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Coronavirus - 4th March 2021


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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 17:03

Summary for Thursday, 4th March

  • 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 headlines

Yesterday 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 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.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 17:11

Hancock 'optimistic' about 'Great British summer'

As we reported earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been speaking during a visit to a Covid testing facility in Glasgow.
Asked about travel restrictions, Hancock says he hopes as lockdowns are lifted across the UK people will be able to travel between the different nations.
"I'm confident because of the vaccine we will be able to make that progress and then be able to, all of us, to travel freely wherever we are within these islands," he says.
"I've said before that I'm optimistic for a great British summer and I'm now more optimistic about having a great British summer than I have been at any time, thanks to the speed and the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout."
He adds the travel rules for Scotland are a matter for the Scottish government.

Italy: Single vaccine dose for people who have had Covid

People in Italy who have already had Covid-19 will receive just one vaccine dose instead of the usual two, the Italian health ministry has announced.
The new policy applies to people who were infected with coronavirus between three and six months prior to a jab.
"A single dose of vaccine may be considered for individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic or asymptomatic", the ministry said.
Around 4.7 million doses have been administered in Italy so far. And 1.5 million in the country of 60 million people have received two doses.
France and Spain introduced the same approach in the past month.
The medical thinking behind the policy is that people with a past infection have some immunity left over from the infection. The single vaccine dose would then act as a booster of that immunity.
The decisions come as many European countries face shortages in supplies of vaccines.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 17:15

Cricket's Pakistan Super League paused over Covid cases

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Karachi Kings celebrate winning last year's competition

The Pakistan Super League cricket tournament is being suspended after several players tested positive for coronavirus .
England batsman Tom Banton, who plays for Quetta Gladiators, is among those affected and he says he is "feeling OK" after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
The decision to halt the Twenty20 competition has been made after a meeting between PSL officials and team owners.
"The health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount," the Pakistan Cricket Board says.

First rise in Europe cases after six-week decline - WHO

A "promising" six-week decline in Covid cases in Europe has been disrupted by a rise in infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said in the past hour.
"We are seeing a resurgence in Central and Eastern Europe. New cases are also on the rise in several Western European countries where rates were already high," Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, says.
European countries need to expand supply and access to vaccines, Kluge adds.
Simultaneously, Hungary has announced a partial lockdown that will close all non-essential shops as well as primary schools to control the spread of infection.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 17:56

Four in 10 over-80s have broken rules since vaccination

More than four in 10 over-80s who have received the coronavirus vaccine during the current lockdown in England appear to have since broken the rules by meeting up with someone indoors, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures suggest.
Some 43% of over-80s surveyed by the ONS said they had met someone other than a personal care support worker, member of their household or support bubble indoors since being vaccinated.
And 41% of over-80s vaccinated in the previous three weeks said they had done so - "appearing to break lockdown regulations".
Rules in England, introduced at the start of January, mean family or friends cannot meet socially indoors unless they are in the same household or support bubble.
For a reminder of the lockdown rules where you are click here .

Older Egyptians can now apply for vaccinations

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Medical workers in Egypt have been the priority for vaccines until now

Egypt will now begin vaccinating older people and the clinically vulnerable, its government has announced.
Medical workers had been the priority for the past several weeks and the country has prepared 40 vaccine centres for the population of 100 million.
More than 153,000 people have already signed up online after registrations opened on Sunday, the cabinet said.
Many African countries have struggled to push ahead with their vaccination programme due to a short supply of doses globally. Egypt is hoping to obtain doses through the global Covax scheme that aims to distribute vaccines to economically poorer countries.
It has also approved Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine and received doses from AstraZeneca.
The country has recorded 10,822 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but experts say the true toll is likely to be much higher.
Read more about how Africa's vaccine rollout is gathering pace.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 18:36

Critical care closer to normal winter levels than Covid peak

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
There were about 4,100 people in critical care beds in the last week of February – they’ve been falling steadily from a peak of 5,500 a month ago.
Hospitals have had to convert general beds into critical care beds to meet that demand and people working there - who would normally offer one-to-one care - have been manning multiple beds at once.
General admissions have been coming down very rapidly – the number of people in hospital with Covid is now back to where it was in early November.
But it’s the sickest people – those requiring ventilation or in critical care – who put the biggest stresses on the system and where the numbers take longest to move.
The number of coronavirus patients requiring ventilation is only back to where it was in late December.
So we’re still seeing critical care demand above usual levels – there were about 3,000 people in critical care this time last year, or at the start of the winter season.
But the falls in the last week have moved us more than half-way from the peak of the Covid crisis to a more usual level.

