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Coronavirus - 11th March 2021

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 10:26

Summary for Thursday, 11th March

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic one year ago today
  • Since then, there have been more than 116 million cases and 2.5 million deaths across nearly 200 countries
  • The US has the highest number of deaths, with 522,818 now recorded
  • But Brazil, badly hit by the pandemic, recorded more than 2,000 deaths in a single day, taking its total to 268,370
  • More than 150 million doses of vaccine have now been administered
  • In the UK, politicians in Northern Ireland are discussing a full return to school
  • Research suggests cancer patients are less protected against Covid-19 than other people after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine
  • An early second dose appears to boost cancer patients' protection, and cancer charities are calling for a review of the UK's vaccine strategy


Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus coverage.
We’ll be bringing you the latest news about the pandemic from around the world.

Headlines from around the world

Today marks a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic . Since then there have been more than 116 million cases and more than 2.5 million deaths across the globe, but there is also some good news with 150 million vaccine doses being given.
Here are some of the headlines from the UK and around the world today:



  • Biden pledges to share surplus vaccines with rest of world. US president Joe Biden has pledged surplus vaccines will be shared with the rest of the world, after he announced the purchase of an additional 100m Johnson & Johnson doses.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic one year ago today. Since then there’s been over 116 million cases and 2.5 million deaths across nearly 200 countries. The US has the highest number of deaths, with 522,818 now recorded and over 319 milion vaccines have been administered worldwide.
  • The Australian government has walked away from its promise to ‘fully vaccinate’ all Australians by October. Officials told the Senate’s Covid-19 inquiry that supply constraints and the longer 12-week window between AstraZeneca doses meant some may have to wait until December to get their second shot.
  • Russia reports 9,270 new COVID-19 cases, 459 deaths. Russia reported 9,270 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 1,281 in Moscow, taking its total case tally to 4,360,823 since the pandemic began.
  • South Korea extends AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 65 and over. South Korea will extend vaccination for people aged 65 years and older with AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to ramp up its immunisation drive, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting on Thursday.
  • Cambodia reports its first coronavirus death. Cambodia reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday amid its biggest Covid outbreak so far, after a 50-year-old man succumbed to the virus after testing positive less than two weeks ago.
  • Hungary reports record high 8,312 daily tally of new Covid cases. Hungary has reported a record 8,312 new coronavirus infections and 172 deaths. There were 8,329 coronavirus patients in hospital, 911 of them needing a ventilator, putting a strain on the healthcare system, the government said on its website.
  • Germany sees jump in infections amid third wave warning. Covid cases in Germany rose sharply over the last 24 hours up to 14,356, a level not seen since February 4, the latest data from disease control agency Robert Koch Institute shows.
  • Rich, developing nations wrangle over Covid vaccine patents. Richer members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) blocked a push by over 80 developing countries on Wednesday to waive patent rights in an effort to boost production of Covid vaccines for poor nations.


Third wave in Germany and Estonian lockdown: Latest around Europe


  • Germany’s third wave of Covid has already begun, according to RKI public health agency head Lothar Wieler, and he says he’s very worried. Infections are up on last week - 14,356 in the past 24 hours – and Mr Wieler says there’s a race to get people vaccinated with the finish line is in sight.
  • Estonia begins a new month-long lockdown today with schools largely moving online. Non-essential stores are shut and a new 2+2 rule has come into force, allowing up to two people to move around together at a distance of two metres from others.
  • The EU’s medicines agency EMA is set to approve a fourth vaccine today across all 27 states. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.
  • There’s bad news for music fans in Germany and Switzerland where promoter Eventim Live says seven big music festivals will not take place this summer, including Rock am Ring at Nürburgring. Meanwhile, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic says she’s speechless that one of the country’s biggest bands, Crvena Jabuka (Red Apple), have held two gigs in Belgrade. She says it was “against all rules and measures”.
  • Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has asked for the country’s state of emergency to be extended until 31 March as ministers prepare to approve plans for a gradual lifting of lockdown. The lockdown has been in place since mid-January but daycare and nurseries could start reopening next week.
  • Weekend lockdowns have been extended in France’s northern city of Dunkirk and in the Alpes-Maritimes and Nice areas on the south coast because of a continuing spike in infections.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 10:31

Cancer patients 'lack same protection' after first jab

Cancer patients are much less protected against Covid-19 than other people after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the first real-world study in this area suggests.
Researchers at King's College London and Francis Crick Institute warn that a 12-week wait for the second dose could leave them vulnerable.
An early second dose appeared to boost cancer patients' protection.
Cancer charities are calling for the current UK vaccine strategy to be reviewed.
But Cancer Research UK added that the small study had not yet been reviewed by other scientists and people undergoing cancer treatment should continue to follow the advice of their doctors.
The government said it was focused on "saving lives" and the antibody response "was only part of the protection provided by the vaccine".

