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

Coronavirus - 28th February 2021

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 11:29

Summary for Sunday, 28th February

  • Rishi Sunak tells the BBC's Andrew Marr Show there has been a massive shock to the economy and his priority is to support Britain through the crisis
  • The Chancellor, who will outline his Budget on Wednesday, says the UK's level of debt is "going to take time" to decrease
  • He has announced a new £5bn grant scheme for High Street businesses in England
  • There is no evidence of any new variants of coronavirus in the UK at the moment, the chancellor says
  • The single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine becomes the third jab to be authorised in the US
  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge urge people to get the Covid vaccine, saying it is "really important"
  • People aged 60 to 63 in England are due to start getting their vaccination invites from Monday
  • A senior German immunologist urges his country to change its mind and start allowing over-65s to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine


Good morning

Welcome to today’s live page. To start with, here is a summary of this morning's main headlines.


What the papers say

There is concern in some of Sunday's papers about what Chancellor Rishi Sunak may be preparing to include in his Budget on Wednesday.

  • The Sunday Times fears what it calls "stealth tax" rises - freezing income tax allowances.
  • The Sunday Telegraph warns against what it sees as a "devastating" move towards a "pro-tax philosophy" .
  • It picks up on a report, as do the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, by the Tax Payers' Alliance, that since coming to power a decade ago the Conservatives have made more than 1,000 tax rises.
  • The Sunday Express and Sun on Sunday both focus on the £5bn fund for pubs, restaurants and high street shops, with the Express dubbing the chancellor's plan the "bounce back budget".
  • The Mail on Sunday reports on findings that suggest a single dose of either the Pfizer-BioNtech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduces the risk of a person needing hospital treatment for Covid by more than 90% .
  • And many front pages pay tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore whose funeral took place yesterday, picturing his coffin wrapped in the union flag being carried by members of the Armed Forces.

Read more.

Recent developments from around the world:

  • Nearly 20m have received the first dose of a Covid vaccine in the UK. More than 20 million people in the UK have received at least a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, with under 4% of those given as second doses.Government data shows that of the 20.5m jabs given in the UK up to 26 February, 19.6m were first doses.
  • Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, woke up on Sunday morning to a second lockdown in a month as health authorities try to rein in a coronavirus cluster of the more contagious UK variant.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for emergency use, making it the third vaccine available to the US public and securing another vital step in the US fight to control Covid-19.
  • Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in Dublin. Ireland’s premier has slammed the “thuggish behaviour” and attacks on Irish police as anti-lockdown protesters stormed Dublin city centre, PA Media.
  • All English households with school children offered twice weekly tests. All households in England with school or college aged children will be offered two rapid Covid tests per person per week to support the government’s priority to get young people back in the classroom, the health ministry said on Sunday.
  • The first AstraZeneca shipment arrived in Sydney. The first shipment of 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses has landed in Sydney on Sunday, paving the way for the first major expansion of Australia’s rollout of the jab.
  • Thailand started its Covid vaccination campaign. Thailand kicked off its Covid inoculation campaign on Sunday, with cabinet ministers, health officials and medical professionals among the first in the queue to receive vaccinations.
  • Europe less at risk of inflation and rate fears: analysts. Investors are watching inflation carefully, worried that a boiling over of prices will ruin the expected strong pandemic recovery although analysts believe Europe faces much less of a risk than the United States.


£5bn fund to help High Street recover from Covid

Nearly 700,000 shops, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, gyms and other businesses in England, will be eligible for so-called "restart grants" to "get them back on their feet” post-pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.
The new £5bn grant scheme for High Street businesses in England will help shops and pubs reopen as England eases lockdown. The devolved nations will receive equivalent extra funding.
Mr Sunak tells the Mail on Sunday it had been an "incredibly difficult year for our High Streets" and the new money will provide businesses "the support they need to get them through”.
Non-essential shops in England, along with outdoor hospitality, will be allowed to reopen from 12 April at the earliest.
The one-off payment has been broadly welcomed by businesses, but some groups have said it does not go far enough.
Helen Dickinson, of the British Retail Consortium, which represents chain stores, says the latest money is a "vital injection of funding" but warns it will "only provide temporary relief" if the business rate holiday does not continue.
Last year was the worst for the High Street in more than 25 years as the pandemic accelerated the move towards online shopping, with more than 180,000 jobs lost in retail alone, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
Read more.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:00

