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PM discussed Brexit and Good Friday Agreement with Biden, No 10 source says
Boris Johnson sought to allay Joe Biden’s concerns that Brexit could damage the Northern Ireland peace process during their first call since the US president-elect triumphed over Donald Trump, according to a No 10 source.

The Prime Minister was among the first world leaders to secure a call with the Democrat since his victory in the November 3 election, which the Republican incumbent is controversially continuing to contest.

The former vice president’s warnings over Brexit have prompted concerns that Mr Johnson may have a strained relationship with the man who will take over the White House in January.

But they are understood to have spoken for around 25 minutes from 4pm on Tuesday in a wide-ranging conversation on trade, Nato and democracy, ahead of Mr Biden speaking to Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

Mr Biden’s transition team said he thanked the Prime Minister for his congratulations and expressed his desire to “strengthen the special relationship” and “reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday Agreement”.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson “warmly congratulated” Mr Biden on his victory, which Mr Trump is contesting with baseless allegations of electoral fraud, but the official account did not specifically mention Brexit.

However, a No 10 source said: “They talked about the importance of implementing Brexit in such a way that upholds the Good Friday Agreement, and the PM assured the president-elect that would be the case.”

A swift call with the incoming president is highly-coveted but it will be particularly welcomed by Mr Johnson amid concerns the pair could face diplomatic difficulties.

The pair have never met before, but Mr Biden has likened the Prime Minister to a “physical and emotional clone” of Mr Trump.

And, unlike Mr Trump, his successor is not a natural ally of Brexit.

Mr Biden has warned that a trade deal with the US is “contingent” on there being no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland amid unease over the Prime Minister’s controversial Brexit legislation.

The Democrat also warned that the peace process must not “become a casualty of Brexit” in a warning over the controversial UK Internal Market Bill.

In other controversies, allies of Mr Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president, have not forgiven Mr Johnson for highlighting the first African American president’s “part-Kenyan” heritage, claiming it had given him an “ancestral dislike of the British empire”.

The call with Mr Johnson also came after it emerged his earlier tweet congratulating Mr Biden had the word “Trump” faintly concealed in it.

Downing Street said a “technical error” meant parts of an alternative congratulatory statement for the Republican were overlaid on the final graphic.

Later in the day, the Taoiseach said he too held a “warm and engaging call” with Mr Biden, who speaks proudly of his Irish heritage.

Mr Martin said that the president-elect “underlined his commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Biden later told reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that his message to world leaders was “America is back in the game” and described the phone calls as “fulsome and energetic”.

Downing Street’s account also said the Prime Minister discussed trade with the Mr Biden, as he seeks to negotiate a post-Brexit deal with Washington.

No 10 said the pair discussed Nato, which Mr Trump routinely railed against during his single term as president, which continues into January.

No 10 also said the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was another topic of discussion, with both men using the “build back better” slogan, and that Mr Johnson invited Mr Biden to the United Nations climate crisis summit being hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November next year.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister added: “I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities – from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.”

The Prime Minister was also said to have sent his congratulations to Kamala Harris, who made history in becoming the first woman of colour to be elected vice-president.

Mr Biden had a series of calls with European leaders on Tuesday, also speaking to German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron. The order of the calls was not clear.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke to Mr Biden on Monday, in what was reported to be his first call with a world leader since his election.

Published: 11/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

University students to be allowed to travel home in December in Christmas boost
University students in England will be allowed to travel home in early December so families can be reunited for Christmas under Government guidance for the coronavirus pandemic. Institutions will be told by the Department for Education (DfE) to end in-person teaching and switch to online classes so they can return between December 3-9.

The boost for students comes as the NHS was preparing to be able to start delivering a potential Covid-19 vaccine from the beginning of next month in the event it is approved.

Under guidance published on Wednesday, universities will be told to set staggered departure dates during the “student travel window” so they can safely return home.

