Matt Hancock is due to update the nation on the coronavirus situation in Britain, as ministers continue to weigh up the chances of the June 21 great unlocking going ahead.

The Health Secretary is appearing in the Commons from 3.30pm as the Indian/Delta variant sees cases rise.

Downing Street has said the data emerging over the coming week will be “crucial” in deciding whether all legal coronavirus restrictions can end as hoped on June 21.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters this lunchtime: “There still remains that there is nothing in the data currently to suggest Step 4 can’t go ahead at the earliest date.

“But we do need to look very closely at the data over this coming week, which will be crucial to decide and really to get a sense of the data.”

He added: “Particularly on hospitalisations and whether or not the excellent vaccine rollout programme has sufficiently severed that link between the increase in cases, which we always expected to happen, particularly after Step 3, and that subsequently leading to hospitalisations and deaths.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:27 PMComing up: Matt Hancock to give update in Commons

The Health Secretary is about to update the nation on the UK’s coronavirus response.

He will appear in the Commons shortly – stay here for the most important updates from his statement.

02:16 PMUS in danger of missing vaccine target

The United States could miss the ambitious goal of getting jabs in the arms of at least 70 percent of adults by July 4 because of plummeting vaccination rates, new figures show.

Jamie Johnson reports from the US that officials hoped it would be the “last mile” of the immunisation campaign, but the country is averaging fewer than 1 million shots a day – well down from a peak of 3.4 million a day in April.

Story continues

Currently, around 64 per cent of adults – or 170. 8 million people – have received their first dose of the vaccine.

More than 16 million American adults still need to receive a jab in the next 28 days if the country is to meet Joe Biden’s goal.

US President Joe Biden hopes to vaccinate 70 per cent of adults by July 4 – MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

There is a large geographical disparity, with rates in the south and midwest much lower than on the east and west coasts. Thirteen states mostly in this area are over 70 per cent, while a further 15 are over 60 per cent.

Everyone over the age of 12 is eligible for a shot, and some states have given incentives for residents to get vaccinated, including the chance to win $1 million in Ohio, free beer in New Jersey and the chance to win hunting rifles or shotguns in West Virginia.

01:58 PMShould we unlock on June 21? Telegraph readers have their say

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the Government is “absolutely open” to delaying the June 21 unlocking, which suggests that England may have to wait a little longer before it can abandon lockdown restrictions.

Instead, there are reports that a two-week delay until July 5 is under discussion by scientists and civil servants and The Telegraph understands that the use of face masks, social distancing and advice on working from home are unlikely to be lifted on June 21, amid concern over the Indian variant.

And have your say in our poll below.

01:45 PMFunding and vaccines sought from G20 nations for COVAX, says WHO

A senior World Health Organization official said on Monday that talks were being held with G20 countries, including China and India, regarding financial and Covid vaccine donations to the COVAX dose-sharing facility.

Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director-general, also told reporters WHO wanted the United States, European Union member states, Britain, Canada and Japan to contribute doses.

Aylward said that a proposal submitted last Friday by the EU to the World Trade Organization to widen Covid vaccine access did not go far enough and said a waiver of patent rights “would add value”.

01:15 PMMalta registers no new cases

Malta said on Monday that it had recorded no new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the first time since July 25, 2020.

The Mediterranean island nation currently has only 72 cases of Covid-19, the health ministry said.

Months of restrictions are gradually being eased, with bars allowed to reopen today for the first time since October.

Malta has also been racing ahead with vaccinations, with 75 percent of the adult population having received at least one dose. More than 550,000 vaccine doses have been administered so far, with 235,000 people – out of a population of around half a million – now fully vaccinated.

Tourism officially restarted on June 1, although all those entering the country must show a negative coronavirus test.

12:51 PMModerna seeks EU approval for Covid-19 vaccine in teens

Moderna has submitted applications to the European and Canadian health regulators seeking authorisation for the expanded use of its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents.

