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Live Reporting

Edited by Sarah Collerton and Holly Wallis

All times stated are UK

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  1. Goodbye - and thanks for joining us

    That's it for our live coverage for today. It was written by Ella Wills, George Bowden, Hazel Shearing, Jennifer Meierhans and George Wright, and edited by Sarah Collerton and Holly Wallis.

    We'll be back with more live coronavirus updates tomorrow morning.

  2. What's been happening today?

    Passengers arrive in Heathrow airporrt

    Here’s what you need to know this evening:

  3. What's the Bristol variant?

    Michelle Roberts

    Health editor, BBC News online

    The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) - a group of scientists which advise government - have classed a variant first identified in Bristol - the Kent variant with a mutation - as a "variant of concern".

    It’s not surprising that officials are adding this new version of coronavirus to their "variants of concern" list.

    Targeted testing is already under way to spot any new cases linked to the 21 that have already been found, mostly in the south west of England.

    This new incarnation of the virus is the Kent variant "plus". It has the same N501Y mutation as the one that triggered lockdown - a genetic change that scientists say lets the virus spread more easily. But it also has an extra mutation called E484K.

    E484K is what experts are worried about for vaccine efficacy. It is also seen in the South Africa and Brazil variants of concern.

    A cluster of another variant in Liverpool is different again. It has got the E484K mutation but is an iteration of an earlier version of the pandemic virus rather than the Kent one.

    Inevitably, more variants will continue to emerge. The challenge is to make sure vaccines are a good match to keep us ahead in this race against the virus.

    Experts are confident that the vaccines being used today will still save lives and stop severe illness from Covid.

  4. 'Serious implications' for travel industry amid new quarantine measures

    As we've reported today, a series of measures are to come into force on Monday to prevent new variants of the coronavirus from being imported into the UK.

    Some travellers will be required to quarantine in hotels, at the cost of up to £1,750 for accommodation, food and tests.

    The changes will be applied differently across the UK - in Scotland everyone arriving from abroad will be affected, while in England and Wales hotel quarantine will be mandatory only for passengers who have recently travelled to a country hit by a new variant.

    The health secretary also confirmed that all international arrivals would need to take two PCR tests on days two and eight of their quarantine.

    Those who violate the rules will face fines and potentially up to 10 years in prison.

    The travel and tourism industries have said they understand why the measures are necessary, but have called on the government to do more to support firms and protect jobs.

    A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said that requiring passengers to pay for multiple tests once leisure travel is restarted would have "serious cost implications" and "hurt demand".

    She also urged ministers to "develop a roadmap to reopen travel".

  5. Nigeria lab closed over fake Covid certificates

    Mayeni Jones

    BBC News, Lagos

    A coronavirus sign in Nigeria

    Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it has closed an unnamed test centre in the capital Abuja that was issuing fake Covid-19 certificates to travellers.

    Director general of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said they had found evidence that the lab was collecting samples and money from unsuspecting travellers, but failing to test them.

    They issued certificates claiming they had tested negative for the virus, enabling them to travel. Mr Ihekweazu added that a full list of accredited labs was available on the NCDC’s website and encouraged members of the public to only get tested at centres on the list.

    He said they were working on a platform where every lab in Nigeria could publish their test results which could then be easily verified by airlines or other countries wishing to check whether a result was genuine. He did not specify when this platform would be ready.

    Authorities in Nigeria recently suspended flights from the Emirates airline because the carrier wanted passengers from Nigeria to take a rapid Covid-19 test four hours before flying, in addition to the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

  6. Premier Inn probes lockdown staff party claim in Wales

    Premier Inn

    Hotel chain Premier Inn has said it is investigating an allegation that staff broke Covid-19 lockdown rules by having a party at one of its hotels.

    A photo showing 10 people lined up in a restaurant area has been published in a newspaper in Wales.

    The Daily Post said it understood the photo was taken at a leaving party at the Premier Inn in Holyhead, on Anglesey, on 29 January.

    The company said its Welsh hotels are shut in line with government guidance.

    Premier Inn said it had "clear safety procedures in place for our team members to follow".

  7. What's Scotland's new hotel quarantine plan?

    A woman in an airport

    Everyone arriving in Scotland on an international flight from next Monday will have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

    The Scottish government said it would be "block booking" 1,300 rooms at six hotels near the country's airports.

    The some £1,750 cost of the stay will have to be borne by passengers themselves.

    A similar scheme will operate in other parts of the UK, but unlike Scotland, only flights from countries on a "red list" will be covered.

    No hotels have yet confirmed whether rooms have been booked.

    Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said there were approximately 1,600 Scottish arrivals in the last week of January, and numbers fell to 730 in the first week of February.

    He said: "The number of travellers coming to Scotland directly is reducing and I expect these restrictions to reduce arrivals yet further.

