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Live Reporting

Edited by James Clarke and Sarah Collerton

All times stated are UK

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  1. Have a good evening

    Thanks for joining us for live coronavirus news.

    Updates were brought to you by Emma Harrison, Francesca Gillett, George Bowden, Georgina Rannard, James Clarke, Jennifer Meierhans, Sarah Collerton and Sinead Wilson.

  2. What's been happening in the UK?

    Jess Warren-Basham and Jonny Cope
    Image caption: Jess Warren-Basham and Jonny Cope cut their wedding list from 180 to six

    ... and here's the main UK headlines:

  3. What's been happening around the world?

    A doctor visit a patient in Italy

    We're pausing our coverage shortly - here's the main headlines about the pandemic around the world:

    • A report by the World Health Organization has concluded that Covid-19 was most likely passed to humans by an unknown animal that got it from bats
    • Covid numbers in Europe continue to rise. In France the number of intensive care patients is close to the November peak, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged regions to stick to lockdown measures. But thousands of German tourists are still flocking to Spain ahead of the Easter weekend
    • Pakistan's President Arif Alvi has tweeted that he has tested positive for Covid-19
  4. 'Weird' wedding as Covid rules relaxed

    We told you earlier today about a couple who met online during the pandemic getting married today - as soon as Covid restrictions were relaxed.

    Dwain Daley and Nyasha Pitt said they had spent only four days apart since meeting in July.

    The couple tied the knot at Coventry Register Office and said they were already thinking of sharing their moment when rules are further relaxed.

    "[We] cannot wait to start planning for the party now in the summer, when hopefully everyone is going to be allowed out to celebrate with us," Nyasha said.

    Hear more from them here:

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid-19: Couple hold Coventry wedding as rules relaxed
  5. 'It's just a bit of freedom, isn't it?'

    A refreshing dip on a spring day was the way some people chose to celebrate the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

    In the latest step on the government's unlocking "road map", outdoor pools for exercise are once again allowed to open.

    The Jubilee Park outdoor swimming pool in Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire was one of those that reopened today.

    Joe Stanhope, from the pool, said the phone had been ringing "off the hook" with people trying to book their space.

    He added: "People are really excited to come back and it's been a real pleasure listening to them all and getting them all back in."

    Video content

    Video caption: Swimmers return to a Lincolnshire lido as restrictions are eased
  6. WHO urges more research into mystery animal that passed Covid-19 to humans

    We reported earlier that the World Health Organization has concluded that Covid-19 most likely passed to humans from a bat through another animal.

    The findings came in a highly anticipated report, which has been seen by our correspondent Imogen Foulkes.

    The report, officially due out tomorrow, says that the theory that the virus emerged in a laboratory is "extremely unlikely".

    Its findings don't differ from what the WHO team said at the conclusion of its mission to Wuhan, China, Foulkes explains.

    But it does urge more research, in particular into the possible intermediary host, and into exactly when and where the virus first began to circulate.

    Although the Huanan food market was initially thought to be where the outbreak began, WHO and Chinese scientists found evidence the virus could have been circulating for at least some weeks before December 2019, and that some of those infected had no connection with the market.

    The team judged the laboratory incident to be unlikely because "there is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease) in any laboratory before December 2019." It believes an unknown animal passed the virus to humans because the virus found in bats is "evolutionarily distant" from the SARS-CoV-2 found in humans.

    This interpretation would support the WHO team’s conclusion that it is extremely important to identify the intermediate host of the virus.

    The panel of scientists conclude that Covid-19 was probably passed to humans through an unknown animal that got it from a bat
  7. FA Cup semi-finals to be among pilot events for crowd return

    Pre-match at the 2020 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley
    Image caption: Last year's FA Cup final was among the games to have been played in front of an empty Wembley during lockdown

    Next month's FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley will be among the pilot events to trial the return of large crowds to UK venues.

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has told BBC sports editor Dan Roan the games on 17 and 18 April will be part of the trial programme.

    The FA Cup final and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield are also on the schedule.

    "We want to get as many people back as safely as possible," says Dowden.

    But he refused to be drawn on how many spectators would be permitted to attend the Wembley semi-finals.

