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Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn

The next six months look tough.

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Freestocks/Unsplash

The next six months are set to be ‘very, very difficult’, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). 

Professor Jeremy Farrar has said the next three to six months will be a ‘very, very difficult’ period but the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is effective Covid-19 treatment which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021. 

Speaking on Sky News, Prof Farrar said that a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed. He explained that there could currently be 50,000 cases a day. 

He said: “The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.

Walter Lee Olivares de la Cruz/Unsplash

“Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.

“It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.”

When asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.

“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.

“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.

“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Prof Farrar added that a short national lockdown will be best to reduce transmission rates. he added that the best time to put this in place would have been September 20th but that ‘it was never too late’. 

He said: “The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.

“So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.”

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Text message scammer found and arrested by police in Manchester city centre hotel

44,000 mobile phone contacts were found on the man’s devices

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GMP

A man suspected of sending over 26,000 fraudulent text messages was arrested by police officers yesterday afternoon.

The twenty-one year old, who has not yet been named, was found by officers in a hotel down Charles Street in the city centre, at around 3pm. Equipment used as part of a text message scam to defraud people – known as phishing – was also found in his hotel room.

The man was subsequently arrested at the scene.

GMP

Detectives from the City of Manchester Central division and Cybercrime Team seized the electronic equipment and his car as a part of their enquiries.

It is estimated that yesterday alone, around 26,000 text messages had already been sent from the devices, all claiming to be from Hermes asking for bank details after a missed delivery.

A total of 44,000 mobile phone contacts are also believed to have been stored on the devices.

Detective Inspector Mark Astbury, of GMP’s City of Manchester Central division, said: “What we have uncovered here are potentially the components of a highly sophisticated and authentic scam that I know many people not just in Greater Manchester but across the country have been potential victims of in recent weeks and months.

@glvrdru / Unsplash

“We have a man in custody and various items of potential evidence that we have seized and this is due to the initiative of the hotel staff, who acted on their suspicions, and the subsequent response from our neighbourhood officers in the city centre.

“These are the very early stages of what promises to be a complex and dynamic investigation, and I would like to take the opportunity to remind the public to ensure they keep remaining alert to the daily risks that unscrupulous cyber criminals pose to them by sending these fraudulent messages.”

GMP advise that anyone believing to be affected by this scam, any other phishing attempts or for more information, they can get in touch here.

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Teen stops young girl being taken by stranger claiming to be ‘dad’s friend’ as she walked home from school

Emma’s quick thinking saved the school girl from being taken by a stranger

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A teenage girl has been praised for her quick thinking as she prevented a child being taken from a stranger.

Fifteen year old Emma Carlile was walking home from school through Wallasey Village in Wirral, Merseyside, when she noticed a man approaching a school girl and telling her that he was her ‘dad’s mate.’

Emma noticed that the girl, who is believed to be around eleven years old, looked alarmed, so decided to intervene.

Emma’s dad, Rik, told the Liverpool Echo: “She said she was walking along and she saw a ‘creepy looking man’ approach a young girl and put his arm around her, which she thought looked odd.

Emma Carlile / Facebook

“She noticed when the man approached her she looked a bit startled and then she heard the man say, ‘I’m your dad’s friend, don’t you remember me? I’ve been to your house before’.”

Rik continued: “The girl was saying ‘no, I don’t remember’ but he kept going on saying, ‘I’m your dad’s friend, I’ve met you before.’ At one point, the girl tried to get her phone out and the man said, ‘no you don’t need to ring anyone, you know who I am, I’m your dad’s mate.’”

Emma followed them around a corner and, as they approached a crossing, shouted the first name that came into her head. 

She said: “Hey Bethany! Dad will be home tonight from police training.”

The girl apparently looked at her and looked startled but relieved at the same time. As soon as Emma spoke, the man quickly walked away down towards Wallasey Village train station.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia Commons

Rik said that Emma walked with the girl until she was home safely and informed her parents about what had just happened. 

Rik shared his daughter’s encounter on Facebook to warn people with children walking home alone from school. He wrote: “WARNING! My 15 year old daughter was walking home from Weatherhead today through Wallasey village and witnessed an older man walk up to a girl with a Harry Potter backpack and a green coat.

“The man put his arm around her claiming he was her “dads friend,” My daughter recognised that the girl looked alarmed and didn’t know the man and followed them from by the co-op to the crossing by the petrol station.

“Please make your children aware if they walk home alone.”

Emma described the man as being around 6ft tall with short grey hair and stubble. He was of large build wearing a green t-shirt and black trousers.

If you have any information, you can contact Merseyside Police on 0151 709 6010 or, alternatively, you can get in touch online here.

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Leaked documents reveal which Covid restrictions may remain after July 19th

We might have to wear our face masks for a little bit longer…

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Number 10 / Flickr & Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr

Leaked documents are claiming that the current social distancing rules and restrictions will be staying in place after the revised ‘freedom day’ on July 19th.

The memo, obtained by Politico, listed a number of restrictions that the government plans to keep in place for the foreseeable future.

According to the leaked documents, face masks may have to remain mandatory in certain settings for the long term, employers and employees will be told to decide amongst themselves as to whether they want to return to the office or work from home.

As well as that, it says some form of border control and quarantine will be needed for a significant period of time to prevent new variants entering the country.

Number 10 / Flickr

The memo also states that plastic screens – such as those currently used in hairdressers and restaurants – may actually spread Covid rather than prevent it.

Ministers are also considering bringing in new rules for businesses to keep workplaces better ventilated, the documents claim. 

Cabinet office sources have since stressed that the document was one of several including multiple options – with nothing signed off by ministers yet or anywhere near being announced.

This comes just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back the highly anticipated ‘freedom day’, June 21st, by just short of a month to July 19th. 

Johnson said this was a result of the new Delta variant, which makes up for 90% of new cases across the country: “I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer.

“I am confident we won’t need more than four weeks – it’s unmistakably clear that the vaccines are working – but now is the time to ease off the accelerator.

“We have the chance to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”

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