Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said preliminary evidence on the effect of jabs on coronavirus transmission is “really encouraging” but suggested the full data may not be available for weeks.

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Coronavirus: A further 474 people who tested positive have died in hospital in England

A further 474 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 79,593, NHS England said on Tuesday.

Patients were aged between 26 and 99. All except 17, aged between 38 and 93, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between April 1 2020 and February 15 2021, with the majority being on or after February 12.

There were 39 other deaths reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.


NHS England: 1.5 million jabs given to people in London

A total of 1,550,432 jabs were given to people in London between December 8 and February 15, including 1,486,765 first doses and 63,667 second doses, NHS England data shows.

This compares with 2,514,581 first doses and 72,827 second doses given to people in the Midlands, a total of 2,587,408.

The breakdown for the other regions is:

East of England – 1573,077 first doses and 60,560 second doses, making 1,633,637 in total

North East and Yorkshire – 2,048,503 first and 82,669 second doses (2,131,172)

North West – 1,728,086 first and 69,522 second doses (1,797,608)

South East – 2,136,801 first and 85,506 second doses (2,222,307)

South West – 1,529,508 first and 57,470 second doses (1,586,978)


Scotland: Some pupils to return to schools from February 22

Some pupils in Scotland will return to schools from February 22 but the stay at home lockdown order will continue until at least the beginning of March and possibly longer, Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs.

The First Minister added that the vaccination programme has been “outstanding.”

Ms Sturgeon, who was speaking to MSPs in Holyrood, thanked health workers for administering vaccines, as she said that 94% of people aged between 70 and 79 had received their first dose along with 58% of those aged between 65 and 69.

“Overall, though, the progress of the vaccination programme so far is outstanding and I want to thank everyone planning and delivering the programme and everyone who has come forward to be vaccinated,” she said.

“However, please remember that even if you have had the vaccine, you must still follow all the lockdown rules.

“The protection from the first dose doesn’t kick in for two to three weeks and, even then, we don’t know exactly what impact it will have on transmission of the virus.”

Despite progression in the vaccination programme, Ms Sturgeon said returning to “100% normality” will likely not be possible in the near future in Scotland.

She told MSPs that some restrictions may have to remain in place, and “trade offs” will have to be made to ease some restrictions, such as the return of schools.

“I know this is difficult given how desperate we all are to get back to something close to normal, but if we open up too quickly to meet arbitrary dates, we risk setting progress back,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“Indeed, because of the new, more infectious variant, our exit from lockdown is likely to be even more cautious than it was last summer.

“And secondly, probably for a while yet, 100% normality is unlikely to be possible.

“So in a world where we can’t do everything immediately, we will need to decide what matters most.”


Four passengers fined £10,000 for not declaring travel from ‘red list’ countries

Four passengers were each fined £10,000 after arriving at Birmingham Airport without declaring they had travelled from a “red list” country during the previous 10 days, West Midlands Police said.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd told a meeting held by the force’s strategic policing and crime board: “By midday yesterday (Monday), on the first day of implementation, we have received six passengers who had declared travelling from a red list country, who were taken to the quarantine hotel.

“We also had four passengers who were identified as having travelled from a red list country, that hadn’t declared it.”


Scotland has 49 more Covid-19 deaths

Scotland has recorded 49 deaths from coronavirus and 773 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Scottish Government figures show.

It brings the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 6,764.

The latest statistics show 193,148 people have tested positive in Scotland, up from 192,375 the previous day.


1.7million people added to shielding list will be told to isolate until March 31

The additional 1.7 million will bring the number on the list to almost four million.

Some will have already been offered a Covid-19 jab, officials said, but those who have not will be able to get their vaccines “as quickly as possible”.

Officials will be advising that shielding continues until March 31, said Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England.

She said the group, if they join the list, will receive the additional support available to those deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, including medicine deliveries, priority slots for supermarkets and statutory sick pay.

Dr Harries told a briefing for journalists: “We have a new, evidence-based, data-driven, predictive risk model which allows us to identify adults with multiple risk factors that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“We can now identify additional people and help protect them now and in the future.

“All of these people who are identified for the first time are those who have not had an individual clinical condition that we’ve previously been able to identify through the clinically extremely vulnerable group, but they are people who have multiple personal risk factors and underlying health conditions which move them into a higher risk group.

“As we learn more about Covid-19, we’re continuously reviewing the evidence… it was very clear that not all of those individuals who were at risk were identified by the binary approach.

“The model that is used combines a number of underlying risk factors. And those factors include specific health conditions, and some treatments which, for example, put your immune system at risk.

“Age, which is the highest risk factor, sex, ethnicity, body mass index and your postcode, which will also link to a deprivation score.

“It provides a weighted cumulative risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19, and therefore allows us to prioritise these individuals for vaccination, and to give them appropriate advice.

“And the easiest way for us to do that is to include them on the shielded patient list.”


Nearly 2million added to Government’s shielding list but will recieve jabs earlier

Around 1.7 million people at serious risk from Covid-19 will be added to the shielding list.

They have been identified due to multiple factors, including underlying health conditions, and will be contacted by a letter from the NHS in the coming days, reports Sky News.

Some will have already been offered a coronavirus jab but those who have not will be able to get their vaccines earlier.


Vaccine passports could result in discrimination claims, says cinema chief

The use of coronavirus “vaccine passports” to help businesses reopen post-lockdown could put venues at risk from possible claims for discrimination, a cinema association has warned.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA), said that requiring proof of receipt of a Covid-19 jab presented “a range of practical and legal problems”.

“The use of vaccine passports in particular presents a range of practical and legal problems”, he said.

“At this moment in time, and in the medium term of course, the ongoing rollout of the vaccine makes this impractical, but even when that programme is complete, there will be a number of groups of who will not have been vaccinated for a range of legitimate reasons – some people with disabilities, pregnant women and young people amongst them.

“Making the proof of vaccination a condition of entry would open up cinemas (as it would other venues) to a host of possible claims for discrimination.”

Mr Clapp added that the £3-4 cost and result turnaround of rapid tests posed a “no less challenging” situation.

“Asking an audience of 250 each to take the test and wait 30 minutes before seeing a two-hour film seems impractical, as is asking customers to pay what equates in many instances to a 50% uplift on their cinema ticket,” he said.


Guests in quarantine hotels near Heathrow ‘keep positive to beat boredom’

All UK and Irish citizens who arrive after being in a high-risk Covid country now have to self-isolate in hotels for 10 days.

The “red list” of 33 countries includes Portugal, Brazil and South Africa.


Boris Johnson’s cautious tone suggests slow way out of lockdown, say scientists

The Prime Minister said he wants “really, really low” case numbers and warned against allowing more dangerous new strains of Covid to be incubated in the population

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