30.4 C
Northamptonshire
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Douglas Ross poised to confirm Scottish Conservatives leadership bid

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Douglas Ross poised to confirm Scottish Conservatives leadership bid Moray MP Douglas Ross is “likely to be a candidate in the contest” to be leader of the Scottish Conservatives following Jackson Carlaw’s sudden resignation. After less than six months in the job, Mr Carlaw on Thursday said he made the “painful decision” after realising he was not the best person to lead the party in the run-up to next May’s Holyrood election. Ruth Davidson stood down from the role in August last year with Mr Carlaw serving as acting leader until being fully appointed in February. However John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, also confirmed Ms Davidson would return to frontline politics and play a part in the team if Mr Ross is elected. Telling Times Radio he would be campaign manager of Mr Ross’s bid to lead the party, Mr Lamont said Ms Davidson “will be taking on Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament” up until the election where they hope the MP will swap Westminster for Holyrood. He said: “I think he has not only the skills to unite the Conservative Party in Scotland, but also more importantly the skills to unite the unionists vote within Scotland’s which is currently fragmented between a number of different parties. “One of the strengths of the SNP is they’re able to consolidate most of the nationalist vote behind them – which clearly poses a threat not just from the Scottish Parliament elections next year but in terms of the possibility or another referendum. “I was (Ruth’s) campaign manager back in 2011 when she was elected Scottish leader and she has grown from strength to strength since since that point and she’s going to be playing a part and Douglas’s team if Douglas is elected. “Ruth will be taking on Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament between the point of Douglas’s election until next year’s election to the Scottish Parliament when we hope that Douglas is going to be returned as an MSP. “Ruth will be returning to frontline politics and I think that’s a very welcome move because, as you say, Ruth is a formidable performer and a great advocate for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom, which is clearly a very important part of political dynamic in Scotland with opinion polls showing renewed support for nationalists.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to Mr Carlaw saying he has been a “tremendous servant to the Scottish Conservative Party for more than four decades”. But Michelle Ballantyne, MSP for the South Scotland region who stood against Mr Carlaw, said the party “did make a bad choice” in appointing him leader and suggested the decision to remove him was a “stitch up”. Mr Ross had been a parliamentary under-secretary of state for Scotland but resigned from the role in May after Dominic Cummings’ efforts to defend his trip from London to Durham despite the coronavirus lockdown. He was elected to Westminster in the 2017 general election, taking the seat of Angus Robertson, former SNP leader in the House of Commons, having been a regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands in the year prior. Published: 31/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Leicester pubs cafes and restaurants can reopen

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Leicester pubs, cafes and restaurants can reopen Pubs, cafes and restaurants can reopen in Leicester from Monday after the announcement lockdown measures would be eased. Liz Kendall, Labour MP for Leicester West, said that despite an “unbelievably difficult period” for the city, the hard work and sacrifice of residents had paid off. The Department for Health and Social Care said hairdressers, cinemas and museums would also be able to open, but social gathering restrictions would remain in place for the city and leisure centres, gyms and public swimming pools would also remain closed. Mosques and other places of worship will be allowed to reopen from Monday, with Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth urging Muslims to celebrate Eid al Adha from Thursday “with your own household at home”. All restrictions in neighbouring Oadby and Wigston will be lifted, the department added. Stricter lockdown restrictions were put in place in Leicester and other nearby areas by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 infections. Writing on Twitter on Thursday evening, Ms Kendall said: “Just been on call with Minister about #LeicesterLockdown. “The great news is our pubs, cafes, bars & restaurants can re-open and people can go on holiday with their own household. “But leisure centres, gyms & pools still closed, and no meeting up with other households indoors. “This has been an unbelievably difficult period for our city but peoples hard work & sacrifices have paid off.” She added that the Government handling of the lockdown had been “totally shambolic” and that lessons needed to be learnt to prevent similar situations in future. Responding to questions from local residents, she added: “To everyone asking questions, I’m really sorry I don’t have any more details, this is just what we were told on the call. “But I wanted to let people know as soon as possible what’s happening as it is quite frankly a disgrace we’ve been left waiting so long without any proper info.” Neil O’Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston, tweeted: “Hurray!!! After much pushing and shoving I have just had it confirmed by the Department of Health that Oadby and Wigston is moving OUT of lockdown and will be the same as the rest of Leicestershire.” Published: 31/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Household mixing banned in parts of northern England in virus crackdown

