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

Coronavirus - 5th March 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 10:21

Summary for Friday, 5th March

  • Unions have reacted angrily to the government recommending a 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England
  • The British Medical Association says it is a "kick in the teeth"
  • But ministers have defended the proposal at a time when the economy is under "huge pressure"
  • People with asthma are being wrongly refused the Covid vaccine by some GPs
  • Dozens of Covid contracts had not been published when the PM said they were "on the record for everyone to see"
  • Cyprus says it will open to vaccinated Britons from the start of May
  • Italy blocks AstraZeneca Covid vaccine export to Australia
  • Brazilian president tells his country to "stop whining" about coronavirus, as he criticises local restrictions


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the main stories in the UK this morning:


Latest from around the world

And here are the main stories from the rest of the world this morning:


Here are the key developments from the last few hours

The Guardian:

  • WHO to scrap interim report on virus origins – report. The Wall Street Journal reported that a World Health Organization team investigating Covid’s origins is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new inquiry.
  • Japan to extend Tokyo state of emergency. The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures to combat Covid until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.
  • New coronavirus variant under investigation in UK. Scientists have identified 16 cases of a new coronavirus variant in the UK, Public Health England announced. Cases of the variant, referred to as VUI-202102/04, were first identified on 15 February. The variant, which is understood to have originated in the UK, was designated a “variant under investigation” on 24 February.
  • Survey shows UK parents’ concern over Covid effect on children’s activity. More than two-thirds of UK parents believe their children have become less active during the pandemic, new research has found, placing more pressure on schools before their reopening next week.
  • Calls grow to prioritise Italy’s priests for Covid vaccination . Calls are growing in Italy to prioritise the vaccination of priests against Covid-19 as the death toll among members of the clergy, many of whom have assisted and comforted the sick since the beginning of the pandemic, approaches 270.
  • Australia says Italy’s block on AstraZeneca vaccine frustrating but not crucial. The Australian government on Friday expressed frustration at Italy’s decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, but stressed it would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation program.
  • China to develop vaccines against major infectious diseases. China pledges to develop vaccines to cope with major infectious disease, part of its flurry of efforts to boost the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, the government said on Friday in its development plan for 2021-2025.
  • Vietnam to launch vaccinations on Monday. Vietnam will launch its Covid vaccination campaign on Monday, the country’s health minister said, after the country received the first batch of 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last month.
  • Papua New Guinea hospitals run out of funding as Covid cases surge . Papua New Guinea is battling to control a surge in coronavirus cases across the archipelago, just as hospitals are shutting their doors because they have run out of money.The country’s crowded capital, Port Moresby, is the epicentre of the latest outbreak.
  • Australian experts warn Covid vaccines being sold on darknet likely to be scams . Three major Covid-19 vaccines are being advertised for sale on the darknet – the part of the internet not visible to search engines and which requires specialised software to access, an analysis of 15 marketplaces has found.
  • Jacinda Ardern announces Auckland’s Covid lockdown will lift on Sunday . Auckland’s seven-day lockdown is due to lift on Sunday morning after no new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the community on Friday.
  • ‘Fear of missing out’ boosting global acceptance of Covid jab . An international survey shows vaccine confidence is already on the rise even though relatively few countries have launched public awareness campaigns, with the fear of missing out on a jab suggested as one driver.
  • South Korea approved the Pfizer vaccine. South Korea’s drug safety ministry said on Friday it has granted final approval for the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
  • Sweden and Germany extended their recommendation for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to cover people aged over 65 after previously said lacked sufficient data, until recent studies.
  • Russia expects several EU countries to approve the use of its Sputnik V vaccine this month and Moscow could provide vaccines for 50 million Europeans starting from June if the shot wins EU-wide approval, Russia’s RDIF fund said.
  • Italy halted a shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine due for Australia. It came after the EU introduced new rules governing the shipment of vaccines outside the bloc, although this is the first intervention of its kind.
  • Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental Covid-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation campaign after shunning foreign jabs.
  • Brazil’s second biggest city of Rio de Janeiro will be the latest to adopt new Covid restrictions from tomorrow, including a night curfew, in a bid to stall a second wave of the virus.
  • Italy and Germany will administer just a single coronavirus vaccine dose to people who have been infected with the virus up to six months beforehand, amid a scramble to save shots.
  • More than four in 10 over-80s in England may have met with someone outside of their support bubble within three weeks of receiving the first jab, an official survey suggested.
  • France criticised a push by Austria and Denmark to coordinate with Israel on developing new Covid-19 jabs, as EU unity frays even further over its troubled vaccine rollout.
  • The San Diego zoo gave nine orangutans and bonobos an experimental coronavirus vaccine, the first known non-human primates to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the US.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 10:44

