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Coronavirus - 1st January 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 14:21

Summary for Friday, 1st January 2021

  • Staff absences and the new Covid variant are creating a "challenging situation" in hospitals, NHS bosses say
  • London hospitals say they are under huge pressure, with whole floors being converted to intensive care wards
  • Imperial College London analysis confirms the new variant of the virus has a much faster rate of transmission than the original strain
  • Experts defended the UK's new strategy to give more people a first dose of the vaccine, while delaying the second
  • The four chief medical officers said giving one jab to as many vulnerable people as possible was "much more preferable"
  • Eight London boroughs have urged ministers to delay the re-opening of primary schools as some move to online teaching
  • It comes as the nation saw in the New Year without traditional parties, amid warnings for people to stay at home
  • A record 55,892 daily cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK on Thursday, with a further 964 deaths


Good morning and a cautious welcome to 2021. Here's a look at some of the main stories from the UK as we start the new year:


Latest from around the world

Here are the latest developments from around the world.

  • New Year celebrations were distinctly muted this year with restrictions being placed on festivities around the world as many countries struggle to curb new spikes in coronavirus cases. Fireworks displays and other public gatherings were cancelled from Sydney to New York
  • In New York, just a handful of people were allowed into Times Square to watch the traditional crystal ball drop at midnight. The streets were largely empty and the audience almost entirely watching on television
  • China has conditionally approved a vaccine for general use , developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm
  • More than 1.8 million people have died with the virus across the world since the start of the pandemic a year ago. More than 83 million cases have been reported.
  • Portugal’s daily number of coronavirus cases reached a record high of 7,627 on Thursday as the country prepared for a subdued New Year’s Eve with an 11 pm curfew and no travel between municipalities.
  • All travellers entering Norway will have to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival, or up to 24 hours after, from 2 January, the country’s justice ministry said. To stop the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain, travellers from any point of origin will need to enter Norway at designated entry points where testing is available, with smaller border crossings to be closed, it added.
  • Turkey’s coronavirus death toll rose by 239 in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed on Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths to 20,881. The number of new cases stood at 14,380 over the same period, bringing total cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 2,208,652.
  • Scotland has recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began for the third day in a row. A total of 2,622 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, following 2,045 cases reported on Wednesday and 1,895 on Tuesday.
  • France has detected its first case of the South African variant of coronavirus, the health ministry said. The 501.V2 Variant was detected by South African authorities in mid-December.
  • Slovakia reported 6,315 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily number so far, the government said. The country of 5.5 million has recorded 179,543 cases so far, and 2,138 deaths, Reuters reports.


Police report 'quite quiet' New Year's Eve for London

Police say they did not face many of the anticipated gatherings over New Year's Eve in London, adding that the public appear to have realised the serious situation the capital is in.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told BBC Breakfast that it was "quite quiet" with sporadic gatherings that were quickly dealt with by officers.
“I think the public have really cottoned on that this is really serious, the position that we are in, and we did not see the numbers we thought we would," he said.
He said that around 1,300 officers were now off work with Covid-19 or self-isolating, and that the number was predicted to double over the next couple of weeks, putting "massive strain" on the force.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 14:53

France's Macron acknowledges 'difficult' year in NY message

Mike Sanders - BBC News
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged the French to be proud of who they are, in a New Year's address after what he called a most difficult year.
He spent much of the 16-minute pre-recorded speech acknowledging the sacrifices he had demanded of people to confront the pandemic.
Coronavirus was bound to dominate his address as he's recovering from it himself .
He name-checked several people who'd gone out of their way to help others through the crisis, especially the first person to take the vaccine.
He denounced the disinformation that has left 60% of the nation reluctant to follow suit. He said he would not allow the inoculation programme to slow down.
Police were deployed to enforce a New Year's curfew , to curb the traditional celebrations that would present ideal conditions for the virus to spread.