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Household mixing banned in parts of northern England in virus crackdown People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases. The new rules also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, but these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household. The Government said it will give police forces and councils powers to enforce the new rules – adding that some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social-distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules, announced late on Thursday evening, and that the move was in order to “keep the country safe”. He said: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.” The move comes as celebrations take place for the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha, which started on Thursday evening and continues over the weekend, and after the Government reimposed quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Spain and Luxembourg earlier this week. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the measures, which he said would be reviewed on a weekly basis. However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while also welcoming the measures, criticised the Government’s handling of communicating the change to the public. In a tweet, he said: “No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. “But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.” The household mixing restrictions will also apply in Leicester, which has seen the first so-called local lockdown since June, but other measures in the city will be eased. From Monday restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers can reopen – but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed. On Saturday, Luton will be brought in line with the rest of the country after “significant progress”, the Government said. Mr Hancock added: “We’re constantly vigilant and we’ve been looking at the data, and unfortunately we’ve seen across parts of northern England an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus. “So, today, I held a meeting of the Government’s Gold Committee and working with local leaders, including, for instance, Andy Burnham the mayor of Greater Manchester, we’ve decided that we need to take action across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. “So, from midnight tonight (Friday) we are banning households meeting up indoors.” In 13 of the 19 affected local authority areas affected, the rate of Covid-19 in the seven days to July 27 has gone up, with 1,536 cases recorded across all the areas in the space of a week. Blackburn with Darwen tops the list as the rate has risen from 83.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 20 to 89.3 in the seven days to July 27. A total of 133 new cases have been recorded. Leicester is in second place, where the seven-day rate has fallen from 67.8 to 60.2, with 214 new cases. Oldham in Greater Manchester has seen its seven-day rate increase from 23.3 to 54.3, with 128 new cases, while in Pendle, Lancashire the rate went from 27.4 to 42.7, with 39 new cases. In Trafford, Greater Manchester the seven-day rate is up from 15.2 to 41.0, with 97 new cases and in Calderdale, West Yorkshire – which includes the town of Halifax, the rate is up from 20.9 to 33.8, with 71 new cases. The new restrictions apply to the whole of Greater Manchester, which includes the 10 local authority areas of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. Parts of East Lancashire are affected including Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle (which includes the towns of Colne and Nelson) and Rossendale. Parts of West Yorkshire including Bradford, Calderdale (which includes the town of Halifax) and Kirklees (which includes the town of Huddersfield) are also impacted. Mr Burnham said “by not acting selfishly” the measures could be removed more quickly. He added: “Over recent days, there has been a marked change in the picture across Greater Manchester with regard to the spread of Covid-19. “We have gone from a falling rate of cases in nearly all of our boroughs last week to a rising rate in nine out of 10 affecting communities across a much wider geography. In Rochdale, the one borough where cases have fallen, they are still too high. “We have always said that we will remain vigilant and be ready to respond quickly should the need arise. In line with that approach, I have agreed with the Health Secretary that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections. “I ask all Greater Manchester residents – young and old alike – to protect each other by observing these new requirements. They will be reviewed weekly, meaning the more we stick to them, the quicker they will be removed. “This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times.” Reacting to the move on Twitter, Scotland First Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The UK government is right to act quickly if they think the situation warrants it. “But this is a sharp reminder that the threat of this virus is still very real.” Published: 31/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Chancellor urged to protect jobs of workers shielding from Covid 19

