Author: Spire Radio
EPCR suspends Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup
Rugby bosses have cited public health concerns
European rugby chiefs have reluctantly suspended the Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup after the French authorities decided it was “too great a public health risk” for Top 14 clubs to take part.
European Professional Club Rugby had hoped to avoid a break in the competitions by drawing up new coronavirus protocols, including the introduction of testing three days before matches, amid concern over the new Covid-19 variant.
However, they have now have called a halt with two rounds of group-stage fixtures still to play after the French government ordered its clubs to postpone their January fixtures.
An EPCR statement said: “Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce today (Monday, 11 January) that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended.”
Published: 11/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
The latest on the UK’s Covid vaccination programme
The push to vaccinate the UK against Covid-19 reaches a new level on Monday as several mass injection centres open amid dire warnings in all four nations over high levels of infection and struggling hospital systems. In what some commentators are calling the arrival of the cavalry in the fight against the coronavirus, here is a look at the new developments on the vaccination front.
– What’s the latest?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will today set out the Government’s new plan for delivering vaccines, which it is hailing as the “keystone of our exit out of the pandemic”.
A rollout strategy will also be detailed in Wales. In Scotland, the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is available in more than 1,000 locations from Monday. Northern Ireland already has the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines being distributed.
– What vaccines have been approved in the UK?
While hundreds of vaccines are under development worldwide, three have been approved for the UK. First came the Pfizer/NioNTech jab, then the Oxford/AstraZeneca, and last week, the third, made by US firm Moderna.
In total, the UK has ordered around 370 million doses of vaccines.
– What’s the difference?
The Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna treatments are called RNA vaccines (for ribonucleic acid). They inject part of the genetic code of the Covid-19 coronavirus directly into people’s cells – encased in tiny fat droplets to protect it – in order to spark the body’s immune system into learning what the virus is, and responding. Simply put, it starts making part of the virus inside the body, the immune system then learns to identify the virus, then spring into action to defeat it, to stop Covid-19 developing.
The trouble is, RNA vaccines need to be kept at extremely low temperatures – Pfizer’s at minus 70C, and Moderna’s at minus 20C – often requiring very careful delivery chains involving hi-tech freezers and dry ice.
The UK-developed Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is a viral vector vaccine. With these, scientists can add the RNA genetic code of the Covid-19 coronavirus to the genetic material of another virus – making a viral vector – which is then used in the vaccine. Once in people’s cells, this, like RNA vaccines, triggers the immune system to recognise the Covid-19 virus and do its work to defeat it.
Piggy-backing on another virus might cause people to worry about contracting some other form of infection. Scientists have avoided this risk by using harmless, genetically altered, viral vectors which cannot cause diseases.
While both RNA and viral vector are double-dose vaccines, the big plus with the latter is it can be stored at a regular fridge temperature, making delivery far easier, especially in poorer countries.
– How effective are they?
Trials have shown the Moderna vaccine to be 94.5% effective, and the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to be 95% effective.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to be around 70% effective, but again, its major advantage is ease of distribution.
– Who is first in line for the jabs?
The Government set out its priority groups on December 30. Top of the list are nine different categories, based mostly on age, referred to as Phase 1 of the programme. The list starts with residents in care homes for older adults plus their carers.
Second comes people over 80 plus frontline health and social care workers.
Third comes all people over 75, then people over 70 plus anyone classed as extremely vulnerable due to other clinical conditions, down to the ninth grouping of people aged from 50-54.
This top nine was determined from data showing the number of people in each category who would need to be vaccinated to prevent one death.
Phase 2 deals with people whose jobs put them at risk to Covid exposure. The Government says this could include first responders, the military, people employed in the justice system, teachers, transport workers and public servants who are critical to the fight against the pandemic.
– What’s happening on Monday?
Seven mass vaccination centres will open across England.
Ashton Gate football stadium in Bristol, Epsom racecourse in Surrey, the Excel Centre where London’s Nightingale hospital is based, Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham’s Millennium Point will offer jabs to people aged 80 and older, along with health and care staff.
These centres will be joined later this week by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total of sites to around 1,200.
The Government has set a target of having 15 million people vaccinated by mid-February, with every adult in the UK vaccinated by autumn.
Published: 11/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Indonesian Boeing 737-500 wreckage found
Indonesian divers on Sunday located parts of the wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 at a depth of 75ft (23m) in the Java Sea, a day after the aircraft with 62 people on board crashed soon after take-off from Jakarta.
