Covid-19: Government urged to keep £20 benefit increase, and heart patient numbers drop

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

1. Government urged to keep £20 universal credit increase

The government's former homelessness adviser has urged it to extend benefit increases, worth £20 a week, beyond the end of March. Dame Louise Casey said ending the universal credit top-up, introduced during the Covid pandemic, would be "too punitive". Boris Johnson has previously said all measures would be kept under "constant review". Watch Dame Louise's comments below.

media captionDame Louise Casey: "The country has been torn to shreds by the pandemic"

2. Concern over fewer heart patients

There has been a sharp drop in the number of patients admitted to hospitals in England with heart attacks or heart failure in recent months, research reveals. Experts are worried that people who need urgent medical help are not seeking it. This was also the case during the first wave of the pandemic.

image copyrightGetty Images

3. Inflation increases despite Covid measures

The UK's inflation rate surged to 0.6% in December from 0.3% in November - despite curbs that forced non-essential shops to shut. Clothing and transport costs - including petrol prices and coach fares - were the main factors behind the rise, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Those rises were partly offset by a fall in food prices.

image copyrightReuters

4. The Covid impact on a hospital in Airdrie...

"We're all physically, mentally and emotionally drained now," says Fiona Bauld, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at University Hospital Monklands in Lanarkshire. Our correspondent James Cook has visited the hospital to speak to staff and patients - click here for the full piece, or watch one of the interviews below.

media caption'You wouldn’t want to give this to anybody'

5. ...and the Covid impact on a hospital in London

Meanwhile, our correspondent Clive Myrie has been to a hospital in London to see the impact there of the surge in Covid patients. The first video of the series was published on Tuesday - and here is the second part.

media captionCovid-19: Mortician says deaths have taken a toll

And don't forget...

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

There are various lockdown rules in place. Here's a reminder of what they are - and when they might end.

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