Covid news – live: Vaccine rollout to get £1.65 billion boost as regional lockdown easing ruled out – The Independent

Dolly Parton receives Covid-19 vaccine as she calls on others to do the same

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a £1.65bn funding boost for the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Mr Sunak will also pledge a further £33m for vaccine testing and development to protect against future outbreaks and variants, as well as £22m for a study to test the effectiveness of combining different coronavirus vaccines and determine whether a third jab can improve protection.

The health secretary, meanwhile, has ruled out a regional approach to ending the coronavirus lockdown in England as infection rates are falling at different rates across the country, with some areas reporting almost no new cases.

This has led to calls for the easing of restrictions in parts of England with low numbers of cases, including Plymouth, the Isle of Wight and Brighton.

Matt Hancock told MPs: “Whilst we don’t rule out a localised approach to outbreaks, we are going to move down the roadmap as a nation across England.”

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Covid deaths in Scotland reach 9,580

A total of 9,580 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The figures show 227 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between 22 and 28 February, down 64 on the previous week.

Of these, the majority happened in hospital at 187, with 26 in care homes and 14 at home or in a non-institutional setting and one in another institution.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

Jane Dalton3 March 2021 12:17

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Staff sickness absence falls to record low

Sickness absence from the workplace has fallen to its lowest level on record, new figures reveal.

The coronavirus crisis has helped cut absence rates, as people have worked from home or been forced to shield, said a report.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the rate fell to 1.8 per cent last year, the lowest level since current records began in 1995.

Around 118 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in 2020, equating to 3.6 days per worker.

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 12:03

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When does the furlough scheme end?

Our business correspondent Ben Chapman explains how and when the furlough scheme will end as it is extended once again.

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 11:52

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Borrowing is on ‘extraordinary scale’ but ‘we can be optimistic about recovery’, cabinet told

Rishi Sunak has told the cabinet borrowing is on an “extraordinary scale” but that the government will “rise to that challenge and we can be optimistic about the recovery”, Downing Street said.

The prime minister’s official spokesman added: “We’ve stepped in to provide support and protect jobs and today we will outline more support to get people through to the other side of the crisis.

“The chancellor said we must be honest with ourselves and the country about what that has meant. We are borrowing on an extraordinary scale – equivalent only to wartime levels. He said that, as a Conservative government, we know that we cannot ignore this problem and it wouldn’t be right or responsible to do so.

“He said the budget will begin the work of building our future economy.”

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 11:37

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Coronavirus pandemic ‘has hit our economy hard’, says Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the cabinet the coronavirus pandemic “has hit our economy hard” and “we must be honest” about what that meant, but “we can be optimistic about the recovery”, Downing Street said.

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 11:27

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Contactless payment limit to rise to £100

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to announce the legal limit on contactless card payments will more than double to £100 when he sets out his budget later today.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more details:

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 11:13

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Bhangra-dancing Canadian goes viral after celebrating on frozen lake after Covid vaccine

A Canadian dancer has gone viral after he was filmed celebrating getting the coronavirus vaccine by dancing on a frozen lake.

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 10:55

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Circuit break lockdown comes into force on Isle of Man

A circuit break lockdown has come into force on the Isle of Man following a rise in coronavirus cases after a ferry crew member tested positive.

The island came out of lockdown on February 1, with schools and businesses reopening after no reports of unexplained community cases of coronavirus for 17 consecutive days.

But chief minister Howard Quayle yesterday announced a new 21-day lockdown, which came into effect today, as a result of “transmission in our community that we cannot see and that we do not understand”.

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 10:41

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Government support for airlines during pandemic ‘lamentable’, says Ryanair boss

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said government support for airlines during the coronavirus pandemic has been “lamentable”.

He told the Transport Select Committee: “We had to refund over 1.5 billion euro (£1.3 billion) to customers in the last 12 months because our flights were cancelled by government order.

“There has been no support for that. We have received no support.”

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 10:19

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Opinion: Frontline workers who have contracted long Covid deserve compensation

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas writes about how she believes frontline health workers left with long Covid should be given the “proper recognition, care and compensation they deserve” for this Indy Voices piece:

Chiara Giordano3 March 2021 10:02