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

Coronavirus - 20th February 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 12:31

Summary for Saturday, 20th February

  • Downing Street says reuniting families will be a key ambition of the PM's strategy for easing the lockdown in England
  • Care home residents in England will be allowed to pick one person to visit them regularly from 8 March, the government says
  • PM Boris Johnson will reveal his road map for easing lockdown in England on Monday
  • In Scotland, care home residents will be allowed two designated visitors from early March
  • The UK should donate vaccines to developing countries now rather than waiting until it has a surplus, the World Trade Organization says
  • It comes after Johnson said the UK would donate most of its surplus supply to poorer nations
  • G7 leaders have pledged to increase their contribution to the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative
  • Another 533 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and there are 12,027 new cases reported


Welcome

The weekend is here and we're all ready to bring you coronavirus updates.
Stay tuned for the latest from the UK and around the world.

The latest headlines



Here’s a quick summary of the latest events (from The Guardian):

  • Italian police are investigating fake Covid-19 drugs and vaccines. Officers interviewed a Veneto regional official reported to have received an offer to buy 27m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine outside of the EU procurement system.
  • Greece extended lockdown restrictions to more areas of the country. The authorities are trying to stem the spread of infections, Reuters reported. But they also lifted lockdown in others where infections receded.
  • US land borders with Canada and Mexico are to remain closed to non-essential travel. The measure has been extended until at least 21 March to address Covid-19 concerns, Reuters reported, citing the US government.
  • About 200,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine are on their way to Mexico. The Central American country’s foreign minister announced the news amid a global scramble to secure tight supplies.
  • France reported an increase in the daily death toll. Officials said on Friday that 328 people had died, compared with the 271 announced on Thursday and 310 on Wednesday.
  • The Irish Department of Health has reported three cases of the Brazilian variant. The cases were identified as having been directly related to recent travel from Brazil.
  • Two people died amid anti-lockdown protests in Gabon. The country’s president said the deaths occurred as the protests against new Covid-19 restrictions degenerated into a street standoff.
  • Several French cities are facing tougher lockdown measures. The health minister Olivier Véran is warning that Nice and its surrounding département will require further restrictions and local media reports that he has not ruled out a total lockdown.
  • British officials are being urged to donate vaccine doses to developing nations. The new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, urged Downing Street to act now as it was “in the interest” of rich countries as well as poor countries to have “equitable access”.
  • Argentina’s health minister resigned after claims surfaced of the improper allocation of vaccines. Ginés González García said individuals were able to sidestep proper procedure for vaccinations due to “involuntary confusion” in his office. A prominent journalist had said he was given a dose after speaking to García personally.


Lockdown easing plans around the UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is spending the weekend finalising his road map for easing lockdown in England, which will be revealed on Monday.
Downing Street has said a key ambition will be to reunite families.
We already know that care home residents in England will be allowed to pick one person to visit them regularly from 8 March.
Other details being announced on Monday include those on the reopening of schools, which Johnson has said is his top priority.
But what's happening in the devolved nations of the UK? They have the power to set their own restrictions, and have been moving at different speeds:

  • In Scotland, the government hopes to publish a route out of lockdown next week, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people not to book Easter holidays. We also know care home residents in Scotland will be allowed two designated visitors from early March
  • In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced up to four people from two different households can exercise outdoors together from Saturday; he said he hoped the "stay-at-home" requirement could end within three weeks, with some non-essential shops and hairdressers possibly reopening at the same time
  • Northern Ireland's health minister has played down the prospect of restrictions being eased in time for Easter - a review of current measures will take place on 18 March


Care home residents in England to be allowed one regular visitor

Care home residents in England will be allowed to pick one person to visit them regularly from 8 March, the government says.
They will be able to meet indoors and hold hands - but visitors must wear PPE and be tested before entering the home.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the rule change is a "first step to getting back to where we want to be".
These care home visits are the first confirmed easing of lockdown since its reintroduction last month.
On Monday, PM Boris Johnson will reveal his roadmap for the gradual lifting of restrictions.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 12:39

Newspaper headlines: PM's 'secret' blueprint, and Whitty 'very unhappy'


