• Federation of Small Businesses warns 25% of businesses could close
• Southend Hospital’s oxygen supply network at critical levels
• BioNTech has said that it expects to produce 2 billion doses of its vaccine by the end of 2021, up from its previous estimate of 1.3 billion. The new figure includes updated guidance that six doses can be extracted from each vial of the coronavirus vaccine, rather than the five doses originally stated on the labelling.
• The WHO team investigating the origins of the pandemic will arrive in China on Thursday, the country’s national health authority has announced, although details of the itinerary have not been released.
• Spain has said it has taken extra measures, including police-escorted convoys, to ensure its expected shipment of coronavirus vaccines can be distributed as planned following heavy snow.
• Seven mass vaccination centres have opened in the UK today.
• The Federation of Small Businesses warns a quarter of firms could shut in the next 12 months without further government support.
• An investigation has been launched into 11 deaths at an Aberdeen care home. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it has received reports in connection with the deaths at the Rubislaw Park care home.
• In the Republic of Ireland, the new variant now accounts for almost half of all new cases.
• Southend Hospital has had to reduce the amount of oxygen it uses to treat patients, amid a rise in Covid-19 infections. The stocks of oxygen are not an issue, but the hospital’s system to deliver it is under strain. The target range for oxygen levels that should be in patients’ blood has been cut from 92% to a baseline of 88-92%.
• Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has asked MPs to wear face coverings whenever possible in the Commons chamber.
• The majority of criminal trials are to be put on hold while Scotland is in lockdown, the courts service has said.
• Indonesia has become the latest country to approve a coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac.
• More than one million people in the Chinese capital Beijing have received a coronavirus vaccination since the beginning of the year.
• The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said global carbon emissions, which have been reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic, are set to rebound in 2021 unless governments take swift policy action.
• Ocado – Has become the first large retailer to warn of shortages of some products. “Staff absences across the supply chain may lead to an increase in product substitutions for a small number of customers as some suppliers consolidate their offering to maintain output” the company said.