The papers: ‘Fury’ over NHS pay ‘insult’

A number of the papers focus on the 1% pay rise the government has recommended for NHS staff in England next year.
An "insult to NHS heroes" is the Daily Mirror's take on the proposal. It says the increase would mean just £3.50 per week extra for the most experienced nurses.
The i reports that there is "fury" among NHS staff.
Referring to the weekly round of applause during the first lockdown, the paper quotes a doctor saying: "Is the government saying 'let them eat claps?'"
The Guardian suggests that with a final decision not due until May, ministers are "bound to come under intense pressure" to increase the offer.
Read more from the papers here .

We would love to do more on NHS pay, says minister

Health minister Nadine Dorries has defended the government’s recommendation of a 1% pay increase for NHS staff in England , saying it is all the country can afford in the midst of the pandemic.
“Every one of us absolutely appreciates and is grateful for the efforts of nurses and all members of NHS staff over the past year,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We would love to do more but at this present point in time it’s been fighting the pandemic for the past year which has been a priority and now it’s about saving people’s jobs and livelihoods moving forward.”
She added that over the past three years nurses had received a 12% pay rise and there was a pay freeze for all other public sector workers outside the NHS.
Asked during an interview with BBC Breakfast her reaction to the pay recommendation, Dorries said she was "pleasantly surprised" in the context of the pay freeze for other public sector workers and job losses in the private sector.

'We’ve put ourselves at risk - this is insulting'

Doctors and nurses have been reacting angrily to the government’s recommendation of a 1% pay increase for NHS workers in England .
Emily Huntingford, an intensive care nurse in east London, says she is "completely shocked" by the news.
“It just shows a complete disregard for the work that NHS workers have done this year," she tells BBC Breakfast.
"We’ve put ourselves at risk, we’ve worn inadequate PPE and to then be given such an inadequate token it is just insulting.”
She adds that many of her colleagues are at "breaking point" and some are returning to their home countries.
“I just don’t know how this 1% will mean that we can retain staff but also recruit staff, it’s just not sustainable," she says.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 10:47

Excitement and nerves ahead of schools reopening in England

On Monday schools in England will be reopening to all children, with staff and secondary pupils being offered rapid tests to help them return to the classroom safely.
Luke Lovelidge, head teacher at Benjamin Adlard Primary School in Gainsborough, tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme there is a mixture of excitement as well as "an element of nervousness" for staff at the prospect of returning to in-person teaching.
His school has 232 pupils, with 75% from disadvantaged backgrounds, so Lovelidge says home-learning has been a challenge for many families, who often do not have the right skills to be able to support their children or the space for them to work.
He adds that many pupils will also have to relearn some social skills after being away from the classroom for so long.
You can read more about the measures in place to allow the reopening of schools across the UK here .

Cyprus to welcome vaccinated Britons in May


Coronavirus - 5th March 2021 D290ed10

Cyprus says British tourists who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be allowed into the country without having to quarantine or take tests from 1 May.
Deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios says the rules will apply to Britons who have been given vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency.
Visitors will be required to have had their second dose at the latest seven days before travel.
Cyprus has already struck a similar agreement with Israel - but it is the first country to make such a pledge to the UK.
However, under the plan for easing the lockdown in England, foreign holidays will not be allowed until at least 17 May.
And millions of Britons under the age of 50 are only scheduled to have had a first vaccination dose by the end of July.
The UK traditionally provides the largest number of tourists to Cyprus, with more than a million Britons visiting annually before the pandemic.
You can read more about the current rules on holidays and travel here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 10:50

Fresh air 'key to safer classrooms'

As children across England prepare to return to school, the focus is on testing, masks and the familiar routines of social distancing and hand washing.
But there's something that until recently hasn't had much attention: a good supply of fresh air.
Air matters because if someone is infected they'll release tiny virus particles called aerosols, which can accumulate and then be inhaled by others.
BBC science editor David Shukman has been looking at some of the strategies to reduce the risks of this happening .

