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Fears frontline NHS staff are refusing to get Covid vaccine

Concerns grow after sharp drop in numbers coming forward, with almost 15% of staff still unprotected

Nearly 15% of health service workers in England remain unvaccinated, and the numbers coming forward for a jab have decreased sharply in the last two weeks, NHS figures have revealed, prompting concerns that many frontline staff are refusing the vaccine.

But health leaders, patients’ groups and unions have been quick to dismiss any suggestion of mandatory vaccinations after it emerged that Matt Hancock, the health secretary, had embarked on a plan before the pandemic to make flu vaccinations compulsory for NHS staff.

Related: How many anti-vaxxers does it take to misinform the world? Just twelve | Arwa Mahdawi

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UK church leaders warn against ‘dangerous’ vaccine passport plans

Hundreds of Christian clergy say proposal could ‘bring about the end of liberal democracy’

Hundreds of UK church leaders have told the prime minister that plans to use vaccine passports for entry into venues is “one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics” with the “potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it”.

An open letter to Boris Johnson signed by more than 1,250 clergy from different Christian denominations across the UK says the “introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent”.

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Coronavirus live news: concerns Indian Covid variant could ‘scupper’ UK roadmap; global death toll nears 3m

India has another daily record rise in cases; pandemic made 2020 ‘the year of the quiet ocean’, say scientists

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In the UK, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said high street shops had seen a “really positive” bounce after non-essential retail was allowed to reopen this week.

“It certainly started really well,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

“Although footfall was down on two years ago – because there wasn’t a lot of point measuring it against last year because we were already in lockdown in 2020 as well – it wasn’t down anything like it had been during the period of lockdown.

“From a retail point of view, people really did come out and support their local businesses and all the retailers I’ve spoken to said those first few days of the past week or so had been really positive in terms of trading.

“I think your piece highlighted the excitement of people getting back out and the excitement of the businesses in getting ready to welcome their customers back safely.”

On the growth of online shopping, Dickinson said she expected some of that to “absolutely shift back” now physical shops were open but said many retailers would continue to embrace the change, adding: “More and more people in the industry are seeing this as an opportunity rather than a threat.”

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The global death toll from coronavirus is expected to reach a milestone 3m as the race to vaccinate populations continues and countries such as India grapple with a surge in infections.

The number of deaths now stands at 2.9m, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. India, the world’s most populous country, racked up 234,692 Covid-19 infections in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, health ministry data showed, which was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days.

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Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s Covid-19 live blog. I will be running the live stream today, so if you have any questions, comments or news tips then get in touch via the channels below.

Twitter: @sloumarsh
Instagram: sarah_marsh_journalist
Email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com

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‘Her eyes stay shut. She doesn’t respond. But nothing feels real until I tell her’: visiting my mother’s care home after a year

For the past year, the pandemic stopped novelist Katherine Heiny from seeing her mother. Now that she can, where will she start?

In Boolean logic, a syllogism is a valid deductive argument having two premises and a conclusion. (I know this because logic is the only even vaguely mathematical class I ever understood.) For example, apples are fruit; all fruit is delicious. Conclusion: apples are delicious.

Or in my case: I am eager to visit my mother; my mother has advanced dementia. Conclusion: I am eager to visit someone who won’t even know I am there. Is it a logical conclusion? Maybe not. Is it a valid one? Yes.

Lewy body dementia has seven stages, and my mother raced through them like a gifted student not content to plod

She doesn’t know my father died last November, and I know I won’t have the courage to tell her

I asked her what she’d remember about me, and she said, ‘How much you love to talk.’ But I only love to talk to those I love. Like her

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What are the new Covid variants and what do they mean for the pandemic?

From Doug to Nelly and Eeek, we look at how mutations are affecting the battle against the virus

From the moment public health officials started to track new variants of coronavirus, it became clear that the same mutations were cropping up time and again and making the virus more troublesome. What are these mutations, what do they do, and what do they mean for the pandemic?

Related: Spreading faster, hitting harder – why young Brazilians are dying of Covid

Related: Is vaccinating against Covid enough? What we can learn from Chile and Israel

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