Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 April 2021

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

1

Cummings to blame PM for deaths

Dominic Cummings is to blame Boris Johnson personally for the tens of thousands of deaths during the second wave of the Covid pandemic. The prime minister’s former chief adviser is preparing a dossier of evidence for his select committee appearance before MPs next month which will hold his former boss responsible for failures that have given Britain one of the worst death tolls in Europe.

2

Biden in Armenian genocide step

Joe Biden has become the first US president to formally describe the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide. The killings, which took place in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, are a politically sensitive issue, with Turkey acknowledging atrocities but rejecting the term “genocide”. CNN says Biden’s statement “risks a potential fracture with Turkey but signals a commitment to global human rights”.

3

Scientists call for end to distancing

Social distancing should be scrapped in June to allow people “to take back control of their own lives”, according to a letter signed by 22 leading scientists and academics. In the open letter, the experts argue that “a good society cannot be created by obsessive focus on a single cause of ill-health”. They insist the “theoretical risk” of vaccine-immune strains or a new virus surge should not outweigh the harms caused by lockdown rules.

4

New coronavirus found in bats

Researchers have found a new coronavirus, similar to the one that causes Covid-19, in bats in Gloucestershire. The experts from the University of East Anglia say that the new virus, RhGB01, cannot infect humans in its current state but if people pass Covid-19 to bats, Sars-CoV-2 will combine with RhGB01 to form a new virus that could infect humans.

5

Officers hurt at London demo

Eight police officers were injured as they dispersed crowds during an anti-lockdown protest in London yesterday. The Metropolitan Police said activists hurled missiles, including bottles, during the protest in Hyde Park. Five people were arrested for offences that included assault on police officers. Shoppers in Oxford Street were heckled by the crowd and told to “take your masks off”.

6

Sturgeon compares PM to Trump

Nicola Sturgeon has compared Boris Johnson to Donald Trump, saying the prime minister would be showing the same contempt for democracy as the former US president if he were to block another referendum on independence. Writing for The Observer, the Scottish first minister said: “If there is a majority in the Scottish parliament after this election for an independence referendum then Scotland must have the chance to put the recovery into Scotland’s hands.”

7

Man dies trying to save woman

A man died after leaping into the River Thames to try to rescue a woman who fell from London Bridge. Two men saw the woman fall into the river just after midnight in the early hours of Saturday morning and jumped in to save her. Emergency services attempted to rescue all three people, but could only save the woman and one of the men. The other man’s body was found about six hours later.

8

Oscars to be held across planet

The acting world is preparing for this evening’s Academy Awards, which will take place across several locations worldwide. The Oscars have asked nominees to attend one of the locations in person and to avoid appearing via virtual platforms such as Zoom. The show’s producers said they have gone to “great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening” for attendees.

9

Man ‘infected 22 with Covid’

A man on the Spanish island of Mallorca has been arrested on suspicion of infecting 22 people with Covid-19. Police say “despite having symptoms and having done a PCR test, he continued his normal life without waiting for the result or quarantining”. They add that the 40-year-old man went to work with a temperature of 104°F. Colleagues say “he was coughing loudly all over the place” and saying: “I’m going to give you all the coronavirus.”

10

Carrie birth scenes cut from drama

Graphic scenes depicting Carrie Symonds giving birth have been cut from an upcoming television drama about the Prime Minister's first year in office. The drama was set to portray Boris Johnson’s fiancee “on all fours, screaming and biting Boris’s hand” in a delivery suite at a London hospital but the scenes will now be removed. Instead, Johnson and his fiancée will be shown leaving their Downing Street flat and returning with their baby.

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