NEWS DIGEST 12.05.2020: Coronavirus confusion continues, full impact is felt

 

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Today’s bulletin is brought to you by Facebook. International charity UNICEF is warning of the ‘double emergency’ being created by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe. It is becoming more difficult for charities like UNICEF to bring life assistance and aid to countries already struggling with war, disease and famine, such as Afghanistan and South Sudan. In many cases children are bearing the brunt of this ‘double-edged sword’ of suffering. The article talks about how UNICEF is doing its best under the pandemic to help those trapped in such circumstances, such as child refugees fleeing conflict – COVID-19: A double emergency (UNICEF)

The Independent newspaper in Britain reports that new leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, has refused to back an extension to the transition period for Brexit. He said he wanted the negotiations for the UK exiting the European Union to be concluded as swiftly as possible. The deadline for agreeing to extend transition is next month, and many other parties have urged for extending the final departure in light of the viral pandemic – Keir Starmer refuses to back Brexit transition extension (Independent)

As we progress further into May and the UK gets ready for warmer weather, temperatures in the London region have dropped to the low tens of degrees Celsius this week. But as MyLondon, a local news portal reports, Londoners can now expect things to get a bit higher on the thermometer very soon. According to a long-term meteorological forecast from AccuWeather, next month will be generally dry and warm, with a heatwave lasting two weeks predicted for mid-July to the beginning of August, the site claims – London weather: The exact date a heatwave reaching 25 degrees will hit the capital (MyLondon)

The government of Scotland has announced it is passing new legislation aimed at tackling the coronavirus and saving lives. The Second Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will contain emergency measures to protect people facing financial hardship and allow public services to operate effectively. Key points of the new bill include “a proposed additional £19.2 million investment in Carer’s Allowance Supplement, the introduction of notice to leave periods for students in purpose-built student accommodation and halls of residence, and additional protections for those facing bankruptcy”, said the official government press release. The bill will also bring in financial protections for those impacted by the virus – Second Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (Scottish Government/Riaghaltas na h-Alba)

In East London, cycling campaigners have urged the council of Newham borough to make the area safer for cyclists, as predictions of more people taking to cycling in light of the national government’s easing of restrictions and more people returning to work begin to bear fruit. The campaigners have called on Newham’s town hall to seize the opportunity to make its streets safer for both cyclists and pedestrians. The Newham Cyclists groups wants to prioritise safety for non-driving road users while going up against an ‘entrenched’ motoring lobby, the Newham Recorder reported. Arnold Ridout, Newham Cyclists’ co-ordinator, told the paper: “The current Covid-19 crisis has shown that it is possible to improve air quality in Newham, to improve the health of its residents by having a culture of active travel and improving the public realm…. “The message from the council should no longer be that the motor car is more important than walking or cycling.” – Campaigners urge Newham Council to seize ‘opportunity’ to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists (Newham Recorder)

Maritime transport company P&O Ferries has announced it will be shedding 1,100 jobs, despite its owner DP World paying out £270 million in dividends, the Guardian reports. DP World says it is a legal requirement to pay out the monies, but also sought out £150 million in coronavirus aid from the UK government, the newspaper claims. The cuts will affect a quarter of the firm’s global workforce. It is understood that the company will initially offer employees voluntary redundancies, leaving the business with about 3,000 employees. P&O has already furloughed about 1,400 staff, the majority of whom the company said were in its passenger business – P&O Ferries to cut 1,100 jobs – but owner to pay out £270m in dividends (The Guardian)

The labour minister of Mauritius, Soodesh Callichurn, has reassured the employed on the island that he is keen to return things to normal for the country, as Mauritian employers have been asked to cancel fifteen days of paid annual leave for their staff, Defimedia.info reports. Employees who have not worked during the national confinement will be entitled to only seven days of leave while those who have been on duty between March 20 and May 15 will be able to benefit from 14 ½ days off, the site said – Soodesh Callichurn :«Nous rétablirons les droits des travailleurs quand tout retournera à la normale» (Defimedia.info)

Lastly, back in the UK, the presenters of ITV’s This Morning show on television, Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, expressed outrage over the government’s update to national lockdown rules yesterday, going on what The Sun said was a ‘passionate rant’. The two celebrities, household names in their country, were visibly upset as they described prime minister Boris Johnson’s Sunday address to the nation as confusing. Schofield told the show’s viewers: “We’ve got to start this morning in a state of utter confusion after last night’s address to the nation by Boris Johnson. His speech created more questions than answers.” Willoughby then continued: “I think we’re just about holding on we’ve all done so well. We’ve all done exactly as we’ve been told. “We were doing so well to keep our spirits up, to keep going, but when there is this level of confusion, it knocks you back.” Admitting he no longer understood what was happening, Schofield then added: “It’s utterly astonishing. This has tipped us over the edge today.” – HAD OUR PHIL Fed up Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield rant lockdown confusion has ‘tipped them over the edge’ (The Sun)

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