Out-of-work young in Wales could be left 'scarred'

Young people in Wales should be guaranteed work or training to avoid becoming "scarred" by Covid-19, an inquiry finds.
Ministers should take action to stop a "monumental spike in youth unemployment", says a report by the Welsh Government's cross-party economy committee.
The report - Long-term recovery from Covid-19 - calls for a skills-led recovery, with special support for the hardest-hit sectors and a campaign to pay the real living wage .
One chapter deals specifically with young people, stating they were more likely to be furloughed during the first wave of coronavirus than other age groups.
It also details how the rate of 18 to 24-year-olds in Wales claiming unemployment benefits rose "considerably" in 2020.
You can read more on the report here.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 18:41

International students can quarantine at boarding schools

International pupils who attend English boarding schools will be able to self-isolate there rather than at a hotel, the government says.
It comes after pressure from parents and schools who were concerned about the prospect of those children from countries on the "red list" having to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
The Department for Education guidance says pupils can only quarantine at their school if they travel there from the airport in pre-arranged private transport, organised by the school.
They will then have to quarantine in "physically self-contained" accommodation at the school.
The Boarding Schools Association had previously written to the government, saying hotel quarantine would pose a "significant safeguarding risk". It could have left children in hotel rooms alone or with adults they did not know, the letter warned.
The BSA welcomed the move and said it hoped the same arrangements could be put in place for students in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Police injured as people flee Nottingham house party

Seven police officers were injured while breaking up a "completely unacceptable" house party in Nottingham.
Nottinghamshire Police estimate about 40 people were at the gathering in Woodborough Road, Mapperley, just after midnight on Wednesday.
Drone footage shared by the force shows a stream of people sprinting away from the property as officers arrived.
The force says bottles were thrown at officers and a police dog but there were no serious injuries.
Two men, aged 26 and 21, and a 17-year-old girl were arrested on suspicion of common assault of an emergency worker.
You can read more details here.

The European turn-around on the AstraZeneca vaccine

You may remember that earlier this year a number of European countries decided not to approve the use of the Covid vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca in people over-65.
Officials cited a lack of data regarding its effects on older people. The decisions took place during a row over supplies of the vaccine to the European Union
By contrast the jab is being widely used in the UK across all age groups.
That's beginning to change across Europe now. Germany and Sweden are the latest countries to amend their decisions .
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says recent studies have now provided enough data to approve it for all ages. And on Thursday Sweden's health ministry citied studies, incuding from England and Scotland, that say the vaccine gives good protection to all ages.
It follows Belgium approving AstraZeneca in older people on Wednesday. And on Tuesday French president Emmanuel Macron confirmed that over-65s with health conditions can have the vaccine. After initially saying the jab was "almost ineffective", Macron has said he would happily receive it.
But the confusion over the safety of the vaccine has created significant scepticism in European populations, with reports of individuals refusing to receive the jab.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 18:45

Rio de Janeiro to introduce night-time curfew

More now from Brazil where, as we reported earlier, a record daily death toll of almost 2,000 has been recorded.
New restrictions including a night-time curfew from 23:00 to 05:00 are being introduced in Rio de Janeiro, the country's second biggest city. Restaurants have been ordered to close at 17:00 and businesses such as clubs must shut entirely, city authorities have announced.
The new restrictions will last until 11 March. A partial lockdown is also in place in São Paulo.
Only the US has a higher death toll than Brazil. About 250,000 people have died so far, and outbreaks in some cities saw hospitals run out of oxygen and people queue for hours to try to buy supplies for sick relatives.