The drugmaker said on Monday it plans to file for an emergency use authorisation with the US FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world for the vaccine’s use in adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Moderna’s vaccine is already being used in the United States, the European Union and Canada for people over 18 years of age and vaccinating children has been considered important for reaching herd immunity against the coronavirus.

Children with Covid-19 mostly develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms, but can still spread the virus.

The EU last month cleared Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12.

Moderna’s two-shot vaccine last month was shown to be effective in adolescents aged 12-17 and showed no new or major safety problems in a clinical trial which evaluated the vaccine in 3,732 teenagers.

12:44 PMIndian PM announces free Covid-19 vaccines for all adults

Covid-19 vaccines will be provided free of charge to all adults in India from later this month in an effort to turn the tide of its deadly second wave.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address on Monday that the federal government would take over the task of vaccination from state governments.

“It has been decided that from June 21, all adults over the age of 18 will be vaccinated free,” he said.

Under the previous policy, the federal government gave free vaccines to the elderly and frontline workers, and left state governments and private hospitals to administer doses for a fee to people in the 18-45 age group.

In Bhopal, India, an inmate is inoculated with a dose of Covishield Covid vaccine as a vaccination drive picks up pace at the central jail – GAGAN NAYAR/AFP via Getty Images

12:24 PMNo 10: This week is crucial for deciding when we can unlock

Downing Street has said the data emerging over the coming week will be “crucial” in deciding whether all legal coronavirus restrictions can end as hoped on June 21.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters this lunchtime: “There still remains that there is nothing in the data currently to suggest Step 4 can’t go ahead at the earliest date.

“But we do need to look very closely at the data over this coming week, which will be crucial to decide and really to get a sense of the data, particularly on hospitalisations and whether or not the excellent vaccine rollout programme has sufficiently severed that link between the increase in cases, which we always expected to happen, particularly after Step 3, and that subsequently leading to hospitalisations and deaths.”

Asked if there is evidence of a third wave, the spokesman said: “We can see that the cases are rising in the UK, that is both due to the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, and to a certain extent the opening up of measures taken in Step 3.”

12:08 PMWales widens vaccine rollout to all over-18s

All over-18s will be offered a coronavirus vaccine by Monday next week, the First Minister has said.

The Welsh Government also aims to offer a second dose by the end of September, he said.

Mark Drakeford said: “We will make the offer of vaccination to all eligible adults six weeks ahead of schedule and we expect to reach 75% take-up across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target.

“This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the programme – to all those doing the complex work of planning behind the scenes and to the thousands of people vaccinating and helping to run the clinics across the country.”

11:55 AMChaos and fury as British holidaymakers pay hundreds to beat quarantine

A couple arriving in the UK from Portugal said they paid £800 for a flight to avoid quarantining at home, leaving them under “extreme stress”.

Alan and Lisa Pechey, from Cambridge, who were on holiday in Lisbon, had been due to return to London Stansted Airport on Tuesday, but paid £400 each to book a flight to Gatwick.

Speaking at the airport on Monday, Mrs Pechey, 66, told the PA news agency: “It was really expensive and I think the Government was totally unfair to throw that at us on Thursday because it really spoiled our holiday, totally.

“We had flown out on Monday for a relaxing break, but from Thursday onwards we were under extreme stress.

Chaos and long queues built up at Faro Airport as they interrupt their holidays in the Algarve to return home before quarantine kicks in – LUIS FORRA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“My main problem was the stress, because we didn’t want to quarantine. I was pretty furious because they should have told us to watch out if we were going to Portugal so everyone would have known.”

Another woman said she paid £300 extra for a flight from Portugal to avoid quarantining at home for 10 days.

Speaking at Gatwick Airport on Monday, Ana Pacheco, 28, from Islington, north London, said on return from Porto: “I think there should have been extra time added on for us to get home, at least a week would have been better.”

