The Prime Minister’s first reported command from convalescence was for Team Downing Street to avoid a “second peak” of Covid-19. Perhaps he’s a changed man. He is right. We’ve belatedly flattened the curve of peak one but as the epidemiological models show, we risk the virus rising up again unless the softening of the hard lockdown we have in place is done very carefully. A second peak would be an economic tragedy as well as a human one. The lockdown versus economy debate is not binary.
Boris Johnson has told colleagues that he is very cautious about easing lockdown restrictions and that his “overriding concern” is avoiding a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister, who is recovering from Covid-19 at Chequers after several nights in intensive care, held a two-hour meeting on Friday with Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, Dominic Cummings, his most senior adviser, and Lee Cain, his director of communications.
Boris Johnson is understood to be reluctant to ease the coronavirus lockdown over fears of a second wave of infections. The prime minister has told colleagues his ‘over-riding concern’ is to avoid a second wave of the pandemic and a fresh spike in cases, according to the Times. During a two-hour meeting on Friday with foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Dominic senior adviser Cummings, Lee Cain, director of communications and cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Mr Johnson was said to have outlined these concerns.
BORIS Johnson has told colleagues he is very cautious about lifting the lockdown restrictions for fear of a second wave of the coronavirus. Daily deaths fell by almost a third to 596 yesterday – the lowest Sunday for three weeks – as experts said Britain may be past the peak of the “first wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the PM told cabinet colleagues, advisers and officials he is concerned lifting restrictions too soon could result in a “second peak” and result another costly lockdown.
Michael Gove has backed a public debate over the lifting of lockdown measures as he warned pubs and restaurants would be among the last to see restrictions eased. But he played down the idea schools could reopen in the middle of next month as part of a ‘traffic light’ system. Ministers are coming under increasing pressure from senior Conservatives and others to level with the public, amid accusations they are treating people like children. Opposition parties have also called on the government to set out a strategy for how it will decide how and when to lift the coronavirus lockdown.
The coronavirus lockdown could be lifted in four weeks’ time given the “damage” it is causing, a leading scientific expert who advises ministers has said. Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said on Sunday the UK was “probably just past the peak” in many parts of the country. But he warned there would be “further waves” of the virus in the future and that while a vaccine could be created “towards the end of this year” there was an “enormous logistics” challenge to produce enough for the entire world.
Britain could start to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown as early as May 4, say two leading UCL economists who have submitted their proposals to the Government. They suggest it could start with small shops opening with the same social distancing policies as supermarkets, the return of “low risk” activities such as beauty salons or hairdressers but with people wearing masks and the reopening of all parks and private green spaces like golf clubs. This first phase in what the academics describe as a traffic light strategy would be the “red light” stage, when people would be expected to stop to think before they did things and continue to avoid behaviours from before the crisis.
The national lockdown should be eased within weeks because it is damaging the nation’s health, a government adviser has said. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he hoped restrictions would be relaxed in “three or four weeks’ time”. “It is clear that the lockdown can’t go on for much longer,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News. “The damage it’s doing to all of our health, our wellbeing, our mental health, is disproportionately of course affecting the most vulnerable.”
THOUSANDS more people may have died in care homes from coronavirus than official figures suggest, a new study revealed today. The study, conducted by the National Care Forum (NCF), adds to growing evidence that government figures severely underestimate the scale of the tragedy unfolding in care homes nationwide. Data collected by the NCF, which represents not-for-profit adult social-care providers, suggests that 4,040 people may have died from Covid-19 up to April 13.
The government’s target of carrying out 100,000 Covid-19 tests each day by the end of the month has come under criticism from senior scientists, who say it will be impossible to reach. Experts told the Guardian that a “macho” focus on headline-grabbing figures had been pursued at the expense of rigorous science. The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, said on Sunday that the government was confident that the goal of 100,000 tests daily by the end of April would be met.
SENIOR Tory MPs are pushing for the Government to reconsider paying the £39 billion divorce bill to the EU if Brussels fails to agree to a fair trade deal by the end of the year. With Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost confirming that the UK government will not cave in to EU and Remainer demands and not extend the transition period at the end of the year, MPs are pushing for negotiators to get tough. The need to keep hold of Britain’s £39 billion has also been underlined by the cost of dealing with coronavirus particularly the economic £250 billion rescue package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to protect jobs and businesses.
