Here are the latest developments in the Covid pandemic.  

  • There have been more than 800 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the North-East and North Yorkshire.
  • The Government said a further 738 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 118,933. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have been 138,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK. The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 12,718 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total in the UK to 4,071,185.
  • Government data up to February 16 shows that of the 16,499,549 jabs given in the UK so far, 15,940,972 were first doses – a rise of 364,865 on the previous day. Some 558,577 were second doses, an increase of 12,412 on figures released the previous day.
  • South Tees Public Health chief Mark Adams revealed how the variant had been uncovered in the borough while updating councillors on efforts to track one case of the mutation in Middlesbrough. He told Tuesday’s health scrutiny panel how cases had been found in Hartlepool, Sunderland and Scarborough – and that all had been “involved in foreign travel in one form or another”. 
  • Experts do not expect a surge in coronavirus cases when schools reopen, MPs have heard. Professor Mark Woolhouse said that there had never been a surge in cases following the reopening of schools across western Europe. But he pointed out that some schools across the continent have kept schools shut to those age 15 and over – because they carry the virus in a similar way to adults.
  • Lawyers called for “adequate” coronavirus safety measures including “widespread testing” as they welcomed plans to open more Nightingale courts to help clear the rising backlog of criminal cases. The first “super courtroom” to hear gang trials and more temporary courtrooms in hotels, theatres and conference centres are due to open, the Government said. Manchester Crown Court will have a “super courtroom” to deal with cases involving several defendants on trial at the same time, such as gang murder trials.
  • A puppy called Toffee has been saved by vets after ingesting a large face mask, prompting a warning for dog owners to be vigilant. Staff at the Blue Cross charity’s animal hospital in London removed the cloth mask from the 11-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s stomach during emergency surgery. The pet’s upset stomach was initially thought to be the result of a change in diet but a week later, his owner, Jess Busby, realised his health was deteriorating.
  • Retail experts have warned that recent job losses will be the “tip of the iceberg” without further support from the Treasury, as new figures reveal about 850 jobs have been lost from the sector each working day since the start of the year. New analysis from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) shows 27,096 jobs have been shed and 1,023 stores have been earmarked for closure so far in 2021. The research, which covers insolvencies by retailers with 10 or more stores, highlights the turmoil on the high street, which has seen the recent collapses of Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
  • There has never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a beach, MPs have heard. Images of crowded beaches across the UK drew outrage as people flocked to Britain’s beaches last summer. Police were forced to step in and asked people to stay away from some popular spots with pictures of packed beaches, traffic jams and full car parks being widely shared on social media.