11:42 AMCovid modelling has been crude and unreliable, NHS leaders warn

Scientific modelling has been crude and unreliable at predicting the pandemic, NHS leaders have said, as they warned against using it to decide whether to release restrictions on June 21, Sarah Knapton writes.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said trusts were “sceptical” about the fitness of models to provide useful forecasts.

It follows heavy criticism of Government modellers, who in February predicted spikes after schools and shops reopened which failed to materialise.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, warned on Sunday that the Indian variant appeared to be 40 per cent more transmissible, a figure which Warwick University modelling has previously suggested could overwhelm the NHS.

11:32 AMWhat to do about your holiday to Portugal as country moves from green to amber list

Portugal has been downgraded from green to amber, with the travel industry and millions of holidaymakers now likely to have their plans thrown into disarray.

Holiday plans are in disarray and tour operators and airlines will be hit by yet another financial and operational shock.

We have always known that there might be bumps in the road as travel restarted, but few expected that we risked such a dramatic policy shift quite so soon after international travel was opened on May 17.

The news and the mood music from the government suggests that it is looking more and more likely that we are facing a long uncertain summer.

In any case, we need to be prepared for unexpected shifts in policy. Here is our travel team’s guide to what to do about your holiday now Portugal is on the amber list.

11:10 AMLatest scenes from airports as UK holidaymakers race home from Portugal

Thousands of British tourists are racing to leave Portugal before new coronavirus quarantine rules come into force at 4am on Tuesday.

As 39 flights head for the UK from Faro Airport in the Algarve on Monday – double the usual total – here are the latest scenes this morning from airports on the route.

British holidaymakers returning home today before the UK designates Portugal as a Covid amber list country – SOLARPIX.COM

Travellers are racing to land on British soil before the new 10-day quarantine rules come into force – Charles Hymas

Thousands of holidaymakers are trying to reach the UK from Portugal – SOLARPIX.COM

10:56 AM’Give it a few more weeks before fully unlocking – or keep masks’

More time of “a few more weeks rather than months” may be needed to learn more about Covid-19 before there is a full exit from lockdown, a scientist has suggested.

Ravi Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at University of Cambridge, said options could include a watered-down unlocking, such as masks in workplaces and remote working.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think that to go completely back to normal may not be in everyone’s best interests.

“The views of scientists such as myself and others reflects the fact that we want this to be the last lockdown that we ever go into, and we do not want to go into a reverse situation which would be much more damaging to the economy, people’s businesses and long-term welfare.”

Prof Gupta said people should not forget that the virus is still “on its way to mutating and becoming better at avoiding our defences”.

He added: “I think that, once we do suppress the virus and get vaccination up to 80 per cent, including young people, then we can continue that strategy with boosting in the years to come.”

Students wait in line for a Pfizer/BioNTech jab at a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London this weekend – DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP

10:43 AMPoll: Is it fair for the UK to vaccinate children when poorer countries are struggling?

We have heard the view of two scientists this morning – one for, one against – on the idea of vaccinating children in the UK.

Prof Devi Sridhar, chairman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, argues children aged 12 and over should be vaccinated this summer to avoid more disrupted schooling and home learning this autumn.

But Professor Adam Finn, who is part of the body which advises the Government on vaccines, said it is not yet clear whether over-12s should get the jab, adding a “small mercy” of the pandemic is that children do not get seriously ill.

At the weekend, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said it would be up to parents on whether to get their youngsters inoculated, after the Pfizer jab was approved by the UK medicines regulator for 12- to 15-year-olds.

However, with a decision from advisers due in the coming weeks on whether to officially extend the rollout to children, there is debate on whether this is morally just when millions of vulnerable groups in poorer countries have not yet been offered a jab.

10:27 AM’Vaccinate children now to rescue school this autumn’

Children aged 12 and over should be vaccinated this summer to avoid further periods of disrupted schooling and home learning, an expert has said.

