Covid-19: A new variant in the UK and a festival fallout over vaccines

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

1. New Covid variant found in the UK

Scientists have identified 16 cases of another new variant of coronavirus in the UK. Public Health England said this strain was on their watch list, but not one they were immediately concerned about. It has a mutation in common with the South Africa and Brazil variants which experts believe may help the virus evade some immunity from vaccination or prior infection. All viruses mutate and tweaked vaccines to fight new variants can be fast-tracked through the approval system. Here's what we know about the new strain so far.

Image source, Getty Images

2. Covid-recovery tax rises are fair, says chancellor

It's the day after the Budget and many families and businesses are counting the costs of the coronavirus pandemic to their pocket. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has rejected claims his plans to claw back the cost of coronavirus support will hit the poorest hardest. He insisted no-one's take-home pay would be lowered by the plan he set out. But one campaign group said "Santa Sunak" was now looking more like "Scrooge Sunak". Here are a few ways the Budget could affect you.

Media caption,
Rishi Sunak says it will take "the work of many years, decades and governments" to pay back Covid debt

3. Covid infections falling in all age groups

Coronavirus case rates in England are continuing to fall among all age groups, Public Health England says. The highest rate is among 30 to 39-year-olds, at 121.1 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 28 February. That's down from 178.3 cases last week. We've got data for the other age groups here. You can use our look-up tool to find out how many cases there are in your area. Meanwhile the World Health Organization said it was concerned about a "resurgence" of cases in Europe. It's comes as Germany did a U-turn over giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab to people aged over 65.

Image source, Getty Images

4. Festival headliner steps down over vaccine

Ex-Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has pulled out of headlining a festival because he's refusing to play events that "accept vaccination proof as condition of entry". Neighbourhood Weekender confirmed on Wednesday its event had been moved from May to September because of the pandemic. Festival organisers said they would "comply with conditions" set out by the government through the local authority. Brown has been vocal in his criticism of Covid vaccines during the pandemic. It comes as The Isle of Wight festival has been pushed back another three months, while Download and Glastonbury were cancelled for 2021.

Image source, Getty Images

5. NHS medic performs vaccine song outside hospital

Here to sing us out is Lloyd Balatongan, an NHS medic who recorded a song encouraging people to have their Covid-19 jab. The Royal Derby Hospital theatre practitioner composed the song with his family band The Soulm8s. The catchy track, which features his wife Jackielou on vocals and his son Liam on drums, includes the lyric: "Working together to protect the nation, everybody's waiting for their vaccination." They're not the only ones singing about vaccines, check out Dolly Parton's reworking of her hit song Jolene.

Image source, The Soulm8s

And don't forget...

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

And if you're feeling concerned about the new variant you can read aboutwhat scientists are doing to tackle it.

Image source, BBC

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