Coronavirus latest news: Visitors from 30 countries to face 10-day hotel quarantine

Dominic Penna
·65-min read
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

Boris Johnson has confirmed that arrivals from 30 different countries will have to quarantine in Government-provided hotels "without exception".

"We have banned all travel from 30 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations," Mr Johnson told MPs.

"I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception."

The Department of Health is working to establish quarantine hotels "as fast as possible", the Prime Minister added.

Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Home Secretary Priti Patel said journeys must be "absolutely essential". Passengers' justification for their journey will be checked by airlines on departure, she said, with people told to go home if they do not have a valid reason.

Nicola Sturgeon said this afternoon that the Government's quarantine plan "does not go far enough" and should instead act as a blanket measure.

Follow the latest updates below.

07:02 PM

Portugal deemed ‘high risk’ for Brazil strain – but UK variant is driving its third wave

The news that Portugal is to be classed as a “high risk” nation and its citizens subject to two weeks hotel quarantine when arriving in the UK has hardly registered in the Iberian country, which is fighting a devastating third wave of the virus.

Although the new measures, announced by the Prime Minister, have been put in place in a bid to prevent the new Brazilian variant of the virus reaching Britain, it is the fast-moving UK variant that is driving the crisis in Portugal.

A man wearing a face mask walks by a closed travel agency in Lisbon - Armando Franca/AP
A man wearing a face mask walks by a closed travel agency in Lisbon - Armando Franca/AP

Record death tolls from the pandemic were set each day last week, rising steadily from 152 on January 17 to 275 on January 24, while on Saturday 15,000 new cases were registered in just 24 hours.

The local news is full of pictures of exhausted medics and ambulances forming long lines outside hospitals, and the government was considering a formal request to the EU to provide extra medics.

Paul Nuki has more detail on this story.

06:49 PM

Israeli teenagers flock to Covid vaccine clinics in bid to save exams

It was a familiar scene in the country with the world's fastest vaccinations drive, James Rothwell reports. Ariel Wilfand went to his local clinic in Jerusalem and within five minutes had received his first Covid jab.

But Ariel, who came to the clinic with his father, is no frail octogenarian. He's a teenager, one of thousands being vaccinated by Israel as they sit important exams in the weeks to come.

"I feel good," said the 17-year-old after receiving his first dose of the Covid vaccine. "I want life to go back to normal as quickly as possible so I'm very hopeful.”

"This is the one thing I'm really pleased about this year," Ariel said of the country's lightning-speed inoculations campaign, which has already given the first jab to more than a quarter of the population.

Read more: Israel vaccine drive expanded to sit important exams

06:47 PM

Lockdown for at least another five weeks

Lockdown will last for at least another five weeks, it has emerged, after Boris Johnson announced today that schools will remain closed after February half-term.

The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons that classrooms will stay shut to most pupils until at least March 8.

Yet he sought to offset his downbeat statement with the promise that next month he will publish a roadmap out of Covid restrictions for the nation.

Our Deputy Political Editor Lucy Fisher has the details.

06:39 PM

Quarantine hotels 'a death knell for travel', warns industry chief

"The introduction of quarantine hotels is another death knell – for the travel industry as a whole, but especially for business travel," says Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association.

"Public safety must come first, but we question the timing of this announcement and the lack of investment in a long-term strategy to get the UK travelling again such as pre-departure testing."

Speaking to Telegraph Travel, Wratten emphasised that business travellers "are not just people in suits – they are key workers, humanitarian workers, scientists, students."

He added: "Placing the burden of proof for the validity of travel onto international carriers is an untenable situation for companies and staff that are already at breaking point.

06:18 PM

30 'red list' countries confirmed by Home Office

The Home Office has confirmed that, although Boris Johnson said 22 countries would be affected in the Commons earlier, the hotel quarantine rules will apply to 30 countries.

These are:

Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

05:54 PM

EU demands AstraZeneca diverts 75m Covid jabs made in UK factories

Brussels today demanded that tens of millions of British-made coronavirus vaccines be diverted from the UK to make up a supply shortfall in the jabs in the EU.

The European Commission claimed it was contractually entitled to doses from two UK plants making the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine as its row with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant deepened.

The British Government said it had a deal with AstraZeneca to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine with agreed delivery schedules.

05:52 PM

'Bank of Mum and Dad' pays out thousands during pandemic

The “Bank of Mum and Dad” has paid out an average of £1,922 to adult children during the Covid-19 pandemic, a study has found.

One in four parents have financially supported their offspring since the crisis began in March, according to a poll of 4,000 people.

The most common reasons given for the payments were to help cover household bills, rent payments, allowing them to move back to the family home or paying off debts.

Ewan Edwards, director of savings at Aldermore, the bank which carried out the research, said: "Many parents have needed to step up and support their children financially throughout the pandemic, even if it can be financially straining for some to do so.

"Having a savings pot in place can be hugely beneficial to provide a financial buffer and relieve stress for your family against unexpected financial pressures during times of uncertainty.

Sam Meadows has the full story.

05:34 PM

Boris Johnson: Vaccine will be made 'in ever-growing numbers'

Boris Johnson says that the vaccine "continues to be made in ever-growing numbers in the UK, and that will accelerate" when quizzed on reports that the UK is on target to vaccinate all over-50s by the middle of February.

"We'll continue rolling out vaccines as fast as we possibly can, and I am very pleased at the moment that we have the fastest roll-out of the vaccine in the UK."

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says that virus symptoms are under "regular review", and the public now has access to lateral flow tests even when people are asymptomatic.

Sir Patrick Vallance says the new variant is between 30 and 70 per cent more transmissible. There is an increase in mortality in certain data sets, he says - i.e. the 30 to 40 per cent mortality increase referred to last week.

"We've got no real new data to update that, but there are more studies to update that."

05:30 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Government has done its best'

Boris Johnson says all measures will be kept "under constant review, particularly on February 15 when we know whether we've hit our target" on vaccinations.

Asked about Government handling of the crisis, he says he takes "full responsibility for the handling" of the pandemic, but insists there are "no easy answers - very often there are no good answers at all.

"The Government has done its best to protect life and to minimise suffering. There will come a time, obviously, for the learning of lessons and there will be a full inquiry into everything. But I don't believe that time is right now."

Mr Johnson says he will "stick firmly" to his line that the UK is "confident in our supply and confident in the contracts that we have" when asked again about the AstraZeneca-EU row.

05:25 PM

'No clear data' on how much vaccines will reduce spread, says Jonathan Van-Tam

Jonathan Van-Tam says there are "not clear data on how vaccines will reduce transmission rates at this point in time".

"Vaccines really couldn't fail to have some effect on transmission. The question is less 'will they?', and more 'to what extent?'"

'That will then open up further questions about the deployment for vaccines, about how vaccines might play a role in keeping transmissions low in the UK. But these are questions for the future."

05:22 PM

Professor Van-Tam explains decision to keep schools shut

Sir Patrick Vallance says the vaccines will do "a number of things and the idea is to protect the individuals".

They are expected to reduce severe disease, he says, and vaccines will be "partially effective" in stemming the spread of transmission.

Sir Patrick points to data from Israel which refers to reduced transmission rates of more than 60 per cent.

On schools, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says children "get Covid-19, but very rarely indeed" get ill with the virus.

