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Covid-19: ‘Data not dates’ to drive lockdown easing, and £500k raised for injured rescuer

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

The prime minister has stressed England will ease its coronavirus restrictions “cautiously” and it is “absolutely right” to take a “data not dates” approach to leaving lockdown. Boris Johnson’s comments come just days before he is expected to set out a road map on Monday for easing measures. He said relaxation of measures would be done in “stages” and that the reopening of hospitality was one of the last things to return after the first lockdown. Speaking at a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, south Wales, Mr Johnson said the government wanted to be “going one way from now on, based on the incredible vaccination rollout”.

media captionThe PM was asked whether he agreed with a “data, not dates” approach to relaxing Covid restrictions in England

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Healthy, young volunteers will be infected with coronavirus to test vaccines and treatments in the world’s first Covid-19 “human challenge” study. The study, which will take place in the UK and has received ethics approval, will start in the next few weeks and recruit 90 people aged 18-30. They will be exposed to the virus in a safe and controlled environment while medics monitor their health. The trials will help scientists work out the smallest amount of coronavirus needed to cause infection, and how the body’s immune system reacts to it. This will give doctors a better understanding of Covid-19, which will feed into the development of vaccines and treatments.

Doctor with volunteer having vaccine

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Fatigue, headache, sore throat and diarrhoea should be added to the existing three symptoms which trigger a Covid test, researchers have suggested. Currently, government guidance states anyone with a cough, fever or loss of smell or taste qualifies. Testing for the additional four symptoms could pick up 40% more cases, according to King’s College London and the Zoe Symptom Study app. The government said an expert scientific group keeps the virus symptoms under review and “the main symptoms have been carefully selected to capture those most likely to have Covid-19, while not capturing a great number of people who do not”.

sick woman lying on sofa

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The charity Pregnant Then Screwed has lost its legal challenge against the government for indirect sexual discrimination over the amount of support self-employed mothers received. The group said women who had maternity leave got less money from a fund set up to help those hit by the Covid pandemic and lockdown restrictions. But a judge ruled the chancellor had properly considered the women’s situation. Pregnant Then Screwed said the judgment was “fundamentally flawed” and was considering its options for appeal.

Mother and child

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More than £500,000 has been raised to help a mountain rescue volunteer who suffered life-changing injuries on his way to help campers who had broken coronavirus lockdown rules. Chris Lewis, a member of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team in the Lake District, suffered severe spinal injuries when he fell 500ft (150m). His colleagues have described the fundraising efforts as “phenomenal”. “What’s really struck me is the number of people who have donated. The fact more than 20,000 have contributed is remarkable,” said Mike Blakey, a fellow volunteer with the team. The campers, from Liverpool and Leicester, have both been fined £200.

Chris Lewis

image copyrightPA Media image captionChris Lewis has been in an intensive care unit since the fall on 6 February


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You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page, including this in-depth piece which looks at how we will know if the vaccine rollout in the UK is working.

UK Covid figures chart


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