The US state department is “surging” staffing levels at its consular offices as it battles to process a large backlog of US passport applications following the Covid-19 pandemic, a US official said. Waiting times for passports were currently as high as 18 weeks, she said, and warned that American citizens with expired passports may need to “make alternate travel plans”.
Spain’s Balearic Islands have been removed from the UK’s travel green list, meaning that from Monday travellers who have not been double-jabbed will have to quarantine for 10 days at home. The government also announced that Bulgaria, Croatia and Hong Kong have been moved to the green list. But Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone have been moved to the red list, which means travellers returning to the UK have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at their own expense.
More than 93,000 Americans died of a drug overdose last year, the highest number on record, according to preliminary data from the top US public health agency. The number of people who died last year of a drug overdose rose nearly 30 per cent from 2019, when more than 72,000 died, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show.
A top Spanish court has ruled that emergency restrictions imposed at the height of the pandemic last year were unconstitutional. Pedro Sánchez’s government immediately signalled its disagreement, arguing that the country’s harsh lockdown had saved some 450,000 lives.
High vaccination rates and falling infections in North America and the eurozone boosted global consumer confidence to a record high in the second quarter, pointing to a strong but “highly uneven” spending rebound. The Conference Board’s global consumer confidence index rose to 109 in the three months to June 30, up one point from the previous quarter. It is the highest level since the survey began in 2005.
About 2 per cent of international arrivals to the UK tested positive for coronavirus over a five-week period, with 49 different variants identified, a laboratory-based study has found. The Alpha strain, first detected in Kent, was by far the most prevalent and was detected in 80.6 per cent of the positive tests, said the peer-reviewed paper. The study took place in March and April.
The British public’s satisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic has faded, according to a new poll. The Ipsos Mori poll, published on Wednesday, found that 41 per cent of Britons think the government is handling the pandemic well, down 3 percentage points from June. A higher proportion believed that the government was handling the pandemic badly, rising 5 points to 43 per cent.