"The more adult-like they become, the greater propensity to transmit to others," he says.

Professor Van-Tam says it is unclear whether teachers contract the virus from each other or from children. Mortality rates are not greater among teachers, he says, but infected children can introduce the virus into their own households and drive up the R rate.

05:18 PM

Boris Johnson: March 8 'earliest sensible date' for return of schools

Boris Johnson stresses that March 8 is the "earliest sensible date" for the return of schools.

"We've got to give a certain amount of time for all of those four cohorts to get the level of immunity that they need," he says.

"We also need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine in driving those numbers of deaths down, and reducing serious disease."

 PM giving Covid briefing from Downing Street - Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph
PM giving Covid briefing from Downing Street - Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph

Mr Johnson says he is "hopeful", but the March 8 date "depends on a lot of things going right, and us all now continuing to work together to drive down the incidence of the disease".

He does not comment on apparent demands from the EU for vaccines that have been manufactured in Britain.

05:15 PM

Jonathan Van-Tam: 'Exceptional circumstances' could see most vulnerable under-16s vaccinated

Jonathan Van-Tam says that the JCVI advice is that for children under 16 who are "extremely at risk", there can be a discussion between their parents and physician about the prospective benefits of a vaccine.

He says that this needs to be "a carefully discussed individual decision with the physician and the parents".

However, Professor Van-Tam states that it is possible in exceptional circumstances.

"We are some way off for there being clinical trials data for multiple vaccines showing that the vaccines are authorised for used in children."

05:13 PM

Professor Van-Tam: 'Very real hope' vaccines will reduce hospitalisations

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says other countries "will be as keen as we are" to understand the impacts of vaccines on the spread of coronavirus among the population.

"I am hopeful that in a few weeks time, there will be the beginnings of some signals about how our vaccine programme is being effective," Professor Van-Tam says.

"Although the clinical trials data report headline results in terms of the prevention of infections with symptoms, in public health terms, what is going to change this for us is reduction in hospitalisations, in severe disease in other words."

Professor Van-Tam says he has "very real hope" that the vaccines are going to deliver this.

05:11 PM

Sir Patrick Vallance: UK remains in 'very difficult position'

Sir Patrick Vallance says that the National for Official Statistics estimates that one million people in the UK still have the virus.

He says that in some cases "there are some still increases".

"Lockdowns have worked, they've reached a plateau and they're beginning to decline, but it's early days. This isn't coming down quickly.

"We remain at very high levels so it's important that with that, and the roll-out of the vaccine programme, we start to see that kick in."

Sir Patrick warns that the UK remains "in a very difficult position, with very high levels".

05:09 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Road map will help us reclaim our lives'

Boris Johnson confirms £300 million of new money for schools for tutoring, and says that there will be a "Covid premium" so that pupils can catch up.

Mr Johnson says that a plan will be set out on February 22 "to gradually reopen our economy and society".

He warns that the timetable is subject to change, but says it will provide "clarity and certainty about the way ahead - a road map that we can take together and use as a country to defeat the virus and begin steadily to reclaim our lives."

05:07 PM

Boris Johnson: 'By definition, schools bring many households together'

Boris Johnson says that the toll of the pandemic "must not only be measured in the loss of life we've endured with 100,000 deaths, but I'm afraid we must also remember not just the damage to the economy, but the lost weeks and months of education."

There is a "real risk of damage to the prospects of our young people", says Mr Johnson, who says he "understands and shares" the frustration of the delay to schools reopening.

"The problem is not that schools are unsafe - teachers and head teachers have worked heroically to ensure they are Covid safe."

"The problem is by definition schools bring many households together and that contributes to the spread of the virus in the community drives up the R.

Boris Johnson leads Downing Street press conference - Sky News
Boris Johnson leads Downing Street press conference - Sky News

"Most importantly, we need to see the impact of our vaccines on those graphs of mortality."

Mr Johnson says it is "sensible now to serve notice" that schools will not be able to reopen on February 22, but "if we continue to progress we want to see, we hope to begin opening schools on Monday, March 8".

05:01 PM

Coming up: Boris Johnson press conference

In a few moments Boris Johnson is to lead this evening's coronavirus daily briefing.

Follow live text updates and watch along at the top of this blog.

04:44 PM

School closures: Reform UK says PM has 'let down millions of children'

Nigel Farage's Reform UK, renamed from the Brexit Party, has said that all teachers "must be vaccinated immediately after the first four priority groups" from February 15.

Richard Tice, chairman of the party, said: “The Prime Minister has once again let down millions of children. He has refused to confirm when schools will reopen for all. This is weak leadership.

“Reform UK believe teachers must be vaccinated immediately after the first 4 priority groups, which will be by February 15. This means schools can reopen on 8th March.

"Also one of the Easter school holiday weeks could be advanced to add onto the February half-term - which would gain children one more week in school rather than learning online."

Earlier today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for the February half-term period to be used to vaccinate teachers and all other school staff.

04:35 PM

'How dare they accuse AstraZeneca of deliberately dishonouring the EU'

Perhaps inevitably, the promise of vaccine salvation is fast turning into a bad case of vaccine wars, writes Jeremy Warner.

The European Commission has threatened to withhold supplies of the Belgium-produced Pfizer/BioNTech jab in response to AstraZeneca’s apparent failure to meet its contractual obligations to the EU on supplies of the British-developed alternative.

The row is unseemly, manufactured, and politically motivated. Yet it also speaks to the wider issue of how vaccines should be distributed worldwide.

As it happens, so-called vaccine nationalism is proving itself an extraordinarily effective way of delivering vaccines for all.

The European Commission’s frustrations are understandable, yet its complaint against AstraZeneca is instructed more by the need to find scapegoats for its own failings than any legitimate grievance.

04:23 PM

UK coronavirus cases rise by 25,308 as 1,725 more deaths recorded

A further 25,308 people have tested positive for coronavirus as of 9am this morning, the Department of Health has confirmed.

1,725 deaths within 28 days of a positive virus test have also been recorded by the Department.

The rolling seven-day average of cases has fallen by 28.9 per cent, while 596,845 coronavirus tests were carried out in the most recent 24-hour period.

04:14 PM

Priti Patel calls out influencers posting selfies on sunny holidays

04:07 PM

Nicola Sturgeon urges Boris Johnson to cancel Scotland visit as journey 'not essential'

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to cancel his visit to Scotland on Thursday by arguing the trip was not "essential" and could encourage people to break Covid travel restrictions, reports Simon Johnson.

Ms Sturgeon insisted the Prime Minister was "not unwelcome" and she was not telling him to "stay away", before making clear she did not think his visit could be justified within the coronavirus rules.

Speaking at her daily Covid briefing, she said "Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever in Scotland" did not meet the "essential" benchmark needed to carry out such a journey.

Political leaders have a "duty to lead by example", Ms Sturgeon said.

Read the full story here.

04:00 PM

What quarantine hotels are really like

Britons in up to 30 countries will have to pay for hotel quarantine if they return to the UK to prevent new Covid variants reaching this country from South Africa and South America.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is widely expected to announce a limited plan for new arrivals in England to quarantine in hotels when she later details to the House of Commons border protections against new coronavirus variants arriving from overseas.

