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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)

Coronavirus - 11th February 2021

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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 10:00

Summary for Thursday, 11th February

  • The number of people waiting more than 12 months to start hospital treatment in England was 224,205 in December
  • It's the highest for any calendar month since April 2008, and compares with 1,467 in December 2019
  • The coronavirus variant first detected in Kent will be the world's dominant strain, the head of the UK's genetic sequencing programme predicts
  • Prof Sharon Peacock also says her programme will still be doing research into strains '10 years down the line'
  • Meanwhile, the UK's pandemic preparations focused too much on flu, ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt tells the British Medical Journal
  • The government has set out more details of when people with asthma will get the vaccine
  • A further 1,001 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, new government figures show
  • In Italy, winter ski resorts in Lombardy will reopen next Monday - but at 30% capacity
  • Germany's lockdown is to continue until 7 March, but hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from 1 March


Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus live page.
Here is a round-up of the main stories this morning:


Latest around Europe


  • Germany’s lockdown is to continue until 7 March but hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from 1 March. There's no national agreement on reopening schools so the 16 German states will make their own plans. Several states want to reopen on 22 February and Saxony in the east plans to start opening primary schools and daycare next Monday.
  • Belgian hairdressers reopen on Saturday and the Belgian Beauty Federation, which represents 700 hairdressers, has appealed to Dutch people living north of the border not to come looking for a hair-cut. The group’s leader Mario Blokken says: "We want to stop population groups who don’t usually come into contact mingling together."
  • A big French project to build a fourth terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has been scrapped, partly for environmental reasons but also because the pandemic has dramatically reduced air traffic. Environmental transition minister Barbara Pompili says the plan, which would have cost at least €7bn (£6bn), was obsolete.
  • For the first time this winter ski resorts in Italy’s northern province of Lombardy will reopen next Monday, but at 30% capacity. Lombardy was at the centre of the start of the pandemic in Europe and Italy's infection rate is still high - with 12,956 new cases reported yesterday.
  • The Portuguese parliament is set to approve a decree from President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to renew the country’s state of emergency for another 15 days from Monday. The president cites continuing pressure on hospitals despite a lockdown in place since mid-January.


We have to be 'patient' over summer holidays - Hancock

The question over whether people will be able to go on holiday this summer is continuing to rumble on.
Matt Hancock says he hopes that people can have a summer holiday but there is "uncertainty" over the pandemic and "we do have to be patient".
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, the health secretary says the government is working hard so that people can have a holiday but "even before then" people can see their loved ones.
"This uncertainty does mean that we can’t any of us know exactly what the situation will be like because it depends how effectively we can deal with this pandemic.”
He says the government is doing everything it can to get things back to normal but cannot make any "categorical assurances".
It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday warned people not to book holidays at home or abroad just yet.

Partygoers hide in cupboards to avoid police


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Partygoers were found hiding in cupboards to avoid police when officers raided an organised event which had been booked online.
Fifteen people were issued with fines at the address in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, where police also found balloons and alcohol.
Cheshire Police revealed Saturday night's raid alongside details of 685 fines issued since the latest lockdown began.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 10:07

Kent variant on course to 'sweep the world'

The coronavirus variant first found in Kent could become the world's dominant strain, the head of the UK's genetic surveillance programme predicts.
Prof Sharon Peacock tells the BBC's Newscast podcast the new variant has "swept the country" and "it's going to sweep the world, in all probability".
She says her work sequencing variants of the virus could be required for at least 10 years.
The Kent variant has already been detected in more than 50 countries.
It was first detected in September 2020 in south-east England and its rapid spread over the following months was cited as the reason for the introduction of new lockdown rules across the UK in January.
Prof Peacock, director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium, says: "What's really affected us at the moment is transmissibility."
She adds: "Once we get on top of [the virus] or it mutates itself out of being virulent - causing disease - then we can stop worrying about it. But I think, looking in the future, we're going to be doing this for years. We're still going to be doing this 10 years down the line, in my view."
Yesterday, England's deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, said there was good data showing current vaccines were effective against this variant.
Read more


People understand holiday uncertainty - Hancock

People understand the "uncertain" situation around travelling and holidays, Matt Hancock tells the BBC, as people wonder whether or not to book something for the summer.
The health secretary says: "I don't actually think people are at all confused... it may be more difficult for headline writers but the people are smarter than all that."

