– Poland is likely to ease some of its restrictions from February 1 after the number of new daily cases slowed, deputy health minister Waldemar Kraska said.
– Sweden plans to bring In a temporary ban for arrivals from Norway due to the spread of a new variant of the virus, its health ministry said.
– Portugal recorded 274 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic. The new deaths also took the cumulative toll above 10,000.
– Spain’s defense chief Miguel Angel Villarroya has resigned after coming under criticism for getting vaccinated despite not being on a priority list.
– A lockdown is becoming ‘more and more likely’ in France, a government source told news agency AFP, citing projections of a surge in cases.
– Berlin’s Humboldt Hospital has been placed under quarantine with no new admissions being allowed after 20 patients and staff members tested positive for the new variant of the virus first discovered in the UK.
– The UK is “a long, long, long way” from being able to ease its nationwide lockdown, according to health minister Matt Hancock, who says there is early evidence that the measures are beginning to work.
– The World Health Organization has said it has no plans to change its guidance recommending fabric face masks despite Germany and Austria making medical masks mandatory on public transport and shops.
– Germany has reported a further 12,257 new cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 349 to bring the overall tally to 51,870.
Guy Henderson in London
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock says there is still a “long, long way to go” until a more contagious strain of the coronavirus is brought under control.
The British government says 75 percent of over-80s have now received their first jab in a two-dose course. Controversy still swirls around the government’s strategy of administering injections to as many people as possible before making the second jab widely available. “It is going to save lives,” insists Hancock.
As some teachers call for mass vaccinations of staff in February to ensure schools can return in the spring, the health minister says the government will continue its roll-out based on clinical need. “It depends on supply,” he said, while re-iterating a hope that classes may still be able to take place again by Easter.
Ministers are due to discuss new measures to beef up the country’s borders on Monday, amid concerns new vaccine-resistant variants might come into the UK. “The new variant I really worry about is the one out there that hasn’t been spotted,” said Hancock.
“The hypothesis of confinement is more and more likely,” a government source told news agency AFP, citing a projection of a surge in cases.
Meanwhile new border controls came into force in France on Sunday as part of an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Arrivals to France from European Union countries by air or sea must now be able to produce a negative PCR test result obtained in the previous 72 hours. The requirement had already applied to non-EU arrivals since January.
Some 62,000 people currently arrive in France from the EU every week, according to transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari. People traveling from the EU by land will not need to provide a negative test, however.
Paris’s main international airport, Charles de Gaulle, has set up testing centers dedicated to those traveling from EU countries.