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

Coronavirus - 27th March 2021


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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 27 2021, 16:29

Summary for Saturday, 27th March

  • Wales becomes the first UK nation to lift its rule to stay local, although non-essential travel to other parts of the UK is still banned
  • Six people from two households can now meet outdoors and self-contained tourist accommodation may reopen
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he sees 'absolutely nothing in the data' to dissuade him from continuing to lift lockdown restrictions
  • Meanwhile, the first Covid booster jabs to stop new variants could be given to over-70s from September, the vaccines minister says
  • Nadhim Zahawi said those in the top four priority groups of the vaccine rollout will get any booster jabs first
  • One-fifth of the Philippines' population is going into lockdown as hospitals in Manila struggle to cope with a surge in infections
  • In England, shops will be allowed to stay open until 22:00 BST six days a week when customers return from 12 April
  • Police in Bristol have made 10 arrests during a demonstration that they warned broke coronavirus restrictions
  • Both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have condemned the demonstrators
  • France has accused the UK of 'blackmail' over its handling of coronavirus vaccine exports

Good morning

Welcome to our live coverage.
We'll be bringing you updates on the coronavirus pandemic from the UK and around the world throughout the day.

What's been happening around the world?

  • France's foreign minister has accused the UK of "blackmail" over its handling of vaccine exports, amid a continuing row over the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. Jean-Yves Le Drian did not specify what he considered to be blackmail, but also suggested the UK may struggle to source second doses.
  • Germany has tightened its borders and classed neighbouring France as a "high risk" area as Europe continues to tackle a rise in cases. The head of the country's RKI public health institute warned that Germany could see 100,000 infections a day if the third wave spreads unchecked.
  • The prime minister of Poland has warned that the country's hospitals may not be able to cope with soaring Covid cases. The Kent variant of the virus is now responsible for 80% of all infections there. Its government has brought in tighter restrictions including a cut in the number of worshippers allowed to attend mass for Easter
  • The drug Ivermectin is at the centre of a legal battle in South Africa as some medics want it licensed for human use. The drug - used to treat parasitic worms - been touted by some as an effective coronavirus treatment even though it is clinically unproven. Some doctors have been prescribing it to patients with coronavirus, saying that they have seen anecdotal evidence that it can alleviate some of the worst effects of Covid-19.
  • Allowing international air travel without testing at UK airports risks reversing “all the good our vaccination programme has done”, an infectious diseases expert has warned. He called for efficient testing and tracing at airport and supporting people to self-isolate.
  • The Philippines will reimpose tougher coronavirus measures in the capital of Manila and nearby provinces, a senior official said on Saturday in order to fight a surge in infections.
  • Spain will require people arriving from France by land to present a negative Covid-19 test following a rise in Spain’s infection rate. The requirement will not apply to truck drivers, people who cross the border for work, and people who live within 30km of Spain.
  • Brazil’s coronavirus situation is likely to deteriorate even further, experts have warned, forecasting that the nation’s death toll will pass the United States’ by the end of the year.
  • The World Health Organization says it has not ruled out any theory on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, despite one top official earlier this week appearing to dismiss the idea it had escaped from a laboratory.
  • Indonesia’s vaccination drive will slow down next month due to India’s delay in exporting AstraZeneca vaccines, its health minister has said. India has temporarily suspended large vaccines exports as it seeks to step up its own inoculation efforts amid surging infections.
  • Ireland’s health minister has suspended vaccination provision at a private hospital in Dublin after it emerged that it administered spare jabs to staff at a private school.
  • NHS England has passed the milestone of 25m first vaccine doses administered across the country, after a further 344,008 people received a shot.

Newspaper headlines: 'Over-70s autumn booster' and 'freedom' on Monday

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Several of today's newspaper front pages in the UK strike an upbeat tone, with many papers looking forward to the next stage of lockdown easing in England on Monday.
From 29 March - which the Daily Mail dubs "Freedom Monday" - more people will be allowed to meet outside, and the stay-at-home rule ends.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi says the government's booster jabs programme will aim to "future proof" the UK against new Covid variants
He tells the paper the boosters should be ready to go for the top priority groups by September, saying "however the virus behaves, we're going to be ready".
Against such a backdrop, the paper asks in its editorial why the lifting of restrictions has been so slow. "Now that we have vaccinated so many, we should not be talking of more rules and regulations" but of "liberating our economy and society."
Read more on the papers in our full review.

What's changing in Wales today?

It's a big day for millions of people in Wales today as lockdown begins to ease.
From today, people can travel anywhere else in Wales - rather than being told to "stay local".
Six people from two households are now allowed to meet up outside, an increase from the current four-person limit.
Also, organised outdoor activities and sports for under-18s can resume.
People can now go on holiday - as long as they stay within Wales. Self-contained tourist accommodation - including many hotels and cottages - will be able to reopen from 27 March, providing a potential boost to the tourism industry ahead of Easter.
But non-essential travel to and from other UK nations will be banned for at least two weeks.
Our guide on how the rules have changed is here.

What are Wales' lockdown rules?

Wales' "stay local" rule has been relaxed to allow residents to travel anywhere in the nation.
Self-contained tourist accommodation can reopen from today, but only for people living in Wales.
That's because non-essential travel to and from other UK nations is banned for at least two weeks under the remaining restrictions .
Six people from two households are able to meet up in Wales, an increase from the four-person limit that was in place prior to Welsh government review of its Covid restrictions.
Organised outdoor activities and sports for under-18s can also resume, and libraries and archives can reopen their doors.
Rules also allow a limited opening of outdoor areas of some historical places and gardens.

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 27 2021, 16:51

Johnson: No data suggesting not to continue with lockdown easing

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Boris Johnson has said he is looking forward to having a haircut and a pint when lockdown further eases in England in the coming weeks. (Both those things will be allowed from 12 April.)
In a video message released on Saturday to launch the Conservative Party's local election campaign in England, the PM said: "In just a few days time, I'm finally going to be able to go to the barbers. But more importantly than that, I'm going to be able to go down the street and, cautiously but irreversibly, I'm going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.
"And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our road map to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.
"Of course there are plenty of risks and we have got to be honest about the difficulties ahead. We are in a different world to last spring."

India cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar tests positive

Now we turn to India, where cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has tested positive for Covid-19 .
Tendulkar - widely considered the greatest batsman of all time - tweeted out a statement confirming his diagnosis on Saturday.
The former Indian captain, 47, said he had “mild symptoms” and had quarantined himself at home.
His announcement comes as India grapples with a huge surge in coronavirus infections as it scrambles to roll out vaccinations.
India recorded 59,118 new infections on Friday, the highest 24-hour rise so far this year. Many of the new cases were reported in the western state of Maharashtra, where Tendulkar lives in the city of Mumbai.
Tendulkar’s tweet was met with a flood of messages wishing him a speedy recovery. He remains a popular figure in India since his retirement from cricket in 2013.

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 27 2021, 17:08

Arrests as riot police disperse protesters in Bristol

Police have arrested a number of people in Bristol - after another night of demonstrations against the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Around 1,000 people took part in a sit-in near Bridewell police station, which was the location of violent scenes last Sunday.
Mounted officers and dog units were used to drive the crowds back.
Mass gatherings are currently banned under coronavirus legislation and anyone breaching regulations could be fined, though some MPs have said the law should change to allow protests .
Recent weeks have seen a number of protests and demonstrations, with campaigners gathering in support of various causes.
Read more on the protests here.

'Changes on Monday means we can engage with protest organisers again'

Ten people have been arrested in Bristol after police took action to disperse protests last night.
Area commander Supt Mark Runacres, of Avon and Somerset Police, told BBC Breakfast that police had sought to deter people from attending during the week because of the coronavirus rules and risk to public health.
Mass gatherings are currently banned under coronavirus restrictions and fines can be given out for anyone breaking the rules.
He said many people went home after peacefully protesting, but officers came under attack towards the end of the evening.
"From Monday, changes in the legislation will allow us hopefully to engage effectively with protest organisers which is what we've always done previously, prior to the legislation changes around the Covid regulations stopping that happening."
Downing Street has said the lifting of the stay-at-home order on March 29 will mean protests will be able to resume.
However, they will still be subject to the previous Covid-secure precautions meaning that organisers need to submit risk assessments and ensure there is "appropriate" social distancing.

The rising vaccine misinformation battle in France

BBC Trending
France is among those nations hardest hit by coronavirus, with one of the highest Covid death counts.
Yet it is one of the most vaccine-sceptical nations in the world.
The number of followers of pages sharing extreme anti-vaccine content in French grew in 2020, from 3.2m to nearly 4.1m likes, research from BBC Monitoring found.
"I felt in my gut that this whole thing was overrated and wrong," says Gilles, who runs a conspiracy-themed French-language Facebook group.
He doesn't want a Covid vaccine, because of posts he's seeing on the group. He fears, despite the weight of scientific evidence, that jabs have been developed too quickly to be safe.
And his concerns are part of wider trend in France.
The BBC's specialist disinformation reporter Marianna Spring has been looking into the vaccine misinformation battle that is currently raging in France .

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PM brands Bristol attacks 'disgraceful'

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken of the "disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol" on Friday night.
"Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property," the PM tweeted on Saturday.
"The police and the city have my full support."
It follows a third night of protests in the city, opposing the government's Police and Crime Bill.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was "clear these thugs were only intent on causing trouble".
"I’m in no doubt the silent, law-abiding majority will be appalled by the actions of this criminal minority," she tweeted.
Ten arrests were made following what police called unacceptable "violent conduct" at the protest.
The proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests.
Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds told BBC Breakfast that "whenever there is violence, that is completely unacceptable".
She said protesters should be using "other ways of expressing whatever dissatisfaction they have".
Friday's protest started peacefully on College Green, in the city centre, before 1,000 people marched with a "significant" number stopping outside Bridewell police station.
Police moved in to clear the area shortly after 22:00, after eggs and glass bottles were thrown at the police.
Tweet  Boris Johnson:
:Left Quotes:  Last night saw disgraceful attacks against police officers in Bristol. Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property. The police and the city have my full support.

'Christmas Day' for families as Wales lifts travel ban

Families in Wales say it feels "like Christmas Day" as they prepare to visit loved ones with lockdown travel rules eased within the nation's border.
Ed Pugh, 55, and his wife Tracey, 56, have not seen their daughter Alys, 23, since December.
They are making the two-hour journey from their home in Monmouthshire, to meet Alys for a walk on the beach near her home in Aberystwyth on Sunday.
"We knew this day would come and it's been building up to it and thank God, here we are now," said Mr Pugh.
"So Sunday's going to be like Christmas Day, if I'm honest."
Kathryn Eastman is looking forward to seeing brother Peter, face-to-face for the first time in over a year, as he lives about seven miles from her home in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Ms Eastman said the "last proper chat" they had was during a pub lunch in February last year, although they have seen each other at a distance when he was able to drive by.
She told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast she was "excited" as they would "get to see each other properly and chat".

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Labour minister calls for 'comprehensive hotel quarantine'

Government ministers are reported to be facing pressure to expand the "red list" - those countries from which travellers must quarantine in a hotel of the government's choice when they arrive in the UK.
The aim is to protect the rollout of the UK's vaccination programme against the import of new variants from abroad.
More than 30 countries are currently on the UK government's red list , including South Africa, Brazil and UAE.
A government insider told the Guardian there could be “quite a few additions” to the red list.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has called for "a comprehensive hotel quarantine system now".
"The UK Government are yet again doing too little, too late to secure our borders against Covid - and it's the British people that will pay the price," he said.
"Ministers need to do everything possible to stop new variants reaching the UK."
Read more about the red list and the rules on quarantine.

What's happening with UK music festivals this year?

The answer is, some have been postponed, others are due to go ahead.
It partly depends on the date. According to the government's reopening roadmap for England, restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June, depending on case numbers and official reviews.
But here's the latest on what we know:

  • Glastonbury: The main festival has been cancelled, but organisers are still working on plans for gigs at the site this summer. They are applying for a licence for a two-night concert and another to open the farm as a campsite - although nothing is definite
  • Download: This was due to take place in the first weekend of June but has been cancelled. Dates have been announced for 2022
  • Isle of Wight: Originally scheduled for June, the Isle of Wight festival has been pushed back by three months to mid-September
  • Latitude: It hasn't been given the definitive green light yet, but organisers say planning for the July event is "well under way"
  • Reading & Leeds: Still set to go ahead in August
  • Notting Hill Carnival: Organisers are planning as usual but will not make a decision until closer to the summer
  • BST Hyde Park: So far, it's still on
  • Creamfields: Still scheduled to go ahead in August, organisers are promising fans "the party of the summer" after a year locked indoors
  • Wireless Festival: Tickets are on sale - although it's being held in September, rather than the usual July

For more details - including on other festivals - head to our guide here.

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Manila's 24 million people going into lockdown

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Workers have been fumigating some Manila streets during a rise in Covid infections

One-fifth of the Philippines' population is going into lockdown as hospitals in the city of Manila struggle to cope with a surge in infections.
From Monday Manila's 24 million people will begin a week-long lockdown to try to control the spread of Covid-19, which the government says is being driven by new variants.
A night-time curfew from 6pm to 5am will be enforced, mass gatherings are banned and public transport is closed as non-essential workers will be told to work from home.
Restrictions in the city have already dramatically reduced planned celebrations of Holy Week for the country's large Catholic population before Easter on 2-4 April.
The country has reported record rises in virus cases in three of the past five days, according to the health ministry. Since the pandemic began, the Philippines has recorded more than 700,000 cases and 13,159 deaths.

Corrie star 'looking forward to returning to cobbles' soon

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Roache made his debut as Ken Barlow in the drama's first episode

Coronation Street's Ken Barlow has "recovered well" after testing positive for coronavirus.
Actor Bill Roache, 88, has been taking time off from the ITV soap, prompting rumours in the press.
On Saturday, an ITV spokeswoman said: "Following recent reports about his health, William Roache has asked us to clarify that he took time off work after testing positive for Covid.
"He has recovered well and is looking forward to returning to the cobbles as soon as possible."
Scriptwriters are limiting appearances for the older cast members during the pandemic.
Coronation Street resumed filming in June last year with social distancing in place.

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Post by Kitkat Sat Mar 27 2021, 17:34

Facebook suspends Venezuela president over fake Covid cure claims

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Facebook has frozen Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro's Facebook page after he claimed without evidence that a herbal remedy can cure Covid-19, according to Reuters news agency. The company said the leader had repeatedly violated their policies on coronavirus misinformation. He claimed in January that thyme herb solution could cure the disease. He will unable to post on his page for 30 days.
Maduro isn't the first world leader to face pushback from social media companies over coronavirus misinformation.
Last year Facebook deleted a video from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over a claim that drug hydroxychloroquine was totally effective in treating the virus. And previously a Twitter post by Maduro about a different fake remedy was deleted.
Covid-19 misinformation on social media is a widespread problem.
A dozen people are responsible for spreading thousands of anti-vaccine posts on Facebook and Twitter , according to analysis by the UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). Among them are Robert F Kennedy Jr, a nephew of the former US president, who leads an anti-vaccine group.

Vaccine will blunt third wave 'if we're lucky' - PM

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Germany is among those European countries facing 'a third wave' of coronavirus

More from Boris Johnson who was speaking at the Conservatives' virtual spring forum.
The prime minister said "bitter experience" has taught him that the surge in cases - or "third wave" - currently being experienced in parts of Europe could hit the UK "three weeks later".
"The question is - is it going to be, this time, as bad it has been in the past?
"Or have we sufficiently mitigated, muffled, blunted the impact by the vaccine rollout?" he added.
"There's lots of promising evidence that a lot of people who could be vulnerable are now protected against death and serious disease, that's my hope - my hunch.
"But we haven't yet seen the real conclusive proof - in the sense that we haven't seen a take-off in infection rates that hasn't been accompanied by a lot of hospitalisations and deaths.
"That'll be the key difference this time round, if we're lucky."

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Indian state's weekly one-hour silence for Covid victims

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Police blocked roads in Amritsar, Punjab to enforce a one-hour silence

How do we mark the millions of lives lost to coronavirus? It's a question many individuals and governments ask themselves, particularly as we recently marked one year since the pandemic began.
In India's Punjab state, authorities have introduced a one-hour silence each Saturday to honour victims of Covid-19. All traffic is expected to stop except for emergencies or on major highways, and sirens sound at the start and end of the hour.
The first silence was today, but reports suggested many residents were unaware of the tribute and were left confused as queues built up to enter cities. Critics have said that the government should focus on addressing the health crisis , but authorities say the silence will help people remember the importance of saving lives.
Nationwide India has recorded nearly 12 million infections and more than 161,000 deaths.

Record 3,650 deaths in one day in Brazil

Brazil is struggling to cope with a huge surge in Covid infections.
On Friday, a record 3,650 deaths from the virus were reported by Brazil's health ministry. It's the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began - and broke a record set just days earlier.
In total, more than 305,000 people in Brazil have now died with coronavirus.
A new, more contagious variant is thought to be behind the recent surge in cases, with many city hospitals experiencing oxygen shortages and overcrowding.
Critics say the government is still failing to introduce sufficient restrictions to control the virus, but President Jair Bolsonaro says he is addressing the crisis.
On Friday the government announced that human trials will begin for two vaccines developed in Brazil.

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Spain to demand negative test at French border

From next Tuesday, people crossing the land border from France into Spain will have to present a negative PCR test taken in the last 72 hours, the Spanish government has announced.
Spain is ramping up restrictions ahead of their traditional Easter celebrations known as Holy Week, which begin this weekend.
Previously only those arriving from France by air had been subject to testing.Hauliers and cross-border workers will be exempt, along with those who live in the border zone - providing they remain within a 30-kilometre (18-mile) radius of their home.
Daily cases have nearly doubled in France since the start of the month, with more than 45,000 new cases announced on Thursday.
From Sunday anyone travelling from France into Germany will have to submit a negative test and go into 10 days' quarantine.

Vaccines halted at Dublin hospital after teachers given spare doses

Vaccinations have been suspended at a Dublin hospita l after it emerged it had used spare doses to vaccinate teachers at a nearby private school.
Beacon Hospital administered 20 vaccines to teachers at St Gerard's School in Bray, County Wicklow.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this was "entirely inappropriate and completely unacceptable".
Having considered the "operational implications", Mr Donnelly said he has asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to suspend vaccines at the privately-owned hospital.
Those who already have an appointment at the centre will be vaccinated as scheduled - before alternative arrangements are put in place.
Beacon Hospital, which was administering vaccines as part of the state rollout, apologised for its decision, claiming it was made under "time pressure".

Home-schooling around the world

By Joshua Haigh, BBC News

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More than a year after the pandemic shut schools around the world, millions of children are still stuck at home.
But the experience has been vastly different for communities.
A Washington mum-of-two says she had not appreciated "how much support, not only academic but also physical and emotional, school provided my kids".
"The unpredictability of each day has definitely ramped up my own anxiety in unhealthy ways," says Lori Mihalich.
Meanwhile, in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, thousands of children were cut-off from the outside world without the means to continue their education when Covid-19 struck.
Authorities have since strapped loudspeakers to trees to broadcast lessons into the open air.
Here's how students, teachers and parents coped when children had to leave the classroom.

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Police officer attacked as they broke up house party

A police officer who was attempting to break up a house party that broke Covid laws was attacked, the force has said.
Officers from West Midlands Police were called to the party in Solihull in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"Up to 100 people" were reported to be at the gathering - currently banned under Covid regulations.
According to West Midlands Police, the police officer was kicked but was not seriously injured during the incident.
Read the full story here.

Breaking News 

Daily figures for positive cases dip below 5,000

The latest government data has revealed there were 4,715 positive cases recorded in the UK the past 24 hours - the first time the daily figure has dipped below 5,000 in more than a week.
A further 58 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test - compared with 96 on the same day a week ago.
The number of patients in hospital is continuing to fall, down to 4,560 on the last count taken on Thursday. This is the lowest since mid-October.
Latest figures state 615 of those hospital patients are on ventilators.
More than 29.7m people have now been given the first vaccination dose - with nearly 3.3m people having been given both doses.

What has been happening today?

That's about it from us today. Here is a brief round-up of the main headlines.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there is "absolutely nothing in the data" to prevent the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions in England - as set out by the government's road map.
  • Wales' "stay local" rule has been relaxed to allow residents to travel anywhere in the nation. Six people from two households are able to meet up and organised outdoor sports for under-18s can also resume, as lockdown rules are relaxed.
  • The over-70s, staff working in health and social care, and people considered clinically vulnerable could start receiving Covid booster jabs from September, to protect against new variants and the threat of another winter.
  • Germany has tightened its borders and classed neighbouring France as a "high risk" area as Europe continues to tackle a rise in cases. Spain will also insist on a negative PCR test from those crossing border between France and Spain from Tuesday.
  • A record 3,650 deaths from the virus were reported by Brazil's health ministry on Friday. It's the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began. Many city hospitals are experiencing oxygen shortages and overcrowding.


Thanks for joining us today. We'll be back tomorrow with lots more coronavirus news - from the UK and around the world.

Your writers today were Francesca Gillett, Victoria Lindrea, Georgina Rannard, Jo Couzens and Joshua Nevett.
The live page was edited by Julian Joyce.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:55