It is hoped the risk of transmission will be reduced as students will be travelling after the four-week period of national restrictions in England.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “The mass movement of students across the country at the end of term presents a really significant challenge within the Covid-19 response.

“The measures announced today will help minimise that risk and help students get home to their families as safely as possible for Christmas. It is crucial that students follow the guidance in order to protect their families and the communities they return to.”

Meanwhile, the Government announced that 532 more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, the highest figure reported in a single day since May 12 and brings the UK total to 49,770.

Matt Hancock said the UK’s medicines regulator could approve the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines within days of a licence application being submitted due to rolling analysis of the data.

The Health Secretary told the Commons the focus was on delivering the jabs if they pass safety tests and are approved by regulators, with a further vaccine possibly coming next summer.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said the military and NHS staff are on standby to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine across the UK from the start of December and will work “seven days a week”, with GPs, new vaccination centres and pharmacists all playing a role.

Pop-up vaccination clinics are also expected to be used in some areas.

But the Royal College of GPs questioned which work they should stop in order to fulfil the vaccine programme.

Its chairman, Professor Martin Marshall, said: “The workload and resource pressures that were facing general practice before the pandemic still exist and they need to be addressed.

“GPs and our teams won’t be able to deliver this programme alone.”

Mr Hancock said there were many hurdles to overcome before the “vast task” of vaccination could begin, including thorough examination of clinical trial data.

But he said the NHS was leading the work to get a vaccine to those most in need as soon as possible, including the elderly and health and care staff, though most other people will not get a jab until 2021.

The roll-out of a vaccine would ease the pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid having to extend the national lockdown in England when it expires on December 2.

Senior Conservative backbenchers, including former Brexit minister Steve Baker, have formed a “Covid recovery group” to resist such a move.

Experts hope that the first phase of vaccination of priority groups could prevent the vast majority of deaths from Covid-19.

Asked whether a vaccine could be available by Christmas, Mr Hancock said that was “absolutely a possibility”, adding that vaccination clinics would be open on bank holidays and weekends.

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the UK population.

It expects 10 million of these doses to arrive in the UK before the end of this year, with people given two doses, 21 days apart.

Published: 11/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Nation to pay respects to war dead on Armistice Day
Homes across the UK will fall silent in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Armistice Day, as the coronavirus pandemic limits public commemorations. People have been encouraged to pause on their doorsteps or by windows for the traditional two minutes silence at 11am on Wednesday.

Covid-19 related-restrictions on gatherings and travel have disrupted remembrance events this year, forcing last weekend’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph to be scaled back.

An invitation-only service due to be held at London’s Westminster Abbey on Wednesday will mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior.

The televised service, to be attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will commemorate the funeral of an unknown British serviceman whose body was brought back from Northern France.

He was buried at the west end of the abbey’s nave on November 11 2020 to represent all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was unknown or body never found.

Each year the two minutes Armistice Day silence marks the end of that four-year conflict, after an agreement between Germany and the Allies took effect at the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918.

The service and silence will be broadcast live on BBC One from 10:30am and will be lead by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle.

It will also feature an address from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Justin Welby.

Chief of the defence staff, the professional head of the armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter said: “The burial one hundred years ago of the Unknown Warrior was a seminal moment for the British people.

“To many of those who stood in silence or who made the pilgrimage to Westminster, he was not unknown at all.

“His very anonymity meant that he was the father, husband, son or brother who never came home from the war.

“Today the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior reminds us all that war has a cost and that we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives for our free and open way of life.“

Wednesday also marks 100 years since the inauguration of the permanent version of Cenotaph memorial on Whitehall in central London.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph and the burial of the Unknown Warrior are a poignant reminder of the scale of loss suffered in the First World War and the continued importance of coming together as a nation to remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.”

Elsewhere on Wednesday, more than 100 poppy wreaths will be placed on board early-morning train services heading to London.

