Covid-19: UK surpasses 150,000 deaths, and how rapid tests changed the pandemic

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

1. UK records more than 150,000 Covid deaths

The UK has reached another grim milestone in the pandemic, becoming the first country in Europe to surpass 150,000 coronavirus deaths. Some 150,057 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test since the pandemic began. The UK is the seventh country to pass 150,000 deaths, after the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru. Boris Johnson said every death "is a profound loss to the friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them". Hear from some of the people who have lost loved ones.

2. How rapid tests changed the pandemic

"I'm serious when I say they have been the single most powerful tool in reducing transmission of the virus," says Irene Petersen, professor of epidemiology at University College London. Billions of pounds of public money have been spent on lateral flow test kits, and for Britons the routine tests have become a way of life. But how did the tests change the pandemic and has it all been worth it?

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3. No fans at Six Nations may devastate Welsh economy

The Six Nations starts next month, and matches typically draw crowds of tens of thousands. But with coronavirus restrictions in Wales meaning that fans are not allowed to attend sports events, businesses are worried it could be the final straw for the hospitality sector. The impact of Wales' rugby games not being held in Cardiff would be financially devastating, businesses have warned. Wales' first minister said he would review Covid restrictions weekly. Covid rules can vary across the UK, here are the various guidelines.

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Image caption,
About 100,000 people descend on Cardiff city centre for rugby internationals

4. Covid infection gave Djokovic exemption - lawyers

Novak Djokovic continues to make headlines as more details emerge about the tennis star's entry into Australia. In court documents, his lawyers say Djokovic had a vaccine exemption to enter the country after a Covid infection on 16 December. He is currently at an immigration detention centre ahead of a court hearing on Monday. The case has garnered international attention after Djokovic was denied entry to Australia on landing in Melbourne to play in the Australian Open. Read more about whether Djokovic could argue his way into the major tennis championship.

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Image caption,
Djokovic's lawyers said the Serbian had shown no Covid symptoms two weeks after testing postive

5. Thousands oppose stricter French Covid pass

More than 105,000 people have taken part in protests across France to demonstrate against the introduction of a new coronavirus pass, authorities have said. Under a new draft law, unvaccinated people would be effectively banned from public life. Protests turned violent in some areas, and 34 people were arrested and 10 police officers injured, Interior Ministry officials said.

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Image caption,
About 18,000 people attended the protest in the capital Paris

And don't forget...

... if you're struggling to remember the rules on self-isolation, you can check our explainer.

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

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