- There are concerns pupils could be forced to isolate unnecessarily due to inaccurate Covid test results when schools reopen in England on Monday
- Mass testing using lateral flow devices is to be carried out in secondary schools
- Research suggests they can offer a false positive result between 1 and 3 times for every thousand carried out
- More unions have put pressure on the government to reconsider its planned 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England
- Hospital leaders in England back the demands, saying ministers previously budgeted for a pay rise of 2.1%
- Staff feel undervalued and many could leave nursing when the pandemic is over, the Royal College of Nursing warns
- The government has defended its proposal, saying public finances are under unprecedented strain
- A mystery person in the UK infected with the Covid variant of concern first found in Brazil is traced
- Rapid Covid testing is now available to all workplaces in England
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the main stories this morning:
- The government is coming under further pressure to reconsider its proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff in England, with unions including the British Medical Association joining the backlash
- A mystery person in the UK infected with the Covid variant of concern first found in Brazil has now been traced
- Rapid Covid testing is now available to all workplaces in England, including those with fewer than 50 employees, the government has announced
- England's pubs have been deluged by people eager to book space from when beer gardens reopen on 12 April, industry group UKHospitality has said
- Pope Francis holds a symbolic meeting with one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam in Iraq , as part of his first international trip since the start of the pandemic
- Disneyland and other theme parks and stadiums in the US state of California can accept visitors next month under plans to relax some Covid restrictions
- Police in Paraguay have used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters who gathered in the capital of Asuncion to condemn the government's response to the pandemic, following a rise in coronavirus cases which has left hospitals close to collapse
The Associated Press reports:
In Russia, health authorities have reported 11,022 new cases, including 1,820 in Moscow, taking the official national tally to 4,312,181. The government’s coronavirus taskforce said 441 people have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the Russian death toll to 88,726.
But that contradicted data from Russia’s Rosstat statistics agency, which said on Friday that more than 200,000 have died since the pandemic began .
- France reported 23,507 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, down from 25,205 a week ago, but the number of people in intensive care with the disease reached its highest level so far this year , health ministry data showed.
- The arrival of Covid vaccines should not tempt countries to relax efforts to fight the pandemic, top World Health Organization officials said on Friday , citing particular concern about the situation in Brazil .
- A variant of Covid-19 first identified in Britain now accounts for 25% of the reported cases in Poland, according to the country’s health minister.
- Italy will further tighten coronavirus restrictions in three of its 20 regions after health officials warned of the growing spread of new variants .
- Germany has expressed concerns over the EU’s vaccine export ban , as Australia asked for a review of Italy’s decision to “tear up the rulebook” and block export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to its shores.
- The Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo, set out a roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions on Friday, even as Covid-19 infections rose, with restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas set to reopen on 1 May .
- Saudi Arabia said it would ease coronavirus-related restrictions on entertainment and events and reopen cinemas, gyms and sports centres starting 7 March.
- Paraguay’s minister of public health, Julio Mazzoleni, resigned on Friday as a record-breaking surge in coronavirus cases left medication in short supply and the country’s hospitals near collapse .
The papers: Easter 'travel permits' and 'slap for carers'
A number of front pages continue to focus on the row over NHS pay, including the Daily Express, which highlights the threat of strike action by nurses in England upset about their proposed 1% wage increase.
The Daily Mirror has the headline: "Boris' Slap For Carers."
The Daily Star accuses the prime minister of betraying what it calls the "NHS heroes" who saved his life when he fell ill with Covid last year.
New international travel permits which must be used by people leaving the UK from Monday are highlighted in the Daily Telegraph, which says the move is to stop Easter holidays abroad.
"There is concern in Whitehall over increasing levels of rule-breaking", the paper reports, "particularly among the 40% of adults who have now been vaccinated".
Read more from the papers here .