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

Coronavirus - 8th March

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:02

Summary for Monday, 8th March

  • Millions of children in England are returning to classroom teaching after more than two months of home-schooling
  • Primary schools are expected to be open for all pupils, while secondary schools will have a phased return to class
  • Secondary school pupils in England will take regular rapid Covid tests and need to wear masks in class
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the return as an important first step towards a "sense of normality"
  • Teaching unions have called for checks to be made during the Easter holiday for any spikes in infections
  • Hundreds of thousands of care home residents in England will be able to receive indoor visits from a nominated friend or relative from today
  • Scotland's first minister has said mass gatherings of Rangers fans celebrating the side's Premiership win were "disgraceful"
  • Police say arrests were made and fines issued after fans took to the streets in breach of Covid rules
  • The UK reported 5,177 new Covid cases on Sunday, while 22.2 first vaccine doses have been given


Good morning

Welcome to our rolling coronavirus coverage. We'll bring you the top stories from around the world throughoout the day.
Our main headlines this morning are:

What’s the latest from Europe?


  • Germany is further easing its lockdown restrictions, with five people from two households allowed to meet from today. Museums and galleries will also reopen
  • People aged over 65 and other high-risk groups in Russia's capital Moscow are no longer required to self-isolate and their free travel on public transport is reinstated today following months of restrictions
  • Spain's government has cancelled all marches to celebrate International Women’s Day in the capital Madrid amid high infection numbers. However, marches are expected elsewhere in the country
  • Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg has warned that the country is likely to require stronger coronavirus measures following a rise in cases. Non-essential shops and some schools are already closed in and around the capital Oslo, with restaurants only allowed to provide takeaways
  • More than 100 sailors from Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean are stranded in northern Germany after almost two years away from their families. Their government sealed off borders at the start of the pandemic to stop the virus getting onto the island and they remain unable to return home

Summary of latest global coronavirus news so far today:


  • The US has administered 90.35m doses of vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said 59m people had received one or more doses while 30.6m people have received the second dose as of Sunday.
  • The UK has reported a further 82 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total to 124,501. This compares with 144 last Sunday, and is the first time fatalities have dropped below triple digits since October.
  • North Macedonia received its first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines on Sunday, after beginning its vaccine rollout last month.
  • France has donated 15,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Slovakia as the country battles against the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate.
  • More than a thousand clubbers in Amsterdam were given a short break from lockdown as part of a trial investigating how large events can operate safely amid the pandemic.
  • Mexico’s health ministry has reported 2,734 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and 247 further fatalities, bringing the total tally to 2,128,600 infections and 190,604 deaths, Reuters reports.
  • A German MP has announced his resignation after it was revealed that his company had made hundreds of thousands through deals to procure face masks.
  • Police used tear gas against protesters in Athens on Sunday night after footage of an officer beating a man during a coronavirus lockdown patrol went viral.


New Zealand air crew member tests positive

Elle Hunt - The Guardian
Just as Auckland’s lockdown lifts and New Zealand celebrates two weeks free of community transmission, a new case of Covid-19 has been identified in an airline crew member .
The Ministry of Health said on Sunday evening the individual had returned to New Zealand from Japan on 28 February and initially returned a negative test result before testing positive during routine surveillance testing.
The crew member was moved into a quarantine facility in Auckland. The ministry believes the risk was low due to Auckland observing Level 3 restrictions in the past week but the 14 other air crew on the same flight are being isolated and re-tested while a supermarket the individual visited is being deep-cleaned.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker has suggested that the processes for air crew may need to be revisited as an “area of vulnerability”.

UK records lowest deaths since October as England schools return on Monday

The UK has recorded its lowest daily deaths since October, with just 82 people dying on Sunday from Covid. It brings the total deaths to 124,501 and is down from 144 last Sunday.
It’s the first time deaths have dropped below triple figures in five months. There were also 5,177 new cases recorded, which is the lowest daily count since September.
The figures come as schools prepare to return in England after months of remote learning.
All children will be able to return to class from Monday under the first step to ease restrictions, but secondary schools can stagger the return of students over the week to allow for mass testing.
Secondary school pupils are being asked to take three voluntary Covid-19 tests on site and one at home over the first fortnight. They will then be sent home-testing kits to do twice-weekly.
The Department for Education (DfE) is also advising secondary school students to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.
But primary schoolchildren are not being asked to carry out Covid-19 tests or wear face masks on their return.
Pupils in England, except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, have been learning remotely since the start of the lockdown in January.
The latest Government figures show that more than one in four (27%) primary school pupils in England were being taught on-site in the week after half-term.
Overall, nearly a fifth (18%) of state school pupils were in class on 25v February, up from 16% on the week before half-term, according to the DfE statistics.
Head teachers have criticised the government’s scheme for helping disadvantaged pupils catch up as chaotic and confusing. You can read our full story on that here.

