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Coronavirus - 18th March 2021


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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 12:05

Summary for Thursday, 18th March

  • UK government faces questions over vaccine supply after NHS warns of a reduction in England in April
  • Five million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, produced in India, have been held up by four weeks
  • But the government says it's still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says UK is "ahead of schedule" to offer a first dose to all over 50s by 15 April
  • There are concerns over more than 500 "do not resuscitate" decisions made in England during the pandemic
  • Tanzania's president dies following rumours he had contracted Covid-19
  • Vaccine passports should be given to citizens across the EU "without discrimination", officials say
  • The EMA is due to release the findings of an investigation into cases of blood clots in a handful of jab recipients

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's the main stories from the UK this morning:

India shortfall behind UK's vaccine supply delay

The UK’s vaccine supply is expected to reduce next month due to a delay in the delivery of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from India.
It is understood the shipment, produced by the Serum Institute of India, has been held up by four weeks.
The NHS warned of a significant reduction in supply in England in April in a letter to local health organisations.
The Department of Health insists it is still on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
But after opening up appointments to all over-50s on Wednesday, the NHS in England was then told not to offer jabs to younger age groups throughout April.
Read more .

The papers: ‘Jabs in crisis’ amid ‘surprise slump’

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  • "Surprise slump" is how the i describes the expected drop in supplies of coronavirus vaccine in England next month.
  • The paper quotes one person "closely involved" in the immunisation programme, who says they had no advance warning of the impending slowdown - while government sources tell the Guardian that the "looming squeeze" in availability of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is "far worse than predicted".
  • The Financial Times says it's a "big setback" for a programme it calls "one of the few successes" of Boris Johnson's response to the pandemic.
  • It points out there may be further trouble ahead - as officials in Whitehall are concerned about "significant manufacturing issues" with the Moderna vaccine, which was due to roll out in the spring.
  • Other papers lead on the EU's warning that it could stop sending new batches of vaccine to countries like the UK.
  • "We'll Grab Your Jabs" is the headline in the Metro - which says the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, may halt exports of Pfizer vials made in Belgium and Germany unless supplies to the EU of the AstraZeneca vaccine improve.

Read more from the papers here .

What's going on around the world?

Here is a round-up of some of the biggest recent developments outside of the UK:

