Coronavirus UK LIVE: Rishi Sunak to drop stamp duty tomorrow as Leicester lockdown is extended and deaths hit 44,391

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CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to unveil a six-month stamp duty holiday in his mini-Budget tomorrow.

It is hoped the measure will kick start the UK’s economy following lockdown, with buyers excited at the prospect the stamp duty threshold could be as high as £500,000.

Mr Sunak will also earmark 3 billion pounds on green projects as part of his plan to boost the economy, which will be announced on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that Leicester is to stay in lockdown for another two weeks, despite the infection rate falling.

It comes as the coronavirus death toll in the UK rose to 44,391 after 155 more deaths in were recorded on July 7, 2020.

SCIENTISTS WARN OF POTENTIAL WAVE OF COVID-LINKED BRAIN DAMAGE

Scientists warned of a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggested COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium.

A study by researchers at University College London (UCL)described 43 cases of patients with COVID-19 who suffered either temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects.

The research adds to recent studies which also found the disease can damage the brain.

“Whether we will see an epidemic on a large scale of brain damage linked to the pandemic perhaps similar to the encephalitis lethargica outbreak in the 1920s and 1930s after the 1918 influenza pandemic remains to be seen,” said Michael Zandi, from UCL’s Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study.

FREE HOSPITAL PARKING TO CONTINUE ONLY FOR CERTAIN GROUPS AS PANDEMIC EASES

Free hospital parking for NHS staff will end in all but “certain circumstances” once the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease, the Government has said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on March 25 that the Government would cover the costs of car parking for NHS staff who he said were “going above and beyond every day” at hospitals in England.

But the Department of Health has said the free parking will continue only for “key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances” as the pandemic eases, although no further timeline has been given.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said to reintroduce charges while the virus is still being fought would be “a rebuff to the immense efforts of staff across the country and the sacrifices they have made to keep others safe”.

DHL TO CUT 2,200 UK WORKERS AT JAGUAR LAND ROVER FACTORIES, UNION SAYS

German logistics company DHL plans to cut as many as 2,200 jobs of U.K based workers at Jaguar Land Rover factories, the Unite trade union said on Tuesday.

The job cuts comprise just under 40% of the entire DHL workforce on the contract, the union said.

DHL indicated that the half of the job cuts are due to a decline in car production and half are the result of anticipated “efficiency savings”, the union added.

“DHL must not attempt to make permanent full-time staff redundant while continuing to outsource work to sub-contractors,” Matt Draper, Unite national officer for logistics, said.

Last month India’s Tata Motors Ltd said it expected to shed about 1,100 temporary jobs at Jaguar Land Rover after it raised the cost-cutting target at its luxury unit by 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) to ride out the disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

SUNAK TARGETS YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT WITH £2.BILLION SCHEME

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will on Wednesday announce a new scheme to stave off youth unemployment as he attempts to revitalise the economy following its COVID lockdown.

The 2 billion pound Kickstart Scheme will enable employers to hire unemployed young people aged 16-24, using government funds to pay them the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week.

“Young people bear the brunt of most economic crises, but they are at particular risk this time because they work in the sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic,” Sunak said in a statement.

“We also know that youth unemployment has a long-term impact on jobs and wages and we don’t want to see that happen to this generation.”

U.S WILL RESTRICT VISAS FOR SOME CHINESE OFFICIALS OVER TIBET SAYS POMPEO

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called human rights abuses by the Chinese government in Tibetan areas, said the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials because Beijing obstructs travel to the region by U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists.

Pompeo said in a statement the United States remained committed to supporting “meaningful autonomy” for Tibetans and respect for their fundamental human rights.

“Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC’s human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing’s failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers,” Pompeo said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“Today I am announcing visa restrictions on PRC government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be ‘substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas,’” he said.