But the concept is not new, and Ben McKechnie, a journalist and photographer, recalls his experience of being locked inside a hotel room for 15 days in Taiwan.

03:43 PM

Priti Patel asked about impact of hotel quarantine on asylum system

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, says that more than 8,000 people entered the UK last year by crossing the Channel on small vessels.

He asks what impact the hotel quarantine announcement will have on managing the asylum system, and asks the Home Office to reduce the number of people at the first 'asylum camp' at Napier Barracks, where there has been a "significant" coronavirus outbreak.

Priti Patel says that "rules and testing will apply to everyone with regards to illegal entry to the United Kingdom, although our policy is clear - they should not be risking their lives by travelling in a small boat.

"With regards to Napier, we have Covid-compliant measures in place in line with Public Health England. We are going to enhance our measures even further to prevent the spread of coronavirus."

03:34 PM

Oxford vaccine factory evacuated: Response to incident remains 'ongoing'

Downing Street is being kept up to date on developments after a bomb disposal team was called to the factory where the Oxford vaccine is made, a Number 10 spokesman said.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: "We are working with local police and the military to find out more about this incident.

"Thank you to the security personnel who are on-site to protect lives and ensure the safety of our vaccine supply. This highlights the vital role they play in keeping us all safe. Diolch."

Police and a bomb disposal unit have been called to an incident on Wrexham Industrial Estate - Hadyn Iball/Media Wales
Police and a bomb disposal unit have been called to an incident on Wrexham Industrial Estate - Hadyn Iball/Media Wales

Last week, emergency teams were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following flooding at the industrial estate.

North Wales Police said this afternoon: "We are currently dealing with an ongoing incident on the Wrexham Industrial Estate."

03:29 PM

Priti Patel: Work on hotel partners ongoing

Priti Patel is asked about how the quarantine hotels will be selected, and whether a geographical limit will be placed on how far away the hotels will be from airports.

"With regards to hotels and measures, as I've indicated already that work is underway," Ms Patel says.

She says that the Home Office is still looking at who the hotel partners will be.

"There are logistical and operational aspects we are in discussions about right now."

03:24 PM

Priti Patel speech: 'Absolutely right' airports work with Border Force and Home Office

Priti Patel says it is "absolutely right" that airports work with the Border Force and Home Office in checking with carriers that passenger locator forms are completed.

Ms Patel says airports themselves must put protective measures in place to stop the spread of the virus.

A row over health risks from Heathrow passport queues broke out yesterday as Ms Patel said the crowding was the result of increased checking of passengers for Covid test results.

Sources at Heathrow told The Telegraph they were concerned that Border Force had not got enough staff to keep queues down

03:17 PM

Hotel quarantine rules don't go far enough, says Yvette Cooper

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, says that the measures "don't go far enough to deliver a comprehensive system".

The Brazil and South African variants have been identified in a number of countries, she says, and the majority of cases in the first wave came from other European countries deemed 'low-risk' at the time.

Ms Cooper asks the Home Secretary if thousands of people will still arrive in the UK each day.

"All the measures - every measure that has been introduced - has provided degrees of protection," Priti Patel says. "The Right Honourable lady has heard me say that travel is down 90 per cent compared to this time last year.

"Clearly there are travel bans in place, and that'll continue. And the announcement today will also reduce the number of travelling passengers, because people should simply not be travelling."

03:14 PM

Sir Graham Brady urges Govt to prevent 'haemorrhaging' of aviation jobs

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, highlights that one million British jobs depend on aviation.

The Government is correct to take an "evidence-based" approach in lieu of a broader one, he says.

Sir Graham says that if further countries needed to be added to the 'red list' of countries, urgent financial support would need to be provided to prevent a "massive haemorrhaging" of jobs in Britain.

Priti Patel says work is always "under review" and Government will "always step up in whichever way it can to provide the support needed".

03:10 PM

Priti Patel: Each measure has added a new layer of protection

Priti Patel says the Government will work with all of the devolved administrations.

She says that Labour and the SNP are "going retrospective with thinking they were the first advocates" of border control.

"Each of these measures we have introduced have added another layer of protection against the virus," Ms Patel says. "Every measures that has been put in helps to reduce risk, protect the vaccine and protect the British people and public health."

03:05 PM

Border control has taken form of 'layered approach', says Priti Patel

Priti Patel insists that the Government has had a "layered approach" to its border controls since January 2020.

She describes as "nonsense" claims from the Labour Party that they have consistently pushed for tighter border controls.

Ms Patel says there are a number of "logistical and operational challenges" in rolling out the new measures.

03:00 PM

Priti Patel: UK in very different situation from last year

The Labour Party is calling for an extensive hotel quarantine system, says shadow home secretary Jonathan Ashworth.

"Today's announcement is too limited in its defences against emerging strains. We know strains from South Africa and Brazil have already reached these shores, with border testing only introduced 10 months after our first lockdown."

Mr Ashworth accuses the Government of having been "too decisive" during the course of the lockdown.

Priti Patel says it is "important to recognise" that the UK is in a very different situation because of the additional risks to public health that new variants pose, amid the progress of the vaccine roll-out.

"It could have implications for the vaccine - it is important we reduce risk by reducing the number of people entering our country," she says.

"We have already implemented numerous measures and protections, but these are a number of new protections at our disposal but also forthcoming with regards to hotels."

02:53 PM

Priti Patel announces further border checks

Priti Patel says that carriers will check reasons for travel on departure.

Police presence will also be increased at ports and airports, with people directed to return home if they do not have a valid reason, or they will face a fine.

Ms Patel says "only the most important" visits should be made, "and with exceptional reasons".

02:52 PM

Hotel quarantine policy confirmed by Priti Patel

Priti Patel says that police now are carrying out more physical addresses to ensure compliance self-isolation.

She adds that the UK will continue to refuse entry to residents from 'red list' countries that are already subject to travel bans.

Ms Patel confirms a new "managed isolation process" of hotel quarantine will be introduced from those arriving home from countries where international travel bans have already been imposed.

"They will be required to isolate for 10 days, without exemption, and the Department of Health will set out further details on this approach next week," she says.

"Despite the stay-at-home regulations, we are still seeing people not complying with these rules. The rules are clear - people should be staying at home, unless they have a valid reason to leave."

Anyone wanting to travel must make a "valid declaration" about why they wish to do so, Ms Patel says.

02:50 PM

Priti Patel: "Too many people" entering and leaving UK

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has started her statement at the despatch box.

Ms Patel begins her remarks by describing the "scale of the suffering this virus has inflicted" as "truly heartbreaking".

The Government's focus is on protecting its vaccine programme, and reducing the risk of new variants being transmitted, she says, but sequencing programmes are not enough on their own.

"It is clear that there are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day," she says.

"Today I am announcing further action to reduce passenger flow so that only a small number of people for whom it absolutely essential to travel are doing so, and therefore reducing the risk to our world-leading vaccine programme."

02:46 PM

Schools should open in 'sensible, cautious' way, says Boris Johnson

"It won't, alas, be until mid-February that we have real material evidence that vaccines are driving down the mortality rate among those vulnerable groups," Boris Johnson tells MPs.

"If you were to give schools decent notice to come back, you're driven more towards March 8 by that logic, rather than coming back earlier.

"We've been round and round it many times, this is about as fast as we think we can prudently go, and that is what the country would want. They would want schools open in a cautious and sensible way."

02:44 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Some kids have suffered more than others' during closures

Labour MP Jeff Smith says that there are more than 20,000 pupils currently out of school and unable to access their education in Greater Manchester.

Boris Johnson agrees that "differential learning" is a problem: "Some kids, some families have suffered more of a break in their learning than others.

"And that's why we're going to focus so much on the catch-up funds we've identified... Of course Greater Manchester will be targeted by all the measures we've outlined, and more to come."

02:40 PM

No vaccine, no job, Turin hospital tells new employees

New employees at an Italian hospital will have to commit to being vaccinated before they are offered a contract - and will be fired if after 40 days they have not had the injection, writes Erica Di Blasi in Turin.

Gabriele Gallone, a doctor at the Orbassano hospital in Turin, said the newly implemented requirements were the right tool to protect patients and staff. "I've already hired someone according to these criteria - a nurse two days ago," he said. "In the contract I specified that eligibility was linked to this rule. Within 40 days he has to be vaccinated. If after that time there is no [vaccination] certificate, the contract will be canceled."

The trend in recent infections at the hospital prompted the new rule. "When I monitored the latest infections among the staff I found that 13 nurses had become infected between Jan 9 and Jan 21. Six of them had refused the vaccine," Dr Gallone said.

"All the others fell ill immediately after the first dose of the vaccine, when antibodies had not yet formed. One tested positive the day after the injection, so the disease was certainly already in incubation."

About 1,200 of the hospital's 1,500 staff have now had the vaccine. "When this phase of the vaccination programme ends we will test everyone for antibodies. Those who do not have them will have to take a test regularly," the doctor said.

02:31 PM

Schools return delay confirmed by Boris Johnson: Watch

02:30 PM

Tory MP warns against 'mission creep' with vaccines

Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne says that to lift lockdown, vaccinations must focus on those who are most likely to be infected.

"Mission creep beyond hospitalisations will inevitably lead to the diminution of our sense of urgency to lift lockdowns," he says.

Boris Johnson says Sir Desmond is right, and that the JCVI priority list must not be interfered with.

Labour's policy of vaccinating teachers would mean vaccinations were taken from more vulnerable people, Mr Johnson adds.

02:24 PM

Johnson promises £2bn will go to child mental health

Robert Halfon, the education select committee chairman, calls on the PM to work with "a coalition of the willing" to get children back in the classroom.

He also asks about funding for children with mental health problems.

Boris Johnson says more than £2bn will go to help 345,000 children.

The Prime Minister adds that the most vulnerable members of society must be "[vaccinated] in their own home" if they need, and must have "no anxiety" about travelling to a vaccination hub.

02:05 PM

Vaccine shortage disrupts Spanish regions as Madrid suspends first dose campaign

Madrid’s regional government has announced that it is halting all planned first doses of the Covid vaccine for two weeks, blaming a lack of supply of jabs from Spain’s national administration for its decision, James Badcock reports.

Ignacio Aguado, Madrid’s deputy president, said that the region’s health authority had received fewer vaccines than initially promised by the Spanish government of Spain, and claimed that the decision to reserve some of the first supplies from the end of December and early January was now vindicated.

“We will focus on delivering the second doses, which are so necessary,” Mr Aguado said.

Health care workers queue before receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Gregorio Maranon Hospital during the third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic - Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images Europe
Health care workers queue before receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Gregorio Maranon Hospital during the third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic - Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images Europe

Spain’s health ministry has marked out the strategy for regions to implement, with elderly care home residents and health workers the first risk groups to be vaccinated, and all other over-80s next on the list.

Regions are assigned a proportion of the vaccines imported by Spain according to the needs of their population, but the Spanish government recalculated those numbers partly based on the regions’ different speed of use when Pfizer’s delivery batch was less than expected last week.

01:54 PM

Jeremy Hunt calls for 'blanket offer' to make up salaries lost to self-isolation

Jeremy Hunt cites comments made on Monday by Baroness Harding that 30,000 people each day who have been asked to isolate are not doing so.

This is a big threat to the UK's containment strategy, Mr Hunt says, and asks Boris Johnson if it is time for a "blanket offer" to make good any salary on that is lost through isolation.

Mr Johnson says he "very much respects" Mr Hunt's suggestion, but adds: "I believe the people of this country should be isolating on the basis that it's the right thing to do for themselves, their family and their country."

01:51 PM

Boris Johnson refutes idea of changing vaccine procedure

Boris Johnson refutes the idea that the vaccination priority list should be changed in order to vaccinate teachers.

"That Labour policy would actually delay our route of lockdown and delay our ability to get kids back to school," he says.

"I urge him to think again or explain which members of vulnerable groups would be deprived of their vaccine. Everyone will have to answer questions at the end of this - all politicians will be asked what we did to beat this virus."

01:49 PM

Labour calls for February half-term vaccination of teachers and teaching assistants

Sir Keir Starmer calls for the February half-term window to be used to vaccinate all school staff including teachers and teaching assistants.

"On borders we'll look at the Prime Minister's statement in detail," he says. "But in due course there will be a public inquiry and the Prime Minister will be able to answer questions."

Sir Keir asks if Mr Johnson is saying to grieving families that their loss was "inevitable".

The Prime Minister repeats that there will "be a time to reflect and analyse", but accuses Sir Keir Starmer of "seeking continually to attack what the Government have been trying to do at every opportunity".

01:43 PM

Oxford vaccine factory evacuated after 'suspicious package' was sent to site

A bomb disposal team has been called to the factory in which the Oxford vaccine is made after a suspicious package was reported, writes Gareth Davies.

The Wockhardt factory on the Wrexham Industrial Estate was evacuated this morning after the package was sent to the site.

It is here where the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is packaged into vials.

In a statement, Wockhardt said: "Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package to site.

"All relevant authorities were immediately notified and engaged. Upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation.

"The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance."

Read the full story here.

01:42 PM

Sir Keir Starmer: 'This was not inevitable'

Contributing virtually, Sir Keir Starmer notes that the UK has one of the highest death tolls in the world alongside "the deepest recession and the lowest growth of any major economy".

"For all the contrition and sympathy that the Prime Minister expresses - and I recognise how heartfelt that is - the truth is this was not inevitable," Sir Keir says.

The Labour leader claims it was "not just bad luck", but the result of a number of mistakes from the Government in its coronavirus response.

01:40 PM

Boris Johnson: 'This is the time to hold our nerve'

Boris Johnson confirms that the Government will prolong Free School Meals arrangements, including the national voucher scheme and food parcels, until children return to the classroom.

Mr Johnson says a "programme of catch-up" will involve £300 million of additional money to schools for tutoring, with a 'Covid premium' to support catch-up learning.

"We recognise that these extended school closures have had a huge impact on children's learning which will take more than a year to make up," Mr Johnson says.

"So we will work together with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure pupils have the chance to make up their learning over the course of this Parliament.

"I know the measures I am setting out today will be disappointing for all of us. But the way forward has been clear ever since the vaccines arrived.

"As we inoculate more people hour-by-hour, this is the time to hold our nerve in the endgame in the battle against the virus. Our goal must be to buy the weeks we need to immunise the most vulnerable and get the virus under control so we can reclaim our lives once and for all."

