Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 Dec 2020

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Hospitals ‘under pressure’ as Covid soars

Hospitals in the south of England say they have seen a “real rise in pressure” as Covid infections continue to soar. Paramedics in London are now receiving almost 8,000 call-outs a day. As hospital admissions near the level of the first peak, a paramedic told the BBC that some patients had been treated in ambulance bays because of a shortage of beds. “It's been a horrendous time,” the paramedic said.

2

Trump signs Covid relief bill

Donald Trump has signed the coronavirus relief and spending bill, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and avoiding a partial federal government shutdown. The US president had initially refused to sign the bill, saying he wanted to give people bigger one-off payments but the delay meant that millions of Americans temporarily lost unemployment benefits. The package is worth $900bn.

3

Brits ‘lose rights’ under Brexit deal

Britons travelling to the EU have been warned they will no longer be able to enjoy free healthcare or escape roaming charges after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal comes into force on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Research says UK workers’ rights are at risk of being eroded under the trade deal. Michael Gove has warned of “disruption” for business from January 1.

4

Nashville bomber linked to 5G concern

Anthony Quinn Warner has been named as the Nashville bomber after his DNA was matched to remains found at the scene of the explosion of Friday’s bombing. Officials are reportedly investigating whether Warner had concerns about 5G technology. “To all of us locally, it feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing,” said the local mayor.

5

Wuhan journalist jailed in China

A citizen journalist who covered Wuhan’s coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years. Zhang Zhan, 37, was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The former lawyer was detained in May, and has been on hunger strike for several months. “Zhang Zhan looked devastated when the sentence was announced,” said her lawyer.

6

Bottomless sugar drinks to be banned

Free refills of sugary drinks will be banned under government plans to tackle obesity. New restrictions, to be announced today, will also ban “buy one get one free” offers on unhealthy foods, including cakes, crisps, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, pizzas and ready meals. Small stores are exempt from the plans, which will come into force from April 2022.

7

Mental impact of Covid ‘to last for years’

The Covid-19 pandemic poses the greatest threat to mental health since the second world war, the country’s leading psychiatrist has said. Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the disease itself, its social consequences and economic damage will have a huge impact that will be felt for years after the virus has been brought under control.

8

More youngsters turning to God

People in their late teens and early twenties are more likely to believe in God than those in their late twenties and thirties, according to a poll. Experts said members of Generation Z are facing less “stigma” from their peers for their religious beliefs. It is thought that the ease with which young people can access information about religion online may have also influenced the trend.

9

Vaccines will bring ‘Roaring Twenties’

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will lead to a boom in Britain’s hospitality industry similar to the “Roaring Twenties,” a think tank has forecast. The Resolution Foundation says that though the economy will sink further between now and Easter, this will be followed by a surge in spending in restaurants, bars and hotels later in 2021.

10

Neverland sells for $22 million

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch has been purchased by Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle. The vast 2,700-acre estate once contained 22 structures, including an amusement house and a zoo. The Wall Street Journal says it went for $22 million. Jackson named the ranch Neverland after the home of Peter Pan - the boy who never grew up.

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