But Prof Devi Sridhar, chairman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “If we want schools to continue without disruption in the autumn and lift restrictions so children can have a normal experience, we need to vaccinate them, and if we wait and watch for the evidence it will be too late in the next few weeks.

“We have the supply – it’s not a large amount, it’s a couple of million doses to cover that population of 12-plus.”

She told Good Morning Britain: “Children can still get long Covid and can still be chronically ill from this.

“Given that we know children can transmit, where we are going to see problems going forward is not going to be in care homes, it’s not going to be in hospitals, it’s going to be in schools, because this is where you’re going to see large groups of unvaccinated kids together, and we are going to have outbreaks.

“We might as well just do it, roll it out in the summer, get those kids covered so secondary schools can go back, normally, this autumn.

“I think it’d be a huge shame for backing blended learning or having kids doing home learning in the autumn.”

10:20 AMParts of India begin gradual lockdown easing as Covid crisis wanes

India’s capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai began a gradual easing of restrictions on Monday as coronavirus infections in the country fell to a two-month low.

Hospitals in the megacities – which have a combined population of some 40 million – were overwhelmed by a deadly Covid-19 wave in April and May, with severe shortages of oxygen and other critical medicines.

The huge spike saw India report record-breaking numbers of cases and deaths to become the second worst-hit nation after the United States with just under 29 million infections.

“We have to stay safe from corona infection and also bring the economy back on track,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Monday as some shops and malls reopened.

Delhi Metro services were allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, while in Mumbai, malls were open with restrictions.

Experts warn that while the crisis has eased in Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, the disease is still spreading in rural areas and some southern states.

09:48 AMWaterloo & City line reopens, in pictures

The Waterloo & City line has reopened for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Transport for London (TfL) has announced – Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph

The London commuter link, which connects Waterloo and Bank stations in the centre of the capital, closed in March 2020. Services will now run every five minutes Monday to Friday from 6am to 10am and 3.30pm to 7pm – Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph

TfL said the operating hours will enable customers to stagger their journeys during rush hour and provide extra capacity for people who have to travel at peak times. The line had been due to reopen on June 21 this year – Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph

09:41 AMUK tourists scramble to leave Portugal

Thousands of UK tourists are scrambling to leave Portugal before new coronavirus quarantine rules come into force.

Thirty-nine flights are scheduled to depart from Faro Airport in the Algarve for the UK on Monday, nearly double the usual total.

Travellers must arrive in the UK before 4am on Tuesday or they will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days.

This is due to the Government’s controversial decision to remove Portugal from its green travel list.

Tourists wanting to beat the deadline are being hit by a combination of many flights being sold out, and the handful of available seats being sold at inflated prices.

Ryanair is charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday, but just £17 on Wednesday.

EasyJet flights from Faro to Gatwick are £227 on Monday and £53 on Tuesday.

09:27 AMVaccination rates for second dose by religion

Vaccination rates for second doses also differed by religious affiliation, the ONS found.

The lowest rates for people aged 70 and over were among those who identified as Muslim (84.7%) or Buddhist (93.3%) while the figures for people identifying as Jewish or Christian were 96.9% and 96.2% respectively.

For those identifying as Hindu the rate was 95.4%, and for Sikh it was 94.3%

09:11 AMPeople from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds have lowest second jab rates

People from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds have the lowest rates of receiving a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine among all ethnic minority groups in England, new figures suggest.

Among people aged 70 and over, 82.4% of people from a Pakistani background with a first dose of vaccine were likely to have received a second dose by May 9, along with 82.7% of those from a Bangladeshi background.

The equivalent rate for people identifying as white British is 96.3%.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also suggest 84.0% of people identifying as black African who had received a first dose of vaccine went on to receive a second dose, along with 87.0% of those identifying as black Caribbean.

08:54 AMMatt Hancock to make Covid statement at 3.30pm

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make a Commons statement at around 3.30pm to update MPs on the latest developments in the fight against Covid-19.

That will be followed by a statement from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on “education recovery” following the pandemic.