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Several papers report that families should be able to meet up over Easter, under plans to ease the lockdown.
The Daily Telegraph says the prime minister is determined to keep his blueprint for lifting restrictions a secret until Monday.
The paper reports that only three cabinet ministers have been brought "into the loop" on what it entails.
They were reportedly given print-outs of the plans at a meeting this week - but had to return the documents before leaving the room.
The Guardian reports that England's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, is said by sources to be "very unhappy" about so-called "big bang" plans for all pupils to return to schools on 8 March.
The paper says the government has denied the claims - saying Prof Whitty is not opposed to any of the options being discussed.
Read more from the papers here


G7 increase support for Covax scheme

G7 leaders have pledged to intensify co-operation on Covid-19 and increase their contribution to the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative.
In a joint statement released after a virtual summit on Friday, G7 leaders raised their overall commitment to $7.5bn (£5.3bn) .
Wealthy countries are facing growing pressure to make sure lower-income nations get fair access to vaccines.
President Joe Biden has pledged $4bn in US aid to the fund and the EU doubled its contributrion from €500m to €1bn.
Germany pledged an additional $1.2bn with Chancellor Angela Merkel telling journalists: "I stressed in my intervention that the pandemic is not over until all people in the world have been vaccinated."
The Covax scheme is aiming to get at least 1.3 billion vaccine doses to vulnerable populations worldwide in the coming months.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 12:55

Travel industry begs for 'route out of crisis'

The travel industry has urged the prime minister to provide a roadmap to get people travelling again this summer .
In an open letter, travel organisations and businesses have asked for more help to safeguard employees' livelihoods and rebuild the £80bn contribution the sector makes to the UK economy.
"We urge you to provide a route out of the crisis for the travel industry," it says.
Boris Johnson will set out his plans for easing lockdown rules on Monday.
Under the current national restrictions, holidays are not permitted anywhere in the UK. International travel is restricted to essential purposes, such as for work, medical appointments, or education.

What will we learn on Monday?

Nick Eardley - Political correspondent
Although the full details of the road map out of lockdown in England are still being finalised, the likely first steps are becoming clearer.
Schools are number one on the priority list - and Downing Street still hopes they can reopen on 8 March.
After that, more outdoor socialising is likely to be the next step.
After a tough period, in which many have been separated, Downing Street is said to be focusing on allowing people to reunite with family members in a safe way.
Sources would not confirm dates - and said any relaxation of the rules on socialising would be cautious.
They also stressed exact details were still being nailed down - and that the prime minister would not want to risk unravelling the progress made in recent weeks during the nationwide lockdown.
But in a couple of days' time, we will learn more about how the restrictions people have faced for the past seven weeks in England will be gradually lifted.

US secretary of state criticises China over Covid investigation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticised China for its lack of transparency in uncovering how coronavirus emerged.
A team of investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) spent four weeks in China on a fact-finding mission at the beginning of the year. However, two experts from the WHO team said afterwards that China refused to grant full access to the data they sought .
In his first international interview, the secretary of state told the BBC a better health security system was needed to spot pandemics before they fully emerged.
"It requires countries to be transparent. It requires them to share information. It requires them to give access to international experts at the beginning of an outbreak - things that unfortunately we haven't seen from China," he said.
Blinken also stressed the importance of worldwide vaccination against Covid-19.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 12:58

Ambulance delays led to 'secondary Covid victims'


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Ambulances waiting outside busy hospitals over Christmas led to "secondary Covid victims", the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said.
BBC News has spoken to the wife of a man who died of a stroke, having waited three hours for an ambulance.
Rose Rwagasore was working as a nurse at a north London hospital on New Year's Eve when her teenage children called her to say their father, Robert Wabwire, had a sudden headache and was vomiting.
Despite calling 999, no ambulance arrived and by the time Rose got home, her husband had deteriorated further.
The family rung 999 four times but it took more than three hours for an ambulance to arrive.
Robert had died by the time paramedics got there.
Royal College of Emergency Medicine vice-president Adrian Boyle said: "Covid has taken a very fragile system and basically pushed it over the edge."
Information requests show that the number of hours ambulances spent waiting to offload patients rose by 63% in London and 48% in the West Midlands.
The NHS said capacity had been freed up despite increasing Covid-19 infections.
NHS England said the number of individual ambulances waiting more than 30 minutes across the whole of England from the end of December to the beginning of February, had fallen.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 13:04

