THE Police Federation has slammed news that officers won’t be given priority vaccines as a ‘damaging betrayal’ that “won’t be forgotten”.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “There’s real palpable anger from all levels within policing about how we have been completely disregarded and ignored in this phase.
“My colleagues have been on the frontline since the first national lockdown last March, risking infection and even death to keep the public safe.”
The news comes as a government scientist said keeping windows open is more effective at reducing the spread of Covid than masks for primary-age kids.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he is “not a fan” of asking young children to wear masks, and there are better strategies for managing the virus.
He said: “If I had to invest in a single activity to improve the environment both for the children and the adults, I’d be looking at improving the ventilation, unsealing windows that have been painted shut and kept shut for energy-saving reasons … improving air exchanges.
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POLICE AND TEACHERS ANGERED BY AGE-BASED ROLLOUT OF JABS
Teaching unions and police officers have been angered by the Government’s move to continue the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in age order, rather than prioritising the frontline professions.
Teaching unions have reacted angrily to the news, while the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said it was a “deep and damaging betrayal” of police officers, which “will not be forgotten”.
FRAUDSTERS TARGETING GOVERNMENT SCHEMES
A report last summer warned taxpayers face losing billions of pounds to fraudsters targeting Government schemes.
The Policy Exchange think tank said the measures rushed through to save people and businesses from economic ruin are particularly vulnerable to scams because of the size of the packages and the speed with which they were introduced.
Last July, a man from Solihull, West Midlands, was arrested in connection with allegations of a £495,000 fraud of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Other expected announcements include new measures to crack down on fraud in the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
Businesses have claimed furlough payments for more people than they employ during the pandemic, and claiming furlough for employees who continue to work.
HM Revenue and Customs has around 10,000 open inquiries into suspected Covid fraud and some criminal investigations are under way.
CHANCELLOR TO ANNOUNCE UNIT TO CRACK DOWN ON COVID FRAUD
A dedicated unit to crack down on Covid-19 fraudsters exploiting Government financial rescue schemes like furlough is due to be announced in the Budget next week.
The Taxpayer Protection Taskforce, underpinned by £100 million and 1,250 staff, will investigate and hunt down people swindling cash through coronavirus income support programmes, said the Treasury.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the UK-wide unit as part of a series of anti-Covid fraud measures on Wednesday, it said.
He said in a statement: “Our coronavirus support schemes have helped millions of honest, hard-working people – but a small minority have seen this pandemic as an opportunity to defraud the taxpayer.
“This will not be tolerated – which is why the new taskforce will crack down on this criminal activity.”
UNIONISTS WARN PM THAT NI PROTOCOL MUST BE DITCHED IMMEDIATELY
Unionists taking legal action against the Government over the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol have warned the Prime Minister that it must be immediately ditched.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, the collective of unionist politicians and pro-Brexit supporters outline their contention that the Protocol breaches both the Act of Union and the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which gave legislative effect to the historic Good Friday peace accord.
The legal action initiated by former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, peer Baroness Hoey and Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister is being supported by the leadership of the DUP and UUP.
Former UUP leader and architect of the Good Friday deal, Lord Trimble, is also part of the planned proceedings.
STORMONT MINISTER HALTS CONSTRUCTION WORK ON BREXIT INSPECTION POSTS AT NI PORTS
Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has halted construction of permanent inspection facilities for post-Brexit checks on agri-food goods arriving from Great Britain.
DUP minister Gordon Lyons has also stopped further recruitment of inspection staff for the port facilities and said charges would not be levied at the ports on traders bringing goods from GB into Northern Ireland.
Ongoing Irish Sea trade checks, which are taking place at existing repurposed port buildings and other temporary facilities, will continue.
Mr Lyons’s decision relates to ongoing work on new purpose-built inspection facilities at ports like Belfast and Larne.
Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill branded the move a “stunt”.
FESTIVALS THIS YEAR
Creamfields in Cheshire, Boomtown near Winchester and Field Day in London are among the events which sold out their 2021 editions this week, following a boost in demand.
Reading Festival has also sold out, less than two days after organisers confirmed it was going ahead this August – while its sister Leeds Festival has only limited tickets remaining.
Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster’s UK wing, said: “Monday’s announcement kicked off a colossal 600% spike in traffic this week and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
“We’ve had around two million fans on our site with half a million visits to the Ticketmaster Festival Finder guide, it’s a week unlike any we’ve experienced in a typical February.
“The pent-up demand to get back to live events is undeniable – fans are ready to make up for lost time and it’s just brilliant to see.”
TICKETMASTER SEES ‘COLOSSAL’ RISE IN TRAFFIC
Ticketmaster has seen a “colossal” 600% rise in traffic to its website this week, following the announcement of a road map out of lockdown.
he ticket sales company said Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday prompted “a week unlike any we’ve experienced in a typical February”, with some two million potential buyers visiting its site.
Browsing and purchasing was up across the board – with all genres, from music to comedy, seeing increased traffic.
Ticketmaster also saw 500,000 visits to its festival finder guide, nine times the number of visits compared to this time last year.
UN CALLS FOR CEASEFIRES TO ALLOW CORONAVIRUS VACCINATIONS
The United Nations Security Council unanimously backed a UK-led resolution calling for ceasefires to allow millions of people in conflict areas to receive coronavirus vaccinations.
The resolution, co-sponsored by 112 countries, urges warring parties to immediately agree a “sustained humanitarian pause” to enable jabs to be delivered.
Adopted on Friday, it also calls for donations of vaccines from richer countries to be sent to nations in need, including through the Covax initiative.
From Syria and Yemen to the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and Somalia, ceasefires could help vaccines get to the 160 million people living in conflict zones.
‘STICK TO THE PLAN’
Boris Johnson has insisted lockdown will not be eased any earlier than his roadmap plans despite demands from MPs and other sectors to speed it up.
The PM vowed that his timetable was “sensible” and cautious but also irreversible, and the plan provided some certainty for everyone.
Boris Johnson said his timetable to ease lockdown is ‘sensible’Credit: AFP
SINGLE DOSE OF PFIZER VACCINE ‘CAN REDUCE ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION BY FOUR-FOLD’
A single jab of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can reduce by four-fold the number of asymptomatic coronavirus infections, a new study has indicated.
The new data, from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, suggests the “dramatic reduction” in positive tests among asymptomatic healthcare workers who had received one dose of the vaccine can make “hospitals even safer places to be”.
The study, which is awaiting peer review, analysed results from thousands of Covid-19 tests carried out weekly on hospital staff displaying no coronavirus symptoms.
It was led by a team at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge.
CAMPAIGNERS URGED TO WEAR MASKS AND WASH HANDS
All campaigners will be told to wear masks and to wash their hands more regularly.
With groups as large as 30 people meeting barred until at least May 17, hustings and public meetings will have to take place remotely.
DOORSTEP CAMPAIGNING TO BE ALLOWED TO RESUME AHEAD OF LOCAL ELECTIONS
Doorstep campaigning will be able to resume from March 8 in the run up to May’s local elections – as long as coronavirus rules are obeyed, the Government has said.
Campaigners will be able to deliver leaflets and talk to voters on their doorsteps, but must remain at a distance of two metres away and not enter their homes.
Ministers will relax the current ban under the third national lockdown so two months of in-person campaigning can take place ahead of voting on May 6.
Constitution minister Chloe Smith said: “Democracy should not be cancelled because of Covid. Voters appreciate being well-informed and campaigning is an important part of effective elections.
“I urge political campaigners to continue to show social responsibility, and for parties, agents and candidates to ensure that their campaigners understand the clear rules.”
NAHT UNION SAYS SCHOOL TEAMS HAVE BEEN LET DOWN BY GOVERNMENT
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “I am amazed by the continuing dedication of school teams.
“The Government has let them down at every turn.”
‘PALPABLE ANGER WITHIN POLICING’
John Apter, from the Police Federation, told the PA news agency: “There’s real palpable anger from all levels within policing about how we have been completely disregarded and ignored in this phase.
“What is expected of policing does put them at risk. It does put them at risk of transmitting this virus.
“They’re being spat at, coughed at, rolling around on the ground with people, working in hospital environments, going into people’s homes.
“They can’t mitigate the risk of the virus. All of that means absolutely nothing.
“This is a very deep and damaging betrayal and it will not be forgotten.”
MATT HANCOCK DEFENDS COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT
Matt Hancock has defended the continued rollout of the UK vaccination programme in age order, saying it is the “fastest and simplest way to roll out the jabs”.
The Health Secretary said the view of the Government and its advisers was that “the right thing to do, the moral thing to do is to make sure that we save the most lives”.