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Chancellor urged to protect jobs of workers shielding from Covid-19 A coalition of charities is urging the Chancellor to protect the jobs of workers who have been shielding, warning they will be put in an “impossible position” when restrictions ease. An open letter to Rishi Sunak signed by 15 charities, including Age UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, raises concerns that those who have been shielding will be forced to choose between their health and their job. Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is to ask ministers to keep using the Government’s job retention scheme for shielding workers and not force them to return to work, according to The Guardian. Shielding will be paused in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from August 1, when extremely clinically vulnerable people who have stayed at home to protect themselves from Covid-19 are allowed to return to work. But the signatories warn these employees are at risk of being made redundant, or could be forced to return to the workplace when they do not feel it is safe to do so. Some 2.2 million people deemed extremely vulnerable to coronavirus are shielding in England, and around 595,000 (28%) of those usually work, according to the charities. The letter to Mr Sunak says: “Our concern is that, especially as your furlough arrangements start to unwind and the shielding scheme is paused from next week, some of these workers will find themselves in an impossible position. “This is because if their occupation is one which they cannot carry out from home, and if it is extremely difficult to make their workplace safe for them, they may be forced to choose between putting their health on the line by returning, or staying safe by giving up their job.” The signatories say this is “desperately unfair” for those who have made “great sacrifices” by staying at home, and call on the Chancellor to take action and protect their jobs as well as supporting employers. This could include extending the furlough scheme for those who have been shielding or are at high-risk, the letter adds. The same suggestion has been made by the TUC, with General Secretary Frances O’Grady telling the Guardian: “It would be heartless and reckless for employers to demand the immediate return of shielding workers. “After self-isolation for a number of months, requiring shielding workers to immediately travel to workplaces may cause anxiety. “The job retention scheme is in place until at least October, so employers must continue using it if home working is not an option.” A survey conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support with 2,000 adults found many cancer patients are fearful of returning to workplaces, with 42% saying they feel it is currently unsafe for them to work outside of their home. One in three (36%) people with cancer said the coronavirus crisis has affected their finances, with some saying they have been left struggling to pay their bills. When the shielding programme ends, medics should decide whether patients can reasonably be expected to work, depending on their workplace. According to the Government, employers have been told to make sure the shielded can work from home wherever possible, including moving them to another role if required. If employers cannot provide a Covid-safe working environment, those who are clinically vulnerable will be able to access financial support including statutory sick pay and welfare payments, it has said. Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK and a signatory of the letter, said: “No-one should be faced with the impossible task of choosing between their health, by returning to work in an unsafe environment, and their financial security. “The Government must ensure that employers are supported to take all the necessary measures to keep all employees safe if they are expected to attend work outside their home. “In addition, the Government should introduce a new support scheme for those clinically vulnerable people who are unable to return to a safe work environment.” A Government spokesperson said: “We understand how challenging the outbreak pandemic has been for the clinically vulnerable and we have worked tirelessly to support them. “Employers must ensure the safety of those with such conditions when considering working arrangements, including whether work can be completed remotely. “Our wide-ranging support package worth an initial £160 billion includes the furlough scheme, which has paid the wages of 9.5 million people and has already been extended until October, loans, grants, and tax cuts and deferrals. “People will also now benefit from the Job Retention Bonus which will support business and protect jobs. We also announced £750 million for charities so they can continue their important work, ensuring those on the front line are able to reach people who need help.” Published: 31/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Decision on full time return for schools in Scotland to be announced

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Decision on full-time return for schools in Scotland to be announced Scotland’s First Minister will announce if children can expect to be back in the classroom full-time from August 11. Schools were closed to most pupils at the end of March as coronavirus struck, with youngsters switching to an online-based learning model. Nicola Sturgeon will address MSPs at 12.20pm on Thursday, following the three-week review of lockdown easing measures. At the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister gave her clearest signal yet that pupils will not be undertaking the “blended model” upon their return in under two weeks, as had initially been planned. She said: “I think you know where we’re trying to get to on schools and you’ve probably not heard anything from me today that suggests we’re going in the opposite direction but I’ll announce the detail of those decisions tomorrow.” At the height of the pandemic, the Scottish Government proposed schools would return part time in autumn, with around 50% of learning done in school and the remainder at home. But continued suppression of the virus means a full-time return could now be possible. Along with the announcement on schooling, the First Minister is also expected to allow a pause on shielding. People with compromised immune systems or certain health conditions were instructed to self-isolate at the beginning of the pandemic for 12 weeks, a period that was extended until at least July 31. The reduction in cases in Scotland means they are now expected to be allowed to follow the advice given to older people, which enables more personal freedom but stresses vigilance and care. With the announcements on shielding and schools, the First Minister said there “is not going to leave us very much room for immediate changes” elsewhere. Some of the easing expected in phase four includes the restarting of some live events, mass gatherings, work in non-essential offices and the return of gyms. While these are not expected to see an immediate restart, the First Minister said some will be given indicative dates for reopening. Published: 30/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Higher BMI in early adulthood linked to increased dementia risk study