Australia changes anthem to reflect past and promote Covid unity

Shaimaa Khalil - BBC News, Sydney

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Wiradjuri woman Olivia Fox sang the national anthem in indigenous language Dharug in December

Australia's national anthem will no longer refer to the country as "young and free". Instead, people will sing: "For we are one and free" - in an attempt to reflect its long indigenous history.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he hoped the change would create a spirit of unity , and that it celebrated how the nation had come together during the pandemic.
In recent years, Australia has made greater efforts to recognise indigenous history in cultural and political events, but aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait islanders, who together make up 3% of the population, continue to experience high levels of inequality.
Indigenous people are hugely overrepresented in the country’s prison system, especially in youth detention.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 15:14

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to those who died and those who are still grieving following the loss of loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President of Ireland’s poignant remarks came as part of a special video message filmed from Áras an Uachtaráin to mark the conclusion of 2020.

Higgins was joined by his wife Sabrina for the special address, which featured a sombre New Year’s Eve performance of “The Parting Glass” by 23-year-old folk singer Dan McCabe from Naas, Co Kildare.

He said: “As we emerge from the year of Covid it is appropriate that we remember all those who have departed from us during the year, and those they have left behind and who did not have the opportunity of grieving for them in the way that is so traditional, and so central to Irish life.”

“As a gesture to them both, and on behalf of all of us, Sabina and I are so pleased to have Dan McCabe perform The Parting Glass as we leave this tough year behind,” Higgins continued.

“May we wish you all a year of health and fulfilment in 2021, beir Beannacht d’on bhliain nua.”


McCabe’s emotional rendition of the song made famous by The High Kings provided a haunting footnote from a difficult year.

For President Higgins it was the perfect tribute to those lost and to “remember the year that was, and to bring 2020 to a close, with a thought for them all”.
It came as part of the President’s ‘Samhlaíocht agus An Náisiún / Imagination and the Nation’ initiative, set up to showcase the transformative role art and creativity can play in Irish society.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 15:46

Police break up Edinburgh Castle New Year's gathering


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Several hundred people were gathered at Edinburgh Castle

Although Scotland Hogmanay celebrations were cancelled last night and people were warned to stay at home, several hundred revellers gathered at Edinburgh Castle to see in the New Year.
People sang and danced but were forced to disperse when police vans arrived.
Small crowds were also seen watching fireworks on Calton Hill, but many streets in Scotland's capital remained deserted.

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Police cars and vans arrived to break up the gathering

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A sparse crowd was also gathered on Calton Hill to watch fireworks

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had said there should be “no gatherings, no house parties and no first footing”, urging people to celebrate at home with their families.
The city's usual Hogmanay celebrations were replaced with a videodrone display across the skies of Scotland .

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 15:56

Police break up New Year's Eve parties in virus hotspot Essex

In Essex, which has some of the highest localised infection rates in the UK, police said they broke up three unlicensed parties and issued £18,000 of fines.
Officers said they had objects thrown at them and threats were made as they tried to break up a party where revellers had gained entry to a church. The crowd was eventually dispersed before midnight and three people were arrested on drugs charges, with two of them also arrested under the coronavirus regulations.
About 100 people were cleared from an abandoned warehouse in Brentwood that was the venue for another unlicensed party.
And a woman was fined £10,000 for organising a house party with about 100 attendees. Equipment was seized and about 25 fines were given to partygoers.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet thanked those people who stayed at home but added: "Unfortunately, there were others who decided to blatantly flout the coronavirus rules and regulations and, ultimately, they decided that partying was more important than protecting other people."

Manchester New Year's Eve a picture of tranquillity

A photographer whose picture of a chaotic New Year's Eve in Manchester went viral five years ago revisited the scene in the pandemic year.
Joel Goodman reposted his original image, which was compared to a Renaissance painting for its dramatic composition of a recumbent partygoer reaching for a beer as police grappled with another reveller.

Tweet  Joel Goodman:

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He followed that by posting an image from the same street at 02:25 GMT on 1 January 2021, which was entirely deserted.

Tweet  Joel Goodman:

Coronavirus - 1st January 2021 Eqndzj10
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:06

Met Police issue 217 fines for Covid rule breaches over New Year's Eve


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The Metropolitan Police attended calls to 58 unlicensed music events and parties in breach of tier four rules across London overnight.
The force said 217 people were issued fixed penalty fines, while five people were reported for a possible £10,000 fine for organising large gatherings.
Four people were arrested for breaching Covid regulations after gathering in central London.
However, Commander Paul Brogden said "the vast majority of Londoners" complied with the rules.