Actor tells of 'shocking' care home reunion with her mother

Actor and singer Ruthie Henshall says she was shocked by the "marked" difference in her mother's condition when she was reunited with her at her care home.
Henshall told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that her mother's Gloria's Alzheimer's symptoms had worsened during her time in isolation and that she had only been able to see her through a window in October.
She says: "She was walking and talking before the first lockdown then they had four months in their room on their own because Covid swept through the home and within that four months she just couldn't walk, couldn't talk after that...I was very, very shocked. There's a grief you can't even describe when you're able to see your loved one."
She says: "One of the horrendous things you walk around with is feeling like you don't know whether they think they've been abandoned
"I put my arms around her and hugged her and she moaned in a way that she was in ecstasy to feel my touch and I found that the most moving."
Henshall says she does a PCR Covid test once a week and a lateral flow test every time she goes to the care home and wears full PPE during her visit.
She says: "The Government need to make this a law it's absolutely crucial that we are not leaving these people albeit in the hands of lovely carers but they're not family they don't know that person the way we do."
Henshall spoke to BBC Breakfast in February about how desperate she was to see her mother.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 10:38

More than 116m Covid cases confirmed since pandemic began


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Today marks a year since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
Covid-19 is continuing to spread around the world, and there have been more than 116 million confirmed cases and 2.5 million deaths across nearly 200 countries.
You can find more on the pandemic in data here .

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 10:42

Northern Ireland to discuss back to school plan

The Northern Ireland Executive will meet later to discuss when all children should return to school.
Education Minister Peter Weir wants all pupils in Northern Ireland back in classrooms by 12 April .
In England all children returned to school on 8 March, while in Scotland and Wales the youngest pupils went back on 15 March.
A paper from Mr Weir recommends that all primary pupils who have not yet returned to school (primaries four to seven) should start on 22 March.
Primary school children are due to resume remote learning on that date, with years 12 to 14 back to school.
Weir has said he wants to scrap the plan for pupils in primaries one to three, who returned to class on Monday , to revert to remote learning.
The minister argued that plan did not make "enormous sense" and that those year groups should be allowed to continue with face-to-face learning.
Department of Health advisers previously warned against a full return of schools like in England, instead recommending a phased approach.

Covid fallout 'undermining nature conservation efforts'


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Covid-19 is taking a "severe toll" on conservation efforts, with multiple environmental protections being rolled back, according to research .
Conservation efforts have been reduced in more than half of Africa's protected areas and a quarter of those in Asia, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says.
And 22 countries are rolling back protection of natural areas. Such areas include pristine forests, wilderness areas and natural habitat that supports endangered species.
IUCN director general Dr Bruno Oberle says the new research revealed "how severe a toll the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on conservation efforts and on communities dedicated to protecting nature".
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 10:46

Denmark suspends AstraZeneca batch over blood clot fears

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
Denmark has suspended use of one batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a woman who received a dose died from blood clots.
Another person, who received a jab from the same batch ABV5300, was also hospitalised with clots.
EU regulator EMA says there is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.
EMA’s safety committee PRAC is investigating the cases reported with the batch as well as all other cases of thromboembolic events, and other conditions related to blood clots, reported post-vaccination.
The information available so far indicates that the number of thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than that seen in the general population.
As of 9 March 2021, 22 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among the three million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca's vaccine in the European Economic Area.
How do we know Covid vaccines are safe?

