier.

"We now urgently need Government to set out how they will prioritise those outside of the first nine groups - it's perfectly reasonable for teachers, police officers and other key workers who haven't been able to stay at home in the lockdown to ask when their turn will be.

"If Government aren't going to prioritise by occupation in the next phase they need to set out why.

"Vaccination must go hand-in-hand with measures to break transmission chains. That means paying people decent financial support to isolate, updating face coverings guidance and insisting in ventilation standards to ensure all workplaces are Covid secure."

ALL ADULTS TO BE OFFERED COVID-19 VACCINE BY JULY 31 UNDER PM'S ACCELERATED PLAN

All adults in the UK should be offered a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July, Boris Johnson has pledged.

The Prime Minister said the accelerated rollout would help protect the most vulnerable sooner and enable the easing of some restrictions.

Adults aged 50 and over - as well as those with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk - will be offered a vaccine by April 15 under the expedited plans.

By July 31, all adults should have been offered a jab - though the order of priority for those under 50 has yet to be outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Ministers had set a target to offer vaccines to all adults by September, with an aim to reach all those aged 50 and over in the first nine JCVI priority groups by May.

CORBYN CRITICISES TEST AND TRACE

Jeremy Corbyn today branded the Government and NHS Test and Trace system as a “disaster”.

He shared a petition on Twitter which is calling to “save lives, scrap Serco now”.

Private company Serco runs the contact tracing initiative.

WHAT COULD BORIS JOHNSON'S FEB 22 ROADMAP INCLUDE?

Boris Johnson is set to reveal his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22.

While there have been no official statements on what the Prime Minister has in mind reports have speculated what Johnson may announce.

Brits have been in lockdown since the start of January with the Prime Minister confirming he would be outlining the roadmap out of the strict rules on February 22.

The R rate fell for the sixth week in a row and could be as low as 0.6 in some areas.

This is a key figure for the government and if it remains low in England and Covid infections stay at an “acceptable level”, the PM is expected to green light an easing of restrictions.

Read more here.

NHS ENGLAND ANNOUNCES VACCINE ROLLOUT HAS HIT 17.2 MILLION

NHS England also announced a further 371,906 first doses of the vaccine had been given out yesterday, with 15,294 second doses also rolled out.

It brings the total number of Brits to have received the jab to 17,247,442.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive, said there were "early signs" that the vaccine rollout is contributing to the fall in coronavirus hospitalisations.

OUTDOOR FAMILY GATHERINGS COULD BE ALLOWED WITHIN WEEKS AS LOCKDOWN EASES

Outdoor family reunions could be allowed within weeks while care home residents will be able to hold hands with a loved one again under the Government's road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.

Downing Street said it wanted to make social contact easier as soon as possible as Prime Minister Boris Johnson spends the weekend finalising plans for relaxing measures in England.

Several newspapers reported that new rules allowing two households to meet outdoors - regardless of the total number of people - are set to be introduced from April, while six people from six different households would also be able to gather.

Number 10 dismissed as speculation reports that pubs could be permitted to serve customers outdoors from April, with the Daily Mail saying that people could be served indoors in May.

Schools look set to reopen to all pupils from March 8, with both primary and secondaries said to return in just over three weeks.

CAUTIOUS WELCOME FOR PLANS TO ALLOW HAND-HOLDING DURING CARE HOME VISITS

Plans for visits to care homes allowing hand-holding have been given a cautious welcome by organisations in the sector.

There have been calls for clarification on the details of the new arrangements, and a warning that staff resources will be key to implementing them.

Care home residents will be allowed to hold hands with a regular indoor visitor from March 8 under the Government's plan to ease lockdown restrictions in England.

Visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test - which gives quick results - before entry and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn.

Residents will be asked not to hug or kiss their relatives, and guidance for care homes is expected to be published in the next fortnight.

WATCH: BORIS CLAIMS JOE BIDEN 'NICKED' HIS 'BUILDING BACK BETTER' SLOGAN AT G7 SUMMIT

Boris claims Joe Biden 'nicked' his 'building back better' slogan at G7 Summit

MINISTERS REVIEWING DATA THIS WEEKEND

Ministers are reviewing a dossier of data this weekend to help decide on the speed of the government’s "Roadmap to Recovery" blueprint.

Mr Johnson has vowed to be driven by data not dates in his “cautious and prudent” lifting of Covid restrictions, starting on March 8 with reopening schools.