Poland reports highest cases since November

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
We reported earlier that the World Health Organization has warned that cases are rising in central and eastern Europe, bringing an end to a six-week decline in infections in Europe.
In Poland, 15,250 new cases were reported on Thursday, the highest since the previous peak in November. That's up 26% from the number of new cases reported seven days ago - it shows that the third coronavirus wave in Poland is gathering pace, health ministry officials say.
Around 3.6 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, according to an Oxford university vaccine tracker.
The number of people hospitalised is back on the rise as well as the number of patients on ventilators, which is up 20% from a week ago.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would open temporary hospitals in nine provinces – the facilities are already ready – to manage the higher demand amid reports of bed shortages in some hospitals.
On Thursday, there were 289 virus-related deaths, up from 286 one week ago.

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Three terror attacks prevented since start of pandemic

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Three terror attacks have been prevented in the UK since the coronavirus pandemic began , security services say.
Arrests for terrorism-related activity fell by 34% in 2020, the lowest level in nine years, Home Office data shows.
But the number of terror plots stopped has risen to 28 since March 2017, counter terror police say.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon says officers have made "185 arrests across more than 800 live investigations - stopping three possible terror attacks in the process".
Haydon, senior national coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, says as lockdown eases "there will be greater opportunity for terrorists to operate" and also warns of a "worrying trend" of children under the age of 18 being arrested for terrorism-related activities.

Case rates in England 'falling in all age groups'

Case rates in England are continuing to fall among all age groups, Public Health England says.
The highest rate is among 30 to 39-year-olds, at 121.1 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 28 February. That's down week-on-week from 178.3 cases.
The rate for 20 to 29-year-olds has dropped from 161.3 to 111.3, and among 40 to 49-year-olds it is down from 148.0 to 102.0 per 100,000.
The rate for those aged 80 or over is now 65.0 cases per 100,000, which has fallen from 101.8 cases the previous week.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 18:54

UK 'country most likely to experience new coronavirus variant'

Health minister Lord Bethell says the UK is the country most likely to suffer a new variant of the coronavirus.
“If there’s one place in the world where a mutant variation is likely to happen, it’ll be an area where you have a high infection rate and a large amount of suppression of the virus by either a lockdown or a vaccine programme - and if you look around the world, that country is most likely to be Britain," he told the House of Lords.
"And we must be on the balls of our feet to be prepared for unhelpful news on that front.”
He was responding to a question from Labour’s Prof Lord Winston, who said there was likely to be an inevitable risk of dangerous new variants to which we have no defence.

Lebanon ordered to vaccinate 80-year-old in 'queue-jumping' row

A judge has ordered Lebanon's health ministry to vaccinate an 80-year-old man who sued the government after a dozen or so politicians were vaccinated out-of-turn.
The ministry has rejected the order - which says Joseph al-Hajj should receive a dose within 48 hours - claiming it is a media stunt. Instead, the ministry says, al-Hajj will get his vaccine "sooner or later".
The row over "queue-jumping" has angered many Lebanese people. After the members of parliament were discovered to have been vaccinated, the World Bank threatened to suspend its funding of Lebanon's innoculation programme.
Judge Chawah has ruled the ministry violated "the principle of equality" before the law and al-Hajj's right to life and health.
The ministry has been ordered to pay a fine of about $6,500 (£4,650) for every day his vaccination is delayed beyond the first 48 hours.
In response, the ministry says the ruling is "a decision formulated for the media."

London's year of 'sorrow and grief'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has described the past 12 months as a time of "sorrow and grief" as the city marks a year since its first Covid-related death.
The first case in the capital to have coronavirus listed on a death certificate was on 4 March 2020, according to ONS figures.
Since then Covid has been given as a cause of death for 17,965 people across the city - it means nearly 15% of all such deaths in England have happened in London.
Since the start of the pandemic there have been 697,245 cases of coronavirus in London - with 70,857 Covid hospital admissions.
The rate of death has been more than 100 per 100,000 in most areas.
Khan says: "Londoners have made huge sacrifices as we've come together as a city to get this virus under control.
"After the hardest year most of us have ever experienced, we need to continue to show the same selflessness and community spirit in continuing to follow the rules to defeat this virus in the weeks and months to come."
You can read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 18:57

Breaking News 

UK reports 6,573 new cases and 242 further deaths

There have been 6,573 new cases of coronavirus reported in the UK, according to the latest government figures. It brings the total number of positive tests to 4,201,358.
A further 242 deaths have been reported, of people who had tested positive for coronavirus within the previous 28 days. The total number of deaths, under that measure, is now 124,025.

