Coronavirus live news: Ireland health authority says use of AstraZeneca vaccine should be suspended | World news

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“No doubt” of Autumn Covid-19 wave – UK statistician











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A third wave of the Covid pandemic is advancing swiftly across much of Europe. As a result, many nations ? bogged down by sluggish vaccination campaigns ? are witnessing sharp rises in infection rates and numbers of cases.

The infection rate in the EU is at its highest level since the beginning of February, with the spread of new variants of the Covid-19 virus blamed for much of the recent increase.

Several countries are now set to impose strict new lockdown measures in the next few days ? in contrast to the UK, which is beginning to emerge slowly from its current bout of shop and school closures and sports bans.

In Italy, authorities recorded more than 27,000 new cases and 380 deaths on Friday. ?More than a year after the start of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of infections,? said prime minister Mario Draghi.

?The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.?




A member of the medical staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) tends to a patient in the Covid-19 unit of the Bolognini hospital in Seriate, Bergamo, on March 12, 2021.

A member of the medical staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) tends to a patient in the Covid-19 unit of the Bolognini hospital in Seriate, Bergamo, on Friday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

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WHO scientist who spoke out on early crisis in Italy resigns

A World Health Organization scientist who spoke out about the UN body?s withdrawal of a report on Italy?s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic has resigned.

Francesco Zambon, who is based at the WHO?s office in Venice, confirmed he resigned due to the situation becoming professionally ?unsustainable?, after he alleged that he was pressured by a senior WHO official to hide the fact that Italy had not updated its pandemic plan since 2006.

Zambon declined to comment further when contacted by the Guardian but said his resignation, first reported by RAI?s report, would take effect from 31 March.

The Guardian first reported in August that Italy?s pandemic plan was 14 years out of date, a factor that may have contributed to at least 10,000 Covid-19 deaths during the first wave, and which is a key element in an investigation into alleged errors by authorities being carried out by prosecutors in Bergamo, the Lombardy province that was severely affected in the pandemic?s early stage.




Francesco Zambon wrote in the report that due to being unprepared, the initial response from hospitals in Italy was ?improvised, chaotic and creative?.

Francesco Zambon wrote in the report that due to being unprepared, the initial response from hospitals in Italy was ?improvised, chaotic and creative?. Photograph: Domenico Stinellis/AP










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AstraZeneca should be ‘deferred’ in Ireland – authorities











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An epidemiologist whose projections of Covid-19 deaths precipitated the lockdown in 英國, has been reflecting on the situation a year on from when he first realised the full extent of the threat which the virus posed.

Neil Ferguson told the Observer he was ?80% sure? British Covid cases will stay low until autumn, but warns of need for booster jabs.

?It is highly likely that we will have driven Covid down to very low levels of case numbers and we can begin enjoying summer. We will still need to monitor things very carefully, and there has yet to be a proper discussion about what we do in autumn. Certainly, I think it is highly likely we will have to roll out a booster vaccine to protect against possible new variants.

?So, while I am optimistic overall, I still think there is a 20% chance things could go wrong ? with the possible appearance of dangerous new variants which undermine immunity given by vaccines.?

In general, though, Ferguson takes the view that the news is likely to be good over the next few months ? and that makes a considerable change from the warnings he has had to make for the past year.




Neil Ferguson?s modelling of the pandemic made him the figurehead of the lockdown. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Neil Ferguson?s modelling of the pandemic made him the figurehead of the lockdown. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

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04:29

Japan considers limits on Olympic spectators

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Good morning from London where the news here continues to be focused on widespread criticism of police, who cited Covid regulations in breaking up a peaceful vigil in memory of a young British woman whose death has sparked national soul-searching.

In other news, the British government has been urged by some MPs to stop ?moving the goalposts? in decisions on coronavirus restrictions and should publish data thresholds for its road map out of lockdown.

Separately, scores of charities have written an open letter to encourage people with underlying health conditions to come forward for a coronavirus vaccine.

We?ll also continue to bring you coverage here of global developments in relation to Covid-19.

Please feel free to flag up any stories which you feel we should be covering today by emailing me or reaching out to me on Twitter at @BenQuinn75

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Britons are planning to ?eat, drink and be merry? once lockdown lifts, with many pubs and restaurants already fully booked for several months.

Those keen to make up for lost time have inundated venues in England with bookings for tables in beer gardens for when they are scheduled to reopen on 12 April.

When the Birmingham restaurant, Craft, started to take bookings on 24 February just after the April easing was announced by the prime minister, 147 groups ? 601 people ? reserved seats within 20 minutes.

?It?s been an incredible response,? said Sam Morgan, chief executive of the We Are Craft Group. ?We have a small amount of availability on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons but otherwise our outdoor private dining pods are pretty much booked up until July and the inside is fully booked from when we open in mid-May until July. We knew there would be a significant demand, however, it has definitely exceeded our expectations. It?s really reassuring.?

Boris Johnson revealed the plans last month to reopen the hospitality industry. From 12 April up to six people will be able to meet friends or family in beer gardens or to eat outside. Indoor seating is set to restart from 17 May, providing specific Covid-19 conditions are met. From 21 June, the government hopes to lift all restrictions.

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