LIVE – Updated at 11:16
Latest updates: record number of Covid jabs administered by NZ healthcare workers; questions over company linked to UK’s suspected wrong PCR results.
New Zealand launched a nationwide initiative on Saturday to vaccinate as many people as possible against Covid-19. The vaccination rally, named the Super Saturday, aims to administer at least 100,000 doses in a single day and push for a 90% vaccination milestone. Vaccine clinics including mobile facilities, community vaccine centres, family doctors and pharmacies are opening across the country throughout the day.
Related: Long Covid: what are you entitled to if you can’t work in the UK?
Russia reported a record high 1,002 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, Reuters reports. It is the first time the number has passed the 1,000-mark since the beginning of the pandemic, pushing the national death toll to 222,315.
New Covid-19 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours also hit record high at 33,208, the Russian coronavirus task force said, bringing the official total case tally to 7,958,384.
UK ministers are facing questions about the Covid testing company linked to suspected wrong PCR results, as it emerged its sister company in the UK is being investigated over travel testing failures and a related US firm sent out used DNA test kits filled with other customers’ saliva.
Rowena Mason and Jamie Grierson report:
Immensa Health Clinic is under scrutiny after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found at least 43,000 people may have been wrongly given a negative Covid test result, leading to the suspension of operations at its privately run laboratory in Wolverhampton.
It followed an investigation into reports of people receiving negative PCR test results after previously testing positive on a lateral flow device, many of them in the south-west and Wales.
Immensa was founded in May 2020 by Andrea Riposati, a former management consultant and owner of a DNA testing company, just three months before it was awarded a £119m PCR testing contract by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). He is the sole listed owner and board director.
Riposati is also the founder of Dante Labs, which is under investigation in the UK by the Competition and Markets Authority over its PCR travel tests.
Related: UK ministers face questions over firm linked to suspected Covid test errors
New Zealand vaccinates 2.5% of its population on Saturday
New Zealand vaccinated at least 2.5% of its people on Saturday, Reuters reports, citing preliminary health ministry data.
This was a a record number of jabs administered by health care workers, according to AP, as the nation held a festival aimed at getting more people inoculated against the coronavirus.
Tess McClure, Aotearoa New Zealand correspondent for the Guardian, reports on the novel methods the government is deploying to get people vaccinated:
New Zealand’s government is employing a host of increasingly weird and wonderful strategies, gimmicks and sweeteners in a bid to get the last 20% of its eligible population inoculated against Covid-19.
As its daily Covid case numbers rise and large parts of the country are locked down, the government is in a race against time, trying to push vaccination rates high enough to interrupt the spread of the virus and prevent a large-scale outbreak.
The national airline, Air New Zealand, announced this week it would be converting a 787 Dreamliner into a novel vaccination clinic, complete with the traditional snack service and option of in-flight entertainment during the 30-minute post-vaccine observation period.
Related: New Zealand’s weird and wonderful vaccine rollout
It comes as Germany reports 10,949 new coronavirus cases and 75 deaths, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.
I’m Aamna Mohdin and I’ll be helming the Guardian Coronavirus liveblog today. If you want to get in touch, you can email (email@example.com) or message me on TwitterInternet Explorer Channel Network