01:37 PM

School reopenings will not take place after February half-term

Boris Johnson says that lockdown measures will be reviewed in mid-February once the most vulnerable have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Mr Johnson says the focus will be on opening schools "as a national priority".

"The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms," he says.

"I know parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible, including two weeks' notice of reopening. I must inform the House it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term"

Mr Johnson says he understands how "frustrating" it will be for parents and children, and shares concerns about the mental health of pupils.

"If we achieve our vaccination of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups by February 15, and every passing day sees more progress towards this goal, then we hope by three weeks later - March 8 - it will be safe to begin the opening of school by March 8."

01:33 PM

Hotel quarantine announced for 22 countries

Boris Johnson says travel has been banned from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants, and all such arrivals will now have to isolate in Government-provided hotels "without exception".

01:31 PM

Boris Johnson 'acutely conscious' of pressure of lockdown

Boris Johnson says he is "acutely conscious" that parents are balancing the demands of working from home with childcare, businesses are enduring uncertainty, and "too many are coping with the anxiety of illness or the grief of bereavement".

Mr Johnson says the UK will work with the World Health Organisation to help other countries identify new variants "because a new variant anywhere poses a threat everywhere".

Travel corridors have already been closed and proof of a negative coronavirus test is required, Mr Johnson notes, but the Government is to announce further measures.

01:16 PM

Pharmacist faces 20 years in jail after trying to spoil vaccine vials

A Wisconsin pharmacist accused of trying to spoil dozens of vials of Covid-19 vaccine is facing 20 years in prison after he agreed Tuesday to plead guilty in federal court, prosecutors said.

Steven Brandenburg, 46, is charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products, which is described in the plea deal as showing "reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury."

Mr Brandenburg faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each count. Detectives wrote in court documents that Brandenburg is an admitted conspiracy theorist who believed the vaccine would mutate recipients' DNA.

01:01 PM

Hotel quarantine plan 'does not go far enough', says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Government's quarantine plan "does not go far enough" ahead of an announcement this afternoon.

Speaking after a four-nations call, Ms Sturgeon said she was unconvinced by the measures proposed in response to the South African and Brazilian coronavirus variants.

"I think I do have a duty at this point to say that I am concerned that the proposal does not go far enough and I've made that point very strongly in the four-nations discussions that we've just had today," she said.

"We will be seeking urgently to persuade them to go much further, and indeed to move to a comprehensive system of supervised quarantine."

12:41 PM

Boris Johnson announcement on Covid-19 coming soon

Following on from Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson is to make a Covid-19 statement in the House of Commons. You will be able to watch it live below:

12:33 PM

Boris Johnson: Lockdown exit relies on not finding new variants of concern

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, says that it has been an "extraordinary, difficult year" and the fortitude of the public has been "severely different".

Sir Geoffrey asks that Boris Johnson to guarantee that his long-term plan will set out how to lift each area out of its tier, "deal with the long-term problems" caused by Covid, and try to avoid changes at 24-hour notice in future.

"Later on this afternoon I'll be setting out our approach to schools," Mr Johnson says. "In the next few weeks assuming the vaccine roll-out continues well, and that we don't find any new variants of concern, I'll be setting out a broader road map for the whole country."

12:22 PM

Boris Johnson accuses Sir Keir Starmer of 'scoring political points' amid 100,000-deaths milestone

The UK is the first country in Europe to pass 100,000 coronavirus deaths and also has the deepest recession on the continent, Sir Keir Starmer notes.

"Our schools are closed and our borders are open, and my biggest concern is that the Prime Minister still hasn't learnt the lessons of last year," Sir Keir says.

He adds that he will be speaking to coronavirus victims' families this afternoon, and asks Mr Johnson what he would like to say to them.

"The message I would give those families is the same as I've given everyone I've met," the Prime Minister says. "I deeply personally regret the loss of life, the suffering of their families.

"But the best thing we can do to honour the memory of those who have died and those who are grieving is to work together to bring the virus under control and to keep it down.

Mr Johnson accuses Sir Keir Starmer of "never failed in his efforts to score political points. He has twisted and he has turned."

12:18 PM

Schools reopening: Boris Johnson to set out more details within minutes

Sir Keir Starmer asks Mr Johnson to use the window of the February half-term "to vaccinate all teachers and all school staff".

"Of course, it follows all teachers in JCVI Groups 1-9 will be vaccinated as a matter of priority," Mr Johnson says.

Sir Keir says the Government "has a duty" to ensure that every child can learn from home, as a third of families claim they do not have enough laptops or home computers.

Mr Johnson says he has provided millions of laptops and will set out further measures in relation to the reopening of schools "in just a few minutes". He challenges Sir Keir to defy his "union paymasters and say that schools are safe".

"Every week the Prime Minister comes with his pre-prepared attack lines," responds Sir Keir. "His answers are simply not good enough.

"We're nearly a year into this pandemic and one in three families say they do not have the wherewithal to support home learning."

12:13 PM

Hotel quarantine: Sir Keir Starmer calls for universal policy

Boris Johnson is accused by Sir Keir Starmer of being too slow in his response to the coronavirus pandemic, "and I fear he still hasn't learned (his) lesson".

"We've known about the variants to the virus since early December, we know some of those variants are coming from abroad, but we don't know the route," Sir Keir says.

He calls for mandatory hotel quarantine for "anyone arriving in this country from anywhere in the world."

Boris Johnson says that the Labour Party has had a habit of "supporting one approach and then attacking it", insisting the UK has "one of the toughest" border security regimes in the world.

Priti Patel will be setting out "even tougher measures" for red list countries later today, Mr Johnson adds. But Sir Keir says Ms Patel is "telling anyone who will listen" that she wanted tighter border controls last spring.

12:09 PM

'There are no easy answers', says Boris Johnson of Covid response

Sir Keir Starmer says he is sure the Prime Minister regrets the lives lost, but "the question is why the United Kingdom has a death rate higher than almost anywhere in the world".

He says Mr Johnson will "have to answer that question one day, and he should have the decency to answer it today".

Sir Keir asks if the Prime Minster agrees with comments by Patrick Vallance that governments must "go early and go hard" in responding to the virus.

Mr Johnson says "when you have a new virus, when you have a new variant of that virus, there are no easy answers".

"Perpetual lockdown is no answer, but we will continue to do everything we can to roll out our vaccine programme, to give the public the protection that they want and they deserve."

Mr Johnson says 6.9 million Britons have now been vaccinated, and the Government is "on target" to vaccinate the four most vulnerable groups.

12:06 PM

Boris Johnson: 'I don't think the moment is now' to reflect on lessons of pandemic

Appearing in the Commons virtually while in self-isolation, Sir Keir Starmer echoes Mr Johnson's comments about Holocaust Memorial Day.

Sir Keir refers to the milestone of 100,000 deaths, and says "that's not just a statistic - behind every death is a grieving family, a mum, a dad, a sister, a brother, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour."

"The question on everyone's lips this morning is 'why'? Can he tell us why he thinks that the United Kingdom has ended up with a death toll of 100,000 - the highest number in Europe?"

Boris Johnson says he mourns "every death in this pandemic, and we share the grief of all those who have been bereaved".

