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‘Zero traces’ of Covid found in Manchester Piccadilly and three other major UK train stations

Fantastic news for commuters

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Gerald England / Geograph & Abhijit Tembhekar / Flickr

Manchester Piccadilly and three other of the UK’s busiest train stations are completely Covid-free, new tests have shown today.

Two rounds of testing were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station, and on several trains running between them, Metro reported.

Surfaces frequently touched by customers – like escalator handles, ticket machines and benches – were swabbed and sent away for lab testing. The same was done on intercity train services and hour-long air samples were also analysed.

Abhijit Tembhekar / Flickr

The experiment, led by Imperial College London, was carried out first in January and then again in June, and produced very encouraging results on both occasions.

In January, the pandemic in England was at its peak but cases dropped off by more than 50% by the end of the month. In June, however, the month started with 2,539 new cases being reported but, by the 30th, it had climbed to 21,293, back to levels last seen in January.

David Green, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, said on the study: “In the same way that a swab is used to take a Covid test in the nose and throat and sent to the lab, we use a filter to collect any virus particles in the air and swabs to collect viruses on surfaces.

“This approach provides a way of quantifying the amount of virus circulating in these public environments and the effect of mitigation strategies like cleaning and wearing face coverings.

Gerald England / Geograph

“This is part of a wider programme of work with the public transport sector to understand where this virus is most prevalent so that we can return to pre-pandemic activities as safely as possible.”

Rob Mole, the Senior Programme Manager for Network Rail’s response to the pandemic, added: “Station cleaning teams and train staff have made it their mission to keep passengers safe during the pandemic and this is proof their dedicated approach works.

“We want all passengers to travel in confidence on the railway network and we will keep doing our part by rigorously cleaning trains and stations [and] we ask passengers to do their bit too by wearing face coverings while travelling out of respect for others so we can all stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Wearing face masks onboard trains across the UK is no longer compulsory, though it is still strongly advised. 

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Some Covid restrictions to stay in place in Manchester, council says

All Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted today

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Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

As the majority of Plan B Covid restrictions are lifted, Manchester’s public health director has said some will be staying in place across the city.

In what has been described as a ‘pragmatic approach’, Manchester City Council is asking people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces and on public transport.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing masks in corridors until the February half term.

David Regan, Manchester’s public health director, said keeping some measures in place should ‘limit the onward transmission’ of Covid.

@circlz / Unsplash

He said there had been a ‘good dialogue’ with the city’s universities and that schools had been ‘really receptive’ to the advice. 

Regan explained: “If our primary school children are affected and it goes back into the household, that affects our health and social care workforce.

Deputy council leader Joanna Midgley supported Regan’s stance on the matter, saying the pandemic ‘was not over’ and said there were vulnerable people who ‘needed to be looked after’.

She said: “As the restrictions end, as a city we want to try and encourage people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces on public transport and to get that message across about looking out for each other, caring about each other.”

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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GMP confiscates and burns 173kg of cannabis following raid on weed farm

The cannabis farm contained drugs with an estimated value of £750k

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GMP Manchester North / Facebook

Greater Manchester Police officers have burned huge bags of cannabis after plants growing the Class B drug were discovered at a weed farm in Manchester.

Officers raided the property in Cheetham Hill earlier this week on January 24th, where they discovered a cannabis farm containing drugs worth an estimated £750k. 

Yesterday, 173kg of the plants – the equivalent of five German Shepherds, according to the force – were bagged up and burned through an incinerator.

GMP shared images of the farm onto the GMP Manchester North Facebook page, writing: “Tonight we have executed a warrant in #Cheetham and found a large cannabis farm with an estimated £750k worth of drugs.

“If anyone has any information please pass it to us so we can continue taking drugs from the streets.”

The force then shared an update yesterday regarding the burning of the plants, showing photos of police vans overflowing with bags of cannabis plants alongside the caption: “We have now dismantled the cannabis farm in #Cheetham and 173kg of cannabis has been burnt at the incinerator!

“That’s the equivalent of 5 German Shepherds! Our van was filled!”

This comes just weeks after North West Motorway Police seized £300k worth of laundered money during a routine stop check.

During the search, Regional Commercial Vehicle Unit and MO24 officers found a bag containing the cash in the boot, something that the driver ‘couldn’t account for’. 

The cash was subsequently seized and the driver was arrested. 

Reports involving drugs or other anti-social behaviour can be made to police online or by calling 101.

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Met Police launches criminal investigation into Number 10 parties

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Sky News

The Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation into the Number 10 parties during the 2020 lockdown, it has been announced today.

The force will be investigating ‘a number’ of incidences over the last two years in Downing Street and Whitehall, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said in a press conference today.

She says the criteria for investigating past breaches of Covid rules has been met thanks to information provided by the Cabinet Office along with the force’s own officers.

Number 10 / Flickr

The criteria is:

  • Evidence that people knew or ought to have known what they were doing was an offense.
  • Not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law
  • Little ambiguity around absence of any reasonable defence

Commissioner Dick added that Downing Street police may also be looked at as part of the force’s investigation, saying: “There are a number of officers posted in the surrounds of Downing Street… They have a very clear role and that is to protect security.

“In relation to anything they may have seen or heard or done or not done, again, I’m afraid I am not prepared to comment but I can assure you that we are carrying out our investigations and if that’s a relevant matter we will find out about that.”

She then insisted that the Met ‘police without fear or favour’ when challenged about why Scotland Yard hasn’t yet investigated the numerous reports of Number 10 parties.

Commissioner Dick added: “I absolutely understand there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media over the last several weeks.

“Many many people including many Londoners, and indeed my colleagues have made huge sacrifices and they’ve suffered considerable loss during the pandemic.”

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