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Coronavirus latest: UK minister seeks to calm vaccine fears

Across low and middle-income countries, a median average of 70 per cent of those surveyed reported a drop in income in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while 30 per cent reported a loss of employment and 45 per cent said they had missed or reduced meals, according to a study by US universities.

The UK government has set a target for vaccinating all people aged over 50 by early May, when local government elections will go ahead as planned, ministers confirmed as several indicators showed Covid-19 infections have continued to decline across the UK with new cases falling by 2 per cent to 5 per cent per day.

Joe Biden, US president, defended his plans for a $1.9tn fiscal stimulus package after data showed the economy creating a paltry 49,000 jobs last month as it struggled through the latest surge of coronavirus infections. He said the “biggest risk” on fiscal policy was not if the US government went “too big” but rather “too small”.

The UK’s plan to tighten its borders against Covid-19 by ordering people to declare why they are leaving the country faces fresh uncertainty after airline staff warned they were not in a position to judge whether a trip was essential and the passenger should be allowed to travel or if they should be denied boarding.

Customers are served at the doorway of a Vodafone Group store in Dublin

Shares in Vodafone rose more than 4 per cent on release of its third-quarter figures. The telecoms company returned to service revenue growth after two quarters of pandemic-induced declines, buoyed by improvements in Germany, its biggest market. The group said lockdowns had prompted greater reliance on its networks.

Blackstone and Global Infrastructure Partners have issued a £3.5bn bid for UK-listed private jet services company Signature Aviation. The company offers ground handling, refuelling and other support. Private jet operators have been able to withstand the impact of the pandemic better than their commercial rivals.

Video gaming specialists Frontier Developments revenue rose 15 per cent despite no new titles. Operating margin rose to 19 per cent, up five percentage points, but collaborative working challenges during lockdowns caused management to push back the PlayStation and Xbox releases of Elite Dangerous: Odyssey to 2022.

Beazley said that it was reviewing disaster scenarios after $340m of Covid-19 claims pushed the London-listed insurer to a $50m full-year loss. Chief executive Andrew Horton said that “despite the volume of information, data and predictive analytics at our fingertips, we didn’t foresee the events of this year”.

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