What are the rules in tier four areas of England?

For millions of people in England, New Year's Eve saw tougher Covid rules come into force, with more areas placed into tier four.
Around 44 million people - or 78% of England's population - are now living under the top level of restrictions.
Residents in tier four areas should stay at home, unless they have a "reasonable excuse" such as work or education, and all non-essential shops, hairdressers, nail bars, gyms and indoor entertainment venues must close.
People are also not allowed to meet other households indoors but individuals can meet one other person in an open public space.
You can read more about the rules in different areas of the UK here or use our postcode search to check the rules where you live.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:10

When are schools going back across the UK?

A new year means a new school term starting soon, but for many schools the return to class will be delayed over concerns that students returning might contribute to the spread of the virus.
So what's happening across the UK?
In England, the start of the new term is being staggered, with exam year students returning on 11 January while other year groups go back on 18 January.
Most primary schools are due to go back on 4 January as normal, but in some areas - mostly in the south of England and parts of London - the return is being delayed to 18 January because of high levels of infection.
Wales is allowing "flexibility" at the beginning of term , with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.
In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January . In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.
And In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only . A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Warning of 'grave consequences' from London primaries reopening

While some areas in London and south-east England have been told to keep primary schools closed to most pupils until 18 January, ten boroughs in the capital are expected to open on Monday as normal.
Yesterday, they wrote jointly to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to object, saying that infection rates in their communities were higher than some of the places where schools were being shut.
Camden, the City of London, Greenwich - which had been threatened with legal action when it tried to close schools early in December - Hackney, Haringey, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth and Lewisham said they were "struggling to understand the rationale".
Kingston was the only borough told to reopen primaries which did not sign the letter.
The council leaders said they were "deeply concerned" that reopening to pupils other than vulnerable children and those of key workers could have "grave consequences", with some boroughs being asked to open schools despite infection rates growing 70% in a week.
The Department for Education said decisions on school closures and openings were based on new infections, positivity rates, and pressures on the NHS.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:14

Surging infections and deaths 'incredibly hard to deal with' - hospitals

Hospitals are under "extreme pressure", the deputy chief executive of NHS providers has said.
Saffron Cordery, who represents NHS trusts, said the increased demand from the spread of the new variant and staff absences were creating a "challenging situation" .
The surging cases and deaths at nearly 1,000 a day were "incredibly hard to deal with", she told BBC Breakfast earlier.
"We are back where we were," she said, comparing the situation with the previous peak in April. "The next few weeks are going to be nail-bitingly difficult for the NHS. Everyone is anticipating that."
She said major London hospitals were saying they were under real pressure and whole floors were being converted to additional intensive care wards.
Cordery said there was a question over whether the NHS had the staff to use the Nightingale temporary hospitals, with the health service being short of 100,000 staff members even before the pandemic.
But she said they could be used to treat non-Covid patients who required fewer staff to care for them.

More than a third of beds occupied by Covid patients in 23 hospital trusts

An analysis of NHS England data from 23 hospital trusts by the Health Service Journal shows that Covid-19 is putting intense pressure on adult acute care and general beds, as well as those in intensive care.
It found that more than a third of these beds were occupied by patients with Covid-19 on Tuesday, and in three trusts – North Middlesex in London, and Medway and Dartford and Gravesham in Kent – the figure was more than half.
Based on the recent rise in numbers, the analysis suggests that all acute and general beds may soon be filled with Covid-19 patients.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:25

UK lunchtime round-up

If you've just recovered from your stay-at-home celebrations last night, here's a quick summary of the main stories so far today:

