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Coronavirus - 20th March 2021

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:26

Summary for Saturday, 20th March 2021

  • France and Poland have reintroduced partial lockdowns as both countries battle a sharp rise in Covid infections in recent weeks
  • Some 21 million people in 16 areas of France, including the capital Paris, are affected as the country fears a third wave
  • Non-essential shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities in Poland are closed for three weeks
  • A member of the UK government's vaccine taskforce has described France's approach to the AstraZeneca jab as "crackers"
  • Sir John Bell says the changing advice from French officials was undermining confidence in the whole vaccination programme
  • A UK government adviser says it is "extremely unlikely" that Britons will be taking foreign holidays this summer
  • The UK reported 4,802 new Covid cases on Friday, and 101 deaths. More than 26 million Britons have received their first vaccine dose
  • Wealthy countries, including the UK, are blocking plans to help developing countries create vaccine manufacturing capabilities, the BBC has learned


Hello and thanks for joining our live coverage of coronavirus pandemic developments this Saturday. We'll keep you updated with the main stories of the day.

Latest headlines

Here are the latest headlines from the UK and around the world.


France and Poland increase lockdown measures


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There were busy scenes at railway stations in Paris on Friday evening ahead of a partial lockdown taking effect in France from midnight.
Trains leaving Paris for parts of the country where restrictions do not apply, such as Brittany and Lyon, were reportedly fully booked hours before the measures were due to come into effect.
Traffic jams were also reported on several roads leaving the capital.
France and Poland have reintroduced partial lockdowns as both countries battle a sharp rise in Covid infections in recent weeks.
Some 21 million people in 16 areas of France, including the capital Paris, are affected as the country fears a third wave.
The new restrictions are not be as strict as the previous lockdown, with people allowed to exercise outdoors. Non-essential businesses are shut, but schools remain open, along with hairdressers if they follow a "particular sanitary protocol".
In Poland, non-essential shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities are closed for three weeks.
Coronavirus cases are also rising exponentially in Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel warning it is likely that the country will now need to re-impose lockdown measures.

Can the UK avoid a third wave of infections?

The UK is in a good position to avoid the third wave of Covid infections affecting millions of people in Europe, a leading professor of infectious disease modelling has said.
Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of a group which provides evidence to government advisers Sage, said many European countries relaxed restrictions when case levels were still quite high "particularly compared with where ours are now".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the UK already had "pretty high levels of vaccination, adding: "As we start to open up... it's not necessarily the case that we will see a big rise...
"We may see a rise in cases, but actually my hope is that hospital admissions and deaths stay low because of high levels of protection in the older age groups."
Dr Tidesley said the threat of new variants was more of a concern.
He also acknowledged there were potential issues with vaccine supplies, saying the UK was on a "knife edge... in terms of making sure that we open up at a rate the vaccination can keep pace with".
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:33

Real couples used as kissing doubles on TV's Coronation Street


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When Tyrone and Alina stole a kiss in last night's Coronation Street (for overseas readers - a very popular UK TV soap opera), many viewers will have been rightly left wondering how they filmed it following social distancing guidelines.
The answer: real-life kissing doubles.
Actors Alan Halsall and Ruxandra Porojnicu were filmed talking before their kiss, but did not get within two metres of one another, ITV bosses said. Instead, regular Corrie extra Alex Mulvaney and his wife Hannah then stepped in for the romantic moment.
Like most other shows, Coronation Street stopped filming during the first national lockdown in March 2020 and resumed filming in a restricted manner several months later.
EastEnders has also revealed it had also been using real life partners of cast members to allow "moments of intimacy to be cheated".

