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  • The Telegraph

    Covid cases cut by a third during lockdown, figures reveal

    Lockdown cut Covid cases nationally by a third, although barely changed the level of infection in some areas, new data suggests. Imperial College London’s REACT study for England found that infections fell by more than half in the North West and North East, and were also down in Yorkshire and the Humber. But prevalence remained high in the East Midlands and West Midlands. More than 105,000 volunteers were tested in England for the ongoing research. According to round seven of the study, there were 96 people infected per 10,000 between November 13 and 24, down from 132 per 10,000 between October 26 and November 2. England's second lockdown began on November 5 and is due to end on December 2 when the country will go into tiered restrictions. Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said the findings suggest the tiers before the beginning of November, followed by the lockdown, had helped bring cases down. He said: "Our robust data offers encouraging signs for England's epidemic, where we're seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected. "These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect. "As we approach a challenging time of year, it's even more vital that through our actions and behaviours we all play our part in helping to keep the virus at bay." The Department of Health said the research supports findings from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that stronger measures would be needed in some areas to prevent the epidemic from growing and that local tiers should be toughened to keep the virus under control when the lockdown ends this week. Which tier am I in? Use our postcode checker for the latest Covid rules Health Secretary Matt Hancock said while the drop in cases is "encouraging", the public must stick to the rules in the coming weeks. He said: "Thanks to the huge efforts of the public over the last few weeks we have been able to get the virus more under control. "This latest data shows we must keep our resolve and we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal just yet, despite the encouraging fall in cases and progress on vaccines. "The next few weeks and months are the busiest time of year for our NHS, so it's vital we all continue to follow new local restrictions, wash our hands, wear a face covering and observe social distancing."

  • The Telegraph

    Free-range farmers to be paid more under post-Brexit reforms to agriculture subsidies

    English farmers could be paid for producing free-range eggs or grass-fed beef under post-Brexit changes to agricultural subsidies, the Government will announce on Monday. Higher welfare English food could be labelled in shops to give consumers greater choice amid concerns over import standards in post-Brexit deals. English farmers will ultimately have higher legal standards for the food they produce in a move that may raise concerns about global competitiveness. Reforms to £3 billion subsidies for farmers under the much-maligned EU Common Agricultural Policy are a cornerstone of the Government's post-Brexit plans. Where the CAP was blamed for encouraging inefficiencies and poor environmental practices, farmers will be paid for producing "public goods", including clean air and water, and reductions in carbon emissions. Overhauling the system marks the biggest shift in 50 years in the way the English countryside is managed, and will mean changes for every farmer.

  • The Telegraph

    Boris Johnson on collision course with rebels over Covid tiers

    Tory MPs were on a collision course with Boris Johnson over the economic impact of England's new tiers on Sunday night, as they warned that tens of thousands of jobs would be put at risk without major concessions by the Government. The Prime Minister had attempted to head off a rebellion by up to 100 backbenchers by promising a review of the tiers in mid-December, with a vote and "sunset" clause at the beginning of February that could remove them altogether. But his weekend letter to all MPs and peers explaining the proposals failed to allay the concerns of backbenchers, who are demanding a comprehensive assessment of the economic, social and health impact of the decision to place 99 per cent of the country under Tier 2 or 3. The assessment is due to be published on Monday before MPs vote on Tuesday on the tiers, which will replace the national lockdown on Wednesday. A government defeat is not on the cards as Labour is unlikely to vote against the tiers but it could abstain to maximise pressure on Mr Johnson. Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said the Government needed to publish "hard evidence, not hyperbole" to justify the tiers, and warned fellow MPs that for all the promises of a sunset clause on Feb 3, the measures were likely to last until Easter.

  • The Telegraph

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may miss Queen's festive dinner

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may not be included in the Queen’s “Christmas bubble” as their three young children will be considered a risk to their elderly great-grandparents, The Telegraph understands. The Queen, 94, and Duke of Edinburgh, 99, will be limited to spending the festive period with two other households, just like the rest of the nation, meaning that the traditional mass gathering at Sandringham is off the table. A final decision about who will join Her Majesty is not expected to be made for another few days but royal sources have acknowledged that factors such as the monarch’s age and relative frailty will be taken into account. The elderly couple are in the most at-risk bracket for coronavirus and have thus far been carefully shielded by what has become known as “HMS bubble,” comprising a vastly reduced staff. Buckingham Palace doctors will advise the Queen about the most sensible way forward and will be particularly mindful of the Duke’s frailty after he was hospitalised just before Christmas last year with a pre-existing condition.

  • The Telegraph

    Letters: Sage’s Christmas advice betrays a poor grasp of how most people live

    SIR – I smiled at some of the suggestions from our eminent scientists in Sage on how to have a safe Christmas. Three pieces of advice caught my eye: have drinks or Christmas dinner outside by a fire pit; have two tables so you can socially distance; and, if you are a visitor, take your own plates and put them in the dishwasher yourself. These guidelines certainly tell us something about the lifestyles of Sage members – and their understanding of how most people live. Dr John Mitchell Potters Bar, Hertfordshire SIR – The Bank of England recently said that paper money does not carry a high risk of Covid contamination. Yet we have now been told to avoid boardgames at Christmas in order to prevent infection. Monopoly money can be deadly. It’s difficult to keep up. Cameron Morice Reading, Berkshire

  • The Telegraph

    Joe Biden fractures foot while playing with one of his dogs

    President-elect Joe Biden has fractured his foot while playing with his dog, Major, in Delaware on Saturday. The 78-year-old president-elect will have to wear a walking boot for several weeks. It is unclear whether this will last until his inauguration on January 20. Initial X-rays did not show a break, but the diagnosis changed following a CT scan. “Initial X-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging," said Dr Kevin O'Connor. "Follow-up CT scan confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot. It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks.” On Sunday evening, he was seen walking with a slight limp to an SUV which took him to the Delaware Imaging Network for the CT scan.

  • The Telegraph

    Romain Grosjean's escape from seemingly certain death was as close to a miraculous vision as any sport has seen

    It was a scene positively biblical in its power. Just 20 seconds after he had speared into a Bahraini crash barrier at 53 times the force of gravity, his car slicing in half and flames engulfing his cockpit, Romain Grosjean emerged from the inferno, hurdled the wall of shattered steel, and walked away. Formula One is not a realm given to invoking the divine, but the Frenchman’s escape from seemingly certain death was as close to a miraculous vision as any sport has seen. One half of Grosjean’s machine lay embedded in molten metal. The other half had come to rest a few yards away, a gruesome cleaving that bore witness to the horror of the impact. If ever there was a sight to shatter the misconception that modern F1 drivers know nothing of the terrors that assailed their forefathers, this was it. Grosjean’s ordeal rendered any suggestion of this sport being too safe, too anodyne, null and void. But for the halo that encircled his head as he hurtled towards doom at 137mph, he would, in all likelihood, have been killed on impact. But for his advanced flame-retardant overalls, he would have been consumed by the conflagration. As it was, Grosjean sustained only minor burns to his wrists and ankles, staying overnight at a nearby military hospital as doctors examined him for suspected broken ribs. His team, Haas, posted a video of him on Sunday night smiling in his bed, albeit with his hands encased in protective plastic. “I am OK – well, sort of OK,” he joked. “Thank you for all the messages.” The outcome was one that nobody observing either the crash or the ensuing fireball had any right to expect. The very fact that the 34-year-old would live to spend another day with his wife, Marion, and his three children, Sacha, Simon and Camille, stood as testament to the sport’s insistence never to compromise on safety. When the FIA, F1’s world governing body, resolved in 2017 to introduce the halo, a wishbone-shaped device to protect drivers from head injuries, it drew criticism for the aesthetics of the design. Too ugly, it was claimed, and too obstructive to vision. Now, not for the first time, it can be confidently credited with saving somebody’s life. “I wasn’t for the halo some years ago, but I think it’s the greatest thing we have built in Formula One,” Grosjean said. “Without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.”

  • The Telegraph

    Edinson Cavani faces FA investigation for potentially racist post on social media

    The Football Association are to investigate after Edinson Cavani was reported to have used the words 'gracias negrito' in response to a message on social media. A posting, which appeared on Instagram, has been sent to the FA and they confirmed to Telegraph Sport that they were aware of a message which has since been deleted and that they would be looking into it. Cavani is understood to have been responding to a fan who had posted the words — 'asi te quiero matador' (I love you so killer) — following his dramatic late winner in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory at Southampton. The word ‘negrito’ became central to the debate over the allegations against Luis Suárez, who is also from Uruguay, when Liverpool played Manchester United back in 2011. In his autobiography, Suárez said it was a word that had been used between his family members and was never meant as a racist slur. At the time, Gus Poyet, also from Uruguay, said that it was not deemed offensive in his country but that “we need to adapt” and pay attention to “how we use it”. Manchester United are satisfied that the term was clearly meant in the affectionate context that it is used in South America but, with Cavani aware that it can be interpreted differently, the post has been deleted. Although much of the Suárez fall-out did focus on the word ‘negrito’ and its meaning in Uruguary, it was actually his use of the word ‘negro’ to Patrice Evra which was highlighted in the FA’s verdict. The FA’s report said that he used the word 'negro' seven times. Suárez said in his autobiography that it was once. The FA is now expected to ask Cavani for his observations but have, in recent years, have sanctioned players over controversial social media postings. Bernardo Silva was banned last season for one match after posting — and then deleting — a picture of a character used in a chocolate brand. Dele Alli also received a one-game ban for a comment he posted about the coronavirus which was ruled to have breached FA Rule E3 which relates to any reference, whether express or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin and/or nationality. Cavani joined United on loan from Paris St-Germain in October and starred in Sunday’s 3-2 win against Southampton. After coming on at half-time, he scored twice and also provided an assist to help United reverse a 2-0 half-time deficit.

  • The Telegraph

    Companies should be able to apologise without admitting liability, says Conservative MP

    Companies should be able to apologise without accepting liability, a Tory MP has urged, as he gets ready to introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill to restore “civility”. John Howell has argued changes should be made to the legal system in England and Wales to allow apologies to be issued in certain proceedings. The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dispute Resolution said ministers had vowed to keep an “open mind” on whether to support his Apologies Bill. The Tory MP for Henley will ask the House of Commons to allow his proposed legislation to be introduced for further consideration on Tuesday. Mr Howell said: “I think it would be to introduce a great element of civility, particularly at a time when we're short of civility and it would also be an enormous piece of common sense. “An apology is one way of preventing a dispute from getting out of hand. Lawyers always advise against making one when a mistake happens because it creates a liability of guilt so what this Bill does is to take away that liability.” Mr Howell said the proposed legislation would have made a “great deal” of difference during the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy. He said: “The conversation around Grenfell Tower would have changed immensely if somebody had been able to give an apology at the time. “Hospitals do have that ability to give an apology but it is so rarely used properly and the apologies are not really meaningful. That is also something that I wish to change”. The Conservative MP highlighted the introduction of such provision to allow apologies to be made in other nations, as well as several states across the US. Mr Howell explained: "This is a Bill that has been introduced in Scotland. I have to say, the Scots haven't used it very effectively, but nevertheless it was introduced in Scotland. "It was also introduced in Hong Kong before the current troubles with the Chinese and it's been introduced in most American states. "So even in one of the most litigious countries in the world, they do accept that people can make an apology without creating the legal liability." He continued: "I do think it's overdue. I think that it is one of the tools that it will be lovely to see in existence from the point of alternative dispute resolution because I think it will help people reach a proper settlement of their dispute before it appears in the High Court." The Bill has received cross-party support from senior Tories Chris Grayling, Greg Clark and Sir Bob Neill as well as from Labour’s Chris Bryant and the SNP’s Kenny MacAskill. However, it will also need the backing of the Government to pass. On Sunday evening Ministry of Justice sources suggested ministers would listen to Mr Howell’s Commons speech on Tuesday before making a decision on whether to support the Bill.

  • The Telegraph

    Shops can stay open for longer in run-up to Christmas to help the high street, says minister

    Shops are to be allowed to stay open for longer in the run-up to Christmas under a major relaxation of rules announced to help revive High Street stores hammered by coronavirus restrictions. In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said he wanted councils to waive rules that restrict shops’ opening hours. Shops currently have to apply under the town and country planning act if they want to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday but it is a process that can take weeks. Mr Jenrick said he wanted to sweep away such bureaucracy to help shops after months of coronavirus restrictions and increasing competition from online sales. It means that shops should be able to decide how long and when they open through December and January including the option of 24/7 service to recoup sales lost during the pandemic.