Coronavirus live news: Auckland finishes week of lockdown, England prepares to reopen schools

France reports 23,306 new cases as Pas-de-Calais locked down, US Senate passes $1.9tn pandemic economic relief plan, arrests during Vienna protests

2.42am GMT

In Australia, the vaccine rollout which began a couple of weeks ago is about to enter a new phase with GPs to take a major role in the delivery.

While the Australian Medical Association says the majority of GPs have put up their hand to participate, there is criticism about insufficient information about how it will work and low payment rates.

2.18am GMT

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to remain “cautious” in loosening coronavirus restrictions as pupils prepare to return to school for the first time in two months on Monday, PA media has reported.

Boris Johnson hailed the “truly national effort” to reduce coronavirus levels with the country on the cusp of marking the first phase of lockdown easing as classrooms reopen this week.

But, despite an improving picture in terms of declining Covid cases in England, Johnson said he wanted to be careful not to “undo the progress we have made”.

It comes as the vaccine programme continues to accelerate, with people aged between 56 and 59 being invited to book Covid-19 jabs this week. Hundreds of thousands of letters for the age group began landing on doorsteps on Saturday, and the latest round of invites comes after eight in 10 people aged 65-69 took up the offer of a jab, NHS England said.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng provided further optimism when he told The Times it was “possible” the Government will have offered a first dose to all adults by June – a month ahead of the current end of July target.

Across the whole of the UK, more than a million people have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while almost 21.8 million people have had one dose.

According to the Prime Minister’s road map, the second part of stage one, which will allow outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households, is due on March 29.
Shops could open by April 12 and all restrictions could possibly be lifted by June 21.

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Source: The Guardian