Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 13 Oct 2020
Sage called for lockdown measures last month
The government’s scientific advisers called for a short lockdown in England to halt the spread of Covid infections last month, newly released documents show. At a meeting on 21 September, the experts said an immediate “circuit breaker” was the best way to control cases. England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty yesterday said the new three-tier measures “will not be sufficient” to slow coronavirus cases.
Donald Trump returns to campaign trail in Florida
Donald Trump has returned to the electoral trail with an outdoor rally in Sanford, Florida, where thousands of supporters gathered chanting “four more years”. The event came less than two weeks after Trump tested positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden campaigned in Ohio, where he portrayed Trump as having abandoned working-class voters. The election will be held on 3 November.
Immunity under scrutiny as man catches Covid twice
A man from the US state of Nevada has become one of only a few people in the world to have caught Covid-19 twice. The 25-year-old required hospital treatment after his lungs could not get enough oxygen into his body following the second infection. The BBC says the case “raises questions about how much immunity can be built up to the virus”, however, reinfection remains rare and he has now recovered.
MPs vote down enshrining food safety in law
MPs have rejected calls to set out food safety in UK law. In a defeat for food campaigners and farmers, rebels were too few to overcome the government’s 80-seat majority as the amendment, which would have given legal status to the food standards, fell by 332 votes to 279. Campaigners say this paves the way for imports of sub-standard, dangerous food after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
Bank of England sounds out lenders on negative rates
Speculation is mounting that the Bank of England is considering a move to negative interest rates. The bank confirmed that Sam Woods, its deputy governor for prudential regulation, has written to lenders to ask how ready they are for bank rates to move to zero or even negative. Sky News says the benefit of negative rates is “yet to be proved”. The bank cut rates to the current historic low of 0.1% in March.
Disabled face benefit cuts under universal credit reform
Britain’s most vulnerable disabled people face having their benefits cut during the pandemic because of the government’s changes to universal credit. The reform, implemented last week, means that a sum of money provided to help people with severe disabilities on top of their regular benefits is now included in the claimant’s lump universal credit payment, rather than as a separate payment alongside it.
Police officer strangled lover to death after wife text
A court has heard that a police officer murdered his lover by strangling her in a pub car park, seconds after she revealed their affair by sending a text saying “I’m cheating on you” from his phone to his wife. PC Timothy Brehmer, who is accused of “angrily and deliberately” throttling Claire Parry, admits that he caused her death but denies murder, claiming he was “robustly” trying to get her out of his car.
Malaysia stops Chinese fishing vessels as tensions rise
Malaysia says it has stopped six Chinese fishing vessels in Malaysian territorial waters. The maritime authorities say 60 Chinese nationals were detained off the eastern coast of Johor, the southern Malaysian state that borders Singapore. Malaysia has reported 89 intrusions by Chinese coastguard and navy ships between 2016 and 2019 as Beijing increases its claims throughout the South China Sea.
IFS warns ‘tax rises and big ones’ are on horizon
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says the UK economy cannot be “fully protected” as slower growth and higher borrowing leave it with record levels of debt. The think tank warned that government borrowing this year will hit a level never seen in peacetime. “Tax rises, and big ones, look all but inevitable, though likely not until the middle years of this decade,” it said.
Labour says government homeless package not enough
The Labour Party has backed campaigners who say the government’s £12m fund to help rough sleepers off the streets and keep them safe from Covid-19 this winter is not enough. Crisis, the charity, said the package is “completely unacceptable” as it fails to match March’s “everyone in” strategy. That plan saw homeless people provided with self-contained accommodation, potentially saving hundreds of lives.