Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 May 2021

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

1

Pressure mounts on Hancock

Matt Hancock faces renewed scrutiny after he admitted he had allowed people to be discharged from hospital into care homes without being tested for Covid. The heath secretary denied Dominic Cummings’s claim that he had promised everyone would be tested before being transferred. “My recollection of events is that I committed to delivering that testing for people going from hospital into care homes when we could do it,” he said. Boris Johnson said Hancock has his full backing but shadow social care minister Liz Kendall said the explanation “simply doesn’t stack up”.

2

India variant 75% of cases

The government says up to three quarters of new UK Covid cases could be of the Indian variant. After Public Health England data showed that cases of the variant have risen by 3,535 to 6,959 since last week, the Health Secretary told a Downing Street briefing that it was “critical” to monitor the link between cases and hospitalisations. Boris Johnson has warned that England “may need to wait” for the lifting of all Covid restrictions, which is currently planned for 21 June.

3

BBC host dies after Covid jab

A BBC radio presenter died in hospital due to blood clots after she received the AstraZeneca vaccine. BBC Newcastle broadcaster Lisa Shaw developed “severe” headaches a week after having the jab and fell seriously ill a few days later, said her family. The 44-year-old died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, on Friday afternoon having been treated in intensive care for blood clots and bleeding.

4

Russia blocks flights skirting Belarus

Russia has denied entry to two European airlines because they planned to avoid flying over Belarus en route to Moscow. Air France and Austrian Airlines both had to cancel services after their flight plans were rejected by the authorities in Russia, a close ally of Belarus. Airlines have been avoiding Belarusian airspace since the country’s government forced a Ryanair plane to divert to Minsk, where a dissident journalist on board the flight was detained, on Sunday.

5

Republicans thwart Capitol probe

US Republicans are expected to block an attempt by Democrats to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the 6 January attack on the Capitol. The bill would set up a 9/11-style commission that would explore the causes and impact of the protest. However, many top Republicans are scared of upsetting Donald Trump and his loyal followers, who oppose such an inquiry.

6

UN to examine Israel-Gaza violence

The UN Human Rights Council is to investigate the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. The body voted to approve the resolution, brought by a group of Islamic countries, by 24 votes to nine. At least 242 people were killed in Gaza and 13 were killed in Israel during 11 days of fighting that ended last week. The resolution calls for the investigation of “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict”.

7

Twitter trails subscription option

Twitter has previewed a new subscription service, in a signal that the social media company is preparing to introduce the product soon. The listing gives no further details of what “Twitter Blue” will offer. It is listed as an in-app purchase, priced at £2.49 in the UK and $2.99 in the US. Jane Manchun Wong, a tech blogger who says she has tested the service, says it will include an “undo tweet” feature as well as a “reader mode” to make reading long threads easier.

8

Smokers set record

The number of smokers has reached an all-time high of 1.1bn, a study has found. A study published in the Lancet said 150m more people started smoking in the 29 years from 1990. The authors found that 89% of new smokers were addicted by the age of 25 but beyond that age were unlikely to start. The habit killed almost eight million people in 2019.

9

Obama praises Marcus Rashford

The campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford has been praised by Barack Obama during a Zoom discussion about how young people can affect society. “A lot of the young people I meet - including Marcus - they're ahead of where I was when I was 23,” the former US president said. Rashford, who led a campaign to tackle child food poverty last year, said it was “quite surreal” to speak to the 44th US President while sitting in his kitchen.

10

Fergie criticises warehouse plans

The Duchess of York has denounced “horrifying” plans for a new Amazon-style warehouse in the countryside. She said trees in the village of Drummer, Hants, had encouraged her love of nature as a child. “I was absolutely horrified to hear that approval has been given for a massive, 220,000 square metre warehouse - apparently to be occupied by Amazon - which will mean these trees being brutally chopped down,” she said.

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