Charles and Camilla receive their Covid-19 jabs
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have had their first Covid-19 vaccinations, Clarence House has said. Heir to the throne Charles, 72, and Camilla, 73, are, as over 70-year-olds, in the fourth priority group for the rollout of the jabs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target for all people in the top four groups to be offered a coronavirus vaccine by February 15.
The confirmation comes after the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were given the injection last month, announced in an unusual move by Buckingham Palace which rarely comments on the private health matters of the 94-year-old head of state and her consort, 99.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have had their first Covid-19 vaccinations.”
No further details have been released.
It is not known whether Charles and Camilla were vaccinated together, or which version of the vaccine they were given.
Charles had previously said he would “absolutely” get the Covid-19 vaccine when it was offered to him.
The heir to the throne and his eldest son, the Duke of Cambridge, both contracted coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic.
Charles was described as having mild symptoms and lost his sense of taste and smell for a period, while it was reported William was hit “pretty hard” by the virus.
On a visit to a vaccination centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital before Christmas, Charles said he was “way down the list” for an inoculation.
It is not known which vaccine the Queen and Philip were given, but it is likely they will receive their second dose up to 12 weeks later.
It is understood the Queen decided the information about her and her husband should be made public to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation.
Speaking to CNN following the launch of his new Terra Carta initiative on Monday, Charles said vaccination was vital to ending the pandemic.
“I think vaccination is critical to ensure we have a way out of this, otherwise it is going to be very difficult,” he said.
People over the age of 70 who have not yet been offered a Covid jab are being encouraged to contact the NHS to arrange an appointment.
The top four priority groups include all those over 70, health and social care workers, care home residents, their carers and people deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus.
Published: 10/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Government to ‘announce £5 billion grant’ to help cladding crisis
The Government is expected to announce billions of pounds in funding to help tackle the cladding crisis more than three and a half years after the Grenfell Tower disaster. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is due to address the Commons on Wednesday where it is believed he will set out a package of measures.
According to reports, plans under consideration include a £5 billion grant on top of the £1.6 billion safety fund that leaseholders can currently apply to.
It is also reported that grants to remove cladding will only be available to those living in buildings higher than 18 metres, with those in smaller ones having to rely on loans for the cost of the work.
Conservative Stephen McPartland has previously said the Government “has been incompetent” in its handling of the cladding crisis.
And the Stevenage MP told the Times: “It is clear they don’t have a grip on the situation and their incompetence is creating this problem. Millions of leaseholders are facing financial ruin and we will not accept loans.
“They are not a solution, they are a disgraceful betrayal.”
Ahead of the announcement, the National Leasehold Campaign tweeted: “Another sleepless night for leaseholders worried sick about what @RobertJenrick will announce tomorrow regarding their futures.
“Please Robert you have a chance here to save millions. They ALL deserve this. Please don’t help some & not others.”
Mr Jenrick’s announcement comes amid growing criticism of the Government’s response to the cladding crisis in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people.
The fire was sparked by a fault in a fridge-freezer and spread quickly to several floors of the west London tower with the cladding and insulation cited as the cause for the rapid progression of the blaze.
The House of Commons has previously heard how huge numbers of people, especially leaseholders, are “stuck in the middle” and living in “unsafe homes” which they cannot sell, but are being asked to “foot the bill” for remediation works.
Earlier this month, Labour demanded the creation of a national taskforce to “get a grip” on the cladding crisis, with their opposition motion supported by 263 votes to zero.
Residents of buildings with flammable cladding have said it has made their flats “worthless” and they are “trapped” and unable to sell the properties.
At last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson said: “We are determined that no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn’t cause and are no fault of their own.”
Published: 10/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Threat of 10-year sentence for arrivals hiding high-risk travel criticised
Ten-year jail sentences for travellers who try to conceal journeys to high-risk countries have been branded “extraordinarily high” in a backlash against the Government’s plan to tackle coronavirus variants. Matt Hancock announced a requirement for UK residents returning to England from 33 “red list” countries to pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 days in Government-designated hotels.
