Coronavirus news – live: Boris Johnson says 60m Novavax doses to be made in Barnard Castle as lockdown eased

Boris Johnson leads Covid press briefing as lockdown is eased

Boris Johnson has announced that up to 60m doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Novavax coronavirus vaccine will be produced in the north east of England at the company’s facility near Barnard Castle, the very same historic town that brought about the downfall of his former adviser Dominic Cummings.

In his latest Downing Street press conference, the PM preached cautious optimism on the same day that Covid-19 restrictions in England were eased – more than three months after the country was plunged into its third national lockdown – with golf courses, swimming pools and sports and leisure centres all reopening and the “rule of six” returning.

Mr Johnson said he was “hopeful” the present lockdown would be the country’s last and said there was nothing presently in the data to suggest deviations from the government’s roadmap to 21 June would become necessary, although Professor Chris Whitty, his chief medical officer, did warn that an uptick in infections was inevitable as unlocking continued and that Covid variants around the world remained a concern.

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Johnson ‘hopeful’ third lockdown will be UK’s last

Before closing the session, the PM says he is optimistic that the current national shutdown will be our last and said there is nothing currently in the data to suggest deviations from the existing roadmap to 21 June will be necessary.

There was a “but”, however…

He had already entertained the idea that people might drop their standards to maintaining social distancing as the stats improve and moved to discourage it.

Overall, the message was encouraging but all three were keen to warn against complacency as the gradual easing of restrictions will mean an inevitable uptick in infections, with Johnson saying the graphs are already “curling up like an old British Rail sandwich” in a trademark turn of phrase.

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:40

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PM: ‘Everything is moving in the right direction’

Here’s more from Johnson and company, seeking to walk the tightrope between optimism and caution.

Professor Whitty says Covid variants remain the biggest unknown on the horizon.

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:34

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PM downplays vaccine shortage fears

Johnson says there’s no cause for concern over Pfizer jabs.

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:22

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PM pledges update on foreign travel on 5 April

Taking a question from a member of the public on overseas holidays returning, Boris Johnson declined to go further than say: “We’ll be saying a bit more on 5 April on what the Global Travel Taskforce has come up with”.

“We must do as much as we can to prevent the virus coming back in from abroad and new variants coming in from abroad,” he adds, as Professor Whitty raises the concern are about a third wave taking hold elsewhere in Europe.

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:19

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Chris Whitty: ‘The number of deaths is continuing to fall’

“It is essential that people do come for their second dose,” says Britain’s chief medical officier, backing up the PM’s appeal for caution.

Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick say that transmissions can be expected to increase as unlocking conditions but that vaccines are successfully bringing down the rate of hospitalisations.

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:16

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GSK will bottle 50-60m doses of Novavax vaccine in north east England, PM announces

“I know how much it will have meant to millions of people to have joined someone else for a cup of tea in the garden,” says the PM.

He adds that he’s keen to get back to playing tennis himself but preaches caution before making the following announcement on UK vaccine production, which will, incredibly, be taking place at its facility near… wait for it… Barnard Castle!

See you there, Dominic Cummings.

Here’s Jon Stone with more details.

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Boris Johnson leads Covid press briefing as lockdown is eased

The prime minister is just kicking off today’s press conference with Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

We’ll bring you the very latest updates.

Boris Johnson leads Covid press briefing as lockdown is eased

Joe Sommerlad29 March 2021 17:03

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Hospitals and labs told to prioritise Covid testing for mental health patients

Coronavirus tests for patients in mental health hospitals should be couriered to testing labs and prioritised for results to prevent patients being forced to self-isolate for longer than is necessary, according to new guidance.

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern has the story:

Kate Ng29 March 2021 16:45

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Further 23 people die of Covid, 4,654 new infections in UK

The government said a further 23 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 126,615.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 150,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 4,654 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

It brings the total to 4,337,696.

Kate Ng29 March 2021 16:25

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When do indoor swimming pools open?

Our deputy lifestyle editor Sophie Gallagher takes a look at the guidance:

Matt Mathers29 March 2021 16:15

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