Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 29 Sep 2020
Global Covid-19 death toll passes 1 million
The global Covid-19 death toll has passed one million, with many regions around the world still reporting surging numbers of new infections. Experts say there is no sign the global death rate is slowing and infections are rising again in countries that were thought to be controlling the outbreak a few months ago. Combined deaths in the US, Brazil and India make up nearly half the overall total.
Tory rebels denounce Johnson’s ‘big brother’ restrictions
Tory MPs have accused Boris Johnson of enacting “big brother” measures as part of recent coronavirus legislation. A string of new offences, which were not subject to consultation, include penalties of £4,000 for refusal to self-isolate and a ban on pubs playing loud music. Up to 80 Tory MPs are prepared to back an amendment, put forward by Graham Brady, to give parliament a final say on the restrictions.
Super-enzyme breakthrough for plastic recycling
Scientists have created a super-enzyme that decomposes plastic bottles six times faster than before. It is hoped the enzyme, created from bacteria that naturally evolved the ability to eat plastic, could herald a breakthrough in recycling. Researchers also believe it could be adapted to mean mixed-fabric clothing could be recycled, as millions of tonnes is currently either dumped in landfill or incinerated every year.
Pensioners face winter flu vaccine shortage
The country is facing a shortage of winter flu vaccines, prompting fears that pensioners could face delays in getting the jab. Surging demand has led to Boots and Lloyds pausing bookings for those aged 65 and over, while the waiting list at some GP surgeries stands at several weeks. The Royal College of General Practitioners said it was “essential” that vulnerable people are vaccinated by the end of November.
Biden laughs off Trump drug test request
Joe Biden has hit back at Donald Trump after the president suggested he should take a drug test before tonight’s first presidential debate. Trump tweeted “Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?”, prompting the Biden camp to respond that Trump “pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200,000 Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop Covid-19”.
James Bulger killer Venables refused parole
James Bulger’s father said he can “rest easy” as one of his son’s killers was refused parole. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson killed James, then aged two, after taking him from Bootle, Merseyside in 1993. They served eight years before being freed on licence with lifelong anonymity. Venables, now in jail for possessing child abuse images, has been told it will be two years before he can apply for parole again.
Hancock tightens restrictions in North East
Indoor household mixing has been banned in large parts of the North East as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge in the region. Addressing MPs, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the existing Covid-19 measures were being tightened at the request of local authorities. However, the BBC says the measures “appear to have come as a surprise to local council leaders”.
Shop workers face backlash over pub curfew
A retail union has warned that the new 10pm closing time for pubs has put shop workers at greater risk of violence, verbal abuse and coronavirus infection. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers said stores were likely to become “very busy” with people buying alcohol, “triggering” antisocial behaviour. The government said the early closing measure has already worked in other countries.
Sterling climbs amid optimism over new Brexit talks
The pound rose by as much as 1.4% against the dollar yesterday, outperforming major rivals amid optimism over this week’s Brexit talks, says The Telegraph. Formal trade talks resume today, with Michael Gove saying the discussions on implementing the withdrawal agreement are at a “healthy stage”. The UK’s negotiators last week “said a lot of work remains before a deal can be reached”.
Lord Winston sued over ‘sham’ redundancy at charity
A tribunal has heard that the IVF pioneer, Lord Winston, sacked the chief executive of his own medical charity in a “sham” redundancy after she blew the whistle on wrongdoing. Lord Winston is being sued by Dyan Sterling, former head of the Genesis Research Trust, after he announced plans to cut her role by six hours when she warned that the charity was in danger of breaking the law over donations.