The Health Secretary said those caught lying about their movements could be fined £10,000 or be jailed for 10 years.
It comes amid continuing concerns over home-grown coronavirus strains as scientists advising the Government added one detected in Bristol to its “variant of concern” list.
Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption hit out at the punishment and said it should not compare to those for violent or sexual crimes.
“Does Mr Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offences or sexual offences involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?” the peer wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve also told the paper: “The maximum sentence of 10 years for what is effectively a regulatory breach sounds, in the circumstances, unless it can be justified, extraordinarily high.”
Mr Hancock had earlier told MPs: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”
He also confirmed a new “enhanced testing” regime for all international travellers, with two tests required during the quarantine process from Monday.
Those who fail to take a test face a £1,000 fine, followed by a £2,000 penalty and an extension to their quarantine period, to 14 days, if they miss the second test.
Mr Hancock indicated the quarantine measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants.
He told the Commons that 16 hotels have been contracted to provide 4,600 rooms for the quarantine programme, which begins on Monday.
The Scottish Government said this approach is “not sufficient” so it is requiring all international travellers arriving into Scotland to stay in a quarantine hotel.
No international flights are currently operating to Wales or Northern Ireland, but Stormont’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said it is “crucially important” for the nations to work together to stall the arrival of new and concerning strains from abroad.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth claimed the public wants the Government to “go further” on border measures.
“Our first line of defence is surely to do everything we can to stop (new variants) arising in the first place,” the Labour MP said.
“That means securing our borders to isolate new variants as they come in. He’s announced a detailed package today but he hasn’t announced comprehensive quarantine controls at the borders.”
Travel trade organisation Abta said requiring passengers to pay for multiple tests once leisure travel is restarted would have “serious cost implications” and “hurt demand”.
A spokeswoman urged ministers to “develop a roadmap to reopen travel”.
Single adults will be charged £1,750 for a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel, which covers the hotel, transfer and testing.
Meanwhile, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) added the variant detected in Bristol to its “variant of concern” list.
A strain identified in Liverpool was also classed as a “variant under investigation”.
Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins said the relatively slow rise in cases of the South African and Bristol variant is “reassuring”.
But she warned that controlling them will become much more challenging as lockdown is relaxed.
Health officials said they had so far found 76 cases of the Bristol and Liverpool variants in the UK.
Both those variants contain the E484K mutation, a genetic change also found in both the South African and Brazilian variants, which experts suggest may be better at evading the human immune response.
The Department of Health and Social Care also said extra coronavirus testing will be carried out in the borough of Lambeth, south London, after a case of the South African variant was discovered.
In a more positive development, The Sun reported official data from tests on the Pfizer vaccine showed a single dose could reduce the risk of infection by around 65% in both older people and young adults after as little as two weeks.
Published: 10/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Second-oldest known living person in the world, 116, survives coronavirus
A 116-year-old French nun has survived Covid-19. Lucile Randon, whose religious name is Sister Andre, is the second-oldest known living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates details of people believed to be aged 110 or older.
French media reported that the nun tested positive for the virus in mid-January in the southern French city of Toulon.
But just three weeks later she is as fit as a fiddle – albeit in her regular wheelchair. She is even healthy enough to look forward to her 117th birthday on Thursday.
She told the Var-Matin newspaper: “I didn’t even realise I had it.”
Sister Andre, who is blind, did not even worry when she heard about the diagnosis.
David Tavella, communications manager for the Sainte Catherine Laboure Nursing Home in Toulon, where she lives, told the paper: “She didn’t ask me about her health, but about her habits. For example, she wanted to know if meal or bedtime schedules would change.
“She showed no fear of the disease. On the other hand, she was very concerned about the other residents.”
Not everyone shared Sister Andre’s luck: in January, 81 of the 88 residents at the home tested positive and about 10 died, according to the newspaper.
Sister Andre is now reportedly officially cured and has been allowed to attend Mass.
Published: 10/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
James Anderson stars on final morning as England seal first Test win over India
James Anderson inspired England to a famous fifth day win over India in the first Test, paving the way for a 227-run victory with an astonishing spell of reverse swing in Chennai. Four days of hard-earned dominance had left the tourists on the cusp of an upset against opponents who had lost just one of their last 35 matches on home turf dating back to 2012, and Anderson’s magnificent work in the morning made it a reality.
The 38-year-old defied expectations that spin would be the only way to finish things off, dismissing Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in an over which will go down as one of the most compelling in recent history.
Both batsmen saw their off stump go cartwheeling as Anderson got the ball hooping in outrageously, and there could easily have been an lbw decision against Rahane in between. By the time he had the dangerous Rishabh Pant cheaply caught at short cover, Anderson had swung the game – quite literally – with a five-over burst of three wickets for six runs.
Jack Leach was also a key performer, bouncing back from some damage in the first innings to claim four for 74, while Ben Stokes had the satisfaction of clean bowling India captain Virat Kohli for 72.
Joe Root’s side have now completed six consecutive overseas wins, including visits to South Africa and Sri Lanka, their best streak away from home since 1914.
Quite aside from his leadership role, Root’s runs were a decisive factor in Chepauk, top-scoring in both innings with 218 and 40.
Leach got England up and running with an early blow for his team, prising out India’s most reliable blocker, Cheteshwar Pujara, in his fourth over. Pujara has plenty of previous for long, disciplined innings, but could only edge to slip off the shoulder of the bat when the left-armer dragged one back across from a leg-stump line.
India recovered well from that setback, with Gill moving to 50 but that ushered Anderson to the table after 13 overs of waiting. At his age he might be expected to ease himself into a new spell but, having sensed the ball was ready to reverse, he engaged in outright destruction. Disguising his action carefully, he tailed the next one in sharply, toppling the off stump as Gill left a tell-tale gap between bat and pad.
Anderson in this kind of mood is an irresistible prospect and two balls later he was sure Rahane had succumbed lbw to another mighty inducker. The umpire was unmoved and, although DRS showed it taking out middle, there was just enough doubt over point of impact.
Undeterred, he went back to the top of his mark and uprooted Rahane’s off stump at the very next attempt. It was magnificent mayhem of the kind a swing bowler is simply not supposed to create in this part of the world.
Pant, who crashed his way to 91 in the first innings, was next and it is testament to Anderson that the swashbuckling number six fell in tentative manner. Unbalanced and feeling for contact, he chipped to Root at short cover.
Dom Bess was largely poor, with a selection of full tosses routinely despatched by Kohli, but when he landed one nicely against Washington Sundar it was good enough to snare his edge for a fifth wicket of the morning.
Archer had the speed to bully Ravichandran Ashwin, hitting him three times on the gloves or helmet, but he detained England for 46 balls before giving way to the persistent Leach. Tempted too close to his body he nudged the ball straight to Jos Buttler off his glove.
Kohli was now engaged in a one-man battle of wills with the tourists and it was Stokes who stepped forward to settle it. He had been used sparingly as a bowling option in the first four days but knows better than most how to seize the moment.
And so, with a hoop through the air that would have had Anderson nodding with approval, he scuttled one under Kohli’s bat and rearranged his stumps. Rory Burns held on to Shahbaz Nadeem at the second attempt to give Leach his fourth success of the innings.
Archer concluded things to spark celebrations that will live long in the memory, nabbing Ishant Sharma’s outside edge to give the tourists a stirring 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Published: 09/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies aged 76
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, has died aged 76. Wilson died on Monday night at her home in Las Vegas and the cause was not immediately clear, said publicist Jay Schwartz.
Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes.
Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown in 1977.
The group’s first number one, million-selling song, Where Did Our Love Go, was released on June 17 1964.
