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We’re a ‘long, long, long way’ from easing lockdown, Hancock says

Coronavirus cases are still too high.

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Number 10 / Flickr & Peter McDermott / Geograph

Matt Hancock has warned that we are a ‘long, long, long way’ from coronavirus cases being low enough to start easing restrictions.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday this weekend, Matt Hancock said: “There is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down.

“But we are a long, long, long way from that being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high.

“You can see the pressure on the NHS you can see it every day. The NHS are doing an amazing job in incredibly difficult circumstances.”

He added: “I am confident in the measures that we’ve got in place now.

“What really matters is that everybody follows them. The reason for that is not just the death toll each day which is far too high.

“The pressure on the NHS is enormous. That has knock-on consequences for people who suffer from all other illnesses.

“It is very important that we continue to follow the rules. That’s at the core of it. Even whilst we do everything we can to support the NHS through this.”

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show later on Sunday, Hancock explained that the ‘good news’ is that there are ‘early signs that certainly the rise in the number of cases has been halted’.

He continued: “In many parts of the country, cases are starting to come down.

“The vaccine roll out programme is going really rapidly. We’ve now vaccinated three-quarters of over 80s in the country and we’re really proud of that.”

Hancock went on to explain that we know the vaccine stop people from dying with a ‘high degree of confidence’ but that ‘we don’t know about the effect on transmission’. 

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He continued: “We are essentially monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccine right across the country, right now. Our goal here is to be able to start to lift restrictions as soon as safely possible.

“It is not going to be 2028, Andrew. It’s one of those questions we don’t know the answer to.”

One of the leading figures in the Covid Recovery Group of MPs, former minister Steve Baker said that public compliance could not be expected indefinitely with no hope in sight. 

He said: “Covid causes death and serious harm and we must control it, but these lockdowns, restrictions and school closures are causing untold damage to people’s health, livelihoods and prospects.”

Adding that the top four risk groups should have immunity by March 8th where ‘the government should start easing the restrictions in a way that is safe and proportionate. But the public need to hear today what the plan for easing restrictions is.’

He said it was ‘not enough to expect public compliance with prolonged severe measures, without giving some hope, and showing some optimism and light at the end of this very dark tunnel’.

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Police restart search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett as skull found

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The search for murder victim Keith Bennet has resumed as ‘potential human remains’ were found on moorland, police have confirmed.

The remains were found during an independent search on Saddleworth Moor by author Russell Edwards, who reported his discovery to Greater Manchester Police.

Detectives are said to be analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, the MailOnline reports.

Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s. His body has never been recovered.

GMP said in a statement: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.

“Officers met with Mr. Edwards yesterday evening (September 29th), and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.

“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.

“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.

“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”

Bennett was lured into a van by Hindley on June 16th, 1964. He was then taken to Saddleworth Moor, where he was sexually abused and murdered by Brady. 

Despite his heartbroken mother’s pleas, neither Brady nor Hindley ever revealed where they had buried his body. 

Winnie Johnson continued visiting Saddleworth Moor to search for her son until her death in 2012. 

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Cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death revealed

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Queen Elizabeth’s exact cause of death has been revealed as an extract of her death certificate is released to the public.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on September 16th, and that the cause of her death was old age.

The document, released by National Records of Scotland, notes the Queen died at 3.10pm on Thursday September 8th. 

The Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne is named as the ‘informant’ on the document, and would have notified the local registrar of her mother’s death.

Anne, who accompanied her mother’s coffin as it travelled from Balmoral to London via Edinburgh, was with the head of state in her last moments.

She said: “I was fortunate to share the last twenty-four hours of my dearest mother’s life.”

Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest on September 19th following a historic seventy-year reign on the throne. 

Her Majesty spent four days lying-in-state at Westminster Hall ahead of the state funeral, where around 250,000 Royal well-wishers came to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.

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Royal Mail to strike for 19 days with Black Friday and Christmas deliveries affected

Strike action will take place across October and November

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Black Friday and Christmas deliveries face delays as Royal Mail workers prepare to strike across the next two months.

The Communication Workers Union announced that action in October and November will be a mixture of ‘single days and rolling action’ across Royal Mail Group’s network.

This includes walkouts from 4am on October 13th for twenty-four hours, and then again on October 20th and 25th, as well as November 28th. 

The union said the strike action will have a ‘dramatic impact’ on deliveries, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.

It could also impact Amazon’s second Prime Day, with sale dates for subscribers on October 11th and 12th.

The CWU says the strike action comes following an ‘outrageous’ decision made by the Royal Mail Group’s senior management to withdraw from major national agreements, push ahead with cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and ‘completely sideline’ the union.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.

“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.

Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.”

Ward went on to urge everyone to ‘stand with their local postal worker’, adding: “If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.

“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”

However, the Royal Mail says changes are needed as it is currently losing £1million a day. A spokesperson said: “On September 22nd, Royal Mail invited CWU to enter into talks through Acas to find a resolution to our dispute on change and pay.

“This evening, rather than responding to our offer of Acas talks, the CWU announced further damaging industrial action, once again taking the path of prolonging disruption over resolution.

“Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices… Further strikes and resistance to transformation by CWU will only make our financial position worse, and threatens the long-term job security of our postmen and women.

“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and engage urgently on the changes required.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

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