Testing will continue to take place in various parts of the UK to detect "every single case" of the South African variant. It has already been found in some parts of the country - and everyone in these areas over the age of 16 will be "strongly encouraged" to take a COVID test after cases were found that could not easily be linked to those who had travelled to South Africa. Here, Sky News answers questions about the South African variant, and how it works. Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world What is the new variant? Advertisement This variant could be described as similar to the Kent variant plus a bit more - as it has the same mutation as the one found in southeast England, as well as two others. It is not uncommon for viruses to mutate similarly, and the fact that these two variants have some of the same mutations does not mean they spread from a single point, said Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor in … [Read more...] about South Africa variant: Where in the UK was it found, is it more deadly and do vaccines work?
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A North-South divide has emerged as England prepares to emerge from its third lockdown. London and the South East, despite being crippled by the new Kent variant over Christmas, has seen cases plummet in recent weeks. Now nearly all of England's hotspots for Covid are in the North or the Midlands. Millions in the country are now being vaccinated although so far only people aged over 60 have been called forward. But cases are continuing to circulate, especially among younger age groups not yet protected. And the latest data shows the lockdown is struggling to contain stubbornly high infection rates in the Midlands and areas of the North. What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments Only two of the top 30 areas of England for Covid cases are in the South East of England - Luton and Slough. Smaller towns in the North and Midlands such as Middlesbrough, Mansfield and Preston feature heavily at the top of Covid infections. Corby, Northamptonshire … [Read more...] about Shocking North-South Covid divide laid bare by full list showing cases in each area
POLICE have been called to reports of a body being found in the River Thames near a school today. Officers are searching a tow path in Walton-on-Thames, south west London. Surrey Police, paramedics, firefighters and Surrey Search and Rescue were called to the scene around 12:15pm and remain at the scene. Police have asked that people avoid the area for the time being while the investigation continues. A spokesperson for Surrey Police said: "We are currently in attendance along the tow path on Waterside Drive in Walton-on-Thames after reports of a body found in the river. Most read in News Live Blog COLD MARCH UK weather LIVE - Brits to enjoy sunny and warm weekend before big freeze U-TURN Germany & France 'WILL give vaccine to over-65s' after publicly condemning it Exclusive FURLOUGHING ME, OWING YOU ABBA stars worth £400m claim furlough cash to pay staff on shows … [Read more...] about Cops called to ‘body’ found in River Thames near school in south London
Niger is due to hold a run-off presidential election on February 21 after no candidate was granted a majority of the vote in last year's December 27 election. The election is expected to be a historical moment for the West African country, with incumbent president Mahamadou Issoufou planning to voluntarily step down after two five-year terms in office. Transitioning power to a new democratically-elected leader will be a first for Niger. The Sahelian nation has only functioned as a multi-party democracy for a decade. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, it has experienced multiple coups and has never witnessed a peaceful hand-over of power. How Niger handles the electoral process at the polls and in the days following will determine how the country has democratically matured in the last ten years. "February 21 is an opportunity eagerly awaited by the people of Niger to witness a transfer of power from an outgoing president to another," political analyst and … [Read more...] about Niger set for first-ever peaceful transition of power
American airstrikes in Syria show that Iran can expect consequences for supporting militia groups threatening US interests and personnel, Joe Biden has warned. "You can't act with impunity. Be careful," the US president said when asked what message he intended to send with the airstrikes early on Friday morning on Syria 's eastern border with Iraq. Satellite images show a group of buildings before the airstrike and the obliteration of most of them after. The Pentagon said the strikes by two Air Force F-15E aircraft using seven missiles destroyed nine buildings and heavily damaged two others in eastern Syria used by Iran-backed militias. They added that the strikes were not intended to eradicate the groups using them for attacks inside Iraq but to show the US will act firmly while trying to avoid a widespread regional escalation. Advertisement US officials said the airstrikes, Mr Biden's first military action as president, were legal and … [Read more...] about Syria: After US airstrikes, Biden warns Iran of consequences for supporting militia groups