  • Tanzania's President John Magufuli has died aged 61 , following rumours he had contracted Covid-19
  • A digital certificate showing vaccination or Covid test status to kick-start foreign travel should be given to citizens across the EU "without discrimination" , officials say
  • The European Medicines Agency is due to release the findings of an investigation into cases of blood clots in a handful of Oxford-AstraZeneca jab recipients
  • A court in Egypt has sentenced the prominent human rights activist Sanaa Seif to 18 months in jail after finding her guilty of "spreading false news" about the handling of Covid-19 outbreaks in Egyptian prisons
  • Delaying England’s winter lockdown ‘caused up to 27,000 extra Covid deaths’ . Delaying the winter lockdown caused up to 27,000 extra deaths in England, the Resolution Foundation thinktank has claimed as it accused the government of a “huge mistake” which should be central to any public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic.
  • EU regulator to report on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine safety . Europe’s medicines regulator is under mounting pressure to clear up safety concerns over the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine as experts warned that arguably political decisions to pause it in many countries risked seriously delaying the continent’s already sluggish vaccination drive.
  • Brazil cases topped 90,000 for the first time. Brazil on Wednesday registered an unprecedented 90,303 new coronavirus cases, a day after the country reported a fresh record for deaths related to the virus, Reuters reports.Infections now total 11,693,838.Deaths rose by 2,648, the second highest tally after the record reported on Tuesday, bringing the total to 284,775.
  • Poorest countries will suffer most from Covid downturn, the UN said. The poorest and most vulnerable countries will be the biggest losers from a pandemic downturn that will leave the global economy nursing $10tn (£7.2tn) of losses by the end of the year, according to the UN.
  • Japan to lift Tokyo area state of emergency as planned on Sunday – minister. The Japanese government’s advisory panel on coronavirus countermeasures on Thursday approved a plan to let the state of emergency expire in the Tokyo area as scheduled on March 21, Economy Minister Yasuhisa Nishimura said.
  • Older people more likely to catch Covid a second time . Older people who have recovered from Covid cannot assume they are immune from a second attack, according to a new study that shows the under-65s are much less susceptible to reinfection.
  • Indian state of Maharashtra accounts for 65% of new daily cases. India reported 35,871 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest in more than three months, with the worst-affected state of Maharashtra alone accounting for 65% of that.
  • Tanzania’s Covid-denying president, John Magufuli, died aged 61. Tanzania ’s president, John Magufuli , one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 deniers, has died after a two-week absence from public life which prompted speculation that he had contracted the disease.Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday by the country’s vice-president Samia Suluhu, who said the president died of heart failure. He was 61.
  • UK foreign secretary said EU threat to block exports of vaccine needs ‘some explaining’. The British foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said on Wednesday that the European commission’s threat to ban exports of Covid-19 vaccines cut across previous assurances, adding that the commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, needed to explain herself.
  • NHS chiefs fear collision course with ministers over Covid backlog . Hospital bosses are bracing themselves for a clash with ministers over how quickly they can clear the backlog of NHS care that built up during the pandemic.
  • Blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders imposed on English care homes, finds CQC . Blanket orders not to resuscitate some care home residents at the start of the Covid pandemic have been identified in a report by England’s care regulator.
  • Quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand could be in place by end of April. Quarantine-free travel to Australia from New Zealand could be in place by the end of April, Radio New Zealand reports . Ministers are working on the proposal, which could be put to Cabinet as soon as Monday. Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson says he is “very optimistic” about the travel bubble being opened soon.
  • Taiwan began AstraZeneca rollout. Taiwan could begin distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine next Monday , according to its Central Epidemic Command Center, following the arrival of a first batch of nearly 200,000 doses earlier this month.
  • China doubled down on Covid narrative ahead of WHO report. Chinese state media are doubling down on Beijing’s narrative about the origins of the Covid-19 ahead of the much anticipated release of the World Health Organization’s findings. Liang Wannian, who led the Chinese side of the joint WHO investigation in January, told the Global Times that China did not find evidence of the virus earlier than December 8, 2019.

Decisions on AstraZeneca and French lockdown - latest across Europe

  • The EU’s medicines agency will give Europeans this afternoon its decision on the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca drug, after 15 countries suspended its use over a small number of blood clots. On Tuesday the agency said the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks of side effects. The World Health Organization says there's no proven link and the leaders of Italy and France say they’ll resume using the vaccine quickly if it’s given the green light.
  • French leaders will this evening announce new measures aimed at slowing a “third wave” of Covid. A year after France’s first lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex will announce additional curbs from this weekend for the greater Paris and northern Hauts-de-France regions.
  • Norway has recorded its second highest daily number of infections so far, with 1,064 cases.
  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will take part in a memorial ceremony in Bergamo this morning as part of a national day to remember more than 100,000 Covid victims. Bergamo is heavily symbolic for Italians as it was where military trucks were pictured last year transporting coffins out of the city.
  • A Danish study suggests 80% of people who catch Covid are protected against further infection, although immunity falls after six months. But the study of PCR tests by the Statens Serum Institute also finds that only 47% of over-65s have the same protection. Researcher Steen Ethelberg says even if you have had Covid it would be a good idea to get vaccinated.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 15:31

Tanzania's president dies aged 61 after Covid rumours

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Tanzania's President John Magufuli has died aged 61, the country's vice-president has announced.
Opposition politicians said last week that he had contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed.
He died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Samia Suluhu Hassan said in an address on state television.
Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health.
Magufuli was one of Africa's most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.
"It is with deep regret that I inform you that today... we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli," Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement.
She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.
Read more here.

