Senior doctors have expressed concern at ‘mixed’ government messaging about face masks, pleading the public to help prevent a second wave that will ‘devastate’ the NHS.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said a second peak of COVID-19 combined with seasonal flu could be ‘devastating for the NHS’ and have voiced criticism of government guidance on the use of face masks.
Previously, wearing face coverings has been compulsory on public transport and will be compulsory in shops in England from Friday.
They have warned that a hefty £100 fine will be issued to those who ignore this new law.
However, there has been significant confusion as to why masks aren’t compulsory in other situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain such as offices or pubs and restaurants.
Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Prof Carrie MacEwen, said that medics and healthcare workers felt ‘totally reliant on the public understanding that this has certainly not disappeared and could come back and cause even more suffering for the population’.
Dr Alison Pittard, head of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine also said: “People might think COVID is over with, why do I have to wear a face mask, but it isn’t over. We still have COVID patients in intensive care. If the public don’t physically distance and don’t wear face coverings we could very quickly get back to where we were earlier this year.”
Downing Street has announced that its scientific advice shows that new infections are falling at a rate of between one and five per cent a day across the UK.
On Sunday, the Scottish government confirmed new cases for the fifth consecutive day and reaching their highest daily rate since June 21st.
Meanwhile, Dominic Harrison, director of Public Health said that the national tracing system is only managing to reach half of those who had been in close contact with a coronavirus patient, reports the Guardian.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said: “When you’re in close proximity with somebody that you have to work closely to, if you’re there for a long time with them, then a mask doesn’t offer that protection.”
Council chair of the BMA, the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said “Everyone has their role to play, but there needs to be clear, concise public messaging,”
“To introduce measures for shops, but not other situations where physical distancing is not possible – including some workplaces – is illogical and adds to confusion and the risk of the virus spreading.”
The warning from medics comes after the government continues to ease national restrictions as the reproduction rate stands between 07 and 0.9, meaning the virus is not growing exponentially.
Last week, the Academy of Medical Sciences said a second wave could kill 120,000 people in a worst-case scenario, despite Boris Johnson saying a second national lockdown would not be necessary and that normality could return by Christmas.
As part of the new lockdown easing, Johnson has instructed that the ‘work from home where possible’ advise will be lifted, conflicting with the Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance who told MPs he could see ‘absolutely no reason to change’.
When asked to clarify the position by reporters Johnson said: “We want to encourage people to think it is safe to come into work, provided employers have done the work … to make their premises COVID-secure.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has defended the track and trace system, which this weekend emerged was finding 37% of people with COVID-19 when this number needs to be 50% to be effective.
A spokesperson said.“It has already helped test and isolate more than 180,000 cases – helping us control the spread of the virus, prevent a second wave and save lives,”.
The government is set to allow local councils to access names and data of people in areas who have tested positive which may improve the performance of the system.
MacEwen explained that a second surge could be bigger than the last, could ‘economically cripple us’ and ‘damage the NHS in the long-term’.
She said: “Going into winter the situation is much bleaker [than handling a pandemic in spring] and against a background of economic disaster. The public has begun to think we are free of this, but we are not.”
She added: “The most important thing about being prepared for this winter is the population gets the flu vaccine if they need it and they behave in a way that reduces the risk of them catching COVID which is to socially distance, wash hands, wear masks and isolate if symptomatic or told to do so by test and trace.”
Pittard added that the public is vital in this and that “it is down to the public again”.
Manchester’s historic Portico Library awarded huge grant to secure its future
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building
The Grade II-listed Portico Library will receive almost half a million pounds to transform the historic building.
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building – a much-loved gem standing proudly on Mosley Street.
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the £453,000 will see the treasured library undergo a huge revamp and preserve its book collection.
During its development, local communities in Manchester will be invited to help work on the project.
With particular focus on environmentally sustainable architectural plans, it aims to unite all three original floors of The Portico Library for the first time in 100 years.
The ground floor will be transformed into a ‘Northern bookshop’ which will hold educational activities, with areas for dining, exhibitions areas and meeting spaces.
While the upper floors will showcase the library’s incredible book collection and archives, which includes the first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
John Carpenter, Chair of the Portico Library, said: “The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting The Portico Library’s bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.”
He added: “This visionary project, years in the making, fulfils our mission of working with the many people in Manchester to explore, share and celebrate their diverse stories and the city’s literary and global heritage.
“Embracing creativity, collaboration and inclusivity, the project will unlock the Library’s past to plan for the future. We would like to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible to realise our vision.”
Handwritten note with ‘plan to kill’ Brianna Ghey found in accused girl’s room
The note was found during a police search
A handwritten note with alleged details of a ‘plan to kill’ transgender teenager Brianna Ghey was found by police in the bedroom of Girl X.
The crumpled paper note (pictured) was discovered by officers during a search conducted at the accused’s home in March, more than a month after the tragic death of the 16-year-old.
Brianna was found after being stabbed 28 times in Culcheth Linear Park, Warrington, earlier this year.
The teenager was discovered by dog walkers just after 3pm on Saturday, February 11th.
Girl X from Warrington and Boy Y from Leigh both deny murder. During the trial, jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard how Girl X sent a picture of the handwritten note to Boy Y on February 3rd.
The note began with the header: “Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey.”
It continued: “Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library…bus stop. Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the 3 of us walk to Linear Park.
“Go to the pipe/tunnel area. I say code word to Boy Y. He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach. Boy Y drags the body into the area. We both cover up the area with logs etc.”
In her opening speech, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the jury: “It is clearly, the prosecution say, a plan to kill Brianna Ghey.” During the same search on March 17th, officers found a note found in a drawer headlined ‘plan’.
Details in the note continued: “Give them alcohol with sleeping pills.
“Slit throat. I kill her. Dismember body. Place pieces in bin bags, bury bags 7ft underground, bones including.
“Get her to go to Linear park, go to the hidden spot near the bridge I usually go to. Someone jumps out and restrains her (plan B). I kill her.”
During the search, police also found a computer tablet and a black notebook.
Jurors heard that written in the notebook was the word ‘anarchy’ on one page, and on another there was a list of ‘what is right and wrong’. Another page had a ‘spider diagram’ with ‘good and ‘evil’ in the middle.
The ‘legs’ of the diagram lead to the words ‘forgiveness, justice, morality, good, suffering, evil, sin and free will’, the court heard.
On another page there were the words ‘Valentine’s gifts’ and on another the words ‘revision HW’. Prosecutor Cheryl Mottram said: “Homework, perhaps.”
Written on another page were the words ‘types of serial killers’, with a list under the heading.
Words underneath included ‘organised and disorganised’, ‘mass murder’, ‘psychotic’, ‘organised crime’ and ‘copy cat’. On another page were the words ‘films’, and ‘faves’.
Another page was headed with ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ and then a ‘list of characteristics’. There were also notes about ‘John Wayne Gacy’, the ‘killer clown’.
The notebook also had written inside it a note which read ‘potential threats’ and ‘people that need to go’.
Another page had Boy Y’s name on it followed by a ‘list of qualities or attributes’. Underneath was written the words ‘trustworthy, funny, sociopath, good sense of humour, very very smart, genius level and not sociable’.
Officers also recovered a black purse inside a ‘cubby hole’ with a handwritten note inside.
The note read: “Friday 11th November, attitudes to forgiveness.” Jurors were told the note contained two names, including Gee Walker.
“Forgives her son Anthony’s killer,” it read. And continued: “Julie Nicholson, who could not forgive the terrorists who killed her daughter Jenny.”
Three handwritten notes were also found on the floor of the room. One read ‘serial killer facts’, with a ‘list of facts relating to serial killers’ including ‘killing themselves in police custody can be a final act of control’, ‘hedonism’ and ‘power and control orientated’.
Other notes made were ‘cruelty to animals’, ‘bed wetting past age of five’, ‘USA has the most serial killers’, ‘lack of empathy for others’ and ‘can be superficially charming’.
One note read ‘Dr Harold Frederick Shipman, aka Dr Death’, followed by the words ‘classification, serial killer’.
And jurors were told there was also a note in relation to ‘Richard Ramirez, or the ‘Night Stalker’.
The trial, which began on November 27th at Manchester Crown Court, continues.
Hugh Grant and wife Anna donate £20,000 ‘Britain’s kindest plumber’
A lovely Christmas gift to help those in need
Hugh Grant and his wife Anna have donated £20,000 to Burnley plumber James Anderson.
Dubbed ‘Britain’s kindest plumber’, James Anderson set up Depher, which stands for Disabled and Elderly, Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response, back in 2017.
Originally a plumber who offered services to those in need for free of charge, Mr Anderson now runs the community interest company.
Depher provides plumbing work free of charge for those who are struggling in the cost of living crisis.
Since it began in 2017, Depher has helped more than half a million people across the country and relies on donations from the public.
Now, Hollywood actor Hugh Grant and his wife Anna, who both arrived in Manchester on Thursday December 7th to attend the Chanel Métiers d’Art fashion show, have made a donation of £20,000 to help those in need this winter.
The couple have also donated tens of thousands of pounds to the Depher cause in the past.
Anderson called the kind donation a ‘Christmas gift’ and said it brings the total they have donated to £75,000.
Sharing the news on the Depher Twitter page, Mr Anderson wrote: “After speaking privately to @HackedOffHugh and Anna Grant I have permission to share their wonderful #Christmas gift to @Depheruk.
“This wonderful and humbling donation of £20,000.00 will give hope to thousands of people, families and children, especially with the #CostOfLivingCrisis.
“They both have my lifetime of respect and love.”