Britain suffers 90 coronavirus hospital deaths on last day before schools go back as lockdown measures are eased for first time
- It brings the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 84,366
- NHS England said there were 20 other deaths reported with no positive result
- It is a day before schools return as lockdown measures are eased for first time
A further 90 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England on the last day before schools go back.
It brings the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 84,366, NHS England said today. There were 20 other deaths reported with no positive test result.
It comes the day before schools go back as lockdown measures are eased for the first time.
Gavin Wiliamson this morning denied pupils face chaos over mask and testing rules when they get back to classrooms.
The Education Secretary insisted schools in England have been given clear guidance ahead of the first phase of lockdown easing.
Elsewhere in the pandemic:
- Boris Johnson rejected the fury over an ‘insulting’ 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff, pointing to the UK’s huge Covid debt;
- Popular holiday destinations could be reopened to British tourists this summer through a traffic light system that lifts travel restrictions to low-risk countries;
- A staggering 57 million test kits have been sent to schools in BorisMr Johnson’s bold first step out of lockdown
- The Prime Minister of a Caribbean nation said Britain has ‘forgotten’ the Queen’s subjects in Commonwealth countries during its world-beating vaccine rollout;
- The EU is set to beg the United States for millions of Covid vaccines as the bloc desperately scrambles to plug the shortfall in its faltering programme.
Gavin Wiliamson denied pupils face chaos over mask and testing rules tomorrow as they finally get back to classrooms
The UK yesterday recorded 6,040 new coronavirus cases, marking a 19 per cent drop in positive tests week-on-week.
Yesterday’s death toll of 158 also marked a drop of 45 per cent on the 290 deaths recorded last Saturday.
It acts as further proof of Britain’s successful vaccine roll-out. The deaths total across the UK has now reached 124,419.
Government data up to March 5 shows of the 22,887,118 jabs given in the UK so far, 21,796,278 were first doses – a rise of 437,463 on the previous day – and 1,090,840 were second doses, an increase of 56,772.
In interviews this morning, Mr Williamson said parents and children are ‘excited’ about getting back to face-to-face lessons.
He defended the rules around wearing masks insisting that in secondaries students ‘recognise the importance of doing whatever they can do’.
Challenged that teachers in primaries have merely been told to wear masks ‘where possible’, he told Sky News: ‘We set out very clear guidance about how teachers will be best able to approach this. Wearing a face mask is just one small element.’
Mr Williamson also said testing would play a key role – despite concerns about the logistics involved and the number of families that will be ordered to isolate due to ‘false positives’.
Boris Johnson visited a Covid vaccination centre in london today as the jabs drive continued
The Cabinet minister confirmed the government is looking at shortening summer holidays and extending the school day as part of a wider overhaul.
He said the shake-up could be the most significant since the end of the Second World War.
Schools in England have been closed to all-but the most vulnerable and the children of key workers during the third national lockdown.
The move, designed to reduce transmission, has led to fears that a generation are having their future prospects blighted, as well as leaving parents scrambling to juggle work with home learning.
As part of reopening schools, ministers are asking pupils to take two quick-result tests per week in order to weed out asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19.
Downing Street said nearly 57million lateral flow test kits, which can produce results in less than 30 minutes, have already been delivered to schools and colleges as part of the rollout.
After three initial tests on site, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.
Masks are also being advised at all times in secondaries until at least Easter, but they are not compulsory.
Families of primary students can collect or request to be sent lateral flow tests so they can screen themselves twice a week.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Williamson admitted that getting schools back in full was extremely difficult.
‘We are seeing a full reopening of schools,’ he said. ‘It is a massive logistical exercise. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted.’
Pressed on whether head teachers could exclude secondary pupils who defy the advice to wear masks, he merely insisted young people recognised the benefits of following the guidance.
And told that many families with secondary age children would merely ignore orders to take tests twice a week, he replied: ‘They recognise it is a really important part of helping them get back into school.’
He made clear that there is no intention to shut schools again during the pandemic – guaranteeing they will come back again after the Easter holidays.
‘This is our first step, our real first step in terms of moving out of national lockdown and it is our schools that are leading the way,’ he said.
‘We are very much factoring in as part of the road map that actually schools will be staying open.
‘That is why we are taking a cautious approach because we intend for it to be an irreversible approach and that schools will continue to remain open.’
On the wider reform agenda, Mr Williamson told Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: ‘There is a whole range of different proposals that we are looking at, whether it is a five-term year, whether it is lengthening the school day.
‘But also measures such as enhancing the support we give to teachers, supporting them in their professional development, making sure they can be the very best of themselves.’
He said Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s education recovery commissioner, would be looking at what measures to introduce over the next 18 months.
Mr Williamson also dodged as he was confronted with his own dire popularity ratings, after a ConservativeHome poll found he is far and away the least popular member of the Cabinet with Tory activists.
Meanwhile YouGov data shows a staggering ten per cent of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in Britain would refuse a vaccine.
The study for the Observer found the figure surges to 18 per cent of Pakistanis and 19 per cent in black people.
But only six per cent of white people in the UK said that they would refuse having the jab.
BAME people who are unsure of getting the vaccine stand at 16 per cent, compared to eight per cent among the population as a whole.
A large number of people of colour – 59 per cent – said they would get vaccinated, with 14 per cent saying they have already had the jab.
But this second figure is almost half the number of Britons who have had a dose – 26 per cent.
Of those who said they would not get a jab, 45 per cent cited a lack of information about vaccines as their reason.
Meanwhile, 37 per cent said they would not get it because they believed it was not safe and 26 per cent are sceptical of the science or did not want it.
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