Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 16 May 2020

1. Warning of second wave as infection rate rises

The number indicating the rate at which the coronavirus outbreak is growing in Britain may have increased and could be as high as 1, according to official data. The latest estimates of the R number put it as between 0.7 and 1. On Sunday night Boris Johnson said that it was between 0.5 and 0.9. The new number reflects the state of transmission a fortnight ago.

2. Public told to ‘think twice’ before visiting beauty spots

The public is being urged to “think twice” before heading to England's beauty spots this weekend, despite the easing of lockdown rules. Local authorities fear that a surge in visitors could result in a rise in coronavirus infections. Following changes to lockdown rules, there is no longer a limit on the amount of exercise allowed - or how far people can travel for it - in England.

3. Trump says US is reopening with or without a vaccine

Donald Trump has vowed that the US will reopen “vaccine or no vaccine”. The US president also launched a vaccine project, named “Operation Warp Speed”, but stated that even without a jab, Americans must begin to return to their lives as normal. “In many cases they don't have vaccines and a virus or a flu comes and you fight through it,” he said. “Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away.”

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4. BMA backs teaching unions against government in school row

The British Medical Association is supporting teaching unions in their opposition to the government’s drive to reopen schools in England. The doctors’ union said teachers were “absolutely right” to urge caution and prioritise testing before reopening schools on 1 June because the number of coronavirus infections remained too high to allow them to run safely.

5. Low-paid are hit hardest by coronavirus recession

The low-paid are bearing the brunt of pandemic recession, according to a new study. The Resolution Foundation said 30% of those in the lowest income bracket had been harmed by the damage caused to the jobs market by the pandemic, compared with only 10% of those in the top-fifth of earners. A spokeswoman said: “The jobs crisis is far from over.”

6. Health minister resigns in Brazil after less than a month

Brazil’s health minister has quit after less than a month on the job. The day after the country announced it had recorded nearly 14,000 deaths, Nelson Teich’s resignation was announced in a WhatsApp message from the health ministry. He was Brazil’s second health minister to leave office in less than a month. The country reported 844 new deaths in 24 hours on Thursday night, taking the total to 13,993.

7. Priti Patel refuses to abandon fees for foreign medics

Priti Patel has refused to reduce or scrap the fees paid by foreign healthcare workers to help fund the NHS. Just three weeks after the home secretary promised to “review” the controversial charges and praised the workers’ “extraordinary contribution” during the Covid-19 crisis, The Independent says there will be no changes.

8. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 have halved says NHS boss

Hospital admissions for coronavirus have halved since the pandemic's peak, says the boss of the NHS. Writing for the Daily Mail, Simon Stevens said hospital staff are treating just over 9,000 patients a day in England – down from 19,000 a few weeks ago. He added that this means the sick should not delay in seeking help for other illnesses.

9. Half sisters found dead under a bridge in Georgia

A 19-year-old and her half-sister have been found dead under a bridge along a highway in Georgia. The deaths of the two women, Vanita Richardson and Truvenia Clarece Campbell, have been ruled a homicide, the Georgia Bureau of investigation said in a news release. Investigators are looking for a gold 1997 Toyota Corolla the two sisters were traveling in before they were killed.

10. Britain is cocaine capital of Europe as usage soars

Britain is the “cocaine capital of Europe,” reports The Times. Use of the class-a drug in Britain has soared by almost 300 per cent in less than a decade, with Britons taking 117 tonnes of the drug last year. “The UK is the biggest user of powder cocaine in Europe,” said Lawrence Gibbons, head of drugs threat at the National Crime Agency.

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