Touring at the time, Wilson said there was a moment when she realised they had a hit song.
“I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew,” she told the Associated Press in 2014.
“That was our first plane ride. We flew home. We had really hit big.”
The group also recorded the hit songs You Can’t Hurry Love, Up The Ladder To The Roof, and Stop! In The Name Of Love.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” said Motown founder Berry Gordy in a statement, according to Variety.
“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown’.”
Published: 09/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Stage set for Trump impeachment trial
The Senate will launch Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial on Tuesday, with lawyers for the former president insisting he is not guilty of inciting mob violence at the Capitol to overturn the election. Prosecutors, however, say he must be convicted of the “most grievous constitutional crime” even though he is gone from the White House.
Mr Trump faces a sole charge of incitement to insurrection over the January 6 Capitol siege, an attack that stunned the nation and the world after he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency.
Rioters stormed the building trying to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, in an insurrection in which five people lost their lives.
No witnesses are expected to be called, in part because the senators sworn as jurors will be presented with graphic videos of the scenes they witnessed that day, when they were forced to flee for safety.
Under Covid-19 protocols, senators will distance for the trial, some even using the visitors’ galleries. Holed up at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Mr Trump has declined a request to testify.
The first president to face charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached for high crimes and misdemeanours, Mr Trump continues to challenge the nation’s civic norms and traditions even in defeat.
Security remains extremely tight at the Capitol. While acquittal is likely, the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him and the loyalty of Mr Trump’s Republican allies defending him.
“In trying to make sense of a second Trump trial, the public should keep in mind that Donald Trump was the first president ever to refuse to accept his defeat,” said Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on Richard Nixon’s impeachment saga.
“This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that Mr Biden would be occupied with the the business of the presidency and would not spend much time watching the televised proceedings.
“He’ll leave it to his former colleagues in the Senate,” she said.
In trial filings on Monday, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, dismissing the trial as “political theatre” on the same Senate floor that was invaded by the mob.
Mr Trump’s defenders are preparing to challenge both the constitutionality of the trial and any suggestion that he was to blame for the insurrection.
They suggest Mr Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights when he encouraged his supporters to protest at the Capitol, and they argue the Senate is not entitled to try Mr Trump now that he has left office.
“While never willing to allow a ‘good crisis’ to go to waste, the Democratic leadership is incapable of understanding that not everything can always be blamed on their political adversaries,” the Trump lawyers say.
House impeachment managers filed their own document on Monday, asserting Mr Trump had “betrayed the American people” and there was no valid excuse or defence.
“His incitement of insurrection against the United States government — which disrupted the peaceful transfer of power — is the most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president,” the Democrats said.
The trial will begin on Tuesday with a debate and vote on whether it is constitutionally permissible to prosecute the former president, an argument that could resonate with Republicans keen on voting to acquit Mr Trump without being seen as condoning his behaviour.
Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the opening arguments are set to begin on Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations.
Mr Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from his first one last year. That was a more complicated affair, with Mr Trump charged with privately pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Mr Biden.
This time, Mr Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see. The trial could be over in half the time.
Published: 09/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
All travellers to the UK to take two Covid tests while they quarantine
All travellers arriving in the UK will have to take two coronavirus tests in a fresh attempt to prevent mutant strains entering the country under new rules to be announced this week. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the move was designed to provide a “further level of protection” enabling the authorities to track new cases more effectively.
It is expected that people isolating at home will be told they must get a test two and eight days into their 10-day quarantine period.
It comes after it was confirmed last week that UK nationals returning from 33 “red list” countries would be required to quarantine in closely monitored government-designated hotels, where they would have to take two tests.
A DHSC spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Government has put in place proportionate measures, informed by the advice of scientists, that have led to some of the toughest border regimes in the world.
“Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants.”
A formal announcement could come as early as Tuesday when Health Secretary Matt Hancock updates MPs in a Commons statement on the pandemic.
The move comes as officials sought to reassure the public that vaccines should provide effective protection against people falling seriously ill from the new South African variant.
South Africa has suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after a preliminary trial suggested it offered a reduced level of protection against infection and mild illness from the variant.
However the deputy chief medical officer for England said that, unlike the variant which emerged last year in Kent, there was no evidence it enjoyed a “transmissibility advantage” so was unlikely to become the dominant strain in the UK in the coming months.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he believed it was “likely” the AstraZeneca jab – like the other vaccines – would give “substantial” protection against serious illness from the South Africa variant.
He said that it was possible people would need annual or biennial booster jabs as the vaccines were updated to deal with new variants, and that there were “a lot of steps behind the scenes” to ensure that could happen.
New rules on hotel quarantine are due to come into force on next week – although the Government has yet to announce any agreement with any of hotel chains on providing accommodation.
On Monday the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said no formal contracts had yet been awarded after the Government issued commercial specifications last Thursday.
However the Financial Times reported that ministers were said to be close to signing up a series of hotels near Heathrow, and were optimistic of agreeing deals with others around Manchester, Gatwick, Birmingham and London City airports.
Some 10,000 extra coronavirus tests will be rolled out in Manchester from Tuesday, after four people from two unconnected households were found to be infected with the E484K mutation linked to the Kent variant, Manchester City Council said.
Meanwhile the Government is urging any over 70s in England who have yet to receive an appointment to be vaccinated to contact the NHS to ask for one. Previously people were told to wait until they invited to get the jab.
Ministers remain confident they will hit their target to offer a vaccination to the 15 million people across the UK in the four most vulnerable groups – including the over 70s – by Monday.
Mr Hancock said 12.2 million people have now received the jab, including 91% of all over 80s as well as 93% of eligible care home residents.
The new figures came as the Government launched an urgent campaign to recruit more social care staff in England to fill gaps left by staff forced to self-isolate.
DHSC urged the unemployed, volunteers and people on furlough to register to fill short-term gaps in the sector with opportunities including personal care – helping people to wash and dress – providing wellbeing support, collecting and delivering supplies or helping out with cooking and cleaning.
Published: 09/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Snow and ice warnings still in place for most of Britain
Snow and ice warnings remain in place for most of England and Scotland as the effects of Storm Darcy continue to cause traffic delays and other hazards. The Met Office has yellow warnings for snow and ice current for the eastern half of Great Britain extending to the Shetland Islands, advising of likely longer journey times by road, bus and rail, and cautioning people to be wary of slipping on ice.
A more severe amber warning for snow is in place, in effect until 9pm, for Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh and north to Perth.
The Met Office says people in the region can expect delays on roads as snow continues in the morning, likely leading to vehicles and passengers being stranded.
Delays and cancellations are also predicted for rail and air travel, some rural communities could be cut off, with power cuts and disruption to mobile phone coverage also likely.
While snowfalls for most of Britain are expected to ease on Tuesday, snow showers in many northern and eastern parts of Britain are forecast, reaching depths of 15cm (6 inches) in places.
A yellow warning for snow and ice also remains current for the southern half of Northern Ireland.
Storm Darcy has brought havoc to many parts of the country, with police in parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex on Monday advising against driving as roads became “impassable” due to settled snow.
In Norfolk, one driver had to be dug out of his car after it became trapped in a snowdrift.
National Rail warned services in various parts of the country were likely to be affected, train operator Southern Rail announced service cancellations in south-east London, while networks in Kent and Essex also closed lines.
Several Covid-19 vaccination centres were forced to close, including Clacton Hospital, Colchester United’s stadium, Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich and Chevington Close in Bury St Edmunds, and a number of schools were closed across the south-east of England and Lincolnshire.
Published: 09/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub
All district and boroughs in Derbyshire are to get a community testing centre to help reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the county. Derbyshire County Council will open new centres in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire this week, and High Peak next week. Centres for Derbyshire Dales and Erewash are planned to open by […]