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Higher BMI in early adulthood linked to increased dementia risk – study People who are overweight in early adult life may be more prone to dementia in later life, a study suggests. Those aged 20 to 49 who have a high body mass index have a higher risk of dementia later on, the authors said. Researchers from Columbia University in the US studied data on more than 5,000 adults. Compared with women who had a normal BMI, those who were overweight had a 1.8 times higher risk of dementia later on in life. Obese women had a 2.5 times higher risk. For men, dementia risk was 2.5 times higher among those who were obese in early adulthood, according to the findings presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference . An association was found between being overweight or obese in mid-life – classed in the study as people aged 50 to 69 – among men but not women. Both men and women have a higher chance of dementia if they are obese in later life, the researchers found. Commenting on the study, Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study links a higher BMI in early adulthood with an increased risk of dementia later in life and underlines the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to help support a healthy brain.” But more studies are needed to examine the link in more detail, she said, adding: “We know that diseases that cause dementia get under way in the brain many years before symptoms start to show. Studies looking at our lifestyle in early adulthood are important to help us build a picture of the factors that could impact our brain health as we age.” Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an important step towards reducing the risk of dementia later in life. “Previous research we’ve supported, such as the 2017 Lancet commission, has shown that obesity in mid-life may increase dementia risk, so it’s interesting to see a study that shows this may also be the case in younger people too. But this can’t tell us if high BMI is a direct cause of dementia, there could be other factors at play. “The number of people living with dementia is set to rise to one million by 2025 so it’s becoming increasingly urgent that we find ways to prevent people developing the condition in the first place. “We can all take steps towards a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s by watching our diets, or making the most of the sunny days and getting outside for a walk – it’s never too late, or early, to make a change. “Research funding also plays a vital role here, hit badly by the current pandemic – so it’s critical that the Government commits to their pledge to double life-saving research funding for the chronically under-funded field of dementia.” Published: 30/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Self isolation period for those with Covid 19 to be extended to 10 days

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Self-isolation period for those with Covid-19 ‘to be extended to 10 days’ The self-isolation period for those with coronavirus symptoms will be extended to 10 days, according to reports. The Times and The Daily Telegraph reported the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, is expected to announce the change in advice, which currently states those with symptoms or a positive test should isolate for at least seven days. It comes amid health leaders’ fears of a “second spike” and an ongoing row over 14-day quarantine measures put in place for travellers returning from Spain. Advice for those who have been in close contact with someone with the virus is expected to remain unchanged. The guidance from the NHS is that people must self-isolate for 14 days if they live with, or are in a bubble with, someone that has symptoms or has tested positive or they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. The latest figures for the Test and Trace programme will be published later. And Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make a speech in which he will set out what the Government is calling the NHS People Plan, which includes suggestions staff could use messaging services such as WhatsApp so patients can have quick and easy access to information. Flexible working, more regular staff morale surveys and a requirement for NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups to publish progress reports on black and ethnic minority representation within the workforce are also among the plans. The announcement comes as health bosses warn of “very high” levels of concern about the possibility of a second spike in coronavirus cases. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the combination of a spike of cases with “exhausted staff” while the NHS tries to rebuild services could prove “challenging”. He told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus: “I would say in relation to the second spike issue or something coming, the levels of concern among our members – the people who are leading NHS trusts, who are leading in primary care and all levels in the systems – is very high. “There’s real concern about winter and the compounding factors there, but also about an earlier spike.” It follows a diplomatic row over the requirement that travellers from Spain would have to quarantine for a period of 14 days on their arrival into the UK. Speaking on his return to the UK on Wednesday after cutting short a family holiday in Spain, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he could not rule out more countries being added to the list of nations under the Government’s quarantine restrictions. He told reporters: “We absolutely have to act the moment we get the information and that’s exactly what happened with Spain as we saw and as we’ve seen over the weekend where there was over 6,100 cases – the highest since the peak in March over there. “It was the right thing to do and it’s why the whole of the UK did (it) at the same time. “I can’t therefore rule out other countries having to go into the quarantine as well.” Published: 30/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