CLARITY NEEDED ON FUTURE OF FREE PARKING FOR NHS STAFF, GOVERNMENT URGED

Healthcare workers need clarity on whether free hospital parking, introduced amid the coronavirus pandemic, will continue, an MP has said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on March 25 that the Government would cover the costs of car parking for NHS staff who he said were “going above and beyond every day” at hospitals in England.

But health minister Edward Argar has said while there has been no change since the announcement, “this support cannot continue indefinitely” and the Government is looking at how long it will “need” to go on.

Responding on Friday to a written question from Labour’s Rachael Maskell, he said: “The provision of free parking for National Health Service staff by NHS Trusts has not ended and nothing has changed since the announcement on 25 March.

SIR KEIR STARMER ACCUSES ‘SHAMEFUL’ JOHNSON OF TRYING TO SHIFT BLAME ON COVID-19

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “trying to shift the blame” for the Government’s coronavirus failings onto care homes after the Prime Minister suggested “too many” did not properly follow procedures.

The Labour leader said the PM had been “shameful” as the pair prepared to clash at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson’s comments were widely criticised and branded a “real slap in the face” for care workers by the Independent Care Group, while another sector leader said they were “clumsy and cowardly”.

On Tuesday evening, Sir Keir tweeted: “The Government’s own advice at the start of the pandemic said people in care homes were ‘very unlikely’ to be infected.

“Now Boris Johnson is trying to shift the blame.”

Earlier Downing Street declined to apologise and instead Mr Johnson’s official spokesman tried to clarify the comments.

“The Prime Minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time,” he said.

Press on whether Mr Johnson would like to apologise or retract the comments, the spokesman said: “As I’ve just set out, the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.”

DEMONSTRATORS STORM SERBIAN PARLIAMENT IN PROTEST OVER LOCKDOWN

A group of opposition supporters stormed the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday in a protest against a lockdown planned for the capital this weekend to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday evening that stricter measures including the lockdown of Belgrade over the weekend would be introduced because of the rising number of coronavirus infections.

Opponents blame the increase on the government and say people should not have to pay the price for another lockdown.

After Vucic’s statement, several thousand people began gathering in front of the parliament in Belgrade’s central square.

Around 10 p.m., a small group of protesters pushed past a police cordon, broke through a door and entered the parliament building. But police later pushed them back.

NEW FRENCH PM PLEDGES 7.5 BILLION EUROS FOR HOSPITAL STAFF

France’s new prime minister, Jean Castex, said on Tuesday his government would commit an envelope of 7.5 billion euros to raise wages of hospital workers.

“I have insisted for jobs to be at the heart of the discussions,” Castex said on Twitter of negotiations between unions, hospital officials and the government, which started before a government reshuffle on Monday.

Officials at the Health Ministry were not immediately available for comment.

Although France enjoys a reputation for having one of the world’s best healthcare systems, hospital staff have been asking for more money, jobs and equipment in the last decade to better address the needs of an ageing population and a shortage of city doctors.

The coronavirus outbreak has strained the system even more with hospitals on the verge of saturation earlier this year.

PORTUGAL IN TALKS WITH UK AHEAD OF REVIEW OF UK ‘TRAVEL CORRIDOR’ DECISION

Talks between Portuguese and British authorities are under way ahead of the UK’s reevaluation of its decision to keep Portugal off its list for coronavirus restriction-free travel, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Tuesday.

“The foreign minister had a long conversation with his counterpart,” Costa told a news conference. “It is very important we build a confident relationship.”

Last week Portugal was left off a list of more than 50 countries that Britain considers safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions, meaning holidaymakers returning from Portugal would have to quarantine for 14 days.

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Monday the decision will be reviewed by July 27.

CHINA COULD HAVE DONE MORE TO AID WORLD’S COVID-19 RESPONSE, TOP U.S HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS

U.S. coronavirus task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that the United States and other countries could have had a stronger initial response to COVID-19 if China had been more forthcoming about key features of the virus.