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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 10:12

Breaking News

Year or more hospital waits in England highest since 2008

The number of people having to wait more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in England has risen above 200,000, new figures show.
It stood at 224,205 in December 2020 - the highest number for any calendar month since April 2008.
One year earlier, in December 2019, the number having to wait more than 52 weeks to start treatment stood at just 1,467.
The figures, from NHS England, also show that a total of 4.52 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December 2020.
This is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

Summary

Hre’s a summary of the main global coronavirus news so far today:
The Guardian

  • The US could have averted 40% of deaths from Covid-19, had the country’s death rates corresponded with the rates in other high-income G7 countries, according to a Lancet commission tasked with assessing Donald Trump’s health policy record. The commission condemned Trump’s response to Covid, but emphasised that the country entered the pandemic with a degraded public health infrastructure .
  • China has recorded its lowest number of new cases in five months, with just two new infections on 10 February . It follows a series of robust counter-measures that helped stamp out a new wave of the disease that emerged in the northeast last month.
  • A study by the US CDC has shown wearing two masks can “substantially reduce” exposure to Covid-19. The report found that in the lab tests with dummies, “exposure to infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks”.
  • A cheap and widely available asthma drug called budesonide appears to significantly reduce the risk of people getting seriously ill with Covid-19, if it is taken within the first week of developing symptoms.
  • Italy is reopening its ski resorts in Lombardy, the region worst hit by the coronavirus. Lifts will resume operating from 15 February , which will mark the return of skiing for the first time this year.
  • The WHO says that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be given to adults of all ages , after some countries decided not to give the dose to those aged over 65 over doubts about its effectiveness.
  • Malaysia will extend its free vaccination programme to all foreigners residing in the country , including students, refugees and undocumented migrants, the government said on Thursday.
  • Germany will remain in a partial lockdown until at least 7 March. Following crunch talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states , Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the number of new Covid-19 infections in Europe’s top economy was dropping after more than two months of shuttered schools and shops.
  • Mexico has signed an emergency use authorisation for China’s Sinovac vaccine, according to the country’s deputy health minister.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 11:42

A&E attendance in England 38% down

A&E attendances at hospitals in England continue to be below the levels of a year ago, according to the latest figures from NHS England.
A total of 1.3 million attendances were recorded in January 2021, down 38% from 2.1 million in January 2020, before the pandemic had begun in the UK.
NHS England said the fall is "likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response" - suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E departments because of coronavirus.
The year-on-year drop in A&E attendances of 38% in January compares with falls of 32% in December, 31% in November and 26% in October.
The total number of people admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was also down compared with last year - by 25% in December and 27% in both November and October.

4.5m people on a hospital waiting list in England

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
According to those figures out this morning, there are now nearly 225,000 people in England who have waited more than 12 months for routine hospital treatment.
That is the highest number since April 2008 – and is an increase from 1,600 in February.
They include people waiting for operations such as knee and hip surgery.
It comes as growing numbers of operations were postponed during December as Covid cases rose rapidly.
In total, 4.5 million people are on a hospital waiting list.
But cancer care seems to have been less affected.
During December just over 200,000 patients received urgent checks by cancer specialists and 25,000 people started their treatment – both measures are in line with the numbers that were being seen before the pandemic.