Allowing overseas holidays a risk, says UK expert

The prospect of Britons taking foreign holidays this summer seems "extremely unlikely", a UK government adviser has suggested.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was a danger travellers could bring back new variants of coronavirus.
"I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country."
He added: "What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants where the vaccines don't work as effectively spreading more rapidly."
You can find out more information about holidays and travel here.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:38

France stance on AstraZeneca jab 'crackers'

A member of the UK government's vaccine taskforce has described France's approach to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab as "crackers".
Sir John Bell said the head of the task force had been "bang on" when she described EU leaders' public comments, questioning the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, as "irresponsible".
France, which has imposed new lockdown measures on around a third of its population, has said the AstraZeneca vaccine should be given only to people aged 55 and older.
It had previously said it was unsuitable for older people.
Sir John told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the changing advice was undermining confidence in the whole vaccination programme.
"It doesn't make any sense. The whole thing looks completely crackers. They are changing the rules almost every week," he said.
"They are sitting on a massive stockpile of vaccines that they haven't deployed yet and at the same time they have got a massive wave of the new variants coming across the country. You couldn't make it up."

Rich states 'block' vaccine plans for developing nations

Wealthy countries - including the UK and US - are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities, documents leaked to BBC Newsnight have revealed.
Many experts say equitable access to vaccines is essential to prevent cases and deaths and to contribute to global population immunity.
In order to make a vaccine you not only need to have the right to produce the actual substance they are composed of (which is protected by patents), you also need to have the knowledge about how to make them - because the technology can be complex.
"These are vaccines that are produced in wealthy countries and are in general kept by those wealthy countries.
"Developing nations are saying we need to have a share of the pie, not only the share of the vaccines, but also the share of the right to produce these vaccines," says Ellen t'Hoen, an expert in medicines policy and intellectual property law.
The WHO does not have the authority to sidestep patents - but it is trying to bring countries together to find a way to bolster vaccine supplies.
The discussions include using provisions in international law to get around patents and helping countries to have the technical ability to make them.
But richer nations are pushing back, according to a leaked copy of the negotiating text of a WHO resolution on the issue.
A spokesperson for the UK government says "a global pandemic requires a global solution and the UK is leading from the front, driving forward efforts to ensure equitable access around the world to Covid vaccines and treatments".
More here.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:40

MPs and peers say protests should be allowed during lockdown

MPs are calling for a government-backed insurance scheme to ensure festival organisers can plan events without fear of cancellation costs.
The proposal would see the UK government underwrite the insurance, to provide certainty for event organisers.
A Treasury spokesperson said the government's Culture Recovery Fund had "already helped over 3,000 organisations including festivals", at a total cost of £1.9bn.
Conservative MP Steve Brine said the proposed scheme would help "unlock" stalled festivals whose organisers remain concerned about the implicit costs of having to cancel at short notice.
Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone said the government makes a profit on a similar scheme which already provides insurance in case of terrorist attacks.
"I think it would be an easy move, and it'd be a very popular move," said Mr Stone.
So far the Download and Glastonbury festivals will not take place this year - but Latitude and the Reading and Leeds festivals have said they will go ahead.
A debate on the issue will be held next Tuesday.

Man's family 'begged' for hospital visit before he died


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A woman has described how she "begged" to see her husband before he died in hospital.
David Howells, 57, spent two weeks at Nottingham City Hospital after being admitted with complications relating to a heart condition.
Exemptions to Covid restrictions allow for some compassionate visits, but Mr Howells' wife Sharon and daughter Kim's requests to visit him were refused.
"Had we been allowed just five minutes with him under supervision, he would still be here," said Mrs Howells. "The fighting spirit was taken out of him.
"It was cruel, it shouldn't have happened,"
Mr Howells died of heart failure on 8 February.
His family were called in as his health deteriorated, but were not able to get there in time.
The hospital trust said it believed its policies were applied correctly.
"Our staff have to make difficult decisions every day, and always try to do what is best for patients and their families," said Sarah Moppett, interim chief nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
"Where a patient deteriorates very rapidly, it is not always possible to predict when they are approaching the end of their life."
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:46

Pakistan PM Imran Khan tests positive, two days after jab


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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested positive for coronavirus - two days after receiving his vaccination, according to the country's health minister Faisal Sultan.
Khan is "self isolating at home," Sultan wrote, in a tweet.
Pakistan has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in recent days.

