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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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Boy, 15, arrested after teenage boy stabbed to death outside school

He’s the second person to be arrested

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West Yorkshire Police

A teenage boy has been arrested following the murder of a 15-year-old on Wednesday.

The suspect, also 15, was picked up by police after student Khayri McLean was stabbed to death in Huddersfield.

He has now been arrested in connection with the murder.

He’s the second person to be arrested as police investigate Khayri’s death outside his school.

West Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating the murder of 15-year-old Khayri McLean in Huddersfield have arrested a second youth in connection with the incident.

“The 15-year-old male was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody. A 16-year-old male who was arrested yesterday also remains in custody.

“Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) are continuing to conduct enquiries into the death of Khayri, who died after being stabbed on Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, on Wednesday.”

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Kwasi Kwarteng scraps cap on bankers’ bonuses in first mini-budget as Chancellor

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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first mini-budget in the House of Commons this morning.

He began by discussing the government’s plan to support people with the cost of energy, including freezing domestic bills at £2,500 and giving out the £400 rebate.

There’s also unit price limits for companies.

Kwarteng said he believes the UK needs a ‘new approach for a new era’ to achieve growth of 2.5%, saying the three important parts of his mini-budget are reforming the economy’s supply side, tax cuts and a responsible approach when it comes to public finances.

As part of this, the Chancellor announced a new bill to overhaul planning restrictions, saying this will ‘unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws’.

He revealed that benefit claimants will see their benefits reduced if they do not fulfil their job searching commitments.

Kwarteng also confirmed that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped, following reports that he would make this one of his first moves.

As well as that, the planned corporation tax increase has been cancelled, and will remain at 19%, with the Chancellor also setting out a series of tax cuts for businesses.

This includes tax cuts for businesses in designated tax sites for 10 years, accelerated tax reliefs for buildings, and no business rates to pay for newly occupied business residences.

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Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine has died aged 28

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@thecherryvalentine / Instagram

Drag star George Ward, known as Cherry Valentine, has sadly passed away aged 28, it’s been confirmed this morning.

Ward’s family announced the news, describing his death as a ‘profound shock’.

He appeared on series two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before going on to front the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.

According to his family, Ward – who was raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller community – died on Sunday.

He qualified as a mental health nurse back in 2015 before he began his career in drag.

Ward’s family said in a statement: “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away.

“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.

“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same.

“We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you Georgie.”

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