Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 Feb 2021

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

1

Jabs for all adults by 31 July

All adults in the UK will be offered their first dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of July, says Boris Johnson. The prime minister said he wants the vaccination programme to “go further and faster” after it was announced that more than 17 million people have been given a jab so far. He will hold a final meeting with ministers today before he sets out the full “road map” out of lockdown tomorrow.

2

Jet scatters debris over houses

A Boeing jet has scattered debris over a residential area near Denver after one of its engines failed. The United Airlines flight was forced to return to Denver International Airport after it encountered problems shortly after takeoff. Passengers on board United Flight 328, which had been bound for Honolulu, described a “large explosion” shortly after take-off.

3

Destitution soars during pandemic

The number of British households living in destitution more than doubled last year, according to a new study. There were 220,000 more households living in destitution by the end of 2020, potentially more than half a million people. The researchers also found that the pandemic has had a disproportionate economic impact on regions such as the north-west of England.

4

DfT hid smart motorways data

Department of Transport chiefs have held back data showing that the death toll on smart motorways has reached a record high. There were 14 fatalities in 2019 on motorways where hard shoulders operate as full-time or part- time traffic lanes, according to data collected by the DfT. There were 11 deaths in 2018 and just five in 2017.

5

Bird flu passes to humans

Russia has reported the first case of a bird flu strain being passed from poultry to humans. Seven workers at a poultry plant in the south of the country have been infected following an outbreak there in December. The head of Russia's consumer health watchdog, Anna Popova, said measures had been quickly taken to stop the spread of infection. “All seven people... are now feeling well,” she added.

6

William ‘really sad’ about Harry

The Duke of Cambridge is “really sad and genuinely shocked” over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure from royal life, claims The Sunday Times. Sources close to Prince William said he believed Harry and Meghan had been “insulting and disrespectful” to the Queen. Following Harry’s announcement, a close friend of the prince said William “definitely feels the pressure now it’s all on him”.

7

Tobacco firms target influencers

Tobacco bosses have launched a £1bn campaign using social media influencers, pop stars and sporting events to boost sales. The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a migration from cigarettes to more lung-friendly nicotine-delivery methods. However, adds The Observer, such products are “far from risk-free” and the trend for promoting them via social media and popular influencers is “causing concern”.

8

Glasses reduce Covid risk

People who wear glasses are up to three times less likely to catch Covid-19, a study has found. Researchers in India said people who wear spectacles rub their eyes less, which lowers their chances of infection because “repeated touching and rubbing of the eyes” with contaminated hands may be a “significant route” of transmission. The researchers studied 304 people in a hospital in northern India.

9

Fishermen fear losing homes

Shellfish workers in Cornwall say they are at risk of losing their homes because of a ban on exporting their product to the EU. Although ministers say they are seeking an “urgent resolution”, the European Commission told Sky News the ban, on health grounds, applies to all third countries and “is not a surprise” to the UK. The Sailors Creek Shellfish company, in Falmouth, has seen 99% of its business disappear.

10

Teens arrested after ‘kidnapping’

Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping after a car was stolen in Birmingham with the owner’s two children still inside. Officers were alerted when a man reported his car had been taken from his driveway with his two sons - aged two and four - inside. The vehicle was seen driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway before being stopped by police on the A38 Bristol Road.

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