REMAINERS are using the coronavirus crisis to stop Brexit, a former MP has warned. Ex-UKIP and independent MP Douglas Carswell hit out at Remainers for using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to extend the EU transition period. The co-founder of the Vote Leave campaign tweeted: “Remainers still trying to get us to remain. Even using this crisis as a pretext.” It comes as the UK is in a transition period with the EU until the end of December 2020, during which time Britain continues to follow the bloc’s rules as the two sides negotiate a free trade deal.
Cod, eels and sea bass are at risk of dying out under government plans to relax fishing quotas, the Marine Conservation Society has warned. Urgent measures are being put in place to help the fishing industry, which is facing trouble due to restaurants, hotels and pubs closing and the export market disappearing. The government has already announced £10 million in funding to keep businesses afloat, and is in talks with fisheries and conservationists about how to relax regulations.
Doctors have warned they could stop treating coronavirus patients to protect their own lives as equipment shortages become critical. Hospitals are on the brink of running out of some life-saving supplies today after a vital delivery of 400,000 protective gowns from Turkey was delayed. Medical bodies say the shortages mean doctors could be forced into a ‘difficult decision’ between exposing themselves to the virus or ‘letting a patient die on their watch’.
A shipment of personal protective equipment from Turkey failed to arrive today (Sunday) as doctors demanded ministers be held to account for their “disgraceful” failure to safeguard NHS staff. The delivery of 84 tonnes of PPE, including 400,000 gowns, was promised within 24 hours on Saturday by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick at the daily press briefing.
Britain has appointed the former Goldman Sachs investment banker who led the country’s 2012 Olympic planning to organise the domestic manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers treating coronavirus patients. The government has faced severe criticism from doctors and health workers over shortages of equipment, including masks, visors and gowns, and the suggestion that some items might have to be re-used if supplies run out.
The government’s chief scientific adviser has cautioned against banking on a Covid-19 jab, warning that new vaccines are “long shots”. Oxford University researchers are planning to begin human trials of a vaccine this week and believe that they could have results showing whether it works as early as September. However, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has cautioned that even if a vaccine shows signs of protecting against the virus, ensuring that it is safe could take much longer.
Vaccines are “long shots” and people should not rely on the swift development of one for Covid-19, the Government’s chief scientific adviser has warned. A group of Oxford University researchers will begin clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine next week but Sir Patrick Vallance says expectations need to be tempered. Writing in The Guardian, Sir Patrick wrote: “All new vaccines that come into development are long shots; only some end up being successful, and the whole process requires experimentation.”
Hopes for a coronavirus vaccine could now hinge on llama blood after scientists discovered antibodies found within it could help to neutralise the virus. Researchers from the Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology in Ghent have reported molecules in camelids blood ‘may serve as useful therapeutics during coronavirus outbreaks.’ ‘The feasibility of using [llama antibodies] … merits further investigation,’ a report seen by the Sunday Times added. These antibodies, which were first used in HIV research, have proved effective against a viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past.
BELGIAN scientists have discovered that antibodies found within llama blood could help to neutralise the coronavirus. Researchers from the Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology in Ghent have reported molecules in camelids blood may serve as useful “therapeutics” during the outbreak. These antibodies have proved effective against a viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past.
TRIALS for a vaccine could be completed by mid-August, a government adviser on coronavirus has revealed. Testing on humans for a potential jab is due to begin within the next week at the University of Oxford. And Prof Sir John Bell, a member of the Government’s vaccine task force, said it would be reasonable to believe trials could be finished in four months. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The real question is will it have efficacy? Will it protect people? “But if things go on course and it does have efficacy, then I think it is reasonable to think that they would be able to complete their trial by mid-August.”
EUROPEAN UNION solidarity has buckled under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, with a Danish official exposing how the bloc’s member states have looked after their own interests during the crisis. Lars Thuesen, Denmark’s ambassador to the UK, insisted the priority of all European Union member states was first and foremost the welfare of their own citizens amid outrage over the bloc’s shameful treatment of founding nation Italy during the coronavirus outbreak.
Two thirds of children have not taken part in online lessons during lockdown, a study has found, amid concern that many pupils are struggling to learn at home. Pupils at private schools are more than twice as likely to receive daily online tuition as their state educated peers, according to the poll by the Sutton Trust and Public First, which will fuel fears that the poorest children will fall furthest behind in their studies. Today is when millions of pupils would be returning to school for the first day of term after the Easter holiday, but children are instead trapped at home due to the coronavirus lockdown and expected to continue their studies remotely.
