Hundreds of military personnel are set to work across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester from today, as part of the government’s coronavirus response effort.
The government has announced that from today, the army will be drafted to Greater Manchester to carry out ‘targeted’ asymptomatic testing for coronavirus.
The Ministry of Defence explains that 800 military personnel including soldiers have been deployed to the region as part of the community support effort for testing.
Those who are of a higher risk of infection such as social care staff and people with ‘public facing jobs such as bus drivers’ will be targeted for testing, the Manchester Evening News reports.
The community testing operation is set to be similar to the one carried out in Liverpool.
It comes after Matt Hancock explained that one out of three people suffering from the virus show no symptoms, and therefore asymptomatic testing is crucial to identify those who are unknowingly infected.
More than 5,000 military personnel are being deployed in total across the country, including in Kent, Derbyshire, Kirklees and Lancashire.
The MOD said in a statement: “In Manchester today – Monday – another large scale task starts, with 800 personnel deploying from nine regiments across the British Army at the request of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
“These personnel will prepare to work across all 10 local authority areas of Greater Manchester to carry out targeted asymptomatic testing of specific populations that may be at a higher risk of infection including social care staff, key workers, public facing occupations such as bus drivers, and those in high risk environments such care homes and shared accommodation for the homeless.
“The task builds on lessons from previous asymptomatic community testing in Liverpool, Lancashire, Merthyr Tydfil, Medway, and Kirklees.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, an MP in Lancashire, said: “The new year will see new levels of armed forces support to overcoming this pandemic.
“Thousands of service personnel are working throughout the United Kingdom, wherever they are needed to assist the civil authorities.
“Manchester is the latest of those tasks and will be an important contribution to protecting the highest risk groups as the city seeks to recover.
“As a North West MP I am acutely aware of the considerable time many of us have been labouring under some form of lockdown and I hope our soldiers will help us get to the day when these restrictions will start to lift.”
Mr Hancock added: “We are enormously grateful to the Armed Forces for lending their support to these important community testing programmes.
“Around one in three people with coronavirus showing no symptoms, asymptomatic testing is crucial to identifying those who might be unknowingly infected, and protecting our most vulnerable.
“These community testing schemes are part of a national testing programme with millions of lateral flow tests arriving in schools tomorrow, for the testing of students and staff, to add to the hundreds of thousands of asymptomatic tests currently being conducted in care homes, across the NHS and in critical infrastructure workplaces and food manufacturers.
“While the Army, alongside thousands of medical professionals and volunteers, help roll out the vaccination programme, we must remember that the first line of defence against the virus remains to wash our hands, cover our faces and keep space.”
Manchester libraries to open as ‘warm spaces’ as temperatures drop
Keep warm and stay connected
Libraries across Manchester are offering warm spaces for people seeking refuge from the cold this winter.
The initiative will see every library in Manchester transformed into ‘warm spaces’ where individuals of all ages can go inside, take cover from the elements, have warm drinks and access facilities.
Here’s what to expect at libraries across Manchester as they become welcoming warm hubs this winter…
Free hot beverages
Hot cups of tea and coffee will be available for those who are seeking respite from the cold. Self-service drinks will be free as well as warm and cosy spaces for those to rest, meet friendly people and keep warm. Hot drinks are available now until February 2024.
Access to computers, internet and Wi-Fi services
Libraries offer computer hubs where users can access computers and connect to the internet and Wi-Fi services ensuring everyone can get online without worrying about costs. Staff will be on hand to assist and help with any questions.
Families and children are welcome to keep warm in libraries across Manchester, with six local libraries offering a little something extra.
Forum Library in Wythenshawe, Longsight Library, Newton Heath Library, North City Library in Harpurhey, Powerhouse Library in Moss Side, and Withington Library are offering a selection of toys and games for children to play with, suitable from ages 0 to 12+.
Families can enjoy time together in a safe, educational and positive environment.
