MOST regions in England have recently gone at least a day without a single Covid death – for the first time in six months.
Five out of nine regions were free of fatalities for a minimum of 24 hours over the past week, while London averaged 1.5 deaths every day over seven days.
Official figures show there were no virus deaths in the South East, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber or the East of England on Wednesday.
The South West has reported no daily deaths three times in the past week.
Meanwhile, Monday marks the next milestone in the government’s road to freedom out of lockdown.
The ‘stay at home’ message will be ditched as new rules come into force in England.
Under the current rules, many Brits have been fined for not having a reasonable excuse for heading outside.
But Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown has now started to unfold, with the next phase to take place from March 29.
Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic…
A new study has found a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine generates a strong immunity response against Covid-19.
The research, led by Oxford University and Sheffield University, tested 237 healthcare workers for T-cell and antibody responses and discovered a “robust” reaction in 99% of them.
It also found people who had previously been infected with Covid-19 showed higher T-cell and antibody responses after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine compared with people who had a first dose without contracting coronavirus before.
The European Commission, asked about the progress of negotiations with the UK on sharing coronavirus vaccines, said discussions were “ongoing”.
Chief spokesman Eric Mamer told a press briefing in Brussels: “All I can tell you is that discussions with the UK are ongoing.
“We don’t have any comments to make at the moment on the gist and content of those discussions.
“Our common aim is to ensure we have good co-operation in terms of supply chains and producing the vaccine.”
AIR CREW PRIORITY
Seafarers and air crew should be prioritised for vaccination as “essential workers”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a joint statement on Friday with the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization.
“They are key workers required to travel across borders at all times, which may result in the need for them to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry in some countries,” the statement said.
“We reiterate our call upon countries that have not done so to designate seafarers and aircrew as key workers.”
A church going grandmother was found dead at her home just two months after beating Covid, triggering a murder inquiry.
The 76-year-old victim, named by shocked local residents as Phyllis Nelson, was described as “the most lovely person” and “everybody’s dream neighbour.”
Police were called to her home in Plaistow, east London shortly before 10.30pm last night, and confirmed an elderly woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
A man in his thirties was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. He remains in police custody.
INCOME AND MENTAL HEALTH IMPACTS
Among adults who had to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19, around a third (32 per cent) said self-isolation had a negative effect on their wellbeing and mental health, while 28 per cent said they had lost income.
A majority (90 per cent) of those required to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive case said they had followed self-isolation rules for the entire 10-day period.
Of those who said they had not followed the rules, a third (33 per cent) had allowed at least one visitor into their homes while 22 per cent said they had left home for a medical reason other than getting or returning a Covid-19 test.
These figures, which have also been compiled by the ONS, are based on responses collected from adults in England from March 1 to 6.
TIRED AT HOME
Nearly four out of ten Brits say they are more tired working from home, a poll has found.
Thirty seven per cent of people said they have the lowest energy levels they’ve ever experienced while grafting for the past year.
The same amount said working from home has made them the most lethargic and tired they have ever been.
The new workday has left Brits reaching for caffeine-packed energy drinks and coffees, with workers splashing £450 million per week on energy-boosting beverages and supplements.
The Government has absolute confidence in UK vaccine supplies, with all adults on track to receive a first dose by the end of July, a Government minister has said.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK’s vaccine programme will continue to be “world-leading”, despite a row with Europe over vaccine exports.
European Union leaders stopped short on Thursday evening during a European Council meeting of banning exports of vaccines, as a disagreement with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca continues.
RAY OF LIGHT
Scientists are trialling a new type of UV light which is hoped to kill coronavirus indoors.
Far-UVC could be a “brand new weapon” in killing coronavirus and flu bugs indoors safely – without the health risks associated with normal UVC light which can cause eye damage.
The UK Government has invested £296,000 in research at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, and for researchers from the University of St Andrews to further develop it at a Leeds facility.
Young people are more likely to help out friends as a result of the impact of the coronavirus crisis, new research suggests.
The Co-op’s charity said young people have responded to a year of social distancing and lockdowns with a spirits of caring and community.
The Co-op Foundation said its survey of 2,000 people aged 10 to 25 found that almost two thirds were more likely to reach out to friends who they think need help, compared to the start of the pandemic.
More than one in three adults in England have found self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 has had a negative effect on their wellbeing and mental health, new figures suggest.
Some 37 per cent of adults surveyed from February 1 to 13 said self-isolation had a negative impact, while 58 per cent reported no effect.
Around a third (32 per cent) reported a loss of income, while 13 per cent of those who had been working prior to self-isolating – either in or outside their home – said they were not paid during the self-isolation period.
CHURCH ON SUNDAY
The moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly has said he will be back in his church this Sunday as the rules on religious services ease.
The Right Rev Dr Martin Fair said he agreed with the need to close churches earlier in the pandemic but believes it is now safe to return.
A group of 27 church leaders launched a judicial review at the Court of Session arguing Scottish Government ministers acted outwith their powers when ordering the closure of places of worship under emergency coronavirus legislation.
Academics are asking people from ethnic minority communities to share their experiences of the Covid pandemic for a vital research project that could shape future policies.
The project aims to investigate the impact of the pandemic on wellbeing and resilience across minority ethnic groups and will make recommendations to the Government to ensure long-term support is provided to those who need it.