Great Western Railway has joined forces with military charities, local authorities and military bases for the “Poppies to Paddington” operation which will involve nine train services and more than 60 stations on its network.

On arrival to Paddington station, the wreaths will be placed at its war memorial on platform one in time for 11am.

Towards the end of the day, people are also being encouraged to look to the night sky from their homes in another collective moment of remembrance.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which cares for war memorials and cemeteries around the world, is calling on the public to take a moment to look up at the stars at 7pm.

CWGC has launched a free online tool on its website allowing people to “name a star” in tribute to someone who died or served during the two world wars.

Powerful searchlights will also be shone into the night sky at 7pm as a symbolic lights of remembrance beamed from the CWGC’s Plymouth Naval Memorial, the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, as well as war grave plots at Cardiff Cathays Cemetery and Edinburgh Rosebank Cemetery.

Published: 11/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Biden defends health care law as court mulls its fate
President-elect Joe Biden is championing the Obama administration’s signature health law as it goes before the Supreme Court in a case that could lead to it being overturned. He will deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, the same day the high court will hear arguments on its merits.

The court ruled eight years ago to leave the essential components of the law known as Obamacare intact, but is now controlled 6-3 by a conservative majority after President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The speech reflects the importance Mr Biden is placing on health care as he prepares to take office in January amid the worst pandemic in more than a century.

He is launching his transition process this week as the virus surges across the country. The US surpassed 10 million cases Monday.

Mr Biden also focused on health care on Monday as he pleaded with Americans to put aside their political differences and wear masks to protect themselves and other people from the virus.

“We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives, American lives,” Mr Biden said. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”

The suit challenging the health care law was brought in America’s largest conservative state, Texas, and is backed by Mr Trump and senior Republicans.

It asks the Supreme Court to declare the law’s mandate to buy health insurance unconstitutional because Congress had previously repealed the penalties for non-compliance.

After serving as President Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, Mr Biden has pledged to build on the Affordable Care Act while championing a “public option” that would allow more people to opt in to government-sponsored health insurance even as millions of others could stick with their current, usually employer-based coverage.

But such changes could be difficult to enact if Democrats fail to win a majority in the Senate. Control of the chamber hinges on two run-off races in Georgia that will be decided in January.

Published: 10/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Toothbrushing habits linked with spread of COVID-19 infections, research finds
Sharing toothbrushes and other ill-advised oral hygiene measures could play an influential role in spreading COVID-19, according to new research.
The latest study showed that sharing a toothbrush, toothpaste, the same container for the brush and not changing the brush after the viral process, are all possible routes of cross-contamination of coronavirus.

The investigation monitored hundreds of families over the course of 15 days and found over half (55%) of COVID-positive people who share a toothbrush passed the virus onto other family members in the household.

Latest figures collected by the charity show that around one-in-four (26%) Brits are openly willing the share their toothbrush with others.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes oral hygiene habits like sharing toothbrushes are linked to the transmission of many diseases and should be discouraged.

Dr Carter says: “There are many hundreds of different bacteria and viruses in our mouths and those sharing a toothbrush could be passing these on to others.

“While this might be something relatively harmless, such as a common cold or cold sore, if the person you are sharing with is infected with hepatitis B, HIV and now coronavirus, these could also be passed on via the toothbrush, with severe health consequences.”

In addition to sharing a toothbrush, the research published in BMC Oral Health, discovered an even greater risk for families leaving their toothbrushes in the same container. Two-in-three (66%) people who tested positive for coronavirus and who share a toothbrush container with family members, passed the virus on to them.

Further findings showed the same tube of toothpaste should also not be used between members of the same family, as this is another way of facilitating cross-contamination. Households with a COVID-positive member increase their risk of spreading the virus by almost a third (30%) if they share the same tube of toothpaste.

The study also found that people who disinfect their brush in an antibacterial mouthwash reduce their chances of passing the virus onto family members in the household by more than a third (39%).

