- Coronavirus case rates are falling among all age groups in England, Public Health England says
- But a "promising" six-week decline in Covid cases in Europe has been disrupted by a rise in infections, the World Health Organization says
- "We are seeing a resurgence in central and eastern Europe," says Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe.
- New cases are also rising in several western European countries, Kluge adds, saying Europe needs to expand supply and access to vaccines
- Germany is changing its stance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, allowing over-65s to receive the jab, Chancellor Angela Merkel says
- Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers have been setting out how coronavirus restrictions will be eased
- The NI Executive will next week assess the impact of the return to school of some children
Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus coverage.
We will be bringing you all the latest pandemic news from around the globe
UK morning headlinesYesterday was a busy day with UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiling a Budget aimed at helping the country recover from the pandemic.
Here are some of the headlines this morning as reaction continues to come in to those proposals.
- The UK's tax burden is to rise to its highest level since the 1960s, the Office for Budget Responsibility says, after the chancellor set out plans to repair the nation's Covid-hit finances
- An extension to the furlough scheme for workers is among the measures announced as part of the Budget, as well as a £20 uplift in universal credit, which will continue for a further six months
- But the government has come under fire from campaigners for doing too little in the Budget to address inequality
- Away from the Budget, a decline in coronavirus infections seen in January and February may have slowed, scientists tracking the pandemic in England say
- Infections fell by two-thirds over lockdown, but one person in 200 still has the virus, according to Imperial College London’s React study
- New Covid vaccines to fight variants, such as the one from Brazil, can be fast-tracked through the approval system , the UK’s regulator says
- The Isle of Man has entered a third Covid-19 lockdown after a rise in cases - the island had scrapped social distancing rules in February
The latest from Europe
- Germany is to become the latest European country to reverse its stance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and allow over-65s to receive the jab. Chancellor Angela Merkel says recent studies have now provided enough data to approve it for all ages , following similar decisions in Belgium and France
- Germany’s federal states have also agreed to a phased easing of restrictions, with up to five people from two households being allowed to meet from Monday. However, Merkel adds there is the option of an "emergency brake" if case numbers get out of control
- There has been a political backlash in Spain after reports emerged that the two sisters of Spain's King Felipe VI received the coronavirus vaccine during a trip to Abu Dhabi last month
- The Czech Republic has asked the government in Beijing for deliveries of the vaccines made by China's Sinopharm, a Czech presidential spokesman has confirmed. The country has seen a surge in the number of coronavirus cases
- Greece is extending a lockdown in the greater Athens region of Attica as new infections reach the highest number so far this year. Under the new restrictions, residents will only be able to shop in supermarkets within 2km (1.2 miles) of their homes.
Round-up of global headlines
- Brazil has recorded a record death toll from Covid-19 for the second day running. A further 1,910 people have died, adding to the 250,000 total death toll recorded there from the virus. Some 70,000 new cases have also been recorded. Several serious waves of infection have already devastated parts of the country. A partial lockdown has now been introduced in the city of São Paulo and the government is trying to boost its vaccine campaign
- The EU says it is putting Russian vaccine Sputnik-V under an ongoing review, potentially opening the door for its use in Europe. The vaccine is approved in numerous countries around the world. But several European nations, including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have expressed interest in buying doses in recent days, posing a challenge to the EU's approach of buying vaccines as a bloc
- And Europe's biggest airline group, Lufthansa, says it lost more than $8bn last year due to collapsed demand for travel. The group (which also includes Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings) says it expects demand this year to be no more than 50% of what it was before the virus.
And from The Guardian -here are the key global developments from the last few hours:
- Covid death rates 10 times higher in countries where most adults overweight. Countries with high levels of overweight people, such as the UK and the US, have the highest death rates from Covid-19, a landmark report reveals, prompting calls for governments to urgently tackle obesity, as well as prioritising overweight people for vaccinations.
- English prevalence dropping at slower rate, study finds . The prevalence of Covid infections in England has dropped since January, but the rate of decline has slowed and cases might be on the rise in some areas, researchers at Imperial College London said on Thursday.
- Brazil suffered another day of record Covid deaths. Brazil has suffered yet another day of record Covid losses with at least 1,910 new fatalities reported in the crisis-stricken South American country. On Wednesday evening the National Council of State Health Secretaries said those deaths took the country’s total death toll to 259,271 - about 10% of the global total. A record 1,726 deaths were reported on Tuesday.
- Fake Covid-19 vaccines were seized in South Africa, China: Interpol. Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of fake doses of Covid-19 jabs, global police organisation Interpol said on Wednesday, warning this represented only the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime.
- Greece prolonged its lockdown to 16 March after reporting the highest number of new cases recorded so far in 2021. Health officials reported 2,702 new infections and 40 deaths on Wednesday.
- Australia recorded its biggest monthly trade surplus ever as household spending drives growth . Australia recorded the biggest monthly trade surplus in history as the economy continued to rack up records in a marked rebound from last year’s deep recession.
- Germany announced that it will relax Covid curbs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday unveiled plans to gradually ease coronavirus curbs in Europe’s top economy.