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

Coronavirus - 31st March 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:20

Summary for Wednesday, 31st March

  • "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:

We'll bring you all the latest, as it happens, this Wednesday.

Last day of shielding in England and Wales

Today 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 summary

The Guardian
Here is a quick recap of the main Covid-related events from around the world:


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 jab

Germany 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 secretary

Health 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.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:27

Who has been shielding - and why?

The nearly four million people on England and Wales' shielding list no longer have to stay at home after today.
But who is on the list and what makes them clinically extremely vulnerable?
They are considered more at risk of needing hospital treatment for various reasons. Factors taken into consideration include underlying health issues, medication they take, as well as their age and ethnicity.
Those on the list include solid organ transplant recipients, people on immunosuppression drugs, people with severe respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis or severe asthma, and adults with Down's syndrome.
You can read more here about who is included and why.

Today's papers: 'Keep your cool' warning


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Many of today's papers focus on people gathering in the sunshine, as some restrictions were lifted in England.
People chose to take advantage of restrictions on outdoor socialising being eased, meeting friends in parks and on beaches as Tuesday saw the warmest March temperatures for more than 50 years.
"So much for the rule of six" is the headline in the Daily Mail , while the Daily Mirror goes with "Keep Your Cool".
Several of the papers carry a plea from Health Secretary Matt Hancock for people to enjoy the sun safely and not to blow the progress made in tackling the pandemic.
The Daily Express echoes his comments, stressing how important it is to resist breaking the rules, even in perfect barbecue weather.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:31

Enjoy sunny weather 'in sensible and cautious way'

We're hearing more warnings from ministers about following Covid-19 rules during the sunny weather expected across much of England and Wales today.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has urged people to avoid "the most crowded places".
"We just need to exercise caution and be sensible and pragmatic about how we do that," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.
"I think the vast majority of people are and will do that, they will enjoy the sunshine this week and at the Easter Weekend, but they'll do so in a sensible and cautious way.
"The two things aren't mutually exclusive - you can go and out, have fun, enjoy the great outdoors and the sunshine, while also trying to be careful, sticking to the rules and trying to avoid the most crowded places."
He added: "What we hope and expect to happen is that we can continue moving forward through the road map and this will be an irreversible opening up of society and the economy.
"The prime minister has said that everything we have learned over the course of the last year means that there are no absolute guarantees, but there is no evidence today to suggest that we are off track, that we won't be able to move forwards with the road map and meet the targets we have set ourselves."
Read more about the roadmap here and what's currently allowed under the rules .

Police forces in Wales warn against illegal gatherings

More good weather is on the way in Wales today, after temperatures topped 21C (70F) on Tuesday.
But South Wales Police Federation (SWPF) has urged people to continue following Covid rules and to limit the number of people they mix with.
It comes after groups were seen gathering in Cardiff Bay earlier in the week.
Six people from two households can meet outside in Wales, including in private gardens, but bigger gatherings are illegal.
Steve Treharne, chair of SWPF, told Claire Summers on BBC Radio Wales Breakfast : "People have lost loved ones, people's businesses have been affected and it's really important that people are responsible so we can all get out of this together as safely as we can."

Australia falling short on vaccinations

Australia has fallen massively short of its target of delivering four million Covid vaccinations by 31 March, with only about 600,000 doses given.
The 85% shortfall comes two days after the east coast city of Brisbane entered another snap lockdown to combat a small outbreak.
Last week the government said the vaccine rollout did not demand urgency given Australia's low infection rates. The country has recorded 909 deaths and 29,300 cases since the pandemic began - far fewer than many other nations.
But sporadic outbreaks have led to six lockdowns in cities in recent months. Critics say situations like Brisbane's outbreak show why a quick vaccine programme is still needed.
Read more here
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:37

Russia approves 'world first' animal vaccine

Russia has registered what it describes as the world's first Covid-19 vaccine for animals, the country's agricultural safety watchdog says.
Clinical trials of the vaccine, Carnivac-Cov, involved dogs, cats, Arctic foxes, mink and other animals, according to Rosselkhoznadzor's deputy head Konstantin Savenkov.
Savenkov says the animals involved developed antibodies to the virus in 100% of cases.
Another jab made by US veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis was cleared for use on dogs and cats last October, without being tested on other animals.
It was given experimentally to several great apes at San Diego zoo earlier this month after eight gorillas tested positive for Covid-19 in January.
Infections have been confirmed in various animals worldwide, from dogs and cats to ferrets and mink. However, cases are generally quite rare.