Egypt rights activist jailed for 'spreading false news' on Covid

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Sanaa Seif has now been sentenced to prison three times since 2014 (file photo)

A court in Egypt has sentenced the prominent human rights activist Sanaa Seif to 18 months in jail after finding her guilty of "spreading false news" about the handling of Covid-19 outbreaks in Egyptian prisons.
Seif was detained in June as she tried to file a complaint about an assault that she had allegedly suffered.
Amnesty International said she had been convicted "on bogus charges stemming purely from her peaceful criticism".
The rights group said Sanaa Seif had been waiting outside the Tora prison complex for a letter from her brother along with her mother and her sister Mona when a group of women beat them with sticks and stole some of their belongings. One police officer reportedly pushed her mother towards the assailants, it added.
Prosecutors subsequently accused Sanaa Seif of disseminating "false news on the deterioration of the country's health situation, and the spread of the coronavirus in prisons", as well as "misusing social media" and insulting a police officer.
After Covid-19 reached Egypt, she accused prison authorities of mishandling outbreaks. Human Rights Watch documented several suspected outbreaks at prisons and police stations between last March and July, during which time it believes at least 14 prisoners died of Covid-19 complications.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 15:40

Why is the EU warning the UK over vaccine exports?

Chris Morris - BBC Reality Check
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, has said that if Covid vaccine supplies in Europe do not improve, the EU "will reflect whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate".
Post-Brexit disagreements between the EU and the UK have been heightened by the diplomatic row over the export of the vaccines.
The European Council president, Charles Michel, claimed last week that the UK had imposed an "outright ban" on the export of vaccines and their components - there is no ban though, and his claim was dismissed by the government as "completely false".
But von der Leyen says the EU is still waiting for exports from the UK, and it wants reciprocity.
Read this for a full breakdown of the dispute.

Papua New Guinea toughens restrictions as hospitals become overwhelmed

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Few people wear facemasks to bid farewell to the casket of Papua New Guinea's first prime minister, Michael Somare, who died late February

Papua New Guinea will shut schools, limit non-essential movement and make mask-wearing mandatory, the country's pandemic controller has said.
"All the schools in the country will shut down at the end of this week following a sharp increase" in cases, David Manning told the AFP news agency.
The country's healthcare system is becoming overwhelmed as a result, he said.
Residents of the capital Port Moresby will be asked not to leave home except for "medical, employment and business purposes" and shops will have to close by 8pm.
Despite locking down its borders and avoiding the worst of the pandemic, the country of nine million reported more than 1,000 cases last month. Tuesday saw its highest daily infection toll of 128.
The first deliveries of 8,000 vaccines for frontline workers are expected to arrive from Australia next week.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 15:48

'Terrible grief' after 'do not resuscitate' decision

Individuals' human rights may have been breached in more than 500 cases where "do not resuscitate" decisions were made during the Covid pandemic, the care watchdog for England says .
Some 508 "do not attempt resuscitation" (DNAR) decisions made since March 2020 were not agreed in discussion with the person or their family, a report by the Care Quality Commission has found.
One woman - who asked to remain anonymous - has been telling the BBC about how her sister was taken to hospital after she fell sick with Covid-19 last year.
Her sister has Down's syndrome and she believes this might have been a factor when doctors decided to withdraw treatment, as she was told this needed to be considered because of her sister's "condition and quality of life".
“It was only when I related this conversation to my sister’s care manager, the head of safeguarding got in touch with the hospital and just advised them of course that they shouldn’t be making any decisions on my sister’s treatment based on her Down's syndrome but rather purely on her physical condition," she says.
“There is a mix of emotions that you’re left with afterwards in addition obviously to feeling terrible grief for the loss of a sibling.”
Another woman, who also asked to remain anonymous and is herself a nurse, says the way her father's death from lung cancer was dealt with last year was not good enough.
She says her step-mother was told by an "arrogant doctor" that "we're not going to resuscitate him".
"I knew it wouldn’t be of any benefit to him... but I wouldn’t have explained it in the brutal way which it was put across to my step-mum and I would have wanted him to be more involved in that discussion," she adds.

