Good morning everyone. I will be leading the blog today so please feel free to drop me a message on Twitter if you have any coverage suggestions.
Amid positive signs of falling death rates and rising immunity levels, ministers are reportedly preparing for a mass testing “blitz” with the aim of getting the country to “a new normal”.
According to the Times’ splash, NHS test and trace is readying for a nationwide “surge” testing programme, which would involve more than 400,000 rapid lateral flow tests being sent by post to homes and workplaces every day.
When asked about a potential programme of mass testing this morning, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told Sky News:
We learnt previously in places like Liverpool and other areas in the north, the value, particularly when you have got a spike, of testing done at scale and at pace, particularly with the new lateral flow testing.
Raab added that the vaccine rollout, treatments for coronavirus and carrying out lateral flow testing “at scale, at pace” would be “important” when easing the lockdown.
So far, more than 15 million people have had a Covid-19 vaccine, with the UK government saying everyone in the top four priority groups has now been offered a first dose.
At current rates, the NHS could offer a coronavirus vaccine to the 32 million people in the first nine priority groups by Easter – four weeks ahead of the official schedule – according to Guardian analysis.
With the vaccination rollout continuing to gather pace, speculation is rife about the next phase of pandemic restrictions in England, as Tory MPs mount pressure on the government to lift curbs by the end of April.
Ministers and industry leaders are discussing a “roadmap out of lockdown” that would gradually ease restrictions in England at four-week intervals, with leisure businesses “broadly” back to normal by July, according to the Daily Mail.
Though, the Daily Telegraph reports that lockdown will continue until cases drop below 1,000 a day.
Here is some of the agenda for the day.
Boris Johnson in south Wales this morning. We will keep you posted with the latest on that throughout the visit.
09 15: Government scientific advisers to give evidence to MPs on easing the lockdown.
10 30: Anne Longfield’s last speech as children’s commissioner for England.
12 15: Welsh government briefing.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog for all of the latest Covid-related coverage from around the world: