Zero positive tests as Formula One resumes

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Zero positive tests as Formula One resumes Formula One organisers have announced zero positive tests for coronavirus ahead of the sport’s return this weekend. After a long delay due to the global pandemic, the first grand prix of the year will take place in Austria at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring on Sunday and the restart has been boosted by news of a full round of negative tests. “The FIA and Formula 1 can today confirm that between Friday 26th June and Thursday 2nd July, 4,032 drivers, teams and personnel were tested for Covid-19,” said a joint statement. “Of these, zero people have tested positive.” Strict protocols have been implemented for the restart of racing, with teams being tested prior to flying out from their respective countries and personnel attending the circuit undergoing a test every five days, while there are daily temperature checks prior to entering the facility. In the build-up, team personnel have also been kept in bubbles, away from other teams and even away from colleagues in different departments. Published: 04/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Trump takes aim at cancel culture in Rushmore rally

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Trump takes aim at cancel culture in Rushmore rally US President Donald Trump took aim at so-called “cancel culture” during a impassioned speech at Mount Rushmore. His comments at the South Dakota landmark came amid wider discussion on race issues in the US and overseas, with statues and monuments taken down either by vote or by force. Mr Trump accused protesters pushing for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history”. He said: “This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore. “We will not be terrorised, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people. It will not happen.” The speech and fireworks at Mount Rushmore came against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 125,000 Americans. The president flew across the nation to gather a big crowd of supporters, most of them maskless and all of them flouting public health guidelines that recommend not gathering in large groups. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign confirmed during the president’s speech that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for the campaign and the girlfriend of Mr Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr, had tested positive for the coronavirus while in South Dakota. Both Ms Guilfoyle and Mr Trump Jr, who serves as top surrogate for the president, are isolating themselves and have cancelled public events, according to Sergio Gor, chief of staff to the Trump campaign’s finance committee. During the speech, the president announced he was signing an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the “greatest Americans to ever live”. Amid the campaign headwinds, the president has sharpened his focus on his most ardent base of supporters as concern grows inside his campaign that his poll numbers in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 election are slipping. In recent weeks, Mr Trump has increasingly lashed out at “left-wing mobs”, used a racist term to refer to the coronavirus and visited the nation’s southern border to spotlight progress on his 2016 campaign promise to build a US-Mexico border wall. The event, while not a campaign rally, had the feel of one as the friendly crowd greeted Mr Trump with chants of “Four more years!” and cheered enthusiastically as he and first lady Melania Trump took the stage. “They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive,” Mr Trump said. “But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.” Leaders of several Native American tribes in the region raised concerns that the event could lead to virus outbreaks among their members, who they say are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 because of an underfunded health care system and chronic health conditions. “The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites,” said Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Some Native American groups used Mr Trump’s visit to protest the Mount Rushmore memorial itself, pointing out that the Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people. Published: 04/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Dozen feared dead in Japan landslide

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Dozen feared dead in Japan landslide Heavy rain in southern Japan has triggered flooding and landslides, leaving more than a dozen people presumed dead, about 10 missing and dozens stranded on rooftops waiting to be rescued. More than 75,000 residents in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima were urged to evacuate following torrential rain overnight. The evacuation was not mandatory and it was not known how many actually fled. “I smelled mud, and the whole area was vibrating with river water. I’ve never experienced anything like this,” a man in a shelter in Yatsushiro city, in western Kumamoto, told NHK TV. He said he fled early fearing a disaster. NHK footage showed large areas of Hitoyoshi town in Kumamoto inundated in muddy water that gushed out from the Kuma River. Many cars were submerged up to their windows. Mudslides smashed into houses and floodwaters carried trunks from uprooted trees. Several people were standing on a convenience store as they waited for rescuers. Kumamoto governor Ikuo Kabashima later told reporters that 14 residents at a flooded elderly care home in Kuma village were presumed dead after being found during rescue operations. In Tsunagimachi district, two of three people buried underneath mudslides were feared dead, Kumamoto prefectural crisis management official Takafumi Kobori said. Rescuers were still searching for the third person. In another badly flooded town, Ashikita, six people were unaccounted for and a seventh was seriously injured, Kumamoto officials said. In the mountainous village of Kuma, residents stranded at their homes were being airlifted by a rescue helicopter. In Hitoyoshi city, rescuers transported some residents in a boat. Flooding also cut off power and communication lines. About 8,000 homes in Kumamoto and neighbouring Kagoshima were without electricity, according to the Kyushu Electric Power Company. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set up a task force, vowing to do his utmost to rescue the missing. He said up to 10,000 defence troops were being mobilised for rescue operations. The Japan Meteorological Agency earlier issued warnings of extraordinary rain in parts of Kumamoto, about 600 miles south west of Tokyo, but later downgraded them as the rainfall — estimated at 4ins per hour — subsided. Published: 04/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Scuba man dies in Australian shark attack

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Scuba man dies in Australian shark attack A 20-year-old scuba diver has died after being attacked by a shark off the coast of Queensland. The man was attacked at around 2pm near Indian Head on the eastern side of Fraser Island. A doctor and nurse at the scene provided first aid until paramedics arrived and were winched down by helicopter. They provided emergency treatment but the man, who had been bitten around the legs, could not be saved and died at the scene, said the Queensland Ambulance Service. The attack happened not far from where 23-year-old Queensland wildlife ranger Zachary Robba was fatally mauled by a great white shark in April. Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the attack was a tragic event for the community. “Our deepest condolences go to this young man’s family and friends,” he said. “The loss of a young life with his future before him is a tragedy beyond words. We share their sadness and grief.” At least four people have died in shark attacks in Australia this year. A 57-year-old diver was killed off Western Australia in January and a 60-year-old surfer died near Kingscliff in New South Wales in June. Published: 04/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

lockdown lift questions answered

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What are the details of the new lockdown rules? New coronavirus lockdown rules have come into force after being published on Friday afternoon. What has changed? The latest laws came into force on Saturday, mostly at a minute past midnight, but pubs are not allowed to reopen until 6am. They apply to England and “territorial waters adjacent to England only”. Previous versions of this law have been replaced with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020. What does this mean? From Saturday, people can meet in groups of up to 30 people, indoors or outdoors, and venues like pubs can open. Bigger gatherings are banned apart from some exceptions, including those organised by businesses – such as pubs, restaurants and cinemas – and charities, public or political bodies, as long as the organiser has carried out a risk assessment on health and safety, and measures have been taken to prevent the risk of transmission of coronavirus. Gatherings for work or education and training as well as to carry out legal obligations are allowed. As before, social distancing advice is also not written into law but the Government has strongly urged people to keep following its guidance of keeping two metres apart, or one metre if they can take extra precautionary measures like wearing face masks, sitting side-by-side as opposed to face on, and washing their hands regularly. There does not appear to be any legal requirement to provide names and contact details to venue owners when you visit. What about the two households rule? The existing law that only people from two households can meet indoors no longer applies. But the Government has urged the public to continue to follow accompanying guidance of meetings of up to six people outdoors or two households indoors. Can I play cricket and football outside with friends or family? There is nothing written into the new law to ban people playing cricket or football together. Professor Chris Whitty told the Downing Street press conference on Friday that it may be possible to play the games safely at a distance as long as participants take precautions like keeping distance to avoid contact. Which places still have to stay closed? Nightclubs and any other venue which opens at night, has a dance floor or space for people dancing, plays live or recorded music for dancing, adult entertainment venues, casinos and bowling alleys. Conference centres and exhibition halls must stay shut for conferences or trade shows. Also all beauty salons including nail bars, tanning booths, spas, massage and tattoo parlours, body piercing businesses and any others which provide cosmetic or wellness treatments. But hairdressers and barbers which offer these services in addition can open, just not offering beauty treatments. What else does the legislation say? The Health Secretary can now order the closure of any public outdoor place – like parks or open country – without needing to write it into law if there is a “serious and imminent threat to public health”. He must consult chief medical officers before doing so. Although the decision is open to appeal from only owners and occupiers. Once an outdoor area is designated a restricted area you can only go in it with a reasonable excuse – as set out the law and along similar lines to previous lockdown rules. Local authorities will be responsible to notify people of the restriction. Officials will have to set out what is the restricted area and for how long it is closed. These decisions must reviewed every seven days. Can I still get fined? Yes, people can still be issued with fines of £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days, up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences or be prosecuted. Officers still have powers to disperse large groups and remove people from an area. How long will the rules last? The Regulations expire after six months unless they are scrapped by the Government earlier. But the law requires Health Secretary Matt Hancock to terminate any of the restrictions and requirements as soon as they are considered no longer necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They must be reviewed every 28 days and the first review must take place by July 31. What about Leicester? The Government has published new local lockdown rules for Leicester which come into force on Saturday. The regulations state all non-essential businesses must shut and ban people from staying overnight at another household. The rules will be reviewed every two weeks, with the first review due on July 18. Published: 04/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