  • Hospital bosses have warned the next few weeks will be "nail-bitingly difficult" as the UK feels the impact of a surge in coronavirus cases. Some hospitals were seeing intensive care admissions at double the normal rate, NHS Providers said.
  • A New Year's Eve fireworks display in London paid tribute to the NHS as revellers were urged to stay home. A gathering of hundreds of people at Edinburgh Castle was broken up by police.
  • An Imperial College study of the transmission rate of the new variant of the coronavirus found it increased the R number by between 0.4 and 0.7, meaning every 10 people infected would infect an extra four to seven people. Prof Axel Gandy said the difference was "extreme".
  • Councils in some London boroughs told to keep primary schools open from next week have written to the education secretary to demand he delays face-to-face teaching across the capital. They warned of "grave consequences" of reopening in some areas at a time when the infection rate was so high.
  • The UK's chief medical officers have defended the decision to delay the second doses of the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines in order to give a larger number of people the first dose more quickly. The British Medical Journal said the delay was "grossly unfair" but the medical officers said the first dose gave the "great majority" of initial protection.


Latest from around the world

And here's the latest of what's been happening around the world.

  • The World Health Organization has for the first time approved the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab
  • Australia's has changed some of the words in its national anthem to reflect its long indigenous history and celebrate how the nation has come together during the pandemic, its PM said
  • Covid dampened New Year celebrations around the world, as the virus continues to spread in many countries and governments cracked down on revellers
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:32

Greater Manchester Police issue more than 100 fines for New Year gatherings


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Greater Manchester Police issued more than 100 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid regulations over New Year's Eve, in what the force described as a busy night.
It said the majority of the fines were for house parties, but there were also several larger incidents, including a "rave-type" event attended by around 40 people at the Empress Industrial Estate in Wigan.
And in Stockport, a £1,000 fine was issued to a pub in Marple Bridge for continuing to serve customers in breach of tier four restrictions.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes said the "vast majority" of people followed government guidance but he condemned the "irresponsible behaviour" of those who put lives at risk by breaking the rules.

Lockdown firework display draws smaller TV audience


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A fleet of 300 drones joined the usual pyrotechnics this year

Although going out wasn't an option for millions of Britons over New Year's Eve, London's annual firework display was watched by slightly fewer people than last year .
An average audience of 10.75 million tuned in to the 10-minute display, which combined pyrotechnics with illuminated tributes to NHS staff and notable figures from 2020 created by 300 drones.
In January 2020, 11.18 million watched the celebrations.
Normally, up to 100,000 people line the streets to see the fireworks in person, but this year the city centre was largely empty.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:37

Breaking News

UK records 53,285 new cases and 613 deaths

The UK has recorded a further 53,285 coronavirus cases, as well as 613 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
The number of daily cases is slightly down on Thursday's figure of 55,892, which was the highest number on record .

Calls for tougher action as study shows new variant 'hugely' more infectious


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Much of England has been placed in a new top tier of restrictions - tier four - as the new variant spreads

Earlier we reported that a study by Imperial College had concluded the new coronavirus variant is "hugely" more transmissible . Now some experts are saying that means even tougher restrictions will soon be needed.
Prof Jim Naismith, of Oxford University, said: "The data from Imperial represent the best analysis to date and imply that the measures we have employed to date, would - with the new virus - fail to reduce the R number to below 1.
"In simpler terms, unless we do something different the new virus strain is going to continue to spread - more infections, more hospitalisations and more deaths."
The R number is the average number of people an infected person passes the virus onto. If it is above 1 the epidemic is growing.
Early data suggested that the virus was spreading more quickly among the under-20s, particularly among secondary school age children, but the latest results indicate that it is more infectious in all age groups.
Prof Axel Gandy, part of the research team, suggested that it may have appeared to spread more easily among school children simply because the early data was collected during the November lockdown, when adults' movements were restricted but schools remained open.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 16:42

Analysis: Current restrictions may not be enough to control virus

Pallab Ghosh - Science correspondent, BBC News

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Many scientists fear even tougher restrictions than the current tier four are needed

The most chilling finding from the Imperial College research on the new coronavirus variant is that the November lockdown in England, hard though it was for many people, would not have stopped the variant form of the virus from spreading.
The same severe restrictions that saw cases of the previous version of the virus fall by a third, would see a tripling of the new variant. This is why there has been such a sudden tightening of restrictions across the country.
It is unclear whether the current restrictions will be enough to control the spread of the virus. Given the fact that it has taken two lockdowns to stop the earlier version of the virus overwhelming the NHS, many scientists fear that further tightening will be necessary.
Infection levels will begin to drop as enough people are vaccinated. But until then it is now more important than ever for people to follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks where required and to regularly wash their hands.
The new year brings with it hope of a more normal life in the next few months but also a new form of the virus that all of us will have to combat in the next few weeks.