At a panel held by the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, Birx said the United States would have been more focused on identifying COVID-19 patients without symptoms if China has shared information about the frequency with which COVID-19 patients, particularly young people, are asymptomatic.

“I have to say if we had known about the level of asymptomatic spread, we would have all looked at this differently,” Birx said at the panel.

“Thats usually the initial countries responsibility … and I think that did delay across the board our ability to really see or look for this.”

US -U.S WITHDRAWAL FROM WHO TO TAKE EFFECT JULY 2021

The United States will leave the World Health Organization on July 6, 2021, the United Nations said on Tuesday after receiving formal notification of the decision by President Donald Trump more than a month ago.

Trump had to give one-year notice of the U.S. withdrawal from the Geneva-based U.N. agency under a 1948 joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, which also obliges Washington to pay financial support.

The United States currently owes the WHO more than $200 million in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website.

US – DISNEY SAYS IT WILL GO AHEAD WITH OPENING WALT DISNEY WORLD ON SATURDAY

Walt Disney Co will stick to its plans to reopen its Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida, to a limited number of guests on Saturday, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Florida’s coronavirus cases have soared in the last month, with the state’s daily count topping 10,000 three times in the last week.

Some workers have signed a petition asking Disney to delay Walt Disney World’s reopening.

US – GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE HIGH SUICIDE RATES

The federal government launched a broad national campaign Tuesday aimed at reducing high suicide rates, urging the public to reach out to others, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and acknowledge daily stresses in people’s lives.

Known as REACH, the government campaign is the core part of a $53 million, two-year effort announced by President Donald Trump to reduce suicide, particularly among veterans.

Starting Wednesday, digital ads will hit the internet with the key message that suicide is preventable and that collective action not only by government but also by businesses, schools, nonprofits and faith-based organisations can overcome the stigma of discussing mental health and empower people to understand risk factors, stay connected with others and talk openly about problems.

US NOTIFIES UN OF WITHDRAWAL FROM WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION

The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, although the pullout wont take effect until next year, meaning it could be rescinded under a new administration or if circumstances change.

The withdrawal notification makes good on President Donald Trumps vow in late May to terminate U.S. participation in the WHO, which he has harshly criticised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused of bowing to Chinese influence.

The move was immediately assailed by health officials and critics of the administration, including numerous Democrats who said it would cost the U.S. influence in the global arena.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has said he supports the WHO and Democrats suggested he would reverse the decision if he defeats Trump in November.

Trump is trailing Biden in multiple polls and has sought to deflect criticism of his administration’s handling of the virus by aggressively attacking China and the WHO.

US – TEXAS REPORTS MORE COVID-19 CASES IN A SINGLE DAY THAN ANY EU COUNTRY

Texas shattered records on Tuesday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to the state health department.

Texas, with 30 million residents, has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks, according to a Reuters tally.

ITALIAN PM SAYS HE WILL NOT ACCEPT ‘WEAK COMPROMISE’ ON EU RECOVERY FUND

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday the European Union must act decisively to build a common response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, urging that support measures be activated rapidly.

“We won’t accept a weak compromise” on an EU Commission proposal to build up a recovery fund to finance the bloc’s coronavirus-battered economies, Conte told reporters in Lisbon speaking alongside Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

“The response has to be a strong, ambitious political response,” he said.

EU leaders still have to agree on the makeup of any recovery package, and a meeting on the recovery fund and the next joint EU budget will take place in Brussels on July 17 and 18.

US – AT LEAST 8 MISSISSIPPI LAWMAKERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

At least eight Mississippi lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus after working for weeks in a Capitol where many people stood or sat close together and did not wear masks.

Among those who have publicly acknowledged having COVID-19 are Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Tuesday there are also at least 11 other suspected cases of the virus among legislators and Capitol employees.

In addition, Dobbs said the highly contagious virus is spreading at parties and other social gatherings around the state.

Dobbs said COVID-19 case numbers are increasing rapidly through gatherings where people are not wearing masks and are standing too close to each other.