Arrests after box loads of Covid tests stolen from lorry

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Three men have been arrested after "box-loads" of lateral flow tests meant for schools were stolen from a lorry.
Police say all the Covid-19 tests have been retrieved since they were taken from Harlow Business Park in Essex in the early hours of Tuesday.
A 31-year-old man from Canvey and a 27-year-old man from Newham have been arrested on suspicion of theft.
A 37-year-old from Dagenham was arrested for the same offence, as well as on suspicion of drug driving.
Ch Supt Stuart Hooper, from Essex Police, says he is "thrilled" the force has been able to recover the tests "so those in need are able to keep themselves and others safe at this difficult time".

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 19:02

Vaccine take-up lags behind in London

Vaccine take-up in London among people aged 80 and older continues to lag behind other regions of England, the latest NHS figure show.
An estimated 83.2% of people in this age group in the capital have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to NHS England, while uptake in other regions is thought to be at least 95%.
Some 93.8% of residents of older adult care homes in England eligible to have their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine had received a jab by 28 February.
But the equivalent figure for care home staff is 72.9%, while in London care homes that drops to 57.9% for eligible staff.

Putin makes unfounded vaccine death claims

BBC Monitoring - The world through its media

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Russian President Vladimir Putin made the false claim while promoting Russian vaccines

Russian President Vladimir Putin has wrongly claimed the death of a vaccine recipient has suspended innoculations using the Pfizer jab in parts of Europe.
"In some European countries, Pfizer inoculations were stopped because there were lethal outcomes there," Putin told a gathering of youth activists that was broadcast live on Russian state TV channel Rossiya 24.
He made the comment after praising Russia's own vaccines as the "safest and most effective" in the world.
Putin appeared to be referring to the false allegation in a video shared on social media that claimed Pfizer was halting production of its vaccine after 23 people died in Norway.
But as a fact-check by the news agency Reuters pointed out, Pfizer actually announced in mid-January that it was temporarily reducing production at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, for a week as part of a plan to increase vaccine output in the long term.
In a previous fact-check , the agency reported the Norwegian Institute of Public Health had found no evidence to suggest the vaccine was to blame for the deaths of 13 elderly recipients.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 19:06

Italy 'blocks' vaccine shipment to Australia

Italy is blocking a shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab to Australia under European Union rules on vaccine exports, according to Italian media reports.
It is the first ban under the scheme designed to protect vaccine supplies in the bloc.
The order of 250,000 doses has been produced in an AstraZeneca factory in Anagni, near Rome, and the company has requested permission to ship the vials to Australia.
With the support of the European Commission, the Italian government is refusing to allow the doses to leave.
The EU and AstraZeneca have been embroiled in a large row over shortfalls in the company's delivery of doses to the bloc. AstraZeneca has blamed issues at its production plants in Europe.
Australia started its rollout last week using the Pfizer jab and it is scheduled to start jabs with AstraZeneca doses on Friday.
The World Health Organization has criticised the EU's scheme saying it is part of a "worrying trend" that could jeopardise global vaccine supply chains.
Read more on the story.

Germany's decision to give over-65s AstraZeneca vaccine welcomed

Germany's decision to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the over-65s has been welcomed by the German Society for Immunology.
Dr Carsten Watzl tells BBC World News : "Given the data that came out of Scotland and England it's been proven that it is effective and there is no question about the safety of this vaccine."
About one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are ready to go into people's arms, he adds.

Another new covid variant added to UK watch list

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
Scientists have identified 16 cases of another new variant of coronavirus in the UK.
Public Health England has designated it as a "variant under investigation", meaning it is on its watch list but not one PHE is immediately concerned about.
It does have a mutation in common with the South Africa and Brazil variants, however.
That genetic change, E484K, may help the virus evade immune attack.
It's not unexpected that variants are appearing or that they will continue to change - all viruses mutate as they make new copies of themselves to spread and thrive.
Read more.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 19:32

Care worker with suspected Covid 'put vulnerable at risk'

A care worker put 22 vulnerable people at risk by carrying out home visits in Cardiff while she was suspected of having Covid-19 , a tribunal has heard.
A Care Standards hearing was told Samantha Gould made the visits in June after a GP had told her to isolate and get a test.
Appealing against an 18-month suspension imposed last month, Gould has said she had "a verbal negative" result before the visits for Cardiff care company 1st Grade Care.
The care worker told the tribunal she "kept her distance" and "had an apron, gloves and mask" during the visits.
Judge Faridah Eden has dismissed her appeal, saying there is "strong evidence that [Gould] put the public at risk" and "knowingly broke rules which were intended to protect the vulnerable people she was working with".

