Covid-19: Mass vaccination begins across UK and Welsh minister questions royal visit

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Tuesday evening. We'll have another update for you on Wednesday morning.

1. Covid vaccination starts in the UK

"All done," said May Parsons, a matron at University Hospital in Coventry. Two small words followed by a spontaneous round of applause and Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus injection, as part of a mass vaccination programme. Wearing a Christmas shirt and matching blue face mask, the 90-year-old grandmother looked emotional, but delighted, to be spearheading the UK's vaccine programme. Five million doses of the vaccine are expected to be given - to the over-80s and care and health workers - over the course of December. She said being the first patient to take the vaccine "hadn't really sunk in yet. It's just overwhelming, as the first really," she said. Read what others who received the vaccine today said about the experience. Find out when you can get the vaccine.

Media caption,
Margaret Keenan was given the vaccine by May Parsons, at University Hospital in Coventry

2. Oxford vaccine 'safe and effective'

The Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is safe and effective, giving good protection, researchers have confirmed - but there are still important questions about what dose to give, as well as who it will protect. Results from advanced trials of more than 20,000 people suggest the vaccine also reduces the spread of Covid. Regulators, who will have seen the same data, are considering the jab for emergency use. It could play a major role in fighting the pandemic, being cheaper than some other Covid vaccines and easier to store and distribute. AstraZeneca's Pascal Soriot said they were "ready to quickly begin delivering hundreds of millions of doses on a global scale".

3. Scotland toughest restrictions to be eased

All 11 areas living under Scotland's toughest level four coronavirus restrictions are to be downgraded to level three, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. It means non-essential shops across much of western and central Scotland will be able to reopen from 06:00 GMT on Friday. More than two million people have been subject to the level four restrictions since 20 November, but infection rates in all the relevant council areas have since fallen. Also in Scotland, it has been confirmed that next year's Higher and Advanced Highers exams are to be cancelled.

Image source, PA Media

4. Welsh minister questions royal visit

Wales's health minister has questioned a visit to Cardiff by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of a tour to thank community workers and frontline staff in the UK. "I'd rather no-one was having unnecessary visits," said Vaughan Gething, adding that it was important the royal visit was not treated as "an excuse for people to say they're confused about what they're being asked to do". Wales reported 2,000 coronavirus cases in a single day on Monday. Mr Gething said it was "the highest number ever recorded" of Covid patients in Welsh hospitals.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The duke and duchess talked to students in Cardiff about their experiences of studying during the pandemic

5. Sky presenter apologises for Covid breach

Sky News presenter Kay Burley has apologised for an "error of judgment" after she "inadvertently broke the rules" around Covid-19 safety. Apologising on Twitter, the journalist said she had been celebrating her 60th birthday at a "Covid compliant" restaurant on Saturday. She said she later "popped into another" venue to use the toilet. It's not clear what rule was broken through this action. Sky has confirmed an internal review is under way. Reports suggest Burley was joined by a group of colleagues for her birthday celebration in London, which is under tier two restrictions. Burley did not present her daily breakfast show on Tuesday morning.

Image source, Getty Images

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

As the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine is rolled out across the UK, how do we know it's safe?

Image source, BBC

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