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Dublin

Ireland’s premier has slammed the “thuggish behaviour” and attacks on Irish police as anti-lockdown protesters stormed Dublin city centre, PA Media.
Up to 20 people were arrested after hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police as they marched through the city centre and attempted to make their way to St Stephen’s Green park.
There was a heavy police presence around the city centre ahead of the protest, which started at around 2pm, and police used batons to push protesters away from the park.
Videos of the protest show a demonstrator point a firework at gardaí before it went off, while other missiles and items were thrown at the police.
Coronavirus - 28th February 2021 Read_m15

Restrictions on mourners 'difficult', say funeral staff

Funeral staff say they have found it "very difficult" imposing government restrictions on funeral services.
Lockdown measures saw funerals scaled back to just 10 mourners during the first lockdown in March 2020, although up to 30 people are currently allowed to attend.
"It goes against what we're here to do for our families," says Mandy Dewar, funeral service manager at Co-op Funeralcare in Watford.
"Explaining to families they can't have all their family members - putting them in that position that they need to choose who attends the funeral of their loved one - is very difficult."
But she says the availability of web-casting has proven "very positive", as it allows those who cannot travel to be part of the service.
"Being a funeral director, all we think about is helping and supporting our families," says colleague Colette Sworn.
"Grief is a hard time for families at the best of times, let alone being in a pandemic.
"Families need families around them supporting them."
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:03

Germany urged to back AstraZeneca jab for over-65s

A senior German immunologist is urging his country to change its mind and start allowing over-65s to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
In a BBC interview, Carsten Watzl, head of the German Society for Immunology, predicts regulators will have to reverse their decision to not recommend the jab for older people.
Germany is one of several EU states to have expressed doubts over the efficacy of the vaccine in older people. However, the country's vaccine commission is currently reviewing its recommendation.
"In order for us to reach our vaccination goals we need people to get this vaccine," Prof Watzl tells BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme.
"We do know that the vaccine works in that age group. The recent data from Scotland clearly show it elicits an immune response, the elderly are protected from severe disease by this vaccine."
The EU's medical regulator approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for all age groups in January.
Prof Watzl is urging Chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, to have the vaccine live on TV to prove it is safe.
Germany is currently struggling to avoid a third wave of infections as cases remain stubbornly high.
Figures released last week showed the infection rate has risen to 59.3 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. A lockdown has been in place since mid-December.
Read more.

Thailand begins vaccination rollout

Thailand has started its vaccination programme, with five Cabinet ministers among the first to receive a dose.
A report from Japan's Kyodo news agency says the vaccination drive has been overseen by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. He has been unable to get the vaccination himself however, as the Sinovac vaccine used is offered to those aged 18-59 and he is 66.
He thanked all those receiving the vaccine and urged fellow Thais to do so.
Frontline medical staff will be vaccinated from Monday.
Thailand has ordered two million doses of Sinovac and 61 million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:19

Australia's AstraZeneca vaccine rollout to start by 8 March after first 300,000 doses arrive

Here is the full story on the next stage of Australia’s vaccine rollout: Read here

US Federal Aviation Administration approves Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine for pilots and air traffic controllers

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said late on Saturday it has approved the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine for use by pilots and air traffic controllers, Reuters reports.
The FAA announcement, which came shortly after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine’s use, will require recipients to wait 48 hours after receiving the vaccine before conducting safety duties like flying or controlling air traffic.
The FAA previously allowed FDA-approved Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for aviation use, subject to the same 48-hour waiting period.

Philippines to receive first batch of Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday

The Philippines is due to receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccine Sunday, AP reported, making it among the last countries in south-east Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region.
President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials will welcome the arrival of 600,000 doses of China-donated vaccine in a ceremony at an air base in the capital that will underscore their relief after weeks of delays, officials said. Vaccinations initially for health workers are scheduled to start Monday.
Aside from the donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company. An initial 525,600 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca were also scheduled to arrive Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The initial deliveries are a small fraction of at least 148m doses the government has been negotiating to secure. The bulk of the vaccine shipments are expected to arrive later this year.
Coronavirus has infected more than 574,000 people in the Philippines and killed at least 12,289. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have also set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger.
“Although we are still a long way from herd immunity, the arrival of the initial supply of vaccine provides hope that our road to normalcy has finally begun,” Padilla told the Associated Press.
Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, including much smaller and poorer ones like Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:22

How will the spirit of New York survive the pandemic?

