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North West mayors urge caution and hit out at Westminster as regional R number passes 1 | UK | News


Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram – mayors of Manchester and Liverpool respectively – have urged the government to allow regional councils to decide when it is right to open schools to a wider number of pupils, going forward. The two mayors also called on the Prime Minister to provide confirmation that retail outlets should still be allowed to widely reopen on June 15 as part of the government’s plan to ease lockdown measures.

It comes after researchers from Public Health England and Cambridge University last week warned that the R number in the North West has crept above 1.

The R number is what the government is keeping a close watch on around the country. It represents the number of people that will be infected by each person that is confirmed positive for the virus.

Thus, an R number above 1 means that more and more people will be infected over time.

The North West is currently at 1.01 – higher than anywhere else in England and an increase of 0.73 a few weeks ago, according to the Manchester Evening News (MEN).

The two mayors said in a joint statement: “We ask everyone to make a renewed commitment to follow the official guidance and to stay home as much as possible,” I News reports.

“In fact, we would go further and advise people to err on the side of caution and to use the new freedoms carefully and safely.”

The rise has fuelled concerns among officials that planning for the Covid-19 response in England is too centralised, and that local councils are not getting enough information from Westminster.

This morning, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham held a press conference to address the concerns raised by the R number in the North West.

READ MORE: Americans are drinking BLEACH to prevent COVID-19 in shock new data

I News reports that the number of reported hospital admissions for Covid-19 in Greater Manchester is currently higher than it’s been since late April.

On Sunday, both Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram wrote to the Prime Minister calling for “extra reassurance” for the North West given the rise in transmission rate.

The two mayors wrote: “Last month, you said that reports of the R going up again in countries where relaxations have been introduced was: ‘a very clear warning to us not to proceed too fast or too recklessly.’

“We agree with that but are disappointed that there has so far been no prior consultation or notice of the relaxations to lockdown that have so far been announced.”

The two mayors also said that they are making a commitment to provide more information locally on a weekly basis – the idea of a local “heat map” has been suggested – and called for Public Health England to support this.

They also called on the government to change its guidance so that “express permission” is granted to councils “to decide when it is right to re-open schools to a wider number of students, particularly with regard to more localised information”.

They added: “We would also ask the Government to seek confirmation for SAGE that it is safe to proceed with the much wider reopening of retail outlets on the 15th of June in the North West.





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Covid-19 cases to be tracked by ethnicity amid disproportionately high number of BAME deaths



The Government is to launch a review into why people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Downing Street confirmed that the NHS and Public Health England will begin analysing the evidence, following pressure on ministers to launch an investigation.

While no date has been given on when the review will take place, the BBC has reported that Public Health England is to start recording coronavirus cases and deaths by ethnicity.


The latest figures released on Friday show that of 4,873 patients with Covid-19 in critical care, 1,681 were from the BAME community – accounting for 34.5 per cent of cases.

This is despite black and Asian people making up 10.8 per cent of the population, according to the 2011 UK census.

Addressing the matter at Saturday’s Downing Street press briefing, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “There does appear to be a disproportionate impact of the virus on those from BAME communities.

“For that reason, the chief medical officer commissioned work from Public Health England to better understand this issue.”

He said it was “right that we do thorough research swiftly” in order to “better understand it”.

Speaking alongside Mr Jenrick, Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said: “This is something that I am very concerned about, and I know that the chief medical officer is concerned about too.

“And I think it’s absolutely right that he’s asked Public Health England, who have the expertise … to look at this in detail and get a clear understanding of what might be accounting for increased risks and increased deaths in particular ethnic communities.

“In NHS England, obviously, we have a number of our staff … come from those ethnic groups, and we are actively also looking ahead of that work, of what we have to do to support, and, perhaps, protect them specifically.”

Of the 56 NHS workers confirmed to have died after contracting coronavirus, more than 30 were from BAME backgrounds.

However, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said ethnicity is “less clear” than three others factors in determining who is most at risk.

“This is something we are very keen to get extremely clear,” he told the Downing Street press conference.

“We’ve asked Public Health England to look at this in some detail and then what we really want is, if we see any signal at all, we want to then know what next we can do about it to minimise risk.”

