Coronavirus UK news update – Boris announcement at 4pm revealing latest covid deaths and cases as kids return to school

Coronavirus UK news update – Boris announcement at 4pm revealing latest covid deaths and cases as kids return to school

BORIS Johnson will hold a Downing St press conference this afternoon to hail the return of millions of children across England to school today.

The PM will appear in No 10 at 4pm to hail the restarting of physical lessons and to reassure parents that classrooms are safe.

He is also likely to be grilled about his thoughts on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell interview with Oprah.

Yesterday the PM insisted the country is "ready" for the return of schools with cases, hospitalisations, and deaths having all plunged in recent weeks.

He said the tide has turned so much against the virus that now "the risk is actually in not going back to school given all the suffering, all the loss of learning we have seen".

It comes as Covid deaths in the UK fell to 82 – the first time the number has dropped below 100 since October.

A further 5,177 Brits have been diagnosed with the infection in the past 24 hours – the lowest rate since the autumn.

The recorded deaths figures are usually lower on Sundays due to a lag in reporting over the weekend.

And this week, Brits aged between 56 and 59 have been invited to receive their coronavirus vaccine as the rollout goes from strength to strength.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Jon Rogers

    RANGERS CRITICISED FOR 'DEAFENING SILENCE' OVER MASS FAN GATHERINGS

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the "silence from Rangers was deafening" as he criticised the club for failing to order thousands of fans gathered in Glasgow on Sunday to go home.

    Police made 28 arrests after fans congregated in George Square and outside Ibrox to celebrate Rangers' first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years.

    Reasons for arrest included assaulting police officers, breaching coronavirus regulations, disorder, use of flares and sectarian breaches of the peace.

    Speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing on Monday, Mr Swinney congratulated the club on their win and praised those who celebrated at home but said the behaviour of some fans was an "absolute disgrace".

    He said: "To see so many people deliberately flouting (coronavirus) rules with no regard for the safety of others is shameful."

  • Sarah Grealish

    STUDENT HOME TEST

    Students who appear positive for coronavirus in rapid home tests will receive a subsequent test that could allow them to return to class, No 10 has confirmed after a minister sparked confusion.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman clarified on Monday that secondary and college students who get positive lateral flow tests taken outside of school will receive a subsequent PCR test.

    If they test negative in the follow-up, then they will be able to return to class rather than spend 10 days in isolation, Downing Street said.

    Students, however, who test positive in a lateral flow test at school during the early phase will not get a confirmatory PCR test.

    The clarification came after children’s minister Vicky Ford suggested there would be no PCR tests at all.

  • Sarah Grealish

    NHS PAY RISE

    Downing Street has declined to rule out giving a one-off bonus to NHS workers amid continued anger that staff in England will only get a 1% pay rise.

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We have been clear that we think the 1% pay rise is what is affordable.

    "I'm not going to comment on speculation. We've set out what we think is affordable, it's now for the pay review body to look at that and look at the other evidence and come forward with their recommendation."

  • Sarah Grealish

    PANDEMIC TAKES A TOLL ON SOCIAL CARE

    Social care providers have had to take "drastic action" to remain sustainable because of consistent cost pressures amid the coronavirus crisis, which has taken a heavy toll on workers in the sector, according to a new report.

    Almost two out of three providers surveyed reported an increase in absenteeism among staff relating to mental health since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Most of the 72 social care providers surveyed by Hft now offer mental health awareness training, while almost two thirds now provide in-house mental health first-aiders.

    Hft, a leading learning disability charity, said its study highlights that social care providers appear to be reaching a "crisis point" and are having to tackle persistent cost pressures such as rising wage bills and lack of fee income.

    More than half of respondents said they have had to close down some parts of their organisation or hand back contracts.

  • Sarah Grealish

    CARE HOME VISITS

    CHILDREN are finally to hold hands with their grandparents from today – under the government's lockdown lifting plans.

    Care home residents will finally be allowed to have indoor visitors for the first time in months – which can include any family members including kids or grandkids.

    It's not believed there is a lower limit for kids' ages, but visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test before entry and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn.

