Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 July 2021

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

1

Anxiety grows over ‘freedom day’

Public unease is growing over Boris Johnson’s plans to end most Covid restrictions on 19 July. A poll for The Observer has found that 50% believe that “freedom day”, when the vast majority of other controls are due to end, should be pushed back again beyond 19 July. Regional political leaders say they will override the prime minister on the issue and strongly advise people to continue wearing masks on public transport.

2

NHS backlog could be 13m strong

Sajid Javid says the NHS backlog could amount to as many as 13m patients. The health secretary has warned that NHS waiting lists in England could more than double in the coming months. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he said: “What shocked me the most is when I was told that the waiting list is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” He plans to pay private healthcare providers to continue to treat NHS patients and keep virtual doctors’ appointments.

3

Queen praises England team

The Queen has sent a message of support to the England team ahead of the Euro 2020 final. Her Majesty recalled presenting the World Cup trophy to Bobby Moore in 1966 as she praised the current team’s “spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves”. England face Italy at Wembley this evening, the first time the men’s team have reached the final of the European Championships.

4

Ruling party wins in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s ruling party has been declared the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, setting up a second term for the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. The National Election Board of Ethiopia that the Prosperity party won 410 seats out of 436 in the federal parliament. Abiy has faced international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

5

Failings highlighted over soldier’s death

An investigation into the unexplained death of a British soldier has identified serious failings in the Army’s duty of care. The remains of Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan were discovered in his barracks in Yorkshire in January last year. He had been missing for three weeks without anyone noticing and the Army said the delay in discovering he was dead was “unacceptable and profoundly regrettable”.

6

Historic heatwave hits the US

Record-breaking temperatures are being forecast for the states of California and Nevada just weeks after another dangerous heatwave hit North America. California’s Death Valley on Friday recorded a high of 54.4C (130F), with similar heat expected to follow in the days ahead. A study by climate researchers said the heatwave that hit western Canada and the US at the end of June was “virtually impossible” without climate change.

7

Auschwitz orchestra member dies

One of the last remaining survivors of an orchestra formed in the Auschwitz death camp has died aged 96. Esther Bejarano died at a Jewish hospital in the German city of Hamburg on Saturday. The orchestra had to perform at the concentration camp whenever prisoners were marched off to work or when new trains arrived with Jews on board. “You knew they were going to be gassed, and all you could do was stand there and play,” she said in 2014.

8

Jab pause could be halved

The gap between vaccine doses is expected to be halved to four weeks to accelerate the administration of second jabs. Downing Street has asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to provide urgent advice on the matter amid surging cases of the Delta variant and the forthcoming easing of lockdown. There has been a fall in demand for first doses, with nearly half of male 18 to 24-year-olds unvaccinated more than three weeks after access was given to all adults.

9

Branson to fulfil space dream

Sir Richard Branson is set to fly to the edge of space today. The UK businessman will ride his Virgin Galactic rocket plane to an altitude where the Earth’s horizon curves away into the distance to test the experience before allowing paying customers aboard next year. “I've wanted to go to space since I was a kid, and I want to enable hopefully hundreds of thousands of other people over the next 100 years to be able to go to space,” he told the BBC.

10

Ex-Amazon boss applies to NHS

The former head of Amazon UK has applied to become the next chief executive of the NHS.  During the tenure of Douglas Gurr the online shopping giant faced controversy over its tax practices and its access to NHS data. The successful applicant for the NHS role will become the head of Europe’s largest employer, overseeing a £150bn budget and taking responsibility for clearing a post-Covid backlog of five million patients.

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