08:45 AMThailand ramps up mass vaccination

Thailand kicked off a long-awaited mass vaccination campaign on Monday as the country battles its third and worst wave of the coronavirus epidemic.

“My feeling is that no matter what, we will need to go outside of home for the littlest things, so getting the vaccine gives us a sense of relief,” said Praepawee Lertpongkijja, 38, at a Bangkok vaccination centre.

A staff member arranges for people to take seats for getting administered the AstraZeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine by health workers at the mass vaccination site inside the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand – Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty

A health worker prepares a syringe for administering the AstraZeneca vaccine – Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty

People are seen taking seats while waiting to get administered the AstraZeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine – Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty

The government aims to administer 6 million doses of locally-made AstraZeneca and imported Sinovac vaccines this month, hoping to assuage worries about the slow roll-out and supply shortages. “The government will ensure that everyone is vaccinated,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in televised comments after he visited an inoculation centre in Bangkok.

The government plans to vaccinate 70 per cent of Thailand’s population of more than 66 million people by the end of the year. So far, 2.8 million people deemed most vulnerable, including frontline health and transport workers, have received a first dose.

08:18 AMChildren not getting seriously ill ‘small mercy’ of pandemic

Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said a “small mercy” of the pandemic is that children do not get seriously ill.

Asked whether the nation should proceed with the vaccination of children, the professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol told Good Morning Britain: “I’m saying that we need to be driven by the evidence and decide whether or not to immunise children when it becomes clear whether that’s actually something that’s needed. And at this point we’re not sure about that.”

He went on: “So the issue is not that there’s a problem doing it, it’s just a question of whether we need to do it, given the very low incidence of serious illness in children and the fact that we’re achieving so much with the adult programme at the moment with very high coverage.

“If indeed it turns out that children can be indirectly protected by the immunity that we induce in adults then there’s clearly no justification for immunising – or at least immunising all of them.

“So we need to really work out what the needs are before we make any decision.”

He added: “Broadly speaking, it is the one of the small mercies of this epidemic – children are very mildly affected when they get this infection, very few of them get seriously ill, and for the most part they’re actually not that infectious to others or to each other, as compared to other respiratory viruses where that’s quite different and we see lots of transmission going on in childhood.”

08:14 AM’Are Government actually believing in herd immunity amongst school children?’

Sir David added: “Let me ask you, if I may, to ask the Government, are they actually believing in herd immunity amongst school children?

“Is that why they’re saying, ‘take masks off it’, so that the disease spreads rapidly and they all become immune by having had the disease?

“If that is a policy, shouldn’t we be honest with the public, and tell us that is the policy?

“I believe that herd immunity was the policy from the beginning back in February, March last year, so have we returned to that now with the high vaccination level?”

08:08 AMIndependent Sage: Roll out vaccines to over-12s ‘quickly’

The Government should roll out the vaccination programme for over-12s “quickly” and rethink the policy on masks in schools, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser said.

Sir David King, who is also chair of the Independent Sage Group, also questioned whether the Government was pressing ahead with a “herd immunity policy” among teenagers.

He told Sky News: “The Pfizer vaccine has already been given the green light in this country to over 12-year-olds. I think we should run that programme forward quickly.

“But we’re opening schools today and the Government has said 12 to 18-year-olds no longer need to wear face masks at school – I don’t think that was a wise thing to do and I do hope the Government will rethink this in the light of the current figures.”

08:03 AMAround 400 infections a day are people with both vaccines, says Independent Sage

Around 400 infections a day are among people who have had both vaccines, Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government and chair of the Independent Sage Group, said.

He told Sky News “we know that anyone vaccinated twice is relatively safe against the virus.

“But let’s not forget the one in 25 new cases are people who have been vaccinated twice – that means 400 new cases a day are people who had the vaccine twice.

“While there is an extensive amount of virus out there in the country, amongst our people, it is dangerous.”

