Covid UK update live: Latest coronavirus vaccine and lockdown news


Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters march through London

Dozens of Tory MPs are expected to revolt against Boris Johnson’s plans to extend the country’s emergency coronavirus laws for another six months.

MPs will vote on prolonging the laws until October on Thursday, which include powers to ban protests and arrest citizens not following the rules.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mark Harper – chairman of the informal Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs – noted Mr Johnson claimed his lockdown roadmap would “guide us cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms” by 21 June.

“Retaining most temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act until October is not consistent with this pledge and will raise concerns that curbs will be reintroduced in the autumn,” Mr Harper wrote.

It comes after a record number of people received their Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, with 711,156 doses given to the UK public.

More than half of the UK’s adult population – some 26,853,407 people aged 18 and over – have now received their first jab, which the health secretary, Matt Hancock, celebrated as a “phenomenal achievement”.

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Coronavirus Act branded ‘excessive and disproportionate’ by Tory MP

Conservative former minister Steve Baker described the Coronavirus Act as “excessive and disproportionate”, and it “should now go”.

Mr Baker said he believes this would not put the furlough scheme at risk, saying this had been confirmed by the House of Commons Library, telling Sky News: “The government really does need to start taking advantage of their own great success on the vaccination programme.”

Mr Baker said he expects to vote “squarely against” the Coronavirus Act and said it is sensible for the government to take “proportionate” measures, adding: “They really should now start looking at dramatically reducing the range of powers that they have.”

He said ministers should also avoid putting police in an “invidious” position, having earlier noted “we politicians have got to take the blame” for how officers have been enforcing powers – despite “mistakes” such as using drones to pursue people.

On international travel, Mr Baker said: “There’s a very good case to look at it and say because of the situation in other countries the government’s got to take a very careful view.”

Mr Baker added he thinks it is “inevitable” a different approach will be taken to international travel compared to the domestic situation, saying: “I do expect if our vaccination programme is proceeding at pace and people are safe because they’ve been vaccinated, then they should be able to travel, but equally … I will reserve my position a little to actually look at the data as it emerges.”

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 10:07

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Boris Johnson needs to justify why he is seeking a six-month extension to “authoritarian” powers to respond to Covid-19, a Conservative former minister has said.

Steve Baker said the government “needs to answer why” given the high number of vulnerable people vaccinated and the success of the jab programme it is “seeking to hang on” to the powers.

Asked about the size of the Conservative rebellion, Mr Baker told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News: “It’s very difficult to say until we’ve seen the exact detail of what the Government is tabling and how the votes will come.

“Let’s be absolutely clear, because it seems Labour and the SNP will vote for any old authoritarianism these days it looks like the government will get their business with an enormous majority.

“But I do think it’s important that some of us do seek to hold the government to account with these extraordinary powers.”

Mr Baker said he expects to vote against the proposals.

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 09:49

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‘Very large number’ of at-risk people could develop ‘serious’ Covid infection if restrictions lifted now

A “very large number” of at-risk people could develop a “serious” Covid-19 infection if restrictions are lifted now, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

Professor Jeremy Brown said between 90 and 95 per cent of people who are at high risk have been vaccinated, but mostly with one dose, which does not provide full protection.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Until we have done the second dose and everyone has been vaccinated, there is a little degree of infection that still occurs.

“If you completely lift all restrictions there will be a wave of infections across the country and those who are not protected, either because the first vaccine hasn’t worked very well in them and they need their second dose, or because they have not had a vaccine at this point in time but are still vulnerable, they will get infections and they will end up in hospital and die.

“So, if you lift restrictions, even though most people who are at risk have been vaccinated, the proportion who have not still represent a very large number of people who could end up with serious infection.”

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 09:33

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More than half of UK adults have received first jab as UK hits daily vaccine record

A record number of people received their Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, with 711,156 doses given to the UK public.

More than half of the UK’s adult population – some 26,853,407 people aged 18 and over – have now received their first jab, government data up to 19 March suggests.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, hailed the milestone as a “phenomenal achievement”.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it remains “on track” to offer the vaccine to all over-50s by 15 April.

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 09:17

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Dozens of Tory MPs are expected to rebel in a vote on extending the country’s emergency coronavirus until October

Conservative MP Mark Harper – chairman of the informal Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs – said such a move would contradict Boris Johnson’s previous pledges restoring the country’s freedoms.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Harper noted the prime minister had said when announcing his roadmap out of lockdown that it would “guide us cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms” by 21 June.

“Retaining most temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act until October is not consistent with this pledge and will raise concerns that curbs will be reintroduced in the autumn,” Mr Harper wrote.

He also challenged the government’s thinking on its roadmap to recovery, saying “reasonable people” would wonder if the government had struck the right balance in continuing present guidelines curbing family gatherings through Easter.

The Forest of Dean MP said given the “exemplary” success of Britain’s vaccination rollout, the government’s roadmap appeared “almost entirely focused on dates rather than the increasingly positive data on deaths and hospital admissions”.

“Staying with your family won’t just be illegal for Easter weekend, it will be unlawful until 17 May at the earliest – whatever the data say. The roadmap is ‘dates, not data’,” Mr Harper wrote.

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 09:02

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Good morning and welcome to the latest coronavirus updates.

Samuel Osborne21 March 2021 08:45



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