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Thousands of turkeys culled after bird flu outbreak at Yorkshire farm

More than 10,000 turkeys will be culled at a farm in North Yorkshire following a bird flu outbreak.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said avian influenza poses little risk to public health and this strain of the virus does not affect food safety.

All 10,500 birds at the turkey fattening site in Northallerton will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease, and a 3km and 10km Temporary Control Zone has been put in place to stop the disease spreading.

Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency have assured consumers that avian influenzas pose a very low risk to people, and that properly cooked poultry products including eggs are safe to eat.

A detailed investigation is in progress to determine the most likely source of this outbreak, but Defra has said it does not anticipate any impact on the supplies of turkeys or other birds over Christmas.

Wild birds migrating from mainland Europe during the winter period can spread the disease to poultry and other captive birds.

As a result of outbreaks in the UK, new restrictions were declared nationwide to prevent the spread of the “highly infectious” flu earlier in November.

Published: 29/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Clinically extremely vulnerable given same priority as over 70s on vaccine list
People at very high risk from coronavirus, who were made to shield during the pandemic, have been given the same priority as the over 70s in the queue to receive a vaccine.
The provisional vaccine priority list published by Public Health England has placed people aged 18 or older who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable in the same priority group as those aged 70 and over.

It means people with conditions such as blood, bone or lung cancer, chronic kidney disease and Down’s Syndrome have been placed in priority group four of nine.

Gemma Peters, chief executive of charity Blood Cancer UK, said: “This is extremely good news.

“Putting people with blood cancer at the same priority level as those aged over 70 better reflects the fact that they are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

She added: “Any vaccine might not work as well in people with blood cancer, so vaccinating the people around them is a vital part of protecting them.

“We are very grateful to the Government for having listened to the voices of people with blood cancer and other health conditions on this.

“It is also important to remember that this is not definitely the final priority list.

“No vaccines have been approved yet, and we’re waiting for confirmation that any vaccine will be safe and effective for people with blood cancer.”

The updated list, which is subject to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval of vaccine supply, also lists the conditions that fall in priority group six for at-risk adults aged 18 to 65.

These include diabetes, chronic heart disease and morbid obesity.

The interim guidance, advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says the order of priority should be:

1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers

2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers

3. All those 75 years of age and over

4. All those 70 years of age and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age

5. All those 65 years of age and over

6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group

7. All those aged 60 and over

8. All those 55 and over

9. All those aged 50 and over

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

University lowers entry requirements to ‘relieve pressure’ on students
The University of Surrey will reduce its entry requirements by one grade for most undergraduate courses starting next year in recognition of the disruption to education caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grade requirements will be lowered to help “relieve the pressure and anxiety” faced by young people who will have seen their learning affected by the pandemic across two academic years.

Entry grades will be reduced by one grade for the majority of undergraduate programmes starting in September 2021, except for regulated courses such as Veterinary Medicine, foundation year courses, four-year integrated masters programmes and audition-based performance courses.

Lizzie Burrows, director of recruitment and admissions at the University of Surrey, said: “We are taking this action now to relieve the pressure and anxiety facing this year’s applicants, as they experience ongoing disruption and uncertainty surrounding exams and assessment of their learning.

“By taking this step, we can provide one additional element of certainty and reassurance that these students will be protected from unfair disadvantage as a result of the impact of the pandemic.”

Earlier this month, the University of Birmingham also revealed it planned to reduce entry requirements for 2021 by one grade in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on A-level students.

Education minister Nick Gibb said in the House of Commons last week that the Government was working to ensure that 2021 exams are “fair” and more details will be published “shortly”.

Experts have said that GCSE and A-level exams should be replaced with teacher assessments next year amid coronavirus disruption.

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent Sage), chaired by former Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, is calling for all primary school tests to be cancelled and for secondary school exams to be replaced with assessments by teachers with suitable moderation.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Vulnerable groups to be offered free vitamin D deliveries
More than 2.5 million at-risk people in England will be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the Government, officials have said.
Care homes in England will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday.

People on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will be offered the chance to opt in for a supply to their homes in a letter.

The free deliveries will start in January, providing four months worth of vitamin D to up to 2.7 million people.