He continued: “Dying isn’t the sole issue about that we’re trying to avoid here. The number of people who are suffering from long Covid in the country is enormous and this is not a simply a flu, once you’ve had the vaccine.”

07:29 AM’Evidence of another wave appearing’, says Independent Sage member

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the Government and chair of the Independent Sage Group, said the current Covid-19 figures are “evidence of another wave appearing”.

He told Sky News: “(There are) 5,300 new cases of the disease per day in the United Kingdom and we’re up about 2,000 on last week.

“Now we’ve been discussing whether or not we’re going into a serious third wave and I don’t think we can possibly wait any longer.

“This is the evidence of another wave appearing.”

07:25 AMAirport testing system is ‘on verge of collapse’ as provider warns of missed flights

The airport testing system is “on the brink of collapse” a provider has warned as it said more holidaymakers could miss flights due to “unprecedented demand”.

Chaos is being caused by Covid laboratories being overwhelmed with pre-departure PCR tests being sent ahead of flights and results being lost, delayed or returning unclear findings.

Ross Tomkins MD of British Healthcare company Salutaris People, which provides rapid PCR testing at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, has warned people face disappointment to their summer holiday plans having already seen people miss flights.

He said: “It is clear to see that the laboratories are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of testing kits being sent in by airline passengers eager to get away on holiday. We can clearly see that the laboratory testing is now at capacity and is on the verge of collapse.

“This is only going to get worse, rather than better, and will lead to many disappointed holidaymakers and airline passengers, whose plans could be seriously affected.”

07:16 AMGovernment to ‘look at data for another week’ before making restrictions decision

Matt Hancock said the Government is “absolutely open” to delaying the June 21 unlocking, as NHS leaders warn against using scientific modelling to decide whether to release restrictions.

The Health Secretary’s comment is the strongest indication yet that the date for the next step in the coronavirus roadmap could be pushed back.

A two-week delay has been under discussion by scientists and civil servants amid concern over the Indian variant’s figures.

But Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said trusts were “sceptical” about the fitness of models to provide useful forecasts.

NHS leaders said scientific modelling had been crude and unreliable at predicting the pandemic.

06:40 AMRape and domestic abuse cases among worst impacted by Covid backlog

Rape and domestic violence cases will be among the worst affected by the growing backlog of criminal cases in the justice system, the crime commissioner for England’s second biggest police force has warned.

Simon Foster, the Labour commissioner for West Midlands Police, said the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated a decade of underfunding and “reckless neglect” of the justice system.

Ministry of Justice figures show that towards the end of April more than 57,000 crown court cases were outstanding amid delays and court closures stemming from the pandemic.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Foster said the prosecution of domestic abuse and rape cases was most at risk from the growing backlog, largely due to the difficulties of sustaining long delays to trials involving vulnerable people.

He told the paper: “It’s particularly domestic abuse, violence against women and rape cases that are going to be at serious risk.

“That is a real concern to me. Are we going to see a further fall in prosecution rates as a consequence of trials not remaining sustainable for all that time?”

06:23 AMToday’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Monday, June 7.

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05:31 AMRestrictions extended in Taiwan

Taiwan will extend its Covid restrictions until June 28 and schools will remain shut until the summer vacation, the government said today, adding that the country’s outbreak has not yet stabilised.

After months of relative safety, Taiwan has been dealing with a spike in domestic infections and is in the second-highest alert level, with gatherings restricted, entertainment venues shut and students shifted to online learning.

05:30 AMPandemic blamed for backlog of criminal cases

Rape and domestic violence cases will be among the worst affected by the growing backlog of criminal cases in the justice system, the crime commissioner for England’s second-biggest police force has warned.

Simon Foster, the Labour commissioner for West Midlands Police, said the pandemic had exacerbated a decade of underfunding and “reckless neglect” of the justice system.

Ministry of Justice figures show that towards the end of April more than 57,000 crown court cases were outstanding amid delays and court closures stemming from the pandemic.