But the return to schools could be staggered after unions claimed plans for a blanket reopening were"reckless".

Unions insisted only children should go back with older ones staying at home longer to prevent the “danger of causing another surge in the virus”.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CONDEMNS SHOOTING OF PROTESTERS IN MYANMAR

The Foreign Secretary has condemned the shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar as "beyond the pale" after local media reported two were killed by riot police.

Dominic Raab said the UK will consider "further action" against those "crushing democracy" and "choking dissent". Local media said riot police fired live rounds in Mandalay, the country's second-largest city, on Saturday.

They said one victim was shot in the head and died at the scene while another was shot in the chest and died en route to hospital. Several other serious injuries were reported.

Protesters have taken to the streets this month after the military took over and detained the nation's leader Aung San Suu Kyi following her party's landslide victory in November's elections.

Mr Raab said: "The shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar is beyond the pale. We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent."

OUTDOOR FAMILY GATHERINGS COULD BE ALLOWED WITHIN WEEKS AS LOCKDOWN EASES

Outdoor family reunions could be allowed within weeks while care home residents will be able to hold hands with a loved one again under the Government's road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.

Downing Street said it wanted to make social contact easier as soon as possible as Prime Minister Boris Johnson spends the weekend finalising plans for relaxing measures in England.

Several newspapers reported that new rules allowing two households to meet outdoors - regardless of the total number of people - are set to be introduced from April, while six people from six different households would also be able to gather.

Number 10 dismissed as speculation reports that pubs could be permitted to serve customers outdoors from April, with the Daily Mail saying that people could be served indoors in May.

Schools look set to reopen to all pupils from March 8, with both primary and secondaries said to return in just over three weeks.

GOVERNMENT URGED TO 'TACKLE COVID CANCER BACKLOG’

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy has called for the Government to tackle the backlog of cancer cases due to the pandemic.

The group’s chairman Tim Farron said: “We are deeply concerned the Government has underestimated the scale and severity of the Covid cancer backlog.

“Without extra capacity, the backlog will not get cleared for many years and thousands of loved ones will die unnecessarily.”

He also tweeted yesterday: “Our cross-party group of 75 MPs have written to the Prime Minister, urging him to intervene to tackle the cancer backlog.

“The Government have rightly moved heaven and earth to save lives from Covid – it’s time the same was done for cancer patients.”

BORIS JOHNSON TO REVEAL ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN

On Monday, Boris Johnson will reveal his roadmap out of lockdown in a national address from Downing Street.

The PM vowed to be driven by data not dates in his “cautious and prudent” lifting of Covid restrictions, starting on March 8 with reopening schools.

He has repeatedly stressed that restrictions will be eased cautiously - and urged Brits to show patience in the months ahead. 

And his message will be accompanied by an ad blitz urging “one more heave” of lockdown.

It's understood people will be able to do more exercise outdoors from next month, with non-essential shops also likely to get the go ahead later in March.

LABOUR WARNS HOSPITALITY JOBS UNDER THREAT AS END OF FURLOUGH SCHEME APPROACHES

More than a million hospitality jobs could be lost if the Government's furlough scheme is not extended, Labour is warning.

The party said more than a million workers in the industry are still furloughed, and there are fears many hospitality businesses are planning to make staff redundant in the next three months.

Labour said the furlough scheme is approaching a "cliff edge" in April and should be extended, as well as reformed to include new training incentives to help workers improve their skills.

The party also called for the reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors to continue for another six months, or until three months after the lifting of health restrictions - whichever is later.

Lucy Powell, shadow minister for business and consumers, said: "Business owners want to protect their livelihoods and those of their employees, but they can't plan in the dark and they're crying out for certainty from the Government on business rates, VAT and the furlough scheme.

GOVERNMENT COVID NEWS: WHAT'S HAPPENED TODAY?

Hopes have been raised that pubs and family meet ups outdoors could be allowed in April as the PM prepares his lockdown roadmap. Hairdressers could stay shut until April as government sources stressed there is 'still some time to go' for close contact services. Majorca and Ibiza are pushing to be the first part of Spain to welcome Brit tourists with vaccine passports this summer. Grandchildren will be able to hold hands with grandparents by March 8 under new care home rules. Professor Chris Whitty is reportedly 'very unhappy' with Boris Johnson's plan to reopen schools.

