- UK approves Moderna jab - its third Covid vaccine
- The vaccine is 94% effective in preventing disease, and the UK has ordered 17m doses in total
- The jab will be available in spring - the UK has already vaccinated 1.5m people using Pfizer and Oxford jabs
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan declares "major incident" as hospital pressure grows
- The UK "R number", or virus reproduction rate, is estimated to be between 1 and 1.4
- All travellers to the UK will soon have to provide a negative Covid-19 test, though self-isolation rules will remain
- The US has seen daily deaths pass 4,000 for the first time as the epidemic worsens
- The European Commission chief defends the EU's vaccination strategy after buying 300m more doses
- Sweden passes a law allowing tougher Covid restrictions
- In Australia, Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown after a case of the UK-detected variant was found
Good morning and welcome to our Covid live page. It's been a busy week, with plenty of grim news, but also some hope - as the UK vaccination drive picks up pace and new life-saving drugs are discovered.
We'll be bringing you all the latest here throughout the day.
UK morning round-upIf you're just starting your day, here’s a round-up of the main stories from around the UK to bring you up to speed:
- All international travellers will soon be required to provide a negative test up to 72 hours before their journey to England or Scotland. The measure to reduce the number of imported infections will also apply to returning UK nationals and is due to be implemented next week in England and “as soon as possible” in Scotland. Similar measures are planned for Wales and Northern Ireland
- Two more life-saving drugs to treat Covid-19 have been found in trials in the UK and five other countries. The anti-inflammatory drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab can save an extra life for every 12 patients treated - a “big effect”, say researchers
- Waiting times for patients in ambulances are “off the scale” the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said, as hospitals struggle to cope with the Covid-19 surge. Some people are also facing long waits when they call an ambulance, with one paramedic saying he had encountered patients who waited for 12 hours in the last week
- Wales has extended its closure of schools and colleges until at least February half-term, unless there is a significant fall in infections. The nation’s level four lockdown will also be extended and strengthened, First Minister Mark Drakeford said
- Northern Ireland’s stay-at-home order comes into force this morning . Due to last until 6 February with a review later this month, it means people can be ordered home by police if they are out without a “reasonable excuse”
Two new life-saving drugs discoveredAs we've mentioned, trials in the UK and five other countries have uncovered two more drugs which can save lives during the pandemic .
Supplies of the anti-inflammatory drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab are already available in the UK so they can be used to treat Covid-19 patients immediately.
Lead researcher Prof Anthony Gordon, from Imperial College London, said the trials showed they could save a life for every 12 patients treated - what he called a “big effect”.
As well as reducing deaths, the treatments speed up patients' recovery and reduce the length of time that critically-ill patients need to spend in intensive care by about a week.
Both drugs appear to work equally well and add to the benefit of the cheap steroid drug dexamethasone , which was the first life-saving treatment to be discovered.
The new treatments cost around £750 to £1,000 ($1,000-$1,350) per patient, on top of the £5 course of dexamethasone. Even though that's expensive, experts say it is far less than the typical £2,000 cost per day of an intensive care bed.
The latest world headlinesA warm welcome to all our readers globally.
Here are the latest headlines from around the world:
- The Australian city of Brisbane is to enter a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with the highly transmissable variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK
- Brazil has now recorded more than 200,000 deaths from Covid-19, which gives it the world's second-highest death toll, after the US
- The World Health Organization has called on European countries to do more to curb the new variant - now present in 22 nations on the continent
- A limited state of emergency has come into force in Japan's capital, Tokyo, and its surrounding areas as infections reach record levels
- Global virus cases have passed 88 million and nearly 1.9 million have died during the pandemic, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University
Heathrow boss: Very few people will travel under new rulesAs England and Scotland announce plans to require a negative Covid test for international arrivals, the boss of Britain's biggest airport has called for the government to outline how it will ease the "belt and braces" measures.
Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the airport had been calling for testing as an alternative to quarantine.
But, he said, the government had decided to introduce it in addition to the requirements that travellers self-isolate after visiting a country not subject to a safe travel corridor.
"Very few people will travel" under these circumstances, Holland-Kaye said, adding: "It can only be a temporary measure."
He continued: "We need to have a road map out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation and a lot of our supply chain and our exports go by air, largely in the holds of passenger planes.
"Unless we can get those passenger planes moving, we are not going to be able to get the economy moving as well."
How will travel testing work?As we've reported, passengers travelling to England and Scotland - including returning UK nationals - will soon have to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before their journey.
Here are more details.
When and where?
England is expected to bring in the requirement of a negative test next week while Scotland will implement it “as soon as possible”.
Officials are said to be working with devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland on extended similar measures to the entire UK.
How will it work?
Arrivals, including UK nationals, will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country they are in so they can show their negative test result.
"We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of Covid-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally we must take further precautions," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Fines of £500 can be issued to travellers who do not comply, but there will be exemptions for groups such as hauliers, children under 11, and those travelling from countries without the infrastructure to deliver tests. Arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland will also be exempt.
All passengers arriving from countries not on the government's travel corridor list must still self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result.
Brisbane enters snap lockdown over single infectionThe Australian city of Brisbane has just begun a three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible "UK variant" and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia's first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown began at 18:00 local time and covers five populous council areas in Queensland's state capital. People can only leave home for essential reasons.
'Great concern' over S Africa variant prompts new test ruleTransport Secretary Grant Shapps has defended introducing a new requirement, 10 months into the pandemic, that travellers to the UK present a negative Covid test.
He told BBC Breakfast it was prompted by "great concern" that vaccines may be less effective against a new variant of the virus first seen in South Africa, and he wants to prevent it becoming established in the UK.
Even UK nationals will be prevented from flying home without a negative test, Shapps confirmed.
UK travellers have recently found themselves subject to more stringent border requirements in other countries after another variant of the virus, which scientists believe is more transmissible, began spreading widely throughout the country.
With the chief executive of Heathrow Airport criticising the addition of testing requirements to existing quarantine rules, Shapps said it was necessary to continue self-isolation for arrivals from areas with high infection rates, because testing could miss some cases.
"It’s only through isolation that you can be 100% sure" someone is not spreading the virus, he said.
There has been criticism that quarantine measures for returning travellers are rarely enforced and Shapps admitted that only about a quarter of passenger locator forms, which travellers fill out with details of where they will be self-isolating, are checked at the border.
With plans initially announced for testing requirements for arrivals in England and Scotland, Shapps says he believes all of the UK will adopt the measure by next week.