Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 June 2021

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

1

Pressure to delay unlock

Scientists have warned that the government must speed up second vaccine doses and delay a decision on easing lockdown restrictions as data shows the variant first detected in India is continuing to spread across England. The British Medical Association has called on Boris Johnson to keep to his promise to lift measures based on “data, not dates”, saying he should delay stage four of the roadmap “until the latest data can be scientifically considered”.

2

UK heatwaves kill hundreds

Heatwaves caused by man-made climate change are killing more than 200 people a year in the UK, a new study has revealed. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that there have been almost 6,000 heat-related deaths in the UK since 1991 that can be attributed to global warming caused by emissions from human activities. “The message is clear: climate change will not just have devastating impacts in the future, but every continent is already experiencing the dire consequences of human activities on our planet,” the report said.

3

Soldiers referred to Prevent

At least 16 members of the armed forces have been referred to the UK’s terrorism prevention programme over the past two and a half years, according to figures obtained by The Guardian under freedom of information requests. The majority of referrals were because of concerns about far-right activity. The campaign group Hope Not Hate said “the referrals of so many serving military personnel to Prevent, and the general rise in violent far-right extremism in society as a whole, should act as a reminder of the ever-present threat of [far-right] extremism”.

4

Longer school days for children

A £15bn scheme to help Britain’s children catch up after months of interrupted education could see the school day extended by half an hour. The Times says a leaked presentation of a report by Sir Kevan Collins, the government’s education recovery commissioner, calls for all children to receive an extra 100 hours of schooling each year from 2022, with a minimum 35-hour week. It also suggests an extra year of sixth form.

5

Covid variants named after Greek letters

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new naming system for Covid-19 variants. Greek letters will be used, with the UK variant labelled as Alpha, the South African strain named Beta and the Indian variant called Delta. The WHO said the new system will simplify discussion and help remove blame from the names. “No country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting variants”, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, tweeted.

6

Raab to slam ‘aggressive’ Moscow

Dominic Raab is expected to criticise Russia’s “aggressive behaviour” at a Nato summit today. The foreign secretary will decry Moscow’s recent moves, including its military build-up near Ukraine’s border, after Vladimir Putin announced that 20 new “units and formations” will be deployed in western Russia and that the armoury of existing forces will be boosted. Raab told The Telegraph that Russia’s aggressive manoeuvres mean “democratic values are under attack”.

7

Saudis turn down volume in mosques

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have defended restrictions on the volume of loudspeakers at mosques. The Islamic Affairs Ministry announced last week that all loudspeakers should be set at only a third of their maximum volume following complaints from the public. A spokesperson said parents had complained that the loudspeakers were disturbing their children’s sleep. In response, campaigners have also called for loud music to be banned in restaurants and cafes.

8

Peru’s Covid death toll doubles

Peru is now the country with the world’s highest death rate per capita after a review more than doubled its Covid death toll. The official death toll now stands at more than 180,000, up from 69,342. The nation has suffered more than 500 Covid deaths per 100,000 people, surpassing Hungary, which has around 300 deaths per 100,000 people. Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez said the number was raised on the advice of Peruvian and international experts.

9

Teen stabbed to death in Midlands

A murder investigation has been launched after a teenage boy was stabbed to death in north Birmingham. The 14-year-old was attacked by up to seven people on College Road at the junction with Wardour Grove in Kingstanding at around 7.30pm on Monday. The 14-year-old died at the scene, West Midlands police said. Detective Inspector Ranj Sangha, from the force’s homicide unit, described the attack as “a shocking and senseless tragedy”.

10

Heinz ketchup to be made in UK

Heinz tomato ketchup is to be produced in the UK again after the company announced it will invest $199m (£140m) in a UK food manufacturing facility over the next four years. The announcement from Kraft Heinz means its British favourites – ketchup, mayonnaise and salad cream – will be made in the country for the first time since 1999. It will be the firm’s biggest expansion of a manufacturing site outside the US in more than 20 years.

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