- First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to announce whether more pupils will start to return to Scottish classrooms from next week
- Schools in Wales begin the process of reopening on Monday; in Northern Ireland, schools remain closed to most pupils until at least 8 March
- In England, PM Boris Johnson will set out a roadmap for easing lockdown - including opening schools - on 22 February
- People must be "optimistic but patient" about the coronavirus situation in the UK and the end to restrictions, the PM said on Monday
- The newly-appointed head of the World Trade Organization has told the BBC that vaccine protectionism must be overcome to solve the pandemic
- Lockdown has seen a "disturbing" rise in the number of blind people experiencing distressing hallucinations, according to the RNIB charity
- Globally, there have now been more than 109 million confirmed Covid cases and 2.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University
Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
We will be bringing you live updates throughout the day on all the major Covid stories around the world.
What's happening around the world?Here are some of the top headlines around the world this morning:
- Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to announce whether more pupils will start to return to Scottish classrooms from next week in a statement at Holyrood. She has said she is “very keen” to begin a phased return of primary pupils
- Rapid tests could help to reopen venues like nightclubs and cinemas , the UK prime minster has said. Boris Johnson said lateral flow tests could be used by "those parts of the economy we couldn't get open last year"
- It comes after the PM urged people to be "optimistic but patient" about the coronavirus situation in the UK and the end to restrictions
- Almost half a million families are thought to have fallen behind on rent , as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to the Resolution Foundation. More than 750,000 had been behind on housing costs last month, 450,000 more than January 2020
- China has arrested the leader of a multi-million dollar scam that passed off saline solution and mineral water as Covid-19 vaccines . The man researched the packaging designs of real vaccines before making more than 58,000 of his own concoctions
- There is optimism in Cuba as the country prepares to test its own Covid vaccine . Soberana 2 is being produced at the Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana and will be tested on tens of thousands of volunteers within weeks
The latest around Europe
- France is to hold experimental concerts in Paris and Marseille in the spring to work out how to reopen the culture sector. Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot says she’s very optimistic about seated events but standing events are more complicated. If all goes according to plan, 1,000 people will attend a seated event at the Marseille Dôme venue in the second half of March with the audience having the chance to stand up.
- Italy’s last-minute decision to halt the reopening of ski resorts until 5 March has prompted the new government’s first row. Local governors and some ministers are furious and a flash mob staged a protest at the northern resort of Bardonecchia.
- The Czech government has approved plans for a “state of danger” to replace a state of emergency rejected last week by MPs. Many but not all the emergency powers will be available. The government in Prague wants to gradually reopen schools from 1 March.
- Germany's BDI industry federation has warned of major consequences because of border closures with the Czech Republic and Austria's Tyrol region. Director Joachim Lang says there's a risk of European supply chains breaking down.
- An opposition motion of no confidence in Slovenia’s government for its handling of Covid and for alleged undemocratic behaviour has failed by six votes. Opposition MPs accused PM Janez Jansa of trying to turn Slovenia into an “authoritarian democracy”.
- Eurozone finance ministers have decided to keep financial support policies in place for now, as latest forecasts indicate the 19-country area will rebound less than expected in 2021. Chairman Paschal Donohoe says there’s an “inherent risk of withdrawing support too early”.
Here are the key global pandemic developments from the last few hours:
- UK to consider giving excess vaccine to other countries. The UK will look at making excess doses of coronavirus vaccinations available to other nations after it has vaccinated its adult population, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday. “My priority is to make sure I vaccinate the UK adult population as quickly as we can and then if there are any excess doses, we will look at how we make those excess doses available to other countries,” Zahawi told LBC radio.
- Bars and pubs in the UK continue to pose a risk for the spread of Covid despite best efforts to make premises safe , researchers have said. Hospitality venues were told to shut up shop in March 2020 as the first UK lockdown was announced. As restrictions were eased, however, venues were once again allowed to trade.
- South Africa asked the Serum Institute of India to take back 1m vaccine doses. South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine that the company had sent in early February, The Economic Times reported on Tuesday. Last week, South Africa’s health minister said the government may sell doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, after the country paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country.
- Boris Johnson said a ‘very low’ Covid case rate key to easing lockdown . In case you missed this earlier:Boris Johnson is closely monitoring coronavirus case rates as a requirement for easing restrictions in England, stressing the need for a layer of caution alongside four key criteria set out at the beginning of lockdown.
- Andrew Cuomo insisted New York didn’t cover up nursing home Covid-19 deaths . Under fire over his management of the coronavirus’ lethal path through New York’s nursing homes, Andrew Cuomo insisted Monday the state didn’t cover up deaths – but the governor acknowledged that officials should have moved faster to release some information sought by lawmakers, the public and the press.
- Three sailors tested positive for Covid on USS Theodore Roosevelt. Three sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for Covid, the Navy said Monday, less than a year after a massive outbreak on the ship sidelined it in Guam for nearly two months.
- South Korea purchased additional vaccines. South Korea has arranged to buy coronavirus vaccines for 23 million more people, its prime minister said on Tuesday, a day after authorities decided to scale back initial vaccination plans, citing delays and efficacy concerns.
- Syringe shortage hampers Japan’s vaccination roll-out. Fears are growing in Japan, where an inoculation drive against Covid-19 will begin on Wednesday, that millions of doses of Pfizer vaccine could be wasted due to a shortage of special syringes that maximise the number of shots used from each vial.
- China reported 16 new cases versus nine the day before. All the cases were imported infections originating overseas, and there was no new death or new suspected cases reported, the National Health Commission said in a statement.
- Mexico began vaccinating senior citizens in more than 300 municipalities across the country Monday after receiving some 860,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Most of the effort was concentrated in remote rural communities, but in a few far-flung corners of the sprawling capital, hundreds of Mexicans over age 60 lined up before dawn for the chance to get vaccinated.
- South Africa reopens major land borders. South Africa has reopened its major land borders with neighbouring countries after closing them last month to prevent the spread of coronavirus, AP reports.At least 20 border posts reopened Monday, with officials saying steps will be taken to avoid tightly-packed crowds of travellers gathering at the immigration posts which would spread the virus.
- New Zealand reported zero new cases overnight. New Zealand has recorded no new cases of Covid-19 overnight, either in the community or in managed isolation. It follows a testing blitz after three people tested positive for the UK variant on the weekend. Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, is current at level 3 restrictions, requiring people to stay at home. The rest of the country remains on level 2, which includes the return of social distancing rules, caps on gathering and increased mask wearing.
- AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine approved by Australia’s drug regulator . Australia’s regulator has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, ending months of delay to give full approval while other countries begin vaccinations with emergency approvals.
- WHO approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. The World Health Organization has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for emergency use, meaning the vaccine can be rolled out globally and participate in the Covax programme that aims to bring vaccines to poorer countries.