Former Australian foreign minister accuses Italy of 'vaccine nationalism'

A former foreign minister of Australia has accused Italy of "vaccine nationalism" for blocking an export of 250,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to his country .
Italy is the first EU country to use the bloc's new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.
Alexander Downer said Australia had acted "pretty vigorously" in negotiating contracts with firms like AstraZeneca a long time ago and it "took a punt" on the vaccine.
"Australia will get by without [the shipment] but as a matter of principle this is not a way to conduct international trade," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
However, Italian MP Lia Quartapelle, who is a member of the foreign affairs committee, said her country was entitled to block the export because AztraZeneca had only provided 40% of the doses it was contracted to deliver to Italy by the end of March.
“We are asking AstraZeneca to respect the contract because we need those vaccinations," she added, pointing out that Italy had more than 20,000 coronavirus cases recorded on Thursday, while Australia had just 11
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 11:06

Papua New Guinea hospitals run out of funding as Covid cases surge

Rebecca Kuku - The Guardian
Papua New Guinea is battling to control a surge in coronavirus cases across the archipelago, just as hospitals are shutting their doors because they have run out of money.
The country’s crowded capital, Port Moresby, is the epicentre of the latest outbreak.
The city recorded just five cases for all of January, and 124 for February. But 108 cases have been confirmed in the first four days of March as community transmission accelerates.
PNG has reported only 1,492 confirmed cases for the entire pandemic, but the actual caseload is believed to be many times higher.
Fewer than 48,000 tests have been conducted across the country of nearly 9 million people since the beginning of the pandemic, and, in many remote parts of the country, there is no testing capacity at all. PNG has not yet begun a vaccination program.
Health authorities are also concerned about a spike in cases in PNG’s huge western province, which links the country to Indonesia, and has a sea border with Australia.
Travel between PNG and Australian islands in the Torres Strait is usually unrestricted but has been suspended for the pandemic.
Read more here

Mardi Gras protest march to go ahead in Sydney after last-minute Covid exemption

Sydney LGBTIQ+ rights protestors will march along Oxford Street while the city’s Mardi Gras is held elsewhere after New South Wales Health granted organisers an exemption from gathering restrictions.
The exemption means a court fight between NSW police, which sought to stop Saturday’s march, and the protesters will no longer go ahead.
Activist group Pride in Protest decided at the last minute to apply for an exemption to public health orders, approaching the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, on Thursday afternoon.
Shortly before the court hearing was due to begin at midday on Friday, the group announced it had secured the exemption after agreeing on better contact-tracing processes.
“This is a massive win for not only the right to protest but for the queer community to say that the fight against transphobia and homophobia cannot wait,” the group said in a statement.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 11:36

Cambodian citizens face up to 20 years in jail for flouting coronavirus rules

Cambodian citizens face up to 20 years in jail for flouting coronavirus rules after the country’s parliament passed a strict Covid-19 prevention bill that has attracted the ire of human rights groups.
The law specifies a prison term of three years for breaking quarantine orders and up to 20 years in jail for any organised group intentionally spreading the virus.
Health minister Mam Bunheng called it “a strong legal base for the government … to protect lives and public health” after the bill won unanimous support in the legislature.
But US NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the law could be used to suppress dissent in a country that has seen successive crackdowns on opposition voices under Premier Hun Sen.
The law will “further erode the rights of activists and dissidents”, HRW’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, said in a statement, calling on the Cambodian government to scrap the bill.

Will I need a vaccine passport to go abroad?

