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Miguel Angel Lopez hits out to claim Tour de France stage as Primoz Roglic tightens grip on yellow



Once beyond the intermediate sprint, I wouldn’t be surprised if a breakaway clipped off after the heavier fastmen eased up, before the stage really lights up. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) will be keen non adding some more points to his account in the mountains classification, but does he have the legs to take him all the way to the final climb? The 33-year-old has been very lively over the past few stages, and is not quite at the level of the real big hitters, and so I think once Rolland goes over the col de la Madeleine, his day will most likely be done.

Don’t be surprised if EF Pro Cycling put two or three riders — Hugh Carthy, Daniel Martínez and Neilson Powless — in the break, while Mitchelton-Scott may fancy their chances with Esteban Chaves or Mikel Nieve. Ineos Grenadiers, surely, will also get involved? That said, there will be an awful lot of other that will ‘ fancy their chances’, but will they be able to get into the breakaway should one form and if so, will the have the legs to finish it of on the final climb of the day?

So, will today’s stage be won by a breakaway rider? If so they will need a decent lead by the time it reaches the bottom of the final climb of the day. The final kilometres of the col de la Loze will be contested on what has been described as a cycle path and so it is very narrow, meaning positioning will be absolutely key. Get stuck behind somebody who has a mechanical or a crash and that’s it, your Tour de France hopes could be over. Also, the gradients are insanely steep. Very un-Tour de France like, with pitches reaching 24% in places and long stretches at over 11% this really is terrain for those with an explosive edge. Someone like Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). Anyway, enough of this idle speculation, racing starts in 10 minutes.





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Obese adults will be put on a ‘soup and shakes’ diet



For the residents along Indonesia’s Cisadane River, the coronavirus has brought not just deadly disease, but also a deluge of medical waste: a constant stream of syringes, face masks and hazmat suits floating by.

The double threat for those who depend on the 86-mile-long river to bathe and wash their clothes comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain Covid-19, now with the highest death toll in Southeast Asia, and in the past week almost 3,000 new infections a day.

As the virus has spread, medical waste had been piling up at Tangerang’s Cipeucang landfill. Then in May its walls collapsed, sending tons of garbage straight into the Cisadane’s khaki green waters.

“I still worry to be honest, but I have to wash here,” local resident Eka Purwanti, 36, told Reuters, as she did her laundry in the river, and children played on the riverbank, “I hope nothing will happen, although I know it’s a deadly disease.”





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why this was a disaster ten years in the making


There would have been no demand for masks, visors or droplet repellent PPE. Mass testing and track and trace systems would have been next to worthless. And there would have been no need for lockdown.

Why? Because an influenza pandemic would have been unstoppable. Just as was shown by Excercise Cygnus in 2016 when ministers simulated a flu pandemic, many tens of thousands would have died but there would have been nothing much to do, other than bury the dead.

This is the narrative pushed by Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, and Sally Davies, the former chief medical officer, who were responsible for Britain’s pandemic planning, but it will never survive the scrutiny of the public inquiry to come.

As epidemiologists like Prof Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, have pointed out, past pandemic strains of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 are extraordinarily similar. Both are droplet spread, if anything Covid spreads faster than influenza, both cause asymptomatic infections and both have similar infection fatality rates.

“SARS-CoV-2 behaves in most ways like a pandemic influenza strain,” wrote Prof Balloux in a recent Twitter thread. “The only major epidemiological difference between COVID 19 and flu pandemics is the age risk distribution, with influenza being highly dangerous to young children in addition to the elderly. At this stage, COVID 19 is really ‘like pandemic flu’, but not like ‘seasonal endemic flu'[which is much less lethal]”.

Mr Lesh says the real problem in Whitehall was “failure of imagination” and a ­misjudgment about society’s  tolerance for risk.

He said: “The thinking was, as with previous pandemics and Excercise Cygnus, you would let it run through and manage the deaths. They thought people’s tolerance for risk was higher, and that people would also be far less tolerant of social distancing measures.”

“If they looked at the SARS outbreak for example, my guess is they thought we would never accept that sort of mitigation in the west. So in some ways, you could say it was a benign assumption – that western publics would not be willing to make the sacrifices of the relatively more collectivist societies of Asia”.

Group think and western ­exceptionalism were certainly part of the problem but, as Mr Davies points out it was money too. The Institute for Government’s report on the pandemic finds that “failures in planning and funding cuts meant public services were not well prepared to handle the coronavirus crisis”.

Years of austerity overseen by former chancellor George Osborne saw the NHS protected but the capacity of its sister public health services dramatically cut.

“The Treasury is very effective at controlling spending but has historically been less good at understanding what it is getting for its money”, said Mr Davies.

“Also, the priority of governments since 2010 has been to keep tax as low as they can and – within public spending – to focus on efficiency over resilience.

“Those are perfectly reasonable political judgments to make, but clearly that has come back to bite us.”

Protect yourself and your family by learning about Global Health Security



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latest on compulsory coverings, fines and who is exempt from wearing one



When will face masks be compulsory in shops?

The policy comes into play on July 24, although ministers made the announcement today in order to give ‘people time to prepare’, according to the Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Mr Hancock said: “The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.”

He added: “There is also evidence that face coverings increase confidence in people to shop.”

Staff themselves will not have to wear a mask. 

Will I be fined for wearing one after July 24?

Those who do not adhere to the rules face a fine of up to £100. It will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.  Compulsory mask wearing will be enforced by police, according to the government, rather than shop owners and staff themselves, who can call the police or refuse the person entry.

Who is exempt from wearing a face mask?

According to the official Government guidance, the below groups are not required to wear a mask:

  • A child under the age of 11
  • An employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
  • A constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
  • An emergency response member of staff, such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
  • An official such as a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
  • If you are on board public transport but remain in your own vehicle, such as a car ferry

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

Yes there are some exceptions, which the government have outlined as ‘reasonable’ reasons for not wearing a mask. These include if you’re travelling with someone who requires lip reading, if you suffer from severe distress when you put it on, suffer from a disability where you’re unable to put it on, or you need to eat, drink or take medication. 

Those who suffer from autism also don’t have to wear a mask, with the same applying to those who have an impairment which could be affected by putting on a covering. 

Are masks required on trains and buses?

The current guidance has required masks to be worn on public transport in England since June 15. Travel operators can refuse to let passengers on board if they are not covering their face – and those who refuse to follow the new protocol could face a fine. Exceptions apply for very young children, disabled people, and those who have breathing difficulties. 

Uber has had restrictions in place since June 15, with both drivers and passengers required to wear a mask whilst in the vehicle.

A paper published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change on June 12 said that transparent face shields of the sort used by hospital doctors and nurses should be used by transport workers, teachers and retail workers.

It advises that visors, like face masks, be used by the public to mitigate the risk of infection where social distancing is not possible.



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Boris Johnson admits he is concerned by Leicester outbreak as lockdown looks set to remain in the city



There has been more than one million cases of Covid-19 in the 22 countries of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region, the WHO confirmed on Sunday.

As of 11:00 on Sunday, 1,025,478 cases and 23,461 deaths have been recorded from the region, which spans from Morocco to Pakistan.

While cases in Europe have been largely declining, several countries in the region have been seeing increases in the number of cases and deaths. Countries recently reporting increases in cases include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory and Oman.

The WHO said it is especially concerned about the spread of the virus in war-torn countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya due to poor infrastructure and fragile health systems vastly weakened by conflict. In all countries, it said, there is still a clear need for expansion of testing and more accurate reporting of cases and deaths to inform targeted responses.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO’s regional director for the region, said: “This is a very concerning milestone. As shops, restaurants, mosques, businesses, airports and other public places begin to open up, we need to be more vigilant and cautious than ever before. One million people have been infected, tens of thousands have died, and many more are still at risk in our region.

“We cannot relax our efforts. In fact, many countries lifting restrictions are seeing marked increases in cases, which signifies the need to accelerate public health response measures. Communities must remain vigilant and play a key role in keeping themselves and their countries safe.”





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Justin Trudeau ‘shocked’ by video of indigenous chief being punched by police in Canada



Justin Trudeau has called for an independent investigation after a “shocking” video showing the arrest of an indigenous chief by federal police in Canada.

The video, filmed and released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, shows an officer rushing at Chief Allan Adam on March 10 during an encounter over an expired licence plate. The officer tackles Mr Adam and punches him in the face.

“We’ve all now seen the shocking video of Chief Adam’s arrest and we must get to the bottom of this,” the Canadian Prime Minister told a daily briefing.

“Like many people I have serious questions about what happened,” Mr Trudeau said. “The independent investigation must be transparent and be carried out so that we get answers.”

In the dashcam video (below) broadcast by several Canadian media, Mr Adam has a heated exchange with a police officer outside a casino in the province of Alberta.



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How do coronavirus home antibody tests work, and how do I get one?



The Elecsys laboratory-based test requires a blood sample to be taken by a health professional. Blood serums are obtained, to which reagents are added, and then examined in machines known as cobas e analysers, already widely installed in NHS labs across the country.

The development of an accurate antibody test is seen as key to helping Britain get back to work.

Scientists believe people who produce antibodies after having coronavirus may develop immunity to catching the virus again, making them safe to return to work.

Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, says: “If you test positive for antibodies, it’s likely you have a degree of immunity. We’re not sure for how long, and how much, so you shouldn’t stop [social] distancing, but best guess it is likely to be partially protective for at least a few months.”

The Government had previously hoped to roll out millions of antibody tests, but supplies from China failed to pass sensitivity and specificity tests. 

Ministers will attempt to recoup taxpayers’ money spent on the fingerprick tests after an Oxford University trial found they returned inaccurate results.

That failure was a significant setback because it had been hoped the antibody tests would show who had already built up immunity, therefore offering a swifter route out of lockdown.

In April, however, Professor Karol Sikora, a private oncologist and Dean of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, validated a test kit using samples from staff at his clinics, which were then verified by a private lab.

Around 6 per cent of staff were found to have had the virus but, crucially, under-40s who had tested positive came back negative, suggesting the test may not be useful for the wider population. 

Siemens Healthineers, a German diagnostics and medical imaging firm, also announced on April 23 that it was producing an antibody blood test to identify past coronavirus infections.

The blood tests were expected to be available to large labs by late May, the company said, adding that it would be able to provide more than 25 million tests per month from June thanks to an upgrade to its manufacturing site in Massachusetts.

Another antibody test being pioneered by Oxford University could be available by the end of May, according to Professor John Newton, the UK’s national testing co-ordinator.

What is an antigen test?

An antigen test detects the presence (or absence) of an antigen, not antibodies. An antigen is a structure within a virus that triggers the immune system’s response to fight off the infection. It can be detected in blood before antibodies are made.

An antigen test is effective because it can take a few days for the immune system to build enough antibodies to be detected in a test, however, antigens can be detected almost immediately after infection. So, in theory, the test can tell much sooner whether someone has the virus.

Antigen tests are used to diagnose HIV, malaria and flu. 



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Donald Trump clashes with reporters



A group of California prisoners tried to infect themselves in a futile bid to win freedom, a senior police official said on Monday.

Inmates at a facility in Castaic, north of Los Angeles, were filmed sharing a disposable cup and sniffing a used face mask while crowded together.

“Somehow, there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment – and that’s not going to happen,” said county sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Some 21 prisoners tested positive in the prison section where the video was shot “as a result of the behaviour”, he added.

The activity came to light as prison officials investigated a broader spike in Covid-19 cases behind bars, with nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in Los Angeles County now in quarantine.





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UK deaths soar past 8,000 as 866 recorded in last 24 hours in England alone



The Philippines has banned doctors, nurses and other health workers from leaving the country to work overseas in a bid to throw more resources at its own coronavirus outbreak, reports Patrick Sawer.

With the pandemic threatening to overwhelm Phillipine’s fragile healthcare system the Government says it requires all available medics and support staff to remain in the country.

Thousands of health professionals leave the Phillipine to work overseas, many travelling to the UK to work in NHS and private hospitals and in social care.

More than 30,000 doctors, nurses and medical technicians left the Philippines in 2010, according to the latest available data.

But the country has one of the lowest ratios of doctors per population in the region, leaving it ill prepared to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has now barred healthcare professionals travelling to work abroad for the duration of the nation’s state of emergency.

The ban covers 14 jobs defined as “mission critical”, including doctors, nurses, microbiologists and pharmacists.

It also includes hospital equipment repair technicians, nursing assistants and laboratory technicians, all of whose skills “reflect the primary function of the organization without which mission critical work cannot be completed and which skills are internally developed and require extensive training, thus, not easily replaceable,” states the order.

The Philippines had 4,076 coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with deaths reaching 203. More than 200 health workers have been infected, with at least a dozen dying from the virus.

According to the World Health Organization there are only six doctors for every 10,000 people in the Philippines, compared to Singapore’s ratio of almost 23 and Malaysia at 15.36.





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7.5 magnitude earthquake triggers tsunami warning for Russia



A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck near Russia’s far eastern Kuril Islands on Wednesday, prompting a tsunami warning for the closest shores.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 136 miles south-southeast of Severo on the Kuril chain north of Japan. It was 37 miles deep.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 620 miles of the quake’s epicenter.

It said earthquakes of this strength in the past have caused tsunamis far from the epicentre, and the US National Tsunami Warning Centre was analysing the event to determine the level of danger.

The US National Tsunami Warning Centre also still was analyzing the event to determine the level of danger for Alaska and the US West Coast.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was a stronger 7.8 magnitude and may cause a slight change of sea levels around Japanese coasts.





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