- "As restrictions lift and the weather improves, we cannot drop our guard," Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle says
- "We're not out of the woods yet," she warns as thousands enjoy warm weather in outdoor spaces, prompting social distancing concerns
- Many areas have seen a sunny week so far - coinciding with England easing some restrictions
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock warns people not to "blow it" by breaching coronavirus guidelines
- Two parks in Nottingham are closed by the council after "appalling scenes" of crowds drinking and brawling earlier in the week
- Outdoor pubs and restaurants can reopen on 26 April as long as coronavirus rates remain low, the Welsh government has said
- Pfizer says US trials of its Covid vaccine in children aged 12-15 show 100% efficacy
- Northern Ireland's coronavirus vaccination programme has been opened up to people aged from 45 to 49
- Glastonbury organisers announce plans for a livestream from Worthy Farm, after the festival was cancelled for a second year
Hello and welcome to our live coronavirus coverage.
Here are the main headlines so far today:
- It is the last day of shielding in England and Wales for about four million clinically extremely vulnerable people
- From tomorrow they no longer have to shield at home - but they have been advised to still keep social contacts to a minimum
- Germany is suspending routine use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60s because of a risk of rare blood clots
- How this year's A level and GCSE grades are decided is putting too much pressure on pupils and schools, headteachers and unions in Wales claim
- Australia has fallen 3.4 million doses short of its target of delivering four million Covid vaccinations by 31 March
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, outdoor attractions in the UK fared better than indoor ones in 2020, with overall visitor numbers suffering a huge fall due to the pandemic
We'll bring you all the latest, as it happens, this Wednesday.
Last day of shielding in England and WalesToday is the last day of shielding for millions of the most clinically vulnerable across England and Wales.
About four million people had been advised to take extra care to avoid contracting Covid because they were considered more at risk of getting seriously ill with the virus.
Letters have been sent out to those in the group over the past few weeks, telling them that they do not have to stay at home from 1 April.
But they are still advised to keep social contacts at low levels, work from home where possible, and keep their distance from other people.
Those in the shielding group were prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine.
According to NHS Digital, there are 3.8 million shielded patients in England and 130,000 in Wales.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to lift their restrictions later in April.
Early evening summaryThe Guardian
Here is a quick recap of the main Covid-related events from around the world:
- Brazil has detected a new Covid variant in São Paulo state that is similar to the one first seen in South Africa, it was reported earlier .
- Finland’s government has withdrawn a proposal to confine people largely to their own homes in several cities to help curb the spread of Covid, the prime minister said .
- Europe’s drug regulator is investigating 62 cases worldwide of a rare blood clotting condition which has prompted some countries to limit the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, its chief said in a briefing .
- Sweden’s government will postpone a planned easing of some Covid restrictions until at least 3 May amid a severe third wave, the prime minister said .
- Europe’s medicines regulator has said it had not yet identified any risk factors such as age, sex or a previous history of blood clotting disorders, for clotting cases reported after inoculation with AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine .
- The premiers of two southern German states badly hit by the pandemic (Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg) urged leaders in the rest of the country to reintroduce tougher lockdown measures to try to contain a third wave of infections .
- Israel plans to administer the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech Covid vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds upon FDA approval, the health minister said after the manufacturer deemed the shots safe and effective on the cohort .
Latest around Europe
- France’s Emmanuel Macron is chairing a big health meeting this morning, amid reports that all schools are set to close with learning going online. France is facing a peak of over 5,000 people in intensive care and so far 19 areas of France are under limited lockdown, with a ban on movement beyond 10km (six miles) from home. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has this morning backed the closure of schools, which has so far been seen by the government as a last resort.
- Meanwhile, authorities in Lyon have condemned as “irresponsible” a dance party held by 300 people on the banks of the river Saône yesterday afternoon.
- Germany’s decision to suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations for under-60s is “without question a setback”, says Health Minister Jens Spahn. However, Germany’s leaders say people in their 60s should now get vaccinated more quickly. The German medicines regulator is investigating 31 cases of rare blood clots - Europe’s medicines regulator has said the vaccine is safe. Infections have been rising in Germany for some time but the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has slightly fallen since yesterday to 132.3.
- Spain is set to fail an EU target to vaccinate 80% of over-80s by the end of March, according to El País newspaper. It estimates that most areas have inoculated 60-70% of over-80s while a third have had the second dose too.
- Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has not yet been approved by Europe’s medicines regulator, but Austria is in late-stage talks with Russia to buy a million doses of it. And now Germany’s Angela Merkel and President Macron have discussed possible co-operation on vaccines. Any use of the vaccine depends on regulator approval.
- Natalina Ferraro, aged 108, has become Italy’s oldest citizen to be vaccinated so far. She survived Spanish flu and sent “big kisses to all” on receiving the jab in the southern city of Basilicata.
Germany suspends routine use of AstraZeneca jabGermany is suspending routine use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people aged below 60 because of a risk of rare blood clots.
The German medicines regulator found 31 cases of a type of rare blood clot among the nearly 2.7 million people who had received the vaccine in Germany.
AstraZeneca said international regulators had found the benefits of its jab outweighed risks significantly.
It said it was continuing to analyse its database to understand "whether these very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia occur any more commonly than would be expected naturally in a population of millions of people".
"We will continue to work with German authorities to address any questions they may have," it added.
The EU and UK medicine regulators both backed the vaccine after previous cautionary suspensions in Europe this month.
On Monday, Canada recommended immediately suspending the use of AstraZeneca in people aged below 55 following the reports of rare but potentially fatal blood clots in Europe, CBC reports.
There have been no reports of blood clots related to the jab in Canada itself, where 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca jabs have now been administered.
'Don't blow it now', warns health secretaryHealth Secretary Matt Hancock has issued a warning to people not to "blow it" by breaching coronavirus guidelines in the warm weather.
Many areas have seen a sunny start to the week - coinciding with the government in England ending its "stay home" guidance, and the easing of some restrictions.
Yesterday was the hottest March day in 53 years, leading to many people gathering in parks and on beaches.
Hancock wrote on Twitter : "Let’s enjoy the sun but let’s do it safely. We have come so far, don’t blow it now."
His comment comes after Boris Johnson said he hoped people would take advantage of the "beautiful weather" to play sport or exercise, but he added that country should still "proceed with caution".
In Nottingham, police have warned people to stick to the rules after large crowds were seen brawling in a park. A dispersal order has now been put in place.