    "These measures will be backed with criminal offences as usual. The stronger approach we are taking are necessary and appropriate."

  8. Zoos struggling in pandemic, charity warns

    A tiger at Chessington zoo
    Image caption: A tiger at Chessington zoo

    Animals are at risk of dying unless the government changes its Covid-19 funding for zoos, a charity has warned.

    The Zoo Animals Fund was created by the government to help zoos facing financial trouble in the pandemic with £100m available.

    In a letter to the prime minister, the British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) says the fund has "failed to provide" adequate support.

    It claims many zoos are unable to access the money.

    A spokeswoman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told Radio 1 Newsbeat the government understood challenges faced by zoos and aquariums.

    "That is why we have set up the Zoo Animals Fund on top of the other support available - to ensure that those facing severe financial difficulties can continue to provide the best possible care for their animals."

    Zoos are currently shut in this lockdown.

  9. Further surge Covid testing being deployed in Lambeth, south London

    Further Covid testing is being deployed in Lambeth, south London, where the South African variant has been found.

    The surge testing and genomic sequencing will be carried out in the SE27 0, SE27 9 and SW16 2 postcodes.

    People living within these areas are being urged to take a Covid-19 test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

    People with symptoms should book a test in the usual way while others should visit their council website.

    Meanwhile the surge testing carried out in Woking is now complete and further data will be provided in due course, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

    Mass testing - or surge testing - is taking place across various parts of England to help stop the spread of new, more infectious strains of Covid-19.

    The South Africa variant and a new mutation of the Kent variant are those currently being targeted.

    More than 10,000 tests are being deployed in Manchester, after cases of the Kent variant were found in two unconnected households.

  10. Covid puts French lunch hour under threat

    Lucy Williamson

    BBC News, Paris

    Stock photo of man eating at desk

    The French lunch hour - famous as a bastion of the French way of life - is under threat.

    The government says it’s planning to pass a new decree allowing workers to eat at their desks, a practice officially banned in the country’s labour law. But is this concession to changing times all down to coronavirus?

    Like many cultural ideals, the leisurely and elaborate French lunch-break is often defended more in theory than in practice. Even before Covid, the daily queues outside sandwich shops were just as daunting as the waiters straightening tables on café terraces.

    In fact, several polls suggest that a majority of French workers have been eating their lunch in the office for years.

    But, long under siege, the concept of the pause-déjéuner is now under attack from Covid as well.

    With restaurants and cafes closed - except for take-aways or deliveries - and workplace canteens rife with new restrictions, many people have little option but to eat their lunch at their desks - or even, according to one report, eating in isolation in their cars.

    The idea that eating at your desk was officially banned has been greeted with surprise - even derision - here. Eye-rolling at France’s impenetrable labour laws is another workplace tradition, and there’s comfort in hanging on to at least some of them.

  11. Peru starts vaccination campaign amid second wave

    Workers handle a container with doses of China"s Sinopharm vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) upon their arrival at the airport, in Lima, Peru February 7, 2021.
    Image caption: The first doses of Sinopharm vaccines arrived late on Sunday

    Peru has started its Covid vaccination campaign after the first consignment of 300,000 Sinopharm vaccines arrived on Sunday.

    The South American country is in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic. With the hospitals close to full capacity, the authorities have decided that medical staff should be among the first to be vaccinated.

    On Tuesday morning local time, Josef Vallejos, the chief of the intensive care unit at a hospital in Lima, received the first jab.

    Members of the military, security guards and election workers will also be given priority ahead of the general election scheduled for 11 April.

    Peru has had almost 1.2 million confirmed cases and more than 42,000 people have died.

  12. 170 cases of South African variant - PHE

    Earlier, the health secretary announced tougher border measures in England to tackle the spread of new variants of the coronavirus - such as the one originally found in South Africa.

    Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, says 170 cases of the South African variant have been identified so far, including 18 that are not linked to travel.

    Our health editor, Michelle Roberts, says there's no evidence that the South Africa variant causes more serious illness for most people - but there are concerns it can spread more readily than the original strain and vaccines may not work quite as well against it.

  13. 'Focus needs to shift to Huanan market supply chains'

    More on that fact-finding mission to China. Dr Peter Daszak, who is part of the WHO team looking into the origins of Covid-19, said "the supply chains to Huanan Seafood Market were extensive".

    Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan was linked to early cases of coronavirus and was quickly closed by the authorities.

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid-19: 'Focus needs to shift to Huanan market supply chains'
  14. What did the WHO find in Wuhan?

    Michelle Roberts

    Health editor, BBC News online

    As we've been reporting, a team of investigators led by the World Health Organization (WHO) has spent four weeks looking into the origins of Covid-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

    It was unlikely that the group, in its politically-charged mission, would be able to pinpoint the source of the pandemic a year after it began.

    But, after visiting the Wuhan Institute of Virology, they have closed the lid on a controversial theory that coronavirus came from a lab leak or was made by scientists.

    Their search for clues also included a visit to the now-famous wet market in Huanan - selling fish, meat and live wild animals - that was linked to some of the first human cases.

    The team say the virus may have jumped from animals to humans, but they don't have the proof yet.

    Possible carriers include bats and pangolins, but tests so far have yet to find convincing evidence for this.

    Another line of investigation is whether the virus could have spread through imported frozen food. The hunt for the origin will continue.

  15. Lifting NI restrictions 'needs 70-80% vaccinated'


    Covid-19 restrictions will not be fully lifted in Northern Ireland until 70 to 80% of people have been vaccinated, the chief medical officer says.

    So far, about 22% of adults have received at least a first dose of a vaccine, Dr Michael McBride told a media briefing.

    If the rate of case numbers keeps falling, "we will hopefully be able to do some things this summer like we did last summer", he says.

    Over time new variants such as those which have emerged in South Africa and Brazil could be detected in NI, however, he says "they may not become the dominant strain".

    Patricia Donnelly, who heads up NI's vaccine programme, says arrangements are being made for clinically vulnerable 16 to 18-year-olds to receive the Pfizer vaccine within weeks.

  16. Coronavirus in the UK in graphs

    Here are some graphs to show today's coronavirus figures.

    Although deaths are still high, they are coming down - and so are case numbers compared to last Tuesday.

    We can see that if the rate of vaccinations keeps going the way it is, the government will surpass its goal of reaching 15m people by mid-February.

    Data pic of coronavirus stats
    Daily deaths graph
    Vaccine trajectory graph
  17. South Africa vaccine rollout halted

    Pumza Fihlani

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    A person gets jab in South Africa

    South Africa's decision to pause its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a study showed "disappointing" results against its new Covid-19 variant has left the nation in shock.

    An small preliminary trial, involving some 2,000 people, found that the vaccine offered "minimal protection" against mild and moderate cases.

    One and half million doses of the jab had been bought for healthcare workers and they were due to start getting their vaccinations this week.

    Frontline workers have been left feeling anxious. Siviwe Gwarube, head of health for the main opposition Democratic Alliance, said the setback left them vulnerable to a third wave.

    South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 46,000 deaths since the pandemic began - a higher toll than any other country on the continent.

    "I had a lot of hope that the vaccine would change the situation we're in as a country," a young male medic, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC.

    "A lot of people are losing jobs. I'm a medical student and we are really exposed to Covid-19. It was a blow for me when I heard that the efficacy of the vaccine was lower."

    Read more here

  18. Cameroon conspiracy theory video removed from Facebook

    Samuel Lando

    BBC Monitoring

    A video in which a Cameroonian politician makes a series of false claims about Covid-19 vaccines and the coronavirus pandemic has been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

    Andre Banda Kani - who is the chairman of the Nouveau Mouvement Populaire (NMP), a minor political party in Cameroon - repeats baseless conspiracy theories that Western coronavirus vaccines cause genetic changes and contain “microchips”.

    The BBC has debunked these claims in detail here.


    Kani falsely alleges that vaccination campaigns for Covid-19 are part of a “globalist” plot to reduce the world's population, led by influential figures like Bill Gates.

    We’ve written previously about how the Microsoft founder became a popular target of coronavirus conspiracies.

    The video has now been removed from Facebook, but others containing false claims about vaccines are still online.

    More than two million people have died with Covid-19.

    Scientists and health experts say that vaccines are the best way of reducing deaths and protecting people against the virus.

  19. This doctor does DJ sets in his kitchen for NHS colleagues

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid: Matt Hancock praises doctor who DJs in scrubs

    A junior doctor has been performing DJ sets in his kitchen in Birmingham to boost medics' morale during the pandemic.

    Kishan Bodalia, 26, launched "NHSessions" in England's first lockdown "to lift the spirits of my NHS colleagues and the nation as a whole".

    "I just want to help everyone dance, exercise, and above all, smile," he said.

    It's even grabbed the attention of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who called it a "brilliant initiative" and picked his track of the day.

    "I am so flattered to hear that the health secretary is a fan and that the project has received such recognition," Dr Bodalia said.

  20. Student to stand trial over '50-person party'

    A student is due to stand trial accused of holding a party for about 50 people in an alleged breach of Covid-19 laws.

    Police said Bailey Stancer, 19, was fined £10,000 after officers were called to Harlaxton Drive, Lenton, Nottingham, on 11 September.

    Mr Stancer, of the same address, denied the charge at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on Monday.

    The University of Nottingham student is set to face a two-day trial, starting on 4 August, at the same court.

    Mr Stancer was released on unconditional bail, Nottinghamshire Police added.