    Residents will be asked not to hug or kiss their relatives, though hand holding will be permitted.

    They will be able to nominate one single person who is able to go and visit inside the care home.

  • Sarah Grealish

    FLYING FINE

    ALL Brits leaving the country from today must have a new travel declaration form or will face fines of £200.

    Anyone leaving the country from today must have downloaded the form from the government website declaring why they are leaving this country and provide evidence of this, such as a letter or official document.

    This must only be for essential travel, such as work, health or education reasons.

    It also includes volunteer work, funerals and weddings or buying and letting property abroad.

    Anyone trying to travel without one will be fined £200, and banned from boarding their flight.

  • Sarah Grealish

    PM TO HOLD PRESS CONFRENCE

    BORIS Johnson will hold a Downing St press conference this afternoon to hail the return of millions of children across England to school today.

    The PM will appear in No 10 to hail the restarting of physical lessons and to reassure parents that classrooms are safe.

    He is also likely to be grilled about his thoughts on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell interview with Oprah.

    Yesterday the PM insisted the country is "ready" for the return of schools with cases, hospitalisations, and deaths having all plunged in recent weeks.

    He said the tide has turned so much against the virus that now "the risk is actually in not going back to school given all the suffering, all the loss of learning we have seen".

  • Jon Rogers

    SCOTLAND RECORDS JUST ONE COVID DEATH IN PAST 24 HOURS

    Scotland has recorded one death of a coronavirus patient and 501 new cases in the past 24 hours, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced.

    This takes the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,422.

    The daily test positivity rate is 5%, up from 3.2% on Sunday.

    There are 654 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up 26 in 24 hours, and 59 are in intensive care, down two.

    A total of 1,774,659 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Monday morning – an increase of 14,909 in a day – and 118,732 have received their second dose.

  • Jon Rogers

    ITALY RECOMMENDS ASTRAZENECA VACCINE FOR OVER 65s

    Italy on Monday recommended the use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines for those aged over 65, the health ministry said in a statement, overcoming previous doubts that the drug might not be very effective amongst the elderly.

    "Scientific evidence that has become available … indicates that, even in people aged over 65, the vaccine is capable of providing significant protection," the ministry said.

  • Jon Rogers

    SYRIA'S PRESIDENT AND WIFE TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID

     Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma have tested positive for Covid-19 after showing minor symptoms, the president's office said in a statement on Monday.

    It said they were both in good health and would continue to work while in isolation at home.

  • Jon Rogers

    JOHNSON TO HOLD DOWNING STREET PRESS CONFERENCE

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street press conference later on Monday, No 10 has said.

    More follows…

  • Jon Rogers

    LIVERPOOL SCHOOL STARTS STAGGERED RETURN

    Students at a Liverpool secondary school have begun a staggered return to the classroom, with year 11 and sixth form pupils taking their first lateral flow tests.

    Gateacre School, in south Liverpool, has a 70% consent rate from parents for their children to take these tests, and face masks will be mandatory for all students when the school fully reopens on Thursday.

    Headteacher Gareth Jones said: "We cannot exclude a child for not wearing a face mask, so we are looking at sanctions and will be discussing with both the parents and the children on how best to proceed."

    After taking her first test at school, Marjane Benjoub, a year 11 student, said: "I do not miss it, it tickles in the worst way possible and it is not a very nice feeling to be honest.

    "But it is pretty simple to do and I would rather do it than have any of the risks of not doing it."

  • Jon Rogers

    FACEMASKS IN CLASS WILL NOT BE MANDATORY DUE TO PUPIL ANXIETY, MINISTER SAYS

    Secondary school students will not be forced to wear face coverings in classrooms, as some will be "anxious and nervous" about wearing them, an education minister has said.

    As millions of pupils in England begin to return to class after months of remote learning, children's minister Vicky Ford said secondary school pupils should be "strongly encouraged" to wear masks.

    But the Government has decided against making their use mandatory due to pupil anxiety, Ms Ford said.

    The Department for Education (DfE) is advising secondary school and college students to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.