71 of Britons have been previously infected with coronavirus study suggests

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7.1% of Britons have been previously infected with coronavirus, study suggests One in every 14 Britons has been previously infected with coronavirus, a new research suggests. A study of more than 20,000 people across the UK found that 7.1% of the population have been infected with Sars-Cov-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19. But rates of previous infection were found to vary significantly across different sectors of society, according to the research which measured antibodies among participants. Antibody tests check a person’s blood for antibodies, which indicate past infection with a virus. The major new study to examine the extent of previous infection across Britain, found that under 30s were more likely to have a previous infection than over 70s. Among participants over the age of 70, just 5.4% had positive antibody tests, compared to 10.8% of those under 30. The rate of previous infection was higher among black (11.3%) and South Asian (9%) participants compared to white people (6.9%), according to the UK Biobank study. Previous infection was least common among people who live in the South West of England and Scotland – where only 4.4% of the population had a positive antibody test. But one in 10 Londoners (10.4%) has previously been infected. People from more deprived backgrounds were also more likely to have had a previous infection of the virus, with 6.1% of the wealthiest showing a positive antibody result compared to 8.9% of the most deprived. Researchers found no difference between men and women for previous infection rates. But they said that for some groups, infection rates were significantly higher than the general population. For example, 18.4% of participants from ethnic minority groups who are aged under 30 and living in London have previously been infected. The study saw blood antibody tests conducted on 20,200 people over the age of 18 – a combination of existing Biobank participants, their children and grandchildren. Participants provided a finger prick blood sample – and they are continuing to provide samples going forwards as well as information about any symptoms as the study continues. The samples were examined by scientists at Oxford University. These are the first findings from the study, which will continue throughout the year. UK Biobank principal investigator, Sir Rory Collins – BHF professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University, said: “The extraordinary response to our request for volunteers allowed us to set up a large prospective study of Sars-CoV-2 antibody levels that is representative of the UK population. “It is crucial that the participants continue to send blood samples every month, to enable us to monitor changes in the rates of infection as the UK comes out of lockdown and to understand the persistence of antibodies to the coronavirus as a measure of natural immunity.” Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, said: “This is a hugely important study, and we are incredibly grateful to the 20,000 people who have taken part or will do so in the future. The insight gained will be invaluable to help us understand how long antibodies last, any associated risk factors among different groups of people, and what this could mean for potential immunity to the virus. “The findings will help inform our future response to managing the pandemic, and it’s vital that we continue to drive forward such important research.” Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, said: “Understanding the rates of infection and the persistence of antibody levels will be helpful for managing the ongoing process of coming out of lockdown safely, as well as supporting the development of vaccines against Sars-CoV-2.” It comes as the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBA) said it had seen an “overwhelming response” from Covid-19 volunteers asked to take part in a separate new study. NHSBA has provided a text messaging service recruiting people who tested positive for Covid-19 for a new piece of research which aims to analyse the whole genome sequences of people who have been either very severely affected by the illness, or who have had it with only mild or even no symptoms. As a result of the text messaging service, 7,000 people have signed up to the genetic study by the University of Edinburgh with Genomics England and GenOMICC consortium. Published: 30/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

