England to set out lockdown exit plans, Germany reopens schools: COVID-19 Daily Bulletin
Edna Mohamed


-  The Ukraine has agreed to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses it will receive from U.S. maker Novavax to 15 million. Its first doses are expected to arrive in the country by July.

-  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to set out a roadmap to ease England from its third national lockdown as vaccination efforts prove successful.

-  Russia's vaccination program has begun picking up speed as Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced plans to vaccinate 60 percent of the population by June.

-  Elementary and kindergarten schools in more than half of Germany's 16 states have reopened for the first time in two months.

-  A new study from Scotland has found the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 85 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

-  For the next two weekends, the area around Nice, France, will go into a partial lockdown due to rising cases. The country as a whole is not in lockdown, but a curfew remains in place.

-  The funeral for Captain Tom Moore, the British World War II veteran who raised around $54m for the National Health Service, is scheduled for Saturday. His family reminded people to stay at home.

-  Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and France's Sanofi have begun trials of a new protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. They hope it will be approved for use by the fourth quarter of the year.

-  Five more France rugby players, including its captain, have tested positive for the coronavirus. The positive cases affect the team's Six Nations fixture with Scotland this Sunday.

-   As Italy continues to accelerate its vaccination program, doctors across the country will be able to administer the AstraZeneca vaccines to under-65s.




Nawied Jabarkhyl in London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out plans to ease England's third national lockdown on Monday. The first step will see all schools reopen in the country on March 8 and two people will be able to meet socially outdoors.

The next step will be on March 29 and will allow six people to meet outdoors and the return of outdoor sports such as tennis and team sports, including football.

The other nations in the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are taking their own approaches to easing their lockdowns.

Johnson has said the plans are "cautious", and any further easing of restrictions will depend on fewer deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 and progress with vaccines.


Stefan de Vries in Amsterdam

The 9 p.m. curfew in the Netherlands will be extended after March 2, according to sources in The Hague. It was initially supposed to end on February 9. Last week, the curfew was invalidated by a judge. Still, the government introduced an emergency bill making the curfew legal again. In the first week of March, high schools will be able to partially open their doors again. 

Also, "contact professions", such as hairdressers, which have closed since mid-December, can go back to work, albeit under strict conditions. Formally, the government will decide on Tuesday morning and announce the measures during a press conference on Tuesday evening.

Many organizations have called to reopen schools. Not only have pupils fallen behind, they say, but they are also mentally affected by the closure.

On Sunday, there were 4,720 recorded new infections, considerably more than the daily average of the past seven days of 3,935 cases. Several test centers were catching up after being closed during extreme winter weather the previous week, leading to more tests this week. The number of people in hospitals decreased slightly.

This weekend, the Netherlands reached 1 million vaccinations administered. The country plans to give the next 1 million jabs in the following three weeks. The country was the last in the EU to start giving shots and with 4.38 percent of the population vaccinated, it is still underperforming. On Sunday, the EU rate was 5.9 percent. In April, the government aims to reach the target of 1 million injections per week. 


Some schools in Germany have reopened despite fears of a third coronavirus wave fueled by the variant first discovered in the UK. /AFP

Some schools in Germany have reopened despite fears of a third coronavirus wave fueled by the variant first discovered in the UK. /AFP


Julia Chapman in Budapest

Hungary's parliament will debate extending the state of emergency on Monday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. If approved, Prime Minister Viktor Orban will receive an extended mandate to effectively rule by decree until the powers expire 90 days later. 

Opposition parties have expressed concern about the added control handed to the government during the pandemic. Hungary's Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller says 322 cases of the variant first identified in the UK have been reported in Hungary so far, with community transmission taking place. She warned last week that Hungary is now in its third wave of the pandemic, with cases rising rapidly across Central Europe.


Ross Cullen in Paris

The mayor of Nice has urged the government to bring in a weekend lockdown in the city, which has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in France. Christian Estrosi has called on tourists to stay away from the southeastern beach city. 

Ministers are also said to be considering a possible ban on people coming into Alpes-Maritimes (the region that includes Nice) who do not live there. 

"We need strong measures that go beyond the nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, either a tighter curfew, or a partial and time-specific lockdown," said Estrosi. Nice has registered 740 new cases per week per 100,000 residents.

 Air France is going to trial a "digital health pass" on its flights to France's overseas territories from March 11.



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Source(s): AP ,AFP ,Reuters

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