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Live Reporting

Edited by Paul Gribben

All times stated are UK

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  1. Your headlines round-up from today

    Thank you for joining us today. As our live coverage comes to an end, here are some of Thursday's key developments in the pandemic:

    • The WHO has warned Europe faces another 700,000 deaths by March, describing the continent as the epicentre of the current phase of the pandemic
    • However, the global health organisation also called on richer countries to donate doses of Covid jabs ahead of vaccinating children, who are less vulnerable to severe illness and death
    • Many European countries are considering or have already introduced new Covid restrictions, as cases in the continent continue to rise
    • In the last day, Poland has reported more than 28,000 cases, the Czech Republic more than 25,000, while Slovakia has the highest per-capita infection rise in the world
    • In this vein, the Netherlands is set to announce new curbs on Thursday, after daily cases there also reached record levels - with nearly 24,000 new cases reported

    Today's live page was edited by Paul Gribben, and written by Dulcie Lee, Mal Siret, Adam Durbin and Matt Murphy.

  2. NFL star Rodgers develops 'Covid toe'

    Aaron Rodgers playing for the Green Bay Packers

    NFL star Aaron Rodgers has told US media he has developed a painful case of "Covid toe" after a brush with the virus earlier this month.

    The condition causes discoloration or lesions around the toes and researchers believe that it is caused by excess interferon, a protein which the body uses to fight infection.

    Rodgers told reporters after Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings that the condition is "very, very painful".

    The Green Bay Packers quarterback prompted controversy over his vaccination status when he tested positive for Covid-19 and entered a 10-day quarantine period - the minimum amount of time an unvaccinated player is asked to quarantine under NFL rules.

    However, in August he had seemed to indicate that he had received the jab, telling reporters that he was "immunised".

    He later said that he had been referring to his antibody levels and that he was treating his infection using the drug ivermectin, on the advice of podcast host Joe Rogan.

  3. Russia targeting online anti-vaccine activists

    President Vladimir Putin during a press conference
    Image caption: Vladimir Putin has said he "cannot understand" the levels of vaccine hesitancy among Russians

    Russian officials say they have started to target people spreading anti-vaccine information online as the country aims to energise its sluggish vaccine rollout.

    The state healthcare regulator, Roszdravnadzor, said it had instructed its regional branches to report people - including medical professionals - who "deliberately spread false information about the dangers of vaccination".

    The agency told Reuters that it had already reported more than 30 anti-vaccine campaigners, who could face fines of around £19,000 and up to five years in prison under "fake news" laws passed last year.

    Russia has struggled with widespread vaccine hesitancy and just 37% of people are fully vaccinated.

    President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pleaded with people to take the jab. Last month he told state TV that he "couldn't understand" why people were refusing to come forward for the shot.

    “We have a reliable and efficient vaccine," he said. "The vaccine really reduces the risks of illness, grave complications and death."

  4. Fresh measures but no lockdown expected in France

    France is set to announce fresh measures on Thursday to curb the spread of Covid-19, as infection rates surge domestically and across Europe.

    However, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal says there are no plans to introduce a new lockdown as some EU countries have done, the Reuters news agency reports.

    Speaking at a news conference, Attal says the government is looking to avoid major restrictions on public life.

    He explains it is instead looking to use other means of suppressing transmission like stricter social distancing, increasing the number and pace of booster jabs and tightening vaccine passport rules.

    Gabriel Attal
    Image caption: Government spokesman Gabriel Attal says more detail will be announced tomorrow following a meeting of France's cabinet

    "We must protect the French people by building on what we have, to save the end-of-year festivities and get through the winter as well as possible," the minister says.

    France's vaccine passport - known as the health pass - allows entry to cafes, restaurants, museums, cinemas and other public places for those who are fully vaccinated or have recently tested negative.

    The seven-day average of cases exceeded 20,000 for the first time since August on Tuesday, while coronavirus patients in intensive care rose to 1,455.

    Attal declined to specify what measures may be announced on Thursday, but the government is expected to follow the advice of France's health regulator to allow anyone over-40 to access a third dose of a Covid vaccine.

  5. Slovakia to enter two-week lockdown

    Slovakia will limit movement as part of a two-week lockdown in an attempt to stem a fast rise in Covid-19 cases, the government has announced.

    Slovakians will only be permitted to travel for essential shopping, work, school or medical visits, government ministers said on Wednesday.

    They will assess the situation after 10 days, although any easing of restrictions will be limited to those fully vaccinated against the virus.