He said over 90 per cent of people who have died with coronavirus in the UK had at least one other disease, while other factors included age and male sex.

The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomed the review but said must come up with quick solutions to address problems and be backed by “real-time data”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, said: “If the review is to have any meaningful impact, it needs to be informed with real-time data to understand why and how this deadly virus can have such a tragic disproportionate toll on our BAME communities and healthcare workers.

“This must include daily updates on ethnicity, circumstance and all protected characteristics of all patients in hospital as well as levels of illness in the community, which is not currently recorded.

“The Government must take every necessary step to address this devastating disparity and protect all sectors of the population equally and now. That is why the Government must send a directive to every hospital telling them to record the ethnicity of patients who are admitted and succumb to COVID-19 immediately.

“It also means taking vital steps now to protect our BAME communities until we can develop a detailed understanding of the threats they face. This could include that those at greatest risk, including older and retired doctors, are not working in potentially infectious settings.”

Coronavirus in numbers: UK hospital death toll rises to 15,464

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was a “really important” thing to understand.

He told ITV News: “We have seen both across the population as a whole, but also very much within those who work in the NHS who have died, a much higher proportion of people from minority ethnic backgrounds and that really worries me.

“I pay tribute to the work that they have done, including both those who were born here and those who have moved here, and given that service to the NHS. It’s a really, really important thing to make sure that we fully understand.”

Shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova welcomed the review into the “disturbing impact” Covid-19 is having on BAME communities, but said it was “not yet clear whether it will be independent, when it will be concluded and who will be leading it”.

“The Government must ensure the review is robust and looks into the underlying structural economic and social inequalities that have affected BAME communities in this crisis,” she said.

“It must also urgently record data broken down by ethnicity on the number of people who have died as a result of Covid-19.

“The devastating effect of Covid-19 on BAME communities cannot be overstated. This review must be the first step in ensuring that all communities are equally protected from this virus.”



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Man Utd ‘have shirt number ready’ if they seal Jadon Sancho transfer


Manchester United reportedly have a shirt number ready for Jadon Sancho if the Borussia Dortmund winger signs for them this summer.

United are confident they can lure Sancho to Old Trafford this summer – despite the coronavirus pandemic having halted negotiations with the 20-year-old.

There is a feeling at United that if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secure Champions League football, they will beat the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and PSG to Sancho’s signature.

And in a bid to convince him star he can have a great future with United, club chiefs are ready to offer him the iconic number seven shirt, according to the Evening Standard.

Sancho would be following in the footsteps of United legends George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo by wearing seven.

Jadon Sancho is Manchester United’s top target this summer

The current incumbent, Alexis Sanchez, has been less successful than his predecessors in the shirt and was shipped out to Inter Milan on loan last summer.

United hope to sell the Chilean this summer, but if they fail to do so they could strip him of the seven shirt anyway and hand it to Sancho, according to Metro.

Sancho has been in superb form again this season, with the player scoring 17 goals and creating 17 assists in all competitions for the Bundesliga side.

It is thought Dortmund would be willing to let him go if they receive an offer they can’t refuse, and they value the 20-year-old at around £130m.

United are set to offer Sancho the iconic number seven shirt worn by Cristiano Ronaldo

Read More

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United and PSG could therefore be set for a bidding war for Sancho, who is one of the most highly-sought after young players in the world.

Liverpool have also been linked with a swoop for Sancho in recent months, but it is understood Jurgen Klopp is prioritising a move for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.





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Susan Sarandon’s daughter Eva Amurri welcomes baby number three with estranged husband Kyle Martino


THELMA and Louise star Susan Sarandon is a grandmother again.

Her daughter Eva Amurri welcomed her third child with her estranged husband, Kyle Martino, on Friday.

 Susan Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri and her estranged husband Kyle Martino welcomed a third child on Friday

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Susan Sarandon’s daughter Eva Amurri and her estranged husband Kyle Martino welcomed a third child on FridayCredit: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

“He arrived safely & sweetly at home, March 13th at 3:58pm, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and 21 inches long,” Amurri, 34, announced on her website, Happily Eva After.

“Our hearts are so full! Thank you for the well wishes, and I look forward to sharing more soon!”

Eva revealed last September that she and Martino, 38, were expecting their third child.

“Our family is ecstatic to share this ‘collab’ that has been brewing now for several months,” the lifestyle and mommy blogger wrote on Instagram at the time. “As always, thank you so much for your ongoing support for our family, it really does mean the world. xoxo The Martinos.”

 “He arrived safely & sweetly at home, March 13th at 3:58pm, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and 21 inches long,” Amurri, 34, announced on her website, Happily Eva After

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“He arrived safely & sweetly at home, March 13th at 3:58pm, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and 21 inches long,” Amurri, 34, announced on her website, Happily Eva AfterCredit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
 Eva Amurri Martino with mum Susan Sarandon

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Eva Amurri Martino with mum Susan Sarandon

The Mothers and Daughters star – who shares Marlowe, 5, and Major, 2, with the NBC sports analyst went on to write, “If you are a waitress, mailman, crossing guard, librarian, or teacher in Fairfield county, you may have already heard the news months ago from two extremely excited older siblings.”

She made a gender reveal later that month, using balloons.

Eva wrote: ““Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice? Or Sticks, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails?” Amurri wrote on social media.

“Revealing our tie-breaker baby on the blog today,” where she let readers know she had a boy on the way.

 Eva revealed last September that she and Martino, 38, were expecting their third child

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Eva revealed last September that she and Martino, 38, were expecting their third childCredit: JB Lacroix/WireImage
 They then split up in November after eight years of marriage

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They then split up in November after eight years of marriageCredit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for BAM
 She said, "We are committed to, and excited about, raising our three beautiful children as close friends and deep partners, and we have the utmost respect for one another”

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She said, “We are committed to, and excited about, raising our three beautiful children as close friends and deep partners, and we have the utmost respect for one another”Credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Dress for Success Worldwide

The Undateable alum called time on her relationship with the former soccer star in November after eight years of marriage.

They released a joint statement explaining the decision.

“After a lot of thoughtful consideration, and work on our relationship, we have made the difficult decision to lovingly part ways as a couple,” it said.

“We are committed to, and excited about, raising our three beautiful children as close friends and deep partners, and we have the utmost respect for one another.”


Do you have a story for The US Sun team?

Email us at [email protected] or call 212 416 4552.






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Ontario sees dramatic spike in number of parents seeking government compensation during teacher strikes


The province has seen a huge spike in applications from parents for child-care compensation in the wake of escalating teacher strike action, with payouts requested for almost half a million children.

In one day alone — from Tuesday to Wednesday — more than 100,000 applications were received, signalling a 34 per cent jump and making it the greatest increase in a single day since Education Minister Stephen Lecce launched the compensation program in mid-January.

On Wednesday — the same day the province blamed a computer glitch for an overpayment to some parents — the government had received applications on behalf of 458,466 children, a dramatic surge from Tuesday’s figures of 342,856. The initiative pays up to $60 per day per child. According to the ministry, 1.45 million children are eligible.

“The uptake in applications for our Support for Parents Initiative can be attributed to the increasing amount of frustration that families across the province face as they scramble for child care as a result of union-led escalation,” said the minister’s press secretary Alexandra Adamo on Thursday.

Adamo’s comments came on the same day Ontario’s public elementary schools were closed because of a provincewide strike by all 83,000 members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), which has been running rotating strikes affecting different boards each day.

Job action by ETFO, which represents elementary teachers, early childhood educators and other educators, has left some parents having to find child care because of the teacher strikes, now in their third week. In Toronto, for instance, public elementary schools have been closed twice, and students will miss another day of classes Friday. Next week, the city’s public grade schools will be closed on Feb. 11 — part of a provincewide strike by ETFO — as well as the following day because the Toronto public board, along with several others, will be impacted.

In a media statement this week, ETFO president Sam Hammond said fair contract talks with the province must include appropriate funding for special education, a strategy to address classroom violence and fair hiring practices. All four of the province’s teachers unions are engaged in contract negotiations with the province and have launched work-to-rule campaigns. Unions representing Catholic elementary and secondary teachers in English schools (Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association), and public high school teachers (Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation), have also held walkouts, but have not scheduled future dates.

Unions say they are opposed to the province’s plan to introduce two mandatory online courses for secondary students and to boost high school class size averages, which will lead to fewer teachers jobs and courses. But Lecce insists the main sticking point is salary, with the province offering a one per cent increase, while unions want cost of living increases, or about two per cent.

The Progressive Conservative government announced the compensation program on Jan. 15, offering to pay parents for each day a school or school-based child-care centre is closed because of teacher strikes. The initiative was harshly criticized by some, including Hammond, who called it an attempt to “bribe” parents for support. Since mid-January, the number of applications has steadily risen, with jumps along the way whenever unions announced they were escalating job action. Some parents have said they applied for the funds and intend to donate them to schools or teachers unions.

This week’s dramatic one-day spike coincided with a Star story in Wednesday’s newspaper about the previous day’s application figures, which amounted to less than a quarter of those eligible for reimbursement. That meant millions of dollars were still on the table — the money for parents comes from unpaid teachers’ salaries on strike days. The story also noted that ETFO was ramping up job action for a fourth week.

Also on Wednesday, parents were on social media sharing stories of overpayment by the government, some saying they had been paid three or four times more than they should have been and assuming they were paid in advance for strike days that hadn’t yet occurred. It turned out that a systems problem resulted in school closures being miscalculated — the glitch has since been fixed — and led to some parents being overpaid, which the Star reported in Thursday’s newspaper. Figures for the number of parents who signed up for compensation on Thursday were not yet available at time of publication.

There is no cap on how many days parents will be paid for — so long as strike action continues, parents will be compensated. The province will pay $60 per day for children in a school-based child-care centre, and $40 a day for those in kindergarten, $25 for those in grades 1 to 7 and $40 for those with special needs up to Grade 12. Funds are paid per child and available to all families, regardless of financial hardship.

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The ministry says an additional 42,000 children not yet enrolled in school, may be eligible for the payout if their school-based child-care centre is closed.

In 1997, when teachers across Ontario hit the picket lines for two weeks to protest the education reforms of Bill 160, despite not being in a legal strike position, the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris also provided funds to parents. Families with children under age 13, regardless of how many kids they had, were paid $40 a day, if a parent or guardian couldn’t stay home to care for them. Claims for the 10-day strike could not exceed $400 per family.

With files from Star archives

Isabel Teotonio





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Number of bites, deaths has dropped in US, world


  • 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, which was down from the average of 82.
  • Sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four.
  • As usual, the U.S. led the world in shark attacks, with 41.

Shark attacks were down again both in the U.S. and worldwide in 2019, according to a report released Tuesday.

Last year, 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, down from the average of 82, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

As for deaths, sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four. 

Last year marked the second straight year shark attacks were well below average: There were only 62 attacks worldwide in 2018.

“We’ve had back-to-back years with unusual decreases in shark attacks, and we know that people aren’t spending less time in the water,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program, in a statement. “This suggests sharks aren’t frequenting the same places they have in the past. But it’s too early to say this is the new normal.”

Researchers at the International Shark Attack File track “unprovoked” attacks, which are defined as incidents in which an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation.

Shark attacks:How to avoid them and whether shark repellents really work

Where do shark attacks happen?

One of the two fatal unprovoked shark attacks was near Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, and the other was in the Bahamas.

In the U.S., on average, one person dies each year from a shark attack.

Humans kill about 100 million sharks and rays each year. Most are killed by commercial fishermen for their fins and flesh.



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Record number of people register to vote on deadline day after huge last-minute spike



A record number of people registered to vote on the final day applications were open, with a huge last-minute spike taking the number of people who registered on Tuesday to 659,666.

Before the final deadline at midnight on 26 November, there had been well over 3 million applications to register since the general election was called in October. 

The figure is around 40 per cent higher than the 2.3 million applications to register in a similar period in the 2017 election, and the Electoral Reform Society said on Tuesday that of the applications made since October, 67 per cent were made by people aged 34 or under – a figure which is generally seen to be beneficial to Labour.

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Social media is an increasingly important battle ground in elections – and home to many questionable claims pumped out by all sides. If social media sites won’t investigate the truth of divisive advertising, we will. Please send any political Facebook advertising you receive to [email protected], and we will catalogue and investigate it. Read more here.



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