As England sees a significant easing of restrictions from Monday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to reconsider the relaxation of Covid rules because of the threat posed by the India variant. His own advisers and independent health experts raised fears that it could lead to a surge in hospital admissions, especially among young adults, the Observer reports.
Meanwhile thousands of UK holidaymakers are preparing to head overseas with the ban on foreign leisure travel lifting in England and Wales on Monday.
Travel firms have reported a surge in demand for trips to Portugal, after the government put the country on its green list for travel, PA Media reports. That means returning travellers will not need to self-isolate on their return, and are only required to take one post-arrival test.
EasyJet has added 105,000 extra seats to its flights serving green-tier destinations, while Tui will use aircraft which normally operate long-haul routes to accommodate the surge of people booked to fly to Portugal. Only a dozen countries and territories are on the green list but most are either remote islands or do not currently allow UK tourists to enter.
The government is advising people not to make non-essential trips to locations on its amber list, which covers popular destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece. But this guidance is expected to be ignored by some holidaymakers.
Teachers, pupils and parents in England have greeted the easing of coronavirus safety measures in schools from Monday with a mixture of relief and, in the light of concern over the Indian variant, dismay and confusion. The government has announced that students will no longer need to wear face coverings in schools. But some areas in the north of England are being advised to continue measures, following rising numbers of cases of the new variant, known as B.1.617.2.
In Germany, the number of confirmed cases increased by 8,500 to 3,593,434, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 71 to 86,096.
Australia is sticking to plans to start re-opening to the rest of the world only from the middle of next year, officials said on Sunday, resisting mounting pressure to end the closure of international borders. In March 2020, Australia closed its borders to non-nationals and non-residents and has since been allowing only limited international arrivals, mainly citizens returning from abroad, Reuters reports.
Taiwan reported 206 new domestic Covid-19 infections on Sunday, as the island grapples with an increase in community infections.