Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow with more live coverage of the pandemic. As ever, the website will continue to be updated overnight and you'll find any major stories on the front page.
Today's contributors were Alexandra Fouché, Jo Couzens, Hamish Mackay, Alex Therrien, Sophie Williams, and Jennifer Scott.
What's happened in the UK today?
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We'll soon be bringing our live coverage to an end for the day. Before we do, here is a round-up of the main UK stories today.
The UK's coronavirus alert level has been lowered from level five to four in all four nations as the risk that the NHS could be overwhelmed "has receded". The four UK chief medical officers and NHS England's national medical director agreed the change following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre
Another 323 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and 9,985 more cases have been recorded
The number of people on furlough rose by 700,000 in January after tighter lockdown restrictions were imposed. Treasury figures show a total of 4.7 million people were on the government scheme at the end of the month
Headlines from around the world today
are some of the biggest stories from around the world today
Prime Minister Jean Castex says the situation in some parts of France is “worrying”.
He said the country recorded more than 30,000 cases on Wednesday
single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, US regulators
have confirmed. It is set to become the third Covid vaccine authorised in the
US, potentially during the next few days
of the Tokyo Olympics have confirmed that the Games’ torch relay will begin
next month as planned but spectators will be asked to only attend sections of
the relay taking place near their home and wear a mask
is to impose a night-time curfew starting at 20:30 (18:30 GMT) for three nights
from this evening to curb the spread of the virus during the Jewish holiday of
is extending its partial lockdown until 15 March as cases there continue to
Covid survivor 'has no memory' of two months in hospital
John BiddleCopyright: John Biddle
A 49-year-old man who was on a life support machine with Covid-19 nearly a year ago says he still has "no memory" of those two months of his life.
John Biddle, from Bristol, was admitted to hospital on 27 March and within days was on life support in London.
His wife was told he might not survive - but John says he "doesn't remember anything" and his last memory was being at the Cheltenham races.
"It's probably a good thing, from what I understand I went through," he says.
Czech Republic is to receive 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from France,
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has confirmed.
we mentioned earlier, the Czech Republic is currently dealing with a sharp rise
in cases. According to Our World in Data, it has more new cases per million in
the past seven days than other country in the world.
Thursday, lawmakers will meet to discuss the tightening of restrictions
in the country.
said it was examining requests from other nations to “borrow” doses that would
then be sent back in April, Reuters news agency reports. The Czech Republic has
already received doses from Israel.
the Czech Republic has only vaccinated 600,000 people in a country of 10.7
said he had reached out to other countries for assistance.
Almost 40% of all Covid fines came in recent four-week period
A police chief has blamed lockdown "fatigue" for a rise in Covid-19 rulebreakers as new figures show almost 40% of all fines issued for breaches of coronavirus regulations came in just four weeks.
Data published by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) shows a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by forces, including 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales, between 27 March last year and 14 February.
Some 26,277 (38%) of those were issued in the latest four-week period between 17 January and 14 February.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt says police have stepped up enforcement action since November last year and deployed extra officers in areas that had seen the most serious breaches.
He says there has always been a "hard core" of people who choose not to follow the rules, but adds: "I think it probably is fair to say that, and I've used the phrase before, there is no question there is a fatigue in the country, among the population.
"We've been living with this for 11 months, it's really hard, it's very restrictive on people's lives."
Bangladesh vaccinates sex workers
started vaccinating sex workers in the country’s largest brothel due to their
vulnerability to the virus.
At least 100 sex workers
at the site in Daulatdia have already been vaccinated, Asif Mahmud health chief
of the town confirmed.
“It is very necessary
to vaccinate the sex workers. Thousands of people visit the brothel every day
and the sex workers at the massive brothel are most vulnerable to the virus,”
Mahmud told AFP news agency.
Prostitution is legal
for women over 18 in Bangladesh.
One worker told AFP
that she hoped the vaccination would increase client numbers as many are
worried about the virus.