Schools return in England, the full story

Sean Coughlan - BBC News, education correspondent
As we reported earlier, millions of children in England return to school today.
Many secondary schools will have a phased return during the week, allowing pupils to take Covid tests, and face masks will be worn in classrooms.
Most primary schools are expected to open for all pupils from Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the return as an important first step towards a "sense of normality".
It marks the first step of the "roadmap" out of the national lockdown , which has been in place since the beginning of January.
The government is now considering various measures to help pupils in England catch up on lost learning, including longer school days and shorter holidays, according to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson .
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:17

'Anger' over celebrating Rangers fans


Coronavirus - 8th March 9f051a10
Rangers took the title after Celtic drew 0-0 with Dundee United

Police say arrests were made and fines issued after crowds of fans gathered to celebrate Rangers winning the Scottish Premiership.
Large numbers of supporters made their way to Ibrox Stadium and Glasgow's George Square to mark the achievement despite warnings to stay at home.
Nicola Sturgeon said the crowds were "infuriating and disgraceful" and could delay the end of the Covid lockdown.
Under current guidance, public gatherings are banned and a maximum of two people from two households are allowed to meet outdoors.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Rangers on the title win, but added: "Gathering in crowds just now risks lives, and could delay exit from lockdown for everyone else."
"If those gathering care at all about the safety of others and the country, they will go home," she said.
In a later tweet she said: "I share folks' anger at this."
She added it was "infuriating and disgraceful" to see the crowds "risk our progress" after everyone complying with lockdown rules has made "so many sacrifices".
Read the full story here.

Dozen fined over illegal quarry rave


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A dozen people have been fined for breaching Covid rules after about 100 people went to an illegal rave at a beauty spot.
The rave took place at Healey Nab Quarry near Chorley on Saturday evening, Lancashire Police said.
Officers said the area, which is popular with walkers and cyclists, was left littered with bottles and laughing gas cylinders.
Police said 12 people were issued with fines for breaching Covid regulations.
"The pandemic is still ongoing and people need to stick to Covid restrictions," a spokesman said.
Police said two people were also "dealt with" for possessing cannabis.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:25

Mexico nears 200,000 Covid deaths

The Guardian

Mexico’s health ministry on Sunday reported 2,734 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 247 additional fatalities, bringing the total tally to 2,128,600 infections and 190,604 deaths.
Health officials have said the real number of infected people and deaths in Mexico is likely significantly higher than the official count because of a lack of wide-scale testing.

China reports 19 new cases

China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, up from 13 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Monday.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that all of the new cases were imported infections. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 17 from 11 cases a day earlier.
Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stand at 89,994. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,636.

Norway may introduce stronger Covid measures

Norway will probably need stronger restrictions to combat the latest resurgence in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a televised speech on Sunday.
Ahead of us is another hill to climb, probably with tighter national measures before we can ease and then lift the restrictions,” Solberg said.
She did not outline which additional measures could be needed to curb the Covid-19 outbreak however.
The Nordic country has maintained one of Europe’s lowest rates of infection but a recent resurgence in cases has led to concerns that a third wave of the outbreak may be under way.
In the capital region, where the more contagious variant first identified in Britain as B.1.1.7 now dominates, non-essential stores are already closed, restaurants are only allowed to provide takeaway service and some schools are shut.
As of 4 March, the nation of 5.4 million had vaccinated close to 377,600 people with a first dose, and nearly 200,700 had also received a second dose, according to data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