Not sensible to predict when restrictions can be lifted, top scientist says

It is "not sensible" to predict when Covid-19 restrictions can be lifted and when people might be able to go on holiday, Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, says.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he says data - such as infections, hospital admissions and deaths - should determine when restrictions are lifted.
"Setting a date now, arbitrarily, for some date in March or April, frankly doesn't make any sense.
"I appreciate that businesses have to plan and everything else, but the data has to drive us, and in 2020 we lifted restrictions too quickly when the data would not really have allowed that and, frankly, as a result the transmission went back up in this country."
He says the new variants are a "massive warning".
"We are not through this pandemic yet but we can be through it, but only if we reduce transmission, we vaccinate as many people as we can in this country, and we ensure that those vaccines are available in an equitable way around the world.
"That's not just a moral and ethical case, that's the financial and economic (case), and it's the only way to bring this pandemic to a close globally."
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 12:10

12 new coronavirus cases in Singapore, 3 of which are community-based

CNA is reporting three community cases among 12 new Covid-19 infections in Singapore.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the remaining nine infections were imported and had been placed on stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore. No new infections were reported in foreign worker dormitories.
“With increased interactions over the Chinese New Year period, there will be higher transmission risks in the community. It is important that everyone remain vigilant and adhere to the safe management measures,” said MOH.
The number of visitors per household per day is limited to eight people, with the authorities encouraging everyone to connect digitally instead of going on physical visits.

Stricter lockdown for the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic on Thursday announced a stricter lockdown in three districts from east to west where coronavirus infections have soared and hospitals are struggling to cope.
The order means a ban on movement from and into the eastern district of Trutnov on the border with Poland and the western districts of Cheb and Sokolov on the border with Germany, the health minister Jan Blatny said.
The restrictions will take effect on Friday, Blatny said, but they depend on an extension of a national state of emergency beyond Sunday, which the minority government may be unable to secure in a parliamentary vote expected later in the day.
The three districts are home to around 300,000 people, and infection rates there were at 1,091-1,183 per 100,000 in the past week, according to ministry data.
“These are areas where the number of infections is three to four times higher than elsewhere,” Blatny told reporters. “We have decided to limit free movement in these regions beyond the national measures, and, apart from exceptions, to ban people who live here to leave and people who do not live here to enter.”
There will be exceptions for people who can prove they are on the way to work and children who attend school elsewhere, he said.
The country of 10.7 million has suffered one of Europe’s worst coronavirus flare-ups with daily cases around 9,000 in recent days. It has reported 17,772 deaths overall.
Hospitals in the affected regions have been forced to transfer patients to less stretched areas of the country.
Police will be enforcing the ban, which includes mountain areas where many Czech have second homes, Blatny said.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 12:18

Mandatory hotel quarantines soon to be introduced in Ireland

Travellers arriving to Ireland from Austria, the United Arab Emirates and sub-Saharan African countries are to be subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine, the taoiseach Micheal Martin said.
A total of 20 countries will join Brazil and South Africa on a list subject to travel restrictions due to the presence of variants of the coronavirus, Martin told Newstalk Radio.
Arrivals from the countries will be allowed to quarantine at any address until a system of mandatory hotel quarantines is introduced in the coming weeks, the government has said.

Merkel defends extending German lockdown amid 'very real danger' of third wave

Philip Oltermann - The Guardian
Angela Merkel has defended her government’s decision to extend Germany’s lockdown into March by pointing to the “very real danger” of a third wave driven by Covid-19 mutations.
“We are well advised not to doubt the assumptions of national and internal experts who tell us that the three mutations are significantly more aggressive, and also more infectious”, the German chancellor said in the Bundestag on Thursday morning.
Merkel reflected critically on her own government’s pandemic management in recent months, saying that advice on the importance of wearing medical masks had at times been inconsistent and Germany had been slow to react to rising infection rates at the start of the winter. “We didn’t wind down public life emphatically enough following warnings of a second wave”, the chancellor said.
Merkel and the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states on Wednesday agreed to extend restrictions until at least 7 March, though states will be allowed to decide individually whether to reopen schools and nurseries beforehand. Hairdressing salons across the country can reopen from 1 March.
Germany teachers and nursery workers are to move up the queue for vaccines and will be included in priority group 2 that is expected to be vaccinated from April. A new mechanism will allow further relaxations, such as reopen shops, museums or restaurants, to be discussed when the seven-day case index drops below 35 cases per 100,000 people.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 12:36

