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

Coronavirus - 23rd March 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 10:00

Summary for Tuesday, 23rd March 2021

  • Tuesday marks the first anniversary of lockdown being called in the UK
  • People are invited to pause in remembrance of those who died in the pandemic, as part of a national day of reflection
  • There have been 147,681 deaths in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate; 126,172 within 28 days of a positive test
  • A minute's silence will be held at 12:00 GMT; People are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps with lights at 20:00 GMT
  • PM Boris Johnson offers his condolences to those who have lost loved ones
  • Patron of end-of-life charity Marie Curie, Prince Charles, pays tribute to the 'dedication shown by so many'
  • A £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week
  • Germany extends its lockdown to 18 April and will shut down almost completely over the Easter holiday from 1-5 April to slow soaring infections
  • Home working and shopping locally are among behaviours likely to remain popular after restrictions are lifted - survey
  • The virus that causes the common cold can effectively boot the Covid virus out of the body's cells, say researchers


Good morning and welcome to our coronavirus live page.

Here is a round-up of the main stories this morning:


UK marks first anniversary


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The UK is marking one year since the first coronavirus lockdown was announced.
On 23 March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Since then, the UK's official death toll has risen from 364 to 126,172.
Alongside the lockdown have come tough restrictions on socialising, closures of schools, pubs and shops with many rules currently still in place.
A minute's silence will be held at midday as part of a day of reflection.
A year on, Mr Johnson has praised the "great spirit" shown since that moment and offered his condolences to those who have been bereaved during the pandemic.
People are also being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 20:00 GMT with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".
Read more here.

Toughest German lockdown so far – latest around Europe


  • Germany is extending its current lockdown to 18 April and shutting down almost completely over the Easter holiday from 1-5 April to slow down soaring infections. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders had hoped to loosen the lockdown, but she said they had to “break the exponential growth of the third wave”. Over five days at Easter, only food shops can open for one day on Saturday 3 April and no more than five adults from two households can meet. The slogan is “We’re staying at home”. A further 7,485 infections and 250 deaths have been announced in the past 24 hours.
  • Spain’s ministry of health has approved extending the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to everyone up to the age of 65 after initially restricting it to under 55s including key workers such firefighters, police and teachers. AZ vaccinations are to resume in Spain tomorrow after a short suspension for safety checks. The jab will also be extended to over-65s if it’s backed by a national health panel.
  • While many European countries are seeing a third Covid wave, Denmark has escaped that and its political leaders have agreed a gradual plan to reopen the country. Schools and professions such as hairdressers will start opening up after Easter. A corona pass is being introduced to show whether you have been vaccinated or have a negative test.
  • The Czech death toll from the pandemic has passed 25,000. In a separate milestone, a million Czechs have now had at least one dose of vaccine, out of a population of 10.7 million.
  • French hospitals have admitted another 471 patients into intensive care in 24 hours, and another 15,792 cases have been reported. The total number in intensive care is over 4,500.
  • Bosnia has reported a record 73 daily coronavirus deaths. The capital Sarajevo and majority ethnic-Serb region, Republika Srpska, are both in lockdown.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 11:27

Taskforce to see if travel rules can be eased in summer - Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is asked on BBC Breakfast about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments that a third wave of the pandemic in Europe will "wash up on our shores" .
Asked about what the the UK is doing to try to stop that from happening, Hancock says there are “stringent measures” at the borders - including the requirement to be tested three times and stricter quarantine.
He says the evidence is that these measures are protecting the UK from large numbers of new variants and cases coming from abroad.
But the question is whether any of these measures can be released over the summer, Hancock says. He says he “entirely understands” people’s “yearning” for holidays abroad this summer.
A taskforce will report back on this in the middle of next month, Hancock says

Travel fine needed to replace stay-at-home rules, Hancock says

Hancock is asked about the £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason, which will come into effect from Monday.
Foreign holidays are currently not allowed under the "stay at home" rule , but the measure is to become law.
Hancock tells BBC Breakfast that from Monday, the stay at home rule within England will be lifted as part of a “slight easing” of coronavirus restrictions.
He says therefore it needs to be replaced with a law that is equivalent to the current rule in preventing people from travelling abroad without a reasonable excuse.
He says: “That’s because internationally we’ve both got to guard against large numbers of cases coming here... but also the risk of new variants, which might put the vaccine rollout at risk.”
Read our story about the new rules and the fine here.

