Four Northern cities have warned that local lockdown restrictions are ‘not working’, and are confusing ‘counter-productive’.
Leaders from Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds have warned Health Secretary Matt Hancock that they will not be supporting further ‘economic lockdowns’, and have called for new powers to tackle the resurgence of coronavirus, which has almost doubled in a week.
The UK’s seven-day rate of infection increased to 125.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63.8 the week prior, ITV News reports.
Professor John Edmunds, who is advising the Government’s coronavirus response, has supported the criticism and said new national restrictions are needed immediately.
The leaders of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle city councils – Judith Blake, Sir Richard Leese and Nick Forbes – joined Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson to write to Hancock, expressing that they are ‘extremely concerned’ with the rise in cases.
The politicians wrote: “The existing restrictions are not working, confusing for the public and some, like the 10pm rule, are counter-productive.”
They added that additional powers to punish those who break the rules should be put in place, that restrictions should be developed by police, council and public health experts, and they asked for a locally-controlled test and trace system.
“We want to be clear however that we do not support further economic lockdowns,” the leaders added.
Professor Edmunds agreed that the local measures have failed and that more stringent lockdown restrictions are needed.
He told BBC Newsnight: “These local restrictions that have been put in place in much of the north of England really haven’t been very effective.
“We need to take much more stringent measures, not just in the north of England, we need to do it countrywide, and bring the epidemic back under control.
“We will at some point put very stringent measures in place because we will have to when hospitals start to really fill up. Frankly, the better strategy is to put them in place now.”
The leaders’ plan includes:
- Local decision-making to agree additional lockdowns before they happen and additional powers to take immediate action on non-compliance, for example closing premises.
- A locally controlled Test and Trace system that is sensitive to local knowledge and needs of communities.
- An improved Business Compensation Package to support those most affected.
- Financial support for everyone who needs to self-isolate.
- Improved monitoring of the impacts of the additional restrictions that have recently been put in place to understand their effect on COVID-19 rates
Marcus Rashford calls for guarantee free school meals will continue over summer holidays
Well done Marcus!
Marcus Rashford is calling for a guarantee that the free school meal scheme will continue over the upcoming summer holidays.
The Manchester United star forced the government to U-turn on the issue last year, and is once again calling on ministers to keep the support going over the holidays.
Rashford relied on free school meals when he was growing up, saying that if his family had received help in the summer it would have made a ‘massive, massive difference’.
During the lockdown school closures last year vouchers were offered, but the government had resisted calls to continue the coupons – worth £15 a week – over the summer until Rashford got involved and piled pressure on ministers.
The striker didn’t stop there, also shaming the government into supporting families in need over the holidays in November via a Covid winter grant scheme.
As it stands, since the first lockdown more than 300,000 additional children have become eligible for free school dinners, with the total number of people able to access the scheme rising to 1.63 million in October.
Rashford told The Mirror: “I definitely think it needs to be extended and the reason why I say that is, I’m just going back to what it was like for me in the summers.
“It’s much more difficult for my mum to keep on top of. Obviously in my household there were four children so as a single parent it was obviously tough for her.
“But when we were all in school or in high school, she can rest a little bit because she knows that we’re having a meal there, and then potentially she only has to worry about one meal, which is dinner time.”
He continued: “So having free school meals throughout summer holidays for me would have made a massive, massive difference.
“And I feel like what’s happened this year, like the pandemic, it’s affected everyone in different ways.
“I just don’t see there being anything wrong with extending free school meals, like it’s going to do a lot more good than bad so I definitely think that that should happen.”
The footballer isn’t the only one calling for the scheme to continue, with Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza also asking for free school meals to be extended into the summer holidays.
Student suffers severe heart failure after drinking four cans of energy drink a day
‘I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children’
A young man who consumed two litres of energy drink a day was admitted to intensive care with severe heart failure.
According to a leading medical journal, the university student landed himself in hospital after drinking four cans of energy drink per day.
The 21-year-old spent nearly two months in intensive care due to heart failure, with the British Medical Journal stating this was ‘potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption’ in a report.
According to the report, the man drank four 500ml energy drinks every day for two years, becoming so ill that medics thought he might require an organ transplant.
The patient went on to describe his medical episode as ‘traumatising’, eventually seeking medical help after he suffered from weight loss and shortness of breath for roughly four months.
Doctors performed blood tests, scans, and ECG readings, and found that he had both kidney and heart failure – however, the kidney failure was discovered to be linked to a previously undiagnosed condition.
Each energy drink the man was consuming contained around 160mg of caffeine, and medics said that ‘energy drink-induced cardiotoxicity’ was the most likely cause of the severe heart failure.
In the report, the authors from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust wrote: “We report a case of severe biventricular heart failure potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption in a 21-year-old man.”
They said the conclusion to their report ‘adds to the growing concern in the literature about the potential cardiotoxic effects of energy drinks’, adding that the man’s heart function seems to have returned to normal nine months later but with ‘mildly impaired function’.
The recovered patient added his own thoughts to the article, saying: “When I was drinking up to four energy drinks per day, I suffered from tremors and heart palpitations, which interfered with my ability to concentrate on daily tasks and my studies at university.
“I also suffered from severe migraine headaches which would often occur during the periods when I did not drink energy drink; this also restricted my ability to perform day-to-day tasks and even leisurely activities such as going to the park or taking a walk.”
He added: “I think there should be more awareness about energy drinks and the effect of their contents.
“I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children. I think warning labels, similar to smoking, should be made to illustrate the potential dangers of the ingredients in energy drink.”
Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules
Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes
A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.
Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.
According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.
The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.
They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.
The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.
A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.
The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.
However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.
The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.
Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.
“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.
“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”