Bereaved families need 'closure' of a public inquiry

After the roadmap out of lockdown is completed in June would be the "perfect opportunity" to launch a public inquiry in the government's handling of the pandemic, Labour says.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves says the government needs to "learn lessons" on issues such as PPE and protecting care homes to save lives in the future.
“I think the people who need to be front and centre of all of this are the families who have lost loved ones," she tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
“For them you’re not going to be able to get the closure, the justice that is needed, until that inquiry happens.”
Ministers and government advisers have argued the focus at the moment should be on the vaccine rollout rather than an inquiry.
However, Reeves says an inquiry could be done "in phases", with a "rapid review" followed by a fuller investigation.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 15:50

Bulgaria to go back into lockdown as cases surge

Bulgaria is to introduce a third lockdown as the country faces a surge in coronavirus cases that has stretched its health care system.
Health Minister Kostadin Angelov says schools, restaurants and shopping centres will close for 10 days from Monday.
The Balkan country has reported more than 4,000 new cases today and has seen a 40% rise in cases over the past week.
With just over 350,000 Bulgarians vaccinated with a first dose so far, the country of 7 million people holds the poorest inoculation record in the EU.
More than 11,700 have died of the virus in Bulgaria.

When will weddings be allowed again?

Plans to ease the tight restrictions on weddings have been announced as part of England and Scotland's lockdown exit plans.
But although ceremonies will be able to start again in England from the end of March, many licensed wedding venues will remain shut until mid-May at the earliest , and indoor receptions will not be possible until then.
At the moment, ceremonies can only take place in England in exceptional circumstances - for instance, if the bride or groom is extremely ill. This is set to change:

  • 29 March: Any single adult can get married, and six people (including the couple) can attend the ceremony
  • 12 April (at the earliest): Up to 15 people will be allowed to attend a wedding ceremony and reception, but ceremonies can only take place in places of worship, public buildings and in locations that are already permitted to open, with outdoor receptions only
  • 17 May (at the earliest): Up to 30 allowed at ceremony and reception
  • 21 June (at the earliest): The government aims to remove all limits on social contact, including wedding restrictions.

In Scotland wedding ceremonies and receptions can resume from 26 April for up to 50 people, but no alcohol will be allowed at receptions.
You can read more about the rules on weddings here .

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 15:58

Mass vaccine centre to open in Belfast

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A mass vaccination centre is due to open at Belfast's SSE Arena at the end of March.
Patricia Donnelly, the head of the vaccine rollout in Northern Ireland, says the initial hope was that by the time the centre began operating the vaccine would be on offer to over-40s but this group will now likely have to wait a further two weeks.
She adds the opening weeks for the centre have been "scaled down slightly", with about 11,000 jabs to be administered in the first weeks, despite a capacity for 40,000 a week.
It comes as the UK faces an expected reduction its vaccine supply in April , partly due to a delay in the delivery of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from India.

Italy holds memorial one year on from the height of pandemic

Italy is holding its first national day of remembrance for the victims of Covid 19 - marking a year since pictures emerged of military trucks carrying dozens of coffins in the northern city of Bergamo.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi laid a wreath at the cemetery in Bergamo in honour of more than 103,000 Italians who have lost their lives to the disease.
A year ago, Father Marco Bergamelli was blessing coffins every 10 minutes in the city.
"This place was full of coffins, there were 132 lined up at the foot of the altar," he told the AFP news agency.
"At the beginning, the trucks came at night, nobody was supposed to know the coffins were being taken elsewhere."
Flags are being flown at half mast around the country and a minute's silence was observed.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 16:06

China reports first local Covid case in a month

China has reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus case since 14 February.
The case was detected in a health worker in Xi'an city in northwestern Shaanxi province.
Despite it being the first locally transmitted case in more than a month, there have been frequent detections in people travelling from abroad.
The new local case was of someone working at a hospital, responsible for collecting samples of people in quarantine for Covid-19 testing, officials say.
China has been closed to most foreigners since last March because of the pandemic. The country has mostly managed to contain the virus since imposing a strict lockdown last year.

