Where did coronavirus come from?

A worker stands next to a cage with mice inside a laboratory in Wuhan in 2017 – Johannes Eisele/AFP

US report on Covid origins ‘to implicate Chinese labs’

Another 1,564 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the pandemic began. Boris Johnson has said the Government is concerned about a new strain of coronavirus identified in Brazil. At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, he confirmed that round-the-clock vaccine centres will be opened “as soon as we can”. Given how fast-paced the news cycle is at the moment, it is strange to think that a year ago there had not even been a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the UK. Now a UK source has told The Telegraph that the US may allege that the Chinese armed forces were running research projects that involved “cultivating dangerous coronaviruses” in a series of animal species at a laboratory in Wuhan. Lucy Fisher and Sophia Yan have the details.

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon further tightened the rules of the lockdown in Scotland. The new restrictions include stopping retailers selling non-essential items from offering click-and-collect services, which will now require staggered appointments. Reports have suggested Government scientists want the two-metre rule on social distancing in England extended to three metres in some circumstances. Yet England’s deputy chief medical officer has said extending the rule and making the use of face masks outdoors mandatory are not needed. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he could not see how droplets containing the virus would gain the extra distance “like in the long jump”. Read on for more.

The cold fury that means Trump could be convicted

The US House of Representatives is poised to impeach Donald Trump this evening for the deadly Capitol attack after Mike Pence ruled out invoking the 25th Amendment. It looks almost certain that a vote will result in Mr Trump becoming the first president to be impeached twice. You can follow it here. Yet the way is now clear for the Senate to also convict the President. Mr Trump would be the first US president to meet such an ignominious fate. Nick Allen analyses how the cold fury of Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has made it possible. The President’s friend Nigel Farage has warned Mr Trump risks being made a martyr if the Democrats try to impeach or silence him.

TikTok behind unlikely revival of the saucy sea shanty

In a letter to the Duke of Queensberry, believed to date from 1797, Admiral Lord Nelson included the lyrics of an entire sea shanty written in his honour by his crew. Over 200 years later, the most hearty, drunken and very British of genres is back in the public eye. They have suddenly become the fad of the moment on TikTok, where musical videos tagged #seashanty have over 70m views. James Hall reveals how the 18th- and 19th-century musical craze found a new audience.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Mafia trial | The biggest mafia trial in more than 30 years will start today when more than 350 alleged mobsters and their collaborators face justice in a huge, purpose-built courtroom in southern Italy.

Around the world: Struggle to replace Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s party is struggling to find a replacement for her as it finally holds a much delayed vote to choose a new leader this week. With just nine months to go, the Christian Democrat party (CDU) is no closer to knowing who will lead it in September’s elections. Now it is possible that none of the three men vying for the leadership will be the CDU’s candidate for chancellor later this year. Read on for details.

Wednesday interview

‘TV shows shouldn’t get cancelled by the culture wars’

Ben Miller - Julian Andrews/Eye R8 Productions Ltd
Ben Miller – Julian Andrews/Eye R8 Productions Ltd


Fresh from starring in Netflix’s diverse period drama Bridgerton, Ben Miller tells Luke Mintz there’s room for everything but context is key

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

You’ve got this: Getting you through lockdown

  1. Channelling regal style | What I learnt about style from working as a Royal lady’s maid

  2. Things to keep forever | How to buy less and buy better in 2021

  3. ‘Voodoo Macbeth’ | The astonishing story of Orson Welles’s all-black Shakespeare show

Business and money briefing

Flagship sunk | Debenhams said it will permanently close six stores including its Oxford Street outlet and cut 320 jobs as its administrator continues to search for a buyer. Read on for details.

Sport briefing

Michael Vaughan meets Muttiah Muralitharan | Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan reveals all on the death of mystery spin, his fears for his home country’s future and who he most enjoyed dismissing.

Tonight’s TV  

The Truth About Getting Fit at Home, BBC One, 9pm | Journalist and blogger Mehreen Baig sets out to discover the secret of getting fit with the minimum effort and to get to the root of other questions. Read on for more.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

£110k-a-year Swiss boarding school | For most children around the world, teaching time has been scarce since the pandemic struck. But students at one international boarding school in Switzerland have proved the exception, benefiting from more lessons than they would have had in a normal year. Susie Mesure has the inside story of the boarding school taking pupils from lockdown nations.

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