- From Monday, travellers arriving in England from Covid "red list" countries will have to self-isolate at a hotel
- Home Office minister Victoria Atkins defends England's hotel quarantine system, saying its "standards are amongst the strongest in the world"
- It comes after BBC analysis found the system will be less strict than a similar scheme in Australia
- More police will be deployed at travel hubs next week to ensure the new quarantine rules are enforced, Home Secretary Priti Patel says
- The UK economy "experienced a significant shock" last year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says, after figures show it shrank by a record 9.9%
- Wales will be the first UK nation to have offered the top four priority groups a Covid jab, the Welsh Government has said
- A five-day lockdown has been imposed in the Australian state of Victoria, following a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a quarantine hotel
- A further 678 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, with a further 13,494 cases reported, the latest figures show
The latest coronavirus news this morningWelcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic on this Friday morning.
Here are the latest headlines:
- England's new hotel quarantine system will be "very strong" and its "standards are amongst the strongest in the world", Home Office minister Victoria Atkins says
- The UK economy shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions hit output, the Office for National Statistics says
- But the Bank of England's chief economist says the UK economy is like a "coiled spring" ready to release large amounts of "pent-up financial energy"
- Wales will be the first UK nation to have offered the top four priority groups a Covid jab , the Welsh Government says
- The Australian state of Victoria will enter lockdown for a third time in a bid to suppress an outbreak of the UK strain of coronavirus
- Meanwhile, as research shows workers aged under 24 are struggling to get jobs, the BBC speaks to one jobseeker who estimates he's already done around 200 job interviews without success
Latest updates from around the world
- US President Joe Biden has confirmed the US has ordered 200m more doses of coronavirus vaccine. He said “my predecessor did not do his job” in scaling up the country’s vaccine rollout and urged Americans to “mask up”.
- The Brazilian Amazon variant of the coronavirus disease may be “three times” as contagious as other strains, the country’s health minister has said.
- Germany will ban travel from Czech border regions as well as Austria’s Tyrol over a troubling surge in infections of more contagious coronavirus variants.
- Donald Trump was reportedly much more ill with Covid-19 in October than the White House publicly admitted at the time, with some officials concerned that he would need to be put on a ventilator.
- Melbourne, Australia, will go into a five-day snap lockdown - a “circuit-breaker” to stem the spread of a new outbreak
- The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appears to have rejected comments made on Tuesday by the team of experts studying the origins of the Covid-19 virus after they said it was “extremely unlikely” that it leaked from a Wuhan virology laboratory and “isn’t a hypothesis we suggest implies further study”. Tedros said “I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study”.
- Portugal has extended a lockdown until 1 March or perhaps later to tackle its worst surge of Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began.
- People in the US who have received a full course of Covid vaccine can skip the standard two week quarantine following exposure to someone whose infected as long as they remain asymptomatic, health officials have suggested.
- Ireland, which, according to the latest official figures, has recorded 3,794 Covid related deaths, is set to extend its lockdown until April , prime minister Micheal Martin has said.
- Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has defended her government’s decision to extend Germany’s lockdown into March by highlighting the “very real danger” of a third wave driven by Covid mutations.
- The Philippines is poised to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel.
Latest news from around Europe
- Germany is to ban travel from Austria’s Tyrol region as well as Czech border areas from Sunday without a negative test, but commercial links will continue. Austrian police halted travel out of the Tyrol last night without a negative test, because of a surge in cases of the South African coronavirus variant. But Czech MPs have refused to back an extension of a state of emergency so it will end at midnight on Sunday.
- France is worried about an outbreak of South African and Brazilian variants in the north-east Moselle region. Health minister Olivier Véran says the situation is worrying and he’s heading there today.
- Poland is reopening swimming pools and ski slopes today and allowing hotels, cinemas and theatres to start up again at 50% capacity. Authorities already reopened museums and shopping centres on 1 February and they want to give the new relaxation two weeks to assess its effect. Another 7,008 infections were reported yesterday.
- Dutch policing unions are worried about a potential surge of skaters this weekend on the country’s frozen lakes and canals. Crowds were reported around some lakes yesterday – attracted by the big freeze - and some 500 people were told to leave a park in the eastern city of Nijmegen.
- But Portugal’s state of emergency is to stay until 1 March. And the lockdown will carry on at least until the end of next month, according to Prime Minister António Costa. He says the situation is extremely serious and it’s "premature" to talk about easing restrictions.