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Vaccine programme continues to expand with 32 new centres across England

Written by on 25/01/2021

More than 30 new vaccination centres are due to open in England this week as the drive continues to protect the population against COVID-19.

The 32 centres include the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, a racecourse, a football stadium and a former Ikea store.

It comes after government figures showed more than 6.3 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the two-dose vaccine to help protect them against the coronavirus.

A record-breaking 491,970 were vaccinated in a single day over the weekend, suggesting the country is on course to meet the government’s target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

With the first four priority groups now being vaccinated, attention is turning to which groups will be offered the vaccine next.

Union leaders have called for transport workers to be classed as a priority group, after a “surge” in deaths.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: “A more infectious and now it seems more deadly variant of the COVID-19 virus plus an increase in passengers numbers is a lethal cocktail threatening rail workers, with deaths and illness doubling since November.”

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A group of scientists have also said it might be necessary to vaccinate domestic animals to limit the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus can infect species including cats, dogs, experts from the University of East Anglia, Norwich based research facility the Earlham Institute, and University of Minnesota have said.

In an editorial for the journal Virulence, they wrote: “It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might… be necessary to curb the spread of the infection.”

Kevin Tyler, editor-in-chief of Virulence, said: “Cats are asymptomatic but they are infected by it and they can infect humans with it.

“The risk is that, as long as there are these reservoirs, that it starts to pass as it did in the mink from animal to animal, and then starts to evolve animal-specific strains, but then they spill back into the human population and you end up essentially with a new virus which is related which causes the whole thing all over again.”

The UK recorded a further 610 COVID-related deaths on Sunday, along with another 30,004 cases.

It brings the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK to 97,939.

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Meanwhile, senior ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss requiring travellers to pay for quarantine at a designated hotel on their return to the UK.

The proposal, which is aimed at getting more people to comply with isolation rules after their arrival, is said to have the support of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

It was prompted by concerns over new variants of the virus found in Brazil and South Africa.

Mr Hancock has said there were 77 known cases of the South African variant in the UK – all linked to travel – and nine of the Brazilian variant.

The variants have also sparked concern in the US, where president Joe Biden is expected to reinstate travel restrictions on non-US travellers from the UK, Ireland, Brazil and 26 other European countries.

 Sky News

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