School leaders have called for an end to “irresponsible speculation” over dates for schools in England to reopen, as ministers were forced to reject suggestions that many pupils would be back in classrooms next month. The Sunday Times claimed that “senior ministers” had backed a plan for schools to partially reopen on three possible dates: immediately after the current lockdown is scheduled to end on 11 May; after the half-term holiday on 1 June; or at the start of the school year in September.
There are no plans for schools to open through the summer holidays, the Government has announced. Schools have been closed since March 20 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with many parents forced to home educate. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said at today’s daily coronavirus briefing that he cannot give a date for when schools will reopen, and confirmed there are no plans for them to open through the summer holidays. He said: “I think we recognise the challenges that anyone who’s a parent of trying to instil social distancing in small children, and we have to understand really that sort of broad context.
Schools are not expected to reopen until June at the earliest after concerns that Britain could face a second wave of the coronavirus. At the weekend it was reported that plans have been drawn up with three dates for schools to reopen: May 11, June 1 or the start of September. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, insisted that no date had been set. A government source told The Times that the earliest date for schools to open was likely to be after half-term at the end of May.
The education secretary has said he “cannot give a date” for when schools in England may reopen. Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus update, Gavin Williamson said: “People are anxious to know when we’re going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again. “Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure the children are sat around, learning, and experiencing the joy of being at school.
MILLIONS of kids start home learning tomorrow — amid talks about some schools reopening by the summer. However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refused to set a date for children to return. He said he wanted “nothing more” than to see kids back in the classrooms across the nation — but he shot down rumours school gates would open again next month. Instead, education chiefs are discussing plans for limited opening in June at the earliest. Even then, sources said it was likely that primary schools would open first — as they have in Denmark.
Gavin Williamson tonight dismissed calls to spell out an ‘exit strategy’ from coronavirus lockdown – despite claims ministers want schools to reopen after May 11. The Education Secretary defied a growing clamour for clarity, insisting he could not ‘give a date’ for pupils to get back to the classroom. The comments came amid the first signs a blueprint is being hatched within government to ease lockdown misery, although the Cabinet appears split over whether to risk more deaths from the disease to save the plunging economy.
Lessons for kids in lockdown are under fire for “brainwashing” them that Winston Churchill was a “war criminal” and less important than pop stars Zayn Malik and Bob Geldof. Children are being taught that Churchill was a drunken war criminal bent on starting World War Three. Lesson plans shared by thousands of teachers even claim he was less important to British history than Bob Geldof and Zayn Malik. Furious campaigners claim the courses on education site Tes “demonise” the wartime PM and are “brainwashing” pupils.
Business leaders are warning that mass redundancies remain a threat as taxpayers today begin bearing the cost of millions of furloughed workers. There are mounting fears that the lockdown of the economy will mean painful job losses at the end of the scheme, currently scheduled for the end of June. Senior business figures have told The Daily Telegraph they are already grappling with whether to give notice of redundancies, in anticipation of a long slump in demand when shops and restaurants are allowed to reopen.
British finance minister Rishi Sunak launched a new scheme on Monday to protect fast-growing and innovative companies from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The 1.25 billion pound package comprises a 500 million pound fund for high-growth companies and separate support totalling 750 million pounds for companies involved in research and development. The British government has been scrambling to upgrade its measures to reduce the scale of the damage to the world’s fifth-largest economy.
Cloth face masks should be worn by everyone to prevent transmission, a group of doctors have said as they launched a grassroots campaign to promote the message. Doctors across the UK have lent their support to ‘Masks4allUK’, a movement set up by medical professionals in the wake of the Government’s reluctance to make mass-wearing of facial masks compulsory. In a bid to stop further transmission of coronavirus the group has urged the public to either make, or purchase online, their own reusable cotton masks and to wear them any time they leave their home.
GERMANY has rattled China after joining the UK, France and the US in a rare attack, after Berlin called out Beijing’s responsibility for the global pandemic and even issued a £130bn invoice. Germany has sparked outrage in China after a major newspaper put together a £130bn invoice that Beijing “owes” Berlin following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Germany has followed France, the UK and the US in directing its coronavirus anger at China, where the virus originated.
More than 80 per cent of Britons want Boris Johnson to push for an international inquiry into China’s handling of the initial coronavirus outbreak, according to a poll. The survey also revealed that 71 per cent of the public wanted ministers to sue the Chinese government for damages if it became evident that President Xi’s administration had breached international law in its response to the coronavirus. The poll, commissioned last week by the Henry Jackson Society, a British neoconservative foreign affairs think tank, showed that 74 per cent of the UK public thought that China was to blame for allowing Covid-19 to spread.