Coronavirus news – live: Covid cases in England plateau as R rate rises across UK

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Covid-19 infections are no longer falling in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Around 1 in 340 people in England had the virus in the week ending on 20 March, the same estimate as the week before.

It is the first time the prevalence of community infections has not declined since lockdown measures were introduced in late January.

Meanwhile, Britain’s R rate has increased to 0.7 to 0.9 this week, up slightly from 0.6 to 0.9. The R number represents the average number of people a person with Covid-19 will go on to infect.

ONS modelling suggests that Covid-19 rates are increasing in school-aged children between years 7 and 11. Rates are falling between older teenagers and young adults.

NHS England has reported 43 Covid-related deaths in hospitals in England between 29 January and 25 March. Those who died were aged between 47 and 94.

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Shops can stay open until 10pm when England’s lockdown eased

Retailers will be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week when they welcome back customers after months of closures, the government has announced.

The communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, has said extended opening hours from Monday to Saturday will help shoppers return to high streets safely when non-essential shops reopen from 12 April.

Shops will be able to extend their opening hours from 7am to 10pm to help customers avoid peak times and ease transport pressures, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Under the “roadmap” for easing lockdown measures, non-essential retailers could reopen from 12 April at the earliest, provided conditions are met.

Announcing the temporary measures, Jenrick said: “To support businesses to reopen and recover, I’ve extended measures to allow shops to stay open for longer. This is part of a package of support to help reopen our shops and high streets safely – backed by £56m.

“This will provide a much-needed boost for many businesses – protecting jobs, reducing pressure on public transport and supporting people and communities to continue to visit their high streets safely and shop locally.”

The government has also announced it will extend flexible working hours on construction sites and will allow food deliveries to supermarkets over more time periods.

Other measures also included keeping the flexibility for pubs and restaurants to put up marquees to help increase seating capacity in a Covid-secure way.

Matt Mathers26 March 2021 17:36

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Portugal extends mandatory work-at-home order for rest of year

Portugal’s government is extending its mandatory work-at-home order through the end of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government says even if the current state of emergency decree allowing lockdowns is lifted, people must still work from home if they can.

Also, companies must have staggered working hours for staff to avoid large gatherings.

Samuel Osborne26 March 2021 17:36

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Germany declares France is ‘high incidence area’ for coronavirus

Germany has declared all of France, including its overseas territories, as a “high incidence area” for the coronavirus.

The decision by Germany’s disease control agency means people traveling from France must provide a negative test result before crossing the German border.

The Robert Koch Institute also added neighboring Denmark to its list of “risk areas,” requiring 10-day quarantine after arrival in Germany.

Samuel Osborne26 March 2021 17:04

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Latest vaccine information

Government data up to 25 March shows that of the 32,325,993 jabs given in the UK so far, 29,316,130 were first doses – a rise of 324,942 on the previous day.

Some 3,009,863 were second doses, an increase of 234,382.

Samuel Osborne26 March 2021 16:42

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UK government reports 70 further Covid deaths

A further 70 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, bringing the UK total to 126,515, the government has said.

They added that as of 9am this morning, a further 6,187 lab-confirmed cases have been recorded, bringing the total to 4,325,315.

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 16:19

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Londoners urged to obey lockdown rules ahead of easing

The Mayor of London has urged people not to meet in groups outside of their own household this weekend, ahead of a rule-change on Monday that will see groups of up to six from multiple households meeting outdoors.

“We’re still in lockdown,” Sadiq Khan’s office said. “Please act responsibly.”

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 16:06

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Guernsey down to zero active Covid cases

Guernsey has announced that it has zero active Covid-19 cases.

The Channel Island has gone 27 days without a confirmed positive case.

One islander remains in hospital, but reportedly no longer has an “active infection”.

Director of Public Health Nicola Brink welcomed the news, tweeting: “Down to zero active cases. Thank you Guernsey!”

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 15:52

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Infection rates up 7 per cent in United States

The average daily rate of new Covid-19 infections has jumped up by 7 per cent in a week in the United States.

The US is averaging 57,000 new infections per day, up 7 per cent from the average across the previous 7 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hospitalisations have also increased over the last week, concerning health officials.

Follow updates from Danielle Zoellner:

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 15:40

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Nicola Sturgeon invited for Covid-19 vaccine

Nicola Sturgeon has received an invitation to her Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

The Scottish First Minister joked that it “really does soften the blow of being 50”.

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 15:21

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Virgin Atlantic joins host of airlines trialling Covid-19 travel app

Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to announce that it will trial the Travel Pass app to help customers prove that they meet the Covid-19 safety requirements of their destination.

Passengers on flights to Barbados from 16 April will be asked to verify that they have undergone pre-departure testing on the app.

Virgin Atlantic said that it will ask the British government to allow them to expand the trial to incorporate customers arriving in the UK from Barbados.

Future versions of Travel Pass, which was developed by the International Air Transport Association, will ask for vaccination records. Other airlines including British Airways are also using the app.

Joanna Taylor26 March 2021 15:09

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