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UK’s terrorism threat level reduced from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’
The UK’s terrorism threat level has been reduced from “severe” to “substantial” due to a significant reduction in the momentum of attacks in Europe. Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs the lowered threat level still meant an attack on the UK remained “likely” and the public should remain vigilant.

The threat level was raised to severe by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) in November following Islamist attacks in Austria and France.

But on Thursday last week the expert analysts reduced the level, Ms Patel told MPs on Monday.

“The decision to lower the threat level from severe to substantial is due to the significant reduction in the momentum of attacks in Europe since those seen between September and November 2020,” the Home Secretary said.

“However, the UK national threat level is kept under constant review and is subject to change at any time.

“Terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security.

“Substantial continues to indicate a high level of threat; and an attack on the UK is still likely.

“The public should continue to remain vigilant and report any concerns to the police.”

Published: 08/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Tom Brady makes it a magnificent seven as Tampa Bay win Super Bowl
Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl title as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw off the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. The 43-year-old did all the damage in the first half, finding Rob Gronkowski for two scores as the former New England Patriots duo combined again in the NFL’s showpiece event.

Brady, the second quarterback to win a Super Bowl with multiple teams after taking six rings with New England, also tossed to Antonio Brown for another TD just before half-time as the Bucs took a 21-6 lead into the break.

Kansas City failed to get started on offence, with Patrick Mahomes only completing 26 of 49 attempts for 270 yards, while a lack of discipline also played a role as the Chiefs gave up 11 penalties for 120 yards in Florida.

But credit also has to go to Tampa’s defence, the same which dulled the attacks of Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the post-season on their way to the Super Bowl at their home stadium.

Brady, voted MVP, was no stranger to success during his time at the Patriots, winning six of his nine Super Bowl appearances with them before calling time on his 20-year association with the club.

Florida beckoned, with Tampa Bay offering a new team and new conference as the side built their season around the man widely dubbed the Greatest Of All Time.

The number 12 was reunited with Gronkowski, who came out of retirement, and the side finished with an 11-5 record in the regular season, the first time they had recorded double-digits in the win column since 2010.

Their 11-5 record meant Tampa Bay had to take the hard way to the Super Bowl as the New Orleans Saints took the NFC South with a superior 12-4 record.

The Bucs scored their first post-season win since they won the Super Bowl in 2003 as Brady passed for 381 yards to see off Washington 31-23. Victories over New Orleans (30-20) and Green Bay (31-26) followed.

Three road wins meant Tampa gained the chance to play for the league’s biggest prize at home in front of a Covid-restricted crowd of 25,000 fans.

Harrison Butker opened the scoring for the Chiefs with a field goal – and would go on to make two more – but it was largely one way traffic.

Leonard Fournette scored Tampa Bay’s fourth touchdown as they continued to pull away into the third quarter, the running back finding the endzone with a 27-yard rush.

Mahomes and the Chiefs became increasingly desperate and his second interception on Kansas’s last drive capped a miserable night, before red, white and black confetti fell onto the field when time expired.

Published: 08/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Snow and ice brings disruption to parts of UK as people warned not to travel
Police have warned people not to travel as heavy snow and ice brought disruption to parts of the UK, closing coronavirus vaccination centres and schools. The Met Office has issued severe amber snow warnings for London and south-east England, where heavy snow is likely to cause long delays on roads as well as affecting rail and air travel.

Around 5-10cm (2-4in) is set to fall in these areas, reaching up to 30cm (11.8in) in the worst affected regions.

Another amber warning is in place for Nottinghamshire and north to Sheffield, as well as east into Lincolnshire.

Both warnings said power cuts are likely, along with interruptions to mobile phone services.

On Monday, police forces in parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex have told drivers not to travel as roads became “impassable” due to settled snow.

Road closures were announced in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Hertfordshire.

Suffolk Highways said conditions were “worsening”, comparing the recent weather to the “Beast from The East” of 2018.

People in Kent were told to expect slower traffic, echoing many forces around the country in warning drivers only to travel “if necessary”.

Meanwhile, National Rail has told train passengers that services across the country are likely to be affected by the conditions.

The firm said “it may be necessary to close some routes” urging customers to travel “later in the morning”.

Southern Rail announced service cancellations in south-east London, while networks in Kent and Essex have closed train lines.

Several Covid-19 vaccination centres remain closed, including: Clacton Hospital, Colchester United’s stadium, Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich and Chevington Close in Bury St Edmunds.

A number of schools were closed across the south-east of England and Lincolnshire.

Yellow snow and ice warnings are also in place for much of the rest of the UK, with people told to expect “frequent” wintry showers that “may lead to travel disruption in places”.

The warnings, stretching across northern England to Belfast in Northern Ireland and down to the south-east of England, says “rural communities could become cut off”.

Between 10-15 cm of snow is “plausible” in areas where showers “merge into more organised and prolonged spells”.

Temperatures are expected to plummet below 0C for most of the UK.

The Met Office said: “Strong easterly winds will make it feel bitterly cold across much of the UK, with further snow showers feeding westwards.

“These showers merging into some longer spells of snow over some eastern areas, whilst always drier and brighter further west.”

The warnings will run into Wednesday.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of the country, saying it could have “a serious impact on health”.

Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: “For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.”

Published: 08/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Fears over South Africa variant raise prospect of autumn booster jab
Britons face needing a third jab this year amid concerns about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness against the South African coronavirus variant. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was forced to defend the vaccine after a new study in South Africa found it was not effective at preventing mild illness caused by the more infectious mutation.

South Africa has suspended the rollout of the British-designed vaccine to healthcare staff following the results, which have yet to be peer reviewed.

Mr Zahawi urged the public to keep faith with the Oxford jab as scientists working on the vaccine raised the prospect of having a booster dose available by the autumn.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the minister said: “While it is right and necessary to prepare for the deployment of an updated vaccine, we can take confidence from the current roll out and the protection it will provide all of us against this terrible disease.

“We need to be aware that even where a vaccine has reduced efficacy in preventing infection there may still be good efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. This is vitally important for protecting the healthcare system.”

It comes as:

– The number of people in the UK who have received a first dose of a vaccine passed the 12 million mark, with jabs administered at a rate of almost 1,000 per minute during a one hour period over the weekend.

– A new Scottish record for vaccines was set, with the number of initial jabs given in one day passing 50,000 for the first time.

– Migrants living in the UK unlawfully will be given an amnesty in order to get vaccinated, the Daily Mail reported.

– People living in Northern Ireland who cross the Irish border without a reasonable excuse face a 100 euro fine from Monday.

– People who have been given both doses will be able to request their vaccine record from their GP to allow them to go on holiday to countries where immunity passports are required, Mr Zahawi confirmed.

Scientists agreed more research is required into the level of protection the Oxford vaccine affords against the South African variant but some expressed concern over the preliminary findings from the southern hemisphere.

AstraZeneca said on Sunday the fact the study into the E484K mutation involved 2,000 people who were mostly young and healthy meant it had “not been able to properly ascertain” whether it prevented against severe illness and hospital admission.

But the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant said it believed “our vaccine will still protect against severe disease” as the neutralising antibody activity is “equivalent to other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated activity against more severe disease”.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford vaccine’s lead researcher, said her team was working on having an adapted version of their jab that could tackle the South Africa mutation – of which cases have been found in England – “available for the autumn”.

She said: “This year we expect to show that the new version of the vaccine will generate antibodies that recognise the new variant. Then it will be very much like working on flu vaccines. It looks very much like it will be available for the autumn.”

Mr Zahawi said he and Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, agreed there was likely to be a follow-up jab programme later in the year.

“We see very much probably an annual or booster in the autumn and then an annual (jab), in the way we do with flu vaccinations where you look at what variant of virus is spreading around the world, rapidly produce a variant of vaccine and then begin to vaccinate and protect the nation,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.

The Government’s announcement that it had secured 20 million more rapid-result coronavirus tests signalled that the Prime Minister – due to set out his road map for easing restrictions later this month – could be preparing to relax lockdown rules in some settings as daily Covid deaths fell to their lowest level in weeks.

Figures showed that a further 373 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 112,465.

The lateral flow antigen tests, which can return results in under 30 minutes, are the first British-made tests to be validated by Public Health England in the laboratory and will be deployed to test NHS and care home staff, as well as in schools, universities, and for key workers.

But Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said the impact of Covid was likely to be felt at large gatherings long after lockdown was over.