"Let him be in no doubt and the House be in no doubt that I and the Government take full responsibility for all of the actions we've taken during this pandemic to fight this disease. And yes, Mr Speaker, there will indeed be a time when we must learn the lessons of what has happened, reflect on them and prepare.

"I don't think that moment is now, when we are in the throes of fighting this wave of the variant, and I think what the country wants is for us to come together as a Parliament and as politicians and to work to keep the virus under control as we are, and to continue to roll out the fastest vaccination in Europe."

12:03 PM

Concerns raised about lack of vaccinations for those in 80s and 90s

Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, says that some of his constituents in their 80s and 90s have not been able to receive the vaccine so far.

He asks the Prime Minister whether a constituency vaccination centre in Medway will be set up.

Mr Johnson says he shares Mr Chishti's concerns, and says that more than 80 per cent of over-80s have been vaccinated to date.

12:01 PM

Holocaust Memorial Day

Boris Johnson begins by paying tribute to Holocaust victims and survivors on Holocaust Memorial Day. Mr Johnson says we must resolve to fight against "all forms of prejudice, wherever they're found".

12:00 PM

Coming up: Prime Minister's Questions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for PMQs - Leon Neal/Getty Images Europe
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for PMQs - Leon Neal/Getty Images Europe

In a couple of minutes Boris Johnson will take on Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions.

It comes the day after the UK hit the unwanted milestone of 100,000 deaths with coronavirus.

You can follow all of the action through our live text updates, and the live stream below:

11:48 AM

Daily commute must evolve to lure back the ‘Covid aristocracy’

Uncertainty about full-time working from home gives some optimism to train and bus companies struggling to adapt to a huge shift in commuter behaviour, writes Chris Price

According to the Office for National Statistics, before the arrival of coronavirus only 5 per cent of Britons regularly worked from home.

By June 14 last year, 49 per cent had done so in the previous week and this remained at 40 per cent for the week ending December 6.

Some have labelled these commuters the "Covid aristocracy" – workers who don't need to leave the house to do their jobs. But does the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine spell the beginning of the end of this radical change in behaviour?

Read more: The commute is not dead - even if some remain reluctant

11:40 AM

AstraZeneca denies that it has pulled out of talks with EU

AstraZeneca has said it has not pulled out of vaccine talks with the European Union and plans to meet with EU officials later today in Brussels.

EU officials the company had pulled out of the meeting to discuss delayed vaccine commitments to the 27-nation bloc.

The talks would have been the third in in as many days, as an ongoing dispute over jabs raises concerns over 'vaccine nationalism'.

11:28 AM

WHO official investigating pandemic origins warns world to 'manage expectations'

A team of World Health Organisation experts investigating the origins of the pandemic are preparing to begin work at last after completing quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Ben Farmer and Sophia Yan report.

The 13-person team will leave their fortnight-long isolation in the next 24 hours and step into a political minefield.

American accusations that the virus originated in a Chinese military lab, or that the country's government hushed up the start of the outbreak, are likely to place intense scrutiny on the team.

World Health Organisation investigators arriving at the airport at Wuhan earlier this month - Nicholas Asfouri/AFP
World Health Organisation investigators arriving at the airport at Wuhan earlier this month - Nicholas Asfouri/AFP

"The eyes of the world are focused on this, the opinions of the world are focused on this," Dutch virologist and team member Marion Koopmans told CNN.

She went on: "I think we really have to manage expectations, if you look at some of the earlier quests for the origins of outbreaks, they have taken years to complete," she said. "The early and relatively easy studies have been done, have already been published."

11:23 AM

France coronavirus news: Macron meets ministers to discuss third lockdown

French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting with ministers as the prospect of a third nationwide lockdown in the country looms.

The Defence Council - France's group of ministers at the centre of health policymaking during the pandemic - are considering whether to introduce another nationwide shutdown amid press reports that Mr Macron will once again address the nation this week.

French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a face mask, arrives to attend a video conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 26, - Francois Mori/AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a face mask, arrives to attend a video conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 26, - Francois Mori/AFP

Jean-François Delfraissy, the head of France's advisory Scientific Council group, said that a third lockdown "will probably be necessary" and it is a crucial week in which decisions should be made.

However an Elysée source has said "we need to be certain that there are no solutions other than lockdown", with no decision on lockdown having been confirmed so far.

It comes after France averaged more than 20,000 daily coronavirus cases for four consecutive days, while hospital occupancy has reached an eight-week peak of 27,041.

11:07 AM

100,000 coronavirus deaths in charts: What's really happening in the UK

Britain passed the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, almost a year to the day since the first recorded death.

Peter Attwood, an 84-year-old from Chatham, Kent, died in hospital on January 30 last year after falling ill with a cough and fever. He is thought to be the first victim of Covid in the UK.

He is believed to have caught the virus in December 2019, showing that it was on our shores long before anyone knew. Now, nearly a year on, it has left a legacy of death, lockdowns and collateral damage in its wake.

But we know far more about it than we did last year.

This is what the latest data is telling us.

10:59 AM

AstraZeneca pull out of EU meeting

AstraZeneca has pulled out of a meeting with the European Union to discuss delayed vaccine commitments, according to an EU official.

10:59 AM

Italian priest calls for vaccine priority for clergy

An Italian priest has called for the clergy to be put on the priority list for receiving the coronavirus vaccine, writes Erica Di Blasi in Turin.

"Priests should be included in the categories to be vaccinated as soon as possible," said Don Ruggero Marini from the church of San Giacomo di La Loggia in northern Italy.

"But I am not asking for privileges or favours - I ask to be put in a position not to harm others while I carry out my ministry.

"I have always done everything possible not to infect the elderly people I meet, the faithful who ask for my help, the families I visit, but I cannot be sure that I am not a vehicle of contagion. I could be a carrier without knowing it, despite all the care I take. But not doing these things would be failing to do my job. If a sick person calls me, I go. It is the duty of a priest."

More than 200 Italian priests have died of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

"But my request is not made to protect myself even though I have of course no desire to get sick. It arises from the need to protect others," said Don Marini.

"My mission is to be among people and I cannot risk becoming a danger to them."

Some religious activity has resumed after the end of the country's most rigid lockdown last spring, although much of priests' ministry takes place in the homes of the sick and elderly. Don Marini has asked the Archbishop of Turin to support his request. His appeal concerns only Catholic priests.

10:44 AM

Covid around the world, in pictures

Lila Blanks holds the casket of her husband, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died of the Covid, ahead of his funeral in San Felipe, Texas - Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters
Lila Blanks holds the casket of her husband, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died of the Covid, ahead of his funeral in San Felipe, Texas - Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk through a subway station in Beijing - Mark Schiefelbein/AP
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk through a subway station in Beijing - Mark Schiefelbein/AP
This aerial photo shows bullet trains parked at a station in preparation for the upcoming Lunar New Year travel peak in Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu province - STR/AFP
This aerial photo shows bullet trains parked at a station in preparation for the upcoming Lunar New Year travel peak in Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu province - STR/AFP

10:23 AM

Airline leaders demand 'urgent road map' for reopening travel

Airline bosses are demanding that the Government provides an "urgent road map for the reopening of air travel".

The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic were among those to sign a joint letter ahead of an expected announcement confirming the introduction of quarantine hotels for arriving travellers.