Ireland to extend lockdown till April

Ireland’s lockdown is set to be extended until April, prime minister Micheal Martin has said. “Certainly we are looking at a continuation of high levels of restrictions until the Easter period,” Martin told state broadcaster RTE.
Restaurants and pubs across Ireland have been shut since Christmas Eve and the non-essential retail sector has been closed since New Year’s Eve.
Children did not return to school in January after the festive break, and residents have been told to stay at home as Dublin dramatically stepped up domestic and international travel curbs.
Martin told RTE the exact plan for prolonging lockdown “remains to be determined by government” but reopening schools and construction projects is “a priority”.
According to latest official figures, 3,794 people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland. Ireland navigated two previous waves of coronavirus with relatively low case and death figures, AFP reports.
However, for a time in early January, Ireland had the highest per capita rate of infection in the world, according to Oxford University data. More than 40 percent of the total virus deaths have occurred in the first six weeks of 2021.
Last week the nation registered a record 101 coronavirus deaths in its daily toll. “We have to get those numbers down, we have to relieve those pressures,” Martin said. “Not just in the short term but for a sustained period.”
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 13:44

10-year jail term for travel lies an 'empty threat' - Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer says the proposed maximum 10-year jail term for people lying about their recent travel history is an "empty threat".
The Labour leader says "pretending" judges would sentence anyone to that long in prison "wouldn't help anyone".
Earlier this week, the government announced people arriving in England from "red list" countries must isolate for 10 days in hotels , costing £1,750.
Anyone lying on their passenger locator forms about visiting one of the countries faces a fine of £10,000 or up to 10 years in jail.
Ministers say the public expects strong action and the maximum sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime.
But critics, including ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, argue lower tariffs exist for sex offences.
Read more on this story here .

Government doing 'everything we can' to ensure summer holidays happen - No 10

While there is criticism for the penalties for failing to quarantine, doubt still lingers over whether it's wise to book a summer holiday.
The PM's official spokesman says the government is doing "everything we can to make sure people can have a holiday this summer".
But they add that while the government recognises people are keen for certainty, it is not possible to set out more detail at the moment.
They say more clarity should be available in "the roadmap that we will publish the week after next that will provide more detail in terms of the easements that we are looking to introduce, but again that will be based on the review we undertake next week."
The spokesman adds that the PM has not yet booked a summer holiday.
It comes after the government announced a raft of stricter travel measures, including people paying £1,750 if they need to stay in a quarantine hotel.
UK and Irish residents who visit 33 "red-list" countries will be required to stay in one of these when they return to England.
A government portal for booking a stay in one of these hotels has now gone live and can be reached via here .
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 17:32

Europe's oldest person celebrates birthday after having Covid-19


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Sister Andre turned 117 on Thursday

A special mass, a video call with family, and a feast of foie gras, capon fillet and baked Alaska.
These were the treats planned for the 117th birthday of Sister Andre, the oldest woman in Europe.
Her carers feared the French nun, whose birth name is Lucile Randon, would not survive to see the birthday after she contracted coronavirus recently.
Sister Andre didn't realise she had caught Covid-19, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the south-east city of Toulon. Ten of them died.
"So her birthday, it reinvigorates us," David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte Catherine Laboure nursing home, told AFP news agency.
Sister Andre is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.

What's happening in the UK and beyond?