You can’t put a lot of people together in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century and expect nothing bad to happen, Dobbs said during a news conference.

TRUMP SAYS HE WILL PRESSURE GOVERNORS TO OPEN SCHOOLS IN THE FALL

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would pressure state governors to open schools in the fall, despite a steady increase in coronavirus cases across the country.

Speaking at a White House event to discuss reopening of schools, Trump said some people wanted to keep schools closed for political reasons.

“No way, so we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,” Trump said.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION OFFICIAL WATCHING FOR RISE IN VIRUS DEATHS

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus is continuing to gain pace globally.

Noting the marked increase in the number of confirmed cases being reported in the past five or six weeks, he warned that a spike in deaths could be soon to follow.

“In April and May, we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day,” said Dr. Michael Ryan during a Tuesday press briefing.

“Today we’re dealing with 200,000 a day.”

Ryan said that the number of COVID-19 deaths appeared to be stable for the moment, but he cautioned that there is often a lag time between when confirmed cases increase and when deaths are reported due to the time it takes for the coronavirus to run its course in patients.

U.S CDC REPORTS 2,932,596 CORONAVIRUS CASES

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday reported 2,932,596 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 46,329 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 322 to 130,133.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on July 6 versus its previous report a day earlier.

COVID-19 EXPOSES ‘DISTORTED PICTURE’ OF GLOBAL POVERTY GAINS, U.N ENVOY SAYS

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed complacency and “misplaced triumphalism” by international aid organisations that have taken credit for progress on eradicating extreme poverty, a top United Nations rights official said.

Global entities have failed to end severe hardship around the world, and COVID-19 will plunge even more people into dire economic straits, said Philip Alston, the outgoing U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“Even before COVID-19, we squandered a decade in the fight against poverty, with misplaced triumphalism blocking the very reforms that could have prevented the worst impacts of the pandemic,” he said in a statement accompanying his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“The international community’s abysmal record on tackling poverty, inequality and disregard for human life far precede this pandemic,” he added.

UK’S HOLIDAY HOTSPOTS SUCH AS DEVON, CORNWALL AND DORSET WILL BE HARDEST HIT BY SECOND WAVE OF VIRUS

Popular UK holiday destinations such as Devon, Cornwall and Dorset will be the hardest hit by a second wave of coronavirus, a study has revealed.

Scientists fear that the South West stay-cation spots are likely to be the first to endure the effects of the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

PhD student Yang Liu, from the University of Cambridge, calculated which of the nine regions in England were most likely to see a return of the virus before the end of the summer months.

More on the study here.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY REOPENS TO VISITORS THIS WEEKEND

Westminster Abbey is to reopen to visitors on Saturday after its longest closure since the Queen’s coronation nearly 70 years ago.

The royal church in central London has been shut for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Steeped in more than a thousand years of history, the gothic Abbey has been at the forefront of major royal ceremonies for generation after generation.

The Queen as Princess Elizabeth wed the Duke of Edinburgh in the historic surrounds, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married there in 2011.

It will initially be open to visitors on Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, with a limited number of timed-entry tickets available solely through advance booking online at westminster-abbey.org/visit-us

A spokeswoman for the Abbey said: “The return of visitors is vital for the future of the Abbey, as it is entirely self-funding, receiving no support from the Church, State or Crown.

COVID-19 HITS U.S MEAT, POULTRY PLANT WORKERS HARD IN APRIL AND MAY SAYS U.S REPORT

The coronavirus outbreak took a heavy toll on workers at U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities, with more than 17,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 100 deaths in April and May, according to a report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Tuesday.

In many rural parts of the country, meatpacking plants have been the main source of local outbreaks as employees are forced to work long hours, indoors and in close proximity to each other.

The CDC report was based on surveillance data from health departments in 23 states through May 31 for all meat and poultry facilities affected by the coronavirus.

It compiled 16,233 confirmed cases among the workers, with 86 related deaths.

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