Online teaching extended for Northern Ireland schools
New York detects first case of new variant
Hello, I’ll be bringing you the latest coronavirus developments from around the world for the next few hours.
We’re closing the UK blog following Boris Johnson’s announcement that England will enter a third lockdown, but will continue to report any major UK lines as they come.
In Northern Ireland, Stormont ministers are expected to reconvene on Tuesday as Arlene Foster warns the country faces a “dire” situation.
The closure of schools has been under discussion.
England enters third national lockdown
England will enter its toughest nationwide lockdown since March, with schools closed and people allowed to leave home once a day for exercise for at least six weeks, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced as the numbers of people in hospital reach new highs.
All pupils will switch to remote learning until the February half-term, the prime minister said in an address to the nation, and GCSE and A-level exams are unlikely to go ahead as planned. All non-essential shops will be told to close.
Under the third national lockdown, people in England will be ordered to stay at home until at least 15 February and advised only to leave once a day for exercise. MPs are expected to vote the tough new measures into law from Wednesday, though businesses will be advised to close from Monday night.
Across the country, people must now only leave home for work – and only if it is impossible to work from home – and for essential food and medicine. Exercise with one other person from a different household is permitted but the advice is to stay local and limit activity to once a day.
Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:
- BioNTech and Pfizer warned they had no evidence their vaccine would continue to work if the booster shot was given later than tested in trials. They said the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules”.
- The European Medicines Agency said the maximum interval between doses should be respected. It said the second dose should be administered no more than 42 days after the first.
- Brazil confirmed its first two cases of the new variant. A 25-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man were confirmed as having been infected.
- The UK’s four chief medical officers recommended implementing the toughest restrictions. They said the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 5. The British government had declined to rule out another national lockdown and the British prime minister is due to address the nation within an hour.
- Thailand’s prime minister urged the public to stay home. Authorities confirmed 745 new infections; the country’s worst daily total and the government declared 28 provinces – including Bangkok – high-risk zones.
- Singapore said its police would be allowed to use contact-tracing data for criminal investigations. The technology, deployed as both a phone app and a physical device and made mandatory in some places, is being used by nearly 80% of the 5.7m population.
- The German health ministry considered delaying second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to make scarce supplies go further. According to a document seen by Reuters, the ministry was seeking the view of an independent vaccination commission on whether to delay a second shot beyond the current 42-day maximum.
- German media also reported that country’s lockdown would be extended until 31 January. Bild reported that national and federal authorities had agreed to continue the existing restrictions, which include the closures of schools, most shops, restaurants and bars.
- The UK became the first country to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. NHS England tweeted that Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old dialysis patient, had become the first person to be given the jab.