Lockdown habits could outlast pandemic - poll

Mark Easton - Home editor
Working from home, walking and shopping locally are among the lockdown behaviours that look likely to remain popular after pandemic restrictions are lifted, according to a new survey.
The study for BBC News and King's College London, conducted by Ipsos MORI, suggests virus regulations may have a lasting impact after Covid.
Some 40% of 2,200 people surveyed said they expected to walk more than before.
And staying at home appears to have connected people to their neighbours.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 11:33

Life before lockdown - in photos

BBC Radio 5 Live

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Debi McCormack met her brother and sister that she’d only discovered existed just before the first lockdown

To mark one year since the UK’s first lockdown, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast are asking people to share their photos and memories of pre-pandemic life, using #LifeBeforeLockdown.
5 Live presenter Adrian Chiles says he was secretly pleased about cancelling his birthday party on 21 March 2020 – because he is “generally stressed at parties”.
“I thought I ought to look a bit sad,” he says of his photo. He put a candle in the fruitcake made by his mother-in-law and sent her the picture. “She seemed chuffed with that”.
Debi McCormack, from Cheltenham, met her brother and sister she’d only discovered existed shortly before lockdown on 18 March. Her photo is of this “amazing” meeting.
Although they got to know each other more over Zoom, they are now “desperate” to meet again. “I’m so pleased we managed to get that one meeting in,” she says.
In May last year we asked you what your last “normal” photo was, here is what people shared .

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No plans to put all of Europe on travel 'red list'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says there are currently no plans to put all of Europe on the travel "red list" amid a third wave of cases seen in countries such as France and Italy.
As a month-long lockdown returned to several French regions, including Paris, health minister Lord Bethell raised the prospect of having to "red-list all of our European neighbours".
Mr Hancock tells LBC: "We don't have any plans to do that. "We do have this red list and the amber list, and at the moment that is working well, so we don't have plans to do that."
People from "red list" countries are currently not allowed to travel to the UK, with the exception of British nationals and people who are normally resident in the UK - but those two groups must pay to quarantine in a hotel if they do choose to come at the moment.
Here's our guide to testing, quarantine and the red list.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 11:37

Germany ‘in new pandemic’ - Merkel


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The German chancellor has held Covid-19 crisis talks with regional leaders

We can now bring you more from Germany, where lockdown measures have been extended for a further three weeks after a surge in coronavirus infections.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the new restrictions on Tuesday morning, after marathon crisis talks with regional leaders.
The chancellor said Germany was in a “very serious" situation, leaving the country racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccinations.
Merkel said the highly contagious UK variant of coronavirus had become dominant in Germany, plunging the country into what she called "a new pandemic".
“Essentially, we have a new virus,” Merkel said. “It is much deadlier, much more infectious and infectious for much longer.”
Some research does suggest the UK variant may be associated with a higher risk of death.

National day of reflection trends on Twitter

The hashtag #NationalDayofReflection is trending on Twitter as the UK marks a year since the first coronavirus lockdown.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer used the hashtag to tweet that he would be taking part in a minute's silence to remember all those who have lost their lives in the pandemic.
He tweeted: "As we mark one year since our country entered the first lockdown, my thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones since the pandemic began. Today at 12pm, I will join people across our country to observe a minute's silence on this National Day of Reflection."
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 11:40