People aged 45-49 can now get Covid jab in Northern Ireland

People aged from 45 to 49 are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations in Northern Ireland.
They can now book to have their jab at a vaccination centre or participating community pharmacy.
People have been urged to book online or, if that is not possible, to use the telephone booking number 0300 200 7813.
Those eligible for vaccination can also wait for their GP to contact them to arrange their jab.
Find out more about who is eligible for the jab around the UK here.

France considers tightening restrictions

Earlier we reported that French President Emmanuel Macron has been meeting health chiefs amid a surge in Covid cases and fears all the country's schools are set to close, a measure the government sees as a last resort.
Macron is due to meet cabinet ministers later in the day before addressing the nation at 20:00 local time (19:00 BST). They are expected to discuss the possibility of tighter restrictions.
So far France has resisted a third national lockdown, relying on local measures and a night-time curfew. But growing criticism from medical staff means tighter measures and some extension of restrictions to other areas now seem inevitable.
France is facing a peak of more than 5,000 people in intensive care as the highly contagious UK variant continues to ravage the country. Nineteen areas are under limited lockdown, with a ban on movement beyond 10km (six miles) from home.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:40

The latest from around the world


  • Here are the main coronavirus headlines from around the globe so far this morning:
  • Brazil has registered a record 3,780 Covid deaths, as embattled President Jair Bolsonaro tries to shore up the struggling health service with a package of loans.
  • Australia has fallen 85% short of its target of delivering four million vaccinations by 31 March, as the city of Brisbane enters lockdown.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation this evening, with tighter Covid restrictions including the closure of schools expected.
  • Russia approves what it describes as the world's first Covid-19 animal vaccine.
  • South Africa announces a four-day ban on takeaway alcohol over the Easter weekend. Consumption will still be allowed in bars and restaurants.


Latest UK headlines

Here are the latest headlines in the UK:
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 19:44

South Africa bans takeaway alcohol over Easter

The South African government has banned the sale of takeaway alcohol over this weekend's Easter holiday to prevent a surge in coronavirus infections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says alcohol has a role in encouraging negligent behaviour.
Bars and restaurants may still serve drinks.
Religious gatherings have also been restricted to 50% capacity if indoors.
Coronavirus transmission is relatively low in South Africa after a second wave peaked in January.
Alcohol bans have been imposed several times throughout the pandemic.

Vaccinated UK summer holidaymakers welcome in Malta

Still to book a summer holiday? Malta now says UK travellers who've had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine are welcome from June.
The Malta Tourism Authority says visitors to the popular small island in the Mediterranean Sea will need to show their vaccination card before boarding flights.
However, those who haven't been vaccinated will be banned from entering as the UK remains on Malta's "red list" of countries.
Usually, about 500,000 Britons choose Malta each year for their holidays, attracted by the sunshine, culture and food.
Other popular holiday destinations planning to reopen their borders to Britons include:

  • Turkey - No proof of a vaccine or negative test required once foreign leisure travel is permitted
  • Greece - International tourists must be vaccinated or have had a recent negative Covid test or have coronavirus antibodies
  • Cyprus - Must have had both doses of a vaccine.

Right now, foreign holidays for Britons are banned, and returning travellers have to quarantine on arrival.
But we should know more about our summer holiday options when a government report is published on 12 April.
The earliest we can get back to holidays abroad will be 17 May if you're in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has yet to announce its plans. Read more here.

Tenants and landlords 'should be helped with rent arrears'

The government should provide financial help to tenants and landlords in England dealing with rent arrears built up as a result of Covid, MPs have said.
The housing committee warns ministers are in danger of breaking their pledge that nobody should lose their home as a result of the pandemic.
It also says the government's efforts to take all rough sleepers off the streets are now effectively over - but the government says that claim was misleading.
A spokesman says the government is spending more than £700m this year and £750m next year on tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.
A ban on landlords in England evicting tenants, introduced during the pandemic, has been extended several times and is currently due to expire at the end of May.
Ministers have suggested there will be no more extensions and that from June the government will introduce a "new approach".
But the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee says many renters will be at risk of becoming homeless when the evictions ban ends.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:03

Ukrainian couple with 11 children die of Covid


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Volodymyr and Diana have both died this month