First Minister of Wales self-isolating 'as a precaution'

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.
A Welsh government spokesperson says it is "a precaution".
People are required to self-isolate for 10 days if asked to do so by contact tracers under government guidelines.
Drakeford gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee of MPs remotely earlier this afternoon.

Surge testing for two more areas in England

Surge testing will be deployed in targeted areas of north-west London and north-east England where the South African variant of coronavirus has been found.
Additional testing and genomic sequencing will be rolled out in the North Wembley area of the capital and the TS19 postcode area in Stockton-on-Tees , County Durham, according to the Department of Health.
Stockton Council is opening an additional centre to help test more people from Friday.
A spokesman said the South African variant is "more infectious" than other variants and cases need to be identified "as quickly as possible".
Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase understanding of Covid variants and their spread.
People living within the targeted areas are "strongly encouraged" to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.
It comes as official Test and Trace figures revealed that a total of 68,738 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 24 February.
This is down 19% on the previous week and is the lowest number since the week to September 30.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 19:42

Round-up of global headlines

  • France must do all it can to avoid another national lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said in the past hour. Restrictions in place in Nice and Dunkirk are being extended to the area around Calais in the north of the country, he added. The acceleration in infections is being driven by the UK variant which accounts for 60% of cases, he said
  • Italy has blocked shipments of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia under EU rules that allow the bloc to stop exports to protect its own supply
  • Eastern and central Europe are facing a significant rise in cases, the World Health Organization has warned, saying that six-week decline in cases on the continent is over
  • New restrictions have been introduced in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as Brazil reports a record death toll of nearly 2,000 people
  • And Germany and Sweden are the latest European countries to change their policy on giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to over-65s, citing new evidence that says the jab is safe and effective

What's been happening in the UK today?

If you're just joining us this evening, here's a round-up of what has been happening in the UK so far today.

  • Scientists have identified 16 cases of another new variant of coronavirus in the UK. Public Health England has designated it as a "variant under investigation", meaning it is on their watch list but they are not immediately concerned
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak has rejected claims his plans to claw back the cost of coronavirus support will hit the poorest hardest. A million more people will start paying income tax, but Mr Sunak said no one's take-home pay would be lowered
  • Three terror attacks have been prevented in the UK since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to security services. Arrests for terrorism-related activity fell to the lowest level in nine years in 2020 - but a "worrying" number of young people have been recruited to terror groups in lockdown, the foreign secretary said
  • A further 6,573 confirmed cases across the UK were announced by the government on Thursday. There have also been a further 242 deaths within 28 days of a positive test
  • And Love Island will return to screens this summer , after an 18-month hiatus caused by the pandemic
  • Want more? Read our evening update here

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 04 2021, 19:44

Good bye for now

We are closing our live page for the day now.
Here's a reminder of some of our main stories today.

  • Scientists have identified 16 cases of another new variant of coronavirus in the UK . The cases were first identified on 15 February and it's suspected the variant originated in the UK
  • There have been a further 6,573 new coronavirus cases in the UK and a further 242 deaths, within 28 days of a positive test
  • The Italian government has blocked the export of an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia. The decision affects 250,000 doses of the vaccine which is produced at a facility in Italy
  • In Northern Ireland, First Minister Arlene Foster says we are "now at the point where we can begin to lift the burden [of restrictions]". The number of people in NI to have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine passes 600,000 today, which she said was a "significant" milestone. A five-step plan to ease lockdown was announced earlier this week

Today's writers were Doug Faulkner, Georgina Rannard, Jo Couzens and Lauren Turner. Today's editors were James Clarke and Rob Corp.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:42