Five countries suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine

The Guardian
Austria’s national medicines regulator has suspended use of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine after four patients were diagnosed with dangerous blood clotting conditions after receiving the jab, PA reports.
Four other countries - Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia - have suspended its use to allow time for the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) to conduct an investigation.
Europe’s medicines watchdog said a preliminary probe showed that the batch of vaccines used in Austria was not likely to blame for the death of a nurse, aged 49, who received a jab.
The nurse died of multiple thrombosis - formation of blood clots within blood vessels - 10 days after their vaccine, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.
A second patient was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism - where blockages form in the arteries in the lungs - but is now recovering.
As of Tuesday, two other clotting conditions had been identified in patients that had received a dose from the same batch.
The EMA said there is currently no evidence that the vaccine caused the conditions, and that thrombosis is not listed as a potential side effect of the vaccine.
It said that the batch labelled ABV5300 comprised one million doses and had been delivered to 17 EU countries.

AstraZeneca says Covid vaccine is safe after woman dies of blood clot

We've had a statement from AstraZeneca after Denmark suspended use of one batch of its coronavirus vaccine.
The move came after a woman died from blood clots after having received a dose.
A spokesman says: “Patient safety is the highest priority for AstraZeneca.
"Regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine, and that includes [the so-called] Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
"The safety of the vaccine has been extensively studied in Phase III clinical trials and peer-reviewed data confirms the vaccine has been generally well-tolerated.”
The EU regulator EMA has said there is no indication the vaccine causes blood clots.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 11:00

Covid cases put Ausralian Hospital under extreme pressure

Tracey Ferrier - The Guardian
An infux of Covid-19 patients from Papua New Guinea has sparked a “code yellow” emergency at the Cairns Hospital in Australia, the ABC reports.
The internal emergency declaration triggers strategies to help the hospital cope when it nears capacity.
The six Covid-19 patients are all being treated in isolation, and came from hotel quarantine.
But the specialised care they need, combined with a record 263 emergency department presentations last weekend, means the hospital is under significant pressure.
“Six or seven beds doesn’t sound like a lot but they are in specific areas, they are in highly specialised negative pressure rooms that reduce the risk of cross-infection,” Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service executive director Don Mackie has told the ABC.
“It impinges on the other functions of the hospital.”
Some non-urgent elective surgery procedures have been postponed.

Papua New Guineau makes face masks compulsory

Papua New Guinea has made facemasks compulsory as the country wrestles with an uncontrolled outbreak of community transmission of Covid-19.
The country’s police commissioner, and national pandemic response controller, David Manning, said masks would be compulsory on public transport and in any enclosed public space. Businesses and government must provide masks for workers.
PNG’s already fragile health system is on the verge of collapse, with swingeing budget cuts combining with surging infections of health care workers. Some hospitals have closed their doors, while others are running short of protective equipment for staff.
For the entire pandemic, PNG has recorded just 1741 cases, nearly half of which have been reported in the last five weeks.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 11:04

UK looking at international travel certification

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told the House of Commons that the government's Global Travel Taskforce will introduce a travel certification to allow people to travel abroad.
He says this could be done by using schemes like the International Air Transport Association's travel pass or the World Economic Forum's common pass.
He says he has been having conversations with his US counterparts and "many others around the world" in order to get "travel going again".
The transport secretary says the Global Travel Taskforce report will be made public on 12 April.
Shapps said on Wednesday that it was still too early to book a holiday .
Here is an explanation of how such certificates or vaccine passports could work .

Urgent cancer referrals down 11% in England

We've got more on the NHS England figures out this morning.
They're giving us a picture of hospitals in England this January compared to January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic.
They show that a total of 171,231 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in January 2021, compared with 191,852 in January 2020 - a year-on-year drop of 11%.
This follows year-on-year increases of 7% in December 2020 and 2% in November.
Urgent referrals where breast cancer symptoms were present - although not initially suspected - were down from 14,299 in January 2020 to 12,437 in January 2021, a fall of 13%.