Sky News reports:
The premier received his first dose of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine two days ago - although it takes a few weeks for the immune system to build immunity.
This means people can become infected with Covid-19 just before or after receiving a vaccine and still get sick.

Reuters reports:
Khan, 68, has been holding regular and frequent meetings lately, including attending a security conference held in capital Islamabad that was attended by a large number of people.
He addressed the conference without wearing a mask, and attended another gathering to inaugurate a housing project for poor people in a similar fashion on Friday.
Khan was vaccinated on Thursday.
The South Asian nation of 220 million is seeing a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.
According to numbers released by government, 3,876 people tested positive in the last 24 hours - the highest number of daily infections since early July - taking the total number of infections in the country past 620,000.
There were also 42 more deaths, taking the total to 13,799.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 10:48

Wales first minister: Don't let Grand Slam bid cause surge

Wales rugby fans are being reminded to watch the Six Nations Grand Slam decider at home to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Wales will claim the title if they beat France in Paris on Saturday evening .
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "The last thing we want is to mark a potential Grand Slam weekend with a surge in Covid cases."
Two households can mix outdoors in Wales - including in gardens - but socialising indoors is not allowed.
Police fear the occasion will be a "temptation" for some people to mix and officers have warned of "robust" action.
"Let's not become a sick nation while winning the Six Nations," said Gwent Police Ch Supt Mark Hobrough.

Rising cases sparks European holiday warning

Britons should not consider European holidays when lockdown restrictions are eased later this year, a leading German epidemiologist says, amid a fresh rise in cases.
Prof Dirk Brockmann, from Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, was speaking as several European nations expressed fears over a potential "third wave" of infections.
He told Times Radio: "International travel would allow new variants to distribute themselves...
"As long as there's no massive immunity due to vaccination it is certainly not a factor that would help the situation especially when... [there are] variants of concern in various regions in the world."
On Friday, officials in Germany said cases in the country were rising exponentially and Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was likely that the country would now need to apply an "emergency brake".
Asked about the situation in Germany, Prof Brockmann said lockdown measures were eased after cases fell, but that coincided with the emergence of more infectious variants.
He added: "The vaccination campaign started off quite slowly not only in Germany but all over Europe... So the effects of that vaccination cannot be seen yet."
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 11:01

Irish government split whether or not to lift Ireland's current 5km travel limit next month due to concerning Covid-19 figures

Harry Brent - Irish Post
Cabinet is reportedly split on whether or not to lift Ireland's current 5km travel limit next month due to concerning Covid-19 figures.
Last month, the Government announced that they would begin easing public health restrictions on April 5, with the travel limit expected to be one of just a few to be lifted.
But the move has now been cast into doubt following news of Ireland's extended lockdown period.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn announced at a press briefing yesterday that, in order to avoid a fourth wave of the disease, most lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for several months.
A "cautious approach" was needed, Dr Glynn said, and any easing of restrictions before the end of June will likely relate to outdoor activities.
With this latest setback, coupled with Ireland's recent vaccine supply issues, no major restrictions are expected to be eased until the summer.
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Gardaí have been performing regular checks on roads to question people on their reason for travelling and whether they are outside of their 5km zone (Getty)

The 5km travel limit, having been earmarked as one of the first measures to go, may end up staying in a bit to suppress the spread of the virus.
Some Cabinet members feel the incidence rate in Ireland is not yet low enough for relaxation of the rule, while others believe the Government will lose support without a change.
Chair of Nphet's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan estimated the reproductive 0r R number to now be between 0.8-1.1 showing the transmission of the virus is either stabilised or declining at a very slow rate.
One Government source said an easing of restrictions similar to Northern Ireland is the “best we can hope for”.
Stormont has allowed small outdoor gatherings, some sporting activities and click-and-collect services.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 11:31

Poland cases up a quarter in a week

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
New coronavirus cases in Poland have risen by a quarter in a week, as the country’s third wave continues to gather momentum.
Another 26,405 cases were reported on Saturday, the health ministry said. There were 349 virus-related deaths in the same period.
Daily cases have reached levels over the past week not seen since the second wave peaked in November.
Already almost three-quarters of available hospital beds are occupied and there are more patients on ventilators now than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
On Saturday, a partial national lockdown was introduced, closing shopping centres, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities.
Health minister Adam Niedzielski has said a full lockdown, with a possible travel ban and the closure of all non-essential shops, will be introduced if infections continue to rise.

Breaking News 

No international fans at Tokyo Olympics

No international fans will be permitted at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics being held this summer because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have said.
The announcement came after a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the Japanese government.

Olympic spectator ban 'will ensure safe Games'


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Organisers said the decision to ban foreign spectators from attending the Tokyo Olympics would help ensure "a safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public".
The Games are due to begin on 23 July and the International Olympic Committee was known to want to allow some overseas guests to attend.
But Japanese authorities told the Olympic and Paralympic committees it was "highly unlikely that entry" to the country could be guaranteed for overseas visitors.
The announcement follows weeks of speculation and comes as officials have been grappling with how to make the games safe during the pandemic - as well as win over a Japanese public that was increasingly dubious about the summer Olympics going ahead at all.
It is unclear how many domestic spectators will be allowed into venues.
The Games were postponed last year due to the pandemic. Organisers say they will be refunding about 600,000 Olympic tickets and 30,000 Paralympic tickets.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 11:36

How pandemic disinformation went offline

Reality Check
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False and misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic has proliferated online over the past year, but it's also now become a familiar sight on doormats across the country.
Charles Crane was watching television one evening when a DVD in an unmarked plastic wallet landed in his hallway.
On the disc was a 45-minute video claiming to expose "the truth" about coronavirus vaccines.
In another part of the UK, a newspaper called The Light flaunting the headline: 'Covid jabs kill and injure hundreds' dropped through Mark Langford's letterbox.
The Light calls itself a "truthpaper" and is managed through a Facebook group with about 6,000 members.
Recently, in both Leicester and Manchester, a flyer calling the pandemic an "illusion" has been spotted. Another, delivered in Cambridge, labels the pandemic a "global scam".
It's not possible to say how many of these leaflets are being distributed around the country.
But the existence of an online site providing all the tools needed to create the leaflets, and to spread these false and misleading stories, does suggest a fairly significant level of organisation.
Reality Check's Jack Goodman has been looking into the matter .
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 14:30

Latest headlines

Here are the latest headlines from the UK and around the world.

  • Half of all adults in the UK have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with a record number of people vaccinated on Friday - including PM Boris Johnson
  • Fears of a third wave in Europe are becoming a reality. Both France and Poland have reintroduced partial lockdowns as Covid infections soar. Coronavirus cases are also rising exponentially in Germany, with lockdown measures likely to be reimposed
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says is is "too early" to say whether Britons will be able to go abroad for their holidays this summer. Experts have suggested reopening the borders to international travel poses a huge risk, given the slow vaccine rollout in Europe and the potential of bringing back new variants
  • A member of the UK government's vaccine taskforce has described France's approach to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab as "crackers". Sir John Bell said the constantly changing advice was undermining confidence in the entire vaccination programme
  • No international fans will be permitted at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics being held this summer because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have said


Trump's Florida residence partially closed due to outbreak


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Mar-a-Lago has been Mr Trump's official residence since he left office in January

Donald Trump's main residence, Mar-a-Lago, has been partially closed after some staff members tested positive for Covid-19, US media have reported.
The Florida resort has served as the former president's official residence since he left office in January.
A statement said that the Beach Club and a la carte dining room were closed, but did not specify how many people had tested positive. It added the resort was taking "all appropriate response measures" and its banquet and event services would remain open.
Mr Trump, who was vaccinated in January, had Covid-19 last October. At the time, his wife, Melania, and son Barron also tested positive for the virus.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 14:38

Von der Leyen threatens to halt EU exports of AstraZeneca vaccine


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Earlier this month Italy blocked the export of 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has threatened to halt exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine if the bloc does not receive its promised deliveries first.
"We have the option of banning a planned export. That's the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries," Ms von der Leyen told Germany's Funke media group.
The European Commission president said AstraZeneca had delivered only 30% of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.
The EU is struggling to accelerate its vaccination programme, with a third wave of cases bearing down on many parts of the continent.
Ms von der Leyen said the EU's contract with AstraZeneca states that vaccines destined for the bloc would be produced in both EU and UK plants, "but we haven't received anything from the Brits".
"I can't explain to European citizens why we are exporting millions of vaccine doses to countries that are producing vaccines themselves and aren't sending us anything back," she said.
Read more about the row over vaccine exports here .


Outbreak linked to university party

More than 30 Dundee University students have tested positive for Covid-19 in an outbreak linked to a house party.
The Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that the party took place at a student flat last Sunday, just metres from the main university campus.
Meanwhile, dozens of police officers have been forced to self-isolate - two weeks after Rangers' title win.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said a number of officers who attended illegal gatherings of fans on 7 March have tested positive.

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 14:50

Anti-lockdown protesters detained in London


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Some protesters have been detained by police in Hyde Park in London during an anti-lockdown demonstration.
Under England's current lockdown regulations, protests are not listed as a "reasonable excuse" for leaving home.
A small number of protesters opposed to the lockdown gathered ahead of a planned march to Westminster.
Scotland Yard said London remains in a health crisis and urged people to stay at home.
The demonstration came after more than 60 MPs and peers wrote to the home secretary calling for a change in Covid-19 legislation to allow protests to happen during lockdown.
The letter, organised by campaign groups Liberty and Big Brother Watch, says there is a human right to protest.

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 15:08

When can I go on holiday abroad or in the UK?

Experts have warned against British people travelling to Europe this summer, because of the risk of bring back new variants - and the slow pace of vaccination in many EU countries.
So what are the rules around travel at the moment - and when and where can we get away?
At the moment, the key date to watch - at least in England and Scotland - is 17 May. Both nations have stated that is the earliest possible date for foreign travel although Scotland's first minister warned only last week that it "may well not be possible for a further period after that".
However, family groups or bubbles can book self-catering holiday accommodation in the UK from 12 April, if the government roadmap goes according to plan.
So what are your rights if you go ahead and book a holiday this summer?
The BBC's Eleanor Lawrie shares the lowdown.

Covid rise in Europe makes foreign holidays unlikely, UK experts warn

Molly Blackall - The Guardian
A rise in coronavirus cases across Europe could jeopardise the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown, experts have warned.
Several European countries have recorded increases in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with Italy recording a near-doubling in the past month and Paris entering a new month-long lockdown to curb the spread.
Andrew Hayward, a British professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the EU surge showed “the potential for cases to shoot up” in the UK, warning that Britain needed to be careful in easing lockdown measures.
He said the increasing rates in Europe could last up to several months, and that it was “very worrying” to see a possible third wave of the virus while vaccination rates were comparatively low.
Read more .

