Coronavirus live news: South Africa lowers alert level; Jordan ministers sacked for breaches

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Hospital chiefs are urging UK ministers to expand the NHS’s supply of beds in intensive care units, which have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last year.

It is unsafe for patients and unfair on frontline staff for the health service to continue with one of the lowest numbers of intensive care beds in Europe, they have told the Guardian.

ICUs across the UK have played a key role in treating more than 25,000 people whose health has been the worst affected by Covid since it struck last March. Patients at serious risk of death have received oxygen through either a ventilator or continuous positive airway pressure and also steroids in an attempt to keep them alive, with some spending many weeks in ICU.

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The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may be less effective in people with obesity, data suggests.

Italian researchers have discovered that healthcare workers with obesity produced only about half the amount of antibodies in response to a second dose of the jab compared with healthy people. Although it is too soon to know what this means for the efficacy of the vaccine, it might imply that people with obesity need an additional booster dose to ensure they are adequately protected against coronavirus.

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South Africa lowers alert level from three to one

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Surge testing rolled out in parts of South Gloucestershire

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Brazil variant cases found in UK

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UK records lowest number of new cases in five months

There have been a further 6,035 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data – the lowest rise in cases since late September.

There were 9,834 new cases last Sunday. A total of 4,170,519 people have tested positive since the pandemic began.

A further 144 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported, bringing the total to 122,849. There were 215 last Sunday.

The seven-day rolling average, which evens out reporting irregularities in the daily figures, shows that cases are down by 21.2% compared with the previous week (15-21 February). Fatalities have decreased by 33.5% by the same measure.

There have been 135,613 deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned as a cause on the death certificate, registered up to 12 February.

Sunday figures are often lower because of reporting delays over the weekend.

Hello, I’m taking over the blog from Archie Bland now and will be updating it for the next few hours. If you want to draw my attention to a story or new development please DM me on Twitter.

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