Care home visits 'a welcome step forward'

This morning we've learned that care home residents in England will soon be able to have one regular visitor - news welcomed by the National Care Association.
Executive chairwoman Nadra Ahmed says it's a "step forward" after a "gruelling" year, but says "we need to be very careful and cautious and make sure that everybody understands the implications and the risks that might be attached".
She told BBC Breakfast: "But if everybody does what they're asked to do and follows the rules then certainly we hope that this will be the start of a bit more as we go forward."
She says having just one nominated person is about "mitigating risks" and that she understands it could be "up to the resident sometimes to nominate that person".
She says the biggest issue will be having enough staff to sort testing and cleaning after visits.
"It's doable as much as we possibly can and it will depend on the resources. Staff resource is our biggest problem. We have staff who are exhausted, we've got staff who are going down with Covid and also getting long Covid," she says.

Analysis: A cautious step forward

Alison Holt - Social affairs correspondent
After months where visits to many care home residents have been at closed windows or behind screens, if they've happened at all, this latest announcement marks a cautious step forward.
From 8 March, a single named family member or friend will be able to visit someone living in a care home .
With almost all care home residents now having had a first dose of the vaccine, the government says this represents a balance between the risks posed by Covid and the importance of families spending time together.
It follows increasing pressure from organisations representing older and disabled people and their relatives.
However, those groups wanted restrictions eased by 1 March, saying that meaningful visits are fundamental to the wellbeing of both residents and families.

Breaking News 

Care homes residents in Scotland to be allowed two visitors

More news about care home visits now.
We've just found out care home residents in Scotland will be able to choose two people to visit them regularly from early March.
The Scottish government has said the visitors will be able to go to the care home once a week, wearing PPE including face coverings.
The announcement is part of Scottish government guidelines due to be published on Wednesday.
Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said while protection was in place, people must remain "vigilant about the risks".
In England care home residents will be able to pick one regular visitor . Scotland is able to choose its own coronavirus rules under devolved powers.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 13:09

Government denies Whitty 'unhappy' with schools plan

The government has strongly denied reports that England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, is "very unhappy" about plans to reopen schools on 8 March.
The Guardian reported claims that Boris Johnson's proposal to bring all year groups back on that date had "run into resistance" from Whitty.
The PM has previously said schools could return from 8 March "at the earliest" but is due to unveil his full plans on Monday.
A government spokesperson says: "These claims are categorically untrue.
"We know schools, parents and pupils need clarity on plans as soon as possible, which is why we have committed to providing two weeks’ notice for them to prepare.
"The prime minister is due to set out plans for schools reopening on 22 February, and pupils will return from 8 March at the earliest."

Lockdown in Britain's 'plague village'

Famous for locking down more than 300 years ago to stop the spread of disease during the Great Plague of 1665, the Derbyshire village of Eyam is no stranger to quarantine.
The BBC's Fergal Keane visited the village's residents at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
One year later, how have they been coping? Find out here:

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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 13:15

Latest world headlines


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Members of the Dutch Senate voted on the emergency law to regulate the curfew



Dutch Senate backs night-time curfew law

Anna Holligan - BBC News Hague correspondent

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The current 21:00 to 04:30 curfew was imposed by emergency law

The Dutch Senate has backed emergency legislation to maintain a night-time coronavirus curfew after a court ruled earlier in the week that the measure lacked legal justification .
A not unexpected result, the bill that gives the curfew a more solid legal grounding had been approved by the lower house of representatives the day before.
It ensures that one of the government's most controversial coronavirus strategies will remain in place regardless of the outcome of an appeal, which will be heard next week.
The curfew was the first in the Netherlands since the Nazi occupation during World War Two, and was the catalyst for riots that rocked the country in January.
According to caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the measure is essential to reduce social contacts and in turn the spread of the infection.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 13:31