WTO CHIEF URGES UK TO DONATE VACCINES TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES NOW

Britain should not wait until it has a surplus of coronavirus vaccines to donate them to developing countries, the new head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged the Government to act now as it is "in the interest" of rich countries as well as poor countries to have "equitable access".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to donate the majority of the UK's surplus vaccines to poorer nations in the lead-up to Friday's virtual G7 meeting.

He told world leaders that there is "no point in us vaccinating our individual populations - we've got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic".

But Ms Okonjo-Iweala told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while the move was "welcome", there should not be a delay.

LEON BOSS WARNS ECONOMIC IMPACT OF LOCKDOWN 'COSTING LIVES'

The co-founder of fast food chain Leon has warned of the "terrible downsides" of extending lockdown, arguing that its economic impact is "costing lives".

John Vincent said it was "quite plausible" his business would not exist if "the weeks and months" of restrictions "drag on".

Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Vincent said "businesses are at the heart of a healthy functioning society". He claimed the Government had failed to produce a "holistic cost benefit analysis" of lockdowns.

Asked what such research would show, he said: "I think it would be something that took into account the terrible downsides of extending lockdown more than we need to.

"And what concerns me is the voices that I've heard in the past few weeks, which is: 'what does it matter if lockdowns go on a few months or a few weeks longer than necessary?'

TONY BLAIR URGES BORIS JOHNSON TO REOPEN SHOPS

Tony Blair has urged Boris Johnson to reopen shops if coronavirus cases fall to under 5,000 a day.

The former Prime Minister’s projection means non-essential retail could open as early as March based on the current rate of decline, analysis suggests.

Latest figures show an average of 11,600 new coronavirus cases reported a day in the UK.

But the Telegraph‘s projection could be hindered by schools reopening – which could drive cases up and push non-essential retail back to opening in April.

INQUIRY INTO CARRIE SYMONDS 'UNELECTED POWER'

An inquiry should be launched into the ‘unelected power’ of Boris Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds, according to the Bow Group.

The Tory group has branded her power, despite having no formal role, as “cronyism”, reports the Independent.

It is calling for an independent inquiry into the influence of the former party spin chief.

Bow Group chairman Ben Harris-Quinney said: “Failure to clarify Ms Symonds’s position and authority, and to ensure that Ms Symonds is not and cannot take any action in governing the United Kingdom, potentially has huge hazards for the government, the Conservative Party, and the nation.

GOVERNMENT ‘MUST TACKLE COVID CANCER BACKLOG’

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy has called for the Government to tackle the backlog of cancer cases due to the pandemic.

The group’s chairman Tim Farron said: “We are deeply concerned the Government has underestimated the scale and severity of the Covid cancer backlog.

“Without extra capacity, the backlog will not get cleared for many years and thousands of loved ones will die unnecessarily.”

He also tweeted yesterday: “Our cross-party group of 75 MPs have written to the Prime Minister, urging him to intervene to tackle the cancer backlog.

“The Government have rightly moved heaven and earth to save lives from Covid – it’s time the same was done for cancer patients.”

VACCINES 'CONTRIBUTING TO FALLING HOSPITALISATIONS'

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive, said there were "early signs" that the vaccine rollout is contributing to the fall in coronavirus hospitalisations.

The latest figures show a further 307 coronavirus deaths in English hospitals, bringing the total to 81,046.

Patients were aged between 16 and 100 and all except four, aged between 16 and 68, had known underlying health conditions.

17MILLION VACCINATED

More than 17million people have received their first Covid jab.

The number of first doses administered now stands at 17,247,442.

And 604,885 people have had both their first and second doses.

COVID DEATHS PLUNGE

Coronavirus deaths have plunged 28 per cent in a week with 445 fatalities reported today.

Another 10,406 cases were recorded, bringing the total to 4,105,675.

The rise in fatalities brings the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 120,365.

It is smaller than the 621 deaths recorded last Saturday, and nearly half the figure of 828 reported on February 6.

But today's increase in cases is slightly larger than the 9,765 infections recorded last week.

CORBYN CRITICISES TEST AND TRACE

Jeremy Corbyn today branded the Government and NHS Test and Trace system as a "disaster".

He shared a petition on Twitter which is calling to "save lives, scrap Serco now".

Private company Serco currently runs the contact tracing initiative.

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