Bangladesh has recorded 544,544 cases and 8,379 deaths since the
Fall in seven-day averages for UK cases and deaths
While daily totals for Covid figures in the UK can fluctuate due to delays in reporting around the weekend, the seven-day averages give us a fair impression of the current situation.
The seven-day average for deaths in the UK is 383, after a further 323 were reported yesterday.
For cases, the seven-day average is now 10,189, after a further 9,985 positive tests were recorded yesterday.
Meanwhile, the latest available data suggests there are currently more than 16,000 people in hospital with Covid.
Situation in parts of France 'worrying,' says PM
situation in some parts of France is “worrying,” French Prime Minister
Jean Castex has said.
Speaking during a televised address, he said about 20 regional departments - including the entire greater Paris region - should consider partial weekend
lockdowns such as the one currently in place in Nice.
warned that the virus had been gaining ground over the past week and said time
was needed to give the vaccination campaign to have an effect.
he said a country-wide lockdown is not on the cards.
has recorded 3,721,061 cases and 85,473 deaths since the pandemic began.
Alert level drop due to public's 'remarkable efforts' - Whitty
Following the announcement the UK's alert level has been lowered from five - the highest - to four, England's chief medical offcer, Prof Chris Whitty says the public's efforts have been "remarkable" - but cases are still high.
The four UK chief medical officers and NHS England's national medical director have agreed the change following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
In a joint statement they say: "The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of the public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.
"We should be under no illusions - transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.
"However for the time being it is really important that we all - vaccinated or not - remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.
"We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic."
The 100-year-old Army veteran, who raised almost £33m for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine, died on 2 February.
Through the Trees for Tom campaign, a "legacy forest" will be planted by two charities on behalf of his family.
His daughters, Lucy Teixeira and her sister Hannah Ingram-Moore, said lots of people have asked what they could do to honour him "other than cards and cut flowers" and this gave them the idea of donating to charities to plant trees in his name.
They have chosen the UK's largest woodland conservation charity, The Woodland Trust, to carry out the work in this country and TreeSisters to plant trees internationally.
Vaccine centre job 'best thing I have ever done'
BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC 5 Live has been at an NHS vaccination hub in St Helens today - based at the stadium of the town's famous rugby league club.
Inside there are two vaccinations centres - one run by the town’s 33 GP surgeries, and a separate mass vaccination centre run by the NHS which
covers the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside.
Together they’re vaccinating 2,000
people a day. The clinical lead for the
GP-led site is Dr Hilary Flett.
“It’s the best thing I have ever done in my professional
career," she says. "The joy and gratefulness and thankfulness we are getting from our
patients is such a massive boost.
“It’s been a logistical conundrum to set it up so it’s
great to see it up and running. In St Helens we started planning last summer,
even though there wasn’t any national guidance at that point, because we realised
that even to provide vaccines for our flu people we were going to have to keep
“We are 33 practices working together but we don’t
have a big swish premises, so Saints seemed the obvious location. We knew how
to work it and just scaled it up.”
NI pathway out of lockdown due on Monday
First Minister Arlene Foster says the pathway out of lockdown for Northern Ireland will be published early next week, and that the executive will be "guided by the data, not by dates".
"We are obliged not to keep the restrictions in place any longer than is necessary, or any longer than it is appropriate," she says.
The pathway is due to be published in Monday.
She also says no changes have yet been made to the plans for how pupils will return to schools but says there is "a desire to avoid year one to three pupils returning on 8 March, but then having to revert back to remote learning for a number of days before the Easter break".
Get used to fewer trains, warns rail body
Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
About 10% fewer train services should run once the country opens up again, compared with the pre-pandemic timetable, the chair of Network Rail says.
Instead, leisure travel might boost weekend traffic, especially if limits on international travel continue.
Commuter traffic could return to 80% of pre-pandemic levels and may remain there for the next one to three years, he suggests.
Passenger numbers fell steeply in March last year when the pandemic struck and have only partially recovered since. Many commuters are working from home and some businesses remain closed.
The government's timetable foresees a gradual opening up of the economy over the coming months. However some firms have already signalled some workers may continue to work from home for some of their working week.
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