“Storing toothbrushes in the same container has always been a bad idea, but today this separation has become a real necessity,” adds Dr Carter. “This is especially important if a person has the virus without the symptoms, as they could be unknowingly spreading the virus to loved ones.

“It is important to store your toothbrush away from others, in a dry place and with the brush head pointing upwards. This allows the bristles to dry faster and hinders the spread of any virus or bacteria that may be lingering on the brush. If you know you are infected, soaking your brush in an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing could also help kill any bacteria and viruses on the toothbrush.”

In the same investigation, more than half (54%) of those who did not change their toothbrush after being tested positive for COVID-19, passed the virus on to other people in their household.

The Oral Health Foundation usually recommends changing your toothbrush or brush head every three months, or when the bristles become worn. The charity is now advising anybody who has had coronavirus, or symptoms of the virus, to change their toothbrush.

Dr Carter says: “As a population we are taking unprecedented measures, both personally and professionally, to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Changing the toothbrush, along with other simple oral hygiene actions, are relatively easy steps you can take to reduce possible spread of the COVID-19.”

The study also found that tongue cleaning was the most effective oral hygiene habit in reducing the spread of the virus.

The paper noted that mouth is an early target of infection for COVID-19, especially the tongue, which is a great reservoir of viral germs.

The authors of the study believe that if effectively implemented, hygiene in the home and in daily life has the potential to reduce infection rates and antibiotic consumption.

Tooth brushing, interdental cleaning and tongue cleaning are all deemed essential in order to reduce the presence of the virus in the mouth.

Published: 10/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Pandemic took more jobs before second lockdown
Around 33,000 people were dropped from payrolls at UK employers last month, as the pandemic continues to weigh on the economy. It helped push the unemployment rate to 4.8%, up 0.9 percentage points on a year earlier, according to official estimates.

The Office for National Statistics revealed that payrolled employment was lower in October than it had been in September, and has dropped by 782,000 since March this year, when the pandemic struck.

In the three months to September, redundancies were at a record high of 314,000, the official statisticians revealed.

It came even as payrolls increased slightly in September itself.

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: “The latest monthly tax numbers show over three-quarters of a million fewer employees on the payroll in October than in March.

“Unemployment grew sharply in the three months to September, with many of those who lost their jobs earlier in the pandemic beginning to look for work again. The number of redundancies has also reached a record high.

“Vacancies continued to recover from the very low numbers seen earlier in the year. However, these figures predate the reintroduction of restrictions in many parts of the UK.”

Published: 10/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Rollout of Covid-19 vaccine could start before Christmas
A coronavirus vaccine could start being distributed by Christmas after a jab developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer cleared a “significant hurdle”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said initial results suggested the vaccine was 90% effective at protecting people from Covid-19 but warned these were “very, very early days”.

The announcement from Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech was hailed by scientists as a significant breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus, while stock markets rallied on the news with the FTSE 100 jumping more than 5.5%.

It came with England less than a week into Lockdown 2.0, while Wales eased up from a firebreak lockdown on Monday.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England said practices would “stand ready” to deliver the vaccine, with clinics potentially running from 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told a Downing Street press conference he was “hopeful” there would be “some vaccine by Christmas”.

He said: “Frankly, we’re in the middle of the second wave, and I don’t see the vaccine making any difference for the wave we are now in.

“I’m hopeful that it may prevent future waves, but this one we have to battle through to the end without a vaccine.

“This is a very important scientific breakthrough. I am certain of that.

“I am hopeful because of all that, but not yet certain that we could begin to see some vaccine by Christmas.”

In other developments:

– Baroness Harding, the head of the Test and Trace programme, is due to be quizzed by MPs on Tuesday. It comes after more than 40% of close contacts of people who tested positive in England were not contacted through the system in the week ending October 28.

– Ofsted found some youngsters had lapsed back into nappies and forgotten how to eat with a knife and fork, while older children now lack “stamina” in reading and writing due to pandemic.

– A study from researchers at the University of Oxford suggested having coronavirus may be linked to an increase in a person’s risk of psychiatric disorders, and that having a psychiatric disorder is linked to an increased chance of contracting Covid-19.

– In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce the results of a review of the new five-tier system of measures – but said it was “highly unlikely” restrictions would be significantly eased this week.

– President Donald Trump claimed Pfizer announced the vaccine after the US election as they did not “have the courage to do it before”, tweeting: “The @US_FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later – As I’ve said all along!”

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the UK population.

But Mr Johnson said it would be a mistake to “slacken our resolve at such a critical moment”.

Government figures show 49,238 people have died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and the number of cases has reached 1,213,363.

Mr Johnson said: “The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90% effective at protecting people against the virus.

“But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data, and these findings also need to be peer-reviewed.

“So we have cleared one significant hurdle but there are several more to go before we know the vaccine can be used.”

Data released about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not indicate how long immunity lasts, but suggests protection is achieved 28 days after vaccination.

It is also not yet known how well the vaccine works in the most high risk, elderly people.

Other experts have said that should a vaccine become available early next year, it may take more than a year for everyone in the UK to be immunised against Covid-19.

Published: 10/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Collins Dictionary names ‘lockdown’ its word of the year for 2020
Collins Dictionary has named “lockdown” as its Word of the Year 2020 after a sharp increase in its usage amid the coronavirus pandemic. The dictionary said it added the term because it “encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus”.

Collins’ lexicographers registered over a quarter of a million usages of “lockdown” during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.

According to the dictionary, lockdown is defined as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.

It came into common parlance as Government’s around the world responded to the spread of Covid-19 in early 2020.

Collins’ annual 10-strong list of additions is dominated by words and phrases relating to the pandemic, including “furlough”, “key worker”, “self-isolate” and “social distancing”.

“Coronavirus” itself also features.

“Key worker” has seen a 60-fold increase in usage reflecting the importance attributed to professions considered to be essential to society.

Social and political upheavals such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties also influence the list.

Following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US, the abbreviation “BLM” features after registering an increase in usage of 581% by Collins.

“Megxit”, which is modelled on the word “Brexit” – Collins’ Word of the Year 2016, makes the list following Harry and Meghan’s move to the US.

“TikToker” describes someone who shares content on the TikTok social media platform, while “mukbang” originated in South Korea and describes a host who broadcasts videos of themselves eating a large quantity of food.

Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins, said: “Language is a reflection of the world around us and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic.

“We have chosen ‘lockdown’ as our word of the year because it encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus.

“Lockdown has affected the way we work, study, shop, and socialize.

“With many countries entering a second lockdown, it is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world.”

Last year’s word of the year was “climate strike” marking a year in which 17-year-old Greta Thunberg led a global environmental movement.

All the words of the year can be found on CollinsDictionary.com” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>http://CollinsDictionary.com”>CollinsDictionary.com.

Published: 10/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Covid-19 breakthrough: Vaccine is ‘more than 90% effective’
Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020
A major breakthrough has been announced in the search for a coronavirus vaccine, with the jab from Pfizer found to be more than 90% effective.

The pharmaceutical giant and its partner BioNTech said interim results showed their jab could prevent people developing Covid-19.

Dr Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and chief executive, said: “Today is a great day for science and humanity.”

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, said: “This news made me smile from ear to ear.”

The FTSE 100 jumped more than 5.5% on the news, adding £82 billion to the value of its shares in the market’s best day since March.

The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

Downing Street welcomed the results as “promising” and said the UK will have procured 10 million doses by the end of the year to be given out if it is approved.

The UK has secured 40 million doses in total of the vaccine.

Published: 09/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Chesterfield is set to become a mental health friendly space thanks to funding from the county council. Derbyshire County Council is providing up to £45,000 of funding for the delivery of a two-year project aiming to make the town a more mental health friendly place. Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, Councillor […]

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