Summer holidays abroad 'unlikely', warns government adviser

International travel this summer is “extremely unlikely” for the average British holidaymaker, Dr Mike Tildesley, a scientist advising the UK government, warned on Saturday.
Tildesley said there was a danger travellers could bring back new variants of the virus which could be less susceptible to vaccines.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
 :Left Quotes:  I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.
What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants where the vaccines don’t work as effectively spreading more rapidly.
The British professor Andrew Hayward echoed Tildesley’s remarks, saying it is “unlikely” that the UK government will want to encourage Britons to travel to European countries currently experiencing high levels of coronavirus infections this year,
Appearing on Times Radio he was asked if the possibility of permission to travel to Europe without restrictions could come under plans for the easing of lockdown.
Hayward, a professor at University College London, said:
 :Left Quotes:  I think the government has always been clear that travel abroad ... any changes or plans are likely to change on that.
[...] It looks like some European countries are going to be having high levels and I think it’s unlikely that we would want to encourage travel to those countries whilst they have high levels of infection.
[It’s about] keeping an eye on what variant is predominant within each country or even common.
I suppose one of the more worrying things about this resurgence is that in some parts of Europe the South African variant is beginning to creep up to higher levels.
So we’d obviously want to be very careful about that.
Hayward added the South African variant was of “particular concern” because vaccine effectiveness against it is “quite low”.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 15:12

'No choice' as Germany contemplates another lockdown


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On Saturday, there were protests against the government"s coronavirus restrictions in Kassel, Germany

Dr Guenther Schoenrich, deputy director of the Institute of Virology at the Charite Hospital in Berlin, has told the BBC another lockdown in Germany is inevitable.
"It looks like that we have no choice because the virus is spreading and, as already pointed out, we have a new variant, the variant that has been first detected in the UK, also now here in German," he said.
Dr Schoenrich said it was harder to prevent the the British variant from spreading as it is "more transmissible", adding the situation was exacerbated because "at the same time we have not enough people vaccinated so far".
Partial lockdowns were reintroduced in France and Poland on Saturday, as many European countries face the prospect of a third wave.
Germany is seeing an exponential rise in cases, with infections on the Czech border more than 15 times the government's target.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 18:03

A familiar day in unfamiliar circumstances

Gareth Griffiths - BBC Sport Wales

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Wales claimed a 22nd Triple Crown against England on their way to Paris

Wales rugby fans are all set for another potential Grand Slam Saturday - but it will be a day unlike any others.
Scotland host Italy and England travel to Dublin as the Six Nations appetisers before the main course in Paris with only France and unbeaten Wales still able to win the tournament.
A win would clinch Wales' fifth Grand Slam of the Six Nations era.
But because of Covid-19 this would be the first without fans at the game or in pubs and rugby clubs across Wales.
Whether events will be resolved on "Super Saturday" remains to be seen with Scotland still to travel to Paris on 26 March, six days after the anticipated end of the tournament.
The original game in February was called off because of Covid-19 cases in the France camp which has potentially spoiled the concept of everything being finalised on the last day.
Read more here.

Labour calls for 'comprehensive quarantine' policy as cases rise in Europe

Labour has called the surge in coronavirus infections in parts of Europe "really worrying" and has called for the introduction of a "comprehensive hotel quarantine system without further delay" for people arriving in the UK.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: "The UK's first priority has to be to protect the progress made by the vaccine."
"Of course we all want international travel to resume, but safety has to come first."
He said it was "too early" to say how travel advice might change on 17 May, adding: "We have to be led by the science, not arbitrary dates."
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 18:11

Numbers at London protest 'greater than anticipated'

Tom Symonds - Home Affairs Correspondent

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The march disrupted traffic on Park Lane, near London's Hyde Park

The Met Police say numbers attending Saturday's anti-lockdown protest in London are greater than expected.
Thousands are believed to be taking part in the demonstrations, far more than the 1,000 predicted to attend during planning - although the Metropolitan Police does not give formal estimates of numbers.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor says gathering outside the home is illegal under coronavirus regulations, and no protest of this size could be regarded as safe to go ahead.
But he stressed the intention is always to balance the right to protest with public health requirements.
There have been some arrests, but the police are currently standing back and watching how events develop.
Mass arrests are not possible because it takes at least three officers to make one arrest. Another tactic, containment (or kettling) cannot be deployed, because it would raise the risk of Covid transmission.

Hundreds gather for anti-lockdown protests

Hundreds of people have been marching from Hyde Park to Westminster in London as part of a day of anti-lockdown protests.
The Home Office said it was still illegal for people to attend demonstrations under the current coronavirus rules.
The Metropolitan Police said several arrests had been made.

'This lockdown is too much'

By Jon Donnison, at the scene in central London

Coronavirus - 20th March 2021 68940410

Thousands of tightly packed anti-lockdown protesters marched up Whitehall, some chanting “freedom” to the beat of a drum.
One man carried a placard bearing the words: “No more NHS and government lies."
I’ve seen very few demonstrators wearing masks and there’s no attempt at social distancing.
So far the police, who are here in large numbers, have been taking a mostly hands-off approach and I’ve witnessed only one arrest.
Amongst the crowd there are undoubtedly some conspiracy theorists - with some accusing mainstream media of pushing fake news .
But that’s by no means everyone here. One woman told me she knew Covid was bad, “I had it myself last March," she said.
"But this lockdown is too much," she added.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 18:15

Lockdown three hits 21m in France

Hugh Schofield - BBC News, Paris
A third of the French population - about 21 million people - have started their third lockdown after a surge in cases of Covid.
Paris and its surrounding region plus a large part of northern France and the area around Nice are all affected by the new measure which is set to last at least four weeks.
It is a lighter lockdown than the two previous ones - the main difference being that during the day people can go outside for exercise for as long as they like.
Schools also are staying open.
But leaving the city for the countryside is not allowed, and yesterday there was heavy congestion on the roads and the trains as some Parisians got out while they could to non-lockdown zones.
Many in France find the bureaucratic approach of the government annoying if predictable.
While clothes and DIY shops are shut, hairdressers, bookshops, cobblers and florists are open.

Mumbai to spot check for Covid in crowded places

The city of Mumbai is to roll-out rapid coronavirus tests in crowded places as the country tries to get on top of a rise in infections.
The city's local government said people would be tested randomly, in an order issued on Saturday.
A refusal to be tested would "amount to an offence" under an 1897 epidemic law, the order said.
The move came as India recorded 40,953 new cases on Saturday, the biggest daily jump for nearly four months.
So far there have been 159,000 deaths related to the disease in India since the pandemic - the fourth-highest number of deaths of any country in the world.
Infections have been steadily climbing in recent weeks, as the country scrambles to vaccinate its huge population.
The commissioner of the local authority told India Today that, from 22 March, people should "be ready for the swab test" whenever they enter a busy area in Mumbai.
Read more.
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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 20 2021, 18:19

The latest headlines


Coronavirus - 20th March 2021 E3a97c10
Crowds marched from Hyde Park to Westminster as part of an anti-lockdown protest

Here's a round-up of what has been happening around the UK and across the World on Saturday

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says more than half of the UK's adult population have now received their first jab - with official figures on Saturday confirming 26,853,407 people have been given their initial vaccination
  • EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has warned drugmaker AstraZeneca that the bloc could stop further exports of the vaccine, if the firm doesn't "fulfil its contract with Europe"
  • A UK government adviser says it is "extremely unlikely" that Britons will be taking foreign holidays this summer, with experts citing the "real risk" of overseas travel and variant transmission
  • France and Poland have reintroduced partial lockdowns as both countries battle a sharp rise in Covid infections. A further German lockdown also looks increasingly likely
  • Thousands are taking part in an anti-lockdown protest in central London. The Metropolitan Police said several arrests had been made


Thank you - and goodbye

That's all from today's live page.
Your writers were Alex Kleiderman and Victoria Lindrea. Today's editor was Rob Corp.
We'll be back again tomorrow morning for more continuing coverage.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 15:05