Free SIM cards with access to data
Recognising the challenges faced by those struggling to pay for data, all Manchester libraries are now providing free sim cards loaded with free data.
Residents over 18 years old can acquire these sims, ensuring six months of free internet access without any monthly top-up requirements. To obtain your free sim, simply visit your local library.
Digital support drop-ins
For individuals who have internet access but lack the skills or confidence to use it effectively, help is available with weekly drop-in sessions.
In collaboration with Let’s Get Digital, libraries are offering the digital drop-ins one day a week. To join a session simply text 07860 064128 for assistance and guidance.
Age-Friendly Libraries drop-ins
Manchester’s libraries have achieved ‘Age Friendly Libraries’ status, proudly displaying the new Manchester Age Friendly Library Logo.
Older residents are invited to attend weekly Age Friendly drop-ins at various library locations, providing an opportunity to meet people and socialise with others, have access to information and take part in engaging activities.
Residents will be welcomed by friendly faces with staff available to offer assistance.
Warm Hubs for families and people of all ages
Throughout the winter Manchester’s libraries are not just places containing books where visitors can go to obtain knowledge, they are also community hubs offering a place of warmth, connectivity, and support for all residents.
So, if you need a place to come in from the cold, enjoy some company, access digital and online facilities, books, a family-friendly space or simply a comfortable place to spend your day, come in from the cold – your local library welcomes you.
Highly contagious ‘100-day cough’ sweeping across the UK
Cases have risen by 250% this year compared to last year
A highly contagious illness with a long lasting cough is said to be spreading across the country with a 250% increase in cases.
Experts have warned people to watch out for the disease, that starts with symptoms similar to a cold, after seeing a 250% increase in cases across the UK.
The highly infectious bacterial infection leaves sufferers with lasting symptoms including a cough that lingers for two or three months.
The whooping cough (pertussis), also known as the 100-day cough, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it’s marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like ‘whoop’.
The outbreak has seen three times as many cases this year compared to last year and in the last five months there have been 716 cases reported to health authorities.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UK Health Security Agency told The Sun that this rise was ‘expected’.
Dr Amirthalingam explained how social distancing and lockdown measures during the Covid-19 pandemic had significantly impacted the spread of infections, including whooping cough.
Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, said: “As expected, we are now seeing cases of whooping cough increase again, so it’s vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby.
“Whooping cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months.”
The Whooping Cough spreads easily and can sometimes cause serious problems, which is why vaccination against it is crucial for babies and children. Before the vaccine was developed, whooping cough was considered a childhood disease.
The NHS explains that the first signs of whooping cough are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat (a high temperature is uncommon).
But then after about a week, you or your child might experience coughing fits that last for a few minutes, are worse at night and may make a ‘whoop’ sound a gasp for breath between coughs. Though young babies and some adults may not ‘whoop’.
After a coughing bout, the patient may struggle to breathe and could turn blue or grey (especially young infants), and they may bring up thick mucus, which can cause vomiting.
The cough may also be so hard that in some cases it can cause vomiting, rib fractures, and fatigue. Globally, in 2015, pertussis resulted in 58,700 deaths – down from 138,000 deaths in 1990.
Once infected with whooping cough, signs and symptoms may take a week to ten days to appear. It may start off similar to a cold with developing symptoms that include:
- Nasal congestion
- A runny nose
- Red, watery eyes
- A cough
- A fever
The NHS adds that the patient’s face may become very red. If your baby is under six months old and shows symptoms of whooping cough, or if you or your child have a severe cough that is getting worse, or if you’ve been in contact with someone with whooping cough and you’re pregnant, you should seek an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.
You should also call 111 if you or your child has been in contact with someone with whooping cough and have a weakened immune system.
Son found not guilty of killing dad as family applaud verdict
The pair had an argument at their home
A man has been found not guilty of murdering his father – and of an alternate offence of manslaughter – following a week-long trial at Manchester Crown Court.
Joseph McGowan, 20, was accused of murdering his father Darren McGowan, 51, during an argument at their home in Stockport earlier this year.
Prosecutors alleged that in the early hours of April 30th, three people left the address after a row had developed between Joseph and his dad.
A Jury was told that Joseph ‘lost his temper’ and put Darren in a chokehold or ‘headlock’.
He phoned 999 and told the operator that his dad ‘wasn’t breathing’ and told police officers arriving at the scene: “Me and my dad were arguing and I don’t know what to do. We were fighting and I choked my dad out.”
Joseph denied murder and the alternate offence of manslaughter. After Joseph was acquitted, his family applauded and jumped up from their seats in the public gallery, as the judge told him he was free to leave.
Prosecutor Owen Edwards KC told the trial at Manchester crown court: “We do not say that Joseph McGowan intended to kill his father. What we say is that he lost his temper and meant to really hurt him.
“We say he knew his father was drunk and in poor health and that he intended the serious harm that resulted from his choking action.”
Mr Edwards said Darren was married to Angela McGowan and that the couple had two sons together, with Joseph being one.
He told the court that in 2022, Darren suffered from an aneurysm shortly before his business ‘failed’ and he began ‘drinking too much’.
The prosecutor said as a consequence, the marriage struggled, with the couple separating for short periods of time. Mr Edwards said: “Most of the time, it seems, he got on well with Joseph McGowan.”
Two weeks before the fatal incident, Jurors heard how Joseph got into an argument with his dad who ‘goaded’ him calling him a ‘p****’.
Joseph hit him causing him to fall and hit his head against a windowsill, resulting in a wound to his head, it was said.
On April 30th this year Angela McGowan came back to the family home, on Glebe Street, in Offerton, along with three of her colleagues from the Midway pub to continue drinking.
They drank with Darren who had been invited to stay over, the court heard. And at one point Joseph came downstairs to join them, it was said.
During the evening, one friend was sick and left early before Angela went upstairs to change into her dressing gown.
The prosecutor said: “Darren was telling her she was drunk and embarrassing and she responded ‘it’s my f****** house’, before Joseph ushered her upstairs.
“At 2.14am, Joseph McGowan took a video of the remaining members of the group, which included Darren McGowan. This was less than an hour before Darren had been fatally injured by his son.”
Prosecutors allege that Darren went to check on Angela upstairs before telling everybody to leave, at which point Joseph responded that ‘it wasn’t his house’, before an argument ensued with one of the group briefly intervening.
The two remaining members of the group left the address leaving Joseph and Darren together, then a quarter of an hour later at 3.07am, Joseph McGowan called 999.
When officers attended Joseph had his top off and was found with numerous scratches all over his back, the court heard. Darren was rushed to hospital but was declared dead on May 3rd due to an ‘unsurvivable brain injury’, it was said.
A pathologist found that Darren had bruising to his larynx and to the soft tissues at the back of his throat, as well as bruising to his face, eye socket and collarbone.
A post mortem report concluded that the bruising was consistent with compression of the neck by headlock or chokehold and the cause of death was recorded as a brain injury caused by cardiac arrest, the court heard.
Giving evidence, Joseph McGowan said the pair had a brief fight upstairs before he got into a row with his mum downstairs.
Darren McGowan came downstairs and shouted at Joseph McGowan ‘Don’t talk to my wife like that’, the court heard. Joseph said: “I told him to f*** off. That was when he rugby tackled me onto the sofa.
“I grabbed onto the closest thing. I grabbed him in a headlock because he is a larger man than me. I was scared.”
He then said his dad had lifted him up and ‘smashed him’ into the sofa twice, before he collapsed on the living room floor. Then realising his dad was unconscious, Joseph rang 999 immediately.
When asked to describe their relationship, Joseph broke down in tears and said: “I loved him. We trained together. If my friends didn’t want to go out I would ask my dad. We were just a normal family. We enjoyed spending time together.”