    The semi-final between Chelsea and Manchester City will be shown live on BBC One and the BBC iPlayer on Saturday 17 April, with Leicester v Southampton played the following day.

    Dowden also said more pilot events will be announced later this week after confirmation from the government that the next stage of the planned easing of restrictions on 12 April is on track.

    You can read more here.

  8. 'Private sector will drive vaccine passports' - White House

    Vaccine passport

    The issue of vaccine passports is becoming increasingly high-profile as governments and people want to open up socialising in places like restaurants, musuems or concerts, as well as travel.

    The White House has today said that it will not pass a law requiring all citizens to hold a vaccine passport.

    Instead, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a press briefing, it expects private businesses will take the lead and decide if it something they require.

    US President Joe Biden's administration said it will be issuing recommendations on the issue soon.

  9. More details on the new Novavax vaccine

    Boris Johnson earlier announced that a further 50 to 60 million new coronavirus vaccines are going to be made in the UK - here are some more details on the plan.

    The vaccines are being made by Novavax and the protein antigen element of the jab is called NVX-CoV2373.

    The vaccine will be produced at the Fujifilm plant in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

    GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will "fill and finish" the jabs, which means preparing vials of the final vaccine and packaging them for distribution from its facility at nearby Barnard Castle.

    The market town found itself at the centre of a furore last year when the PM's then most senior aide Dominic Cummings went there during lockdown.

    Novavax was the first coronavirus vaccine to show efficacy against the new UK variant in clinical trials, the BBC's medical editor Fergus Walsh said.

    Find out more here.

  10. Coronavirus in the UK in charts

    These charts show the number of coronavirus cases in the UK is levelling off and the death rate is falling steadily.

    Chart on the number of new coronavirus cases in the UK
    Chart on the daily coronavirus deaths in the UK

    More than 30 million people - or half of all UK adults - have now received a first dose of a vaccine and more than three million people have had a second:

    Chart on daily vaccination rates in the UK
  11. The vaccine misinformation battle raging in France

    Marianna Spring

    Specialist disinformation and social media reporter

    Police watch a protester in France

    France is one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world - fertile ground for anti-vaccine activists spreading online misinformation.

    One of these is Gilles, a science-fiction fan who helps to run a conspiracy-themed French-language Facebook group with 50,000 members, many of whom spread falsehoods about coronavirus.

    This group is just one example of a larger trend - an increase in French-language anti-vaccine content on social media over the past year.

    These pages aren't seeking answers to legitimate medical questions. Instead, they're run by those who've firmly made up their minds against vaccinations, and who spread false rumours about vaccines killing millions, containing tracking devices, or altering our DNA.

    I’ve been speaking to some of these sceptics and asking experts why their views are so widespread in France in particular - you can read more about it here.

  12. Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab

    Secret filming at one of the biggest UK Covid testing labs has found evidence of potential contamination, discarded tests and pressure to hit targets.

    A BBC reporter working as a lab technician filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination.

    This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result.

    Read the full investigation by BBC Panorama.

    A technician pushes a swab back into its sample tube, causing potential contamination
    Image caption: A technician pushes a swab back into its sample tube, causing potential contamination
  13. Analysis: Nothing can be taken for granted with Covid

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    The message was loud and clear - a rise in infections is inevitable as the UK unlocks.

    But what is uncertain is when this will happen and what impact it will have on serious illness and deaths.

    A surge now would be the worst outcome.

    The UK's vaccination rollout has gone very well, but people are still in the process of building up immunity and not everyone in the most at-risk groups has come forward for a jab.

    The vaccines, while good, are not 100% effective.

    It is why ministers and their advisers are urging caution.

    England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty says if people stick to the rules any increase could be modest.

    The seasons may also help - respiratory viruses thrive more in the colder months.

    The lower estimates of modelling done for the government suggests there could be 30,000 more deaths by summer 2022.

    That would be in line with a bad flu winter. But it could also be much, much worse.

    If there is one thing we have learnt, nothing can be taken for granted with Covid.

  14. Pakistan president tests positive

    President Arif Alvi

    Pakistan's President Arif Alvi has tweeted that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

    Alvi, who is 71, says he has taken the first dose of a Covid vaccine but is awaiting the second.

