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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.

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