They warned that requiring passengers to pay to self-isolate in hotels will have a "dramatic impact" on airlines and the wider UK economy.

Vital freight and PPE supplies would be impacted, and tens of thousands of jobs would be put at risk, according to the letter.

10:10 AM

Pre-Covid health inequalities to blame for high death rate, says UCL professor

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology at University College London (UCL) and director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity, was asked why he thought the UK had one of the highest death rates.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that before the pandemic the country had faced a slowdown in improvements in life expectancy, large rises in health inequalities and the health of poor people outside London was getting worse.

He said: "We came into the pandemic in a bad state, then when the pandemic hit what we saw dramatically were inequalities in health that for Covid-19 mortality look very similar to mortality from all causes."

Asked about planning for the future, he stressed the need to prioritise health and wellbeing and "recognising the common good".

He added: "It means recognising the important role of government and public services. You can't get away with defunding public services for a decade and then expect to be in a good place to manage the next pandemic."

10:01 AM

Hospitals should be vaccinating elderly and vulnerable inpatients, Government adviser says

Hospitals should be vaccinating elderly and vulnerable inpatients, a Government immunisation adviser has said, after some NHS trusts refused to administer the Covid-19 jab.

Professor Anthony Harnden, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said it was "absolutely essential" that hospital trusts vaccinated those most at risk of Covid-19 in their care.

The call comes after a Sky News investigation found evidence of hospitals telling the families of elderly non-Covid patients that they are only vaccinating outpatients, and not those staying overnight.

In one case, Maria Thompson was told by a staff member at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust that her 80-year-old mother would not be vaccinated during her stay for an autoimmune illness.

"We are not yet vaccinating inpatients," the message said.

09:36 AM

Share our vaccines, says Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury was asked about the Norwegian government's plan to start giving away vaccines while running its own vaccination programme.

The Most Rev Justin Welby told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This virus will not be defeated anywhere until it's defeated everywhere and that means that, not least, it's in our own interests that all around the world the vaccine is given."

Praising the UK Government for its involvement in the global vaccine-sharing fund Covax, Mr Welby continued: "We do have to care, and we are one of the countries, one of the highest levels of infection and death rate in the world, and it is necessary to focus on those in need to stop it spreading.

"At the heart of Jesus's teaching was 'love your neighbour as yourself' - it doesn't mean you let yourself die in order to love your neighbour, normally - that's sometimes called for.

"Jesus calls us to a generosity of heart and spirit and there will be a point when we have to start giving away.

"I think places like Canada have ordered five times what they need and I'm sure they will look at how that can be distributed around the world, and similarly here, I've no doubt that's on the Government's mind."

09:18 AM

Gavin Williamson arrives at the Department for Education

The under-fire Education Secretary has been pictured this morning.

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, arrives at the Department of Education - James Veysey/Shutterstock
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, arrives at the Department of Education - James Veysey/Shutterstock

09:05 AM

Could be another 50,000 deaths

Professor Calum Semple, who sits on the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), predicted there could be another 50,000 deaths from coronavirus, and warned that every Covid fatality "represents probably four or five people who survive but are damaged" by the disease.

"It would really not surprise me if we're looking at another 40-50,000 deaths before this burns out," he told BBC Two's Newsnight programme.

In March, before the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a "good outcome".

09:02 AM

Watch: 'We didn't have to be in this situation'

Here is the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth reacting to the UK passing the grim 100,000 milestone.

08:59 AM

Quarantine hotels need to be more comprehensive, says scientist

Asked about quarantine hotels, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Breakfast: "I think it's difficult for us in the UK to think about a system like this but it's absolutely essential.

"If you look at the genomics work that's being done, looking at where the virus has come from - for example in the summer up here in Scotland, we got down to two cases on July 12, and tiny numbers in that month of July.

"And then as we headed into the late summer the genomic studies show us that we reimported the virus from overseas and from elsewhere in the UK into the country because of travel.

"And the overseas issue is something we can do something about, so adopting a model a bit like south-east Asian countries, Australia or New Zealand where we have quarantine that is not just voluntary like it is now, but supported quarantine - that will mean hotels for some people.

"I can see that the UK Government may decide to start with countries where variants are a real concern, but I think going forward we're going to have to apply that more comprehensively."

08:48 AM

New variants could still enter UK even with strict border measures

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said there will always be the possibility of new Covid-19 variants in the UK despite stricter measures at the border.

He told Times Radio: "We're not a country which you can hermetically seal, we may be an island but we rely on imports and exports, freight and hauliers crossing the border every day so there will always be the ability for new variants to enter the country.

"And although we don't know what the origins of the Kent variant, the so-called Kent variant are, we're also capable of creating our own variants in this country so you can't shield yourself entirely from these situations but we have had strict measures at the border and we're going to have even stricter measures very soon."

08:36 AM

'Legacy of poor decisions' led to 'where we are now', says scientist

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said a "legacy of poor decisions" around easing restrictions and travel, coupled with the new variant, have led to "where we are now".

She told BBC Breakfast: "Unfortunately the number of people dying is not going to decline quickly, and even then it will remain for a while at a really high rate so we're absolutely not out of it.

"I think where we are now is a legacy of poor decisions that were taken when we eased restrictions earlier in the year particularly around travel etc and then of course the variant has created extra pressure."

08:33 AM

New US VP Kamala Harris gets second dose of vaccine

Kamala Harris rolls up her sleeve - Brendan Smialowski/AFP
Kamala Harris rolls up her sleeve - Brendan Smialowski/AFP
The Vice President reacts after getting her jab - Patrick Semansky/AP
The Vice President reacts after getting her jab - Patrick Semansky/AP
And back to work - Patrick Semansky/AP
And back to work - Patrick Semansky/AP

08:25 AM

'Litany of errors' led to tragic death toll, say Labour

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said a "litany of errors" by the Government led to the UK reaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, adding he would support a "national memorial" for the "shattered families left behind".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: "I'm sorry to say it, I really am, but I just don't believe that the Government did do everything we could."

Mr Ashworth accepted "this is a completely difficult, extraordinary situation" but added "other countries are not dealing with these huge levels of deaths that we are" and that a lack of financial support has meant people are not able to quarantine when they have coronavirus.

He blamed the Prime Minister for being too lenient with coronavirus measures, adding: "He likes to deliver good news, he doesn't like to disappoint people... but the reality is that a lot of the time you should just be straight with people."

08:24 AM

Bill Gates: 'The world wasn’t ready for Covid-19. I think next time will be different'

In Bill and Melinda Gates' annual letter, the couple say we should be preparing for the next global pandemic now.

They write: "Covid-19 has cost lives, sickened millions, and thrust the global economy into a devastating recession.

"Although we have a long recovery in front of us, the world has achieved some significant victories against the virus in the form of new tests, treatments, and vaccines. We believe these new tools will soon begin bending the curve in a big way.

They also stress that it’s not too early to think about the next pandemic. Although stopping it will require tens of billions of dollars per year, they note that COVID-19 has cost the world an estimated $28 trillion. They urge continued investment in testing, treatments, and vaccines, and discuss the importance of a global alert system that can detect disease outbreaks as soon as they occur.