Nick Bryant - BBC New York Correspondent

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As I write, more than a year after the Coronavirus first struck, New York continues to appear before us in a phantom-like form, a ghostly Gotham.
It's thought that a third of the city's small businesses closed down in 2020 - dive bars, diners, kosher-delis, family dry cleaners, barber shops, nail salons, and the bodega convenience stores that have always prided themselves on being open all hours.
It's also been estimated that more than three million people have fled, an exodus of rich New Yorkers seeking refuge in second homes; an evacuation of struggling students returning to live with their parents; an exit stage right of actors and actresses lured here by the bright lights of Broadway who have nowhere to perform now that the Great White Way is dark.
We have seen an influx of new arrivals, but the city has been shrinking before our eyes.
And what of those people who've recently made New York their home? It's hard to imagine they've been drawn here with the same sense of optimism and ambition; that magnetic belief in the inevitability of their upward mobility; the romance of being penniless in a city where so many have made their fortunes.
How can they possibly be carrying that passport of possibility traditionally brandished by the new New Yorker?
That, in turn, raises one of the nagging intangibles of the Covid crisis. What will be the long-term impact on the spirit of New York? What will be the viral impact on the psyche of this city?
Read more from Nick here .
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:30

Mexico expected to ask Biden to share US vaccine supply

Reuters reports that president President Andres Manuel López Obrador is expected to ask Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the US coronavirus vaccine supply at a virtual summit on Monday.
Biden is open to discussing the matter as part of a broader regional effort to cooperate in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic but will maintain as his “number one priority” the need to first vaccinate as many Americans as possible, a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
López Obrador has been one of the most vocal leaders in the developing world pressing the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to the vaccines. He has called the current distribution system “totally unfair”.
“We fully expect that to come up,” the White House official said when asked whether López Obrador was likely to raise a request for shared vaccines when the leaders hold their first virtual meeting since Biden’s 20 January inauguration.
A Mexican official said López Obrador would ask for a loan of the US vaccine supplies, to be paid back when vaccines that Mexico has contracts for are delivered later in the year.
López Obrador’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters said.
The White House official made clear that while Biden is focused on “getting jabs in the arms” of Americans, the US recognises the need to forge a strategy to assist its neighbours since national borders cannot seal it off from the pandemic.
“Once we actually get the pandemic under control, the economic recovery is one where we’re going to have to eventually open our borders,” the official said. “But we cannot open our borders if Canada and Mexico have not similarly addressed the pandemic. So collaboration with Mexico is a top priority.”

Iran's coronavirus death toll surpasses the 60,000 mark

Iran’s health ministry said the country’s coronavirus fatalities went past the 60,000 mark on Sunday, as the Islamic republic battles the Middle East’s worst outbreak of the illness.
“Sadly in the past 24 hours, 93 people lost their lives to Covid-19, and total deaths from this disease reached 60,073,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address reported by AFP.
Iran has registered a total of 1,631,169 infections, according to the ministry.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:37

Czech Republic may use Russia's Sputnik V vaccine before approval by EU's EMA drugs agency

Czech Republic’s prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said on Sunday the country could use Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine even without approval by European Union’s EMA drugs agency, Reuters reported.
The Czech Republic has been struggling with the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic in the past weeks, ranking among the worst-hit countries in the world in terms of infections and deaths from the global virus.
On 10 February, Babiš has said Czechs would wait for the approval by EMA before using the vaccine. France is expected to provide 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the Czech Republic by mid-March.

Chile emerges as global leader in Covid inoculations with 'pragmatic strategy'

In Santiago, John Bartlett reports on Chile’s rapid vaccine rollout, which stands in stark contrast to other countries in the region. He reports:
 :Left Quotes: Having initially endured heavy criticism over its handling of pandemic restrictions , Chile has moved quickly to secure vaccines from a range of suppliers and aims to have 80% of its population immunised against the virus by June. It has already vaccinated 16% of its 19 million citizens at hospitals, schools, stadia and municipal buildings throughout the country.
You can read the story here .