Cyprus has become the latest country to suggest it will open its borders to people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, saying that Britons that have had two doses will be able to travel there from May without needing a negative test or to quarantine .
It's prompted more debate on whether "vaccine passports" could become a feature of foreign travel.
In the UK it has been suggested that people could use the existing NHS app to prove their vaccination status or a recent negative test and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said Britons will be able to demonstrate whether they have had the jab if required by other countries.
Other countries and travel companies have also said they may require proof of vaccination for tourists:

  • Greece will admit Covid-negative Israeli tourists this summer who can prove their status with Israel's "green" digital vaccine certificate
  • Denmark and Sweden are developing vaccine passports in time for the summer
  • Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, says passengers on its 2021 holidays or cruises must be fully vaccinated
  • Australian airline Qantas says travellers will eventually need to prove they have had a vaccination to board its flights

You can read more about vaccine passports here .
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 13:52

Breaking News

Covid infection levels continue to drop across the UK

Levels of coronavirus infections in the UK have continued to fall, Office for National Statistics data shows.
The figures, for the seven days to 26 February, reveal about 280,000 people in the community with the virus.
It suggests that the number infected has fallen by about a third in the most recent week of data.
Infection rates have also dropped in the over 70s in England, potentially as a result of the vaccine rollout, say experts.


Portugal 'hopes to welcome UK tourists from 17 May'

Portugal hopes to be able to welcome UK visitors from 17 May, the country's tourism minister has said.
Rita Marques told BBC News: "For now, non-essential travel needs to be restricted.
"But I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative."
Portugal is currently on the UK's "red list", with arrivals who have been there in the previous 10 days banned from entry, unless they are UK residents or Irish nationals, who must quarantine in a hotel.
The UK government have said that the red list remains under review and that public health remains the UK’s top priority.
International travel from England for non-essential reasons will not be allowed until 17 May at the earliest and this depends on the success of the vaccine rollout, infection rates and the impact of new variants.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have not set a date for the restart of international travel.


Scottish Tory leader: 'Test and Trace didn't work as well as it should have'

The Test and Trace system "did not work as well as it should have done", Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross says.
Asked at a think tank event this morning what lessons the government should learn from the pandemic, he said: "Before the vaccine took off, [Test and Trace] was our way to contain the virus and get numbers down but it simply didn't work as well as it should have done.
"I think government ministers would accept that."
He went on to say that “there have been other areas…where governments could improve” - referencing both the Scottish and UK governments - adding: “It’s absolutely right that we look at the lessons from this pandemic to make sure they never happen again.
"We've also got to look at how we've supported individuals and businesses through this.”
Mr Ross was keen to emphasise the “deeply challenging conditions” all governments have faced during the pandemic and the short notice at which systems like Test and Trace were developed.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 13:54

What's been happening today?

Here's the latest headlines as we head into the afternoon:


Breaking News 

England's R number between 0.7 and 0.9

The latest reproduction number - the R - estimate for England is between 0.7 and 0.9, government scientific advisers say.
R is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average.
It means that, on average, every 10 people with Covid will infect between seven and nine other people.
If the R number is below 1 then the epidemic is shrinking.
Estimates of R are below 1 in all NHS regions of England, although the estimate for the North East and Yorkshire has an upper bound of 1.
The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) says: "Although the epidemic continues to decrease nationally, there may be more variation in transmission locally, with some indications that the rate of decline in infections could be slowing in some areas."
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 16:28

Breaking News 

Missing Brazil variant case found by UK officials

Public Health England has confirmed that a person it wanted to find who had tested positive for the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 has been traced.
Earlier this week, officials said efforts to find the person - one of six so far found to have the P1 variant of the disease in the UK - had been narrowed down to just under 400 households in south-east England.
It is thought the mutation found in Brazil's Manaus is more contagious than other forms of the virus.

Greater normality firmly on the horizon, says Sturgeon

Progress in the vaccination programme and also the declining number of people catching or falling seriously ill with Covid-19 "should give us all real encouragement just now that greater normality is firmly on the horizon", Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says.
Speaking at her regular Covid briefing, she also says she is "hopeful" the Scottish Government may on Tuesday be able to announce some "relatively minor but important changes" to the rules around meeting people out of doors and young people seeing their friends out of doors.
But she says: "It is really important that we don't get carried away yet. The overall stay-at-home message needs to stay for a bit longer so we don't send our progress into reverse."
As of 08:30 GMT on Friday, a total of 1,717,672 Scots had received their first coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 29,064 from the previous day.
Meanwhile, a total of 108,197 have had their second jab, with 8,139 getting this on Thursday.

Foreign travel uncertainty 'drives up staycation prices'

With holidays in England being given the go-ahead from as soon as 12 April, many Britons are planning staycations this year. However, a surge in interest means prices appear to be going up, research suggests.
Under Boris Johnson's road map for easing lockdown restrictions, people could potentially be permitted to stay in self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets next month.
According to analysis by consumer group Which?, prices could be an average of 35% higher this summer compared with last year.
Prices are said to be up in 10 of the UK's most visited beach destinations, including St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.
Which says: "Demand for UK breaks this year is high as travel abroad has so many stipulations, from hotel quarantine costs, to testing and countries not permitting entry to UK nationals."
The news comes as Cyprus has said it will open its borders to vaccinated Britons from the start of May. However, UK government travel restrictions will still be in force at the time.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 16:42

Two Chinese provinces clear remaining Covid-19 cases

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Two Chinese provinces that were hit hard by the coronavirus at the beginning of the year have discharged their remaining Covid-19 patients.
Hebei and Jilin province in north-eastern China both experienced outbreaks of Covid-19 in January.
Around 11 million people went into strict lockdown on 7 January in the city of Shijiazhuang in Hebei .
Shortly afterwards the city of Tonghua in Jilin province, which has a population of around two million people, followed suit.
These were two of the worst-hit areas of China during the winter. The official Xinhua news agency says that Hebei reported more than 900 cases since the beginning of the year . At least 300 cases were recorded in Jilin .
This week, official media say, the last five patients in Hebei were discharged along with the last three in Jilin. Also this week, another hard-hit province, Heilongjiang, cleared its remaining cases .
These developments mean that China has pretty much cleared all of its patients that contracted the virus domestically during a second wave this winter.
The National Health Commission says there are now 167 remaining patients on the mainland .
China has not reported any new domestically-transmitted cases for well over a week and the majority of these are imported cases.

Poland introduces more regional restrictions

Hotels, shopping centres, cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and sports centres are to close in a second Polish province as the country’s third coronavirus wave gains momentum, Poland's health minister Adam Niedzielski says.
The restrictions will be introduced in the northern Pomerania province, home to the city of Gdansk, from 13 March, Niedzielski told a news conference.
Last weekend, the same restrictions were enforced in the rural north eastern Warmia-Masuria province. Both provinces currently have the highest new infection rates in the country.
Niedzielski added that at the current rate of growth, new daily infections may exceed 18,000 next week.
On Friday, Poland reported 15,829 new cases - marking the third day in a row cases have exceeded 15,000 and the highest levels since the previous peak in November.
The minister said if the peak has been reached by the Easter holidays, then restrictions can be gradually eased.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 16:45

Mandatory form for passengers travelling internationally from England

Passengers travelling internationally from England from Monday 8 March will now need to carry a new form setting out that their trip is permitted under the current stay at home restrictions, the Department for Transport has announced.
It says carriers will be legally obliged to set out on their website that the form must be completed before travelling.
They will also checking the forms have been completed before boarding, and passengers without one may not be allowed on to the service they have booked.
Anyone identified by police as attempting to travel internationally for reasons that are not currently permitted will be asked to return home and risk receiving a fixed penalty notice for breaking stay at home rules. These fines start at £200 and ladder up to a maximum of £6,400.
Stay at home rules are still in place, which means it is illegal to travel abroad without a permitted reason, such as for education or work.

What are the current travel rules?

With a new mandatory form being introduced from Monday for passengers travelling internationally from England, here's a look at the current rules around travel in the UK.
The earliest date people from England will be able to travel abroad for a holiday is 17 May, when the country moves in to step three of its lockdown exit plan.
That's if the government is satisfied its four tests are being met.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet announced plans for allowing foreign holidays.
Cyprus and Portugal are now saying they hope to welcome vaccinated British tourists from May - despite no confirmation that is when travel restrictions will be lifted.


Which countries trigger hotel quarantine?

Travellers going to and from the UK face a growing number of restrictions - with the government announcing earlier those leaving England to go abroad will have to fill in a form declaring they are not breaking stay-at-home rules.
People arriving in the UK now have to take two coronavirus tests while quarantining, and some must pay to self-isolate at a hotel.
It's one of a number of rules aimed at stopping the spread of new, potentially more resistant Covid strains from other countries.
Rule-breakers face stricter penalties, including a prison sentence of up to 10 years for those who lie about having been in a banned "red list" country, such as Portugal.
We take a look at the rules here
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 16:47

Stay-at-home rule could be relaxed in Wales next week - minister

The Welsh Government is set to consider whether stay-at-home coronavirus regulations can be lifted at next week's review of the nation's rules.
Health minister Vaughan Gething says ministers are debating whether to introduce a "stay local" requirement or to allow unlimited travel across the country, as the number of people with Covid in hospitals across Wales is at its lowest level since mid-October.
Gething told a news conference that the upcoming review of restrictions, the results of which will be announced next Friday, will look at allowing "some social interaction with social distancing" as well as the "potential to do things outdoors", including regarding exercise.
Referencing First Minister Mark Drakeford's previous comments that the stay-at-home rule could be lifted, he said: "We're thinking about whether we should have a stay local period or whether there will be travel permitted across the whole of Wales.
"That's a choice the government needs to make. We haven't concluded that. But there are very easy to understand arguments why we would want to have a period of 'stay local' before moving to wider travel."

Missing Brazil variant case found by UK officials

Public Health England has confirmed that a person it wanted to find who had tested positive for the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 has been traced.
Earlier this week, officials said efforts to find the person - one of six so far found to have the P1 variant of the disease in the UK - had been narrowed down to just under 400 households in south-east England.
It is thought the mutation found in Brazil's Manaus is more contagious than other forms of the virus.

All contacts of missing Brazil variant case have been traced

Public health officials have traced all contacts of the missing Brazil variant case, it is understood.
The P1 variant of the disease has also sparked concerns vaccines may not be as effective against it.
But NHS England's Prof Stephen Powis has said vaccines can be "rapidly adapted". You can read our breaking story here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Mar 05 2021, 19:50

UK records 236 further deaths

We've usually been able to report the UK's latest coronavirus statistics by now.
But there's a delay to today's update and so the government dashboard will be updated later this evening.
However Public Health England has some of the figures.
They said another 236 deaths had now been recorded, of people who had a positive coronavirus test within the previous 28 days.
And 21,358,815 people have now received the first dose of a vaccine.

Top stories from around the world

As the live page team prepare to close up for the day, here are some of the top coronavirus stories we have been covering this Friday:

  • Pope Francis has defied fears over coronavirus and security to make the first papal visit to Iraq , and calls for the “peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups”
  • Australia appeals to Brussels to review Italy's decision to block export of AstraZeneca vaccine doses , amid a row with the vaccine maker over provision for the EU
  • There were cheers in Nigeria as Dr Ngong Cyprian became the first person in the country to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Rwanda and Kenya also began their immunisation programmes
  • The US sees an unexpected jobs bounce and cinemas reopen in New York City amid hope over its vaccination programme
  • But the WHO urges countries not to relax restrictions too early, saying there could well be a third or even fourth surge of the pandemic
  • Latest figures show Covid-19 has now infected more than 115 million people around the world and claimed the lives of 2.5 million people.


What's the latest in the UK?

And as Friday's coverage draws to a close, here's what you need to know this evening:


That's all for today

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Today's writers were Becky Morton, Alex Kleiderman, Kate Whannel, Lauren Turner and Ella Wills. The editors were Chris Clayton and Rob Corp.
We'll be back tomorrow morning with more updates from the UK and around the world.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:32