15m more children should be given free school meals

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1.5m more children should be given free school meals A further 1.5 million children should be brought into the free school meals programme, while poorer youngsters should also be fed during the school holidays, a Government-ordered review has said. The National Food Strategy, led by Leon restaurant founder Henry Dimbleby, said urgent Government action is needed in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and described the country’s diet as a “slow-motion disaster”. It warned that poorer children risk being “left behind”, adding: “One of the miserable legacies of Covid-19 is likely to be a dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty, and therefore hunger. “The effects of hunger on young bodies (and minds) are serious and long-lasting, and exacerbate social inequalities.” The study proposes an expansion of free school meals in England to every child where a parent is receiving Universal Credit, adding: “Children who are hungry at school struggle to concentrate, perform poorly, and have worse attendance records.” At present, only children from households earning less than £7,400 before benefits are eligible. Expanding the programme could reach an additional 1.5 million seven to 16-year-olds at a cost of £670 million a year. The report also calls for an expansion of the holiday activity and food programme to all areas in England, reaching an extra 1.1 million children at a cost of £200 million a year. And it urges an increase in the value of Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week and expansion of the scheme to pregnant woman and households in receipt of Universal Credit with children under four. The vouchers can be spent on vitamins, fruit, vegetables and milk, and the recommendation would mean an extra 290,000 pregnant women and under-fours would benefit, the study said. Mr Dimbleby said the chief executives of Waitrose and the Co-Op have already agreed to supplement the vouchers with extra free fruit and vegetables. He welcomed the Government’s obesity strategy, released on Monday, but said some firms need to look at their actions when it comes to creating foods that appeal to children. The report points to “misleading packaging” and accuses the food industry of “clothing itself, and its products in false virtue”. Mr Dimbleby attacked Marks & Spencer over its Percy Pig sweets, saying they are marketed on the front as containing all natural fruit juice and are placed “right by your kids’ little fingers”. And yet, he said, the first four ingredients listed are forms of sugar such as fructose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup. “I just think that is not right,” he told reporters during a press briefing. “I think that is genuinely misleading. “And actually, when you look at the food world, the reason I pick M&S is because they have integrity as one of their values, but it is rampant in the food world – you know, low fat (food) which is actually high in sugar, or free from this and that. “I think CEOs do have to respond to commercial pressures but they are not innocent, bobbing about on the waters of commerce, unable to take any value-based decisions. “I think they do need to take a look at what they’re doing. I think boards in these companies very quickly, if they were to ask these questions, could, without any need for regulation from Government, improve the system a lot. “I think it’s time they realised that they have been putting their head in the sand for too long.” Mr Dimbleby, who said he struggles with his own weight, said he agreed that some fruit snacks are “being clothed in a veneer of goodness and might not be better for you than a Mars bar”. And he said there is “potential” to use “taxes to change the formulation of food”. But he said he does not agree with plain packaging for sweets, saying most people he has talked to feel that is too much in the way of Government intervention. Published: 29/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Heathrow boss calls for coronavirus testing on arrival

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Heathrow boss calls for coronavirus testing on arrival Heathrow has urged the Government to stop imposing “quarantine roulette” on travellers as it announced a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion in the first six months of the year. Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the financial results “should serve as a clarion call” to ministers to introduce a scheme for coronavirus testing of arriving passengers. He wants the 14-day self-isolation requirement to be eased for people arriving from countries not on the Government’s exemption list if they test negative for the virus. It comes after Boris Johnson warned that further European nations could lose their exempted status amid signs of a “second wave” of Covid-19. The Prime Minister triggered a diplomatic row with Spain by reimposing a warning against all but essential travel to the country and insisting that travellers arriving in the UK from there spend 14 days in quarantine. Heathrow’s passenger numbers were down 96% year on year between April and June. It made a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion in the first six months of 2020, down from a £7 million profit in the same period a year ago. This came on revenue of £712 million, around half of 2019’s levels. Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the Government – the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette. “As many of our customers have experienced, it’s difficult to plan a holiday that way, let alone run a business. “Testing offers a way to safely open up travel and trade to some of the UK’s biggest markets which currently remain closed. “Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing. If the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan.” One idea floated is for passengers to be tested on arrival before being tested again a number of days later to confirm they are not infected with the virus. A second test could allow their quarantine to be shortened under the proposal. Government advisers have warned it can take a number of days from infection before tests return a positive result, meaning testing negative on arrival does not mean the passenger will not develop symptoms later on. But Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care are believed to have spoken with travel assistance company Collinson to understand the proposed testing pilot it is developing with Heathrow. Preliminary modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested 94% of cases would be detected if the quarantine period was cut to eight days and passengers tested negative on the seventh. Published: 29/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub