Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 Jan 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Biden unveils $1.9tn stimulus
Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) stimulus plan for the US economy, a week before he takes office. The president-elect’s budget would include $1 trillion for households, with direct payments of $1,400 to all Americans. Describing the effect the pandemic has had on the nation and its economy, he said: “A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there's no time to waste.”
London patients sent to Newcastle
Struggling London hospitals are sending seriously ill Covid patients to intensive care units almost 300 miles away in Newcastle, The Guardian reports. This week, patients have also been moved 67 miles to Northampton, 125 miles to Birmingham and 167 miles to Sheffield. Dr Claudia Paoloni, president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, said the long-distance transfers put patients at risk.
Covid cases falling in UK
Boris Johnson has called off plans to tighten lockdown after figures showed infections were falling in every age group except the over-80s, says the Daily Mail. A further 48,682 Covid cases were reported yesterday, bringing the country’s overall pandemic total to 3,292,014 - up 1,157 on the day before but down 3,936 from the previous Thursday’s data.
PM’s school tests plan blocked
The UK regulator has refused to formally approve the daily testing of pupils in England for Covid, scuppering Boris Johnson’s plans to test millions of schoolchildren every week. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told the government it had not authorised the daily use of 30-minute tests because they could give people false reassurance if they test negative, leading to further spread.
North Korea reveals new missiles
North Korea has unveiled a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile during a parade overseen by leader Kim Jong-un. State media describes the missiles as “the world's most powerful weapons”. The move comes days before the inauguration of Joe Biden as US president and following Kim’s description of the US as his country's “biggest enemy”.
150,000 arrest records wiped
More than 150,000 fingerprint, DNA and arrest history records have been deleted from police databases in a technical blunder. The Times says the error may allow offenders to go free because biometric evidence left at crime scenes will not be flagged up on the Police National Computer. The deletion was blamed on a software bug, rather than a cyberattack.
New school food row brews
Headteachers in England have been told not to supply vouchers and food parcels to disadvantaged children over the February half-term holiday. Instead, food will be provided by councils under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme. The campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have written to Boris Johnson calling for an urgent cross-party review of the system. “It is only by working together that we end child food poverty,” they said.
Republicans still backing Trump
In the US, fewer than one in five Republicans believe Donald Trump should be removed from office, according to a poll conducted this week. The Ipsos Mori/Axios survey also found that 57% of Republicans want Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee at the next election in 2024. Only 17% want Trump immediately removed from office.
UK population ‘fell by 1.3m’
The UK population may have fallen by as much as 1.3m in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, academics have said. A study by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence found an “unprecedented exodus” of foreign-born workers following the outbreak of the virus led to the biggest decline since the Second World War. It estimates that London’s population may have fallen by almost 700,000.
Man offers £50m to search tip
A computer engineer has offered his local council more than £50m to let him to search through a rubbish tip for a hard drive thrown out by mistake with a potential fortune inside. James Howells says the missing drive contains bitcoin that would now be worth more than £220m after he accidentally threw it out in 2013. “There’s pot of gold for someone at the end of the rainbow,” he said.