France donates 15,000 vaccine doses to Slovakia

Slovakia, a country suffering the world’s highest mortality rate from Covid-19, has received a donation of 15,000 coronavirus vaccine doses from France, Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Sunday.
Matovic described the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses as a “very kind and useful gift” and a “great gesture of friendship”, at a news conference with French Ambassador Christophe Leonzi, local press agency TASR reported.
Speaking in Bojnice, western Slovakia, the premier added that France had supported the idea of the European Union urgently sending 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Slovakia.
An EU nation of 5.4 million people, Slovakia has registered an average of 24.09 deaths per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days – the highest rate in the world.
The Slovak health ministry on Sunday announced that it had identified the South African strain of Covid-19 in seven samples taken in the country.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:30

New Zealand buys enough Pfizer vaccine for whole population

The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced the country has bought enough Pfizer vaccine for the entire population.
She said the decision to go with the Pfizer jab was based on its strong efficacy in preventing symptomatic infection.
“Whilst the Pfizer vaccine does need to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, this challenge is offset by only having to deal with one vaccine, rather than multiple vaccines with multiple protocols. It will simplify our vaccine roll out.”
New Zealand has a total of 10m doses, enough for each of the “team of five million” to get two shots.
“This purchase marks a significant milestone in New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19. We can all take heart that we have now secured one of the strongest and more effective tools in the Covid-19 toolkit,” Ardern said.

Vietnam launches vaccination programme

Vietnam has launched its vaccination programme with healthcare workers first in the queue, even as the country looked set to contain its fourth outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Reuters reports that Vietnam has been lauded globally for its record fighting the virus. Thanks to early border closures, targeted testing, and a strict, centralised quarantine programme, Vietnam has suffered fewer disruptions to its economy than much of Asia.
“When it’s your turn, go and get your shot against Covid-19 to protect yourself and your relatives for a healthy community, the health ministry said in a statement on its website.
Vietnam has kept the total number of infections in the country of 96 million at around 2,500 and reported just 35 deaths. It crushed a first wave of cases in February last year, and a larger cluster detected among foreign tourists in April.
An outbreak in the central city of Danang was quickly contained in September and a fourth, more concerning outbreak of the more contagious variant of the virus first detected in Britain appears to have been largely brought under control across several northern provinces.
New cases in that outbreak, first detected in January, fell to single digits last week.
Vietnam’s government said last month it would acquire 150 million jabs for its vaccination programme, including both those directly purchased and doses obtained via the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.
Monday’s shots were part of Vietnam’s first batch of 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived late last month.

Russia reports 10,253 new coronavirus cases

Russia has reported 10,253 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, including 1,421 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,333,029 since the pandemic began.
The government’s coronavirus taskforce said 379 people had died, bringing the official death toll to 89,473.
This figure represents Russia’s lowest daily death toll since November.

Poland says it could see 20,000 new cases a day this week

Poland could this week record up to 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day, according to the Polish health ministry, reports Reuters.
In addition, a ministry spokesman told the private radio station Radio Plus that Poles should expect restrictions during the Easter holidays.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:36

East Timor to go into lockdown

The tiny south-east Asian nation of East Timor will put its capital city, Dili, into lockdown for the first time amid fears it could be facing its first local outbreak, reports Reuters.
It said the measure was because of a “high probability of community transmission”.
A former Portuguese colony with a population of 1.2 million, East Timor has detected just 122 cases of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, East Timor’s porous border with Indonesia, which has recorded close to 1.38 million Covid-19 cases and more than 37,000 deaths, has raised concerns that the virus could spread and wreak havoc on the country’s poorly equipped healthcare system.
The country’s council of ministers said in a statement:
 It is forbidden to travel, by land, sea or air, out of this municipality, except in duly justified cases for reasons of safety, public health, humanitarian or other that are necessary for the accomplishment of the public interest.
The council of ministers also approved a national vaccination plan, with 33,000 doses expected to arrive in the country by the end of March.

France warns covid-19 vaccinations may be made compulsory

Kim Willsher - The Guardian
The French government has warned it could make it compulsory for health workers to be vaccinated after the prime minister revealed only 40% had been inoculated, reports our Paris correspondent, Kim Willsher.
Gabriel Attal, the government spokesman, urged those working in the health sector, who have been a priority for Covid-19 vaccinations for weeks, to get vaccinated.
“For the last year our health workers have been heroic, but the vaccination rate among them today is not acceptable,” Attal said in a question and answer session with readers of Le Parisian newspaper.
“It would be irresponsible to refuse to be vaccinated when one is a health worker.”
Attal said the government would try the carrot approach first by urging health workers to have the vaccine. If that didn’t work, the stick of making it obligatory “remains a possibility”, he said.
“Everyone is rolling up their sleeves to get us out of this epidemic. Now they have to roll them up to the shoulder to get vaccinated.”
Attal was echoing the gentle warnings issued by PM Jean Castex and health minister Olivier Véran at their weekly Covid-19 press conference last Thursday. Castex said health workers had a responsibility “to themselves, to their families and to those they care for”, to get vaccinated.
Le Parisian described Attal’s comments as a “delicate threat” that “hit hard”.
“The government spokesman has given health workers a final warning: go get yourselves vaccinated or we will make you do it! … let’s admit, it’s difficult to understand why health workers, whose role is to look after their patients, are so reluctant. Only one in three has agreed to be vaccinated leaving 75% of doses aimed for them sitting in fridges,” it wrote in an editorial.
However, the paper questioned whether forcing them to be vaccinated was a good idea. It said: “Why should the government decide for them when the rest of the population has the choice? The health service isn’t the army.”
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 12:43

Indoor visits to care homes resume in England

Hundreds of thousands of care home residents in England will be able to receive indoor visits from a nominated friend or relative from today.
Every resident will be able to nominate one person to visit them indoors, while residents with the highest care needs can receive more frequent visits from a loved one who will provide essential care and support.
Visitors will be tested prior to visits, wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and be asked to keep physical contact to a minimum.
Hand-holding is permitted but hugs and kissing are not, to help reduce the chance of spreading the virus, the government has said in its latest visiting guidance.
Visiting is not conditional on the resident or visitor having been vaccinated, but this is "strongly recommended", it says.

Thailand to reduce mandatory quarantine from 14 to 7 days from April

Thailand will reduce mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days from April for foreigners vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the health minister, Anutin Charnvirankul.
Reuters report that travellers must have had a vaccination administered within three months of the travel period and travellers will be required to show negative Covid-19 test results.
Those who have not been inoculated but have Covid-free certificates would be forced to quarantine for 10 days.
Covid has led to a severe downturn in Thailand’s tourism industry, which accounted for about a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product pre-pandemic.
The local tourism industry has called for there to be no mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors from 1 July.

Summary of today's main news so far


  • Vietnam has launched its vaccination programme with healthcare workers first in the queue, as the country looked set to contain its fourth outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Monday’s shots were part of Vietnam’s first batch of 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived late last month.
  • Schools in England are reopening on Monday for all children under the first step to ease restrictions , but secondary schools can stagger the return of students over the week to allow for mass testing. It comes as the UK recorded its lowest daily death toll on Sunday (82) since October.
  • Thailand will reduce mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days from April for foreigners vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the health minister, Anutin Charnvirankul. Travellers must have had a vaccination administered within three months of the travel period and travellers will be required to show negative Covid-19 test results.
  • The French government has warned it could make it compulsory for health workers to be vaccinated after the prime minister revealed only 40% had been inoculated. Gabriel Attal, the government spokesman, urged those working in the health sector, who have been a priority for Covid-19 vaccinations for weeks, to get vaccinated.
  • South Korean health officials have found no link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and at least eight recent deaths. Health officials had been investigating the deaths of eight people with underlying conditions who had adverse reactions after receiving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, but said they found no evidence that the shots played a role.
  • Poland says it could see 20,000 new cases a day this week, according to the Polish health ministry.
  • Russia has reported 10,253 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, including 1,421 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,333,029 since the pandemic began. The government’s coronavirus taskforce said 379 people had died, bringing the official death toll to 89,473.
  • A senior European Medicines Agency official has urged European Union members to refrain from granting national approvals for Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V while the agency reviews its safety and effectiveness.
  • Slovakia, a country suffering the world’s highest mortality rate from Covid-19, has received a donation of 15,000 coronavirus vaccine doses from France, Slovak prime minister Igor Matovič said on Sunday.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 13:01

Israel starts vaccinating Palestinians with Israeli work permits

Tom Bateman - BBC Middle East correspondent
Clinics have been set up at several checkpoints, where Israeli medical teams will provide jabs for Palestinian labourers.
Dawn each day sees thousands cross on foot - many to jobs on Israeli farms and building sites - while others head to work within Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
But the drive is adding to controversy about Israel’s responsibilities.
The group Human Rights Watch says that, as the occupying power, Israel should go much further than the current plan to cover up to 130,000 Palestinians.
Some three million Palestinians remain unvaccinated in the West Bank, where Covid-19 infection rates are currently surging.
Israel argues that previous peace accords with the Palestinians leave full responsibility for vaccines to Palestinian officials.


UN: 32% of global holiday destinations completely closed to tourists

Almost one-third of worldwide holiday destinations are completely closed to international tourists because of the “persistent seriousness of the epidemiological situation”, the United Nations’ tourism body has said in a report.
At the start of February, 69 destinations out of 217 worldwide, or 32%, were completely closed to international tourism – including 30 in Asia and the Pacific, 15 in Europe and 11 in Africa.
That is down from the peak in May 2020 when 75% of destinations worldwide were completely shut, but up from November when 27% were closed.
The Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said there was a trend towards a “more nuanced, evidence and risk-based approach” to travel restrictions, such as requiring international tourists to provide a negative test on arrival.
International tourist arrivals fell by 1 billion, or 74%, in 2020, according to the UNWTO, which called it the “the worst year in tourism history”.
The pandemic cost the global tourism industry $1.3tn in lost revenue last year, more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global financial crisis.
“Travel restrictions have been widely used to restrict the spread of the virus. Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognise that restrictions are just one part of the solution,” the UNWTO head, Zurab Polilikashvili, said in a statement.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 14:49

Syrian President Assad and wife 'test positive for virus'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus after experiencing “mild symptoms”, according to the presidency.
“They are in good health and their condition is stable,” a statement said, adding that they would isolate at their home for two to three weeks. Mr Assad is 55 years old, while his wife is 45.
The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said recently that there had been a sharp rise in new Covid-19 infections in the war-torn country since mid-February. However, it is hard to gauge the scale of the problem because testing capacity is limited and only half of its hospitals are fully functioning after 10 years of conflict.
Mr Assad’s government has reported more than 15,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,063 deaths in areas under its control since the start of the pandemic. Authorities in the opposition-held north-west have recorded another 21,000 cases and 408 deaths.
Last week, the government said it had started vaccinating front-line health workers after receiving doses from an unnamed “friendly country”. The opposition is negotiating separately with donors about vaccines.

UK Lockdown end should be put back to help schools stay open - Labour

Plans to ease lockdown should be delayed if necessary to keep children in school, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.
Pupils across England are returning to school today for the first time in two months, as part of the first stage of lifting lockdown rules .
But if reopening schools leads to coronavirus infection rates creeping up there may be a need for "other measures to be put back a bit", Sir Keir says.
On a visit to a school in east London, Sir Keir adds that "schools have to be the priority" and that delaying other measures to keep schools open is "a price I think we need to pay".
He also says the government may need to "look more closely" at its plan to regularly test school children for Covid, "to make sure it works". Sir Keir says there's a danger that lots of classes or groups of pupils will have to self-isolate as a result of individuals testing positive.
Labour's call in January for teachers to be prioritised for vaccinations was to "make sure we didn't have that experience," he adds.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 15:42

Brazilian president accused of squandering public money

Tom Phillips - The Guardian
The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been accused of squandering public money and trying to distract from his country’s Covid catastrophe by sending a high-level delegation to Israel to learn about a little-tested nasal spray that Brazil’s leader has called “miraculous”.
The three-day mission - involving Bolsonaro’s foreign minister, his son Eduardo and a friend with no scientific background - began on Sunday and was greeted with widespread derision in Brazil, as Covid death toll soared to record levels.
“How much did this ‘scientific mission’ (which includes not a single noteworthy scientist or epidemiologist) on an airforce jet to Israel cost?” the journalist André Trigueiro asked on Twitter .
Many critics noted how Bolsonaro’s envoys had been photographed leaving Brazil without face masks and then again, after landing in Israel, apparently obliged to wear the protective equipment. Others mocked Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, after he was given a public ticking off by an Israeli official for failing to don his mask. Images of the admonishment went viral on social media .
Detractors contrasted Israel’s fast-moving vaccination program, which has seen more than half of the population given a shot, with Bolsonaro’s sluggish campaign which has reached fewer than 4% of Brazilians.
Reports in Israel suggested the Brazilians had irked their hosts by spurning social distancing, just as Bolsonaro has notoriously done back home. While visiting Israel’s foreign ministry “the Brazilian delegation had to be reminded to wear masks and keep socially distant,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Embarrassingly, Bolsonaro’s emissaries had asked to visit the hospital where the nasal spray is being developed - but their request was denied . A report in the Times of Israel added to the sense of fiasco, claiming Bolsonaro’s team “would be confined to their hotel for the entire visit” except for meetings with Israel’s foreign minister and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Araújo claimed fighting Covid was a priority for his government, described the Israeli nasal spray as “very promising” and claimed it had been essential to visit Israel in person.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 18:14

Here's what we learned from today's Downing Street briefing

Boris Johnson has finished his Downing Street briefing. If you're just a joining us, here's a recap of what was said:

  • The PM described the return of pupils to classrooms across England as "emotional" - and said while some have been anxious about the return, "the greater risk" would be keeping children out of school "a day longer"
  • Some 65 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test, while a further 4,712 people have tested positive for the virus; that compares with 104 deaths and 5,455 new cases reported last Monday
  • Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the case rate is back down to the level it was in late September, but warns it is still high enough for a new wave to "easily take off again"
  • Mr Johnson said a rise in Covid transmission is "inevitable" with the return of schools - but added that immunity has "bedded in" for millions of people who have been vaccinated
  • Dr Harries said she was "very optimistic" that schools would be able to remain open, but warned there may be a short period with more students testing positive and being taken out of school
  • Asked if England's lockdown could be eased faster due to the success of the vaccine rollout, the PM said he believes businesses would rather see a "cautious but irreversible" approach to easing measures than a "hasty" one that leads to being closed down again
  • Finally, asked about some parents' failure to give permission for their children to be tested in schools, Dr Harries says it has been "an unusual ask" for parents and "it will take time for families to get used to that"
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Post by Kitkat Mon Mar 08 2021, 18:19

How much support is there for self-isolation?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked if more money would be made available to help people deal with the financial impact of having to self-isolate.
“What we’re doing in addition to helping people to self-isolate - in addition to the £500 support and all the rest of it - is giving money to councils. I have a figure of £170m in my head to help them give people who really need it help to self-isolate,” he said.
We’re not sure where the £170m figure comes from.
However, we know that since the end of September, the government has given councils £110m to fund the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
This scheme gives those on low-incomes a £500 payment, if they can prove they will be financially affected if they have to stay at home for the 10-day isolation period.
We recently used a Freedom of Information request for figures on this for all councils in England and Wales.
Their responses showed that two-thirds of people who applied for the payment did not get it.
Councils and unions told us that the criteria for getting the payment was too tough.
You can find out more about this here.

What's been happening today?

We're pausing our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic until tomorrow. But before we do, here's a re-cap of today's main headlines:

  • The first day back at school for millions of children in England has "gone well", say head teachers
  • Schools are reporting high levels of take-up of Covid tests and compliance with new rules on wearing masks in secondary school classrooms
  • However, concerns have been raised by testing experts that thousands of pupils could be incorrectly told to self-isolate, because the government is sticking to a rule that a positive rapid Covid test done in secondary schools cannot be over-ruled by the gold-standard PCR tests processed by labs
  • And as well as schools reopening, the first phase of lockdown restrictions easing in England also means some care home residents can now have one nominated, regular visitor - who is allowed to hold their hand
  • Meanwhile, Scotland's deputy first minister has accused Rangers of a "lack of leadership" after fans gathered in Glasgow, against lockdown rules, to celebrate their Scottish Premiership win
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Poland has risen by 29% from last Monday as the third wave to hit the country gathers momentum
  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma have tested positive for Covid-19 after experiencing “mild symptoms”, according to the presidency
  • There have been some 116 million cases of Covid across the globe since the pandemic began, with more than 2.5 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data .


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Thanks for reading today's live updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and across the globe.

Today's updates were brought to you by Hamish Mackay, John Harrison, Alice Evans and Jennifer Scott. The editors were Rob Corp and Paul Gribben.


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    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:59