Coronavirus latest: New York state hospital cases drop to 5-month low

Pregnant women in the UK can now be offered a Covid-19 shot, government advisers said on Friday, but should not have the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended expectant mothers should only have the BioNTech/Pfizer or Moderna shot.

The US will invest $1.7bn to tackle Covid-19 variants, as public health experts warn that new strains of the virus could drive up infections even as more Americans are vaccinated. The White House announced on Friday that it was allocating funds from the $1.9tn economic relief package signed into law last month, to fight the variants.

There have been 77 cases of a new variant linked to a surge in Covid-19 cases in India found in the UK, as the government seeks to fortify its defences against strains that may be able to evade existing vaccines. The cases were reported by the government on Thursday evening, along with 56 new cases of the variant first identified in South Africa.

The number of EU citizens arriving in the UK before the pandemic has been revised upwards by the official statistics body. The Office for National Statistics on Friday said that during the nine years to March 2020, before the first lockdown, EU net migration averaged 216,000 people per year, 76 per cent higher than previous figures.

A worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Dae Hueng Presbyterian Church in Gardena, California © Patrick T Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna has warned that it will deliver fewer than expected vaccines to the UK, Canada and some other countries, after a shortfall in production in its European supply chain. The Boston-based biotechnology company said on Friday that it will reduce the number of doses it is sending to the UK from April.

Apple has temporarily closed its stores in Michigan, which has become the latest hotspot for coronavirus in the US. “Due to current Covid-19 conditions, we are temporarily closing our stores in Michigan. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation,” the company said on Friday.

Santander has told UK mortgage brokers that when assessing the mortgage application of a self-employed borrower it would set aside the 2020-21 accounting period if their business had been adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis. From Monday, Santander will base its assessment on income in the two tax years prior to the pandemic

The chief executive of the Co-operative Group will receive a bonus of more than £1m this year despite the mutual choosing not to relinquish business rates relief. Steve Murrells will receive £1.35m, an increase of £735,000 on 2019’s outcome, taking his total pay to £2.2m. More than half of this year’s bonus is a deferred award from 2018.

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