He told Times Radio: “I can’t see us suddenly having another Cheltenham Festival with no regulations again, I can’t see us having massive weddings with people coming from all over the world.

“I think for the next few years those days are gone.”

Published: 08/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Police hand out nearly £30,000 in fines after shisha bar Covid-19 breach
Nearly £30,000 in fines have been handed out to people who broke Covid-19 rules by gathering at an illegal pop-up shisha bar.

Nearly £30,000 in fines have been handed out to people who broke Covid-19 rules by gathering at an illegal pop-up shisha bar.

West Midlands Police (WMP) said officers who were clamping down on lockdown breaches found 36 people crammed above a food shop on Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, on Saturday night.

The floor had been turned into an open plan shisha lounge, with beer and soft drinks on offer, card games being played and football on the TV.

It was among the latest “blatant” and “disheartening” breaches of Covid-19 social distancing laws in the region, WMP Assistant Chief Constable Mark Payne said.

Everyone at the shisha bar got an £800 fine under recently introduced rules bringing in higher penalties for gatherings of more than 15 people.

Officers dealt with 74 reported breaches of Covid-19 rules on Saturday and another 61 on Friday.

They handed out 23 fines of £200 and 36 of £800 on Saturday while another 36 £200 fines were issued on Friday.

WMP said nine people who were playing pool in a salon on Lodge Road, Winson Green, on Friday, received £200 fines.

Mr Payne said: “Sadly some people are still not getting the message that we are in a pandemic which has killed thousands of people, and continues to kill hundreds daily.

“Our officers are working long hours in really difficult circumstances to keep people safe, and blatant breaches such as these are really disheartening to see.

“Officers are having to go home to their families after breaking up large gatherings such as this, not knowing if they have contracted coronavirus while trying to protect others.

“We know that most people are sticking to the rules and we’re genuinely grateful for that.”

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Man arrested in connection with suspicious death
A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a man in his 20s, police said.
A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a man in his 20s, police said.

Avon and Somerset Police said officers were called to a house in Kennard Road, Kingswood, near Bristol during the early hours of Sunday.

The ambulance service reported a man had suffered a “serious injury” and was pronounced dead a short time later.

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Hannant, of the major crime investigation team, said: “At this stage we’re treating the death as suspicious and a 25-year-old man has been arrested.

“A forensic post-mortem examination will now be carried out to determine the cause of the man’s death and the property has been cordoned off so further inquiries can take place.

“The victim’s family are aware and will be supported by a specialist liaison officer.

“We know this incident will cause concern to those living in the local area so there will be additional patrols of the area over the coming days.”

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Sturgeon welcomes new record for Covid-19 first vaccines in Scotland
The number of Scots given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine has now reached almost 840,000
The number of Scots given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine has now reached almost 840,000 – with the number of initial jabs given in one day passing 50,000 for the first time.

New figures released by the Scottish Government showed that 839,266 people have now had their first jab.

That figure was an increase of 52,839 on the previous day’s total, with vaccinators setting another record high for the amount of injections given.

The record was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tweeted that Scotland was “on track to hit all targets” in the massive vaccination campaign – which aims to reach some 4.4 million adults across Scotland.

The latest vaccination figures were announced at the same time as a further 584 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Scotland – with this representing 6.9% of those tested for the virus.

The number of new cases was the lowest it had been for almost two months, after 572 cases were recorded on December 19.

A further seven deaths were reported, with the total number of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for the disease now at 6,431.

However, the number of deaths reported is usually lower at the weekend, as most registration offices are closed.

Meanwhile, there are 1,710 people in hospital with recently confirmed coronavirus, the latest daily figures showed, a reduction of 19.

That includes 108 people in intensive care, with this total having fallen by nine in the past 24 hours.

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Heavy snow and strong winds hit parts of country.
Cold and snow across the UK.
Heavy snow that could cause disruption has hit parts of the country.

It is “bitterly cold” as strong easterly winds from Ukraine and the Black Sea area are spilling across the UK on Sunday, the Met Office said.

The east plus London and the south-east of England are covered by amber warnings of snow through to Monday lunchtime, which predict possible widespread travel disruption and possible power cuts.

Various warnings for snow and ice across eastern areas the length of Britain are in place until Wednesday.