quarantine exemptions england

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Ministers to reveal nations exempted from coronavirus quarantine in England Ministers are set to reveal a list of countries exempted from the coronavirus quarantine while Boris Johnson will warn the public to act “responsibly” when the lockdown eases. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will outline on Friday that people returning to England from Spain, France, Italy and Germany will be exempted from the 14-day quarantine. He will set out the other countries to be exempted from the measure from July 10, but there is no guarantee that foreign nations will not require travellers from the UK to self-isolate on arrival. The announcement also exposes a fracture in the response from across the four nations, with the exemption only applicable to travel to England, while the devolved administrations will set out their own approaches. The Prime Minister will lead a Downing Street press conference on Friday ahead of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopening in England on Saturday. He is expected to warn the nation “we are not out of the woods yet” and that severe restrictions could return if transmission of Covid-19 rises with the easing of the lockdown imposed on March 23. “They are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs. They are also hotels, B&Bs, indeed much of our tourism industry,” he will say, according to an extract released to the media ahead of the speech. “All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their customers safe. “But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.” But, in order to prevent a “flood of redundancy notices”, Labour was demanding that the Government extends the furlough scheme for sectors hit hardest by the pandemic. Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds called for a “targeted strategy” to protect businesses after the PM said it would not be “healthy” for the economy or workers for the scheme to run past its scheduled end date in October. Mr Johnson has been under pressure to relax the quarantine measures imposed on travellers returning from abroad in order to ease the strain on the travel industry. After much talk of forming so-called air bridges of reciprocal quarantine-free travel with other nations, the Department for Transport (DfT) indicated these have not been confirmed. Instead, a statement said it was the Government’s “expectation” that a number of exempted countries will not require arrivals from the UK to self-isolate. A rift across the four nations is also possible, with the DfT saying the devolved administrations “will set out their own approach”, meaning passengers arriving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland “should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which applies there”. The policy had already created a row between the governments in Westminster and Holyrood after Mr Shapps tried to blame the Scottish administration for delaying its announcement. The SNP accused the UK Government of failing to engage them in “meaningful consultation” while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Shapps had misrepresented the situation. Meanwhile on Friday, pubs, hotels, restaurants and museums will begin reopening in Northern Ireland. And Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce that the five-mile restriction on travel in Wales will be lifted from Monday, where pubs and restaurants will open from July 13. In Scotland, face coverings will become mandatory in shops from July 10 when the two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced in the hospitality and retail sectors as well as on public transport. Published: 03/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

maxwell appears in court epstein

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Ghislaine Maxwell appears in court facing sex charges linked to Jeffrey Epstein Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on Thursday and accused of helping the disgraced financier “identify, befriend and groom” multiple girls British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has appeared in court accused of facilitating long-time associate Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual exploitation of underage girls. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on Thursday and accused of helping the disgraced financier “identify, befriend and groom” multiple girls, including one as young as 14. At a brief hearing the same day, a magistrate judge ordered Maxwell to remain in custody while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing there. Meanwhile, a source close to the Duke of York said he is “bewildered” by claims made by US authorities that he has not offered to co-operate with the Epstein case. It comes after Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, told a press conference that authorities would “welcome” a statement from the duke in relation to the investigation. Maxwell, daughter of late media mogul Robert Maxwell, has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct by her former boyfriend Epstein. The disgraced financier took his own life in prison last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Announcing the charges against Maxwell, Ms Strauss claimed that the socialite had helped Epstein to exploit underage girls and “in some cases” would participate in the abuse herself. “Maxwell was among Epstein’s closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old,” she told reporters. “Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse.” Four of the six charges cover Maxwell’s dealings with Epstein from 1994 to 1997, when she was in an “intimate relationship” with him, according to the indictment. These include conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts. She is further charged with conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. According to the indictment, three unnamed minors were allegedly “induced and enticed” by Maxwell, who “facilitated” for them to be groomed by Esptein at properties he owned. These include residences in New York City, Palm Beach in Florida and Santa Fe in New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s personal residence in London, prosecutors allege. The court papers claim that Maxwell “developed a rapport” with the alleged victims, before encouraging them to give massages to Epstein, which often resulted in him sexually abusing the girls. One of the girls was allegedly groomed and abused in London between 1994 and 1995, with prosecutors claiming this included a period of time when Maxwell knew she was under the age of 18. Authorities claim that Maxwell, who is also charged with two counts of perjury, lied when being questioned under oath in 2016. “Maxwell lied because the truth as alleged was almost unspeakable, Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them,” Ms Strauss told reporters. One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, claims that she had sex with the duke at the socialite’s London townhouse in 2001. Maxwell, who has known Andrew since university and introduced him to Epstein, features in the background of a picture which apparently shows the duke with his arm around Ms Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts. Ms Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law. Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre, while his lawyers have insisted the duke has repeatedly offered to provide a witness statement to the investigation. At the press conference, Ms Strauss told reporters: “I’m not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement.” But a source close to the duke’s working group said that his lawyers have twice communicated with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in the past month. “The duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month and to date we have had no response,” the source said. Published: 03/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Leading musicians call for government help for live events

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Leading musicians call for government help for live events Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney are among 1,500 music artists and acts calling for urgent Government action to prevent the end of the UK’s “world-leading” live music industry. The open letter, addressed to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, says that with concerts and festivals unlikely to return until 2021 at the earliest, the industry is at imminent risk of suffering “mass insolvencies”. The star-studded list of signees includes Dua Lipa, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + The Machine, George Ezra, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi, Little Mix and many more. Many of these artists were due to perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, All Points East, Parklife and TRNSMT, with all events either called off or taken online. In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. “But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak. “Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.” Research carried out by Media Insight Consulting in June 2020 and published alongside the letter indicated that the industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, while venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5 billion to the economy in 2019. The figures built on UK Music’s annual Music By Numbers report. Following the publication of the letter on Thursday, artists, venues, festivals and production companies will post films and photos of their last live gigs or events using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans are also encouraged to post about the last gig they attended in a show of support. The letter calls on Mr Dowden to deliver a three-point strategy for the restarting of the live music sector. It asks for a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales. Pop star Dua Lipa said: “It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK. “From the very start, playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career. “I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels … small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms and into arenas, and of course festivals in between each touring cycle. “But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.” Former Oasis frontman Gallagher said: “Amazing gigs don’t happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they’ll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love. “I can’t wait to get back to playing for the fans. But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry. “There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live.” Ben Lovett, a founding member of Mumford & Sons and venue owner, said: “I’ve dedicated my life to music, on and off the stage. I was a teenager when I started running a monthly new music night called Communion with a couple of friends that has evolved into one of the UK’s most established concert promotions businesses, independent record labels and publishing companies. “I was barely 20 when we were cutting some of the early Mumford & Sons demos in my parents’ attic and spending all of our spare energy in rehearsal rooms, and then cutting our teeth in venues throughout London. “Now I’m a venue owner and operator of Omeara and Lafayette and watching our entire industry get decimated by this virus. Every day, literally, I hear of another friend in music losing their job, shutting up shop, switching careers. “This pandemic has affected everyone, it has taken many lives and forever changed many more. “Live entertainment has not been the headline, nor do I believe it should’ve been, at least until now. “We really have to pay some attention to what our cultural landscape is going to look like on the other side of this and we’re hoping that #letthemusicplay will pull some of this into focus for a minute.” Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges. “If the Government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.” A Government spokeswoman said: “We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of such as loans and the job retention scheme and we continue to look at additional support we can provide the industry. “We recognise that this pandemic has created major challenges for the sector and are working closely with them to develop comprehensive guidance for performances and events to return as soon as possible.” Mr Dowden tweeted: “I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music and the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates and to give you a clear roadmap back. “These involve very difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives.” Lord Grade, a member of the Government’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce, told Good Morning Britain: “People have to got to be a little bit patient. This is a huge problem but I can reassure Sir Paul and everybody else who signed that letter that the Government is on top of this. Everybody wants an instant answer, it ain’t that simple. “The Government is well aware of the value of the creative industries to the UK economy. It’s the one growth area of the economy that kept on growing through the recession, so just be a little bit patient.” Published: 02/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

No clear source for coronavirus outbreak in Leicester

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'No clear source' for coronavirus outbreak in Leicester The rapid rise of coronavirus cases in Leicester could have been driven by community transmission rather than caused by a specific outbreak, a report has found. Public Health England found “no explanatory outbreaks in care homes, hospital settings, or industrial processes” after the rise in infections led to the UK’s first local lockdown. Health Secretary Matt Hancock tightened restrictions on parts of the city and nearby suburbs on Monday, ordering non-essential shops to close and urging people not to travel in or out of the area. The PHE report found an increase in the number of people aged under 19 who had been infected in the East Midlands city, from 5% of all cases in mid-May to 15% in June, and a similar increase in infections among working-age people. “If an excess of infections has occurred then it is occurring in young and middle-aged people,” the report said. It added that there was no “analytical link” between the reopening of schools to more pupils in June and the increased infection rate, but that further investigation would be “sensible”. The report concluded evidence for the scale of the outbreak was limited, but added the proportion of positives from PCR testing – the national standard for identifying new coronavirus cases – is rising. “This is suggestive of a genuine increase in numbers of new infections, not simply an artefact of increasing test rates,” it said. The preliminary investigation report – released on Wednesday evening – suggested the infection rate in the city had fallen from 140.2 to 135.7 per 100,000 people in the from the week to June 20 to the seven days prior to June 27. This is still significantly higher than the overall infection rate in England which fell over the same period from 10.7 to 6.7 per 100,000 – despite the easing of some lockdown restrictions. Meanwhile, academics and clinicians from the University of Leicester said reimposing lockdown represents a “failure of timely intervention”. In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, the group of academics and clinicians wrote that the spike of regional infections had exposed “key problems” that need to be “urgently addressed”. “In particular, the opportunity to escalate interventions locally has been stymied by the inadequacy of information sharing,” the letter said. But the letter’s signatories report that news of the city’s outbreak came as a surprise to local health organisations, who were only able to access “pillar 1” data at that time. Pillar 1 data – tests carried out in NHS and PHE laboratories – found that the number of new cases per day was low throughout the first half of June, according to the authors. The academics and clinicians wrote that information through pillar 2, testing of the wider community, indicated an ongoing spike but was “not communicated in a timely manner” to local authority and health organisations. The correspondence raises concerns that an area-specific lockdown will “target and disproportionately affect ethnic minority communities”, adding that adherence to any proposed measures requires effective community engagement. “We should remain mindful that lockdown is a blunt and damaging tool of last resort that represents a failure of timely intervention,” the letter stated. “Our experience brings into sharp focus the shortfalls in the current identification and management of local Covid-19 outbreaks.” The letter, signed by seven academics and clinicians from the university, calls for a coordinated public health response that is “locally led, agile, and responsive to prevent unnecessary morbidity and mortality”. Published: 02/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Williamson to announce schools overhaul for September

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Gavin Williamson to announce schools overhaul for September Schools in England are expected to be told to overhaul the curriculum, stagger break times and group children into “bubbles” when they return to the classroom. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is due to announce the plans for getting all pupils back after the summer following up to six months at home – on the same day schools in Leicester close again as part of the city’s lockdown extension. The Daily Telegraph reported that a draft of the official guidance also bans the mixing of year groups – such as in assemblies – as well as school choirs, and suggests teachers also stagger the start and end of the day. Contingency plans must also be in place in case of a local lockdown, the paper said, and schools will be required to liaise with their local health protection team if there are two or more confirmed coronavirus cases within a fortnight. A general rise in sickness or absence where Covid-19 is a suspected cause could lead to a year group or the whole school being told to stay at home and self-isolate as a precaution. Details are expected to be set out at a Downing Street press conference on Thursday – the first time one has been held since daily briefings were scrapped last week. Meanwhile, schools in Leicester will be closed on Thursday and will not reopen until after the summer break. Figures released in Public Health England’s preliminary investigation into the Leicester outbreak – released on Wednesday evening – suggested a slight drop in the infection rate in the city from the week to June 20 to the seven days prior to June 27 – down from 140.2 to 135.7 per 100,000 people. The data also suggests the overall infection rate in England fell over the same period from 10.7 to 6.7 per 100,000 – despite the easing of some lockdown restrictions. Rates in Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale declined more sharply over the same period. Officials in regions with high infection rates have said they are working hard not to follow Leicester into lockdown. The report also suggested the majority of recently confirmed cases are in people aged 18 to 65 years – with the median age of those infected standing at 39 years. And 50.9% of the cases reported in June in the city were in women. The wards of North Evington, Belgrave and Stoneygate had the highest number of cases reported between June 11 and 25. But the report concluded evidence for the scale of the outbreak was limited and an increase in reported cases could be partly due to a rise in the availability of testing. The Office for National Statistics will on Thursday provide new figures from the coronavirus infection survey for England, and the latest data on the NHS Test and Trace programme will also be published. It comes as the economic challenges of the pandemic were laid bare by a continuing jobs bloodbath. The John Lewis Partnership warned over store closures and job cuts and Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire revealed redundancy plans on Wednesday. Upper Crust owner SSP announced up to 5,000 roles could go following plunging passengers numbers at railway stations and airports. And Unite the union said its research revealed that almost 12,000 aerospace job losses have been announced in recent months at some of the UK’s biggest companies, including 1,700 by Airbus earlier this week. Published: 02/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub