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Surge testing to start in Manchester today after new Covid-19 variant is found

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Surge testing is being introduced in parts of Manchester after cases of the Kent variant have been confirmed. 

The testing will focus mainly in South Manchester following the news that four cases of a mutation of the Kent variant have been found in two unconnected households. 

More than 10,000 tests are planned with volunteers offering house-to-house tests to those over 16 and primarily for those who are not showing symptoms. 

The council said it is working with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace and everyone in the designated areas would be given a PCR swab test with results returned within days.

Surge testing begins today, targeting people who do not have symptoms but who live and work within the boundary area.

The council are calling for those who live in any of the following postcodes to attend one of the testing sites if they are offered: M14 4, M14 7, M15 5, M15 6, M16 7 and M16 8, which covers parts of Moss Side, Hulme, Whalley Range and Fallowfield. 

There are testing sites located at Our Lady’s R C Church on Raby Street and Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara on Monton Street. 

The sites will be walk-in centres with no requirement to book a test in advance. More testing sites are set to be made available within the next few days. 

If someone has already had the vaccine they should still take the test as the programme is designed to understand the spread of the new variant in the local community. 

David Regan, Director of Public Health, Manchester City Council, said: “We all know that the virus will change over time and it’s important that we investigate new strains to understand how they might spread. This is exactly what we’re doing with the intensive testing in parts of Manchester with local testing units and people going door-to-door to offer people tests.

“There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people. But it is really important that everyone who lives in the boundary area and is over the age of 16 plays their part and gets a test.

“The best thing we can all do it to keep following the rules – Hands, Face, Space – get a test if you have symptoms, and keep your vaccination appointment when you are called.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s executive member for adult health and well-being, said: “It’s understandable that some residents in the area may be concerned by all this, but we need to remember that it’s very normal for viruses to mutate. The important thing is that this mutation has been identified and that we’re taking action to stop its spread.

“We are following the public health approach to react to the new variant and we will be working with community groups, local champions, MPs and councillors to ensure as many people as possible know how to get a test so we can understand more about this version of the virus.

“There are no changes to the restrictions in Manchester and if you do have to go out for one of the permitted reasons, please make sure you carry on following the rules on social distancing, and wearing a face covering, as well as washing your hands regularly.”

Dr Will Welfare, Deputy Director for Health Protection at PHE North West, said: “As part of our testing work, Public Health England (PHE) has identified in the Moss Side area of Manchester a small number of COVID-19 cases of the variant first identified in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

“PHE is working closely with and supporting Manchester City Council, as we monitor the situation closely and ensure all necessary measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit the number of people you come into contact with, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”

Find out more on the council site

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Travel traffic light system to be scrapped as big changes for holidaymakers announced

A number of countries including Turkey are also been removed from the red list

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Travel restrictions for the UK will be majorly relaxed from next month onwards, the transport secretary has announced.

According to Sky News, the current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries will be completely scrapped and replaced with one red list only from October 4th.

Also from that date, travellers will no longer need to take pre-departure tests for travelling into England from abroad.

And, from the end of October, fully vaccinated passengers from non-red list countries will be able to replace day-two PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests.

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Anyone testing positive, however, will still need to isolate and take a free PCR test to help identify new variants.

From 4am on September 22nd, the following eight destinations will be removed from the red list; Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, The Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.

“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with over 44 million people fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”

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Scientists at University of Manchester make massive breakthrough on dementia

A massive step forward in the search for a cure for dementia

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Scientists at the University of Manchester have discovered that a common blood pressure drug that could help people suffering from vascular dementia.

Amlodepine is used to treat high blood pressure, but could potentially serve a purpose in tackling a type of vascular dementia caused by damaged and ‘leaky’ small blood vessels in the brain, according to research part-funded by the British Heart Foundation and published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

High blood pressure is known to be the main risk factor in developing vascular dementia.

Researchers came to their conclusion by analysing blood flow in the brains of mice with high blood pressure and vascular damage in the brain.

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Mice treated with amlodipine had better blood flow to more active areas of the brain. Their arteries were able to widen, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the parts of the brain that needed it most.

The team also discovered for the first time that high blood pressure decreases the activity of a protein called ‘Kir2.1’ that is present in cells lining the blood vessels and increases blood flow to active areas of the brain.

They now hope to trial amlodipine as an effective treatment for vascular dementia in humans, making it the first clinically proven treatment for vascular dementia if successful. 

Dr Adam Greenstein, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Manchester, who led the Manchester team, told ITV News: “The way vascular dementia develops has remained a mystery until now, and there are currently no clinically proven treatments.

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“Patients are presenting with symptoms of vascular dementia earlier than ever before, and with further research we could potentially offer those patients hope to prevent the progression of this life-changing disease.”

Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “The way to better understand this devastating disease and find new treatments is through research. This study is a vital step forward towards finding new ways of stopping vascular dementia from progressing.

“These new discoveries highlight the major role that high blood pressure plays in developing the disease and shed light on how this occurs and might be prevented in the future.”

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Government plan return of imperial pounds and ounces in supermarkets

A Brexit document includes plans to review the EU ban on markings and sales in pounds and ounces

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As a result of post-Brexit changes to EU laws, supermarkets could soon see the return of imperial pounds and ounces for their food produce. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said that he would bring imperial units back to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, promising ‘an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements’.

And now, in the wake of Brexit, the UK faces a ban on labelling products with imperial units as part of a post-Brexit plan according to Brexit minister Lord Frost, who also claims pint glasses could be voluntarily stamped with a crown.

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A document titled ‘Brexit opportunities: regulatory reforms’ includes plans to review the EU ban on markings and sales in pounds and ounces, with legislation set to come ‘in due course’ and to permit the voluntary printing of the crown stamp on pint glasses, as per The Independent.

This comes after Lord Frost claimed that ‘gloom-mongers’ had been proved wrong following the UK’s exit from the EU, with him reportedly saying to a peer: “A lot of things haven’t happened that the gloom-mongers said would happen and I don’t think are going to happen.

He added: “This economy and this country is prospering vastly already under the arrangements that we are putting in place. High standards need to reflect the context we are operating in.

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“I am sure there will be change, but don’t believe those changes will result in regression of standards.”

This review comes amid crippling food shortages in supermarkets across the UK, which is believed to be a result of both Brexit and Covid.

Other big retailers such as McDonald’s, Greggs, the Co-op and Ikea have also struggled to supply products to their customers in recent weeks.

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