Cambodia reports its first coronavirus death

Cambodia reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday amid its biggest Covid outbreak so far, after a 50-year-old man succumbed to the virus after testing positive less than two weeks ago.
Reuters: With just 1,124 coronavirus infections recorded in total, Cambodia has among the fewest cases in Asia, although a sharp rise in infections since Feb. 20 has seen its overall tally more than double.
The man died mid-morning local time on Thursday, the health ministry said in a statement.
It said he tested positive on 27 February and was a driver for a Chinese national who lived in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, who was also infected.
The Southeast Asian nation of about 16 million people is located next to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, which have all been successful in keeping coronavirus outbreaks under control.
Cambodia started its Covid vaccination programme last month.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 11:08

Analysis: Surge in virus cases hit non-Covid care

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The surge in Covid cases in January hit non-Covid care, data published by NHS England shows.
Fewer than half the expected number of operations were done, pushing the waiting list to a record-high of 4.6 million.
More than 300,000 of those have been waiting more than a year for treatment - compared with 1,600 before the pandemic began.
Surgeons describe it as a dire situation that even caused some cancer treatments to be postponed.
Tim Mitchell, of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, says: "Behind today's statistics are people waiting in limbo.
"Many will be in considerable pain, others will have restricted mobility and be at risk of isolation and loneliness.
"Dealing with this daunting backlog will take time, and also sustained investment in the NHS."
NHS England says that, given the scale of Covid admissions seen in January, some disruption was unavoidable.
Medical director Prof Stephen Powis says that admitting more than 100,000 Covid patients to hospital in a single month "inevitably had a knock-on effect on some non-urgent care".
But hospitals treated more than a million people with other conditions in January, at the peak of the winter wave, nearly twice as many as they did last April.
You can read more from Nick here.

Russia reports 9,270 new COVID-19 cases, 459 deaths

Russia reported 9,270 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 1,281 in Moscow, taking its total case tally to 4,360,823 since the pandemic began.
The government coronavirus taskforce also said that 459 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing its death toll to 90,734.

Hungary reports record high 8,312 daily tally of new Covid cases

Hungary has reported a record 8,312 new coronavirus infections and 172 deaths.
There were 8,329 coronavirus patients in hospital, 911 of them needing a ventilator, putting a strain on the healthcare system, the government said on its website.
Hungary has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic, with infections surging since the second half of February and surpassing the country’s previous peak in December.
A new round of lockdown measures went into effect on Monday which required most shops to close for two weeks. Kindergartens and primary schools have also been closed until April 7.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 13:19

Uganda begins Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Patricia Oyella - BBC News, Kampala
Uganda kicked off mass vaccination against Covid-19 on Wednesday, after receiving 864,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine last week.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng was the first to receive a jab at the main hospital in the capital, Kampala.
Priority is being given to health workers in the country and many of them lined up at Mulago referral hospital in Kampala to receive it.
Other groups scheduled to receive the vaccine are security personnel considered essential in supporting the Covid-19 response, teachers, adults aged over 50 years, and people with underlying health conditions.
The vaccination campaign will spread to health centres countrywide for the next five days.
Those vaccinated now will receive their second doses in May and June.
An additional supply of 2,688,000 vaccine doses from the Covax scheme is expected in June.
Uganda plans to vaccinate 49.6% of its population in a phased manner.

Positive test results in England at lowest level since September

A total of 45,229 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 3 March, the latest NHS Test and Trace figures show.
That is down 34% on the previous week - and is the lowest number since 23 September.
There were 2.8 million lateral flow - or rapid - tests conducted in England in the week to 3 March. That is the highest weekly total since rapid testing began, while 1.1 million lab-processed PCR tests were conducted, the lowest volume since mid-October.
The figures come a day after the Public Accounts Committee said the impact of Test and Trace was unclear despite £37bn having been set aside for it.
Read more on how Test and Trace works here .

Cautious easing of rules 'may help Wales avoid third wave'

Wales could avoid the worst of a third wave of Covid-19 if there is a cautious easing of restrictions between now and the summer , scientific advisers have said.
Case rates could be kept low if alert level three restrictions are in place until June and schools reopen gradually, the Welsh Government's Technical Advisory Cell (Tac) says.
Its report is based on modelling by scientists at Swansea University.
The Welsh government is expected to announce a "stay local" rule on Friday.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 13:22

Derbyshire Covid spike 'linked to outbreak in prison'

A Covid outbreak at a prison is the reason a rural area of Derbyshire has the highest infection rate in the country, health bosses have said.
In the Derbyshire Dales district, the rate per 100,000 people jumped from 63.6 to 160.4 in the week to 6 March. England's current average weekly infection rate is 60.1 per 100,000 people.
Derbyshire's director of public health Dean Wallace says the local spike is due to an outbreak at an open prison, HMP Sudbury.
In a statement, the prison said it was working with Public Health England to "keep everyone safe and minimise the spread".
Last month, an outbreak at a prison in Rutland caused England's smallest county to rise to the top of the infection rate table, while at one point in January a quarter of all inmates at an open prison in Suffolk had the virus.

Breaking News 

Scotland reports further 22 Covid deaths

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is updating MSPs on coronavirus in Scotland.
Sharing the latest daily figures, she says a further 591 people have tested positive for Covid and 22 more people have died within 28 days of a positive test.
That brings the total number of Covid deaths in Scotland by that measurement to 7,483.
National Records of Scotland figures published on Wednesday revealed that, as of 7 March, a total of 9,725 deaths had been registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Our colleagues in Scotland are providing further updates on their First Minister's Questions live page.

Schools to reopen as planned in Scotland

As we've been reporting, it's one year to the day that the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.
In an update to MSPs, Nicola Sturgeon says the past 12 months have been "incredibly tough" but we can now have cautious optimism.
She says case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths have all fallen in recent weeks and she expects the R rate - the average number of people each infected person passes the virus to - to stay below one when it is published later today.
Some 40% of the population have received a first dose of the vaccine.
Sturgeon confirms the planned reopening of schools will go ahead on Monday, as will the plans to change rules on outdoor meetings.
Plans for the phased reopening of the economy will be announced on Tuesday.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 13:24

Wales' stay-local rules 'hard to police', says senior officer

We told you earlier that the Welsh government is expected to announce a "stay local" rule on Friday.
But a senior police officer is urging people to take personal responsibility for this because such a rule is "hard" to police.
Dyfed-Powys Police's commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, says stay-local rules are open to interpretation, which makes it difficult for officers.
First Minister Mark Drakeford previously suggested there could be an easing of stay-at-home rules. He is due to review Covid restrictions on Friday.
Llywelyn says: "It's going to be really challenging because there is going to be an interpretation of what 'stay local' means."
Health minister Vaughan Gething has suggested people living in rural areas might be able to travel further to access facilities easily available to people in urban areas.
Here's more on the stay-local message.

Analysis: Promising trial of new Covid antibody treatment

Philippa Roxby - Health reporter, BBC News
The trial of a new drug treatment against Covid-19 appears to have been so successful it has been stopped early.
According to GSK and Vir Biotechnology, the pharmaceutical companies behind the monoclonal antibody treatment called VIR-7831, it has reduced hospitalisation or death by 85%.
The drug was tested on 583 patients in US, Brazil and Spain who were all at high risk of being admitted to hospital with Covid – but we have little more information.
The full data on the trial has not yet been published, making it difficult to judge exactly how effective it is.
This kind of treatment holds real promise against Covid and several types of monoclonal antibodies have already been authorised for use.
They provide artificial immunity to patients by making antibodies for them in a bioreactor.
Vaccines, on the other hand, trigger the body to make their own antibodies to fight off disease from the virus.
Despite the existence of vaccines, there is still a need for good and effective treatments – particularly for those who have weaker immune systems.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:24

Sturgeon pressed on 'thousands' awaiting cancer diagnoses

During First Minister's Questions in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is asked about thousands of people going without cancer treatment during the pandemic.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says 7,000 fewer people had a confirmed cancer diagnosis in the first eight months of the pandemic, and it remains Scotland's biggest killer.
He says urgent cancer referrals have dropped by 22% and there are thousands more people who suspect they have cancer and are waiting for diagnosis.
Macmillan Cancern Research believes diagnoses are "nowhere near fast enough", Sarwar says.
The first minister agrees with Sarwar's concerns and says she's funding health boards to remobilise cancer services. Sturgeon urges anyone with worries, concerns or changes to contact their GP immediately.
One of the main Covid developments in England today is that figures show the surge in virus cases in January has hit cancer services .

Lunchtime headlines from across the world

Here are some of the coronavirus headlines from around the world this lunchtime.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:30

Global cases pass 118 million as Brazil infections soar


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Brazil is the country with the second highest number of Covid fatalities worldwide

Here's a selection of a few of our charts and graphs visualising the spread of Covid across the globe.
Since the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 pandemic a year ago today, there have been more than 118 million cases and 2.6 million deaths.
You can see from the Latin America graph below that infection rates are particularly high in Brazil. The country has recorded more than 2,000 Covid-related deaths in a single day for the first time. President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat from the virus, telling people earlier this week to "stop whining" .

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:32

Norway follows Denmark in halting use of Oxford-AstraZeneca jab

Norway is following Denmark in suspending the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after reports of a small number of people who have received a jab developed blood clots, and one person died.
As we told you earlier, Denmark has ordered a two-week halt on the use of the jab as a precaution .
AstraZeneca says the vaccine goes through "stringent" safety checks before being approved for use by regulators and clinical data shows the vaccine has been "generally well-tolerated".
Dr Phil Bryan, vaccines safety lead for the UK's medicines watchdog, says vaccine safety is of "paramount importance" and that it had not been confirmed that the report of a blood clot in Denmark is related to the AstraZeneca jab.
He adds more than 11 million doses of the vaccine have been administered across the UK with reports of blood clots "not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population".

Breaking News 

Four more cases of Brazil variant identified in England

Four more cases of the coronavirus variant of concern first identified in Brazil have been found in England, Public Health England (PHE) says.
Three of the cases of the P.1 variant have been identified in South Gloucestershire and one in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
The cases in Gloucestershire are all close or household contacts of the two existing cases in the area.
The individual in Bradford tested positive for Covid-19 in late February after travelling back from Brazil via Paris on 14 February.
Contact tracing teams have followed up close contacts of the individual and advised them to isolate and get a test, PHE says.
The new cases bring the total number of Brazil variant cases in the UK to 10.
You can read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:52

AstraZeneca vaccine 'safe' despite suspensions - No 10

Downing Street says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is "safe and effective", following the news both Denmark and Norway have temporarily halted using it over concerns about a small number of blood clots in people who have had the jab.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman says: "We've been clear that it's both safe and effective... and when people are asked to come forward and take it, they should do so in confidence."
The UK medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, says evidence has not confirmed the vaccine caused the problems, and that people should still go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

New variant under investigation in England

A new variant of coronavirus has been designated as a variant under investigation (VUI) by Public Health England (PHE), meaning it is on a watchlist but is not an immediate concern.
The variant, VUI-202103/01, was first identified in two individuals in south-east England who had recently travelled to Antigua in the Caribbean.
It contains the spike mutations E484K and N501Y, both usually associated with variants of concern - such as those first identified in South Africa and Brazil.
But it but does not feature the specific deletions which would lead to it being designated a variant of concern, PHE says.

Contact tracing teams have completed thorough investigations to identify and follow up any close contacts and no other cases have yet been found, the health body adds.

What do we know about the Brazil variant?

As we reported a moment ago, four more cases of the Brazil, or Manaus, variant of coronavirus have been identified in the UK, taking the total number found in the country to 10.
Some variants, like this one, appear to be more contagious .
There is no evidence that any of them cause much more serious illness for the vast majority of people who become infected.
One concern is whether current vaccines will continue to work against new variants and a study suggests the Brazilian variant may resist antibodies in people who have caught and recovered from an earlier version.
But early lab results suggest the Pfizer vaccine can protect against the new variants, although slightly less effectively.
You can read more about the variants of the virus which have been found in the UK here .
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:55

France eases travel for UK and six other countries

France is easing restrictions on travel to and from seven countries outside the EU, including the UK.
The country's foreign ministry says people no longer need to give a "compelling reason" for travel to Australia, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and Britain.
All non-essential travel was banned by the French government on 31 January as it tried to curb the spread of Covid-19 variants, including the UK variant. Safety measures remain in place for travellers.
All passengers arriving in France will still need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result issued less than 72 hours before they travel, the ministry said.
French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne says the decision to ease restrictions was taken because of the improving health situation in the seven countries.
He said that Britain would be included "because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France". Here's more on that story.

Raab 'confident' in Oxford jab but 'respects' Norway and Denmark suspension

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is the latest UK minister to reiterate that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is safe, following Denmark and Norway's decision to temporarily halt use of the jab .
The suspensions come after Danish reports of some people having blood clots after vaccination, and one death.
Speaking during a press conference as part of a visit to Norway, Raab said: "We're very confident as a result of the rigorous domestic checks we had that the vaccine is safe to take, but of course we at the same time respect that each country wants to follow their regulatory processes very carefully."
Almost 23 million people in the UK have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 18:58

Breaking News

UK records 181 Covid deaths

There have been 181 further Covid-related deaths in the UK, according to daily statistics from the Government.
This brings the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 125,168.
There were also 6,753 new infections in the last 24 hours.
Today’s figures show a decline in deaths but a slight increase in cases compared with last Thursday, 4 March, when 242 deaths and 6,573 positive cases were reported.
More than 23 million people have now received their first dose of a vaccine, while 1,351,515 people have also had their second dose.

Eliminating virus from Isle of Man 'could take six weeks'

It could be a further five weeks before it is safe to assume the Covid-19 outbreak on the Isle of Man has been eliminated, the island's public health director has said.
Dr Henrietta Ewart says the island now appears to be reaching the peak of new infections caused by community spread.
But an increase in families self-isolating together would continue to drive up new infections over the coming days, she says.
There are currently 580 people infected with the virus on the island which has a population of around 85,000.
The trajectory of cases in a recent outbreak in Guernsey , where it was five weeks before no new infections were recorded, "should not be dissimilar to ours", Ewart says.
Health officials would usually leave a bit of a margin beyond the standard incubation period to "make sure there's no cases from the very tail of things waiting to come through" before "discussing whether it's safe to be lifting restrictions, either all in one or in a phased approach", she says.
"We're probably looking at another four-five weeks, six weeks total before we can be clear," she says.

Homeless people bumped up vaccine priority list

Homeless people and rough sleepers in England have been moved up the coronavirus vaccine priority list, placing them above most people under the age of 65.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed in a letter that he had asked NHS England to make the change after advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Hancock said the UK's vaccine rollout was moving "at an incredible speed" and it was important that "nobody gets left behind".
"We know there are heightened risks for those who sleep rough and today I have accepted the advice of the independent experts at the JCVI to prioritise those experiencing rough sleeping or homelessness for vaccination alongside priority group 6 . This will mean we will save more lives, among those most at risk in society," he said.
Read more here about the order of priority for people getting vaccines.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 19:02

Analysis: New Brazil variant cases are no surprise

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It was always known more cases of the P.1 Brazil variant were coming.
When it was confirmed 11 days ago the variant was here, it was known two household members of the original cases in South Gloucestershire had tested positive for Covid.
The results of the genomic sequencing to check which variant they had was not yet complete, but the expectation was it would be P.1.
Where does this leave us? A quarter of all Covid cases are being checked for variants and all the indications are that they are not spreading.
The new P.1 cases mean the total is now 10, while there have been just over 300 cases of the South Africa variant and another 113 cases where the UK virus has acquired the E484 mutation which allows it to escape some of the immune response.
There will be more variants out there that have not been detected, but given that overall Covid infection levels are lower than when the variant was first discovered we can be confident it is not taking hold.
Monitoring this though is crucial to help the UK decide if vaccines updates are needed ahead of next winter.

Major new UK study to look at long-term Covid impact

Rebecca Morelle - Science correspondent, BBC News
Scientists have begun a major new study to determine the long-term health impacts of Covid-19.
Biobank UK, which holds medical images, genetic data and health information on 500,000 people, will carry out scans on about 1,500 individuals who have had Covid.
The aim is to look at how different organs are affected by infection.
Biobank UK's chief scientist, Prof Naomi Allen, said while we know Covid is "largely" a respiratory illness, it seems it can also affect the heart, the liver, the kidneys and the brain.
“Researchers will be able to investigate the direct effects of coronavirus infection on changes in both the structure and the function of these organs," she said.
Brian Shepherd, 71, from Gateshead, hopes his scans - and those of the other Biobank volunteers - will help to uncover more of the after-effects of the disease.
“We're all very proud of taking part in it, and feel that our little bit can help somewhere along the line for the rest of the world," said Brian, who still has some side effects after spending five days in hospital with Covid in November.
Read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 19:05

Withdrawal from Alaskan dog race after positive Covid test


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A competitor in Alaska's annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will no longer take part after testing positive for coronavirus .
Gunnar Johnson is described as being "incredibly disappointed" after being withdrawn from the 832-mile (1,339km) event, which is taking place under tight pandemic restrictions.
Known as the "Last Great Race on Earth", the Iditarod involves teams of dogs controlled by mushers racing across the Alaskan wilderness.
Competitors must also practice social distancing and wear face masks.

