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Covid news – live: PM accused of ditching NHS pay promise and public urged not to ‘blow it’ when schools reopen

Matt Hancock defends 1% pay rise for NHS staff

The government has been accused of rowing back on promises of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for health staff prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Royal College of Nursing – the main nurses’ union – has set up a £35 million fund for nurses preparing to strike in protest against a recommended one per cent pay increase, while Unite, which represents tens of thousands of NHS workers, is also warning of industrial action.

NHS Providers, which represents all NHS trusts, claimed the government had factored in the larger pay rise for 2021-22 as it too challenged the government’s insistence that one per cent is all it can afford amid the current economic climate.

The British public is being urged to join a mass slow handclap in protest against the government’s proposed pay rise.

Unison, which is the largest union in the UK, said people should stand on their doorsteps and balconies at 8pm on Thursday to show what they think about the “derisory” wage plan.

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Government reveals new ‘exit permit’

The government revealed details of the new “Declaration to Travel” less than 60 hours before an unprecedented exit permit will be required from outbound travellers.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder explains:

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 14:38
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983,000 vaccine first doses given in Wales

Public Health Wales has said a total of 983,419 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in Wales, an increase of 16,377 from the previous day.

The agency said 168,163 second doses had also been given, an increase of 13,344.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 14:00
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Rangers fans break Covid rules with Ibrox gathering

Rangers fans have broken coronavirus lockdown rules in Scotland by gathering in numbers outside Ibrox Stadium setting off flares.

Fans were seen crowding around a car entering the ground as police tried to hold them back.

Under coronavirus rules, public gatherings are banned and a maximum of two people from two households are allowed to meet outdoors.

Football games are taking place behind closed doors with no fans in the stadium.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 13:40
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Portugal to quarantine passengers on indirect flights from UK and Brazil

Passengers flying indirectly to Portugal from Britain or Brazil must present a negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before departure and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival from Sunday onwards, the interior ministry has announced.

The move is designed to close a loophole which allowed travellers from Britain and Brazil to reach Portugal by stopping over in a country from which travel was authorised.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 13:20
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Ireland approaching half a million vaccination mark

Ireland is expected to reach the milestone of half a million coronavirus jabs administered this weekend.

Speaking in a video posted on Twitter, Mr Martin said he was inspired by recent visits to vaccination centres where thousands of front line healthcare workers are receiving the inoculation.

He said government and the HSE is doing everything it can to secure supplies and to give those vaccines to people as quickly as possible.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 13:00
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Protesters injured in police clashes over Paraguay’s Covid response

Around 20 people have been injured in clashes with police during protests over the Paraguayan government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Hundreds of rioters, mainly young people, took to the streets of the capital, Asuncion, amid growing outrage that coronavirus infections had hit record levels and hospitals verged on collapse throughout the South American nation.

Tom Ambrose has more details:

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 12:40
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EU reportedly seeks access to US-produced AstraZeneca vaccines

The European Union will reportedly urge the United States to permit the export of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine as it scrambles to bridge supply shortfalls.

The 27-nation EU also wants Washington to ensure the free flow of shipments of crucial vaccine ingredients needed in European production, according to the Financial Times.

“We trust that we can work together with the US to ensure that vaccines produced or bottled in the US for the fulfilment of vaccine producers’ contractual obligations with the EU will be fully honoured,” the FT quoted the European Commission as saying.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 12:23
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Now is ‘wrong time’ for NHS pay restraint, says former Tory health minister

A former Conservative health minister has said it is the “wrong time” to be restraining the pay of NHS workers who have gone “above and beyond” during the pandemic.

In a sign that a Conservative rebellion over the government’s 1% pay rise recommendation may be brewing, MP Dr Dan Poulter has called for a rethink on the proposal.

Dr Poulter, who has been assisting on the NHS front line during the pandemic, said it is “very valid” for ministers to turn their attention to paying back the £400 billion borrowed during the coronavirus crisis – but it is the “wrong time to be making this decision”.

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 11:58
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NHS may have to care for ‘a million people with long Covid’ after pandemic

A leading doctor has estimated the NHS will have to treat up to a million people for long Covid in the aftermath of the pandemic.

My colleague Emily Goddard explains:

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 11:39
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Court staff to strike over Covid safety fears

Staff will go on strike in two courts over coronavirus safety concerns, amid claims workers are being “deeply let down” and left “worried for their safety”.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at Liverpool Law Courts and Snaresbrook Crown Court, in east London, backed industrial action.

Follow our breaking news story for more updates:

Chiara Giordano6 March 2021 11:24