AS debate around food parcels and the digital divide continues, here are all the latest Covid updates:

  • The number of people in the UK to have been given a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Tuesday is more than 2.4 million, according to Government figures, up from almost 2.3 million on Monday. The Government said a further 1,243 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, which brings the UK total to 81,960.
  • Waitrose has joined rival supermarkets Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda by confirming staff will stop customers from shopping who refuse to wear a mask in stores, unless medically exempt. Bosses at Waitrose parent company, the John Lewis Partnership, also revealed it would end click-and-collect services based within John Lewis department stores to avoid non-essential travel and in-home services will be carried out only if “essential” to customers’ wellbeing.
  • A further 300,000 laptops and tablets will be delivered to schools in England to help disadvantaged children learning from home due to the coronavirus crisis, the Government has announced. The Department for Education (DfE) said the boost brings the total number of laptops and tablets being made available for pupils to 1.3 million, amid concerns that many lack a suitable device in order to study remotely. Students in schools and colleges in England – except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – have been told to learn at home until mid-February due to tighter restrictions.
  • People eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations have been reassured they will be able to get their jab locally if they are unable to travel. Letters have been sent to people currently eligible for the vaccine, inviting them to attend the North-East's mass vaccination site at the Centre for Life in Newcastle if they live within a 45 minute drive. On Monday, Darlington PCN said NHS letters to had caused "confusion" among some vulnerable patients but has reassured people they will be contacted by their GPs if they do not book an appointment in Newcastle.
  • Around half of the region's Covid cases have been identified as the "more transmissible" variant, council leaders have said. In a joint statement, leaders in the north of the region warned everybody "cannot allow it to take control" as they said there was "still a long way to go" in preventing hospitals reaching capacity with Covid patients. It comes as 17 areas in the region were yesterday identified on a Public Health England map as Covid "hot-spots" where infection rates soared above 800 cases per 100,000 people.
  • The holiday operator and airline Jet2 has announced the cancellation of services across the UK until the end of March - including those in the North-East. In an announcement, Jet2 thanked customers for their patience and understanding as it cancels bookings as a result of the "ongoing uncertainty and travel restrictions".People living in the UK are banned from leisure travel due to coronavirus restrictions, while travellers arriving in England will need to test negative for the virus from Friday.
  • Education food service provider Chartwells has apologised after images of food parcels sent to families provoked anger among campaigners and MPs. One mother posted an image of a package she had received during the lockdown which was estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food. A spokesperson for Chartwells said: “We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter. For clarity this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.
  • There were a further 1,711 coronavirus confirmed cases in the North East and North Yorkshire in the last 24-hours.
  • The Government said a further 1,243 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of yesterday (Tuesday), which brings the UK total to 81,960.