  • Jon Rogers

    PUPILS BACK TO SCHOOL AT 'ABSOLUTELY THE RIGHT TIME', SAYS HEADTEACHER

    Pupils have returned to lessons at "absolutely the right time", according to one headteacher.

    Greg Williams, of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter Academy, said: "It couldn't have been (put off) any longer".

    At the secondary school, which is run by CORE education trust, 325 students in Year 11, 10 and 9 were back at face-to-face lessons on Monday – many for the first time in months.

    On Tuesday, 270 more pupils – the rest of the school's cohort in Years 8 and 7 – are returning.

    Mask-wearing is mandatory at the school, but take-up has been almost universal, said the head.

  • Jon Rogers

    HOW ARE LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS CHANGING?

    The first step in the Government's four-stage plan to gradually ease lockdown restrictions in England has arrived.

    March 8 marks the first date where limited parts of the rules will be relaxed.

    What is changing from March 8?

    All pupils in all year groups can return to the classroom with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

    Secondary schools can stagger the return of students over the week to allow for mass Covid testing, with the Government also advising that these pupils wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible.

    Primary school children are not required to carry out Covid-19 tests or wear face masks on their return.

    University students taking practical courses who require specialist equipment and facilities can attend face-to-face teaching, while all other students should continue to learn remotely.

    People are now allowed to have socially distanced one-to-one meetings with others outdoors in a public space – meaning friends and family members could sit down for a coffee or have a picnic in the park.

    Care home residents will be permitted a single nominated visitor, who will be required to take a Covid test, wear personal protective equipment and keep physical contact to a minimum.

  • Jon Rogers

    SCHOOL COVID TESTING (CONT)

    At Archway School, students queued to enter the sports centre before going inside to administer the test in one of six booths.

    While school science technicians process the results, the students have to sit and wait in the sports hall until they get the all-clear to join their tutor group in lessons.

    Students and staff will wear masks in classrooms and, to help reduce social contact around the school, there are year group "bubbles", lessons have been extended, and breaks and lunchtimes have been staggered.

    Only Years 11, 12 and 13 returned for face-to-face teaching on Monday.

    Years 7 and 10 will go back on Tuesday and Years 8 and 9 on Wednesday. and until then online learning will continue from home. All students will be in school from Thursday.

  • Jon Rogers

    STUDENTS TAKE RAPID LATERAL FLOW TESTS AS THEY RETURN TO SCHOOL

    Teenagers have been self-administering Covid-19 tests as they return to school for the first time this year.

    Year 11 students at Archway School in Stroud, Gloucestershire, had to take a rapid lateral flow test, which provides a result in half an hour, before being able to start lessons.

    Staff had staggered pupils' return, with tutor groups of 30 students arriving at 30-minute intervals in order to take the test.

    The Government has introduced mass testing to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

    All secondary school pupils will be offered three tests on their return before being asked to carry them out twice a week at home.

  • Jon Rogers

    PARENTS OF DEPENDENT CHILDREN AGED 0-4 'MORE LIKELY TO BE VACCINE-HESITANT'

    Parents of children under the age of four are significantly more likely to be hesitant about taking a coronavirus vaccine than those without dependent children, figures show.

    Younger adults, black and black British adults, renters, lower earners and those living in the most deprived areas are also more likely to be hesitant, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    It said 94% of those surveyed were positive about the vaccine, up from 78% in December when the data was first collected.

    But it found that 9% of 18,112 adults in Great Britain reported vaccine hesitancy between January 13 and February 7.

    The ONS defined hesitancy as adults who have refused a vaccine, say they would be unlikely to get a vaccine when offered, and those who responded "neither likely nor unlikely", "don't know" or "prefer not to say" when asked.

  • Jon Rogers

    HEADMASTER SAYS ‘SCHOOL FEELS ALIVE AGAIN’ AS 500 PUPILS RETURN TO LESSONS AFTER LOCKDOWN

    A headteacher says his ‘school feels alive again’ after he welcomed 500 pupils back to lessons after lockdown.

    David McPartlin at Flakefleet Primary School in Fleetwood, Lancs, said the place was buzzing with excitement as school children across the UK returned to the classroom for the first time in three months.

