Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 Jan 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
All over 18s to have vaccine ‘by July’
Senior government figures hope that every adult in Britain will be vaccinated by the end of June, reports the Sunday Telegraph. However, the Department of Health is reluctant to publicly acknowledge the target and criticisms remain about the current pace of vaccinations. Supply issues at Pfizer and AstraZeneca have left officials with “a big headache”.
Hancock makes beds ‘blunder’
Matt Hancock has been accused of “pure incompetence” after he cancelled contracts with private hospitals that would have given the NHS 8,000 extra beds. Health chiefs have been unable to use thousands of emergency private hospital beds because the health secretary failed to renew contracts. Dave Carr a critical care nurse at Guys and St Thomas Hospital trust in London, said: “Matt Hancock is not fit for the job.”
Hotels to quarantine arrivals
Ministers have told officials to prepare for the creation of quarantine hotels for those arriving in Britain and to use GPS and facial-recognition technology to check that people are sticking to isolation. The policy has been influenced by New Zealand’s approach of “directed isolation”, where everyone arriving is charged for a stay at an airport hotel and forced to remain in isolation for two weeks.
Armed man arrested near Capitol
Police in Washington DC arrested a man who tried to pass through a Capitol police checkpoint carrying fake inaugural credentials, a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition. Wesley Allen Beeler was driving a pickup truck with several firearm-related bumper stickers, including one that read: “If they come for your guns Give ‘em your bullets first”.
Museveni wins Uganda election
Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner of the Uganda presidential election, meaning the incumbent will now serve a sixth term as president of the east African nation. The 76-year-old won with 58.64% of the total votes, according to the country's electoral commission. The polling followed some of the worst pre-election violence since he took office in 1986.
US pushes new Covid theory
American secretary of state Mike Pompeo claims that workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid symptoms as far back as autumn 2019 and the lab’s scientists were experimenting with a bat coronavirus similar to the one that causes the virus. The Mail on Sunday says the Chinese government is under growing pressure to reveal the “true origins” of the pandemic.
Concern over Iran’s uranium plan
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany have expressed anxiety over Iran’s plans to produce uranium metal, warning that Tehran has “no credible civilian use” for the element. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has stated that it is advancing research on uranium metal production, aiming to provide advanced fuel for a research reactor.
New laws to protect statues
Ministers are planning legislation to protect statues in England from being removed “on a whim or at the behest of a baying mob”, says Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. The minister said such monuments should be “considered thoughtfully”. Last year, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston last year was thrown into Bristol Harbour.
Most black people ‘unlikely to have jab’
Up to 72% of black people said they were unlikely to have coronavirus vaccine in a recent survey. A report from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies says historical issues of unethical healthcare research, and structural and institutional racism and discrimination have influenced the result. Among Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups the figure was 42%.
Firms bend lockdown rules
Companies have been accused of putting workers’ lives at risk by bending lockdown rules. The Observer says the “irresponsible firms” exploit looser regulations to bring thousands of non-essential workers into busy workplaces. No enforcement notices have been served on companies by Health and Safety Executive inspectors for Covid safety breaches since the country went into the latest lockdown despite them being contacted 2,945 times.