Police investigate care home virus outbreak

A coronavirus outbreak at a care home on England's south coast is being investigated by police.
One resident has died amid the outbreak at Holmesley Care Home in Sidmouth, Devon.
Public Health Devon said there was no evidence to suggest the infection had spread into the local community.
The police are leading the investigation in partnership with the Care Quality Commission.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 19:09

Hundreds of NI students suspended for breaking Covid rules


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Hundreds of students at two universities in Northern Ireland have been suspended for breaking Covid lockdown rules.
Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University said they had "stringent" and "robust" disciplinary procedures in place to deal with rule-breakers.
Some 229 Queen's students have been suspended since August, while Ulster University has suspended 263 students and expelled three since September.
The Ulster rule-breakers must complete a training course on "good citizenship awareness" as part of their suspension.
Read the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 20:14

Gym owner arrested after repeated Covid rule breaches

A gym owner who has been fined three times for keeping his premises open in breach of Covid-19 restrictions has been arrested during a police raid.
Steve Todd was held after officers went to Reps Gym in Preston at about 18:45 GMT on Wednesday following a report that people were inside the building.
Lancashire Police said 10 people were also fined £200 each for breaching lockdown regulations.
Ch Insp Sue Bushell said the force had taken "robust action" over the breach.
Mr Todd has been visited several times by police over his decision to keep his premises open and previously told the BBC that while he shut the gym during the first lockdown, he felt unable to do so again.
Read the full story here.

Brazil becoming threat to global public health, epidemiologist warns

An epidemiologist in Brazil, where daily deaths have passed 2,000, has said he fears the country may become a threat to global public health.
Dr Pedro Hallal, who works in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, is urging international governments to help tackle the dire situation.
Brazl has the second highest coronavirus death toll in the world, after the US.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 20:20

Care home worker told to stay at work despite positive Covid test


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The Leylands provides personal and nursing care for up to 21 people

A care home employee was told to stay at work after testing positive for Covid, health inspectors have found.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) discovered the incident at the Leylands Residential Care Home in Wolverhampton. Inspectors learned another staff member was encouraged to return to work after being in contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus.
Care home owner Bal Bisla said the CQC report was "very unfair" and that there had been no hospital admissions or deaths in relation to the incidents.
It emerged last year that between the pandemic's outbreak and July 2020, almost 30,000 more care home residents in England and Wales died than in the same period in 2019, with two-thirds of those deaths directly attributable to the virus.

Biden signs $1.9tn Covid relief bill into law

US President Joe Biden has signed into law a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) economic relief bill that aims to help Americans impacted by the pandemic.
The bill includes an extension of jobless benefits and a child tax credit that is expect to lift millions of people out of poverty.
The president said the relief package will rebuild "the backbone of this country".
The spending bill, one of the largest in US history, passed Congress without a single Republican supporter.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 11 2021, 20:22

That's all from us...

That's the end of our live coronavirus coverage for the day. Here are some of the main developments from the UK and around the globe:

  • Denmark and Norway have both temporarily suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after officials received reports of fatal or life-threatening blood clots in a small number of recipients. AstraZeneca says the safety of its vaccine has been studied extensively, and both the EU and UK drugs regulators say there is no evidence of a link between the vaccine and the clots
  • France is easing its rules on travel to and from seven countries outside the EU, including the UK. It put the restrictions in place in January to try to stop the spread of the so-called Kent variant, which is now circulating widely there. All passengers to France will still need to show proof of a negative Covid test
  • Four more cases of the Brazil variant of concern have been identified in England
  • UK scientists have begun a major new study to determine Covid-19's long-term health impacts
  • People in England who are homeless or sleeping rough will be prioritised for Covid vaccines , alongside those aged 16 to 65 with underlying conditions that put them at increased risk
  • And head teachers are warning that, with teachers' grades replacing exams this summer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland due to Covid, parents with "pointy elbows and lawyer friends" are emailing teachers to lobby for higher exam grades

Today's live coverage was brought to you by Doug Faulkner, Jen Meierhans, Alice Evans, Suzanne Leigh and Hamish Mackay.
Thanks for joining us.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:37