May 17 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha, Livvy Doherty and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) May 18, 2021
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2:01 a.m. ET, May 17, 2021

New data gives "degree of confidence" vaccines work against Covid-19 variant first identified in India, UK health secretary says

From CNN's Robert Iddiols in London 

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “new, very early data” from Oxford University gives “a degree of confidence” that vaccines work against the Covid-19 variant first spotted in India.

Hancock told Sky News on Sunday that variant, called B.1.617.2, was now the dominant strain of coronavirus some parts of the UK and “spreads very fast.” 

Despite concerns about the variant, lockdown restrictions across England, Scotland and Wales are due to be relaxed from Monday. 

“Information we have thus far tells us our strategy remains on track,” Hancock said.
“The people who are ending up in hospital are largely people who are eligible for the vaccine but have not taken the vaccine."
4:18 a.m. ET, May 17, 2021

What you need to know before traveling to India during the pandemic

From CNN Staff

If you're planning to travel to India, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The basics: India is the global center of a devastating new wave of the pandemic, with the country's health system close to collapse. The country swiftly closed its borders at the start of the pandemic, banning all scheduled international flights in March 2020. Tourists are still banned, though those traveling on other visas from the continents of Europe, Africa and South America are allowed, along with travelers from other destinations who meet strict criteria.
  • Current flight bans: Due to the second wave of infections, many places are massively reducing, indefinitely suspending or banning travel to and from India. At present, those destinations include Australia, Canada, China (including Hong Kong), Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United Kingdom (which added India to its "red list") and the United States. Australia even banned its own citizens from returning from India — although that policy was revoked on 7 May. The US State Department alert reads in part, "If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay six feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands." A planned travel bubble with Sri Lanka has been postponed.
  • What's on offer: The question is: What isn't on offer in India? This vast country has an astonishing range of landscapes, architecture, cultures and religions. Most first-timers stick to the "golden triangle" of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, but other big hitters for newbies include the Kerala waterways, beaches of Goa and Mumbai, one of the world's most thrilling cities.
  • Who can go: Tourists are not yet permitted. Only Indian nationals, those moving to the country as residents, and those from certain countries who qualify for visas other than tourist visas may go. From the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, things are more restricted — only diplomats and those listed in a government memorandum may travel. However other visa holders from the European Union, Africa and South America may travel — as long as it is not on a tourist visa.

Read more here.