Coronavirus live news: US death toll nears 500,000; UK roadmap out of lockdown revealed

8.03pm EST20:03

Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Emirates are among the airlines to trial a “digital travel pass” intended to ease international travel during the pandemic.

The Travel Pass app was developed by the International Air Transport Association and launched last year, allowing travellers to store and present Covid-19 test results and their vaccination status for verification on check-in.

Air NZ’s chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull described it as “a digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines”, Stuff.NZ reports.

Air NZ’s three-week trial will start in April, with both aircrew and customers.Vaccinations began in New Zealand on Friday, with high-risk managed isolation, quarantine and border workers the first on the list.

The programme to vaccinate 12,000 workers gets under way in Wellington today and in Christchurch on Wednesday, and is expected to take a year to complete.

7.51pm EST19:51

New Zealand confirms one new community case

In more New Zealand news: the Ministry of Health has announced six new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation, four of which are historical, and one case of community transmission.

The new community case is a household contact of some of the previous cases diagnosed in Auckland this month, the ministry said.

This person, known as Case H, had been previously tested and returned a negative result. They had been isolating at home since last Monday but were transferred to a quarantine facility as a precaution on Friday.

“Due to the steps already taken in identifying, testing and tracing individuals linked to the February cases, as well as Case H isolating at home since Monday and then being in quarantine for the last two days, the public health risk is considered very low,” the ministry said.

7.33pm EST19:33

Quarantine-free travel resumes from New Zealand to Australia

Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia has resumed ahead of a downgraded alert level expected in Auckland today. Australia reopened the one-way travel bubble this morning following a cluster of coronavirus cases in Auckland. The prime minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to downgrade the alert level in the city from level 2 to level 1 this afternoon after the outbreak was contained to officials’ satisfaction.

Auckland spent three days last week in a level 3 lockdown after Covid-19 was detected in a family of three in the community. Extra conditions for arrivals in Australia from New Zealand will be effective until 1 March, with anyone who has been in Auckland in the past fortnight (excluding the airport) required to show proof of having returned a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of departure. These rules will be reviewed by the end of the month.

7.18pm EST19:18

6.56pm EST18:56

WHO calls on Tanzania to act

6.52pm EST18:52

Britain accelerates vaccine rollout

6.48pm EST18:48

Dr Fauci says Americans may still be wearing masks in 2022

6.45pm EST18:45

UK roadmap out of lockdown revealed

Boris Johnson will unveil the government’s eagerly awaited roadmap out of lockdown for England on Monday. Here’s what the prime minister is expected to tell MPs:

  • All pupils in all years can return to the classroom from 8 March.
  • Outdoor after-school sports and activities will be allowed to restart.
  • In a fortnight, socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will be allowed.
  • On 29 March, restrictions will be eased further to allow larger groups to meet in parks and gardens.
  • Outdoor sport facilities will also reopen, as well as organised adult and children’s sport.

Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step of easing restrictions. More on that here:

6.44pm EST18:44

US death toll nears 500,000

6.38pm EST18:38