Covid-19: 'No child's prospects should be blighted by pandemic', and Reading and Leeds festivals 'a go'

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

1. 'No child's prospects should be blighted by pandemic'

No child's prospects should be "blighted" by the pandemic, the education secretary has said, as he set out funding for schools in England. At a Downing Street briefing, Gavin Williamson said £700m of funding would be available to schools to help pupils catch-up on missed learning. He also said teachers would be "trusted" when it came to assessments for students and that there would be "no algorithms whatsoever" used in determining exam grades in the summer. Details of how grades will be awarded will be set out on Thursday, Mr Williamson added. He also said the "full return" of schools and colleges from 8 March is justified by scientific advice, which will be supported by a "robust" testing regime.

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2. More people with learning disabilities to be prioritised

Everyone on the GP learning disability register should be prioritised for a Covid vaccine, the joint committee on vaccination has advised the government. This means 150,000 people at higher risk with severe disabilities will be offered a jab more quickly in England. But those with mild learning disabilities should not expect to be prioritised. It follows DJ Jo Whiley's plea for people such as her sister, Frances, to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. The BBC Radio 2 presenter was offered the vaccine before her sister, who has a rare genetic syndrome and lives in residential care.

media caption"I'm so happy for all those people who've been living in fear," Jo Whiley said

3. World's first doses of Covax vaccines delivered

Ghana has become the first country to receive coronavirus vaccines through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative. The World Health Organization (WHO) programme aims to ensure that vaccines are shared fairly among all nations. Covax is aiming to deliver about two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines globally by the end of the year. Many rich nations, which began their own vaccinations months ago, have faced criticism for buying or ordering more vaccines than they need (shown in the graphic below). So what is the Covax scheme? And how long will people in Africa have to wait?

4. 'My closed hair salons cost me £1,000 a day'

Hairdressers and nail salons are set to reopen from 12 April, along with many other retailers. But a long period of closure means they, like many businesses, have been racking up debts due to Covid restrictions. Hellen Ward, co-founder of beauty salon chain Richard Ward, says her debts have reached £1,000 a day while her salons have been closed. She is part of a campaign calling on the government to cut VAT to help mend the hair and beauty sector's finances. A survey of salon owners suggests that 56% are considering closing.

image copyrightHellen Ward

5. Reading and Leeds festivals 'to go ahead'

Reading and Leeds Festival organisers appear to have confirmed the events will go ahead this summer, after plans to ease lockdown were announced. Under the government's plan, limits on social contact in England could be gone by 21 June, if Covid is under control. The twin-site festival is due to take place from 27 to 29 August. "Following the government's recent announcement, we can't wait to get back to the fields this summer," Reading and Leeds' Twitter feed said, adding: "Let's go!"

image copyrightGetty Images

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. Read about the UK's falling case and death rates here - and see the graphic below.

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