Covid: Dominic Raab rejects calls for lockdown easing date

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has rejected calls from Conservative MPs to put a date on when lockdown measures will be eased, saying the government will be “cautious and careful”. The lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group (CRG) said all restrictions must be lifted by the end of April. Mr Raab told the BBC he was “confident” in the vaccine rollout, but added: “You can’t get ahead of the evidence.” So far 14.5 million people have had at least one dose of the vaccine. The CRG has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say there will be no justification for Covid laws once the nine priority groups have been vaccinated. UK reports 13,308 cases on Saturday Covid jabs extended to all over-65s

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Trump impeachment: Senate falls short of majority needed to convict

The US Senate has fallen short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement to insurrection over the Capitol riot on 6 January. A majority of senators – 57 to 43 – voted to convict Mr Trump. It would have needed 17 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to secure a conviction. After his acquittal, Mr Trump released a statement denouncing the trial as “the greatest witch hunt in history”. This was Mr Trump’s second impeachment. What verdict means for Trump, Biden and America Did Trump’s words at rally incite violence? ‘They thought they were going to die’ If he had been convicted, the Senate could have voted to bar him from

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Covid: Johnson ‘optimistic’ ahead of England lockdown-easing plan announcement

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is “optimistic” ahead of announcing his lockdown-easing road map for England on 22 February. It comes as scientists warn against lifting lockdown restrictions too quickly, even if the vaccination programme remains on target. The government is hoping to have offered vaccinations to 15 million people by Monday. So far, 14 million people in the UK have had at least one dose. Mr Johnson said “we have to be cautious” and said his top priority was to be able to reopen schools in England on 8 March. After schools, the government would look to open non-essential retail and then the hospitality sector, Mr Johnson added, during a visit to the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in

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Covid: We could live with virus ‘like we do flu’ by end of year, says Hancock

Getty Images Vaccines and treatments could mean that – by the end of the year – Covid-19 is an illness we can live with “like we do flu”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. He told the Daily Telegraph he hoped new drugs arriving by the end of 2021 could make Covid a treatable disease. The drugs – and vaccines – represent “our way out to freedom”, he said. Mr Hancock said he hoped all UK adults could be offered the vaccine “a bit before” September. Although more than 14 million people have been given a first vaccine dose, the health secretary said new treatments were also necessary for a “small number” of people who may not be protected by

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Covid vaccine: Over-70s urged to get vaccine as UK nears target

People aged 70 or over who have not yet had a Covid jab are being urged to come forward, in a final push by ministers to meet their vaccination target. More than 14 million people in the UK have had at least one dose – with the aim being 15 million by Monday. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the UK could this year live with Covid “like we do with flu”. “I hope that Covid-19 will become a treatable disease by the end of the year,” he told the Telegraph. How many people have been vaccinated so far? Over the weekend, ministers are taking part in a renewed drive to encourage people in the top four priority groups

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Covid: Virus cases are going down across the UK

Reuters Levels of coronavirus are going down in all four nations of the UK, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. The data provides more evidence that lockdown is working to control the virus, even the more infectious variants circulating. It is based on 661,931 tests from people in the last six weeks, whether or not they had symptoms. Experts warn that infection levels still remain high, however. It is not clear yet when lockdown will begin to be lifted. Scientists advising government say the lower the cases can get, the better. Unlocking too soon risks another surge of the virus, even though more people are being vaccinated against the disease every day. Prime Minister Boris Johnson

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UK economy saw record contraction in 2020

The UK economy shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions hit output, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says. The contraction in 2020 “was more than twice as much as the previous largest annual fall on record,” said ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow. In December, the economy grew by 1.2%, after shrinking by 2.3% in November, which the ONS said was due to the loosening of some restrictions.

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Yoshiro Mori: Tokyo Olympics chief steps down over sexism row

EPA The head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee has resigned after he was criticised for making “inappropriate” remarks about women. Yoshiro Mori, 83, was quoted as saying women talk too much and that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”. The remarks set off a firestorm of protest and Mr Mori apologised at the time but said he would not resign. However, the pressure on him to step down had been steadily increasing. Major sponsors had also come forward to criticise the former Japanese prime minister’s comments, including Toyota, one of the biggest Olympic backers. Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda said the company was “disappointed” at the remarks. On Tuesday, a group of female lawmakers

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Covid-19: UK ‘not learning lessons of Australia quarantine’

PA Media The UK’s rules on quarantine hotels for travellers arriving from Covid “red list” countries are less stringent than those enforced in Australia. The BBC has seen a copy of the UK government’s official requirements for hotel operators ahead of the policy starting on Monday. It spells out the rules for handling travellers for 11 nights of quarantine. Australia’s system, introduced early last year, is seen as a gold standard internationally. But as a result of repeated outbreaks among staff and guests, and the arrival of new variants, the rules in Australia have been tightened and are under review again. UK’s hotel quarantine site taken down after launch ‘Luck of the draw’: What it’s like in hotel quarantine What

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Victoria to enter lockdown with fans barred from Australian Open

EPA The Australian state of Victoria will enter lockdown for a third time in a bid to suppress an outbreak of the UK strain of coronavirus. Officials this week found 13 cases stemming from a quarantine worker who became infected at a Melbourne hotel. The lockdown will begin on Friday midnight and end on Wednesday. However, the government has said the Australian Open tennis tournament would continue in the state’s capital, Melbourne. Spectators will be banned from attending the event from Saturday, which had previously allowed up to 30,000 visitors a day. Tickets will be refunded, tournament director Craig Tiley said. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the current outbreak was not linked to the quarantine hotels used by the tennis

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