Argentina's health minister resigns over vaccine allocations

Argentina’s health minister resigned on Friday after claims surfaced of the improper allocation of vaccines.
Ginés González García said in a letter posted on Twitter that individuals were able to sidestep proper procedure for vaccinations due to “involuntary confusion” in his office while he was away from the capital in another province.
Reuters cited two senior sources as saying the president, Alberto Fernández, had asked for his resignation after allegations were made in the media of at least 10 people receiving vaccinations without following the proper procedure; among them a veteran journalist who claimed he had received a shot after speaking directly with the minister.
The growing scandal throws a spotlight on wider fears in the region over corruption and access to vaccines, which are in short supply.
Earlier this month, Peru’s health and foreign ministers quit and its former president was placed under criminal investigation after reports of hundreds of Peruvian officials and others receiving vaccine doses outside of clinical trials and before the national immunisation program began, Reuters reports.
In Argentina, well-known local journalist Horacio Verbitsky said he had received a shot after approaching the minister. He told the local radio station El Destape:
:Left Quotes:  I called my old friend Ginés González García and he told me to go to the Posadas hospital.

Ministers in Thailand survive no-confidence vote in parliament

Thailand’s prime minister has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament amid allegations that his government bungled the provision of Covid vaccines, abused human rights, mismanaged the economy and fostered corruption, AP reports.
Nine other ministers also survived the vote. It marked the second no-confidence test that prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government has faced since taking office in July 2019, following a contested election after Prayuth seized power in a 2014 coup as the army chief. In February last year, he and five Cabinet ministers easily defeated a no-confidence vote in the lower house.
But a more serious allegation was that Prayuth has deepened divisions in society by using the monarchy as a shield against criticism of his government.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a popular politician who was forced out of parliament last year, was charged last month with lese majeste for alleging that the government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines was late and inadequate, and that there was possible favouritism in the awarding of the main contract.
The criticism relates to the monarchy because most of the vaccines that Thailand has ordered are to be produced by Siam Bioscience, a private Thai company owned by the king.

The Philippines reports 239 new deaths

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 239 new deaths, the second-highest daily increase in casualties since the pandemic started, Reuters reports. The agency says there were also 2,240 new infections.
The previous daily high death toll was 259 deaths, reported on 14 September. The ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 559,288 while confirmed deaths have reached 12,068.
The president, Rodrigo Duterte, is to decide next week whether to further loosen curbs in the capital, Manila, to allow more economic activity.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 14:20

Scotland's prison cases 'almost double' in a week

The number of Covid cases in Scotland's prisons has almost doubled in a week, according to new figures.
Official Scottish Prison Service statistics showed virus cases increased from 189 to 364.
The spike has been driven by a major outbreak at HMP Kilmarnock, where 247 positive cases have now been recorded.
The Scottish Human Rights Commission has renewed calls for a reduction in the prison population to help the system cope with the pandemic.
The Scottish government said the wellbeing of prisoners was a priority and that outbreaks were being "well managed".

Anti-vaccination protests held in Australia ahead of rollout


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There were arrests and clashes in Melbourne

Anti-vaccination protesters have gathered across Australia ahead of the launch of the country's coronavirus inoculation programme.
Protests were held in cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with participants chanting slogans like: "My body, my choice."
The rallies were largely peaceful, but police made several arrests in Melbourne, local media reported.
The national rollout of the Pfizer vaccine is set to begin on Monday.
Australia's medical regulator earlier this week also granted provisional approval for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is expected to be rolled out next month.
Read more here.

Russia reports 12,953 new cases in last 24 hours

Russia has reported 12,953 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 1,623 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,151,984. Reuters reports that local authorities also recorded another 480 deaths, raising the official toll to 82,876.

Poland may impose border restrictions with Slovakia and the Czech Republic

Poland’s health minister Adam Niedzielski has not ruled out imposing restrictions at the country’s borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to their rising numbers of cases, Reuters reports. It quotes him as telling the local station Radio Zet:
:Left Quotes:  Borders will be open for persons with negative test results, but this is as of today, as the dynamics of the situation may change.
“Yes, definitely,” he said, when asked whether the government was considering restrictions at the southern borders with the two countries.
Reuters said Niedzielski expects the peak of the third wave of the pandemic in March or April and says the Polish government is also considering reimposing curbs on social life in regions with highest numbers cases, including the northeast.
Poland has loosened some restrictions, recently opening ski slopes as well as cinemas, hotels and theatres at up to 50% capacity, but authorities have warned that these measures may have to be rolled back depending on the pandemic situation.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 16:02

Union ramps up efforts to 'save Eurostar'

Union leaders will present a formal paper to the government as part of their campaign to get support for Eurostar services after the company admitted it is "fighting for survival".
It comes after officials from the train drivers' union Aslef held a meeting at the Treasury on Friday to argue for jobs and services to be protected as the cross-Channel operator suffers from a fall in passengers because of the coronavirus crisis.
Union leaders have been urging the government to offer its support since last summer when The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union called on the transport secretary to intervene as a matter of urgency to prevent job cuts.
Eurostar said at the time it was looking at ways to protect itself for the long term by reducing costs across the business, including "a considered approach to reducing our payroll costs".
Today, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: "We are calling on the UK government to intervene to prevent Eurostar going to the wall.
"Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, and Grant Shapps must act now to save this service - for passengers, for the men and women who work on Eurostar, and for Britain and our connection with the continent."
He said train drivers and all the staff who keep our railways running have been instrumental in moving passengers and freight around this country during the pandemic
"So the government must not turn its back on them now," he added.

Analysis: Anticipation mounts over PM's roadmap

Jessica Parker - BBC political correspondent
The political reality is that Boris Johnson had to offer up a date for when he’d explain the path out of lockdown in England.
There are those on the Tory backbenches who would not have accepted an open-ended timeline.
But the government would argue that naming 22 February wasn’t some arbitrary effort to buy time, rather a logical choice - one that’s linked to the aim of reopening schools two weeks later, while allowing both the lockdown and vaccine programme to take effect.
Regardless of considerations in play, the long-awaited roadmap does now loom on the very near horizon.
Government sources insist that the details are, even now, still being finalised but with two days to go a broad plan must now be in place.
The government can try to stress caution or talk about caveats but all the build-up has led to a growing sense of anticipation. And, for many, that anticipation is linked to a hope that our daily lives may soon be less limited.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 16:09

What Europeans have learned from a year of pandemic

Paul Kirby - BBC News

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While the streets and tourist sites of Rome and Barcelona came to a standstill under lockdown, a curfew triggered riots in Dutch cities

From the first case diagnosed a year ago at a hospital in northern Italy to the empty shops, restaurants and stadiums of Europe's cities, coronavirus has changed the lives of Europeans.
Curbs on movement have forced every country and society to adapt its rules and rethink its culture.
Italians were initially frightened into uncharacteristic obedience, says BBC Rome correspondent Mark Lowen.
They were the first to be crushed by the virus, the first to see intensive care units close to collapse, and friends and family dying.
Very widespread respect for restrictions began to change with the second wave, with some protests against renewed lockdowns, given the fear and fatigue.
Read about the hard truths and unexpected innovations in a year that changed Europe.

Breaking News

445 further Covid deaths in the UK

A further 445 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, the government's daily figures show.
This takes the total number of deaths, within 28 days of a positive Covid test, to 120,365.
There were also 10,406 positive cases recorded in the UK in the last 24 hours.

More than 17m people vaccinated in the UK

We also have an update on the UK's vaccination programme.
The number of people who have received their first coronavirus vaccine in the UK is 17,247,442.
And 604,885 people have also received their second dose.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 16:21

Cluster of Brazilian variant cases in Ireland has been contained

An Irish cluster of three cases of the variant first discovered in Brazil has been completely contained, a senior health official has said.
All three were infected outside of Ireland and all were discovered during a 14-day quarantine following the patients’ arrival from Brazil, Cillian De Gascun, the head of Ireland’s national virus laboratory, told RTÉ radio.
The infections, the first of the Brazil variant to be discovered in Ireland, were announced by health officials on Friday evening, Reuters reports.

Italy suffers 251 more Covid deaths

Italy has recorded 251 more coronavirus-related deaths, compared with 353 the day before, the health ministry has said. Reuters reports that the daily tally of new infections has fallen to 14,931 from 15,479 the day before.
Some 306,078 tests were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 297,128, the ministry said.