04:44 AMPandemic takes toll on power affordability for 25m people

The economic toll from the pandemic has left more than 25 million people in Africa and Asia unable to afford electricity, threatening a UN-backed global goal to provide power to everyone by 2030, international agencies have warned.

Two-thirds of those affected were in sub-Saharan Africa, deepening disparities in the region’s access to electricity, according to an annual global report tracking progress on sustainable energy.

Millions struggled to pay for essential electricity services to power lighting, fans, TVs and mobile phones as the Covid crisis hit jobs and incomes in 2020.

About 759 million people still live without electricity, half of them in fragile and conflict-torn countries.

04:00 AMVictoria records nearly a dozen new cases

A woman takes a break on a park bench in locked-down Melbourne – WILLIAM WEST/AFP

Australia’s state of Victoria today reported its biggest rise in new locally acquired Covid cases in nearly a week as authorities scramble to track the source of the highly infectious Indian variant found among infections.

Authorities reported 11 new cases, but noted that all were linked to existing clusters.

“Nothing is on or off the table,” Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton responded when asked if some areas of Melbourne could remain locked down.

Melbourne has entered its 11th day of a hard lockdown after officials on Friday found the Indian variant – which they said was likely to spread more easily than many other strains – for the first time among infections.

The source for the variant infections has yet to be identified and there has been no genomic match with any other cases in Australia.

03:30 AMPandemic sparks interest in politics among young

Young people have become more interested in politics, education and the environment since Covid-19 struck – but feel shut out of political decisions that affect their lives, according to a survey.

The mixed feelings were expressed by some of the 2,091 14- to 24-year-olds in the UK who were quizzed in a YouGov survey for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award scheme.

Politicians rarely listen to the views of young people if at all, according to 75pc of those questioned, while 68pc believed politicians make decisions with little or no consideration of the impact they might have on future generations.

03:10 AMNearly 60m Covid vaccinations in England

A total of 57,193,641 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and June 5, according to NHS data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 590,645 on the previous day.

NHS England said 33,700,486 were the first dose of a vaccine – a rise of 175,001 on the previous day – while 23,493,155 were a second dose, an increase of 415,644.

Among those receiving their second dose this week was the Prime Minister (below).

Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up after receiving his second dose of AstraZeneca – Matt Dunham

02:44 AMGPs ‘pretty broken and close to burnout’

The Society for Acute Medicine has warned that even a small increase in Covid-19 numbers could jeopardise plans to tackle the backlog of routine surgery.

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president, said: “Any slight rise in numbers will put the latter into jeopardy, as hospitals will again lose any flexibility in how they manage their bed bases around infection control policies.”

He said there was “very significant concern” around the Delta – or Indian – variant, “especially around the potential for vaccinated staff to be asymptomatic carriers”.

With hospitals working through referrals, general practice has come under increasing strain. Dr Emily Ball, a general practitioner in the North West, said GPs were “pretty broken and close to burnout”.

02:41 AMEasing restrictions too soon a ‘recipe for disaster’

Easing coronavirus restrictions too soon will be a “recipe for disaster”, a doctor has warned amid concerns for an NHS already struggling with a backlog of non-Covid patients.

The Prime Minister has come under pressure to move ahead with “freedom day” on June 21, given the uptake of Covid vaccines.

Frontline workers have expressed fears about the impact of reopening in coming weeks, with some describing the health service as still “on its knees” and at higher capacity than usual.

Dr Megan Smith, told PA news agency: “Everyone in the NHS at the moment is kind of terrified.”

Dr Smith, who is also legal and policy officer for campaign group EveryDoctor, said the NHS is under pressure dealing with issues from the first waves of the pandemic, and could not cope with even a small spike in Covid patients.

She said: “Now patients have presented and a lot of them are presenting in a worse state.

“We’ve heard of hospitals effectively closing their waiting lists, which is unheard of.”

She said that “without question, there should be a pause”.

12:18 AMToday’s top stories