Pandemic nearly disabled the NHS, says hospital boss

Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
The NHS in England was ill-prepared for the seismic shock of the Covid pandemic, a hospital chief says.
The service was already running at nearly full capacity with long waits for non-urgent operations even before coronavirus arrived, according to Prof Marcel Levi, the University College London Hospitals trust's chief executive.
In an interview with the BBC he says it could take "a very long time" to clear the backlog of routine surgery and procedures that has built up because of cancellations during the pandemic and more money would be needed quickly to run weekend and evening sessions in operating theatres.
Prof Levi also argues the most successful responses to the pandemic were those under the control of the NHS - in contrast to those run by independent contractors.
Read more .

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 16:12

The cautionary tale of the president who denied coronavirus

Dickens Olewe - BBC Africa
The late Tanzanian President John Magufuli was in his element on 24 February while unveiling a massive road project in Dar es Salaam - an accomplishment he boasted could only be achieved by the ruling CCM party.
"It was completed on time because no-one used corona as an excuse to delay it," he said, while applauding the contractors and also instructing government officials not to entertain anyone using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone the delivery of projects.
This one was no different to previous public functions - a choir serenaded him, and he ended it with a characteristic speech extolling his mantra of Hapa Kazi Tu (Work is My Only Focus).
"Tanzania is a rich country, we have to use our wealth in order to develop," he said in his remarks, which also chastised tardiness and exhorted Tanzanians to pay their taxes. Three days later Magufuli would be seen in public for the last time.
Read more here.

Public can have confidence in Covid vaccines - UK regulator

The public can have confidence in the approved Covid vaccines, the UK's medicines regulator says.
The MHRA has been exploring reports of clots that have occurred in a small number of people who were recently vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
It says the balance of benefits versus risks is in favour of vaccination and the jab can prevent serious and deadly Covid-19 infections.
The evidence does not suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine causes common blood clots.
However, it is continuing to investigate a very rare and specific type of blood clot that can occur in the brain.
There have been five reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thromboembolism so far in the UK among 11 million people vaccinated.
All five were men, ranging in age from 19 to 59, and one died.
No link with the vaccine has been established and these rare clots can happen naturally. Covid infections also increase the risk of these clots.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 16:16

Cummings to give evidence on government handling of pandemic

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The prime minister's former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has agreed to give evidence on the UK government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic to the Commons Science and Technology Committee on 26 May.
On Wednesday he criticised the Department of Health as "a smoking ruin in terms of procurement and PPE" , while giving evidence to the committee on another topic.
Cummings quit his role in November following reports of internal turmoil at Downing Street.
He had previously resisted calls to resign following widespread criticism of his lockdown trip to County Durham at the end of March last year .

Breaking News

European regulator says AstraZeneca jab 'safe and effective'

The European Medicines Agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is a "safe and effective vaccine".
The regulator's executive director Emer Cooke is speaking at a news conference after an investigation into cases of blood clots in a handful of vaccine recipients.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 17:22

NI police issue 135 Covid fines over St Patrick's Day

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Crowds in Botanic Park dispersed quickly after police arrived

Police issued 135 fines as part of a large-scale operation to enforce Covid-19 restrictions on St Patrick's Day across Northern Ireland.
However, police have said that people mostly heeded the collective message to celebrate responsibly.
Extra officers were on patrol in the student area of Holyland in Belfast on Wednesday night.
Officers were also called to clear crowds of young people from Botanic Gardens in south Belfast.
Read more .

