Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 April 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
UK ‘to reach herd immunity’
Britain will pass the threshold required for herd immunity against Covid on Monday, according to University College London researchers. The institution’s data shows the number of people who have protection against the virus either through vaccination or previous infection will hit 73.4% on 12 April, enough to tip the country into herd immunity. The report contradicts similar studies by Imperial College London and the Office for National Statistics.
PM ‘concerned’ by Belfast unrest
Boris Johnson has said he is “deeply concerned” about fresh violence in Northern Ireland. During a sixth night of disorder in Belfast, police were attacked, petrol bombs thrown and a bus set on fire. Since last Friday, there has been nightly violence in parts of Northern Ireland fuelled by loyalist rage over a recent decision not to prosecute Sinn Féin leaders for their attendance of a mass funeral.
Body identified as Okorogheye
A body found by police in a lake in Epping Forest has been confirmed as missing student Richard Okorogheye. The Metropolitan Police said the 19-year-old’s death is being treated as “unexplained”, but officers do not currently believe there was any third-party involvement. Okorogheye’s mother previously said her son had been “struggling to cope” with his business and IT degree. As someone with sickle cell disease, he had also been shielding during the pandemic.
Jabs end cases and death link
The UK’s vaccination rollout is breaking the link between Covid infections and deaths, according to Imperial College London scientists. Infections have fallen by roughly two-thirds since February. And although the decline in cases has stalled as people begin to mix more, deaths have not followed the same pattern. More than 5.6m people have now been fully vaccinated with two doses in the UK, while 31.7m have had a first dose.
Navalny health deteriorating
Alexei Navalny’s health is deteriorating and he is beginning to lose sensation in his legs and hands, according to his lawyer. The jailed Russian opposition leader went on hunger strike last week to demand treatment for acute back and leg pain. Vadim Kobzev, his lawyer, tweeted: “Alexei is walking himself. He feels pain while walking. It is very concerning that the illness is clearly progressing in terms of losing sensation in his legs, palms and wrists.”
Ministers block Oxfam bids
The government has stopped Oxfam bidding for British aid cash following fresh allegations of sexual exploitation, bullying and mismanagement. Two senior aid workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo were suspended last week as part of an investigation into allegations including sexual misconduct. A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “We will not consider any new funding to Oxfam until the issues have been resolved.”
Race report ignored health data
Downing Street’s inquiry into racism used out-dated references and underplayed the impact of structural racism in health outcomes, according to a leading expert on public health. Michael Marmot, who has led a pioneering work on health inequalities, said that while there was “much that is good” in the new report’s chapter on public health, he was concerned about “shortcomings” in its approach.
RAF in major Iraq bombing
A 10-day mission last month saw the RAF and other coalition planes engage in the biggest air raids against Islamic State in two years. The forces attacked up to 100 cave hideouts in Iraq and are likely to have caused dozens of casualties in the operation that concluded on 22 March. Air Commodore Simon Strasdin said the long-running war is “winnable through the Iraqis being able to stabilise their country”.
Shops will ‘bounce back’ next week
A leading retail analyst has said sales at non-essential shops are likely to “bounce back” once they reopen on 12 April. Springboard says the number of shoppers visiting retail parks and essential shops in March shows consumers have missed bricks and mortar shops. It forecasts a 48% rise in sales thanks to “pent up demand”. Professional services firm PwC said consumer confidence is now at its highest level since the tracking of the data began in 2008.
Prince William severs friendship
Prince William has reportedly broken off his decades-long friendship with the journalist Tom Bradby because of his relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Duke of Cambridge is believed to have become upset that the former royal correspondent and host of ITV’s News at Ten has appeared to side with his brother and sister-in-law in their break from the royal household. “The friendship is very much over,” a source close to Prince William said.