New Year Covid rule-breakers in Wales 'ignoring' pandemic

South Wales Police have condemned people breaking Covid rules for "ignoring the fact we are in the midst of a global health pandemic".
The force said it had received numerous reports of Covid breaches on New Year's Eve.
Meanwhile, North Wales Police said it had reported several breaches of restrictions, with some people travelling from as far as Southampton, Kent and Solihull on New Year's Day.
Wales has been in a nationwide level four lockdown since 20 December and travel is only allowed for essential purposes, such as for work and for caring responsibilities.
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 18:58

New strain of virus 'accelerating' spread in Scotland


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The next few weeks could be the most dangerous period for Scotland since March in the fight against Covid, the country's first minister has warned.
Nicola Sturgeon said the new variant of the virus was "accelerating spread" across Scotland.
"If you first foot someone today, or hug/kiss/handshake them HNY, you are putting yourself, others and the NHS at risk," she said in a tweet.
A further 2,539 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Scotland on Friday. The number is slightly down on Thursday's figure, but Sturgeon said cases numbers were still "worryingly high".
Daily confirmed cases have reached record highs on each of the previous three days.
Read more .

Norway to lift ban on flights from UK

Norway has announced it is lifting its ban on flights arriving from the UK. Flights will resume from 16:00 GMT on 2 January, the health ministry announced.
Passengers arriving by plane from the UK will have to fill out a travel registration form and everyone entering Norway from Saturday must take a Covid-19 test, the ministry said.
Norway was among a number of countries that halted travel from the UK on 21 December after it emerged a new variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly in south-east England.
"If this strain should spread in Norway, it will probably mean a full lockdown of society," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 19:02

Denmark's Queen Margrethe receives coronavirus vaccine


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Queen Margrethe delivered her New Year's speech before receiving the vaccine

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the royal household has announced.
The 80-year-old monarch was given the dose on New Year’s Day, and will receive the second dose of the vaccine in three weeks.
Queen Margrethe has had to isolate for much of the past year, cancelling plans for her birthday last April and traditional events around Christmas and New Year.
Her grandson, Prince Christian, tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks and had to self-isolate, although his parents, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, and siblings tested negative.

Vaccine priority is 'the one good thing about being 80' - Sir Tom Jones


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Sir Tom Jones said receiving the Covid-19 vaccine was just like getting a flu jab

And back in the UK, Sir Tom Jones revealed that he too has received the coronavirus vaccine, calling it "one good thing about being 80".
“I’ve had my jab already," he told TV presenter Jools Holland on the New Year's Eve broadcast of Jools' Annual Hootenanny.
“That’s one good thing about being 80, you’re first in line for the jab. It was fine, it was like getting the flu jab.”
Holland jokingly asked if it was a legitimate vaccine and Sir Tom replied: “It wasn’t a black market one. It was the real deal.”
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Post by Kitkat Fri Jan 01 2021, 19:04

What is happening around the world?

Here are the latest headlines from around the world:

  • The World Health Organization has for the first time approved the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab
  • Japan says the postponed Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead as scheduled from July, despite concern over rising coronavirus cases there
  • Norway has announced it will lift its ban on flights from the UK from 2 January
  • US officials say they have arrested a hospital employee who is suspected of sabotaging more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine in Wisconsin
  • Denmark’s 80-year-old Queen Margrethe has received the coronavirus vaccine


What's happened in the UK today?

We'll be pausing our live coverage for the day soon so here's a summary of the main stories in the UK today:


Thanks for joining us

We're bringing our live coverage of the pandemic to a close now - thanks for joining us.

Today's live page was edited by Holly Wallis and Chris Clayton, and written by Joseph Lee, Becky Morton, Kathryn Snowdon, Penny Spiller and Alexandra Fouché.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 22:18