Eleanor de Jong
Here’s the latest from New Zealand, after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern announced a week-long lockdown in Auckland.
The latest community outbreak had no known links to other cases and spent seven days visiting supermarkets, gyms and and university.
Ardern told New Zealanders “this is so hard; we all have to hang in there”.
In the UK, former Conservative chancellor, Ken Clarke, has said Rishi Sunak should not halt emergency job support schemes yet, while adding that the public debt must be reined in.
Clarke, who was led the Treasury under John Major, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
He has to keep in place things like the furlough scheme, the successful parts of the package that stopped the economy collapsing and kept alive good business, good jobs, that will revive if we can get ourselves through the end of this Covid crisis.
The former chancellor said Sunak also has to “start actually preparing for how he’s going to get that debt under control”, adding that he would consider raising personal tax.
He said raising corporation tax would be “quite sensible” as it is “quite unnaturally low levels”.
Russia has reported a further 11,534 Covid-19 cases, including 1,825 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,234,720 since the pandemic began.
There were an additional 439 deaths in the same period, the government coronavirus task force said, bringing the official death toll to 85,743.
Auckland to enter seven-day lockdown
New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, will enter a week-long lockdown, Jacinda Ardern has announced, after a new Covid-19 case was detected.
The measures will come into effect on Sunday, the prime minister told a news conference. The lockdown was announced after a single coronavirus community case of unknown origin was recorded.
The rest of New Zealand will be placed under Level 2 restrictions limiting public gatherings.
Public finances under ‘enormous strain’, UK chancellor says
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has warned that the UK’s finances will come under “enormous strains” following the third national lockdown, adding that debt accrued by spending on coronavirus support will have to be paid.
Speaking to the FT ahead of Wednesday’s unveiling of the budget, Sunak said low interest rates have left public finances “exposed”. The government has invested £280bn in coronavirus support over the course of the pandemic.
Sunak said next week’s budget will provide hope to the 750,000 people who had lost their jobs due to the crisis, while underlining that “there is a challenge [in the public finances] and I want to level with people about the challenge”.
He did not disclose any details on specific tax changes.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s coronavirus live blog. We’ll be bringing you rolling coverage of the pandemic from around the world. Here’s a quick summary of recent events.
- US president Joe Biden has that Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations could go back up as new variants emerge, and urged people that now was “not the time to relax”. Cases have been increasing in the US for the past three days compared to last week.
- Brazil’s capital Brasilia entered a ‘total’ 24-hour lockdown on Friday amid a worsening virus outbreak that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
- Israel’s drop in coronavirus infections has reversed and the country’s R rate is inching toward 1 again, as Israel continues to reopen its economy after exiting a six-week lockdown.
- The Czech government has approved a series of strict restrictions limiting people’s movement over the next three weeks and tightening shop and school closures in an attempt to slow fast spreading Covid-19 infections.
- Nigeria and Honduras are both expecting their first vaccine deliveries from the COVAX programme, with Nigeria set to receive 4 million doses next week and Honduras nearly 430,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in March.
- Ireland has added 13 mainly Central and South American countries to its 14-day mandatory quarantine list, which will soon require arrivals from countries designated as “high risk” to quarantine in designated hotels.
If you’d like to get in touch with any suggestions for coverage, please DM me on Twitter.