Breaking News 

UK reports 95 more Covid deaths

A further 95 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test and 6,303 more cases of the virus have been confirmed, according to the UK government's latest daily figures .
Those figures compare with 181 deaths and 6,753 cases reported last Thursday (11 March).
Some 25,735,472 people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 1,879,054 people have had their second dose.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 17:36

UK lockdown could be extended due to 'significantly constrained' vaccine supply

Harry Brent - Irish Post
Lockdown in the UK could be extended following recent Covid-19 vaccine supply issues.
Health experts have warned that volumes for 'first doses' of the vaccine will be "significantly constrained" from the end of March.
More than 25 million people in the UK have received their first dose, but the National Health Service (NHS) has warned of a month-long "significant reduction" in weekly supply of the jabs.
It's understood that the Indian government has delayed shipment of around five million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine - bound for the UK - to prioritise its own needs.
India-based Serum Institute, who are mass-producing the Oxford-made AstraZeneca vaccine, were apparently scheduled to deliver the shipment to the UK in the next few weeks, but are now claiming that no such schedule had technically been agreed with Britain.
It's thought the vaccines will now arrive a month later than planned, which could seriously jeopardise the UK's lockdown exit plan.
According to the plan, all public health measures will be lifted on June 21, and despite the latest hiccup, Ministers are insisting that the country is "still on track" to meet that target.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons today: "We have a delay in the scheduled arrival from the Serum Institute of India," adding that 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have also been held up because experts have had to "re-test its stability" following weeks of speculation that the jab is unsafe.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News: "This isn't anything that people should be worried about. We are still on course to meet our targets... Nobody who has an appointment should be concerned, you are still going to get your second vaccine, all those appointments will be honoured."

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 18:17

What did we learn from the PM's Covid briefing?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been giving a coronavirus news conference at Downing Street. Here are some of the key points:

  • The PM says the UK's medicines regulator, the MHRA, has confirmed the benefits of getting the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine "far outweigh any risks", in response to concerns about a small number of people getting blood clots after receiving a jab
  • MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine says the "rigorous scientific review " shows there is "no difference" in the number of blood clots occuring in people who have had the jab compared with those who have not
  • England's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, says the findings support the overwhelming view of scientists across the globe - that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe
  • Johnson says the continued fast pace of the country's vaccine rollout will help life to get back to normal
  • He says the UK should have "no anxiety" about its vaccine supply, despite the warning of a dip in available jabs for next month
  • Johnson adds that the Indian government hasn't blocked any exports to the UK and says the delay is due to various technical reasons
  • The PM also revealed he will get his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine tomorrow.

Algerian passengers from UK stranded for weeks in France

Hugh Schofield - BBC News, Paris

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Two children in the group appealed to the Algerian president to help them go home

Twenty-six Algerians returning home from the UK have been stuck in transit at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for the past three weeks.
The group, including two young girls and a 75-year-old woman, flew from Heathrow Airport on 26 February.
In Paris they were told by Air Algeria they could not continue their journey, reportedly because of Covid measures.
They have since been living rough in the transit area of Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle.
The 26 men, women and children have been sleeping on chairs or on the floor, eating food provided by sympathisers.
Air Algeria initially gave them food vouchers, but stopped when they refused the company's offer to fly them back to London.
They have access to showers in a zone of the airport where there is a hotel, but they are charged €20 (£17; $24) to use them. They also receive a doctor's visit every day.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 19:16

No big Easter celebrations, pleads Swedish PM

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm

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Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, warned the Covid-19 “marathon” wasn’t over yet

Avoid crowds, only hang out with your closest circle and keep following Sweden’s coronavirus rules and recommendations.
That was the message sternly delivered by Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, at a news conference in Stockholm this evening.
The Swedish leader warned citizens the Covid-19 “marathon” wasn’t over yet and the virus doesn’t take a break during public holiday weekends.
People should be mindful about avoiding activities that could cause an increase in infection, he said.
Sweden is continuing to report high numbers of new coronavirus cases and more than 13,000 people have died in the country of just 10 million.
At the news conference, Johan Carlson, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency, repeated warnings made by the country’s top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, earlier this month that Sweden risks plunging into a third wave if the public does not continue to follow its guidelines.
However, Carlson stopped short of asking people to stop domestic travel altogether over Easter, merely asking people to “socialise safely” if they chose to travel to meet others.
Sweden has never had a lockdown but has toughened its approach in recent months.
Shops and gyms must limit numbers to make at least 10 metres of space available per customer and there’s a rule-of-four in restaurants and bars, reduced to one person per table in cafes inside shopping malls and large retail stores.

Hull primary school closes after positive coronavirus cases

A primary school in Hull is being closed for two days following "several" positive coronavirus tests.
In a letter to parents, Bricknell Primary School acting head teacher Nicola Waites says they are also awaiting the results of further tests.
The 630-pupil school is being deep-cleaned today and tomorrow ahead of re-opening on Monday, she adds.
Hull City Council says a third of schools in the city have closed some educational "bubbles".
Ms Waites says a number of members of the "school community" returned positive Covid-19 tests at the end of last week, with more this week.
Read more

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 19:26

France to resume AstraZeneca vaccinations

France will resume vaccinating people with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from tomorrow, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.
A number of European countries suspended the use of the jab following reports of blood clots in some recipients.
But a review by the EU's medicines regulator today concluded the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is "safe and effective" .
"I will be vaccinated tomorrow afternoon with this vaccine to show that we can fully trust it," Castex says.

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Jean Castex says he will have the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine tomorrow

It comes as he announced new restrictions for 16 departments - or administrative regions - in France.
The Paris region, the Hauts-de-France region, and the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Seine-Maritime and Eure will be in lockdown, starting from Friday midnight and for four weeks.
Like in March and in November, only essential shops will be able to open but this time bookshops and record stores will be allowed to stay open.
The schools will remain open as well as middle schools.
"The progression of the epidemic is accelerating" says the PM this evening, with 35,000 new cases in the past 24 hours and a 23.6% increase in new cases in one week.
He says this is caused by the British variant, which represents three quarters of the new cases.

Temporary Covid hospital in Scotland to close

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The NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital in Glasgow is to close at the end of March.
The £38m hospital at the Scottish Event Campus was built in just two weeks early in the pandemic amid fears the NHS could be overwhelmed.
Its main role, however, has been in the delivery of vaccinations to about 175,000 people and as a base for outpatient appointments - it was not needed to treat patients with the virus.
The nearby SSE Hydro will take over its role as a mass vaccination centre.
Staff based at NHS Louisa Jordan will return to their health boards or the vaccination programme.
The building itself will revert to being an events and conference centre, and is due to play a key role in the COP26 climate change conference later this year.
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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 20:03

Ugandan president sues paper over 'malicious' vaccine claim

Patience Atuhaire - BBC News, Kampala

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has sued a leading independent newspaper for defamation after accusing it of publishing a "malicious" allegation against him about Covid-19 vaccines.
The Daily Monitor quoted a report in the US-based Wall Street Journal alleging Museveni and his inner circle had secretly been inoculated before the rest of the population.
The president denied the report, published on 23 February, and in two separate national addresses over the past couple of weeks, he has demanded a front-page apology from the Daily Monitor. It issued a "clarification" earlier this week.
The president's petition, filed in the High Court, described the story as intentionally reckless and malicious, and said it had painted him as a dishonest person.
In a televised address on Sunday, Museveni said he was still considering which of the globally-approved vaccines to take.
He added he wanted people who are most at risk, such as health workers, to be vaccinated first.
Uganda has so far received more than 860,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. More than 4,000 people, most of them frontline workers, have already been vaccinated.

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Post by Kitkat Thu Mar 18 2021, 20:08

Evening round-up

We'll soon be bringing our coronavirus live page to a pause for the day, but before we do here is a recap of the main stories from today.

That's it from us for now

That's it from us for today - thanks for joining us. We'll be back with another coronavirus live page tomorrow morning.

The writers today were: Becky Morton, Alice Evans, George Wright, Richard Morris, Kate Whannel and Alex Therrien.
The page was edited by Vanessa Barford and James Clarke.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:09