If you're just joining us this lunchtime, or could do with a run down on the day's news, here's what we've been talking about:

  • The number of people waiting more than 12 months to start hospital treatment in England was 224,205 in December
  • It's the highest for any calendar month since April 2008, and compares with 1,467 in December 2019
  • The health secretary Matt Hancock has laid out a plan to reform the NHS to come out of the pandemic "stronger"
  • But the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth says the NHS is "on its knees" and "now is not the time"
  • Meanwhile, the coronavirus variant first detected in Kent will be the world's dominant strain , the head of the UK's genetic sequencing programme predicts
  • Prof Sharon Peacock also says her programme will still be doing research into strains '10 years down the line'
  • The government has set out more details of when people with asthma will get the vaccine
  • In Italy, winter ski resorts in Lombardy will reopen next Monday - but at 30% capacity
  • And Germany's lockdown is to continue until 7 March, but hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from 1 March
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 17:41

Israel starts vaccinating Palestinian labourers

Tom Bateman - BBC Middle East correspondent
Israeli paramedics have been vaccinating Palestinians at a busy checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank work inside Israel; many on farms or building sites, and there’s been growing pressure on Israel’s government to immunise them.
Health officials say around 700 people have been vaccinated, although the figure also included Palestinians from East Jerusalem who already came under Israel’s vaccine programme.
Israel has already been immunising Palestinian staff in its hospitals, some prisoners, and has delivered 2,000 doses to Palestinian officials for West Bank health workers. But this latest move amounts to a first - extending Israeli vaccines to some Palestinian labourers.
Israel has the fasted vaccination rate in the world for its citizens and vaccinating Palestinians has been controversial.
The UN and human rights groups say that, as the occupying power, it should do more. Israel says previous peace accords leave health provision to the Palestinian Authority.

Covid-19 cases falling across England, data shows

Covid-19 case rates are continuing to fall in all regions of England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.
In the West Midlands, the rate of new cases stood at 237.6 per 100,000 people in the seven days to February 7 - the highest rate of any region, but down from 326.8 in the previous week.
The East Midlands recorded the second highest rate: 223.7, down from 280.0.
South-west England recorded the lowest: 120.3, down from 176.5.
Case rates are also continuing to fall among all age groups, Public Health England said.
The highest rate is among 30 to 39-year-olds, which stood at 265.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to February 7, down week-on-week from 367.2.
Among 20 to 29-year-olds the rate dropped from 342.5 to 247.4 and for 40 to 49-year-olds it fell from 323.5 to 227.5.
For people aged 80 and over, the rate fell from 294.6 to 200.5.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 17:44

England's quarantine hotel portal down for maintenance


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The government's online portal to allow travellers to book a quarantine hotel when arriving in England from a country on the banned list has gone down for maintenance on the day it was launched.
The website went live earlier this afternoon but a message on the portal now says that, due to a "minor technical issue" it will not be available until later.
The new rules , requiring arrivals from countries on the so-called red list to isolate in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750, come into force on Monday.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said rooms are available from Monday and "travellers will be able to book through the site imminently".
They added: "The website is undergoing maintenance to correct a minor technical issue."

Africa advised to stick with AstraZeneca vaccine

Most countries in Africa should still roll out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, despite concerns over its use against a coronavirus variant that emerged in South Africa, the continent’s health agency says.
"We will not be walking away from AstraZeneca vaccines at all," John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said.
The variant had now been found in six other African countries - Botswana, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia, Dr Nkengasong said.
But with no evidence that it was dominant in any of those countries, he advised them and other African nations to still use the vaccine.
South Africa has delayed the start of its vaccination campaign, which was due to start this week.
The decision was taken after a trial on around 2,000 healthy, young people with an average age of 31 showed the AstraZeneca jabs offered "minimal protection" against mild and moderate cases of the new variant.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 17:49

Breaking News

Arthritis drug cuts deaths from Covid

A drug normally used to treat arthritis could be a life-saver for some of the sickest hospital patients with Covid, new research shows.
A national clinical trial (known as Recovery ) found that, for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, along with a cheap steroid already routinely given (known as dexamethasone), an additional life would be saved.
Some hospitals are now doing this.
As well as improving survival and recovery time, it can avoid patients needing to be moved to intensive care, say the NHS doctors.
Wendy Coleman, 62, received the treatment last year when she was admitted to Chesterfield Royal Hospital with severe Covid-19.
"I was struggling to breathe quite badly and on the verge of being placed in an intensive care unit.
"After I was given tocilizumab, my condition stabilised and I didn't get any worse. Up until then, it was quite scary as I didn't know if I was going to make it or not," she said. We've got the full story here.