    Despite concerns over the risk of infection in going back to school, Mr McPartlin said none of the parents at the school had opted to keep their children at home – thanks to the new access to lateral flow tests for families with school-age kids.

    He said: “There’s been a real buzz about the place and a sense of excitement this morning.

    “Today feels like the start of the end of Covid, like we are coming out the end of a very long dark tunnel.

    “Even in just the last few months some of the children have changed dramatically, they’ve had growth spurts.

    “It’s lovely to walk down the corridor and hear the sound of the kids laughing and chatting with their friends.

    “The school feels alive again.”

  • Jon Rogers

    MORE FROM THE BoE

    Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said the expected recovery would be helped by the BoE's ultra-low interest rates and its bond-buying programme, "and in my view it amply justifies our current stance on monetary policy".

    Last month, the BoE said Britain's economy would probably contract by 4% in the first three months of 2021 before recovering rapidly over the rest of the year to regain its pre-pandemic size by the first quarter of 2022.

    Britain has rolled out Europe's fastest COVID-19 vaccination programme which has so far reached more than one in three adults for a first jab.

    The BoE also gave British lenders at least six months' breathing space before any decision to use negative interest rates. 

  • Jon Rogers

    SCOTTISH POLITICIANS CRITICISE POLICE RESPONSE TO RANGERS FANS

    Some politicians had criticised the police response, with Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer tweeting: "Expect Police Scotland to explain pretty quickly to Parliament why they decided to facilitate rather than disperse multiple mass gatherings during a national lockdown today."

    The SNP's Sandra White posted on Twitter: "I'll ask once again Chief Constable Livingstone what are Police doing? My constituents should not have to put up with this behaviour."

    Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "I share folks' anger at this.

    "Everyone has made so many sacrifices in the past year and seeing a minority risk our progress is infuriating and disgraceful.

    "It is deeply unfair to the entire country, and the police have a hard enough job already."

  • Jon Rogers

    POLICE ARREST 28 AMID MASS GATHERINGS OF RANGERS FANS FOLLOWING LEAGUE WIN

    Police Scotland arrested 28 people after thousands of Rangers fans gathered in Glasgow on Sunday to celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership.

    A further seven people were issued with fixed penalty notices or will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

    Fans packed into George Square and gathered outside Ibrox Stadium after Rangers took their first top-flight title in 10 years.

    The force said action was taken for offences including assaulting police officers, breaching coronavirus regulations, disorder, use of flares and sectarian breaches of the peace.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the "infuriating and disgraceful" scenes could jeopardise plans to ease the coronavirus restrictions and urged Rangers to ask people to go home.

  • Jon Rogers

    BoE URGES 'CAUTIONARY REALISM' OVER COVID RECOVERY

    Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Monday that people should be positive about Britain's economic prospects as it emerges from the Covid pandemic but also realistic about the challenges from structural changes.

    "If I had to summarise the diagnosis, it's positive but with large doses of cautionary realism," Bailey said in a speech to the Resolution Foundation, a think tank.

    Finance minister Rishi Sunak's decision last week to extend furlough support until the end of September was likely to limit the peak in unemployment but was unlikely to completely stop unemployment rising after the programme ends, Bailey added.

  • Jon Rogers

    DEPRIVED AREAS MORE LIKELY TO REPORT VACCINE HESITANCY

    Adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more likely to report vaccine hesitancy (16%) than adults in the least deprived areas (7%), the ONS also found.

    Across Britain as a whole, working age adults (aged 16 to 64 years) who said their gross income was up to £10,000 a year were more likely to be hesitant about receiving the vaccine (14%) than those who said they earned £40,000 to £50,000 or more than £50,000 a year (both 5%).

    One in 10 (10%) adults educated below degree level reported vaccine hesitancy – slightly higher than the percentage of adults educated at degree level or equivalent, adults with "other" qualifications or no qualifications (8%, 7% and 7% respectively).

  • Jon Rogers

    CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RISES

    British consumer confidence has risen to its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic started, polling firm YouGov said on Monday.

    YouGov said its consumer confidence score increased by two points to 105.4, driven by expectations for business activity, house prices and household finances over the next year.

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