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The North West’s coronavirus ‘R’ number is now above 1

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The North West’s ‘R’ number has risen above 1, meaning it has the highest rate of COVID transmission in the UK. 

‘R’ is a value put in place to measure the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic. Scientists from Public Health England and Cambridge University have revealed in their latest analysis every region that is hovering around the crucial 1 figure.

The North West is running above that at 1.01, up from 0.73 a few weeks ago when the data was released.

The South West is listed as exactly 1, despite researchers believing the number of new daily infections there as ‘relatively low’.  

The South East is on 0.97, London on 0.95 – increased from the last value of 0.4 – and the East of England on 0.94. 

CDC/Unsplash

The Midlands is at 0.9 and the North East and Yorkshire, which previously had the highest R-value, is at 0.89.

So what does this mean? Well, it certainly poses questions regarding the easing of lockdown, as well as questions to the government about how it will handle this rise. 

“There is some evidence that Rt [the R] has risen in all regions and we believe that this is probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households and in public and workplace settings,” says the analysis.

It adds: “An increase in Rt will lead to a slowdown in the decrease in new infections and deaths.

“There is evidence, from the forecast of deaths for the whole of England, that the increases in the regional reproductive numbers may result in the decline in the national death rate being arrested by mid-June.”

The value of R, the average number of secondary infections due to a typical infection today.

Ministers have said they will move towards ‘local lockdowns’ and the use of tracking and tracing should the spread start to increase again, but the national tracing system is not yet fully operational.

When asked about the numbers, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “It’s very worrying. It appears, I would say, that lockdown has been relaxed too early, given the fact that ‘track, test and trace’ is some way from being up and running.

“I think it begs the question as to whether the advice is right to people in the North West.”

Nationally, the government has been quoting the number of R as 0.9 for a number of weeks now. But the latest analysis show that several regions have tipped over this territory.

This means the virus could spread exponentially. 

Greater Manchester reported a mixed picture regarding the current situation in the region on Wednesday, stating that while hospital deaths had slightly increased COVID admissions have returned to April levels.

Care home infections and new cases have reportedly been dropping in the area, however. 

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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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