Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 March 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Nurses protest ‘pitiful’ pay rise
More unions are planning strikes in protest at the government’s planned 1% pay rise for NHS staff. The British Medical Association and other unions said their staff “have literally kept the country alive for the past year” and deserve a “fair pay deal”. The Royal College of Nursing called the rise “pitiful” and said that its members should get 12.5% instead.
Death rates back to ‘normal’
Covid infections have fallen by one third in a week and death rates are back to normal, reports the Daily Telegraph. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that there were 248,000 infections in the week ending Feb 27, compared to 373,700 the previous week. The latest report from Public Health England shows that there is now no statistically significant excess mortality in Britain.
Meghan feels liberated
Meghan says it is “really liberating” to now feel “able to speak for yourself,” in a clip from her interview with Oprah Winfrey. Asked why she decided to give an interview at this stage, the Duchess of Sussex says: “We have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn't have said ‘yes’ to then.” The Times says the broadcast could be “bigger than Super Bowl” in the US.
Charities slam Yemen aid cut
The government’s decision to cut aid to Yemen has been condemned by more than 100 UK charities, including Oxfam, Christian Aid and Save the Children. At least £87 million has been pledged in aid to the Middle Eastern country, down from £164m in 2019-2020. “History will not judge this nation kindly,” warned the charities in a letter to Boris Johnson.
Variants ‘unlikely’ to hold UK back
The scientist in charge of tracking strains of the virus says Covid variants are “very unlikely” to stop the UK getting back to normal in the summer. Professor Sharon Peacock, head of the Covid-19 Genomics UK scientific body, told The Times that the country was now well equipped to “stay ahead” of the virus by adapting vaccines quickly.
Arrests after Wales incident
Two men have been arrested after the death of a teenage girl in South Wales. The 16-year-old died after an incident in Treorchy, Rhondda Cynon Taf, on Friday afternoon, which has been described as a “bloodbath” by the Daily Mirror. The teenager’s death in Treorchy was “sudden and unexplained” and a post-mortem examination is due, South Wales Police said. Supt Rich Jones, said: “This is clearly a very serious incident.”
Briefing bill condemned
Labour has accused Boris Johnson of “warped priorities” after it emerged that Downing Street has spent more than £2.6m on a new media briefing room. No 10 plans to start televised daily press conferences, to be fronted by spokeswoman Allegra Stratton. The Cabinet Office said the spending “is in the public interest” but Labour said Johnson “can find millions for vanity projects, while picking the pockets of NHS workers” by offering only a 1% pay rise.
Deaths after Mogadishu bomb
Ten people were killed and 30 were injured after a rickshaw loaded with explosives was detonated at a popular restaurant in Mogadishu. “The terrorists carried out a cruel attack targeting a restaurant frequented by civilians,” said Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe. It is feared that the death toll could rise. The attack was claimed by the al-Qaida linked al-Shabaab group.
Nero staff ‘switched labels’
Caffè Nero employees have been switching the dates on muffins, cakes and scones to boost sales, claims The Times. In one case this week, a customer was sold a mouldy cake that should have been thrown out a month earlier after it was given a new label making it seem fresh. Six former and present staff confirmed that they had changed dates but a lawyer for the chain said “this activity has never been tolerated”.
Soldiers dies during exercise
A sergeant in the Welsh Guards died during a live-fire training exercise at a British Army firing range. He was fatally wounded at the Castlemartin base in Pembrokeshire, on Thursday night. Although he has not been named, the Ministry of Defence said next of kin has been informed. It is the latest in a string of accidents at Castlemartin: in 2017, two soldiers died in a tank explosion.