SURGE testing will take place in Stockton after a Covid variant was found in the area, and other Covid news from the past 24-hours:  

  • The Government said a further 242 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 124,025. Government data up to March 3 also shows that of the 21,946,433 jabs given in the UK so far, 20,982,571 were first doses – a rise of 278,9566 on the previous day. Some 963,862 were second doses, an increase of 68,450.
  • Surge testing will take place in Stockton after the South African variant of coronavirus has been found in the area, the Department of Health said. The TS19 postcode area in Stockton will benefit from surge testing alongside the North Wembley area of Brent, north London.
  • A North-East hotel could be changed into flats as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a planning application to Durham County Council has revealed. The hotel was constructed adjacent to the Moorings Public House and Restaurant on Hett Hills in Chester-le-Street, and could be turned into two self-contained flats. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, hospitality has seen a massive decline in demand, which have affected, in particular, hotels located away from large urban areas. The hotel adjacent to the Moorings Public House and Restaurant has seen a large fall in demand and, according to the Design and Access Statement, this has rendered its current use "unsustainable."
  • Teesside-born TV presenter Chris Kamara has urged people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to get the Covid-19 vaccine. The Sky Sports analyst, from Middlesbrough, said he was “feeling great” after getting his first jab and hoped it would accelerate a return to normal life. The 63-year-old said he understands why some in minority communities may be reluctant to get the vaccine and revealed his Sierra Leone-born father was hesitant about needles.
  • Matt Hancock has said he is more optimistic than ever for a “great British summer”. The Health Secretary said he is confident that coronavirus restrictions will be lifted to allow leisure travel this summer because of the rollout of coronavirus vaccines. Mr Hancock has already booked a summer holiday in Cornwall. The Government’s road map for easing England’s lockdown rules includes self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets potentially reopening from April 12, while hotel stays and foreign travel could be permitted from May 17.
  • More than four in 10 over-80s who received a coronavirus vaccine during the current lockdown appear to have since broken the rules by meeting up with someone indoors, figures suggest. Some 43 per cent of elderly people surveyed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said they had met someone other than a personal care support worker, member of their household or support bubble indoors since being vaccinated. And 41 per cent of over-80s vaccinated in the previous three weeks said they had done so, “appearing to break lockdown regulations”, according to the ONS. 
  • International pupils attending boarding schools in England will be allowed to self-isolate at their school rather than in a hotel following pressure from parents and headteachers. Children arriving from countries on the Government’s red list to return to school in England will not have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, according to Department for Education (DfE) guidance. But it says pupils will only be allowed to quarantine at their school if they travel from the airport in pre-arranged private transport organised by the school. International students must then quarantine in “physically self-contained” accommodation at the school.
  • It is “too early” to say whether the Government can support rolling out vaccine passports while a review is under way, the Chancellor has said. Rishi Sunak admitted there are “various practical, legal and ethical issues” with asking people to prove they have either been vaccinated or tested negative for coronavirus before being permitted into venues or businesses. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is currently leading a review for Prime Minister Boris Johnson on whether bringing in “Covid status certificates” would help with reopening the economy once virus restrictions have been lifted after June 21.