“We received reports from the diver team that the visibility in the water is good and clear, allowing the discovery of some parts of the plane,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said in a statement.
“We are sure that is the point where the plane crashed,” he said, adding that the objects found included broken pieces of fuselage with aircraft registration parts.
Earlier, Indonesian rescuers pulled out body parts, pieces of clothing and scraps of metal from the ocean’s surface.
It remained unclear what had caused the crash. There was no sign of survivors.
“I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my deep condolences for this tragedy,” President Joko Widodo said.
Indonesian military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said teams on the Rigel navy ship equipped with a remote-operated vehicle had detected a signal from the aircraft, which fitted with the co-ordinates from the last contact made by the pilots before the plane went missing.
Fishermen in the area around Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta’s coast, reported hearing an explosion at about 2.30pm local time on Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water,” fisherman Solihin, who goes by one name, told the Associated Press by phone.
“It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
Mr Sumadi said Flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before it took off at 2.36pm. It disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 29,000ft (8,839,), he said.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.”
Sriwijaya Air president Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which was 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, was airworthy. He told reporters on Saturday that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.
“Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy,” Mr Jauwena told a news conference. He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not because of any damage.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transport accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, ageing infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
The plane involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight-control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another crash of a 737 Max 8 jet in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the grounding of the Max 8 for 20 months.
Published: 10/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Indonesian airliner loses contact on domestic flight
Indonesian officials say a Sriwijaya Air jet has lost contact with air traffic controllers after taking off from Jakarta.
A passenger jet carrying 62 people has lost contact with air traffic controllers after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on a domestic flight, officials said.
Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said the Boeing 737-500 operated by Sriwijaya Air took off from Jakarta at about 1.56pm and lost contact with the control tower at 2.40pm.
“The missing plane is currently under investigation and under co-ordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee,” Irawati said in a statement.
A statement released by the airline said the plane was on an estimated 90-minute flight from Jakarta to Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan province on Indonesia’s Borneo island.
There were 56 passengers and six crew members onboard.
A plane flying from Jakarta to Pontianak would spend most of the flight over the Java Sea. There was still no sign of the missing plane as night fell.
Published: 09/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Travellers must test negative for Covid to enter England and Scotland
All travellers to England and Scotland from international destinations will have to test negative for coronavirus before they can enter the country, it has been announced. Under plans set out by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, from next week passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.
Similar measures have been announced by the Scottish Government, while officials were said to be working closely with the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland on adopting them there.
Mr Shapps said the move was designed to prevent new variants of the disease which have emerged in countries such as South Africa and Denmark. Failure to comply will lead to an immediate £500 fine.
There will be a limited number of exemptions, including hauliers, children under 11, crews, arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland and for those travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver tests.
The move follows the decision to suspend all direct travel from South Africa following the emergence there of a new strain of coronavirus thought potentially to be even more virulent than the mutant variant which has led cases to surge in the UK.
Mr Shapps said: “We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of Covid-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally, we must take further precautions.
“Taken together with the existing mandatory self-isolation period for passengers returning from high-risk countries, pre-departure tests will provide a further line of defence – helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks.”
The announcement comes at a time when the latest lockdown restrictions across the four nations of the UK mean there is very little international travel.
The airline industry – which has been devastated by the pandemic – acknowledged the need for the restrictions but urged ministers to lift them as quickly as possible.
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said: “This should be a short-term, emergency measure only and once the rollout of the vaccine accelerates, the focus must be on returning travel to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK’s economic recovery.”
Under the new rules, passengers will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.
All passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result.
Hauliers crossing the Channel to France will also still need a negative test before departure following a decision by the French government on Thursday.
Meanwhile, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced lockdown restrictions in Wales will be strengthened in “key areas” to try to halt the spread of the new variant.
He warned that unless there was a “significant” drop in cases before January 29 – when the next three-week review of the regulations is carried out – school and college students will continue to learn online until the February half-term.
In Scotland places of worship across the mainland will close from Friday as the latest set of coronavirus restrictions continue across the country.
On Thursday, Boris Johnson pledged an “unprecedented national effort” to rollout the vaccine to nearly 14 million of the most vulnerable people by mid-February.
At a No 10 news conference, he acknowledged there would be some “lumpiness and bumpiness” but pledged that all elderly care residents will have been offered the jab by the end of January.
The pressures on the health service were laid bare by NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens who said there were 50% more patients in hospital with Covid than there were at the peak of the first wave in April, and 10,000 admissions since Christmas Day.