Fully vaccinated people can skip quarantine, US guidance says

New guidance issed by the US says quarantining is not necessary for people who have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, if they are fully vaccinated and remain asymptomatic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance on quarantine rules for vaccinated people in the US on Wednesday .
"Individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission among vaccinated individuals," the CDC said.
The guidance says a vaccinated person must meet a strict criteria to forgo the standard 14-day quarantine period. They must:

  • Be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 i.e. had two doses
  • Have had their last vaccine dose within three months
  • Remain asymptomatic since the Covid-19 exposure

Two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are currently being rolled out across the US after emergency approval by regulators.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 17:59

When will England's lockdown end?

Jonathan Blake - BBC political correspondent
For most government announcements, a day here or there might not make much difference.
But nobody wants to wait any longer than necessary for the promised "roadmap" to take England out of lockdown.
So when the prime minister promised that "on 22 February" he would reveal that plan, Conservative MPs were among those marking their diaries.
But now Downing Street has said the roadmap will come "on the week of the 22nd".
In response Tory backbenchers are warning the government not to "backslide" on its promise.
They want to hold ministers to their aim of giving schools two weeks' notice before re-opening to all pupils on 8 March.
A vocal minority of Conservative MPs have argued the current lockdown is too strict and needs to lift as soon as possible.
Others have been more patient, but the further cases fall, the more people get the vaccine and the longer time goes on, the more pressure on the government will grow.

Germany expands travel ban over variant fears

The German government will impose a ban on travel from the Czech Republic and the Austrian region of Tyrol, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has told local media.
"The states of Bavaria and Saxony today asked the government to class Tyrol and the border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls," Seehofer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Thursday.
He said the border controls, which have been approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel, will come into force on Sunday.
Germany in late January banned most travellers from countries with the highest numbers of new, more contagious coronavirus variants.
Only a handful of exceptions are allowed to enter Germany from these countries, including returning nationals and essential workers.
The UK, where a highly contagious variant of the virus was first detected last year, is subject to such a travel ban.
There are fears that vaccines are not as effective against some coronavirus variants, such as the one found in South Africa.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 18:04

What do hotel quarantine rules mean for me?


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We've been hearing today about how England's quarantine hotel launch has been going - its booking website was taken offline just after launch.
The quarantine measure is one of a growing number aimed at stopping the spread of new, potentially more-resistant Covid strains from other countries.
From Monday, UK residents and Irish nationals who have been in 33 red-list countries in the 10 days before travelling will have to quarantine in hotels selected by the government - at a cost of £1,750.
They can only enter the UK at five airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham and Farnborough Airfield.
Despite all this, UK travel providers say they are still seeing strong demand for summer getaways later in the year .
There is more on UK travel rules here .

China says goodbye to the Year of the Rat

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
The clock has struck midnight (16:00 GMT) in China, ushering in the Lunar New Year.
It is normally the happiest time of the year in China, when families gather to have meals and set off fireworks.
But because of coronavirus outbreaks in the country's north-east, many people will be celebrating alone this year.
A “unique but safe” new year is how some state media outlets have been framing the occasion.
On the bright side, it has been four days since China recorded a domestically transmitted case of the coronavirus.
So, with China's vaccination programme well under way, there is a lot of optimism for the Year of the Ox.
As for the Year of the Rat, state media outlets appear to be pleased to see the back of it.
On its Weibo account, the People’s Daily newspaper posted a cartoon of an ox chasing a rat carrying parcels, and a coronavirus, out of an apartment.
Meanwhile, in a reminder of more normal times, the annual New Year countdown show - the Spring Festival gala - returned to being the large-scale spectacle audiences expect it to be.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 18:09

Prisoners in cells 90% of the day during pandemic, watchdog says

Prisoners in England's jails have been locked in their cells for more than 90% of the day to keep them safe from Covid-19, the prisons watchdog says.
And the extra restrictions, which began in March, have led to a decline in their mental and physical health and a rise in drug taking and self-harm.
"It's being imprisoned while you're in prison," one inmate told inspectors.
Predictions up to 2,000 inmates would die in the pandemic in England and Wales without action have been avoided.
But inspectors who visited a cross-section of jails, interviewing male and female prisoners as well as young offenders, found the long-term consequences of such an extended and restrictive regime could be "profound", with some newly-released offenders ill-prepared for life outside.
Normally, adult prisoners should spend between eight and 10 hours a day outside their cells.
Meanwhile, at HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire a 52-year-old inmate has died following an outbreak of the virus .
Read more


Ministers in a summer holiday tangle

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor
In normal times, you probably wouldn't think it's any business of a politician's to tell you when, or when not, to book a summer holiday.
The pandemic, of course, has changed all that - you can look still, but you may well not want to book.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it's "too early" to know whether summer holidays can go ahead.
His comments came after both the PM and Grant Shapps pleaded with people not to "go ahead and book holidays".
Ministers' remarks clash with each other - in emphasis or fact sometimes - because they just do not know exactly what the situation will be, so they have no solid decision to explain.
And if they don't know, well there's not much they can tell us.
Read more from Laura's blog here .
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 18:12

Breaking News 

UK deaths rise by 678

A further 678 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, according to the latest government figures, which were tweeted by Public Health England .
It takes the death toll by that measure to 115,529.
There were also a further 13,494 cases reported.
On Wednesday, 1,001 deaths and 13,013 cases were reported.


Breaking News 

Vaccine first doses in UK top 13.5 million

The daily figures also show a total of 13,509,108 people have now received the first dose of a vaccine in the UK - a rise of 450,810 compared with yesterday.
The data was tweeted by Public Health England, rather than published on the government's coronavirus dashboard as it normally is.
PHE said due to a technical difficulty, the dashboard was expected to be updated at 18:00 GMT.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 18:15

Russia has vaccinated 2.2m, official says

Vitaliy Shevchenko - BBC Monitoring
In a rare update on the progress of Russia's vaccination campaign, an official has said that more than 1.7 million Russians have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
Denis Logunov from the state-run Gamaleya Centre, which developed Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, was speaking at a meeting organised by the ruling United Russia party at the Moscow City Council. He said some 2.2 million residents of the country had received the first of two jabs.
Officials have so far been tight-lipped about the exact number of Russians who have been vaccinated, and Logunov’s data suggests that Russia is lagging far behind in the race to vaccinate against Covid-19.
According to figures , fewer than 1.5% of the population in Russia have received anti-coronavirus shots, compared to 69.5% in Israel, 47.4% in the UAE, 20% in the UK, 13.4% in the US, 5.6% in Chile and 2.8% in China.

Analysis: UK's daily figures show continued progress

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The latest daily Covid figures for the UK show continued progress, with just under 13,500 new infections reported.
It means week on week there has been a drop of approaching a third – and this compares to an average of nearly 60,000 infections a day at the start of the year.
The number of new deaths confirmed is 678.
Daily figures do jump around a little but the average for the past week is now well below 800 a day, compared with more than 1,200 a few weeks ago.
Could vaccination be playing a role?
At the moment, there is nothing to clearly suggest it is – or at least not in a significant way.
The drop seems to be largely driven by lockdown.
But in the coming weeks expect that to change.
The falls – at least in terms of hospital cases and deaths – could soon become even more marked.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 18:18

Vaccines seem to be reducing deaths, Sweden says

Coronavirus deaths appear to be declining in Sweden as more elderly people receive vaccinations against the disease, health officials say.
Another 44 Covid-19 deaths were registered on Thursday, bringing the total to 12,370 in Sweden.
But deaths have been steadily declining since December, when more than 100 a day were being recorded, World Health Organization data showed.
“We can in good conscience say that this type of decrease should be due to the vaccines,” chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said, adding: “It also follows what we have seen in Israel and other countries.”
Sweden has prioritised vaccinating people in nursing homes, where many of the country’s deaths have occurred.
The coronavirus death rate in Sweden is higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than some European countries that imposed tight restrictions.

Stormont will act collectively in NI lockdown review, minister says

Stormont ministers will take a "collective approach" when reviewing Northern Ireland's lockdown restrictions next week, finance minister Conor Murphy has said.
NI re-entered lockdown on 26 December, with the measures due to last until 5 March.
But ministers will meet on Thursday to review what should happen beyond that point.
First Minister Arlene Foster said there needed to be one more "push" to reduce infection rates as much as possible.
She said next Thursday's executive meeting would be a "key decision point" about how Northern Ireland emerges from lockdown.
A pathway to recovery document is due to be published by the executive in the coming weeks, with many businesses asking for clarity around indicative reopening dates.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 19:29

Year-long routine surgery waits 'worst since 2008' in England

Nearly 225,000 people in England have now waited more than 12 months for routine hospital treatment - the highest number since April 2008, NHS England figures show.
This includes people waiting for planned knee and hip surgery.
It comes as growing numbers of operations were postponed during December when Covid cases rose rapidly.
In January 2021 alone, hospitals treated nearly a third of all patients with Covid since the pandemic began.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said staff had worked extremely hard to provide essential services during the pandemic.
He added: "Even in January, when hospitals admitted almost a third of all the Covid patients they have treated during the pandemic, they were treating twice as many patients with other conditions as they did for those with the virus over the month.
"But the NHS remains under significant pressure so it is vital that everyone continues to do all they can to stop the spread of the virus by staying at home and following the expert 'hands, face, space' guidance."
Coronavirus - 11th February 2021 Read_m12

Portugal extends its nationwide lockdown

Portugal has extended its nationwide lockdown until 1 March to tackle its worst surge of Covid infections since the pandemic began, Reuters reports.
The country’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, wrote on his official website before parliament approved his proposal to extend the lockdown by another two weeks:
The truth is that the country’s hospital capacity continues to be put to the test ... so there is no alternative but to reduce cases.
Portugal imposed its second lockdown on 15 January, shutting non-essential services and schools and making remote work compulsory where possible.
Most measures are likely to remain the same, but under a presidential decree issued on Wedndesday the government could decide to allow businesses to sell books and school supplies. It could also implement a noise control regulation to allow people to work from home without being disturbed.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Feb 11 2021, 20:10

A look at the day's coronavirus stories

We're going to be closing the live page soon so here's a look back at some of the coronavirus news we've brought you today:

  • A further 678 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, the government's daily figures show . It takes the total number of deaths, within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, to 115,529
  • A total of 13,509,108 people have had their first coronavirus vaccine and 524,447 have had their second, the figures say
  • Over in Russia, an official says 1.7 million people have had two doses of a vaccine and 2.2 million have had one
  • A drug normally used to treat arthritis could be a life-saver for some of the sickest hospital patients with Covid, new research shows
  • A national clinical trial found that, for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, along with a cheap steroid already routinely given (dexamethasone), an additional life would be saved
  • Meanwhile, NHS England figures from December show nearly 225,000 people in England had waited more than 12 months for routine hospital treatment - the highest number since April 2008. It compares with 1,467 in December 2019
  • US scientists concluded that wearing two masks offers significantly better protection against Covid-19. The double mask combination blocked 92.5% of cough particles, experiments by CDC health experts say.
  • And if you're feeling peckish there's up to two tonnes of cheese at risk of going to waste as a company struggles to sell its stock during lockdown


Goodbye for now

That's all from today's live page team who today were:
Alex Therrien, Cherry Wilson, Claire Heald, Doug Faulkner, Jennifer Meierhans, Joshua Nevett, and Suzanne Leigh.

Have a good evening from all of us.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 15:08