The Met Office said Sunday started “on a wintry note in some areas, with rain turning increasingly to snow across the south-east of the UK, and snow showers feeding into the north-east.”

The forecasters have warned of “significant disruptive snowfall” and gale-force winds in the south-east of England, with up to 30cm of snow possible in the Downs of Kent and the North Downs.

Storm Darcy is the low pressure system that is bringing heavy snow and strong winds to East Anglia and south-east England, the Met Office said.

Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Medway are all regions which are set to be hit by an “area of widespread, persistent and occasionally heavy snow” through to Monday, according to the amber warning.

There is also the potential for some significant accumulations across eastern parts of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.

The warning adds: “Accumulations of snow will be widely 5-10cm with 15-20cm in places and a small chance of 25-30cm for a few sites.

“Very strong easterly winds with gusts of 40-45mph inland and 50-55mph along north-east facing coasts will also lead to drifting of lying snow.

“During Monday morning the snow will turn more intermittent before gradually easing.”

The cold snap driven by the easterly winds is not expected to be as widespread as the Beast from the East in 2018.

Met Office meteorologist Sarah Kent said: “The air will be cold but it will not be as bitingly cold as it was back in 2018.”

Glasgow City Council said it had sent its gritters on Saturday evening to outlying priority routes and areas around vaccine centres in light of the “chilly” time ahead.

It comes as many parts of Scotland and north-east England could see 2cm to 5cm of snow, with 10cm to 15cm possible in regions above 200m.

Roads may become blocked by deep snow, with the possibility of stranded vehicles and passengers.

Daytime temperatures will stay in low single figures for much of the country, with some places staying below freezing and the bitter winds making it feel even colder.

Southeastern Rail strongly advised passengers not to attempt to travel on its network on Sunday or Monday.

It said the Maidstone East line will be closed on Monday and added: “Given the severity of the forecast some routes are closed with no replacement transport available.”

Southern Railway said it had cancelled trains on two of its routes.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of England through to Wednesday and urged people to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses.

Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: “Cold weather isn’t just uncomfortable, it can have a serious impact on health.

“For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.”

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Katie Price’s son Harvey ‘receives first dose of coronavirus vaccine’
Katie Price’s son Harvey has received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccination, according to a news report.
The disabled 18-year-old, who is in a priority group for the clinically vulnerable, had the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab on Friday, The Sun said.

Harvey, whose father is retired footballer Dwight Yorke, suffers from partial blindness, Prader-Willi syndrome, autism and learning and behavioural difficulties as a result of a rare genetic disorder.

Price, 42, told the newspaper: “Harvey was the youngest we saw there it was all smoothly calmly and professionally done.

“Harvey was so brave and it was over so quick everybody so helpful.

“It just felt like being in a film and made you realise more how serious this is.”

The reality TV personality also shared an image of the article and photos of Harvey, the eldest of her five children, receiving the injection on her Instagram Stories.

A documentary about Price’s experiences of raising Harvey, titled Harvey And Me, aired in January and prompted praise of the former glamour model.

Earlier this month, she said she was registered as disabled and had applied for a blue badge after breaking her feet in a fall during a holiday in Turkey.

She was injured last year after reportedly falling off a 25ft wall.

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Study shows Oxford/AstraZeneca jab less effective against South African mutation
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of coronavirus, according to research.
But the British company said early data from the study, due to be published on Monday, has shown the jab can protect against severe disease caused by the mutation.

The study, first reported by the Financial Times, into the E484K mutation involved some 2,000 people, most of whom were young and healthy.

“We do believe our vaccine could protect against severe disease, as neutralising antibody activity is equivalent to that of other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated activity against more severe disease, particularly when the dosing interval is optimised to eight to 12 weeks,” a spokesman reportedly said.

It comes after research released on Friday indicated that the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is effective at fighting the new UK coronavirus variant.

Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the United Kingdom indicate that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B117, which caused the surge in disease from the end of 2020 across the UK.”

Also on Friday, public health officials said the outcomes of targeted tests to track the South African variant in England could take up to two weeks.

Door-to-door testing as part of urgent efforts to swab 80,000 people came after 11 cases of the variant were identified in the previous few days in people who had no links to travel – suggesting it may be spreading in communities.

Published: 07/02/2021 by Radio NewsHub

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