- Surge testing for the South African Covid variant is taking place in four London boroughs in a bid to halt its spread
- Residents in the SE16 postcode in Southwark and N3 in Barnet are being urged to get tested, as well as all residents of Lambeth and Wandsworth
- Most positive rapid Covid tests taken since 8 March seem to have given a correct result, according to data seen by the BBC
- Analysis of Public Health England data shows 82% sent off for a confirmatory PCR test gave the same positive result
- Introducing Covid status certificates to help reopen society risks discriminating against some groups, the UK equality watchdog warns
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission says certificates to prove vaccination could create a "two-tier society"
- More than 32.3 million people in the UK have now had their first vaccine dose, and more than 8.1 million have had their second
- More than 200,000 new daily cases have been confirmed in India, heightening concerns about the speed of the virus' spread
Welcome to our daily live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and around the globe.
We’ll bring you the latest updates throughout the day.
Here are the main headlines this morning:
- Surge testing for coronavirus is taking place in four London boroughs - Wandsworth, Lambeth and some parts of Southwark and Barnet - after cases of the South African variant were found
- Most positive rapid coronavirus tests taken since 8 March seem to have given a correct result, according to data seen by the BBC
- Introducing Covid status certificates to help reopen society risks discriminating against some groups , the UK equality watchdog has warned. The Equality and Human Rights Commission says certificates to prove who is vaccinated could create a "two-tier society whereby only certain groups are able to fully enjoy their rights"
- More than 32.3 million people in the UK have now had their first vaccine dose, and more than 8.1 million have had their second, according to the latest government figures
- Turkey recorded 62,797 new coronavirus cases and 279 deaths in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Wednesday, registering the highest daily death toll and rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Portugal’s parliament extended on Wednesday a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases.
- Mexico’s government reported 5,113 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 518 more fatalities, according to data from the health ministry on Wednesday. It brings the country’s total to 2,291,246 infections and 210,812 deaths, Reuters reports.
- An NHS trust in England is planning to make Covid-19 vaccinations part of staff contracts, it has been reported. A letter from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust in London that is set to go out to staff is said to state: “We will be making Covid vaccination mandatory for all our employees and it will form part of the employment contract.”
- Russia has announced the start of production of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Serbia, the first European country outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab.
- France will use Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine as planned despite its suspension in the US, a government spokesman said, adding France had received a first shipment of 200,000 doses.
- The pace of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine production is unlikely to speed up markedly in the next few months, though the drugmaker expects its manufacturing capacity to expand significantly by 2022, chief executive Stephane Bancel said during an investor call, Reuters reports.
- Sweden’s Health Agency said it would pause plans to start vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine following reports of rare blood clots similar to those reported for the AstraZeneca shot.
- EU countries will receive 50 millionm Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of June, the head of the EU commission said on Wednesday, as deliveries expected at the end of the year will be brought forward.
- Denmark will permanently cease to administer AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, broadcaster TV 2 reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
Latest across Europe
- Germany’s rising infection number – 29,426 in the past 24 hours – has prompted intensive care doctors to appeal for urgent action. Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for a nationwide emergency brake including a night-time curfew and school closures where incidence rates are high – but legal experts have raised concerns, particularly about the curfew. Leading emergency medicine specialist Christian Karagiannidis says there’s no time to wait.
- The Swiss will be able to return to cafes and restaurants outdoors from Monday, and cinemas and theatres will start allowing audiences of 50 people. Football stadiums, concerts and other outdoor events will be allowed to admit 100 people if they wear masks.
- France will become the third country in Western Europe, probably this evening, to surpass 100,000 Covid deaths after the UK and Italy. There is no let-up in the country's third wave with almost 6,000 people in intensive care - the highest number since mid-April last year. President Emmanuel Macron will chair a cabinet meeting this evening on a plan to reopen outdoor catering and eventually culture venues.
- Italy reported another 469 deaths yesterday evening, bringing the death toll to 115,557. But hospital numbers are falling – with 3,490 in intensive care. Italian health officials have secured another seven million Pfizer-BioNTech doses by the end of June – it’s becoming the most important vaccine for much of Europe.
- The Italian consignment is among 50 million extra doses that the European Union has secured from Pfizer for the second quarter of 2021. The agreement fills a gap created by delays because of the suspended Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the limits imposed on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Meanwhile, Serbia has started production of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Russia's sovereign wealth fund says it may be exported to other countries in the region.