Brazil’s coronavirus catastrophe has deepened further after more than 4,000 daily deaths were reported for the first time since the outbreak began in February last year.
At least 4,195 people were reported to have died on Tuesday taking Brazil’s total death toll – the world’s second highest after the US – to nearly 337,000.
Its health ministry also reported 86,979 new infections. Experts fear a record 100,000 Brazilians could lose their lives this month alone if nothing is done.
“It’s a nuclear reactor that has set off a chain reaction and is out of control. It’s a biological Fukushima,” Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian doctor and professor at Duke University who is closely tracking the virus, told Reuters.
Despite the growing crisis, Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, continues to resist the idea of a lockdown and is still downplaying the epidemic. “In which country aren’t people dying?” he shrugged last week.
Brazil, which has 212 million citizens compared to the 328 million in the US, is expected to overtake the US weekly average for daily deaths in the coming days. According to Reuters, the US average peaked at 3,285 in January.
Ministers’ plans for Covid status certificates to help ease the UK out of lockdown risk descending into chaos after hospitality groups joined opposition parties and Conservative MPs in opposing the idea.
In a demonstration of the strength of feeling among dozens of Tories, backbencher Steve Baker said forcing people to show an app-based pass to go to shops, pubs or other crowded public places would create a “miserable dystopia of Checkpoint Britain”.
Labour plans to vote against the plans, calling them “discriminatory” and saying the party would in particular oppose the idea of passes being needed to go to most shops, a possibility spelled out in an official review of the idea published this week.
Shoppers will be finally able to try on jeans, bras, suits and other items of clothing requiring the perfect fit in England from Monday when several high street chains reopen changing rooms for the first time in a year.
John Lewis, H&M and River Island will be reopening at least some of their fitting rooms when fashion stores open their doors next week as part of the next stage in the loosening of government coronavirus lockdown guidelines.
Next said it was undecided whether to reopen its fitting rooms while both Marks & Spencer and Primark have both said they will not do so next week. M&S, however, said that shoppers would be able to book appointments for “no contact” bra fitting in stores, where a member of staff will not measure customers but advise them on how to measure themselves.
University leaders said it was deeply unfair that students could get haircuts or work in pubs next week but still had no idea when their campuses would reopen, as the government announced that school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks until the middle of May.
They are angry at the government’s failure to include higher education in its latest coronavirus roadmap updates, saying they have had no guidance about when campuses in England can fully reopen.
While Boris Johnson confirmed that non-essential shops would reopen to customers from Monday, there was no mention in the prime minister’s briefing of how soon universities would be able to welcome back the bulk of their students to access libraries or seminars in person.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson faces a battle to introduce domestic vaccine passports after running into fierce cross-party opposition.
A government review into “Covid status certification” found they could “potentially play a role” in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events, and might also be used in pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing restrictions.
The prospect of having to show a certificate to access shops or bars has outraged members of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservatives, while Labour hit out at the “discriminatory” and “poorly thought-through” proposals.
The use of certificates – which would include vaccination status, test results or evidence of someone having contracted and recovered from Covid-19 – is opposed by at least 40 Conservative MPs.
With Labour’s opposition also hardening, the Government would face difficulties in getting the measures through the Commons if Mr Johnson pushed them to a vote.
Ministers have ruled out bringing in certification for either the April 12 or May 17 stages of the road map but the documents – either in paper form or on an NHS app – could be introduced later this year.
Mr Johnson suggested that vaccination passports for overseas travel were “going to be a fact of life” because a lot of countries were looking at the possibility.
That’s all from me for today, I’m now going to hand over to my colleague Harry Taylor.