"The world now understands how seriously we should take pandemics," Mr Gates writes. "We’re already seeing new pandemic preparedness strategies emerge and I expect to see more in the months and years to come. The world wasn’t ready for the Covid-19 pandemic. I think next time will be different."

08:19 AM

Further steps in pipeline to ensure 'less flow of individuals' into England

Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out further steps to the Commons on Wednesday to ensure there is "less flow of individuals" into England to control new strains of coronavirus, Robert Jenrick confirmed.

He told Sky News: "The Prime Minister has said we do want to go further and the Home Secretary will be making a statement in Parliament later today about further steps we are going to take in this country to ensure that there is less flow of individuals in."

08:11 AM

Labour: 'We should have had comprehensive border controls in for the past year'

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has criticised the Government for failing to impose strict measures at the borders soon enough, as Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to make announcements about travel controls on Wednesday.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Ashworth said: "We should have had comprehensive border controls in for the past year

"Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, they tell us they want to take control of their borders, but the one time it actually mattered, and they needed to take control of our borders to protect us, they failed.

"I would urge the Government to look at a comprehensive policy, not just the hotspots, because remember, there will be areas or countries across the world where there are mutations which haven't been identified yet because they don't have the same level of scientific ability."

08:09 AM

PM to publish document on how lockdown will be lifted

The Prime Minister is looking to publish a document next month giving detail on the criteria the Government will use to lift the lockdown, according to the BBC.

The metrics will include:

  1. The number of people in hospital

  2. The number of people dying

  3. The vaccine rollout

  4. Any new variants

08:01 AM

Global death comparisons 'difficult', says minister

Robert Jenrick said it was "difficult" to make international comparisons when asked about the UK being fifth in the world in total deaths and cases.

"I think these comparisons are difficult to make at the present time," he told Sky News.

"There will come a time when we can reflect on what has happened, when we can and should learn lessons, but I think it is difficult to do so at this distance."

But he admitted: "No doubt there will be some things that we could have done differently with the benefit of hindsight."

The Cabinet minister also said there were "no easy answers to any of the questions" when asked about the Government's approach to care homes.

"But we tried to make the best decisions at the time," Mr Jenrick said.

07:56 AM

Poll: Should the UK share its vaccine supply?

What would you do?

07:46 AM

Government made 'monumental mistakes', says shadow health secretary

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government has made "monumental mistakes" in its handling of the pandemic.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're roughly 12 months on from the first case being identified in the United Kingdom, to think that we've lost 100,000 people in the past 12 months is horrendous.

"We talk about statistics but every individual would have had families, friends, who are grieving and will be grieving particularly today I suspect, and of course within that cohort of people we've lost thousands who were in care homes and I'm afraid were left exposed and unprotected."

He added: "It's just horrendous on every front... I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I just do not believe that Boris Johnson did everything we could, I just can't accept that.

"We all accept these are challenging times for any government, this is a virus which has swept across the world with speed and severity and it continues to spread ferociously... But monumental mistakes have been made, we have had a litany of errors in the last 12 months, and he didn't have to make these mistakes."

07:37 AM

Government did take right decisions at right time, insists minister

The Government took the "right decisions at the right time" in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted.

He told Sky News: "We took the decisions that we could at the time on the basis of the information that was available to us.

"And we did everything that we could to protect people's lives and help to weather the storm, and take the country through this very challenging period.

"There is no textbook as to how to respond to a pandemic like this, but we do believe that we took the right decisions at the right time.

"And now our focus is on continuing to help the country through the remaining stages of the pandemic and focus on the vaccine rollout."

07:31 AM

Britons to face hotel quarantine from 30 high-risk countries

Britons in up to 30 countries will have to pay for hotel quarantine if they return to the UK to prevent new Covid variants reaching this country from South Africa and South America.

Boris Johnson was on Tuesday night expected to approve the plans for Australian-style hotel quarantine that will cost travellers up to £1,500 for 10 days self-isolating with meals served in their rooms and supervised by private security guards.

The Cabinet’s Covid operations committee was expected to back away from imposing the requirement for quarantine hotels on all returning Britons and instead limit it to the 30 “high risk” countries currently covered by a travel ban for foreigners. All 30 bar Portugal and Cape Verde are in or around South Africa and South America, where three Covid variants have emerged, in addition to the one that emerged in Kent.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is widely expected to announce a limited plan for new arrivals in England to quarantine in hotels when she later details to the House of Commons border protections against new coronavirus variants arriving from overseas.

07:23 AM

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06:51 AM

Australia's 10th Covid-free day in a row

Australia recorded a 10th straight day of no new local Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) to relax coronavirus restrictions after controlling a fast-spreading cluster.

NSW has recorded no local cases for 10 days after low single digit numbers earlier in January. Victoria state, which is hosting the Australia Open tennis tournament, has gone three weeks without a local case.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted on Wednesday marked the 10th day of no community transmission of Covid-19 Australia wide, adding the country's success comes at a time when global coronavirus cases have crossed 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.

Australia has recorded more than 22,000 local cases since the pandemic began and 909 deaths.

The Covid-free run allowed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklien to ease coronavirus restrictions from Friday, including relaxing rules around mask wearing and increasing numbers in house parties, weddings, funerals and places of worship.

The restrictions had kicked in late last year to successfully curb virus clusters in Sydney's northern beaches and western suburbs. The outbreaks saw other states and territories close borders or restrict travel from NSW.

Berejiklien hinted that restrictions would be eased further in two weeks if there were no further cases, adding she was "striking the right balance" between economic growth and virus control.

05:42 AM

First Tokyo Olympics test event to be postponed

The first Tokyo Olympics test event of 2021 will be postponed due to travel restrictions under Japan's coronavirus state of emergency, media reported Wednesday.

The artistic swimming test event - which will double as the sport's final qualifier for the Games, and is set to feature around 10 countries - was scheduled to be held at the Tokyo Aquatics Center from March 4-7.

It could now be held in April or May, according to several Japanese media outlets citing sources close to the matter.

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) and Japan Swimming Federation (JASF) have determined travel restrictions on foreign nationals coming into Japan would make the event too difficult to organise, the reports said.

FINA, JASF and Tokyo 2020 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japan's borders are currently all but closed to foreign visitors, with Tokyo and other parts of the country under a state of emergency until at least February 7.

05:25 AM

Woman dies of Covid on 25th birthday

A recently qualified teacher who died with Covid-19 on her 25th birthday has been described as a "beautiful soul".

Claudia Marsh's death last Wednesday at the Royal University Hospital in Liverpool was described by a family friend as "sudden and unexpected".

Recently-qualified teacher Claudia Marsh - PA
Recently-qualified teacher Claudia Marsh - PA

An online funding page set up for donations to two organisations Ms Marsh was involved with, Talking Eating Disorders (TEDS) and The Whitechapel Centre, has already raised more than £15,000.

Leigh Best, family friend and founder of Teds which helped Ms Marsh when she had an eating disorder, told the PA news agency: "She had collapsed and was rushed to hospital, and then she deteriorated very quickly, so it was very sudden and unexpected."

She said Ms Marsh had recently qualified as a teacher, adding: "I have to say anyone who knew Claudia would say she just had a very beautiful smile.

"She had a smile that lit up a room, and she was very kind, very caring, very funny, and just a really, really beautiful young woman. She really was."

01:32 AM

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