UK considering traffic light system for overseas travel

Adam Fleming - Chief political correspondent
The government’s global travel taskforce is considering a tiered or traffic light system for international travel when the ban on leaving the country is lifted.
The discussion is focusing on what restrictions would apply to travellers returning from destinations in the lowest level.
“How green is green?” in the words of one adviser.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Today programme earlier that the government had to take into account rising cases in Europe.
“It’s reasonable to take a precautionary and careful approach, which is what we are doing at the borders.”
He said there were no current plans to put all of Europe on the so-called “red list”, from which travel into the UK is banned. British nationals and people who are normally resident in the UK returning from these countries have to enter hotel quarantine upon arrival.
The intention is to publish the framework on 12 April, with decisions about which countries are in which tier to be taken later.
The prime minister’s roadmap for lifting the lockdown says international travel could resume from 17 May, but officials cannot guarantee this will happen.

Breaking News 

Covid deaths lowest since October in England and Wales

The weekly coronavirus death figures in England and Wales are at their lowest since October, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
A total of 1,501 deaths registered in the week ending 12 March mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate - the lowest number since the week ending October 30.
The figure is down 29% on the previous week's total, the ONS says.
Around one in seven (13.7%) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to 12 March mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
On Monday the UK recorded 17 deaths in the 28 days following a positive coronavirus test. This was the lowest daily death rate since September 2020.
Testing for children who travel is being considered because there are no plans for under-18s to be vaccinated.
Read our explainer here on when summer holidays may be allowed.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 11:55

What's the roadmap for lifting lockdown?

There's been a lot of speculation in recent days around whether coronavirus rules on travel will be lifted to allow summer holidays abroad. So what is the timetable for easing restrictions?
The next relaxation of rules in England is on 29 March when people will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the "rule of six", including in private gardens.
That's when a £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week as part of new coronavirus laws.
The penalty is included in legislation that will be voted on by MPs on Thursday.
April 12 is when the government's travel taskforce will report back on whether foreign travel can resume on that "earliest date" of May 17.
It's also when shops, hairdressers and gyms could reopen and restaurants and pubs could be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors. Here's our guide to the roadmap out of lockdown.
Each step is dependent on meeting certain criteria and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own plans for lifting lockdown.

What are the Easter restrictions in Germany?

As we’ve been reporting, Germany will impose an almost complete shutdown over the Easter holidays in response to a third wave of coronavirus infections.
Existing measures, such as the closure of sporting facilities, will remain in place until 18 April.
Then, for five days from 1 April, Germans are being asked to stay at home and reduce contacts:

  • In-person religious services are cancelled
  • Big family gatherings are banned, with no more than two households, or up to five people, allowed to meet
  • All shops are shut, apart from food shops on 3 April

An "emergency brake" will halt further re-openings in areas where infections exceed 100 new cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 12:05

Denmark plans to open up, as cases rise across Europe

As Germany and other European countries tighten lockdown restrictions, Denmark has agreed a plan to open up.
On Monday Denmark’s government confirmed a roadmap for gradually easing restrictions in the country in April and May.
From 6 April, more children will be able to return to school, before restaurants, theatres and other businesses will be allowed to reopen a month later.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says she is hoping to lift almost all restrictions once everyone over the age of 50 has been vaccinated.
However, much of the reopening plan only applies to people who have a so-called vaccine passport, which shows whether a person has had a jab.
Denmark has gradually eased its lockdown as infection rates have dropped.
The picture is mixed across Europe, but many of the biggest countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, have seen a marked rise in infections in recent weeks.
This comes as European countries scramble to vaccinate their populations, despite delays in rolling our jabs that have stirred political tensions.

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Denmark has been gradually reopening as coronavirus infections have dropped
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 12:13

French president calls for jabs 'morning, noon and night'

French President Emmanuel Macron has issued a rallying cry to expand vaccinations, which he says is at the heart of the country’s fight against Covid-19.
Macron says vaccinations will be available to people over 70 from Saturday, with jabs rolled out during public holidays and weekends.
Until Macron’s announcement only people over the age of 75, or those with underlying health conditions, had been eligible for vaccinations in France.
"Vaccination is a national priority," Macron tells reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre in Valenciennes.
"We're going to change pace from April," he says, adding there should be "no weekend and days off when it comes to vaccinations".
Macron says he wants to set up “a dedicated vaccination campaign” for teachers as soon as possible, but stresses that priority will be given to the most vulnerable at the moment.
So far, France has given 6.1 million people - or 9.25% of its population - one dose of vaccine, according to the CovidTracker website

UK observes minute's silence at noon

A minute's silence is being observed in the UK at noon in remembrance of those in the country who died as a result of coronavirus.
A day of reflection is being held as the UK marks the anniversary of the first lockdown.
On 23 March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Since then, the UK's official death toll has risen from 364 to 126,172.
The PM has offered his "sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones".

The two towns hit hardest in the pandemic

A year on from the UK's first lockdown and the Lancashire towns of Blackburn and Burnley have consistently had higher Covid-19 infection rates than the rest of England.
But statistics can often seem real only when they become deeply personal - and painful.
Assad Waheed lost his father Mian Abdul Waheed to Covid in December.
He says: "There is not a day that goes by where I don't feel his presence. He's dearly missed.
"So many people have lost their fathers," he told the BBC. "A good friend of mine lost his wife. A neighbour of ours passed away recently, too."
Prof Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen Council's public health director, says local people went into the pandemic with higher than average levels of ill health and that this had increased their Covid-19 risk from the start.
They were more likely to need oxygen treatment in hospital, more likely to end up on a ventilator and more likely to die, he says.
Here's why Blackburn and Burnley were hardest hit in the pandemic.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 12:25

:shamrock:
Irish Post

Mandatory hotel quarantine will come into effect in Ireland on Friday, the government has confirmed.

From Friday, all travellers into Ireland from a selected 33 countries must quarantine at selected hotels from the moment they arrive into the country, and will be transported from the airport to hotel via specialised transport overseen by the Defence Forces.

The Tifco Hotel Group, who own hotels such as theCrowne Plaza Dublin Airport Hotel in Santry, has been designated as the service provider.

Bookings for the mandatory quarantine will be going live this morning via this website and will cost €1,875 per adult for 12 nights, or €625 for children over the age of 12 and €360 for children aged 4-12, The Irish Times reports.
Travellers must book and prepay for their quarantine before arriving in Ireland, and the measures affect anyone coming from these high-risk countries or who have been in the countries within 14 days of their arrival into Ireland.

Travellers from 33 countries designated as 'high risk' must take part in the hotel quarantine, as well as travellers from any country who do not provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test upon arrival into Ireland, who will be charged a rate of €150 per day.

As of now, the 33 countries which are on the mandatory quarantine list are Angola, Austria, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Burundi, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equador, French Guinea, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Eswatini, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Suriname, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
However the government has confirmed that this list is subject to change, with more countries expected to be added in the coming weeks and months.


Opposition parties have called for mandatory hotel quarantine for all passengers arriving into Ireland regardless of their country of origin.





Mandatory hotel quarantine will come into effect in Ireland from Friday, 16 March.
The measures will effect travellers from 33 different countries designated as 'high risk' by the Irish government, in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.

But which countries are on Ireland's mandatory hotel quarantine list?

Which countries are on Ireland's mandatory hotel quarantine list?

The countries on Ireland's hotel quarantine list are as follows:

  • Angola,
  • Austria,
  • Argentina,
  • Bolivia,
  • Botswana,
  • Burundi,
  • Brazil,
  • Cape Verde,
  • Chile,
  • Colombia,
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo,
  • Equador,
  • French Guinea,
  • Guyana,
  • Lesotho,
  • Malawi,
  • Eswatini,
  • Mauritius,
  • Mozambique,
  • Namibia,
  • Panama,
  • Paraguay,
  • Peru,
  • Rwanda,
  • Suriname,
  • South Africa,
  • Seychelles,
  • Tanzania,
  • United Arab Emirates,
  • Uruguay,
  • Venezuela,
  • Zambia,
  • Zimbabwe


Will I have to quarantine in a hotel if I go to Ireland?

The mandatory hotel quarantine applies to all passengers who arrive into Ireland from the designated 33 countries, or for anyone who has been in any of these countries within 14 days of their arrival into Ireland.
This means if you fly from, for example, Brazil to Heathrow and then into Dublin Airport, you will still have to quarantine, as you have been in an affected area within 14 days of arriving into Ireland.
The hotel quarantine also applies to anyone, from any country, who does not present a negative Covid-19 PCR test on arrival into Ireland, even if they have not been in one of the 33 'high risk' countries.
But everyone-- regardless of which country they are travelling from-- must restrict their movements at a named premises for 14 days when they arrive into Ireland. A passenger location form must be filled out before you arrive in Ireland stating your contact details and where you will be staying, and this may be checked by gardaí during this time.

Is my country on Ireland's hotel quarantine list?

As of now, just 33 countries are affected by the mandatory hotel quarantine-- however the list is subject to change, with more countries expected to be added in the coming months.
Opposition parties are also calling for mandatory hotel quarantine to be introduced for every passenger arriving into Ireland, regardless of which country they are arriving from.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 17:14

Enduring anti-lockdown claims fact-checked


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Recent anti-lockdown protests drew people focused on liberty and others who reject vaccinations

Opposition to the UK lockdown has led to street protests and campaigns on social media.
Many of the grievances expressed have been fuelled by false and misleading claims.
Among them is this claim: "Here we are a year later - the world shut down for a 99.97% survival rate"
Verdict: This figure, and similar figures being widely shared, are incorrect.
One recent estimate shows that overall, on average, about 99.3% of people who catch coronavirus survive it, according to statistics analysed by University of Cambridge.
That might not seem like a big difference, but it means that about 70 in 10,000 people are expected to die - not three in 10,000.
The death rate is much higher for older and more vulnerable people.
And many people across all age groups suffer serious long-term effects from the virus.
Read the verdict on the other six fact-checked claims here

'A most unusual experience': A year of lockdown in London

Bethan Bell - BBC News Online

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Go-Ahead bus driver Claude Parchment still has to remind one or two passengers to wear face masks

In their own words, Londoners have been sharing their experiences from the past year. Among them is bus driver Claude Parchment who lives in Dagenham.
"People's behaviour towards drivers has changed significantly since the pandemic," he said. "They are more polite, more thankful, more appreciative of the job we're doing.
"People getting off the bus say, 'Stay safe, driver'. That really makes us feel motivated to come back the next day and do the job over again. Thank you all for that."
Meanwhile 20-year-old Beth Sutton, who lives in Nunhead and is a healthcare worker, spoke about losing her 78-year-old grandmother Eve.
"Me and my mum both felt like it wasn't her time yet because she was fit. She was probably fitter than me.
"I've not grieved properly, it's just not normal. We haven't had our closure."
She added: "My grandma worked in the same hospital that I work in, so I do it with a lot of pride. I think that's what keeps me going."
Read the full piece here.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 17:28

'I swapped cabin crew for cattle class'


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Annabella lost her job as cabin crew during the pandemic

The pandemic has forced many of us to make drastic career changes.
Annabella Barker says her 17-year career as cabin crew was her dream and her life. But in August, as the travel sector struggled under Covid restrictions, she lost her job with Easyjet.
She got in touch with a dairy farmer through a mutual friend and "fell in love with the job" on her very first day.
She says: "I decided to work on a farm because I love cows. They have funny faces and beautiful eyes.
"The job I do here is beautiful because we are in the fresh air and I love to be in the countryside."
Annabella studied for an online course in dairy cattle farm management.
She says: "Do I miss my previous job? If I was thinking about it four months ago, I think I would have gone back to fly.
"Now I am happy here. I found my dream job so I am very happy to stay."
We've spoken to others who say Covid caused them to reconsider their lives and change their careers.

Covid-19 reinfections growing in the Czech Republic, experts say

The number of coronavirus reinfections appears to be increasing in the Czech Republic, a state health institute says.
Czech’s National Institute of Public Health said 1,456 cases of possible Covid-19 reinfections have been identified since the pandemic began.
"The reinfection rate is growing because of the significant number of Covid-19 cases during the autumn wave," the institute said in a statement .
The institute said it defined a reinfection as a confirmed, symptomatic case of Covid-19 that occurs 60 days or more after an initial infection.
“The interval between the first and second episode of the disease was in the range of 68 to 359 days,” says Marek Maly, a researcher at the institute.
Researchers say coronavirus reinfection is uncommon but still possible. Because Covid-19 hasn’t been around that long, it is not clear how long immunity lasts if you have been infected.
But a recent study led by Public Health England (PHE) showed most people who have had the virus are protected from catching it again for at least five months.
You can read our Covid immunity explainer here for more context.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 17:34

Breaking News

UK records 112 Covid deaths

A further 112 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, the government's daily statistics show.
This brings the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test to 126,284.
There were also a further 5,379 new cases recorded.
A total of 28,327,873 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK. And another 2,363,684 people have had their second dose as well.

What's happening in the UK and beyond?

We are going to be hearing from the prime minister at a Downing Street briefing in the next hour. Before we do, let's have a recap of the stories we've been covering.

  • A minute's silence has been held to remember the victims of Covid-19 on the first anniversary of lockdown being called in the UK
  • The Queen spoke of the country's "grief and loss" while the PM praised "the great spirit shown by our nation"
  • People are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps with lights at 20:00 GMT, to make a "beacon of light"
  • Deaths in the UK have fallen below the five-year average for the first time since the summer, according to the Office for National Statistics
  • A £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week
  • US officials have complained that results on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, published yesterday, included “outdated” information
  • But AstraZeneca says this was an initial analysis, based on data up to an agreed cut-off date of 17 February, and it would share further analysis within 48 hours
  • Downing Street has insisted the roadmap to easing the lockdown remains "on course" despite Boris Johnson warning yesterday that Europe's third wave of coronavirus infections could "wash up on our shores"


Norway police question PM over Covid-19 breach


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Prime Minister Erna Solberg admitted breaching Covid-19 rules last month

Norwegian police have begun questioning Prime Minister Erna Solberg after she admitted breaching the country’s coronavirus regulations during a birthday trip.
“We have started an investigation and part of this involves questioning the prime minister,” police inspector Per Morten Sending told Reuters news agency.
He said the interrogation had not yet finished, but police aimed to conclude the investigation this week.
A breach of social-distancing rules can be punishable by a fine in Norway.
The prime minister was joined by 13 other people for her 60th birthday meal at a restaurant in the ski resort of Geilo at the end of February.
Events attended by more than 10 people are banned in Norway to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Solberg has apologised for her actions, telling reporters on Friday last week she believed the restaurant trip was “in line with coronavirus guidelines”.
“It was at a restaurant where we booked three separate tables and where we kept our distance,” Solberg said. “I can only apologise for the fact that we did not comprehend that this, as defined by the law, was an event.”
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 19:07

What have we learnt?

The prime minister has just finished giving a coronavirus briefing from Downing Street on the anniversary of the first lockdown. Here’s what was covered:

  • Boris Johnson started by paying tribute to the "epic of endurance and privation" that the nation has weathered together over the past year
  • He says the pandemic has been like "fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy until science helped us to turn the lights on and to gain the upper hand"
  • At the right time we will come together as a country to build a fitting and permanent memorial to the ones we’ve lost and to commemorate this whole period, he says
  • There will most likely be a need for booster jabs in the autumn, Sir Patrick Valance says
  • And·Prof Chris Whitty agrees that if the virus changes a lot, there will be a need for re-vaccination
  • Asked whether foreign travel will be able to go ahead this summer, the PM says the taskforce will report back on 12 April but he hopes to have more to tell us by 5 April
  • "We are seeing distinct signs of a third wave on the continent," he says but "the UK have very tough measures at our borders already"
  • Asked what one thing they wish they had done differently, Johnson says "that misunderstanding about the reality of asymptomatic transmission certainly led to real problems that we then really had to work very, very hard to make up ground"
  • Prof Valance says he wished they had "much better data on what was happening"
  • Prof Whitty says in retrospect we now know about the importation of the virus from Europe
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 19:31

Summary


  • Anthony Fauci, the US’s top health official, said the AstraZeneca vaccine was likely to be very good , but that an independent review board assessing the jab’s efficacy “got concerned” that the data in its public statement “were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit”, adding that the “unforced error” would only add to public doubts about vaccines.
  • Norway is introducing new national measures to contain the pandemic, including a ban on the public serving of alcohol, and would postpone the introduction of a plan to reopen society, health minister Bent Høie has said.
  • Poland is to announce new restrictions for the next two weeks by Thursday at the latest, prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, as the country braces for what could be a second Easter spent under a strict lockdown.
  • The Dutch government is to extend its lockdown measures by three weeks until 20 April due to rising numbers of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions, prime minister Mark Rutte said.
  • Texas is to become the largest US state to make Covid vaccines available for all adults , with the drastic expansion for the state’s nearly 30 million residents beginning from Monday.
  • Spain will on 30 March lift restrictions on arrivals from Britain that have been in place since December in an attempt to contain the spread of new strains of coronavirus.
  • Vladimir Putin reportedly had his first dose of a Russian-made coronavirus vaccine in private, after months of delaying his jab, in an apparent effort to boost Russia’s fledgling vaccination drive.
  • General practitioners in Australia have been told the Covid-19 vaccine rollout experienced “significant” week-one delivery errors, including a failure to send some shipments of needles to accompany the vials.
  • German hotel owners are unhappy over an extension to measures that bizarrely bar citizens from going on vacation in their own country but allow them to travel abroad.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 19:38

Analysis: No chance of 'zero Covid'

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The vaccination programme is going well, but once again we are being reminded of the threat of a third wave.
Both the prime ministers and his senior advisers made reference to it.
With restrictions lifting, cases are likely to go up – although there is hope the change in seasons will help limit those rises.
Over half of adults are vaccinated, but that still leaves many millions susceptible.
Some will be in the vulnerable groups – either because they have chosen not to take up the vaccine or because it has not worked.
That means people will still die just as they do from flu each year.
In a bad winter, there can be more than 20,000 flu deaths.
Modelling suggests with the vaccine rollout and a careful lifting of restrictions there could be 30,000 Covid deaths by summer 2022.
But the government’s advisers made clear there really is no other option, saying there is “close to zero chance” of zero Covid for a virus that spreads so easily, often undetected because so many do not even develop symptoms.
The challenge now is managing that risk.

Vaccine passports: What are they and will I need one?

Covid "certificates" could be used to help people return to large gatherings such as sporting events, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has previously said.
But what are they?
In the UK, anyone who has had a jab receives a vaccination card and the details go on their medical records.
Now, the UK is among a number of countries considering whether to introduce other ways of confirming that people have been vaccinated. It's been suggested a passport feature could be added to the existing NHS app.
People could use it to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested negative.
European officials have announced plans for a "Green Digital Certificate ". This would allow anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel within the EU.
Officials hope it will be in place before the summer tourist season.
However, some EU members have expressed concerns the certificate could be discriminatory. And in the UK, a petition asking the government not to introduce vaccine passports will be considered for a debate by MPs.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 19:47

Covid surging 'dangerously' across Brazil


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Intensive care units in Brazil are struggling to cope with a new influx of patients

Coronavirus continues to surge "dangerously" across Brazil, the World Health Organization's regional director for the Americas has warned.
Carissa Etienne urged all Brazilians to adopt preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus.
"Unfortunately, the dire situation in Brazil is also affecting neighbouring countries," Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said in a briefing.
She said cases have risen in Venezuela's Bolivar and Amazonas states, and in border regions of Peru and Bolivia.
Last week, Brazil's leading health institute, Fiocruz, warned of an historic collapse of the country's health service .
It said intensive care units in hospitals were running out of capacity.

Coronavirus - 23rd March 2021 Candle10People to light candles and shine torches from houses at 20:00
Remembrance events are set to continue in cities across the UK tonight to mark the anniversary of lockdown and commemorate all those who have died with the virus.
This evening people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps with candles, torches or light shone from their phones.
It's due to happen at 20:00 - the same time that people used to stand at their doorsteps for the clap for carers - and it's been called a "beacon of remembrance".
Buildings across the UK are also going to be illuminated at nightfall.
London's skyline will turn yellow with landmarks including the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium lighting up.
Cardiff Castle and Belfast City Hall will also be lit up, while churches and cathedrals will toll bells, light thousands of candles and offer prayers.
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 20:17

20:00

Landmarks across the UK light up in remembrance

As millions remember those who have died as a result of the pandemic in the UK with candles, torches and phones on the doorsteps, buildings across the country have also been lit up in remembrance.

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Sunderland's Northern Spire Bridge looked striking as it was lit up at nightfall

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The iconic Kelpies sculpture in Falkirk is also lit up

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In the capital, the London Eye was among the landmarks illuminated

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Meanwhile, the outside of Lichfield Cathedral bore the words "Reflect, Support, Hope". Inside the cathedral, candles were lit

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In Cardiff, the castle in the city centre was lit up

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And the clock tower at Cardiff's Roath Park lake was also lit up in yellow
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 20:20

Candle of remembrance on doorstep of No 10

At No 10 Downing Street, a staff member was seen placing a candle on the doorstep for the 20:00 vigil

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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 20:49

Candlelight vigils held across the UK

As landmarks and buildings were illuminated, so too were doorsteps as thousands lit candles to remember those lost during the pandemic.

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Neighbours spoke to each other over a glass of wine in Fulham, west London

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People had been encouraged to light up their doorsteps on Tuesday evening

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Holly Wilson, whose grandmother Ada Wilson passed away during the pandemic, lit a candle at Belfast Cathedral

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There was a sombre reflection for those lost during the pandemic in Dormansland, Surrey

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A woman lit a candle outside an illuminated Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire
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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 20:55

Politicians including Nicola Sturgeon light candles

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt are among the public figures who have shared pictures of burning candles tonight.
It's part of the "beacon of remembrance" event which has encouraged people to light candles at their windows and doorsteps to commemorate those who have died from the virus.
Ms Sturgeon shared a photo on Twitter, as did Mr Hunt who addressed the families of the 126,284 people who have died, saying: "Our thoughts and prayers are with you tonight."
Other MPs also lit candles, including Labour shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves who tweeted: "Tonight, I’ve lit a candle to connect with those grieving, and remember those sadly lost in the pandemic."

Tweet  Nicola Sturgeon:
Remembering all those we have lost #DayofReflection

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Tweet  Jeremy Hunt:
To 126,284 families of loved ones lost to Covid: our thoughts and prayers are with you tonight. To 850+ health and care workers who lost their lives to Covid: thank you for your courage and service

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Post by Kitkat Tue Mar 23 2021, 21:29

PM says UK got vaccine 'because of capitalism and greed'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs that the UK had got a successful vaccine quickly because of "capitalism" and "greed".
Sources at the meeting said the PM then very insistently withdrew the comments and it is also understood Mr Johnson spent much of the discussion emphasising the fact that drug giant AstraZeneca is providing the Oxford vaccine at cost.
The comments were first reported by the Sun newspaper .
A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on a private meeting.

What happened in the UK today?

It's been another busy day. Here's a recap:


What happened around the world today?



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