Covid-19: PM thanks teachers, a third wave warning and triplets on their ‘big day’on March 8, 2021 at 5:32 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

After millions of pupils returned to schools across England and Northern Ireland today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked teachers, parents and pupils for their “astonishing” efforts. He told a Downing Street press conference that the return to schools was “a big day and an emotional day”. He added that while some have been anxious about the return, “the greater risk” would be keeping children out of school “a day longer”. Head teachers, meanwhile, said the first day back in England had “gone well”. You can read more about the rules for the reopening of schools here.

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The latest figures show the UK has recorded a further 65 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test, and a further 4,712 cases. Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, told the Downing Street briefing this meant case levels were back to what they were at the end of September. She warned, however, that “this is a level at which a new wave could easily take off again from”. It is “really important” that everyone continues to practise social distancing and follows the rules in place, she added. You can read more about the levels of Covid-19 in the UK here.

Chart showing Covid cases in the UK over time
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BP has told office-based staff they will be expected to spend two days a week working from home after lockdown restrictions ease. The oil giant said in meetings last month that most would be asked to work from home 40% of the time, or two days a week for full-time employees. The new “hybrid” work model will affect 25,000 BP staff, with 6,000 in the UK. It comes as part of a cost-cutting drive for the firm, which saw thousands of job cuts announced last year. BP informed staff of the changes in “town hall” meetings in February, and suggested that it would offer a “more flexible, engaging and dynamic way of working”.

Woman working from home at kitchen table.

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The government is sticking to the rule that a positive rapid Covid test done in secondary schools in England cannot be overruled by the gold-standard tests processed by labs. Concerns have been raised by testing experts that significant numbers could be incorrectly told they are infected by the less accurate, rapid tests, leading them and their families to self-isolate for no reason. Asked if children should be allowed to exit self-isolation if the more reliable PCR test gave a negative result, children’s minister Vicky Ford told the BBC: “They should not take the risk, we all want to make sure we can keep Covid out of the classrooms here.” You can read more about school testing here.

Chart showing different tests
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A mother of eight-year-old triplets has filmed a video diary to record their return to school. The trio – Yimi, Mbetmi and Waimi – said the day was “big” and “important” and it felt “so nice” to be back in their uniforms. Mum Esther, from Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, said: “The house is so quiet. I kind of miss them… but it’s quite a good thing that they are going back to normal.” You can read more from pupils on their return to school here, and you can watch the video of Yimi, Mbetmi and Waimi below.

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Covid figures graphic

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. This page looks at the falling number of daily cases in the UK, plus other data.

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