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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: 168m children worldwide have missed school for a year; Brazil reports record deaths” was written by Helen Sullivan, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 04.10 UTC

4.10am GMT

Australia’s economic recovery continues with 3.1% growth in December quarter

The Australian economy grew by 3.1% in the December quarter as the domestic recovery from the pandemic-induced shock consolidated.

The continued bounce back in growth late last year as coronavirus restrictions eased followed a 3.4% increase in GDP in the previous quarter. The September result followed a record 7% fall in GDP in June, triggered by the public health measures.

While the solid December quarter result suggests the economy is on a recovery path, in annual terms, there has been a 1.1% fall in GDP.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that GDP per capita was also weaker, falling 1.8%, reflecting a 0.7% rise in population. The economic recovery, while exceeding market expectations and previous economic forecasts, was also partial.

Speaking to reporters in Canberra, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said this was “the first time in recorded history that Australia has seen two consecutive quarters of economic growth of more than 3%”:

3.53am GMT

Helen Sullivan your faithful blogger here. As always, you can offer me gifts, gift vouchers and so on on Twitter @helenrsullivan. I wouldn’t say no to a yard sale bowl worth $300,000.

3.30am GMT

Texas governor lifts mask mandate and declares: ‘It’s time to open 100%

With less than 7% of Texans fully vaccinated and another Covid-19 surge potentially imminent, Texas is flinging open businesses to full capacity while simultaneously ending its highly politicized mask mandate, the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, announced on Tuesday.

“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” a maskless Abbott declared to cheers at a crowded restaurant in the city of Lubbock.

When Abbott’s policy changes go into effect next week, Texas will be the most populous state in the country that does not require residents to wear masks. Restaurants and other businesses can choose to maintain their own mask policies, but without government backing to do so:

3.03am GMT

The Australian state of New South Wales has again complained that it is not being told key details about the commonwealth’s vaccine rollout, including which of the state’s aged care facilities have begun immunisation, plans for the potential involvement of the military, and when aged care staff might be immunised:

2.47am GMT

No new Covid cases in Auckland for second day

New Zealand’s government has said it is still too early to make a decision on extending Auckland’s lockdown, despite the city recording no new community cases of coronavirus for a second consecutive day.

More than 16,000 tests were processed on Tuesday, returning no positive results, three days into a week of level-three restrictions in the nation’s biggest city.

The director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, had earlier said that this would be a pivotal point in signalling whether there had been further transmission from the February Auckland cluster:

2.15am GMT

US president Joe Biden said the country was on track to have enough vaccines for every adult in the country by the end of May.

“When we came into office, the prior administration had contracted for not nearly enough vaccine to cover adults in America. We rectified that,” he said:

1.29am GMT

Girls and young women aged between 14 and 24 are taking responsibility for the majority of household chores during the pandemic, leaving them less time to focus on their education, according to a new survey.

Sixty-six percent of girls and women aged between 14 and 24 said they are spending more time cooking for their families as a result of the pandemic, compared with 31% of boys and men in the same age group.

Women and girls are also spending more time cleaning (69%, compared with 58% of boys and men), shopping (52%, compared with 49%), and looking after siblings (28%, compared with 16%), according to a survey of 1,000 men and women aged 14-30 produced by a market research agency for the children’s charity Theirworld:

1.15am GMT

Here is the video of Dolly Parton receiving her vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiine:

12.43am GMT

Dolly Parton gets vaccinated with Moderna jab she helped fund

Dolly Parton has been inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine that she helped to fund.

The country music star, 75, broke into song while getting the Moderna jab and adapted one of her best-known ballads.

To the tune of Jolene, she sang: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate. Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.”

Parton was credited with helping fund the Moderna vaccine after donating $1m (£716,000) to Vanderbilt University medical centre in Nashville, Tennessee:

12.35am GMT

Biden: US ‘on track’ to have enough vaccines for all adults by May

Joe Biden has said that the US expects to have enough coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that the drugmaker Merck would help produce Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved shot.

With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program.

He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all educators by the end of March as part of his administration’s efforts to reopen more schools across the nation.

“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” said Biden.

The president described the partnership between the two drug companies as a “major step forward” in expanding vaccine access to every American, and likened the partnership to the spirit of national cooperation during the second world war:

12.22am GMT

Brazil registers national record daily death toll

Brazil on Tuesday posted a national single-day record for Covid deaths with 1,641 people dying from the disease, according to Health Ministry data.

That surpassed the previous single-day high of 1,595 Covid deaths recorded in late July 2020, as Brazil faces a new peak in coronavirus cases and the hospital system is pushed to the brink of collapse.

More than 257,000 people have died of Covid in Brazil, according to the official count, making it the deadliest outbreak after that of the United States.

Roughly 10.6 million people have been infected since the pandemic began, according to the Health Ministry, with 59,925 new cases reported on Tuesday.

Brazilian state governors said on Tuesday they would join together to buy Covid vaccines and bypass the federal government, which has been slow to roll out its vaccine program.

12.21am GMT

168m children worldwide have missed school for a year

Worldwide, more than 168 million children have had their schools completely shut for almost a year, according to UNICEF, due to coronavirus lockdowns.

One in seven children – 214 million – have missed more than three-quarters of in-person learning.

Here is what else the study found:

  • Two thirds of countries that have remained largely closed are in Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting nearly 98 million
  • Of the 14 countries, Panama has kept schools closed for the most days, followed by El Salvador, Bangladesh, and Bolivia.

Unicef explains the impact of school closures which, they say:

Have devastating consequences for children’s learning and wellbeing. The most vulnerable children and those unable to access remote learning are at an increased risk of never returning to the classroom, and even being forced into child marriage or child labor.”

12.08am GMT


Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments for the next few hours.

Our top line this morning: A staggering 168m children worldwide have had their schools closed for the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Unicef. We’ll have more on this soon.

Here are the other key recent developments:

  • Italy’s government on Tuesday ordered the closure of all schools in areas hardest hit by Covid-19 and extended curbs already in place on businesses and movement until after Easter amid worries over the highly contagious UK variant.
  • Turkey added a further 11,837 new coronavirus cases to its tally on Tuesday, health ministry data showed – the country’s highest daily figure since 7 January.
  • Tunisia has detected its first cases of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK, the country’s health ministry said on Tuesday in a statement reported by Reuters.
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel wants to begin relaxing coronavirus restrictions from next week, a draft document seen by AFP shows, hoping that reinforced numbers of rapid antigen tests and vaccines will allow the country to unlock.
  • Venezuela has received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine President Nicolas Maduro said, as well as protective material for healthcare workers.
  • Nigeria’s first Covid-19 vaccines, Oxford/AstraZeneca shots from the international Covax scheme, landed in the capital city Abuja today, Reuters reports.
  • The uptake of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in France stood at 24% as of 28 February, a health ministry official said on Tuesday, well below the country’s target of between 80 and 85%.
  • Spain will buy 17m more doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine as part of a new deal negotiated by the European Union, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said on Tuesday.
  • American pharmaceutical Merck & Co Inc will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in an agreement due to be announced on Tuesday by President Joe Biden, a White House official said on Tuesday.
  • Greek officials have announced plans to expand the public health system’s capacity to admit Covid-19 patients following an emergency meeting chaired by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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