Jordanian ministers sacked for coronavirus breaches

Jordan’s interior and justice ministers were sacked on Sunday for breaching health regulations to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The pair were asked to step down by the prime minister, Bisher al-Khasawneh, a move immediately endorsed by King Abdullah II, according to a statement from the royal palace reported by AFP.
They are accused, according to a government source, of “having violated the emergency law” put in place to curb Covid-19.
The Jordanian news website Ammon claimed interior minister Samir Mobaideen and justice minister Bassam Talhuni had attended a dinner in a restaurant in Amman with a total of nine people, when the law allowed a maximum of six.
Following a surge in virus cases, Jordan toughened this week its Covid-19 restrictions, returning to rules imposed in March last year, and which were only eased last month.
Jordan, which began vaccinations last month, has officially recorded more than 386,000 novel coronavirus cases and 4,675 deaths out of a population of 10.5 million people.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:42

Summary of recent events

Here’s a roundup of key events around the world this morning.

  • In the UK, chancellor Rishi Sunak indicated that emergency support measures such as the furlough scheme will be extended beyond the end of April in the budget on Wednesday.
  • In Germany, several states called for unused AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to be given to younger people, amid a low uptake of doses among the older population because of concerns, in contradiction of EU-wide guidance, over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s.
  • President President Andres Manuel López Obrador of Mexico is expected to ask Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the US coronavirus vaccine supply at a virtual summit.
  • Jordan’s interior and justice ministers were sacked for breaching health regulations to stem the spread of coronavirus.
  • Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has been vaccinated with a coronavirus jab developed by China’s Sinopharm.
  • Iran’s health ministry said the country’s coronavirus fatalities went past the 60,000 mark.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 13:56

Germany toughens entry requirements at border between it's French neighbours

Germany has classed France’s Covid-battered Moselle region as a high risk area for virus variants, triggering tougher entry requirements at the border between the two neighbours.
France’s eastern Moselle region is now listed as an area “at particularly high risk of infection due to widespread occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 virus variants”, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control announced.
From Tuesday, cross-border travellers from Moselle will need to be able to show a recent negative coronavirus test.
Germany has already introduced tough checks at its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region, ignoring calls from Brussels to keep borders within the bloc open. The checks at the Moselle crossing will be less strict, with random stops and requests for negative tests rather than every vehicle being stopped.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 14:14

More than 70 people found partying in Mayfair


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A 29-year-old man, who organised a party on Green Street, near Hyde Park, was put forward for a £10,000 fine

A total of 70 people have been caught breaking coronavirus rules at two parties in one of London's most expensive neighbourhoods.
Nearly £70,000 in fines were handed out by police after they broke up the events in Mayfair, Westminster, on Sunday morning. Each guest was fined £800.
A 29-year-old man who organised a party on Green Street, near Hyde Park, was put forward for a £10,000 fine, while police are looking for the organiser of the second party, some 500m (1,600ft) away.
Insp Kevin Fagan said: "Illegal gatherings like this are irresponsible and put pressure on the emergency services who have to deal with the consequences of these people's selfish actions.
"Despite recent announcements about how and when Covid restrictions may be eased, nothing has changed in terms of the regulations.
"The rules are clear, as should be the message that the police will enforce them where wilful breaches are found to have taken place."
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 17:29

Police warning as 'hundreds' travel to Norfolk beach


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Lockdown guidelines say people "should avoid travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live"

A police force is urging people not to become complacent after "hundreds" turned up at a Norfolk village beach.
About 30 vehicles were parked near Sea Palling beach yesterday.
Officers on patrol found people who had travelled from as far as Peterborough, 100 miles (160km) away, and Ipswich "to walk on the beach," Norfolk Police said.
The current lockdown rules say people in England can exercise outdoors once per day in their area.
Police urged people to "stay as local as possible" during the vaccine rollout and said eight fixed penalty notices were issued.
Norfolk Police says it continues to "engage, encourage and explain to people first" before resorting to fines.

