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Pilot scheme to offer alternative accommodation for self-isolation

·4-min read

New pilot schemes are being launched across England in a bid to encourage people to get tested for Covid-19 and follow self-isolation rules.

The pilots will involve increased social care support for vulnerable adults, “buddying” services for people needing mental health support and translation assistance for non-English speakers.

People isolating in overcrowded houses in the trial areas will also be offered alternative accommodation.

The Government has allocated £11.9 million towards the pilots, split between local authorities in nine areas with high infection rates.

The local authority areas include Newham and Hackney in London, Yorkshire and the Humber, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside, Peterborough and Somerset.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We recognise just how challenging self-isolation is for many people and these pilots will help us find the best ways to support people and making it easier for everyone to keep doing their bit.”

It comes as the Government announced on Sunday that 60.6 million first and second vaccine doses had been administered since December 8.

The figure includes 37.9 million people who have received a first dose, 72% of the UK population, and 22.6 million have had both (43%).

The number of second doses administered in the UK hit a daily record on Saturday, with 556,951.

The Government continued to urge people to get a second dose to stay protected from new coronavirus variants.

Mr Hancock said: “Shortly after vaccinating over 70% of adults in the UK with a first dose, we have hit yet another incredible milestone with over 60 million doses delivered in total.

The Andrew Marr Show
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Yui Mok/PA)

“Our trailblazing vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in NHS history, is another great British success story and a testament to what can be achieved when all four corners of the country come together to defeat this virus.”

Some 762,361 first and second doses were administered on Saturday, the highest daily combined total since March 20.

Meanwhile, a study by Public Health England (PHE) found that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is 88% effective against the Indian variant of coronavirus after two doses.

The study, which took place between April 5 and May 16, found that the jab was almost as effective against symptomatic disease from the B1617.2 strain as it was against the Kent variant, with 93% effectiveness.

The AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective, compared with 66% against the Kent variant over the same period.

Both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, compared with about 50% against the Kent strain.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency said the possibility of restrictions being eased on June 21 was “looking good”.

But she urged the public to be cautious to avoid another lockdown, warning that the new Indian variant has become the “dominant strain” in some parts of the country.

She told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “It’s looking good if people are continuing to observe all of the safety signals, so we should not stop doing what we’re doing, particularly in areas where we have that variant of concern, the B1617.2, in the North West and around London.

Coronavirus – Wed May 19, 2021
Dr Jenny Harries has urged caution despite the positive signs (Toby Melville/PA)

“It’s really important that people continue to do hands, face, space and work from home, have their jabs and go for tests as well.

“We all need to be very cautious and I think we all don’t want to go back to the sort of lockdowns that we’ve had, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) or out in the public, none of us want to return to that sort of restriction.”

From June 21 at the earliest, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and restrictions on large events such as festivals are to be lifted, as are restrictions on the number of people at weddings.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said there might be an “adjustment” to the lifting of restrictions on June 21.

He told Times Radio on Sunday: “We’re effectively in a race with the vaccine programme against the virus.

“We know that we’re letting the virus out by spreading it about now, we know that we’re progressing well with the vaccine programme, but I think there’s going to need to be an adjustment of some sort.”

Restrictions ease in Northern Ireland on Monday with indoor hospitality to resume and people allowed to meet inside private homes for the first time this year.

Under relaxations agreed at Thursday’s Executive meeting, Stormont’s Stay Local message has also been removed.

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