Professor Iyiola Solanke, the principal investigator, said recognising the specific impacts of Covid-19 on these communities is important to prevent further discrimination and inequality, and the information collected by the project could be used to help in future pandemics.
VACCINE SLOWDOWN EXPLAINED
Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, has said the upcoming “slight slowdown” in the vaccine rollout is due to increased demand worldwide.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “The demand for vaccine is racking up massively faster, so all the different programmes in different countries are really getting going, and so we’re moving into a phase where the rate-limiting step is vaccine supply.
“The other part of it is that the process of making vaccines is enormously complicated, it involves literally dozens if not hundreds of steps, and so getting those supplies going and making sure that all of the vaccine is in good quality, good shape, and good purity if you like, is always going to lead to some delays along the way.”
A couple have died from Covid-19 after the husband was discharged home from hospital suffering from the virus.
John Morgan, 81, and wife Maureen, 83, died at the Whittington Hospital in North London in January.
Maureen, who had been shielding for nearly a year, caught the virus and both died in hospital within a week of each other on neighbouring wards.
They had been married 60 years and had already booked their Covid jab.
Zoom meetings are actually bad for problem solving and idea sharing and workers would be better of just having phone calls, a new study suggests.
The last year has seen a widespread uptake of video conferencing with workers confined to their homes under lockdown rules.
While it may sound sensible that a Zoom conference is a good replacement for a face-to-face meeting, using video actually makes things more difficult, say researchers.
Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine system has come into effect for passengers arriving from countries flagged as high risk for Covid-19 transmission.
As of 4am on Friday, all passengers arriving into Ireland from one of the 33 countries deemed high risk by the Government will have to quarantine for 12 nights at a hotel.
The stay could be reduced if a person receives a negative test for the virus taken on day 10 of quarantine.
Countries on the list include Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.
Amazon is flogging Covid-19 stamps that could be used to fake vaccination cards so people could wrongly claim they have had a jab.
Brits face having to prove they have been immunised to get in pubs, football matches and theatres when lockdown ends.
The online retail giant is selling the AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech ink presses for £27.99.
Buyers could use them to make phoney vaccine cards.
Dr Sarah Schiffling, senior lecturer in supply chain management at Liverpool John Moores University, said the UK is “not that dependent on the EU” for vaccine supplies, amid tensions with the bloc.
Speaking on Sky News, she said: “We have a lot of supply of AstraZeneca within the country… we’re not that dependant on the EU for imports of AstraZeneca.
“We have been importing a lot of doses of Pfizer vaccine from the EU, (but) this doesn’t seem to be right, now, in the eye of the European Commission.
“So the blockage of AstraZeneca, we have alternative supplies for that.”
COVID COP OUT
A sozzled cop has been sacked after blaming coronavirus when he reported for duty reeking of booze.
Appalled senior officers smelled booze on his breath when he walked in for the morning shift and fired him on the spot.
The Thames Valley Police officer, whose name hasn’t been revealed, told a misconduct hearing that he blamed Covid.
Pubs and restaurants have seen a huge surge in bookings for outdoor tables ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased next month, according to research.
Hospitality website Caterer.com said millions of people were making reservations for the two weeks after April 12.
Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas from April 12 in the latest phase of the lockdown easing.
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the use of vaccine passports internationally could be out of the Government’s hands.
Questioned on Times Radio whether they would be in place for pubs being allowed indoor customers in May, as per the road map, he said: “No, we’re taking time to consider this issue carefully. It is a complex issue.
“There are two angles to it. Of course on the international stage, vaccine certification is not entirely within our control and if our citizens want to travel abroad, we’ll need to ensure that they are able to do so.
A centre which is rolling out Covid jabs to thousands of people in Dorset has been sabotaged by mindless raiders.
It’s the second attack in a week on the vaccination hub in Bridport.
Both times, the thieves have siphoned fuel from a bowser which powers the heating system.
Staff at Bridport Medical Centre say with the weather turning colder, it’s essential to keep the hub warm because they are in the process of giving over-80s their second jab.
A judge has ordered that an 83-year-old dementia sufferer should have the Covid-19 vaccine despite her son’s objections.
Judge Simon Carr ruled at the Court of Protection in Truro, Cornwall, that the jab was in the best interests of the pensioner.
The woman, who cannot be named, is living in a care home and agreed to her son have Power of Attorney and making decisions on her behalf some time ago, the judge was told.
CAR PRODUCTION FALLS
The number of cars built in the UK has fallen for the 18th month in a row, showing the ongoing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the industry, figures show.
Production fell by 14 per cent in February compared with the same month a year ago, with 105,008 cars leaving factory gates, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It was the weakest February performance in more than a decade, fuelled by the pandemic that led to showrooms closing, new customs processes and global supply chain constraints.
The European Commission president has warned AstraZeneca that it must “honour” its vaccine contract with the bloc before exporting doses elsewhere in the world.
Ursula von der Leyen urged “transparency” from other countries, but did not confirm if the EU would bring in tougher export restrictions on coronavirus jabs, amid a row over supplies with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant.
However, she acknowledged that worldwide supply chains needed to remain “intact” for vaccine production, while some European leaders appeared optimistic that the UK and EU could soon resolve their dispute over supplies.