    The decision to return to a lockdown comes after the government imposed new restrictions on unvaccinated people earlier this week in an attempt to push up vaccinations.

    Slovakia has the third-lowest vaccination rate in the EU. Less than 50% of people in the country of 5.5 million have been vaccinated and the vast majority of people in hospital are unvaccinated.

  6. First Dutch rioters sentenced in Rotterdam

    Anna Holligan

    BBC News Hague correspondent

    Video content

    Video caption: Police fire warning shots at Covid protesters in the Netherlands

    The first suspects charged in connection with the riots in Rotterdam earlier this week over the partial lockdown called in the Netherlands have been appearing in court.

    A 26-year-old woman from Spijkenisse (a city that is part of the greater Rotterdam area) was found guilty of throwing stones at police vehicles.

    She was jailed for five months - two of them conditional - and ordered to pay 1,000 euros (£840) for damage to the cars.

    The second person to appear in court was a 29-year-old man from Delft, who was given a five-month sentence and a one-year restraining order for a large part of Rotterdam.

    The sentencing comes on the day the Netherlands reports 23,789 new Covid cases - the biggest one-day increase on record.

  7. European Parliament cafes offer taste of normality - for now

    Jessica Parker

    BBC political correspondent in Strasbourg

    European Parliament President David-Maria Sassoli (C) opens the plenary session of the European Parliament from the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
    Image caption: President David-Maria Sassoli (centre) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

    Walking into the European Parliament there are officials standing ready to check your Covid "status".

    People queue, with phone apps open, to prove they've been double-jabbed.

    Inside, everyone on the move is wearing masks. Yet it was only on Friday that the president of the European Parliament David-Maria Sassoli confirmed the return to "hybrid" proceedings. That means members can participate in debates and votes remotely.

    As a result, the parliament continues to be less busy and less buzzy than before.

    Having said that, walking the halls and dropping into the cafes, there are still plenty of face-to-face meetings going on. People chatting over a coffee, lunch or even a drink in the evening.

    Sat down, the masks largely come off. One of those moments where things seem a little more normal.

    But it's a normality that people here again think could increasingly evaporate as winter sets in and Covid once again grips large parts of Europe.

  8. 'What I learned in the pandemic as an 18-year-old care home worker'

    BBC Spotlight

    Fiona Hopkin was 18 when she got her first full-time job in a care home near Belfast.

    Two months later, the pandemic hit.

    Watch her reflect on her experiences here:

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid-19: 'It completely changed me as a person'

    Read more here.

  9. Russia to register children's version of Sputnik-V

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Russian President Vladimir Putin
    Image caption: Russian President Vladimir Putin said vaccinations should be voluntary "on the whole"

    Russia is registering a version of the country's Sputnik-V vaccine for children aged between 12 and 17, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.

    Ms Golikova has told a government meeting on Covid-19 that registration of the new treatment, named Gam-Covid-Vac, would take place later in the day, state news agency Tass reports.

    She said it was hoped the vaccine would enter civilian circulation in Russia from the end of December.

    The new vaccine will only be given to children under 15 with the consent of their parents or the child's legal representative, and to children over 15 only with their own consent, Ms Golikova said.

    Speaking at the same meeting, President Vladimir Putin urged the government to pay attention to the need for vaccines for children, but voiced scepticism about compulsory vaccination.

    "On the whole, inoculations should be voluntary - specially for children," Tass quoted him as saying.

  10. BreakingUK reports 43,676 new daily Covid infections

    There have been 43,676 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to the latest data.

    This means there have been 303,071 people who have tested positive for the virus in the last seven days, - up by 11.1% on the week before.

    There have also been 149 deaths of people within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, taking the weekly total to 926 - a 9.4% fall on the previous seven-day period.

    Around 80.4% of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, while 88.4% have had a single dose of a Covid jab and 27.8% have received a third booster dose.

  11. Europe is epicentre of pandemic once again - WHO

    Imogen Foulkes

    BBC News, Geneva

    A woman walking in a mask in Bavaria

    Europe is once again at the epicentre of the pandemic, the World Health Organization has said.

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, said more than 60% of the world's cases and deaths were in Europe over the last week.

    The organisation said the highly infectious Delta variant has increased the risk of transmission among vaccinated people.

    Dr Tedros warned against a "false sense of security" created by the vaccines, stressing that those who are vaccinated can still get and spread the virus.

    Those who are vaccinated must therefore continue to take precautions, such as mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and meeting others outside or in well-ventilated rooms, he said.