In Northern Ireland, hospitals have been cancelling planned operations due to a surge of patients with coronavirus.
There was however a ray of light with the news critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units will be able to receive new drugs that can “significantly” reduce the risk of death as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.
NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab – which are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis – under updated guidance due to be issued by the Government and the NHS to trusts across the UK.
Published: 08/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Police officer injured during US Capitol riots dies
An officer who was injured after responding to riots at the US Capitol in Washington DC has died, US Capitol Police said. Brian D Sicknick died due to injuries sustained while on duty, physically engaging with protesters at the US Capitol, the statement said.
Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm Democrat Joe Biden won the election.
Mr Sicknick returned to his division office and collapsed, the report said.
He was taken to hospital and later died.
The death will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and federal law enforcement.
Mr Sicknick joined the Capitol Police in 2008.
Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said the “tragic loss” of a Capitol Police officer “should remind all of us of the bravery of the law enforcement officers who protected us, our colleagues, congressional staff, the press corps and other essential workers″ during the hours-long takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.
Published: 08/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Police in Derbyshire are warning of a fake NHS text message has recently been circulating, informing people that they’re eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine. The scam message reads “we have identified that your are eligible to apply for your vaccine” and then prompts you to click on a link for further information or […]
The first of two food voucher runs have been completed by Derbyshire County Council after receiving almost £2.2m from the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support vulnerable families over the winter months. The second set of vouchers will be sent in February 2021 to cover the half term period. Approximately £1.66m of the £2.2m […]
Congress validates Joe Biden’s presidential victory
US Congress has formally validated Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on a day that saw a time-honoured ceremony become a nightmare of unprecedented political terror. The House and Senate has certified the Democrat’s electoral college win after a violent throng of pro-Trump rioters spent hours on Wednesday running rampant through the Capitol.
A woman was fatally shot, windows were smashed and the mob forced shaken legislators and aides to flee the building, shielded by Capitol police.
The rampage began shortly after Donald Trump repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud to thousands of rallying demonstrators he had invited to Washington. Many then surged to the Capitol after he incited them to go there as legislators debated the electoral votes.
More than six hours after the violence erupted, members resumed the session.
Thirteen Republican senators and dozens of party representatives had planned to force debate and votes on the ballots in up to six states.
The assault on the Capitol made some Republicans squeamish about trying to overturn Mr Biden’s win, and challenges were lodged only against Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both efforts lost overwhelmingly.
Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump by 306-232 electoral votes and will be inaugurated on January 20.
Published: 07/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub
US Senate resumes debating GOP challenge to Joe Biden’s election
The Senate has resumed debating the Republican challenge against Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, more than six hours after pro-Trump mobs attacked the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee. Scores of Republican representatives and 13 GOP senators had planned to object on Wednesday to the electoral votes of perhaps six states that backed Mr Biden.
President Donald Trump has falsely insisted that the election was marred by fraud and that he actually won.
He reiterated those claims in remarks to thousands of protesters outside the White House early on Wednesday and goaded them to march to the Capitol, which many of them did.
The mayhem had forced the House and Senate to abruptly end the day’s debates and flee to safety under the protection of police. And it prompted bipartisan outrage as many lawmakers blamed Mr Trump for fostering the violence.
As the Senate reconvened, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said President Donald Trump “bears a great deal of the blame” for the actions of the mob, adding the events “did not happen spontaneously”.
Mr Schumer also said January 6, 2021, will “live forever in infamy” and will be a stain on the democracy.
He said: “The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation’s capital, egged them on.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win will show the world it will not back down.
She said: “Despite the shameful actions of today … we will be part of a history that shows the world what America is made of.”
Multiple Republican senators have reversed course and now say they will not object to congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Senators Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Braun of Indiana and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia all said in light of the violence they would stand down from planned objections to Mr Biden’s win.
Ms Loeffler said that the “violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress” were a “direct attack” on the “sanctity of the American democratic process”.
All three had previously signed on to Mr Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud to explain his defeat.
Both the Senate and the House voted overwhelmingly to reject an objection to Mr Biden’s win in Arizona.
Other objections to results from Georgia, Michigan and Nevada fizzled without adequate support from senators.
An objection to Pennsylvania backed by Republican senators Josh Hawley and Scott Perry forced deliberations, though senators quickly derailed the attempt to overturn the state’s support for the Democrat.
Published: 07/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub