Coronavirus live news: cases of some variants falling in UK; German third wave could be imminent due to variants

UK health secretary says cases of South African and Brazilian variant appear to be falling; German experts say variants behind stalling decline in infections

11.01am GMT

The number of cases of South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19 in the UK appears to be falling, the British health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.

Hancock said there was evidence that enhanced contact-tracing and stricter border measures were helping to control the number of people being infected by those new variants first discovered abroad.

We’ve now got a much stronger vigilance in place, because everybody coming into the country has to be tested and we sequence the results of those tests.

And we’ve also got a very strong set of actions working with the local authorities very specifically in the areas where a new variant is found.

If one of these new variants doesn’t respond to the vaccine as well as the others – as well as the standard variant in the UK, which is the Kent variant – then, if that’s the case, then that’s obviously a very serious risk for the vaccination programme.

We’re doing a lot of work to find out the impact of the vaccine on these new variants – especially the ones discovered in Brazil and South Africa – because, clearly, the answer to that question is critical to understanding how much of a risk the new variants pose.

10.56am GMT

The leader of the UK Labour party Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted all pupils in England back in school on 8 March, despite calls from education unions for a phased return.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that more coronavirus testing and “Nightingale classrooms” could address some of the issues.

Ideally, I would like to see all schools back open on March 8 and all children back into schools on March 8. I have been worried through the pandemic – a number of people have – about the impact that being out of school has on, particularly, vulnerable children and the attainment gap is getting bigger.

If that means more testing, if that means Nightingale classrooms, if it means other measures, let’s do that because I want to get our kids back into school.

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