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Coronavirus: Restrictions in north-east England and demand for tests

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Friday morning.

1. New restrictions in north-east England

Almost two million people in north-east England will be banned from mixing with other households and pubs will close early as restrictions come into force at midnight. The measures affect seven council areas, including Newcastle, Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead. Meanwhile, strict limits on social gatherings came into force in Rhondda Cynon Taf this evening. It means millions of people in the UK are now living under tighter restrictions as coronavirus cases increase.

Image copyright Reuters

2. Test demand ‘significantly outstripping’ capacity

Demand for coronavirus testing is “significantly outstripping the capacity we have”, head of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Harding has told MPs this afternoon. She told the science and technology committee that the return to school meant demand from under-17s had doubled. It comes after widespread reports of people struggling to get tested, while others have been directed to test sites hundreds of miles from their homes. Delays to test results have also been reported, with figures showing today that only one in three tests carried out in community testing centres in England are processed within 24 hours.

Image copyright Reuters

3. Thailand and Singapore added to England’s safe travel list

Some good news for travellers arriving into England from Thailand and Singapore – they will no longer need to self-isolate for 14-days from 04:00 BST on Saturday. But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged holidaymakers to check before travelling as both countries may have their own requirements. Meanwhile, Slovenia and Guadeloupe have been from removed from the safe list. We take a look at which countries are on the UK’s quarantine lists here.

Image copyright Getty Images

4. Is it a cold, flu or Covid-19?

Colds, flu and Covid-19 are caused by different viruses, but can have similar symptoms, making it hard to judge which one you have. Most people who feel ill with coronavirus will have at least one of the key symptoms: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste. Our health editor Michelle Roberts takes a look at how you can tell the difference.

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Media captionA cold, flu or coronavirus – which one do I have?

5. Drive-in Panto to tour UK (Oh yes it is!)

With many theatres remaining closed, the cast of Car Park Panto are taking their production on the road with a tour of outdoor venues across the UK. Audiences will watch the production from their cars, which will be parked more than two metres apart. And there’s more good news for theatre-lovers as London’s National Theatre, which has been closed since 16 March, has said it will remodel its largest stage so it can reopen for a socially distanced audience later this month.

Image copyright Car Park Panto

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And don’t forget…

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

People across the UK have struggled to get coronavirus tests in recent days, as the government says capacity is higher than ever. Our health team consider what is going wrong?

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