Public Health England (PHE) advises everyone to take 10 microgrammes of vitamin D per day between October and early March, particularly the elderly, people who do not go outside and those with dark skin.

Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because, from about late March to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, but between October and early March people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Additionally, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures, many may have a higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Because of the incredible sacrifices made by the British people to control the virus, many of us have spent more time indoors this year and could be deficient in vitamin D.

“The Government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free supply to last them through the darker winter months.

“This will support their general health, keep their bones and muscles healthy and crucially reduce the pressure on our NHS.”

Anyone who can purchase vitamin D supplements is advised to start taking them now, even if eligible for a delivery next year.

Research is ongoing to investigate the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 protection, including a project at Queen Mary University investigating if correcting people’s vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.

Mr Hancock has asked PHE and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to re-review existing evidence on the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 “to ensure we explore every potential opportunity to beat this virus”.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Health experts fear rapid tests may distract from vaccine work
Ambitious rapid coronavirus testing plans for England threaten to become a distraction from other key goals such as the roll-out of a vaccine, prominent health officials have warned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised the fast mass community testing systems conducted in Liverpool – which gave results in around 20 minutes without the need for a laboratory – will be replicated in all tier three areas after lockdown ends. This covers areas with a combined population of some 23 million people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Liverpool – where 300,000 people have been tested in the pilot scheme – had shown how effective the measure can be.

Mr Johnson signalled on Thursday that mass community testing was the way out of Tier 3 restrictions, saying it involved “everybody working together to kick Covid out”.

But the Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said in a joint statement this would be a massive undertaking that would stretch the country’s resources in the fight against Covid-19 such that other priorities may be compromised.

“Firstly, substantial resources – human and financial – are needed to deliver lateral flow testing at scale,” the two bodies said.

“The additional logistical capacity provided to Liverpool to set up and manage testing sites alone has been enormous, and it is difficult to envisage how or even whether this could be replicated at the pace being proposed across the country.

“This threatens to be a distraction from other activities, like planning and rolling out vaccines.”

The statement added: “There is an enormous price tag attached to this programme, and the resources and capacity needed come at a time of overwhelming and competing priorities, including making sure all those who are symptomatic get tested and self-isolate to planning and rolling out vaccines.”

The two groups said that in terms of current testing measures, making the NHS’s Test and Trace systems more effective must remain the top focus.

“Improving the existing Test and Trace Service so that people who have symptoms are rapidly tested and supported to self-isolate, and their contacts reached, must remain the top focus in relation to testing,” they said.

“A high performing Test and Trace Service needs to move fast, be led by local intelligence, and prioritise those groups and settings where Covid-19 can either spread quickly and/or harm the most vulnerable.”

The statement added: “The key priority needs to be targeted community testing … in settings or locations of higher risk of transmission or where the consequence of infection is higher.”

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

All hospitals in England could be overwhelmed without new tiers, minister warns
Every hospital in England could be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases if new tier restrictions are not introduced, Michael Gove has warned, as he seeks to quell a Tory backbench rebellion over the measures.
The Cabinet Office Minister, writing in The Times, urged MPs to “take responsibility for difficult decisions” to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid anger from some Conservatives that much of England will face stringent restrictions.

Mr Gove said the decision to impose the restrictions was necessary to “pull the handbrake” and avoid the “disaster” of NHS hospitals – and private sector and newly-built Nightingale hospitals – becoming filled to capacity with only Covid patients and emergency cases.

“Keeping our hospitals open, available and effective was not just crucial to dealing with Covid-19. It was imperative for the health of the whole nation,” Mr Gove wrote.

“But the only way to ensure we can take care of cancer patients, administer radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and help stroke victims and treat heart attacks is by protecting the NHS,” he wrote, adding this could only be done by reducing the spread of the virus and thus limiting the number of Covid patients in hospitals.

“And just as we want to reduce Covid-19 infections to save lives, so reducing them is the key to saving the economy. Think for a moment what would happen to our economy if we allowed infections to reach such a level that our NHS was overwhelmed,” Mr Gove wrote.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 99% of England will enter Tier 2 or 3, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors when the four-week national lockdown lifts on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a Commons showdown with his own MPs when they vote on the measures next week, which could leave him dependent on Labour support to get them approved.

The chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, was among critics of the restrictions, accusing the Government of infringing people’s “fundamental human rights”.

Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt “frustrated”, particularly in areas with low infection rates which now face tighter restrictions than before the lockdown.

It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in four NHS regions of England reached higher totals this month than during the first peak, with figures in both the South West and North East and Yorkshire still above those seen in the spring.

Latest data from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard show there were 938 Covid-19 patients in hospital in the South West as of Thursday, down slightly from a high of 968 on Tuesday but higher than the spring peak of 840 on April 14.

Hospitals in the North East and Yorkshire saw a high of 3,400 Covid-19 patients on November 16, which had fallen to 2,925 as of Thursday but is still higher than the peak in spring of 2,567 on April 9.

Both the Midlands and North West also saw totals this month surpass the first wave peak, with 3,150 reported on Monday compared with 3,101 on April 10 in the former and 3,059 on November 16 compared with 2,890 on April 13 in the latter. The figures in both regions have since fallen back below spring peak levels.

Meanwhile, it emerged that scientists advising the Government said that any relaxation of restrictions over Christmas will result in a “large” rise in coronavirus transmission rates and prevalence “could easily double”.

In a set of documents released on Friday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said “substantial mixing” of people over a short period of time represents a “significant risk for widespread transmission”.

The scientists made their warning in a meeting on November 18 – a few days before the Government announced that there would be a limited relaxation of restrictions at Christmas.

They said: “The prevalence could easily double during a few days of the festive season, with further multiplicative increases as new infections go back to their ‘routine’ networks.”

Mr Johnson confirmed earlier this week that three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27, but he told families they must make a “personal judgment” about the risks to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.

In other developments:

– The infection rate in the UK appears to be slowing, with the latest R number thought to be between 0.9 and 1.

– The Government said a further 521 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, and there were a further 16,022 lab-confirmed cases.

– A provisional vaccine priority list published by Public Health England gives people who were made to shield during the pandemic the same priority as the over 70s to receive a jab.

– The Government appointed Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy as a Christmas travel tsar in a bid to avoid transport chaos during the festive period.

– Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, the Arcadia Group, is on the brink of collapse, with about 15,000 jobs at risk.

– The Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said improving the test and trace system must remain the Government’s priority in relation to testing, and said “we must be up front” about what is not yet known about rapid tests.

Elsewhere, The Guardian reported that hospitals in England have been told to prepare for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in as soon as 10 days.

According to the paper, hospitals could receive the first deliveries of a vaccine created by Pfizer/BioNTech between December 7 and December 9.

This vaccine, which reported early results suggesting the jab is 95% effective, needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Chesterfield have announced the signing of Dutch forward Akwasi Asante from Rowe’s former club Gloucester City for an undisclosed fee. The 28-year-old will look to continue his fine goalscoring record from Gloucester where he has scored eight goals this season from ten games. Asante also impressed at Chester where he netted nineteen times in twenty-nine […]

PM facing rebellion as majority set for tough post-lockdown restrictions
The decision to impose tough restrictions on 99% of England has prompted a furious reaction with Boris Johnson facing a Tory revolt over his post-lockdown plans. More than 55 million people will be placed into Tier 2 and Tier 3 measures when the second national lockdown ends on December 2, meaning mixing between households indoors will effectively be banned for the vast majority of the country.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – accounting for little more than 1% of England’s population – face the lightest Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, which accounts for 41.5% of the population, or 23.3 million people.

The majority of authorities – including London – will be in Tier 2, which will cover 57.3% of the country, or 32 million people.

Out of those areas to go into Tier 3, only eight of 119 have reported a rise in cases.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, said the decision would make it “harder” to push the measures through Parliament, while the Daily Mail suggested up to 70 Government backbenchers were prepared to rebel in a vote on the regulations next week.

He said: “By forcing so much of the country into those really tough restrictions, especially places where the rates of infection have been falling to much lower levels, I think the Government has given itself a much harder job.”

In Tier 1, the rule of six applies indoors and outdoors but in Tier 2 there will be a ban on households mixing indoors, and pubs and restaurants will only be able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.

