Britain has recorded another 5,177 of the coronavirus, marking a 14 per cent decrease on last week’s figure.
But the death count is yet to be released by the government after ‘processing issues’ counting the data in England.
A message on gov.uk said: ‘Owing to processing issues for deaths in England, the numbers of deaths throughout the UK will be updated later.
‘In the meantime, the number of newly reported deaths for 7 March 2021 may incorrectly show as zero.’
Meanwhile a total of 19,663,577 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and March 6, according to provisional NHS England data.
These included first and second doses, which is a rise of 405,306 on the previous day’s figures.
Of this number, 18,875,389 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 383,618 on the previous day, while 788,188 were a second dose, an increase of 21,688.
The positive news comes the day before schools go back as lockdown measures are eased for the first time.
Boris Johnson said he is ‘very hopeful’ the return will go to plan as he warned the risk of keeping classrooms locked outweighed a school-led spike in Covid cases.
The PM echoed the warnings of education experts that more damage was being done to pupils by keeping them at home than having them back in class.
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
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.
Mr Johnson said he is ‘very hopeful’ the return of pupils will go to plan as he warned the risk of keeping classrooms locked outweighed a school-led spike in Covid cases.
Pupils in England are set to return to school for the first time in two months on Monday as part of the first stage of lockdown easing.
Scientists raised concerns the increased levels of interaction could push the reproduction number – the R value – above 1, causing coronavirus to spread faster.
The PM echoed the warnings of education experts that more damage was being done to pupils by keeping them at home than having them return.
Mr Johnson said: ‘You ask about the risk (of schools returning) – I think the risk is actually in not going back to school tomorrow given all the suffering, all the loss of learning we have seen.’
Boris Johnson visited a Covid vaccination centre in london today as the jabs drive continued
He said he believed pupils, parents and teachers were ‘ready’ to go back, with more than 20,000 schools set to open their gates once again.
‘Tomorrow, on March 8, is the big step on the road map that we hope is a road map to freedom,’ the Prime Minister said during a visit to a north London vaccines centre.
‘It is made possible by the rollout of the vaccination programme.
‘I’m very hopeful that it will work, it will all go according to plan and that all kids, all pupils, will be back in schools tomorrow.
‘I’m massively grateful to parents who have put up with so much throughout the pandemic and teachers who have done an amazing job of keeping going.
‘I do think we are ready, I think people want to go back, they feel it, they feel the need for it.’
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’.
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
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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