Asked specifically why teachers are not being prioritised, he said data showed that “thankfully teachers are no more likely to catch Covid than any other member of the population who goes to work.
“Trying to come up with a scheme which prioritises one professional group over another would have been complicated to put in place and wouldn’t have done what we asked the JCVI to do, which I think is the right thing, which is to make sure we minimise the amount of people who die by using the vaccine.”
The Health Secretary has defended the rollout of the vaccination programmeCredit: AP:Associated Press
NUMBER 10 WRITES TO TRAINEE HAIRDRESSER WHO OFFERED TO CUT BORIS JOHNSON’S HAIR
A trainee hairdresser who wrote to Boris Johnson offering to cut his hair has been thanked by Number 10 for his “thoughtful offer”.
Jack Jenkins, 19, of Thetford in Norfolk, struggled to practice cutting hair in lockdown and used a trunk full of plastic heads in the absence of models.
He wrote to the Prime Minister inviting him to be a hair model and said he was “shocked” to receive a reply.
The letter, from 10 Downing Street, said: “The Prime Minister greatly appreciates your kind words of support and thoughtful offer to cut his hair.
“I am sure once restrictions are lifted you will have no shortage of models to practice on.”
VACCINATION PASSPORTS ‘HERE BY SUMMER’
Covid vaccination passports are likely to be introduced by summer in a huge boost for Brits dreaming of a beach holiday abroad this year.
The certificates will enable people to travel in Europe despite the coronavirus pandemic.
More on the story here
TWO MILLION LONDONERS GET THEIR COVID JAB
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has said that more than two million doses of the life-saving Covid-19 vaccines have been given to Londoners.
He tweeted: “I couldn’t be prouder of our NHS London staff working day in, day out to make this possible. You are truly the best of us. Thank you.”
THERESA MAY GETS FIRST COVID JAB
Theresa May has received her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
The former prime minister, 64, described the jab as “effective and painless”.
Mrs May thanked the NHS for their “heroic efforts” during the pandemic, urging others to follow suit by getting the vaccine.
All over 60s who have yet to receive their coronavirus jab are now asked to book an appointment online.
‘THE JABS ARMY MARCHES ON’
Matt Hancock has praised The Sun’s Jabs Army, saying it “marches on”.
He said that volunteers have given “unbelievable support” to the NHS and he hopes they will be able to help the health services in the future too.
WALES TO REACH ONE MILLION VACCINATIONS BY SATURDAY
More than one million people in Wales are expected to have had a coronavirus vaccine by Saturday, the country’s chief medical officer has said.
Dr Frank Atherton said more than 902,000 people had already received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while more than 80,000 people have had their second dose – about 2.7 per cent of the country’s adult population.
Mr Atherton told the Welsh Government’s press briefing on Friday that Wales continued to lead the rest of the UK with the proportion of the population given both first and second jabs.
He said: “By tomorrow, we expect that our remarkable vaccination teams in all of our health boards and areas will have administered over one million vaccines, a really phenomenal performance and a key milestone.
“That’s a great success story that brings us hope, and brings us a potential way out of the coronavirus crisis that we’ve faced over the last year.”
‘DON’T RELAX AFTER JAB’
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that people who have already received their jab should not relax yet, but need to continue following the rules.
He said that if people stop adhering to restrictions, start going out and meeting up, there is a risk that the number of coronavirus infections and deaths could rise again.
He said: “Do not wreck this now, it is too early to relax.”
PHASE TWO OF VACCINE ROLLOUT
Once the nine priority groups have been vaccinated, the following groups will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine:
- All those aged 40-49 years
- All those aged 30-39 years
- All those aged 18-29 years
CHESHIRE COP COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR U-TURN ON DECISION NOT TO PRIORITISE POLICE FOR JAB
Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane has written to the Prime Minister calling for a U-turn on the decision not to prioritise police officers for the vaccine.
In the letter, he said: “Police officers and staff put themselves and their families at risk everyday by working in close contact with those who may be carrying the virus.
“But you have let them down by your failure to protect them through the vaccination programme.”
Mr Keane said at least 22 police officers and staff, including one in Cheshire, had lost their lives to coronavirus.
He added: “I urge you to stop betraying our hardworking frontline police officers and staff and reduce the risk of them catching this deadly disease and spreading it to vulnerable people in our communities, putting even greater strain on our already stretched public services.”
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