    It is still possible to contract coronavirus after being vaccinated but the jabs protect most people against serious complications of the disease. A second dose also offers greater protection.

    Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tested positive earlier this month. Cases in Pakistan are on the rise, with about 4,000 cases a day reported in the past week.

    View more on twitter
  15. Reality Check

    How many Covid fines have police handed out?

    During the briefing earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about enforcement of coronavirus regulations and said he thought the police have "handed out about 70,000 fines - at least - for various breaches of one kind or another".

    According to the latest figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, police in England issued 85,975 fixed penalty notices for breaching Covid-19 rules between 27 March 2020 and 14 March 2021.

    The figure rises to 94,368 once police fines in Wales are included.

    The "vast majority" of the fines overall were for breaking restrictions on movement, and the rate of fines has increased during the third lockdown - with two-thirds of all penalties handed out since 21 December.

    You can read more about Covid-19 fines and how crime in general has changed over the course of the pandemic here.

  16. Analysis: What's behind the Novavax announcement?

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    The news that the Novavax vaccine is going to go through a process known as fill and finish in the UK is an interesting development.

    Fill and finish is the process by which vaccines are packaged up in vials, ready to be sent out to vaccination clinics.

    The original plan was for this to be done in Europe once the vaccine product was manufactured by plants in the North East of England.

    But a deal has been struck with drug firm GSK to do that here.

    Officially, the government is saying that it is all part of their investment in the British life science industry.

    But given the threats from Europe about restricting exports of vaccines, it begs all sorts of other questions too.

    The north-east plants have already started manufacturing the 60 million doses ordered by the government. If it gets approval from the regulator - expected in the coming weeks - supplies could be available in June.

  17. WATCH: PM announces plans for more UK-made vaccines

    In case you missed this at the briefing earlier, here is the PM announcing that the UK will make more vaccine doses in the North East of England:

    Video content

    Video caption: PM announces plans for more UK made vaccines
  18. Reality Check

    Can you catch Covid outside?

    The PM said that, when it comes coronavirus transmission, "outdoors is generally much safer than indoors".

    Researchers say that the chances of catching Covid outdoors are massively reduced compared with indoors - although infections can still happen.

    This is mainly down to three reasons:

    Even so, there are a handful of cases where it's believed that infections did happen outside.

  19. Analysis: Enjoy being careful is the message

    Chris Mason

    Political Correspondent

    This was a news conference where excitement was cloaked in caution.

    A splash of the giddy with a reference to the al fresco front crawlers at Hillingdon Lido in London.

    Admiration for the nocturnal peddlers of Ilkeston Cycle Club in Derbyshire, whose love of lycra lured them out at midnight, the moment it was legal to do so.

    But all the way through, from all three of the contributors, were reminders of the need to be careful.

    "We don't know how strong our defences are against a new wave," said the prime minister.

    There is a "high likelihood of some uptick" in cases, warned Professor Chris Whitty, given the unlocking measures starting today.

    A high proportion of those who will catch and transmit the virus have not been vaccinated yet, we were told.

  20. Can you rule out another full lockdown?

    Boris Johnson

    Sophia Sleigh of the Evening Standard asks the PM if he can categorically rule out a full lockdown?

    The PM says "yes but with at least two very important provisos".

    Those are if everybody continues to follow the guidance and if the vaccine rollout continues and the vaccines continue to be as effective as it looks as though they are, he says.

    He says: "I'm hopeful. I don't see anything in the data right now that would cause us to deviate from the roadmap but we need to remain humble in the face of nature and be prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the British public."

    Sleigh says a report by the Evening Standard reveals care home staff in London are the least likely to take up the vaccine.

    She asks Whitty if he is shocked by this and asks if it offers enough protection for care home residents

    He says: "The great majority of care home staff nationally have had the vaccine and as have an even greater proportion of our health care staff."

    He says there are three things it's important to stress to people, firstly "this vaccine will protect you and your family", he says.

    He says "there is unfortunately some misinformation about vaccines" so it's important to go to reliable sources that can lay out the facts.

    Lastly, he says: "I do consider people who are looking after people who are vulnerable have a professional responsibility to get vaccinated."

    And that marks the end of the briefing.