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Covid UK news – live: Cases likely to surge by late summer, Whitty says amid lockdown lifting warning

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Four of England’s Nightingale hospitals set up to cope with a spike in Covid-19 cases are to close permanently from April after costing £500 million to set up.

The three remaining emergency field hospitals will remain open at sites in London and Sunderland as mass vaccination centres.

NHS England said existing hospitals have been able to increase their beds so successfully that the Nightingales are no longer needed.

Research suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is able to combat a new variant of Covid-19 rapidly circulating in Brazil.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the engineered version of the virus, containing the same mutation carried on the spike protein as the highly contagious P1 variant first identified in Brazil, was effectively neutralised among people who were given the jab.

The new variants are observed to carry changes in the spike, which is used by the virus to enter the human cells. These changes, in turn, affect how transmissible the virus is and is therefore the primary target of coronavirus vaccines.

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Late summer could see surge in Covid cases, Chris Whitty warns

Another surge in coronavirus cases could be recorded in late summer, despite the success of the UK’s ongoing vaccine rollout, MPs have been told.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions, a further 30,000 lives could be lost to Covid-19.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett has more details:

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:54
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NHS chief confirms staff were promised higher pay rise

The head of the health service in England has confirmed to MPs that NHS staff across the country were supposed to get a higher pay rise from April.

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has more details:

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:50
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Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:40
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Spike in Covid cases ‘inevitable’ as restrictions relaxed, says chief scientific adviser

The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said it is “inevitable” coronavirus cases will increase as restrictions on social mixing are eased.

But he told MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee that Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” for easing lockdown in England was in line with the principles set by the Sage scientific advisory panel and “consistent with minimising that increase as you open things up”.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:26
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Care home Covid deaths down by 34% in England and Wales

Some 636 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to February 26, down more than a third (34 per cent) on the previous week, the ONS said.

A total of 40,991 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:16
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Coronavirus deaths fall by 29% in England and Wales

A total of 2,914 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending February 26 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – a drop of 29 per cent on the previous week.

The figure is the lowest total since the week ending December 25.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 10:06
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Disney workers being spat on and harassed by guests who refuse to wear masks

A Disney World employee has claimed he was spat on by a visitor when he asked the person to wear a face mask and stick to the coronavirus safety protocols of the company.

The incident is said to be one of several to take place at Disney’s sites in the last few weeks.

Stuti Mishra has more details:

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 09:41
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Instagram recommending misinformation to users, study claims

A report has claimed Instagram is recommending anti-vaccination and coronavirus misinformation to potentially millions of users.

A study from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and charity Restless Development says the social media platform is suggesting content to users that includes conspiracy theories about Covid-19 as well as antisemitic and other harmful content.

The report said posts and accounts were recommended to test accounts created by researchers to study Instagram’s recommendation features, which serve content and accounts to users based on their interests.

Instagram said it had previously taken steps to slow the spread of the types of misinformation raised in the report and added the research was “five months out of date”.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 09:20
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Labour calls for ‘germ games’ to prepare for future pandemics

Labour is calling for regular military-style “germ games” to ensure ministers are properly prepared for any future pandemics.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth says the country was “vulnerable and exposed” when coronavirus hit last year because the government had ignored warnings and weakened its defences.

In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research today, he will say it would be “unforgivable” to be so unprepared in the face of another disease outbreak.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 09:03
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Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 08:45
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Closure of Nightingale hospitals is ‘important moment in national recovery’, says Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the closure of the Nightingale hospitals was an “important moment in our national recovery”.

In a video posted to Twitter, Mr Hancock said the vaccine programme and lockdown restrictions had meant that there were now fewer than 10,000 people in hospitals across the UK, down from 40,000 seven weeks ago.

He said the hospitals were a “monument to this country’s ability to get things done fast when it really matters” and played a “critical role” in the UK’s response to coronavirus.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 08:30
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Nightingale hospitals to close

Four Nightingale hospitals set up to cope with a spike in Covid-19 cases are to close from April, although sites in London and Sunderland will stay open for vaccinations.

NHS England said existing hospitals have been able to increase their beds so successfully that the Nightingales are no longer needed.

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has more details:

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 08:13
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Pfizer vaccine ‘neutralises Brazil variant’ in study

A new study has found the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is able to combat a new variant rapidly circulating in Brazil.

The research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the engineered version of the virus, containing the same mutation carried on the spike protein as the highly contagious P1 variant first identified in Brazil, was effectively neutralised among people who were given the jab.

Namita Singh explains:

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 08:03
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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Follow for rolling updates on the latest news and statistics throughout the day.

Chiara Giordano9 March 2021 08:00