Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 July 2021

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

1

Javid met PM before Covid diagnosis

Ministers and other officials may have to self-isolate after the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, tested positive for Covid-19. According to reports, Javid had a meeting with the prime minister on Friday, hours before he started feeling unwell. Javid, who has received both vaccine doses and described his symptoms as “very mild”, said he would continue to self-isolate and work from home.

2

Leak reveals violent police trainees

Violent disorder, cheating and dishonesty among trainees at the Metropolitan Police have been revealed by leaked documents. In one incident last year, a female recruit at the Hendon Police College was detained after punching and head-butting a police officer while allegedly under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The news comes weeks after the force was accused of “institutional corruption” following an inquiry into the unsolved murder of a private detective.

3

Kidnapping strains Pakistan ties

The daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan has been kidnapped and injured by unknown assailants. Silsila Alikhil was held for several hours after being seized on her way home in Islamabad. According to the government in Afghanistan, she was “severely tortured” and required hospital treatment after she was released. Relations between the two countries have been deteriorating  over recent weeks.

4

Hopkins sacked over Covid quips

Katie Hopkins has been dumped by an Australian TV channel and will leave the country after breaching her contract, reports The Guardian. The far-right commentator described Covid lockdowns as “the greatest hoax in human history” and joked about elaborate plans to breach quarantine rules. The Australian government has ordered an urgent review of whether Hopkins has breached her visa conditions by publicly flouting quarantine rules.

5

‘All adults’ offered vaccine

The government says every adult in the UK has been offered a Covid vaccine ahead of the easing of restrictions in England tomorrow. The latest data shows around 88% of adults have had a first dose and around 68% have had both. However, more than 50,000 daily cases of Covid were recorded on both Friday and Saturday - levels last seen in January. This has fuelled anxiety over the so-called ‘freedom day’.

6

Tube disrupted by ‘pingdemic’

The Metropolitan line on the London Underground was suspended yesterday due to staff shortages after control room workers received isolation alerts via the NHS Covid app. The Piccadilly line between South Harrow and Uxbridge and the District line between High Street Kensington and Edgware were affected. There are concerns that a “pingdemic” will bring the country to standstill, after more than half a million alerts were sent by the app last week alone.

7

Britney vows to pause performances

Britney Spears has refused to perform again for as long as her father retains control over her career. In a lengthy post on Instagram, the pop singer said the conservatorship she has been under for 13 years had “killed my dreams”. She vowed: “I’m not gonna be performing on any stages anytime soon with my dad handling what I wear, say, do, or think.” Her father has sole control of his daughter’s $60m estate under a court-appointed conservatorship.

8

Robots cause fire at Ocado depot

Ocado has warned customers to expect delays after a fire broke out at its warehouse near the Thames. The company said the fire “appears to have been caused by the collision of three bots on the grid”. Around 100 firefighters needed 14 hours to extinguish the blaze, the second to have been started by the supermarket giant’s fleet of robots. The Sunday Times says shareholders may be unnerved by the latest incident.

9

Vets ‘turn noses up at farm animals’

Farmers are forced to put down livestock themselves because young vets only want to treat cats and dogs, reports the Sunday Telegraph. Industry professionals say that graduates are putting “profitable” household pets before more “dangerous” procedures such as bull castrations. A dairy farmer said: “Standing with your hand up a cow’s backside at four o’clock in the morning is probably less enjoyable than dealing with a cat who has a fever.”

10

Northern Ireland enjoys hottest day

Temperatures in Northern Ireland reached unprecedented highs yesterday as thermometers soared above 30C. Ballywatticock, near Newtownards in County Down, recorded a temperature of 31.2C, beating the previous high, which was 30.8C set in the summers of 1976 and 1983. In England, 30.7C was noted at Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire; in Wales, Usk in Monmouthshire soared to 29C, while in Scotland, 28.2C was recorded in Threave, in the Dumfries and Galloway region.

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