Coronavirus live news: UK over-70s could start getting booster jabs in September, Czech government extends state of emergency


Vaccines minister says first booster doses will go to the top four priority groups, which includes care home staff, NHS workers and clinically extremely vulnerable

11.11am GMT

The PM congratulated NHS staff, local council staff and volunteers for their work in the vaccine rollout, before going on to praise the “might” of capitalism.

Boris Johnson said: “In the end, none of this would have been possible without the innovative genius and commercial might – you know what I’m going to say – of the private sector, the free market economy.

11.06am GMT

Boris Johnson said it remained unknown how the third coronavirus wave sweeping Europe could impact the UK.

Speaking at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum, the prime minister said that the second half of 2021 could be “fantastic” but it depends on “things going right”.

10.52am GMT

The Philippines will reimpose tougher coronavirus measures in the capital, Manila, and nearby provinces, a senior official said on Saturday in order to fight a surge in infections.

The measures will be in effect from 29 March to 4 April, the presidential spokesman said in comments reported by Reuters.

10.35am GMT

Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, has received her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

The 50-year-old politician was given a shot of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a GP at Castle Park leisure centre in Lisnaskea in her Co Fermanagh constituency on Saturday morning, according to PA.

There is a really positive community spirit here and across all of our centres in a collective effort to combat Covid-19. I am grateful to all of the wonderful team of medics and volunteers who are making this happen in GP practices and centres across Northern Ireland every day of the week.

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10.22am GMT

Families in Israel are celebrating Passover following a successful vaccine rollout in the country in which more than half of its overall population have received both doses.

Giordana Grego, who immigrated to Israel from Italy, told AP:

For us in Israel, really celebrating the festivity of freedom definitely has a whole different meaning this year after what we experienced. It’s amazing that this year we’re able to celebrate together, also considering that in Italy, everybody is still under lockdown.

9.58am GMT

Thailand will ease restrictions in July for international visitors who have been vaccinated as it attempts to kickstart its tourism sector.

The popular destination of Phuket in south-west Thailand will be the first to trial the experimental quarantine-free policy from early July, AFP reports.

9.35am GMT

Vaccine certificates for pub-goers in England could be counterproductive, a government adviser has said after Boris Johnson mentioned that the measure is being considered by the government.

Prof Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he didn’t think it was a good idea and that “in many ways they could be counterproductive”.

I think positive incentives, something that gives you something extra, is one thing. People actually aren’t adverse for vaccine passports to travel internationally. But when it comes to negative incentives, to in effect barring people from their everyday lives, from social activity, then actually they work in a very different way and people behave very negatively.

9.24am GMT

With the season of university offers well under way in the UK, some institutions are wooing school leavers with promises of a “totally open campus”, or at least that student life will be “much more like usual”. But academics and students are calling for frankness about the likelihood that disruption to classes and social lives will continue.

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Universities are braced for a fierce competition to attract new students this summer, and expect a second chaotic year dealing with A-level results. Many fear that the more elite institutions will take advantage to expand for the second year in a row, which could leave others struggling to recruit enough students at a time they need their £9,250 fees more than ever.

Related: UK universities wooing new students with upbeat promises of a ‘totally open campus’

9.10am GMT

Ministers should use “slightly more measured language” to encourage people to come out of lockdown rather than “flipping from one extreme to the other”, infectious diseases expert Dr Mike Tildesley has said after the UK chancellor urged people to “get out there” when hospitality reopens.

Dr Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the government, compared Rishi Sunak’s latest comment with the “eat out to help out” scheme, which may have caused a sixth of new Covid case clusters over the summer.

We need to be really careful with this, we had it similarly with the Eat Out To Help Out – there was a big switch last summer from ‘it is your duty to stay at home’ all of a sudden to it being your duty to go to the pub.

I totally understand the need to reinvigorate the economy, but I think we need slightly more measured language here, to encourage people to do that, but to do it within the rules, to make sure that we observe social distancing.

8.56am GMT

Russia has recorded 8,885 new coronavirus cases over 24 hours, including 1,551 new cases in Moscow, and 387 deaths nationwide, Reuters reports.

This compares with 9,548 infections and 386 deaths reported last Saturday.

8.52am GMT

Allowing international air travel without testing at UK airports risks reversing “all the good our vaccination programme has done”, according to an infectious diseases expert has said.

Dr Mike Tildesley, of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the government, told Times Radio:

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I can understand the need for wanting to keep our borders open for as long as possible, but if we are, there’s a risk there.

We need to do what we can to minimise the risk, because what we don’t want is new variants coming in that undo all the good that our vaccination programme has done.

8.40am GMT

People in Wales are able to travel across the country and stay in hotels from Saturday as the “stay local” requirement is lifted for the first time since 20 December.

The easing of travel rules applies only to Wales – people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland must remain in their local area.

Related: ‘We can’t wait’: outdoor capital of Wales ready for tourists’ return

8.29am GMT

The UK government is failing to fight vaccine hesitancy among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young women, a senior Conservative has said as she warned the issue could have “devastating” effects.

Caroline Nokes, the chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, said disparities on vaccine uptake and hesitancy are “most prominent” among minority ethnic groups, adults in deprived areas and young women.

8.22am GMT

Thousands of Bhutanese travelled to public buildings to receive a Covid-19 vaccine as the country launched its largest immunisation campaign with AstraZeneca doses provided by India.

The country hopes to vaccinate more than half a million people who have registered for being vaccinated over one week, according to Reuters.

8.18am GMT

Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, with me, Clea Skopeliti.

In the UK, over-70s could begin receiving booster shots to protect them against new coronavirus variants in September under plans for the future of the vaccine rollout.

Related: Covid booster shots could go to at-risk groups in September – UK vaccines minister

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