Here’s a summary of the latest developments:

The Guardian

  • More than 200m vaccine doses have administered worldwide, according to Agence France-Presse. The agency said wealthy G7 countries have pledged to more than double aid to support access for the less well-off.
  • Italy suffered another 251 coronavirus-related deaths. However, according to health ministry data, that compared favourably to the 353 seen the day before. Reuters reports that the daily tally of new infections fell to 14,931 from 15,479 the day before.
  • Several French cities are facing tougher lockdown measures. The health minister Olivier Véran is warning that Nice and its surrounding département will require further restrictions and local media reports that he has not ruled out a total lockdown.
  • British officials are being urged to donate vaccine doses to developing nations. The new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, urged Downing Street to act now as it was “in the interest” of rich countries as well as poor countries to have “equitable access”.
  • Argentina’s health minister resigned after claims surfaced of the improper allocation of vaccines. Ginés González García said individuals were able to sidestep proper procedure for vaccinations due to “involuntary confusion” in his office. A prominent journalist had said he was given a dose after speaking to García personally.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 16:27

The latest headlines in the UK and around the world


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Anti-vaccination protesters have gathered across Australia

If you're just joining us, here are some of the latest coronavirus headlines from the UK and around the world:
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 18:27

Asylum hotels: 'Covid, fights and abuse' at London centres

Fights, Covid-19 outbreaks and alleged abuse have been reported at four west London hotels housing asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers were moved to hotels - in Chiswick, Twickenham and Fulham - in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
One woman, who spoke to the BBC under the condition of anonymity, said a resident at her hotel had tested positive for Covid-19.
She said: "She caught the virus and she been in hospital for three months and might not survive.
"We haven't been tested regularly in the hotel. The children play with each other. Maybe it can spread.
"We feel it is dangerous. When I hear my family cough, I just pray it's not coronavirus."
Police have not been able to find all the incidents described on their records and the Home Office has refused comment, saying it is not responsible.
It directed the BBC to Clearspring, a company that is used by the government to house asylum seekers.

What are the UK's lockdown rules?

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a "roadmap" for easing Covid restrictions in England on Monday. But what's happening in the rest of the UK?
The PM says the priority is to get pupils back to school from 8 March.
After schools reopen, No 10 says reuniting families and allowing people to have more social contact will be an "absolute priority".
There is also pressure to reopen pubs, restaurants, shops and the tourism industry, but the government says it will be "led by data, not dates" .
The devolved nations of the UK have the power to set their own coronavirus restrictions, and have been moving at different speeds to ease lockdown:

  • In Scotland, the government hopes to publish a route out of lockdown in the coming week. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned against booking Easter holidays, either at home or abroad
  • In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced minor easing of restrictions, including a resumption of weddings and civil ceremonies on 1 March. He said he hoped the "stay-at-home" requirement can end within three weeks
  • Northern Ireland has extended its lockdown until 1 April, with a review of current measures on 18 March

Need more information? Here's a full guide to lockdown rules where you live.

Drugs, DJ and disco lights found at 'soundproof' party

Fifty people have been fined for attending an illegal party in a soundproof room , police say.
Class A drugs, birthday cake, beer, a DJ and disco lights were found by officers in a venue in Birmingham on Thursday.
West Midlands Police say a member of the public had noticed taxis bringing guests.
The suspected organiser was arrested after refusing to give their details to officers and could face a fine of £10,000 under coronavirus legislation, police say.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Feb 20 2021, 18:31

Latest coronavirus headlines

We're going to be finishing our rolling updates soon, but before we go here's the latest coronavirus news from the UK:

  • Care home residents in England will be allowed to pick one person to visit them regularly from 8 March as lockdown restrictions ease, while the Scottish government confirmed care home residents will be allowed two designated visitors from early March
  • Reuniting families and allowing people to have more social contact will be an "absolute priority" in easing lockdown restrictions in England after schools reopen, No 10 says
  • John Vincent, the co-founder of fast-food chain [url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/the co-founder of fast-food chain Leon has said]Leon, has said extending lockdowns[/url] even by a matter of weeks will "cost lives"
  • The latest daily figures show another 445 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test, taking the total by that measure to 120,365
  • A further 10,406 cases were reported, which is a 22% decrease on last Saturday's figure of 13,308

And from around the world:


That's all from the live page team - Alexandra Fouché, Hazel Shearing, Jennifer Meierhans, Jo Couzens and Sarah Collerton.
Have a good evening.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:36