Tier 3 measures mean a ban on households mixing, except in limited circumstances such as in parks.

In these areas, bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area. Shops and schools will remain open in all tiers.

Some MPs were left angered after seeing their areas escalated up two tiers compared to their status before the November lockdown.

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox and John Penrose, husband of NHS Test and Trace boss Baroness Dido Harding, criticised the move to place their North Somerset constituencies into Tier 3, having previously only been in Tier 1.

They said the reason used – due to the amount of workers in the area who commute to Bristol which has seen a recent spike in Covid-19 cases – “isn’t right or fair”.

In Kent there was dismay at putting the whole county into Tier 3 when there were discrepancies in the infection rate across the area.

With parts of the county bordering Tier 2 areas, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale told Sky News he feared people would “skip over the boundary” to go to visit a pub.

The Government has promised to publish an impact assessment of the measures before MPs vote on them on December 1, following complaints economic harm and the knock-on health impacts of restrictions were not being properly considered – a point made by the Covid Research Group formed of lockdown-sceptical Tories.

The Prime Minister, due to visit a science laboratory in Wiltshire on Friday, told a Downing Street press conference that “your tier is not your destiny” and cited the planned extension of mass community testing, as seen in Liverpool, as a possible “escape” from the toughest measures.

A review of the tiers is scheduled for December 16 but the Times reported the Government is not expecting to make any changes until the new year.

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said if people wanted to see their family at Christmas then they had to accept harsher rules.

“People want to have five days of fun over Christmas. If they want that wriggle room, they really have to accept stricter restrictions in the run-up to Christmas,” he told Newsnight.

Despite a planned relaxation of restrictions during the festive period, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty warned the public against hugging and kissing elderly relatives “if you want them to survive to be hugged again”.

In other developments:

– A mass testing centre is being set up at the University of St Andrews in Scotland on Friday to offer students Covid-19 tests ahead of the Christmas holiday.

– The latest figures show a further 498 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, and there were another 17,555 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

– Just 60.3% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending November 18.

Published: 27/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Diego Maradona buried amid outpouring of grief in Argentina
Diego Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people — a stark contrast to earlier in the day when tens of thousands of weeping fans filed past his coffin for hours in an observance that mixed head-of-state-like honours with the chaos of a rowdy stadium.

Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery for the final religious ceremony and burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.

Fans waving Argentina flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security. Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it was stopped by traffic.

The earlier viewing at the Argentinian presidential mansion was halted shortly before 6pm, 12 hours after it started, as Maradona’s family wished and the body of the Argentinian icon was taken away for burial, frustrating many who were waiting to pay their respects and causing new tensions at the gates of the cemetery.

Fans, some draped in the national flag, sang soccer anthems as they formed a line that stretched more than 20 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo, where Argentinians gathered to celebrate the Maradona-led triumph in the 1986 World Cup.

But with the time for viewing the coffin at the presidential palace drawing short, police moved to cut off the back end of the crowd, enraging fans who hurled rocks and other objects at officers, who responded with rubber bullets.

The crowd overwhelmed organisers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona’s family to end the public visitation. The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer’s name on a paperboard by the window.

Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona’s fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a soccer stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.

“Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people,” people chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires. The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.

Hundreds of fans blocked entry to the cemetery before the arrival of Maradona’s casket, dancing and chanting as police moved in to open a way. The crowd continued making noise after the final ceremony began.

Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation.

While the viewing bore the hallmarks of a state funeral, with Maradona’s casket laid out in the presidential palace, the atmosphere often was that of a soccer stadium — chanting, singing, pushing and the occasional whiff of alcohol.

His coffin was draped with the Argentina flag and shirts bearing his famed No. 10 from the national team and the Boca Juniors club, with other jerseys tossed around it by passing admirers.

President Alberto Fernandez appeared at midday and placed on the casket a jersey from the Argentinos Juniors team, where Maradona started his career in 1976.

Published: 27/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Chesterfield FC appoint James Rowe as new manager The 37-year-old has made the move to the Technique from Gloucester City who he has left at the top of the National League North. He will be joined by George Foster who will be his assistant and has signed a deal until the end of the 2022/23 […]


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