Volodymyr and Diana Rodikov were raising three of their own and eight adopted children in a family-type orphanage in the village of Lypovy Skitok near Kyiv.
The family has gone through many trials. In 2014, they had to flee the war in Donbass, leaving behind their home and all their possessions, and start all over again.
In 2017, they settled in a large spacious house in the village.
"I saw these children, they were happy. They hugged their mother, played with their father. They did everything together - prepared preserves for the winter, baked cakes. They were a great team of absolutely happy children," local official Iryna Gorbacheva tells BBC News Ukraine.
Diana and Volodymyr were hospitalised with Covid-19 in early March. Eight of the 11 children were also diagnosed with coronavirus but they had much milder symptoms.
The parents were transferred to intensive care, where for more than three weeks doctors fought for their lives - but could not save them.
Now the children live in a rehabilitation centre where they receive psychological help.
"These children went through a lot of grief - the tragedy of their own families when they found themselves in an orphanage, war, resettlement," says Gorbacheva.
Social workers and local deputies are looking for new foster parents for the children.
Ukraine is undergoing a surge in cases, and the authorities have not ruled out the possibility of another nationwide lockdown.
More than 11,000 new cases have been registered today. In the past 24 hours, 407 people have died from the disease, the highest daily total yet.

Nottingham parks shut after 'appalling scenes'


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Two parks in Nottingham have been closed to the public after large crowds gathered, leaving rubbish and failing to socially distance.
Footage shared on social media showed people celebrating, drinking and brawling at the Arboretum on Monday.
The following day police introduced a dispersal order on parts of Nottingham to prevent large crowds gathering and an alcohol ban.
Now leader of Nottingham City Council David Mellen says he's "taken steps to prevent a repeat of the appalling scenes" by shutting the Arboretum, and Lenton Recreation Ground.
"We regret having to take this action since everyone has been looking forward to the chance to visit our parks," says Mellen.
"Sadly, the actions of a thoughtless minority has spoilt that."
At other parks in the city, patrols by community officers have been increased to help enforce the current ban on drinking in public places across Nottingham.
"None of this would be necessary if people took their own personal responsibility seriously, especially at a time when we need to be much more cautious in the way we behave and follow the gradual lifting of restrictions, if we are to hope to put this pandemic behind us," says Mellen.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:10

Vaccine passports 'an issue for frontline staff to enforce'

Hospitality and retail bosses are warning the use of vaccine passports to admit entry to venues could create enforcement problems and risk violence for their staff.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pubs and other venues could use vaccine passports, before backtracking slightly to clarify that this may only be introduced once all UK adults have been offered a vaccination.
Speaking as part of a webinar hosted by the Confederation of British Industry, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality Kate Nicholls says there could be "issues regarding frontline staff having to enforce the law".
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, says: "We're seeing, with mask-wearing particularly and other enforcement issues, that the levels of violence and abuse against people on the front line - be that delivery driver, supermarket or convenience shop worker - there were about 400 incidents a day pre-Covid but they say that has gone up really significantly."
However, Nicholls says she believes international travel and major events are the "two areas where we think certification could really work".
The trade body boss adds she hopes social distancing restrictions can be fully removed by the 21 June road map date without the need for vaccine certification.

'No specific risk factors' linked to AstraZeneca jab

Experts investigating possible links between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots have so far found no specific risk factors, such as age, gender or medical history, European Union regulators have said.
However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said analysis was continuing.
It restated its view that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweighed any risk of side effects.
The remarks came as Germany suspended routine use of the vaccine for people under 60 after 31 cases of a type of rare blood clot were found among the nearly 2.7 million people who have received the jab in Germany.
France already limits use of AstraZeneca to those aged over 55, and on Monday, Canada recommended immediately suspending the use of AstraZeneca in people aged below 55 .

Fresh outbreak in southwest China border city

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
For the first time in nearly two months, China has reported a spate of new Covid-19 cases – this time in the country’s south west.
Nine people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the city of Ruili, Yunnan province. Six have symptoms and three are asymptomatic.
Four of the patients are Burmese nationals and five are Chinese. All of the patients are aged 22 to 42 and they have mild symptoms.
A mass testing drive has been launched, and 317 close contacts of those affected have been placed in quarantine. Ruili citizens are being told to stay at home, and all businesses with the exception of supermarkets, farmers’ markets and pharmacies have closed.
Transport links have also been restricted, and people are not allowed to leave the city without a recent negative Covid-19 test result. A bridge that connects China with Myanmar has been closed.
China has remained relatively Covid-free since early February. Its last big outbreak occurred in the northeast of the country at the beginning of the year.
This is not the first time that Ruili, a city with a population of about 210,000, has experienced an outbreak. In September, an outbreak in the city was linked to a Burmese woman who had recently crossed the border.
The local government has said today it will “severely crack down on illegal border crossings ” amid the fresh outbreak. Local citizens have told the Global Times newspaper there have been recent rumours in the city that people were being smuggled out of Myanmar, bringing the virus with them.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:13

Scheme launched to prosecute more people who abuse NHS staff

A scheme has been launched to prosecute more people who abuse NHS staff, after frontline workers reported being kicked, spat at and urinated on.
The joint initiative follows a three-month pilot across five London boroughs.
The Metropolitan Police scheme will work with the NHS and the Crown Prosecution Service to increase prosecutions.
Martin Machray, from NHS England & Improvement London, says the pandemic over the past year has "shone a light on the selflessness and dedication of NHS staff".
He adds: "All our staff should be able to come into work without fear of violence, injury or abuse."
About 75,000 workers experienced violence and aggression from patients, relatives or public, according to the 2020 NHS staff survey .
The Met says the scheme will help and support those who feel being assaulted is "part of the job".

Breaking News 

UK records 43 further coronavirus deaths

The UK has recorded 43 new Covid-19 deaths, down from 56 on Tuesday.
Government statistics also show there were 4,052 new cases of Covid, only up marginally on Tuesday's 4,040 cases.

Breaking News 

Second doses of vaccine outnumber first doses

Second doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the UK have outnumbered first doses for the first time.
A total of 270,526 second doses were registered on 30 March, compared with 224,590 first doses, the latest government figures show.
It has always been the case previously that the number of first jabs per day had always exceeded second jabs.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:17

War-torn Yemen gets first delivery of vaccines

Yemen has received its first vaccines via the global Covax scheme, a week after the government warned of a health emergency caused by its second wave of Covid-19.
A plane carrying 360,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India arrived in Aden, the government’s temporary capital, the World Health Organization said .
“Yemen now has the capacity to protect those most at risk, including health workers, so that they can safely continue to provide life-saving interventions for children and families,” said Unicef’s representative in Yemen, Philippe Duamelle.
The government has said the vaccines will be distributed across the country and that another shipment is expected in May. Yemen is due to receive 1.9 million in total this year.
Six years of civil war in Yemen have caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 20 million people in need of aid.
Experts have struggled to understand the full scale of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak due to a shortage of testing, poor access to medical care and a lack of official reporting.
The government has reported 4,100 cases and 864 deaths in total. But the rebel Houthi movement, which controls areas where the bulk of the population lives, has provided no data since May.

US annual death toll highest ever in 2020

The overall number of deaths in the US in 2020 was more than 3.3 million, the country's highest ever total, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The report said Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death.
Some 375,000 American deaths were caused by the virus last year, compared to 690,000 by heart disease and 598,000 by cancer. When this year's figures are included, more than 550,000 overall have now died of Covid.
The virus also displaced suicide as one of the top 10 leading causes of death.
Death rates overall were highest among African Americans and Native Americans, while Covid death rates were highest among Hispanics, the report said.

Litter left after crowds gather in sunshine

Public spaces have been left covered in litter after crowds gathered in the sun in Wales.
Beauty spots and tourist attractions were busier than usual after travel restrictions were eased on Saturday, allowing people to visit areas outside their local area.
The steps outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and Pontcanna Fields were covered with empty bottles, cans and food packaging as people made the most of the hottest day of the year on Tuesday.
Cardiff Council said it took cleaning teams more than three hours to clear up the mess left in Cardiff Bay.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:20

Record daily cases in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in a day since the pandemic began.
Just over 5,300 infections were confirmed in a 24-hour period. Another 52 deaths have been recorded, the highest daily figure for seven months.
One report says there are just four available ICU beds at dedicated government Covid hospitals in the capital, Dhaka.
Strict measures have been introduced - all motorbike ride-sharing services are banned and other public transport is to operate at 50% capacity. Public gatherings in high infection areas are also prohibited.

Pubs in Wales could reopen on 26 April

Outdoor pubs and restaurants in Wales can reopen on 26 April as long as coronavirus rates remain low, the Welsh government has said.
First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce his latest moves to ease lockdown restrictions on Thursday.
Ahead of his press conference, it was confirmed non-essential retail could reopen from 12 April, as in England.
Ministers could also allow gyms to open for individual training by "early May".
A decision on whether to permit pubs, restaurants and cafes to reopen outdoors had not been expected to be taken until 22 April at the earliest.
Under current rules, bars and pubs can only sell takeaway alcoholic drinks, if they are already licenced to do so.

How is Europe dealing with the third wave?

Europe's vaccination campaign has been hit by delays and the number of infections is rising in many countries.
Lockdowns are once again coming into force, as governments take action against a third wave.
And we're expecting new measures for France to be announced by President Emmanuel Macron later this evening.
Read more about how European countries are tackling the pandemic here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:23

Travel across Welsh border allowed from 12 April

We're getting some more details on the lifting of restrictions in Wales.
There's good news for holidaymakers with travel between Wales and the rest of the UK and Ireland to be allowed from 12 April, so long as there are low case rates.
By that same date, all students in Wales will return to face-to-face education.
Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people could be allowed "by early May", say Welsh ministers.
And outdoor attractions are also set to reopen on 26 April.

Limited lockdown to be imposed across France

French President Emmanuel Macron is to expand a limited lockdown to cover the whole of mainland France and Corsica for four weeks, in a bid to stem a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.
He has been on prime-time TV to say the new measures will start on Saturday and last until 2 May.
The president has been trying to avoid a third major lockdown amid accusations he let the crisis get out of control while trying to give the economy a chance to recover.
France has seen daily new infections double from 20,000 in February to about 40,000 now, and hospitals in the capital Paris are overflowing.
On Tuesday health authorities reported the highest daily number of new intensive care cases since April, with 569 recorded. The country has suffered at least 95,500 deaths and reported more than 4.6 million cases since the pandemic began.

French schools to close for three weeks

French schools will close for three weeks, two of which will be holidays, President Macron has announced. An exception will be made for classes for the children of essential workers.
"It is the best solution to slow down the virus," Macron says.
All but essential shops will close and home working will become the norm. Checks will be stepped up to stop public gatherings.
The French leader called on his fellow citizens to make an "extra effort" in April.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:30

Serial killer died days after Covid diagnosis


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Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe died in November last year at the age of 74. At the time we knew he'd tested positive for Covid but now we know he died just eight days after that test.
Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, was serving a whole-life term for murdering 13 women when he tested positive for the virus on 5 November and died on 13 November.
An inquest has heard he had previously suffered from diabetes and heart disease, known risk factors for Covid-19, and had a pacemaker fitted on 2 November.
The coroner says a post-mortem examination confirmed severe heart disease, including stenosis of three coronary arteries.
He adds: "The main finding was very heavy, solid and airless lungs, highly typical of adult respiratory distress syndrome, this is a characteristic feature of individuals dying of Covid-19 infection."

France will start to reopen in mid-May - Macron

Returning now to the lockdown announcement from President Emmanuel Macron, who has predicted: "We will start to reopen the country from mid-May."
The French leader stressed the need to continue the vaccination drive, saying: "We are doing everything we can to vaccinate, vaccinate without respite, without days off."

Macron offers France a message of hope

Hugh Schofield - BBC News, Paris
President Macron says it is a race between vaccination on the one hand and the hastening spread of the virus on the other, especially the so-called British variant.
If nothing is done, he says, then the country risks losing control. And so he is calling on the French to make a supplementary effort for the month of April.
From this weekend the restrictions currently in place in 19 departments will be extended across all of France. These include the closure of non-essential shops and a ban on movement without proper cause more than 10 kilometres from home.
In addition schools will shut from this weekend for three or four weeks depending on the age-group.
But the president says the accelerating vaccination programme means there is a clear reason to hope. If we organise ourselves for the coming weeks, he says, then we will see the end of the tunnel.
Kitkat
Kitkat

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Coronavirus - 31st March 2021 Empty Re: Coronavirus - 31st March 2021

Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 31 2021, 20:32

Wednesday's round-up

We'll shortly be bringing our live coverage to an end but, for now, here are the latest headlines from the UK and around the world:

  • Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle has warned people not to drop their guard as restrictions start to lift and the weather improves. "We're not out of the woods quite yet," she warns
  • Outdoor hospitality in Wales - including cafes, pubs and restaurants - could reopen from 26 April, the Welsh government says
  • Malta says UK travellers who've had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine are welcome from June
  • The UK has recorded a further 43 coronavirus deaths, within 28 days of a diagnosis. And for the first time the daily number of second vaccine doses given to people in the UK outnumbers first doses
  • Two parks in Nottingham closed to the public after large crowds gathered, leaving rubbish and failing to socially distance
  • Some big names in fashion and retail are calling for a "Shop Out to Help Out" scheme to get people spending again when non-essential stores in England reopen on 12 April
  • French schools are to close for at least three weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising cases, President Macron says
  • Vaccine maker Pfizer says US trials on 12 to 15-year-olds show 100% efficacy and a strong immune response.
  • War-torn Yemen has received its first vaccines via the global Covax scheme, a week after the government warned of a health emergency caused by its second wave
  • There were more than 3.3 million deaths in the US in 2020, the country's highest ever total, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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We'll be back tomorrow morning.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:05