    Dr Tedros stressed, however, that the vaccines do reduce the risk of severe illness and death.

  12. Dutch consider new curbs after record number of cases

    Dutch Health Minister Hugo deJonge
    Image caption: Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said a decision on further restrictions would be announced on Friday

    The Dutch government looks set to announce a raft of new coronavirus restrictions after the country recorded a record number of cases of the virus.

    Officials announced on Wednesday that more than 23,700 Covid-19 infections had been recorded in 24 hours, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.

    It means that cases have jumped by more than 40% over the past week, despite more than 85% of Dutch people being fully vaccinated.

    Experts have warned that hospitals will reach full capacity in less than a week if new restrictions are not introduced.

    "The infection rate is higher than ever before", Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to parliament on Wednesday. "Hospital admissions keep exceeding expectations and we have not seen the worst yet."

    He said the government's panel of health experts would provide fresh policy advice by Thursday and that a decision would follow on Friday.

    Plans to restrict access to many public places to people who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19 prompted three nights of rioting last week and more than 170 people have been arrested.

  13. Downing Street defends PM after maskless theatre claims

    Boris Johnson
    Image caption: Boris Johnson was criticised earlier this month for not wearing a mask during a visit to a hospital

    Downing Street has insisted that the prime minister "follows all Covid rules" when asked about reports that he attended a performance of Macbeth without wearing a mask.

    The Guardian said another audience member saw Boris Johnson without his mask on at all times during Tuesday's play at the Almeida Theatre in north London.

    A different audience member saw him maskless in a public area of the venue, the paper said.

    Mask-wearing rules were dropped in England in the summer, but some transport networks, shops and venues - including the Almeida - still ask for them to be worn.

    Earlier this month, Mr Johnson was criticised for not wearing a mask during a hospital tour and while sitting next to 95-year-old environmental campaigner Sir David Attenborough at the COP26 climate summit.

  14. Hundreds of anti-vaccination protesters take to Kyiv streets

    Participants hold a rally protesting against compulsory Covid-19 vaccination
    Image caption: Protesters carry a banner reading "no to genocide of Ukrainians" through Kyiv

    Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to protest against Covid measures and the country's mandatory vaccination programme for some workers.

    Protesters carried placards reading "no to genocide of Ukrainians" and "say 'no' to lies".

    Some were also demanding the release of anti-vaccine activist Ostap Stakhiv, who was arrested in the city of Lviv last week accused of undermining public health through alleged links with Russia.

    Mr Stakhiv has denied all the allegations against him.

    Ukraine, which has recently seen a rise in vaccination numbers after imposing restrictions in public places, is still struggling to persuade a large number of its citizens who remain hesitant to receive their shots.

    The country is experiencing a new surge in coronavirus cases as the highly transmissible Delta variant sweeps across Europe.

    Ukraine today reported 14,325 new daily Covid cases and 595 coronavirus-related deaths.

  15. Why was Scotland's vaccine passport expansion dropped?

    Philip Sim

    BBC Scotland political correspondent

    An MSP holding up a tablet with a graph of rising cases on it
    Image caption: The Greens backed the government on vaccine passports when case numbers were rising

    As we heard yesterday, the Scottish government has decided not to expand its vaccine passport scheme to more venues.

    It's been branded a "U-turn" by opposition parties.

    So what was it that changed their minds?

    • Case numbers: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said "our position is definitely more positive than we might have expected it to be at this point", as case numbers dip slightly to a "relatively stable" position
    • Legal issues: A key legal test of Covid rules is that they are "necessary and proportionate" - and with case numbers dropping and high vaccine take-up, ministers may have feared the move would be that bit more difficult to justify in court
    • Industry concerns: Worries about the latest proposals were notably widespread - particularly surrounding implementation costs at venues which don't normally employ door staff
    • Political pressure: The Conservatives argued against the plans, citing the concerns of business; Labour lobbied for more testing like has been done in Wales; and the Lib Dems want "Covid ID cards" scrapped altogether.

    Read the full analysis here.

  16. What's happening in Taiwan?

    Kerry Allen

    BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst

    Students with face mask cross a road in New Taipei, where dine-in services and several schools have been suspended, following a cluster infection of the Delta variant in the city, in New Taipei, Taiwan

    Taiwan has not recorded any local Covid cases since 4 November, according to official data.

    Also, according to the national news agency CNA, the share of fully vaccinated people in the country is close to reaching 50%. More than 11.6 million people have received two vaccine doses in Taiwan - 49.8% of the population. More than 77% have received at least one vaccine dose.

    The Central Epidemic Command Centre is conditionally relaxing Covid restrictions "for attending funerals or visiting relatives for people in home isolation/quarantine".

    On Thursday, it will begin to offer recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine second doses of either Pfizer or Moderna. This was the first vaccine that was made available to residents in Taiwan, and the Taipei Times says that people can apply online for these "mix and match bookings".

    The Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and locally-made Medigen vaccine are available there.

    The latter has gained some international recognition – Taiwan News says that Palau now allows visitors to enter if they have received the Taiwan-made vaccine. However, it reports that a man has been refused transit to Palau from the US pacific island territory of Guam, as the vaccine is not yet recognised there.

  17. What are the travel rules in France, Spain, the US and more?

    Tourists in front of the Eiffel Tower

    For anyone considering travelling in the pandemic, the variety and complexity of rules can feel a bit overwhelming, with the broad spectrum of testing, vaccination and self-isolation requirements in place around the world.

    However, to give prospective tourists and travelling business people a hand we've picked a selection of destinations many British people might be planning to travel to, aiming to explain their rules as simply as possible.

    The seven countries we've selected are - Spain, France, Italy, the US, Irish Republic, Greece and Germany.

    The key points covered include:

    • What you need to do to enter - for example the testing and vaccination requirements
    • The existing rules and restrictions in place once there - like vaccine passports, mask requirements
    • What you need to do to return to the UK

    For anyone who'd like to read the full details of each place click here.

  18. Scottish schoolchildren 'fell off radar' without electronic help

    Many Scottish children struggling in education before Covid "fell off the radar" in the first few months of the pandemic, a children rights charity has told politicians.

    Dr Colin Morrison, a co-director at Children's parliament, says there could be a "legacy of disengagement" for some pupils who lacked electronic devices to access online learning materials - the consequences of which might be "difficult to address".

    Speaking to MSPs at the Education, Children and Young People Committee at Holyrood, Dr Morrison says many children the charity works with "were just gone to the education system" in the three or four months from March last year.

    He adds: "What I also know is many head teachers we knew who love and care for their children were literally scrambling about and delivering devices every day, knocking on doors and making sure people had food, never mind digital devices."

    Child doing online learning on a tablet

    Last year the Scottish government pledged 50,000 devices would be given to children in need - later rising to 70,000 - while the SNP promised an age-appropriate device for every Scottish school student as part of their manifesto ahead of May's election.

    But Dr Morrison explains that some children are still without what they need, warning the loss of engagement for some of them could have "long-term consequences" for their learning.

    "If there's a gap in attainment there's certainly a gap in how children are using that digital space to learn.

    "For some children that's just taken off and they're blossoming with it, for other children there's a legacy of disengagement that's going to be difficult to address," he argues.

  19. London Tube workers 'facing danger' as mask-wearing dips

    Masked people on a packed Underground train

    London Underground workers are being put in potentially dangerous situations as mask-wearing is now being "openly ignored" on a large scale, unions are warning.

    The train drivers' union Aslef says there has been a noticeable dip in travellers wearing masks on the Tube - even though it's a requirement.

    And Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT), says: "It's no wonder there's talk of new restrictions and controls if we can't even deliver the basics."

    Transport for London - which runs the Tube network - said it has 500 enforcement officers to ask customers to comply with its mask rules.

    It says it has refused entry to 408 people and asked 126 to leave services since national rules were relaxed in July.

    Read more: What are the rules on mask wearing now?

  20. 40% of Israeli Covid-19 cases in children under 12

    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett watches as his nine-year-old son is vaccinated
    Image caption: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett watches as his nine-year-old son is vaccinated

    Nearly 40% of Israel's Covid-19 patients are below the age of 12, the country's Health Ministry has said.

    Officials said that of 6,505 Israelis currently infected with the disease, 2,574 of those are children.

    The announcement comes as the government launched its vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 this week. Around 1.2 million children will be inoculated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine over the coming months.

    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had his nine-year-old son vaccinated in front of media on Tuesday and urged other lawmakers to set a similar example.

    Israel recently emerged from a fourth Covid-19 wave which saw daily infections peak at more than 8,000 cases per day. But daily infections have been relatively low for the last few weeks and million of people have now received a third booster jab.

    But despite the country's progress, the government has extended "Green Pass" regulations meant to restrict access to certain venues to vaccinated or recovered individuals for another two weeks.