Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 16 Jun 2020

1. North Korea warns it may enter demilitarised zone over leaflets

North Korea says it is “fully ready” to send troops into the demilitarised zone separating it from South Korea if defectors go ahead with plans to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. The Korean People’s Army says it has been studying an “action plan” to re-enter zones that were demilitarised in 2018 and “turn the front line into a fortress and further heighten military vigilance against the South”.

Are we heading for clashes between North and South Korea?

2. Professor says Covid-19 can leave lungs unrecognisable

A professor of cardiovascular science says Covid-19 can leave the lungs of people who died from it completely unrecognisable. Professor Mauro Giacca of King’s College London said the virus created such damage in those who spent more than a month in hospital that it resulted in “complete disruption of the lung architecture”. He has studied the autopsies of patients who died after 30 to 40 days in intensive care.

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3. Millions of children falling behind during lockdown

Two million children have done little or no schoolwork at home during lockdown, according to a study from University College London. Researchers found that a fifth of the country’s 10m school children had done no work or less than an hour a day. The lead researcher said that the closure of schools and failure to reopen them fully constituted a “potential threat to the educational development of a generation of children”.

4. Shopper numbers down by a third despite long queues

Demand was down on the high street despite long queues at some stores yesterday. High streets were more than 50% busier yesterday than last week but the number of shoppers was a third down on the same time last year. The Guardian estimates that since late March almost £60bn will have gone unspent, offering hope to retailers as they unlock.

5. Housing secretary admission during ‘cash for favours’ row

The housing minister has admitted he knew he was saving a Tory donor tens of millions of pounds in approving a £1bn property scheme. Robert Jenrick is facing accusations of ‘cash for favours’ over his dealings with controversial former newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond. Jenrick overruled the local council and a planning inspector before the introduction of a community levy that would have cost the billionaire between £30m and £50m.

Behind the Tories’ brewing billionaire property scandal

6. Controversy as Boris Johnson reconsiders two-metre rule

Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson to cut the two-metre distancing rule in England immediately. With pubs, restaurants and hairdressers due to reopen on 4 July, many bosses say the rule would mean they will not be viable businesses. Meanwhile, there are reports that top scientists Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are considering resigning in protest if the two-metre rule is scrapped.

Coronavirus: should we socially distance at two metres or one?

7. Rashford continues fight despite Downing Street rejection

Marcus Rashford has vowed to fight on after Boris Johnson rejected his call to reconsider the government’s decision not to extend its free school meals voucher system for low-income families over the summer holiday period. The Manchester United and England footballer tweeted: “We aren’t beaten yet, stand strong for the 200,000 children who haven’t had a meal to eat today and keep retweeting #maketheUturn.”

8. London coronavirus vaccine trials to begin this week

Researchers at Imperial College London are set to begin clinical trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine in 300 healthy people. The participants, aged between 18 and 70, will all receive two doses of the vaccine, in the hope that tests could then move on to 6,000 volunteers. The Imperial vaccine uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the genetic material of the novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic.

Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine shows ‘encouraging’ results

9. Concern over appointments to government commission on racism

The new government commission on racial inequalities is being set up by a No. 10 adviser who has previously cast doubt on the existence of institutional racism and condemned past inquiries for encouraging a “culture of grievance”. Munira Mirza has also caused controversy with her plan to hire Trevor Phillips, who has previously referred to UK Muslims as being “a nation within a nation”.

Who is Munira Mirza: Boris Johnson’s controversial race inquiry pick

10. Uprising at J.K. Rowling publisher over transgender row

Staff at the publisher of J.K. Rowling’s latest book have protested at her views on transgender issues. The Daily Mail says workers “staged their own rebellion during a heated meeting”. One source said: “Staff in the children’s department at Hachette announced they were no longer prepared to work on the book.” The Harry Potter author, 54, has caused widespread offence since expressing “deep concerns” about transgender activism.

Reaction: J.K. Rowling reveals past sexual assault in essay defending her trans views

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