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Covid-19: Virus patients top 30,000 and teacher grades to replace exams

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

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

1. Number of virus patients in hospital reaches 30,000

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has reached 30,074. That is 39% higher than the previous April peak. The UK also recorded its highest daily death toll since April, at 1,041. And the 62,322 new cases reported is the largest number since mass testing began. West Midlands Ambulance Service said it had its busiest day on record as hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of virus patients. Four patients faced waits of over five hours outside hospitals. And NHS Wales' chief executive Dr Andrew Goodall has warned Covid patient numbers could soon reach twice April's peak.

image copyrightReuters

2. Teacher assessments to replace exams in England

With the cancellation of A-levels and GCSEs already confirmed, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson set out how year 11 and 13 students will receive their grades. He said the government would "trust in teachers rather than algorithms", after the experience of last year when results were widely disputed before being overturned. Teachers will be given training and support to ensure grades can be awarded "fairly and consistently", he told MPs. Mr Williamson confirmed that primary schools' national curriculum tests - often known as Sats - will be cancelled for all age groups as well. Northern Ireland has also cancelled its GCSE and A-level exams, meaning none of the UK nations will hold public exams in academic subjects this summer.

image copyrightPA Media

3. Lockdown will end gradually not with a 'big bang' says PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tried to allay concerns from MPs, including those in his own party, about the length of England's lockdown, given that the legislation for it runs until the end of March. Mr Johnson said that there was a "cautious presumption" restrictions could be eased in mid-February, but he said there would a "gradual unwrapping" of the "lockdown cocoon" and not a "big bang". The measures came into force on Wednesday morning, with MPs voting on them retrospectively this evening. ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland are also under lockdowns now.

media captionThe prime minister says schools will be the first places to reopen

4. Warning over scam vaccine messages

Fraudsters are sending bogus text messages about coronavirus vaccination to try and obtain people's bank details, trading standards officers have warned. The scam messages say the recipient is "eligible to apply for your vaccine" and give a link which leads to a fake NHS website. It asks for personal information and bank details "for verification" - but health authorities stressed that they would never ask for an individual's bank details.

5. Clap for Carers is back

The woman who started Clap for Carers for 10 weeks during the first lockdown has urged people to give frontline workers a big hand once again. Annemarie Plas is reviving the weekly applause from gardens, doorsteps and balconies to show appreciation for key workers and the NHS as the whole of the UK finds itself again under lockdown. Calling it Clap for Heroes this time, Ms Plas said she hoped the applause, starting on Thursday at 20:00 GMT, would "lift the spirit of all of us" in a difficult time.

media captionFrom a helipad to the streets, millions join the UK's ninth Clap for Carers

And don't forget...

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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