NHS vaccination campaign 'firing on all cylinders'

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has reacted to the news 20 million people in the UK have now received their first vaccine dose.
He says giving this many vaccines - including to 17 million people in England alone - since December "shows the NHS vaccination campaign is firing on all cylinders, and looking out to Easter and beyond, it's full speed ahead".
Sir Simon adds: "As we can see from other parts of the world, having vaccines from the manufacturers versus actually administering them to patients can be two different things.
"So this latest milestone is also a tribute to careful health service planning, effective organisation and amazing teamwork across the whole of the country."
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 17:33

Analysis: Difficult to see how Sunak can end furlough

Katie Prescott, Business correspondent
Businesses are watching the Budget closely for information about the future of key support schemes, especially furlough – the job retention scheme - which is due to end in April.
Since it started in March 2020, it has been key to preventing spiking unemployment but no-one expected the government to still be paying workers’ wages a year on. Let alone 4.7 million of them.
With so many dependent on it, and having pledged "support for people", it’s difficult to see how Chancellor Rishi Sunak can end furlough while some businesses are still closed.
But the scheme is not cheap. And with the country’s debt topping £2tn, the same value as the UK economy, the chancellor could start to spell out plans on how he plans to pay at least some of the bill.
The UK’s low corporation tax looks a likely contender for rises - although businesses that have struggled through the pandemic argue this is hitting them while they’re down.

Breaking News 

Another 6,035 cases recorded in the UK

A further 6,035 new positive coronavirus tests have been recorded in the UK, making the total since the pandemic began 4,176,554.
There have been 144 further deaths of people who had tested positive within the previous 28 days. The total number of deaths in the UK stands at 122,849, under that measure.
We learned earlier that more than 20 million first doses of the vaccine have now been administered. The total is now 20,089,551 first doses, with 796,132 second doses having been given.

How do today's figures compare to this time last week?

We know the UK's coronavirus figures are often lower on a Sunday and Monday, because of a lag in reporting at weekends.
But we can compare them to the figures last Sunday, when there were 9,834 new cases and 215 deaths. It means the number of deaths is 33% lower today than a week ago and the number of new cases 38.6% lower.
Looking at today's figures, it is the lowest number of deaths since 13 December, which was also a Sunday, when there were also 144 new deaths recorded.
And it is the lowest number of daily cases since 28 September - on that day, a Monday, there were 4,044 new cases.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 17:35

When will I get the vaccine?

As we've been telling you, more than 20 milion people in the UK have now received a coronavirus vaccine - but many others will be wondering when it will be their turn.
The next stage of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the UK was outlined by government scientists this week.
It was announced that once the top nine priority groups had all been offered a first dose, it would be given to people by age group, rather than by profession.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says the next people to be offered the jab, from around mid-April, will be, in descending order:

  • All those aged 40-49 years
  • All those aged 30-39 years
  • All those aged 18-29 years.

It also urged some groups who are at higher risk of needing hospital treatment from Covid to take up the offer of vaccination promptly:

  • men
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities
  • people with a BMI over 30
  • those living in deprived neighbourhoods.

Read more on vaccines here .

Cases of Brazil variant detected in UK

Six cases of the Brazil variant of Covid-19 have been detected in the UK - three in Scotland and three in England.
Two cases of the Manaus strain in England are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil but the third case in England is not linked - but it is not known where that individual is.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England's strategic response director for Covid-19, said: "We have identified these cases thanks to the UK's advanced sequencing capabilities."
And following a return to north-east Scotland from Brazil, three Scottish residents tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus. They have been in self-isolation since their return. They are not thought to be connected to the cases in England.
The tests were completed in early February and passed to the UK's advanced sequencing capabilities programme - which detected this new variant.
The three people flew into London and then on to Aberdeen. Other people who were on the flight to Aberdeen are being contacted because of the concerns around the Brazil variant.
Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says: "The identification of this new variant is a concern but we are taking every possible precaution.
"We have identified these cases thanks to our use of advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly."
The World Health Organization has been informed of the cases
You can read more about Covid variants here .
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Post by Kitkat Sun Feb 28 2021, 17:40

What's been happening today?

We will be bringing our live page coverage to a close soon. Before we do, here is a recap of some of the top stories we've been covering today:


Goodbye

That's all from us today. We will back with more coronavirus news updates tomorrow.

Our live page team today has been: James Clarke, Victoria Lindrea, Hamish Mackay and Lauren Turner.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:43